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I was meaning to do this last week, post a more indepth read of how I've been making my spiral Hats... there's been a couple of requests for a pattern for my latest green one (pattern requests cheer me - despite the trauma involved in writing a pattern, it at least tells me I've made something good...) There isn't really a pattern as such, more a technique or way of working. Then I started umming and ahhing... did I really wanna share my secret? Not that it is really a secret, but y'know what I mean. I kinda feel a little protective of these Hats, as I reckon they're my best work to date... and would feel absoluely gutted if I found any others floating around on Etsy or wherever. But hey, sharing comes naturally.... I'd feel selfish if I didn't. Anyhow, a technique is just that; it's the creative interpretation that counts. And in the famous words of Banarama & Fun Boy Three....

"It ain't what you do, it's the way that you do it"

Right then.

Basically, the whole spiral making bit is easy. Easy peasy lemon squeezy. Use up stash oddments, go for the whole blended look, whatever. Just do keep the yarns you're using within a similar gauge range - mine are all made with either a 4, 4.5, or 5mm hook. If you've never made a crochet circle before, try looking here for some tips. Basically, instead of joining at the end of each round with a slip stitch, and then starting a fresh round, just keep working continuously. That way, you get the spiral look and it makes things much simpler. What appeals to me about these babies is that they don't have to be perfect. I do all mine in DC (US - sc).. start with a 4chain, join, work about 8 or 9 DC's into the centre and go from there. Honest, it's easy. And it don't matter if you don't get the increases even either - blocking is a great rectifier ;)

So. You've got some spirals made. You'll need a fair few of them, more than you think. You've gotta cover a whole head (or bag, whatever) and believe me, I always end up needing more (there are 32 on the green, 26 on the red) They take anywhere between 5 and 20 mins to make, so ideal for those times when your head just won't focus on a bigger project. I make mine all different sizes, as I like the eclectic look. Lixie has had a bash at this after asking for a pattern, and she's gone for even spirals which looks pretty cool too. The random or eclectic way suits me, as there's less brain activity involved ;)

Now, the real trick to getting this to work is how you join them together. I tend to join them with a visible DC seam, which ties all the colours in nicely, or you could slip stitch on reverse. What you will need though, is a bit of savvy about making them slot together to get the shape you want. Being as I'm a bit of a woolly Hat aficionado, I've got a few polystyrene heads knocking around which really are the best tool for this job. Otherwise, join a few, try it on, adjust etc. Or work on something else round.. if you can stick pins in it, even better. Joining the shapes whilst they are on your model/mould will make a huge difference - there is a tendency to sew or join the pieces flat otherwise, so working on the model will demonstrate much clearerer where pieces need to be joined (unless of course the intended wearer has a 2-dimensional head). Do juggle the pieces around to see how they fit before joining - saves you having to undo and rejoin. If you have a gap and nothing to fit it, just make another spiral.

Now, from this point, it's up to you really. No real formula, just some tips and tricks to share. Firstly, don't worry if you have to stretch and tug to get the shapes fitting snuggly - unless you're going for a really neat look (in which case you would be working much more precisely anyhow) blocking rectifies all glitches... wool has a wonderful memory (jealous? me?). If you do end up with an accidental corner, use that to your advantage by slotting it in where you have a bigger gap.

When I made the first red one, the Hat felt a little lumpy before blocking, and now it's so smooth and ripple free. This is another reason for keeping the yarns to a similar gauge... if you range from 4ply to chunky, some areas will distort more than others and so it won't be as smooth after blocking. Also, if you are using one of these head model thingees, it's safe to make the Hat fit the head.... normally I wouldn't suggest this, as these models are bald (no hair, baby) and so a Hat fitting these would be a little on the small size. However, as you will be blocking, the Hat will stretch enough not only to smooth out any uneveness in joining, but also to fit an adult properly. Whilst I'm rambling about blocking, I block mine flat until semi dry, and then pop it onto a larger head model. You could keep it flat until dry if you haven't got anything the right size laying around.

Sorry, these instructions aren't in any particular order - just typing as I think! OK... what else? Oh yeah.... if you go for the mixed up spiral formation, make many more smaller ones than larger ones - you'll need them to fill in the gaps. Smallest are about 1 inch in diameter, largest go up to 3 or 4 inches. You will have a lot of ends to sew in too, sorry. Counted 119 for the red Hat. Which is a lot. Don't forget to do a round of DC all the way around the finished Hat to neaten the edges... also helps tie in the colours, and I use the same yarn that I used for the DC seams. Actually, I'd put aside the best part of 50g of DK or Aran for the joining and the finish trim - that's the one bit that eats more yarn than you'd think.

Think my gibberish is over, and everything is here that I can remember for now. Any questions, leave a comment and I'll do what I can. It's all about geometry, shapes and form, so play around and see what you get.... I fancy trying triangles next.

Have fun!

(and if I ever see any Hats for sale made ala Womhead Spiral stylee, I'll point my finger and never talk to you again)

ps/ just found this tutorial showing another method for making spirals. Actually, have just read it properly.... it's basically how I do my multi-colour spirals, it's that initially the instructions look complicated!

update 27/6/06:-
Alice has been making a scarf from circles, using a much more even method of starting your crochet circles off - they are looking fab! Maybe I'll try circles instead of spirals (yes, there is a difference) When I was making the first red Hat, I thought a bag or scarf will look cool too, with this method.

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AuthorWoolly Wormhead