Our flock of Coopworth sheep produces the most wonderful fleeces, though I must admit to a bit of bias. Lustrous and silky, the roving is beautiful both natural and dyed, and offers an ease of spinning that makes Coopworth an excellent choice for a beginner spinner or spindler. The resulting yarn is durable and wears well, though some don't find it preferable for next-to-the-skin wear. The fleeces of many breeds have this same quality, which poses a challenge when trying to find a use for a few ounces of handspun yarn.
A letter published in the May 1843 issue of The Magazine of Domestic Economy and Family Review presented a solution. The anonymous writer was responding to a plea in the April 1843 edition of the magazine from correspondent "Eliza," who was in search of a pattern for a gentleman's nightcap. The pattern started at the top of the nightcap with a few stitches, which were then increased to the diameter of the cap. The cap was to be knit until it was "a sufficient length, say 24 to 28 inches" then decreased to match the other end and folded inside itself to produce a toasty double thickness. Duplice is constructed slightly differently, so the smooth stockinette side of the background shows through the lace, but with the same basic idea of knitting two layers in one long tube.
Using this technique, the inside of the hat can be a soft merino or acrylic, or even a cashmere to really pamper since only a small skein is required, with the handspun displayed on the outer layer. The lace highlights the handspun yarn, especially when contrasted with a dark or brightly patterned base yarn. The Bleeding Hearts lace pattern from Barbara Walker's A Third Treasury of Knitting Patterns was chosen because it reminded me of snow on the majestic pines of a neighboring farm, my original inspiration for this design.
Spinning Tool: Ashford Joy wheel, scotch tension Niddy
Commercial Yarn Alternative
[MC] Crystal Palace Mochi Plus [80% merino, 20% nylon; 95 yds/87m per 50 gr skein]; color: 563 Tropical Ginger; 1 skein
[CC] Classic Elite Yarns Vista [50% superfine alpaca, 50% wool; 100yd/91m per 50g skein]; color: 6038 Mouse; 1 skein
Recommended needle size [always use a needle size that
gives you the gauge listed below --
every knitter's gauge is unique]
1 16-inch US #9/5.5mm circular needles
US #9/5.5mm needles for working the decrease: DPNs, 1 long circular or 2 short circulars
Tools removable stitch marker
18 st/22 rounds = 4 inches/10 cm in stockinette
16 sts/22 rounds = 4 inches/10 cm in stockinette
18 sts/18 rounds = 4 inches/10 cm in pattern stitch
PATTERN NOTES [Knitty's list of standard abbreviations and techniques can be found here.]
Coopworth's best qualities are its luster and silkiness. I wanted to emphasize those qualities and make the finished product as smooth as possible because it was going to be used in a lace overlay. One of the most effective ways to spin Coopworth is semi-worsted, from roving, using a short draw method to pre-draft the fibers as consistently as possible. I split slivers off the larger hank of roving to help me with the pre-drafting, and constantly smoothed the fibers with my fingers as I spun them, and again as I plied them. However, there is no wrong way to spin Coopworth! Its long staple makes it very versatile and well suited to most methods, especially spindling.
Hat starts at the top, with a small number of stitches. Use DPNs, magic loop or two circulars for this, but as soon as you are able, change to the 16-inch circular needle, as it makes it easier to work the pattern stitch.
Sk2po: sl1 knitwise, k2tog, pass slipped st over st just knit.
Distribute sts across needles as you prefer and join for working in the round, being careful not to twist. Mark start of round with a removable stitch marker in the fabric.
Round 1: Kfb 3 times, k1. 7 sts.
Round 2: Kfb around. 14 sts.
Round 3 and all odd rounds through Round 17: Knit.
Round 4: [K1, kfb] around. 21 sts.
Round 6: [K2, kfb] around. 28 sts.
Round 8: [K3, kfb] around. 35 sts.
Round 10: [K4, kfb] around. 42 sts.
Round 12: [K5, kfb] around. 49 sts.
Round 14: [K6, kfb] around. 56 sts.
Round 16: [K7, kfb] around. 63 sts.
Note: You should be able to switch to the 16 inch circular needles at this point.At that point, move the start-of-round marker up onto the needle.
Round 18: [K8, kfb] around. 70 sts.
Rounds 19-20: Knit.
Round 21: [K9, kfb] around. 77 sts.
Rounds 22-23: Knit.
Round 24: [K10, kfb] around. 84 sts.
Work even until hat measures 7.5 inches from crown.
Final round: K to last st, kfb. 85 sts.
Turn hat inside out, so purl rows are on the outside, and knit in the opposite direction to make turning row.
Knit to marker, remove marker, sl next st over st just made (without knitting next st) and replace marker. 84 sts. This is done to conceal the gap left by the turning row.
Purl 3 rounds.
Make rolled brim: Next round: Holding yarn in front, insert needle from top to bottom into first purl "bump" of knit turning row...
... place onto left needle, then p2tog with next st on needle.
Continue, purling together turning row and stitches on needle, to end of round.
Switch to CC.
Knit one round, then work two repeats of Bleeding Hearts pattern.
Weave in ends of MC and attachment of CC. This must be done before decreases for outer layer are started.
Work Crown Decrease pattern. 7 sts rem.
Cut yarn and thread through remaining seven stitches using tapestry needle. Bring end down through center of crown and weave in.
Wet block hat. When soaking, watch out for possible color bleed from the base yarn, which can discolor a white or light-colored contrast yarn. If possible, keep the two yarns apart in the wash basin by inserting each end separately; soak the lighter color first, then the dark color.
Block flat, stretching out lace pattern.
Put MC inside CC once completely dry.
Hat can be tacked together at crown if desired.
ABOUT THE DESIGNER
Kris lives on a small farm in central N.J., with her husband, three sons and a flock of Coopworth sheep. She collects vintage knitting patterns and books that often provide inspiration for her designs.
She blogs about sheep, knitting and other facts of life here and can also be found on Ravelry.