Thursday, November 6, 2008

I got schooled by a little green beret

You would think that owning a yarn shop would afford me the time to knit all day, but you would be wrong - the shop keeps me busy so I have to squeeze the knitting in where I can, but every day I find some time to knit, usually after the shop is closed. This summer a little beret named Portia by Louisa Harding caught my eye. I thought it would be a fun project for my customers to make, and that it would challenge their knitting skills.

I didn't love the fact that it was a flat knit but the beauty of the lace drew me in. I thought that with my 40 years of knitting experience this would be a quick, down-and-dirty knit. Wrong again. At first, I was going to knit it in a combination of yarns, and I got through the rib of the hat with no problem using a merino, silk, and cashmere blend with a mohair strand. The fabric had great body and the rib stood up on its own.

Beyond the rib was a row of increases and then it moved on to the lace. I began knitting two stitches together and yarning over in the sequence that was presented in the instructions -- okay, one row of the repeat down. Row two, not so fast - I didn't have enough stitches to complete the last repeat! I must have missed something on the last row. So, one stitch at a time I backed out of row two, reviewing the stitches from the previous row. No problem...or so I thought.

I ripped it out again and saw that row one again ended, but row two not so much. Reviewing row two with the pattern, I backed it out and knit it again. Okay, this time it worked. How that happened is a mystery. After ripping the hat five times I decided to Google to see if any one had completed this sweet little beret, and there they were -- pictures of two completed hats. It was definitely me having the problem, not the pattern.

Did I mention that I had emailed the Louisa Harding website to see if there were errata on Portia? The next day I came in to an email from Louisa Harding herself, letting me know that the pattern was indeed correct, and giving me instructions on how to read the [ ]'s *'s and ( )"s.

Two sentences into the email and here comes my ego. I have been knitting for over 40 years and trust me, I know how to read stitch instructions. The name of the shop is Stitch Therapy - this is where the name stems from -- being comfortable with your knit and purl combinations to execute a stitch pattern and not being afraid to attempt a beautifully challenging garment pattern. So I was ripping the beret out for the seventh time.

Okay - back to Louisa -- her email included a lace chart to use with instructions on how to read the stitch repeat -- and to not repeat the first knit one. Well, my friends, I was rusty, rusty, rusty in the art of translating the legend on a knitting instruction. Thanks, Louisa Harding, for taking the time to explain.

Three berets later (two for friends and one for the shop) I still love this knit and would do it again, now that I have mastered it.


  1. Great blog! I look forward to reading more!

  2. I had the same challenges with that pattern! It's so great when you finally get over the hurdle. I love my beret and want to make more as gifts. Thanks for the inspiration on this one!

  3. Congrats on the brand new blog! I can't wait to read more from you.

  4. Maxcine, I'm so happy to see your blogabout this pattern. At first I just thought I wasn't as advanced as I thought I was, but after ripping out the hat for the 9th time I finally got it and guess what? I had made the exact same mistake - it was that extra K1 at the beginning of the pattern! That said, I absolutely LOVE the hat and I'm so glad that I took the hat class to start it!


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