I mailed out the gloves on Friday and decided to knit something for myself this weekend. It couldn’t be anything large, as it would take too long for it to be done and I still need to finish Oona’s pullover. I decided to cast on for a beret. Oona and I can share it (she’s 11 and almost as tall as I am… although that isn’t saying much!) it and I can put my new merino from Woodland Hill to the test.

Merino is quite prevalent nowadays and I hesitated upon including it in my sampling, but I’ve only ever worked with merino yarns from larger mills and figured that trying out a minimally processed example would be beneficial.

I took down my copy of In Sheep’s Clothing and looked up merino; there, I learned of its Spanish heritage and how its export from Spain used to be a criminal offence punishable by death. Yikes.

The merino yarns I’ve known have all been soft and this one proved no different in this regard. But it looks a little different than its commercial counterparts: if you look at it closely (click on the above pic to do so), you can see that it looks ever so slightly felted. I don’t know what makes it so, being woefully ignorant of the spinning process, but I like it. Berets are traditionally felted, so it’s a go.

Doesn’t mean I want to learn how to spin, though. I don’t. Really. There isn’t enough time in the day.

Being on the road, I just cast on a probable amount of stitches using an enclosed reverse stockinette band. As with most knit hats, this should be approximately 10% smaller than the head’s circumference. I probably should have started with even fewer stitches, as this edge is both narrow, shallow and doesn’t even have a true cast on edge, but I’ll thread a narrow elastic if it turns out too wide.

Had I been knitting a tuque or other plain cap, I would have simply continued until it was an inch or two above the ears and decreased for a dome shape. With berets, a sharp increase round is worked right after the band. The number of stitches to be increased varies not only upon the gauge but on how trim or floppy you’d like your beret to be. Mine’s trim, so I added 10 % to my own head circumference. Here’s how it looks so far on my obliging model:

I’ve got to run, but I’ll write up the pattern if there’s enough interest. Or would you rather have the recipe?


Oh, and by the way: Melanie Falick now has a blog!