How to Make a Knitted Wizard Hat (felting optional)

Did you know that it’s next to impossible to find a wizard hat pattern on the internet? (Or, at least one that’s offered for free – come on, Internet! This is where you decide to start charging for crap?!) Well, okay, there are wizard hat patterns, but not very cool looking ones:(Also note that that hat is sewn, not knit, which the person I was making this for specifically requested.) I was looking for something more worn looking, more Gandalf-y, like this wasn’t some pasty wizard sitting up in a tower eating grapes and arguing about magical theory but instead actually got out and was taking care of things.

Now, my non-knitting friends (read: all of you =P), don’t feel like you have to read the instructions in this, I’m just putting this out there so the next person who wants to make a hat like this doesn’t have to go through all the frustration I have to figure out how the hell to do this.

This is the sort of pattern that, once you figure out how it works, you can pretty well do it however you want. Do you really want me to explain all the reasons why this pattern works, or do you just want the pattern?

You just want the pattern 🙂 I’ll be offering up directions for what I did, but since this hat is both felted and for a person with a huge noggin (literally, not metaphorically), you can stop the body of the hat and move on to the brim whenever it’s the circumference you want.

Felted Gandalf Hat

[Credit to Maggie’s Rags for the witch hat pattern I’m working from and Kimberly Chapman for information on how to help adjust the shape]

Felt a test swatch of your yarn (skip if you don’t want to felt your hat):

You’ll need to measure it before and after to see how it proportionally decreases. It’s a little risky to do this with a hat, as it may felt differently across its surface, but my friend wanted a felted wizard hat, and he bought the yarn, so who am I to complain?

My test swatch was 5″ x 5″, and felted it came out to 2″ x 4″. The circumference of the head I was making it for was 26″, and I was more concerned with the hat shrinking in the diameter and being to small than with it shrinking in height (but the test swatch was helpful because I then knew to make it about twice as tall as I wanted it to actually be). If you’re felting your hat, to figure out how big around it should be, plug in your numbers to this:

Multiply the length of test swatch before felting by the diameter you want the hat to be after felting. Divide all of that by the length of the test swatch after felting, and that will give you how big around your hat should be before felting.

Gather your supplies.

I used:

  • 3 skeins Lion Brand Wool in Ranch Red, medium weight (approximately the same size as worsted weight)
  • 4 size 8 double pointed needles
  • size 8, 26″ circular knitting needle

Stitches/techniques you’ll need for this pattern other than knit, purl, stockinette and basic knit bindoff:

Making the Hat – Body

Cast on with three stitches, working i-cord for several inches (for my felted hat, I did 10 rows; for a non-felted hat you’ll probably want about half of that).

Once it’s the length you want it, M1R between the second to last and last stitch on the first dpn (all of my increases occur between the second to last and last stitch on a dpn, and all of my decreases occur at the end of a dpn, so that instruction will be implied from now on). Continue this until you have six stitches (3 rounds), then divide evenly onto three dpns. I highly recommend putting a stitch marker on your first dpn, otherwise it’s easy to forget which one is which.

For the main body of the hat:

Rounds 1 – 7: M1R on the first dpn.

Round 8: M1R on the second dpn.

Round 9: SSK on the first dpn, M1R on the second dpn.

Rounds 10 – 15 : Repeat rounds 8 and 9 (all even rounds worked as round 8, all odd rounds worked as round 9)

Rounds 16 – 21: M1R on the third dpn.

Rounds 22 – 24: M1R on the first dpn.

Round 25: M1R on the second dpn.

Round 26: M1R on the second dpn, SSK on the third dpn.

Rounds 27 – 30: Repeat rounds 25 and 26

*Rounds 31 – 35 : M1R on the third dpn

Rounds 32 – 38: M1R on the first dpn

Round 39: M1R on the second dpn

Round 40: M1R on the second dpn, SSK on the third dpn

Rounds 41 – 46: Repeat rounds 39 and 40*

Repeat from * to * until the hat is the circumference you would like for it to be. Feel free to slightly adjust the amount of rounds you do on each dpn, it helps to make the hat shape more random. When your dpns get full, transfer your stitches to your circular needle, being careful to not drop any stitches. It’s helpful to use stitch markers to show where your needles had been, to make sure you continue the same pattern. If your circular needle is too large to hold your stitches when you first transfer them, use the magic loop method until the work is large enough to be able to knit comfortably.

I got annoyed with how long this hat was taking, and midway through began to increase by two while still only decreasing by one, and the shape of the hat wasn’t noticeably odd (though if you did the entire hat like this it may be strangely proportioned).

