One of the really satisfying things about knitting hats and mittens is the infinite variety available within just a few simple shapes. Even if you only knit stocking caps and basic mittens, you could keep going for a long time by varying not only the color or stitch technique used but also the gauge or weight of the yarn and the style of the finished project.
That's the idea behind Carri Hammett's Mittens & Hats for Yarn Lovers: Detailed Techniques for Knitting in the Round. The book includes basic patterns for mittens and gloves in a variety of gauges and sizes as well as some jazzed up patterns to get knitters thinking about designing their own.
About the Book
- Pages: 144
- Format: hardcover with interior spiral binding
- Number of patterns: 5 master hat patterns and 4 master mitten patterns, 4 hats and 2 mittens for babies, 9 other patterns for hats, mostly with matching mittens or fingerless gloves
- Skill level: none given, but range from new-to-hat-knitting patterns to those for more intermediate knitters
- Sizes: a range is offered in the basic patterns from toddler to adult, some patterns are just for adults and one section is just for babies
- Knitting lessons: an 11-page knitting basics section covers yarn, gauge, techniques, working in the round and using the Magic Loop method
- Publication date: January 2011
Mittens & hats for Yarn Lovers starts out with some knitting basics, then goes into two chapters on the basics of knitting hats and mittens. Each one includes a really basic pattern that's gone through step by step with lots of extra instruction and explanation that you wouldn't normally see in a knitting pattern.
This is great for people who are new to either of these basic shapes, and a range of sizes are given so you can make a hat or mittnens for yourself, for a child or as a gift for someone else.
After the basic pattern there are suggestions for "extras," little design details you can change to make the project more interesting. You can add ribbing instead of a rolled brim on a hat, for example, or make the hat shorter or longer. You can change the cuff on a mitten or work a mitten cord for a pair for a child.
Then there are the master patterns, offering the numbers you need to work a hat or mittens in different gauges and different sizes. The hat patterns are for 5.5, 5, 3.5 and 2.5 stitches per inch (don't ask me why), while the master mittens are just in 3.5 and 2.5 stitches per inch. It would have been nice to see more of these patterns, and perhaps in whole stitch gauge increments (4 stitches per inch, for example, or 6) and for using slightly finer yarn.
Following all this there are some "gallery" pages that show basic projects using different kinds of yarn (and I guess this is where those gauges come from, because those are the gauges used in these examples) intended to inspire knitters to try their own thing.
Following the master pattern chapters, there's a chapter with projects just for babies (the master patterns start at age 2) and a "design collection" with hats and hat/mitten or hat/fingerless gloves sets.
To me, this setup is a little strange -- why are the babies excluded from the master patterns only to have their own chapter pages later? Perhaps because the author wanted to make some fancier hats for the little ones that didn't fit as well into the theme or wouldn't look as good on an adult? I don't know, but it just felt a little oddly organized to me.
Still, there are some cute patterns here, including the pint-sized Colorful Slip Stitch Hat and Mittens (there's also a slip stitch hat and mittens for bigger kids and adults; see what I mean about the strange divisions?), the Stained Glass Hat and Mittens (pictured on the cover), and the Berry Stitch Hat and Mittens for Men, which I like a lot better than the women's version.
There are plain projects here as well as colorwork, cables and textured stitches, so it shows a nice range of what can be done on the blank canvas of a simple hat or pair of mittens or fingerless gloves.
Mittens & Hats for Yarn Lovers is a good general book for knitters who might be new to knitting mittens or hats but who are also adventurous enough to venture out on their own design-wise. Knitters can work from a specific included pattern, of course, but the point is really to inspire readers to try their own thing without the fear of having to figure out the math for themselves (so long as they stick to the small range of gauges included).
The information and the sample patterns are sound even if the gauge on the master patterns is more limiting than I would have liked. This is still a book that will probably help knitters discover the joys of knitting hats and scarves and will inspire some to take those basics and develop their own patterns for mittens and hats for themselves, family and friends.