Gravel Hat & Convertible Mitts

This pattern started with a pompom. Several months ago, when we got these bright orange Furtalk poms in the shop, I think I said something along the lines of, “What the hell was Blair smoking when she ordered these?” (Yes, I do still have my job. #forgiveness)

Anyway, fast forward to January: while unpacking a large order of Madelinetosh, I found it — the orange pom's yarn soulmate. Tosh Pashmina in Firewood is an earthy aubergine with olive and auburn speckles, hues which complement and slightly mute the bright orange pom.

  

   

So the search began: I needed a simple sport weight hat pattern that would look like it was meant for a pommed hat, ideally one with some texture to bring out the speckles and offset any color pooling. The options were slim, as worsted weight or heavier seems to be the most popular choice for a pommed hat, perhaps because it provides the structure that keeps the pom on the top of your head. 

How to design a sport weight hat sturdy enough to support a pom — especially one as big and glorious as the orange monstrosity that was at the heart of my hat-obsession? I settled on an oversized folded rib, which effectively doubles the yarn in the lower part of the hat while leaving the upper part of the hat light enough for a bit of a slouch. I added some texture with columns of garter between the rib, which is reversible (important for the folded brim) and more interesting than plain ribbing (important to make the most of the speckled yarn).

If you have followed my blog at all, you might have learned last month about my obsession with matching knitted sets. It's a compulsion: when I knit a hat, my fingers begin itching for matching mitts, and vice versa. While the Gravel hat was born from an inspired — one might say magical — pompom, the Gravel mitts came from a different place: my longtime desire to have a pair of non-gimmicky convertible mitts.

Charlottesville does not get very cold (especially this year — 70 degrees in February, seriously?), so fingerless mitts are usually sufficient for short walks around town. But occasionally — walking to the car late at night, or taking the puppy out early in the morning — I want something more. I have always loved the idea of convertible mitts, but they seem so fussy in practice, adorned with buttons or ties to secure a piece that seems like an afterthought in the mitt construction.

By comparison, these Gravel Mitts are the epitome of simplicity — a little extra length on the hand allows you to fold the edges according to your needs on a day-to-day basis or roll the mitts all the way out when you need the extra coverage on un-anticipated chilly evenings or mornings. Granted, they will remain open at the end — so I wouldn't get into a snowball fight with them — but for those of us who never seem to judge the weather accurately enough to know which days warrant full versus fingerless mitts, this pattern might just be a dream come true.

A big thanks to my sister, Linda, for modeling the hat and mitts. She thought fair payment for her services would be possession of the modeled objects; we agreed to disagree. But in an exciting turn of events, she is finally learning to knit herself, so here's hoping she can make her own Gravel set soon! 

Final thoughts about the pompom that started it all:
While I am head-over-heels in love with my orange Furtalk pompom (available at the Needle Lady in Charlottesville, Virginia: (434) 296-4625), I know that real fur poms are not the go-to embellishment for many people. However, there are some gorgeous PETA-friendly options out there right now, such as these luxury vegan pompoms or any one of these listings on Etsy. And of course, sometimes a yarn pom is just the ticket — I keep going back to this excellent tutorial from Ysolda's blog for DIY giant poms. Personally, I am partial to any pom that adds a pop of color, even if the effect is subtle, as in the pompom for this Skiff Hat, which I made by combining scraps of a variegated yarn with the yarn I used for the body of the hat.

GRAVEL HAT PATTERN

   

   


Gauge: 26 stitches = 4" in stockinette on larger needles
                 28 stitches = 4" in textured rib on smaller needles
Yarn: Madelinetosh Pashmina, slightly less than 1 skein
Needles: US 2 and US 4 16" circular needle, and US 4 DPNs
Sizes: small, medium, large (to fit head circumference 21", 22", 23")*
* size shown in pictures is large

See pattern on Ravelry here.


This is a very simple hat with extra long ribbing to fold over itself. Small details, like the stretchy cast-on, textured rib, and striking pompom, make this pattern a modern take on a classic design.

ribbing

With smaller needles, cast on 120 (126, 132) stitches using Jeny's Stretchy Slipknot Cast-on (or any stretchy cast-on you prefer). Join to work in the round, being careful not to twist stitches, and place marker for BOR.
Round 1: (K1, P1) around.
Round 2: (K3, P3) around.
Repeat rounds 1 & 2 until ribbing measures 6.5" from cast-on edge.

crown

Switch to larger needles and work in stockinette stitch until hat measures 10.5" from cast-on edge (4" of stockinette).

DECREASES

Switch to DPNs when necessary while decreasing.
Round 1: (K4, K2tog) around. 100 (105, 110) stitches remain.
Rounds 2-4: Knit all stitches. (3 rounds)
Round 5: (K3, K2tog) around. 80 (84, 88) stitches remain.
Rounds 6-8: Knit all stitches. (3 rounds)
Round 9: (K2, K2tog) around. 60 (63, 66) stitches remain.
Rounds 10-11: Knit all stitches. (2 rounds)
Round: 12: (K1, K2tog) around. 40 (42, 44) stitches remain.
Rounds 13-14: Knit all stitches. (2 rounds)
Round 15: K2tog around. 20 (21, 22) stitches remain.
Round 16: Knit all stitches. (1 round)
Cut working yarn from ball and use a darning needle to draw the tail through remaining stitches twice for extra strength. Tie ends inside hat and weave them in.

