Azula is the first of the Elemental Hats that I'm going to introduce, and it represents the fire element. This is the most challenging Hat from the collection - I figured I'd start here so I get a chance to say how (relatively) easy the rest of them are!
Azula features a quite distinctive set up with the two colours that isn't seen in the other Elemental Hats. There's a strong intarsia element to this one, but you won't be knitting a lot of intarsia at the same time. What comes with this Hat though is a brand new grafting tutorial (there's always one, right?) - grafting across two colours. And it's a pretty simple thing to do, too.
This was a challenging Hat to design, but I really like the way the short rows work up the Hat to create the flames. It'such a striking effect! There's a lot more twisting and turning to these short rows than there are with the other Hats, and that's part of what makes it challenging to knit. The Hat is worked in panels, as they all are, so it does get easier. And I promise it's very much worth the effort.
The crown is relatively simple here, and sits just nicely. When working sideways Hats it's inevitable that there'll be some some short rowed stitches that need grafting, especially in garter stitch as there's no way to keep it completely seamless and in pattern at the same time. The way I've designed these Hats is that thanks to the amount of short rows elsewhere, there's very few stitches that'll need grafting as you finish, as the crown shaping is incorporated differently. It's there, but it's not obvious.
All of the Hats in the Elemental collection are of a similar shape, but not all the same. Azula is the least slouchy, and has a little more width with less length. It's a comfy fit beanie, you could say. All of these patterns are graded through gauge as it would be impossible to grade them through numbers, and there's always an option of adding in a little extra slouch with needle size or blocking (though I'd warn against the latter)
In the Avatar animation, the fire nation are the most dangerous and volatile of them all. Interestingly, there are very few female characters, and naming this Hat was pretty tricky. Azula is somewhat psychotic, and I wasn't keen to name a pattern after such a character. Tom though swiftly pointed out the challenging nature of the pattern and just how fitting the name was!
Tom and I both took photos for this collection, and these are my shots. It wasn't intentional that I did so many and it left me pretty painful afterwards but it was good to be working the lens again for a while. The first shots we got of this were out of focus - the camera really struggled to focus on the short rows in the flames, and we're still not too sure why. In the end though, it worked out well, and I love the dark background to these.
On the yarn front, Azula uses both Russet and Copper of the Yarn Collective Bloomsbury DK.
And so we have the first Hat of five! The cover to the collection is almost ready and I'm pretty excited about sharing that.
Elemental will be published the first week of September and it's really not that far away now!