Posted in Smaller Crafts

Striped Beanie: A Foray into Knitting

My grandma taught me how to knit when I was eight years old. Not casting on, casting off, purl or anything else, just the basic knit stitch (I was only eight, after all). I got half way through a purple garter stitch scarf, got bored and gave up. And that was that.

Then, three years ago when I was 16, I stumbled across a knitting pattern I liked and asked my grandma if she could teach me to knit again. This time round, she gave me a mental database of cast on, knit, purl and rib stitch, and I started knitting another purple scarf. I eventually finished it, and started another, but I already had quite a few winter scarves, and I didn’t know how to make anything else.

And then my friend Sadie taught me how to crochet. I was immediately hooked (hehe) and the knitting very much took a back seat, and was gradually forgotten. I knew far more crochet stitches, and could complete far more complex patterns – so I always turned to crochet because it was much more satisfying to make interesting or useful things, rather than just scarves. I would see a knitting pattern I liked, think “oh I can’t make that, it’s too complicated,” and crochet something instead.

But the other day, when I was sorting through my books ready for moving house, I found the Big Book of Knitting and had a proper look. It was given to me as a birthday present a couple of years ago, but I’d never really explored it before because I’d always had this attitude that I couldn’t knit. Looking through the book again, however, I started to think “hold on a minute, I can do this” for the first time. All I needed to do was teach myself a few new stitches, and luckily there was a comprehensive skills section at the back of the book.

There was a gorgeous jumper which I really wanted to give a try, but I thought, wisely, that I had better start with something a bit simpler. I settled on a striped beanie, which used mostly stocking stitch.

Here’s the first row, and what the finished hat should look like

I’d forgotten how to cast on, so I re-taught myself that, plus how to change colours for the stripes, and how to decrease for the shaping of the hat’s crown. I also had to learn mattress stitch for sewing the seam, as the hat was knitted flat and then sewn up.

The finished ribbing and the first colour change
A few more completed stripes!

I eventually settled into a rhythm and got quite quick as I improved, so I finished the hat within a few days. Here’s what it looks like finished:

I found the whole process very enjoyable, and kept wondering why I’d never given knitting a proper go before. The ‘complicated’ patterns which I’d turned from before were actually just combinations of a few different stitches, none of which were hard to learn or pick up! It just goes to show what I can do if I drop the attitude of “I can’t do this”. I actually knitted something that wasn’t a scarf, and that I was proud of – and it wasn’t too difficult. I will definitely be knitting again this summer!



Hello! I'm Hannah and I'm a Classics undergrad at Cambridge. I spend most of the time which I should be spending on my degree crocheting and sewing instead.

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