Friday, November 30, 2012

Bumble Bee: A Free Knitting Pattern

For some reason, knitting for boys always feels difficult to me.  My boys aren't into sports teams and little boys don't seem to care much about the craftsmanship in lovely cabled hats.  They want pictures of their favorite things. They want snips and snails. If only I loved doing intarsia, so they could have all the things!

I set out on this hat pattern with the plan of making it reminiscent enough of a bumble bee for my son's approval, but also cozy and warm enough to satisfy my tastes.  For toddlers I strongly prefer earflap hats with ties so that it stays put and keeps little ears warm.  I also included instructions for just making a typical no-earflap style for both the toddler and kid sizes.  Knitted in a super bulky weight yarn, this hat knits up quickly, just in time for holiday giving.

I have linked to the techniques I used for increases and decreases.

Bumble Bee Hat

Yarn: Lamb's Pride Bulky 1 skein of "wild mustard" colorway and one skein of "onyx".  Keep in mind that this is actually a super bulky weight yarn, if using a substitution.

Needles: 10 1/2 circular needles or size for appropriate gauge.  I use 40 inch and magic loop method, but you could use 16 in and dpns for the top, if you prefer.  TAKE TIME TO CHECK YOUR GAUGE.

Gauge: 15 stitches and 21 rows per 4 inches in circular stockinette
Sizes: Toddler (Child)
(for non-earflap style, skip the instructions for the earflap and start  in appropriate section marked with ***)

Earflaps: Starting with black yarn, CO 5 (for both sizes)
   row 1: K across
   row 2 (and every even row): P across
   row 3: K1, M1L, K to last stitch, M1R, K1 (7 stitches)
   row 5: increase as row 3 (9 stitches)
   row 7: FOR CHILD SIZE ONLY increase once more as row 3, you should now have 11 stitches.  For toddler size, K across.

Continue in stockinette stitch until earflap measures 2 (2 1/2) inches, ending with an even (purl) row.  Cut yarn and place all stitches on a stitch holder.  Work second earflap as first, but DO NOT cut yarn.  Knit back across.  Using knitted cast on, cast on 24(26) stitches, knit across other earflap (from stitch holder), then cast on 14 (16) more.  You should now have 56 (64) stitches.  Join, being careful not to twist, and marking beginning of round.  Knit 1 1/2 inches from front brim.

***  for non-earflap-style hat, start here, if doing earflap hat, ignore the portion between the *:  Cast on 56 (64 stitches) using black yarn, then join, being careful not to twist.  Work k2 p2 rib for until work is 1 1/2 in long.**

Switch to yellow yarn.  You will be working three (four) yellow stripes (and  consequently two (three) black stripes).  Each needs to be 3 rounds wide.  Please keep in mind color changes every three rounds while working the next steps.  I should have used a jog-less jog but didn't.  You can see where the change-over is on the hat.  I'm pleased with it anyway (and so is my son... though ecstatic might be more accurate for how he feels about it) but you may prefer to use one.  After last yellow stripe, remember to cut the yarn so you can weave it in.

Work until hat is 4 1/2 (4 3/4) inches from the front brim.  Work one round.

Next rnd: *K5(6), K2tog.  Repeat from * around (48(56) stitches remain)
K next two rounds.
Next rnd: *K4(5), K2tog.  Repeat from * around (40(48) stitches)
K next two rounds.
Next round: *K3(4), K2tog.  Repeat from * around (32(40) stitches)
K one round
Next round: *K2(3), K2tog.  Repeat from * around (24(32) stitches)
K one round
Next round *K1(2), K2tog. Repeat from * around (16(24) stitches)

CHILD SIZE ONLY: knit one round then next round *K1, K2tog repeat from * around (16 stitches) t


Both sizes should now have 16 stitches.  The rest of the instructions for the hat are the same for both sizes (except the finishing).

Knit two rounds.

Next round: *K2tog.  Repeat from * around (8 stitches remain)
Knit two more rounds.
Next round: *K2tog.  Repeat from * around (4 stitches remain)
Knit two more rounds, then cut yarn and pull through all stitches.

Finishing: (earflap style only) Pick up 68 (76) stitches spread evenly around entire brim and around earflaps.  Cast off.  Weave in ends.

For ties, I used the twisted cord method:  I took a long length of yarn (I didn't cut it from the skein until I had made the cord), maybe 2 ft or so, and folded it back so it was 4 ft of yarn forming a loop that I would be twisted together.  I didn't do multiple like in the linked video because I didn't want it too thick, especially since the yarn is so thick already.  I twisted the "loop" end while holding tight to the end of the yarn and where it was folded back to until it was twisting up on itself.  Instead of tying off at this point as in the linked video, I used a crochet hook to pull the loop end through the bottom of the earflap, and folded the twisted portion in half and held the loop end and the other end together.  Then I just held it up and let the hat spin until it was well twisted then tied it off.  Repeat on the other side trying to make them the same length.

As an alternative, you could just do a simple braided tie or an i-cord tie. 

Happy knitting!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Reading (or Vocabulary) Charades

My 5 year old is THIS close to reading. He gets the basic gist, can sound things out well, but struggles with paying attention long enough to do so on words he doesn't already recognize or that are too long.  He has a fair number of easy sight words under his belt.  Things like "up" and "is" and "and" are pretty well integrated.  Unfortunately, he is completely uninterested in books at his level.

The books he wants to read, of course, are his sister's Goosebumps series, which were popular with her during the "spooky halloween" stint.  He wants spooky books, too!  We didn't have any spooky books at an appropriate level.  Or even mildly spooky books.  Or even a book about vampires.  So I looked around online and found these easy-to-read spooky tales and ordered a few from amazon, but they were still beyond him.

Finally, after struggling all weekend on 3 pages  of the level 2 Star Wars book that he was enthralled with (he loves those droids... and really all robots), he gave in and let me try easier books with him but he wants to pick them.  Does he pick them in order?  Noooooo, that would be too easy!  Anyway, I got him to a point that I can work with him on it, at least.  In order to give him some success with reading, I decided I'd start with reviewing the harder words on flash cards.  Many of these he could say on the first guess, and others were harder for him to decipher.  After adding each word, I had him go through all the previous words he had done, pointing to each word as he said it, until we had all the tricky words practiced multiple times.  Next, I planned to have him read the book, but he kept getting caught on a few of the words.  Instead of just pushing through, I thought maybe doing something with a bit of kinesthetic sense added in would help him to remember the words more easily.  So, I came up with the idea to have him act out each word after saying it.  I held all the cards myself and would show him one and he had to say the word and then act it out.  Of course, this lead to giggling by both of us and I think he had a great time with his final practice for the words.  Some of the words (like pond) were harder to act out than others, but that just really added to the creativity and fun.  It also made sure he knew what words like "trot" meant, since it's not a word that comes up in our daily lives too much.  I think this would also work great in a classroom, and could even be fun into the upper elementary grades for spelling or vocabulary words.

When we finally read the book, he flew right through it, only getting mildly stuck once.  WOOT!