Making the Hat – Brim

Once the hat is the circumference you’d like, you can remove all of your markers and begin knitting in garter stitch. On knit rounds, increase by 8 stitches throughout the round (I just increased at random, trying to not increase at the same spots all the time), and purl regularly on purl rounds. Continue until brim is the width you’d like. My brim, even felted, was very floppy, so I’d recommend decreasing back down in the same manner (stockinette stitch, decrease 8 stitches on knit rounds and purl regularly) until the brim can be folded over and sewn onto the hat.

My finished product:

Ta da!

(I promise I’ll retire that picture after this post, Patrick. Thanks for being a good sport!)

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Rethinking the future

I am really, really excited to be able to say this now. I waited until I had told my family – my parents, my sisters, and my community – and have had a little time to think it over and see if I still stand by it. I do.

Okay, deep breath, and….

I won’t be student teaching next year. I might not ever. Or I might go back in a couple of years. My options are still nice and wide open, and I’m following what seems and feels to be the best option right now.

I have wanted to be a teacher for as long as I could remember, without any doubt or any question, so it may seem strange I’d cop out this close to finishing up. But I’ve had a growing discomfort with the prospect of teaching; at about this time last year, I decided to pick up a special education minor so that I could work with special needs students. That placated me for a little while, but I’ve been getting restless again within the last few months.

Teaching seemed like the most applicable career choice for me – working with kids and special needs kids, but in much larger groups than I’d like to. In order to get real applicable experience in it and see if I could deal with it long enough to get promoted to the small-group based jobs I feel a calling to, I’d have to go through an intensive nine month program and take out student loans.

I was reminded last week that there are other options for what I want to do, that do not require a credential and are available fairly widely. And I’m eligible for them right now! (Just to be clear though, I will still finish up my degree) When I realized that it was possible for me to not be a teacher, I felt both hyper stressed out – teaching is kind of part of my identity at this point, and having that evaporate is scary – but also incredibly relived. In the time since I realized it was an option, the stress has disappeared (except for trying to figure out how to tell my family), but the relief has stayed.

I hadn’t realized I felt locked into a certain path until I stepped onto another one, and it’s amazing the difference I feel. My classes suddenly feel like they have real meaning, the end of my school is so much closer that it makes the whole thing much more tolerable, and I’m refreshed, invigorated, and excited for all of the possibilities.

But like I said, the prospect of telling my family was scary. Sister number three disapproved. Mom was mildly optimistic. I debated waiting until the end of the holidays to tell sister number two, so that two and three couldn’t gang up on me over Christmas, but the timing seemed right so I told her anyway (I also got a little courage from an old/new friend’s sermon last week). Overall, not nearly as bad of a reception as I expected, which is heartening.

It is weird to think that in just six short months, I will no longer be able to use the “but I’m just a college kid” excuse. Though I guess at that point I could say that I’m just a young twenty-something, that seems pretty decent.

Ooh! And, per my semi-regret of not getting an art degree, I realized I can go back to our local community college and take an art class or two just for fun. I feel like I missed out on all my “fun” classes, all my electives got eaten up by excess classes from program changes, so I’ve gone through four years of college with a mere two classes that I chose completely on my own just because I wanted to try it out.

If you’re looking for some sort of summary statement, it’d be this: I will not be student teaching next fall, and I feel incredibly great about it.

—–

Just a quick aside, because I’m quite happy that I’ve finished it. The wizard hat is done! The brim is a little floppy, but I’d say it’s not too bad for designing it myself.

Thanks Giving

My typical Thanksgiving thought process goes something along the lines of “I’m happy to have my family and friends and that freaking delicious looking turkey – can we eat now?” Inspired by The Frugal Girl, I thought I might go a little more in depth this year, in recognition of all the things that I have to be grateful for – in no particular order, and ranging from the silly to the serious.

I am thankful:

1. For the privilege I have as a white, college-educated, lower-middle class woman in the Western world.

2. For the skills and talents I have been born with and have developed over time, that can be used both to bring me happiness and hopefully to bless those around me.

3. For my iPhone. I consider it the third hemisphere of my brain and love it to death, even if it’s made me more ADD in the process.

4. That I have a respected (well, mostly) four-year university near where I have grown up, which gave me the option to stay near my hometown or move away.

5. For the beautiful pine trees that surround me. Day to day, I get annoyed with the falling leaves that need to be raked up and the sap dripping on my car, but when I actually take the time to look up I’m struck by how beautiful they are, and how crazy it is that I pretty much live in the middle of a forest.

