“Your wretched little lives have all been cursed, ’cause of all the witches working, I’m the worst.”Winifred Sanderson
My love of Halloween is no secret (Heck, I picked a spider to represent my brand), but I’m always trying to mix it with my love of all things fiber arts.
Let me take you a few years back. I was served an ad for an adorable felt witch’s hat, on Wish I’m pretty sure, and immediately fell in love. I couldn’t buy this hat, especially from such a sketchy source, though. Oh no. If I was going to have such a cute witch hat, I was going to make it myself.
Never mind that felting is literal witchcraft. Never mind that I was determined to crochet it because it gave me more freeform control of the shape, and the stitch size in crochet makes it a wee bit harder to felt than knitting. No. I was going to make a felted witch hat. I would go on to let these fears push off that goal for a year or two (or five), but defeat was never an option.
This year, I picked up some good ol’ classic Brown Sheep wool from the Yarn Barn over the Kansas City Yarn Crawl. Don’t let this confidence fool you. I bought two balls because I figured I would mess it up enough to merit that many chances. Time went on, as it often does, until I realized if I wanted to have this hat for the Halloween Faire weekend, it was now or never.
I sat down to swatch (talk about scary), and decided on a single crochet fabric, in the round, at a slightly larger gauge than I normally do. These choices (short of in-the-round, that was a construction choice) were made because they hypothetically made felting easier. I threw it in the washing machine with a tiny bit of soap and crossed my fingers.
Disaster. It barely felted at all. It looked like lattice it was so filled with holes. I became disheartened, thinking I was running out of time for any other swatching experiments; that it just wasn’t meant to be this year.
Then something hit me the next morning. I became possessed with a bit of of my old “it’s just crochet/a hat” energy, and I decided to go for it without any more swatches, for better or worse. I did take a few more cursory glances at some other felted hat patterns online, but short of that, I was flying pretty blind.
It ended up pretty basic: a half-double crochet fabric at a gauge I would consider normal. I did make it just a bit bigger than I hoped the finished hat to be. Again, this was based on no math whatsoever, but it’s a cone shape. I figured it would just sit on my head wherever it fit. Once more, I threw it in the washing machine with bated breath.
This time, it was perfect!! I couldn’t be happier with it. Not only did I finish this hat in a day (which was just the crafting mojo boost I needed after months without a single Finished Object), but I realized I how much I actually learned from that failed swatch. I learned what fabric didn’t work, which made it easier to pick one that might. I learned that even though I poured in the tiniest bit of soap in my first experiment, I needed even less than that. I learned that my crochet fabric doesn’t shrink as much in size as my knitted fabric, so I didn’t make my hat too much bigger. I didn’t need a perfectly felted swatch. I got all the info I needed from my one failed experiment, and I am over the (full) moon about the whole thing.
You know I’m wearing this every chance I get, so look for me on my broomstick all HalloWeekend, if you dare!