Today we are talking about the Baa-ble Hat Pattern, as a knitting pattern review. I’m sharing some tips and suggestions for making your own Baable hat, a pattern from Donna Smith.
**because of the ongoing popularity of this post, I’ve updated it somewhat for 2019. Please enjoy! It’s a wonderful pattern**
I can’t tell you how much I love my Baa-ble Hat and how excited I am to write this knitting pattern review. As you know, knitting and sheep go hand in hand. Sheep provide the wool that is spun into yarn, so the serious love that yarn crafters feel for these sweet animals is only natural. Many serious fiber crafters even keep and care for their own flocks.
So when a new hat pattern debuted last fall featuring sheep as part of the design, the knitting world went positively CRAZY! Meet The Baa-ble hat from Donna Smith.
This pattern is the most queued new knitting pattern on Ravelry for 2015. Considering it only came out in August, and that there are 10’s of 1000’s of patterns on the site, this is HUGE!
This pattern features color work sheep, and is knitted from a charted pattern. If you haven’t yet tried chart knitting, I can tell you it’s the only way to go. For a long time, I struggled to read and comprehend knitting patterns, and when I began knitting from charts, it was so much easier. The key is to use something that lets you clearly identify the row you’re on, and only pay attention to that row as you’re knitting. You can use removable tape to mark your row. I have a “gadget” that holds my pattern upright and uses a magnetized bar I move along as I knit.
Charts are actually easier, because it’s a visual queue on what to do instead of a long sentence of gibberish looking written instructions.
The pattern was originally designed to celebrate Shetland Wool Week 2015. This is a wool festival centered in the British Isles and celebrates the Shetland Wool and Knitwear created there. There is a special variety of colorwork from this part of the world, and this wonderful hat pattern serves to introduce that to a larger audience. Attending this Sheep and Wool festival is definitely on my bucket list!
Now, let’s get on to the actual hats! So far, I’ve made two. I modified the second one from the original pattern. More on that later. Here they are as I’ve knitted so far.
The hat on the left is knitted as notated in the original pattern by Donna Smith. It has a very long ribbed edge that is designed to be rolled up. This will keep your ears extra warm! If you live in Minnesota, I would definitely do this brim.
The original pattern repeats the entire sheep design twice. This results in a pretty big hat. Just about everyone found it difficult to get the proper gauge, so the hats were coming out huge. Still, it’s a really cute hat, and I think the slouch is pretty adorable. And pretty modern looking.
My teenage friend and photo assistant loves this hat! Isn’t it cute on her?
The colorful nature of this knitted hat is perfect to get us through a dreary winter!
This knit has quite a bit going on, but honestly, the chart makes it pretty easy to follow. It’s so well written. It’s one of the best written patterns I’ve ever made. It is fairly complicated because you have all that colorwork, it’s made in the round and you are still knitting colorwork even as you are constructing crown decreases. Still, major props to Donna for making the pattern so easy to follow. I would definitely knit other patterns from her.
The colorwork simulates gently falling snow, and what’s cuter than Sheep in the Snow?
The trick to getting a perfect crown decrease is to count your stitches on the first decrease row, and mark the sections with stitch markers.
By using stitch markers, you have a visual queue for when to decrease the stitches, and you can keep the crown pattern clean.
You can also use stitch markers to designate other kinds of pattern repeats when chart knitting.
I spent some time reading the pattern notes provided by the knitters on Ravelry, and found a common thread. People were referencing modifications from Susan B. Anderson, and recommended doing what she suggested. So, I went to her blog, and read her post. Basically, she says it’s very hard to get the same gauge as used in the original pattern, and even she couldn’t get it, either. The result of following the pattern as written produced a very large hat. She suggested only adding in one extra sheep pattern repeat as opposed to two. Actually, she says a LOT more than just that. I highly recommend reading her complete article. It’s VERY good.
So I tried that out and, low and behold, I got a hat that more closely resembled the original pattern photography. But not exactly.
My favorite ribbing right now is K1tbl, P1. This means Knit one through the back loop, then Purl one. It gives a really defined knit line and the stretch of K1P1 is considered the best. So I knitted 12 rounds, and then started on the chart. Be sure to check out my video tutorial by clicking here!
Because I left out an additional 30 stitches, I had to rethink the crown decrease. I just took the total stitches of 90 and divided that into 5 sections. I placed my stitch markers at those evenly spaced intervals and followed the chart from there. I went with 5 sections, because 90 will divide evenly by 5. The original pattern calls for 6, but that won’t go into 90 with even results.
For the best looking crown decreases, divide your stitches in to evenly spaced sections.
I added the pom pom decoration to this version. I held the blue and white yarn strands together and wrapped them around my pom pom maker. I used the large size for this pom pom. If you read my previous pom pom posts, you know I recommend investing in the full set of Clover Pom Pom makers to get the best results. Well worth the 20 bucks or so to get the full set.
I love knitting in-the-round, and love it even more now that I learned how to knit with the Magic Loop method. It changed my life! I knitted both of these hats using my size 7 needles on a 40″ cable.
Just keep in mind that some of the floats behind sheep are super long. Carrying the floats from end to end on the magic loop did not yield the neatest joins. I think a colorwork piece requires use of a cable needle in a length close to the finished size. In this case, I think the 16″ cable would be the most appropriate needle. For the next version, I am going to do it that way.
“What are floats,” you ask? Floats are where you carry the unused yarn along the back side of the knitted fabric until you are ready to use it again. It’s how we knit in color work patterns. This is what it looks like from the inside of the hat.
How cool is that? I tacked the yarn every 4 stitches on the first hat, but Susan B. Anderson recommended against doing that. It is difficult to get the tension right so the sheep don’t pucker.
Nobody wants their sheep to pucker!
So in my second one, I did not tack any of the floats. My ends were not as neat as in the first one, but I think that issue will be solved when I switch to a shorter cable needle.
I used yarn I already had in my stash to knit this set of hats. The yarn was purchased to make the pom pom projects in December, and I had quite a bit left over. It’s an acrylic yarn from Lion Brand called Heartland. I’m not generally a fan of acrylic, but this yarn is actually pretty nice. The stitch definition is good and the colors are fantastic.
If I do a third version, I’m going to use real wool and see how that knits. I don’t mind knitting the same pattern over and over, but I get bored if the colors don’t change.
That’s me trying out the hat while knitting it. It’s so hard not to get anxious to try the pieces on when you get so close!
See Willie laying there beside me? Yeah. My precious guy. I sure miss him. This is my glamorous crafting studio.
Isn’t this hat so CUTE? I think it really makes the portrait special. But that’s a topic for another day….
Bottom line is that I highly recommend this pattern. If it feels too difficult for you, then just save it for later. Find something simpler to practice, and just keep working at it. Eventually, and sooner than you think, you will be able to knit your very own Baa-ble Hat!