6. That I have not one but two jobs, which not only pay higher than minimum wage but involve doing activities I’m interested in.

7. That I have a place to sleep and food to eat.

8. That if I ever didn’t have either of the above, I have people who I know would help me.

9. That all of my immediate family lives within only a few hours of each other, so that we are all able to see each other. A few years ago, on of my sisters was out on the other side of the country and no one got to see her very often; it was amazing how much of a difference it made to not have even that one person around as much.

10. For the adorable Ethan, Lucy, Karis, and Ellah. On their own merit, they are great to have around and I enjoy spending an afternoon with them. But they also get to be a second set of nieces and nephews for me, since I don’t get to see my biological niece and nephew nearly as often as I’d like.

11. For the friends, family, and non-biological family I have the pleasure of being surrounded by. I always have people that I can talk to, ask advice, bounce ideas off of, be silly with, and live life with. These folks are the base of my life.

12. That I have free time to use as I please and am not roped into a large amount of time commitments.

13. For all of the possibilities in my life. Aside from relationships, I have nothing to keep me from doing whatever I would like to with my life.

14. For my fairly low income. It keeps me from getting too comfortable or cocky, helps me be compassionate to the least of these, and forces me to get creative for the holidays instead of buying lots of excess stuff.

15. For the internet, 4chan and all. It is only recently that it is possible to decide to learn how to do something, pop open a web browser, and have a million different sites offering to walk you through the process, often for free. And all of the blogs offer insight into humanity and personality, while search engines allow me to look up any little trivia.

16. That I’ve grown up with all of this technology and am a native, not having to learn the language and techniques later in life.

17. For the Sims 3. A gamer I am not, but this can keep me busy for hours.

18. That my mom taught me so much as a child. How to bake, the basics of sewing and piano, and was willing to put up with my stubbornness to homeschool me for six years. While I don’t think homeschooling would work for everyone or in every place, I’m very thankful that she was willing to do this for me.

19. That my dad taught me to work hard and not mind getting a little dirty or putting in some manual labor.

20. That I happened to end up living in the only part of this little residential community that is surrounded by parks and little artisan shops within walking distance.

21. That my sister convinced me to buy pepper spray to put on my keychain – it makes me feel a little more secure when I have to walk alone at night.

22. For GIMP; I am waaaay too poor to buy Photoshop, and even though the format is foreign it’s still a good (and free!) alternative.

23. For articulate writers. What does emergent/hipster/postmodern mean? Ummm….here. Read The Great Emergence, I’ve got a copy right here and I wouldn’t be able to explain it as well.

24. For the DIY movement, which has made it possible for me to learn so many things, and to get lots of inspiration.

25. That my family and friends aren’t completely burnt out on my homemade stuff yet (though my sisters did give me a bit of a “talk” last night about how they appreciate homemade stuff but also have some specific store-bought things they’d like). 🙂

Happy Thanksgiving!

More reasons why I will never be an “adult”

I am a planner. For as long as I can remember, I’ve had a plan for everything – school, work, and always at least a general idea of how I want my life to go.

Over the years I’ve slowly started letting go of my need to plan and instead let things happen as they will, because there’s really no way to predict 90% of what happens in life. But there’s still been one facet of “the plan” that I’ve stuck to. For as long as I can remember, I’ve believed that when I’m done with student teaching I’ll leave this small town and go experience the world, whether through Teach for America or teaching English in a foreign country, come Spring 2012 I am out of here.

Well, that’s what I’d thought. Because that’s what you do! You get a degree and then you go put it to use. You get a full time job and a house, and hopefully a significant other (I’m not getting any younger, right?) And, if you’re from around here, you get as far away as humanly possible.

But I’m not really sure about that now. I’d always imagined that I’d move away and start my own life and community. But there are two problems with that; one, how the hell do you both form a community and live actively in it with a forty hour a week job (plus lesson planning, grading, etc.)?

And now that I’m on the other side of the initial formation of a community – I’d say that our community has really only come into itself in the last few months – do I really want to go through all of that again? This week in particular has been both rough and exciting, and I’m left with a lingering discomfort about leaving here. Maybe I’m just scared of being out on my own. Or too lazy to figure out a way to live a simplistic, community-oriented life on my own. But doesn’t it make more sense that, if this is the way that I want to live for the rest of my life and I’m already in a community I love and consider family, why would I go anywhere else?