Lay hat flat to block. Once blocked, attach desired magical pompom.

GRAVEL MITTS PATTERN

   

   


Gauge: 28 stitches = 4" in textured rib
Yarn: Madelinetosh Pashmina, slightly less than 1 skein
Needles: US 2 DPNs
Size: One size only: 12" long (with unfolded top edge), 6" circumference

See pattern on Ravelry here.


These mitts are knit entirely in the same textured ribbing as the hat. They are designed to be extra long, so the ribbing can be folded down for classic fingerless mitts or pulled straight to completely cover the fingertips. There is no difference between the left and right mitt — simply work the pattern twice.

wrist

Cast on 48 stitches using Jeny's Stretchy Slipknot Cast-on (or any stretchy cast-on you prefer). Divide stitches over 3 DPNs and join to work in the round, being careful not to twist stitches. Place marker for BOR.
Round 1: (K1, P1) around.
Round 2: (K3, P3) around.
Repeat rounds 1 & 2 until ribbing measures approximately 4.5" from cast-on edge (feel free to make this shorter or longer, according to your preference).

THUMB INCREASES

Round 1 (setup for increases): Slip marker for BOR, K1, P1, K1, place marker, (P1, K1) until 1 stitch remains, P1. (When this round is completed, you should have the first 3 stitches of the round between markers. For the rest of the thumb increases, the stitches between the markers will be designated with asterisks.)
Round 2 (increase round): *M1R, K3, M1L* (P3, K3) until 3 stitches remain, P3. (5 stitches between markers.)
Round 3: *K2, P1, K2* (P1, K1) until 1 stitch remains, P1.
Round 4: *K5* (P3, K3) until 3 stitches remain, P3.
Round 5 (increase round): *K1, M1R, K1, P1, K1, M1L, K1* (P1, K1) until 1 stitch remains, P1. (7 stitches between markers.)
Round 6: *K7* (P3, K3) until 3 stitches remain, P3.
Round 7: *K1, P1, K1, P1, K1, P1, K1* (P1, K1) until 1 stitch remains, P1.
Round 8 (increase round): *K2, M1R, K3, M1L, K2* (P3, K3) until 3 stitches remain, P3. (9 stitches between markers.)
Round 9: *(K1, P1) until 1 stitch remains before marker, K1* (P1, K1) until 1 stitch remains, P1.
Round 10: *K9* (P3, K3) until 3 stitches remain, P3. 
Round 11 (increase round): *K1, P1, K1, M1R, P1, K1, P1, M1L, K1, P1, K1* (P1, K1) until 1 stitch remains, P1. (11 stitches between markers.)
Round 12: *K3, P1, K3, P1, K3* (P3, K3) until 3 stitches remain, P3.
Round 13: *(K1, P1) until 1 stitch remains before marker, K1* (P1, K1) until 1 stitch remains, P1.
Round 14 (increase round): *K3, P1, M1R, K3, M1L, P1, K3* (P3, K3) until 3 stitches remain, P3. (13 stitches between markers.)
Round 15: (K1, P1) until 1 stitch remains before marker, K1* (P1, K1) until 1 stitch remains, P1.
Round 16: *K3, P2, K3, P2, K3* (P3, K3) until 3 stitches remain, P3.
Round 17 (increase round): *K1, P1, K1, P1, K1, M1R, K1, P1, K1, M1L, K1, P1, K1, P1, K1* (P1, K1) until 1 stitch remains, P1. (15 stitches between markers.)
Round 18: *K3, P3, K3, P3, K3* (P3, K3) until 3 stitches remain, P3.
Round 19: (K1, P1) until 1 stitch remains before marker, K1* (P1, K1) until 1 stitch remains, P1.
Round 20 (separate thumb gusset): Put first 15 stitches on a stitch holder or scrap yarn. Cast-on 3 stitches over thumb hole using cable cast-on and continue with (P3, K3) until 3 stitches remain, P3.

HAND

Round 1: (K1, P1) around.
Round 2: (K3, P3) around.
Repeat rounds 1 & 2 until hand measures approximately 11.5" from cast-on edge, or 5.5" from last row of thumb gusset (feel free to make this shorter or longer, according to your preference).
Bind off in (K1, P1) rib using Jeny's Surprisingly Stretchy Bind-off.

THUMB

Transfer 15 held stitches to needles and pick up the 3 cast-on stitches in crevice of gusset. Place marker for BOR and work 18 thumb stitches as follows:
Round 1: (K3, P3) around.
Round 2: (K1, P1) around.
Repeat rounds 1 & 2 until thumb measures approximately 1" from point where thumb joins hand in the crevice of the gusset (feel free to make this shorter or longer, according to your preference).
Repeat round 1 once more.
Bind off in (K1, P1) rib using Jeny's Surprisingly Stretchy Bind-off.

Weave in ends and lay mitts flat with top edge completely unfolded to block.