I’ve slowly letting go of my tightly held belief that teaching is the one and only thing I want to do with my life. Sure, I’ll finish up school, it would be pointless to drop out now. But I’ve come to realize that I would be okay if I ended up in another profession, in fact, there are lots of vocations I would be happy to have. Or maybe I could sub for a couple days a week instead of working full time – this life is so simple, I really don’t need a whole lot of income to be sustainable.

My main limiting factors in my participation in this community are the time and money I have to put toward my education. Even with all the grace offered me by my brothers and sisters, I think I’ll still feel like I’m really only a part time member as long as I have those financial and time restraints. I get little glimpses here and there what it would be like to really exist in this community; even just this Thursday when I had the day off school I got a taste of what it could be like to let things flow organically, and still get things done but while actually getting to be around these people.

Once I’m done with my student teaching, I have an increasing urge to stay with this community. Whether we remain here or eventually move somewhere else, this may be where I belong. I wonder how much crap my (biological) sisters would give me for sticking around, or if my parents would be disappointed if I didn’t pursue a career and chase after the American dream. Though no one will really say it to me, I’m pretty sure that most of my family thinks this is just a naive college phase, and that eventually I’ll grow up and out of this hippie lifestyle.

I don’t actually want to work a full time job. I don’t want to buy lots of useless stuff and get a huge house and lots of shiny new cars. I don’t want to return to a life of mostly shallow relationships and wiling away my time doing meaningless tasks.

Being in an intentional community has ruined me for the ideal conventional Western life. And I don’t think that’s a bad thing.

Disappointment

Before I start this one, I would like to preface it with the fact that I am okay. I am not depressed, and my self-esteem is doing just fine. Just so we’re clear and I don’t have my mom calling to ask me if I need to go into counseling (Hi, Mom!)

I’ve gotten into a habit of setting timelines up for myself. When I’m on summer/winter break (depending on what time of year I’m making this promise to myself), then I’ll start exercising and getting healthy cause I’ll have all that extra time. Once I’m a student teacher then I’ll have all of my crap together and magically be organized and a functioning adult. And on the list goes…

Except it doesn’t work that way. I can’t bank on my future self to be something that I’m not working on right now and this is all really just a form of procrastination.

Okay, fine. Down with the idealized future self! I should work on those things right now.

But it’s not just the future me that’s been idealized. I’ve suddenly realized that many aspects of my identity either aren’t true, or aren’t quite as true as I’d like them to be. The me I’ve constructed in my head is a crafty, creative, bright, thoughtful and compassionate person that over the last couple of years has become increasingly informed, reliable, organized, intentional, and sociable.

I’ve spent this week taking note of when I live up to those characteristics, and frankly, it hasn’t been often. I don’t say this to get down on myself, but to be more realistic. Have you ever seen statistics of how people rate their own qualities? Whether it’s driving skill or professional performance, generally about 70% of people rate themselves above average, and often a good 20% rate themselves in the top 5-10%. That’s just not statistically possible – we consistently over-inflate our own ability and how well we do in comparison to others.

So while that list up there consists of things I strive for, I recognize that I miss the mark a lot. I’ve grown up with a generation that has learned to chant that I am awesome, I am good at everything, I deserve the world, and I’ve gotten fed up with all of the talk about boosting self-esteem. Even though I am not always good at something and I am not always the person I want to be, admitting that does not mean I am going to get an eating disorder, start cutting myself, or get into an abusive relationship.

The gentle part of my brain is quietly reminding me that I’m 20 and have a long life ahead of me to work out the kinks, but I would point out that generally, most people do not change that much over a lifetime. We may have quick bursts of change, but they’re rarely sustained.

Case in point? The last couple that stayed here were kind of our poster children, the ones who turned out okay and got their lives back together. But even with a network of support and suggestions for how to keep the momentum going, within several months of leaving here they turned back to old habits and are now finalizing a divorce.

That’s not the only example either, though the most recent and most disappointing one.

So I’m faced with this scenario: The person I’ve claimed to be isn’t really where I’m at, and I would like to get there at some point but even with my whole life ahead of me I still might not make it.

While there’s the hyped up self-esteem solution where I shut my eyes, clamp my hands over my ears and shout “LA LA LA I’M AWESOME LA LA LA!”, there’s also the comforting, if fatalistic, “I’ll just never be an adult.” approach (and that really is comforting – just reading the comments on that made me feel better because I’m not the only one who functions like that).

I think I need something in the middle, recognizing that I suck and probably won’t change a whole lot, but still find some way to keep trying, even if in vain. I don’t really know how to do that, but at least now I can stop feeling guilty for not being the Super Me I’ve been pretending to be.