Maybe some mittens to go with

Last week it was revealed to me that Sam’s old Wurm hat had departed for greener pastures, and for reasons related to motherhood and that warm feeling* that comes over me when one of my children requests a knitted item, I decided to make her another one. I had the yarn, and it seemed like such a small request.  Just a hat – how long can that take?  Right. I fell for it again.

knittingwurmtea 2015-01-19

I have been knitting for 42 years, and I am still trying to figure out what makes a craftsperson of that experience level immune to the truths about a pattern. Wurm is a good pattern. I’ve made a lot of them. It’s a good, non-phallic, warm hat that’s excellent for people with lots of hair, and for the last few years I’ve pounded out at least one every winter. One for me, one for Sam, and one for…  I can’t remember who – maybe my mother… doesn’t matter. The important thing is that not only do I knit a lot and know heaps about how much time it takes, I have knit this specific hat before and am intimately acquainted with the fact that this is a “big” hat. Now, I don’t mean big as in “will fit a large head” I mean that it’s a bit of a trick hat. It’s got more knitting in it than it looks like. The brim is a turned hem, so that’s two layers, and then the alternating strips of purl and knit accordion down and make lots of knitting squish up into a smaller space.

I know this. This will be at least the fourth time that I’ve knit this thing, and recently (in knitter years) at that, and still, on Friday, when I wound the yarn and grabbed my needles, I didn’t think “Wow, this hat is a lot of knitting. I hope I can finish this weekend.”  I swear I thought something along the lines of “Hold on a minute sweetie, give mummy a sec and I’ll have that hat for you.”

Optimism? Delusion?  No way to know, but man, this hat is a lot of knitting and I sure hope I can finish tonight.

* This warm feeling was in direct opposition to my actual feeling, which was that I was freezing, because when she didn’t have a hat, she stole mine.  Sometimes there’s an element of self defence in knitting. 

107 thoughts on “Maybe some mittens to go with

    • Samuel Johnson: marrying a widow is the triumph of hope over experience. maybe we should include any this-will-be-quick knitting project.

      • Hope over *experience* – that was the one! I’m sure there are many knitters who have found a quick knitting project takes longer than first expected….

      • This is the phrase used by family law lawyers about second and subsequent wedding …. and some clients. My personal record for one client is three divorces.

  1. My son said he couldn’t find his hat. It made my heart skip just a bit at the thought I could knit him another. The problem was that he was flying to Winnipeg and we were heading out the door to the airport!

    Great hat pattern thanks for the reminder!

  2. Of course you can just whip it out! Says the lady still working on her Advent Scarf!!! Everything always takes longer than we allow.

  3. I completely understand that. I have been taking my knitting very seriously for the past few years, and even more seriously now that I have a little girl of my own. I am always surprised at the time it takes me to finish a garment. I keep thinking of the time it took me to knit something when she was a baby… Well, newsflash: babies grow, and garments need to be bigger. Oh, and by the way, I am not on maternity leave anymore, so it may very much be the case that I have less time to knit altogether… I guess I will never learn. (apologies for any mistake here, English is my second language)

      • Oh! Thanks Sue and Presbytera! 🙂 Much appreciated. My ‘Frenchness’ tends to stumble out of my mouth, at times, and much more often than I would like (I honestly do not know how my students cope with it). I had just noticed Stephanie’s Twitter post about having to edit people’s writing, and all of a sudden I had doubts.

    • Not only do babies grow, requiring larger garments, but they stop staying in one place and need more supervision, darn it, which ALSO cuts into knitting time! =)

      • Ah! Yes indeed. There is that too. I forgot (see? I told you I would never learn). And that makes it even harder to see if the garment fits (or if you got their measurements right), because they cannot stay in one place for just 5 seconds (they simply just have to go and see something OVER THERE!).

  4. I am still finishing the second half of my last Christmas gift socks. And I felt I must “whip out” a pair of mittens for my brother-in-law. And I am trying to finish a contract job…AND I start back to school on Thursday. What required reading? No way am I an expert knitter but I am expert at thinking I am! Now I want to knit a wurm – of course… 😀

  5. I think the number of years of knitting experience is proportional to the amount of delusion one has about how long something will take.

    Also, I’ve found that knitting ugly items for myself all but eliminates the theft/borrowing issue.

  6. My son said his hat wouldn’t fit over his ears (all I can think of is that he must have washed it in the washer again– the last one became a felted dish….). Anyway, I bounced at the chance and made him a new one, 70% alpaca and 30% wool, very warm, very soft. I knit new mittens for my daughter last winter, and she’s 29 and knits, herself. It’s just a chance to show them love, and yes, sometimes it’s self-defense.

  7. My favorite non-phallic hat is Langfield by Martina Behm. I swear that she channels Elizabeth Zimmerman in her designs! It’s about the quickest and most interestingly devised hat ever. Ranks right up there with the Baby Surprise Jacket.

  8. I know that feeling, esp when it comes from kids… My son just asked me if I could knit a shawl for his GF’s grandma’s birthday, in two weeks… Ha. I can weave her one and will try but really????? I just happened to knit my own first ever Wurm Hat. I needed something really warm. To make it quicker, I used bulky yarn, cast on 65 and then only needed to do 4 of the purl thingy… and I started decreasing before the end so it wouldn’t be so huge.. it still took prob 10 hours or so… Best of luck

  9. I too knit this hat in bulky yarn and it took me a little more than a day for each hat. However, on the unisex thing, no men in my life are interested in it. They all want plain seamen type hats (you know, k1, p1 forever!)…that being said, I can’t believe YOU only have one hat to wear. Say its not so!

  10. No sympathy. It’s the perfect hat. I’m grateful to you for singing its praises — I was out looking (otherwise) like a bag lady the other day and a stranger stopped to tell me how much she liked it. If you have to kid yourself in order to start it, so be it. (Besides, you can read or watch movies once you’re into the body, which obviates the tedium.)

  11. My toddler daughter complained (as best she can) this morning that her hands were cold here in frosty Scotland, and I genuinely thought ‘well, there’s no point in buying you mittens because I’m sure I can knock some up this evening’. Then I got in touch with reality and made a detour into the local kids clothes section. I might manage to make her a pair for next winter… I second the poster above who can’t believe you only have one hat! Surely a motivation to cast on if ever there was one?

    • I learned my lesson last year after making mittens for my toddler. Even with the string through the sleeves, he somehow still managed to lose one. Shop bought every time now until he’s a bit older and doesn’t find my despair amusing.

  12. I made my daughter, Jade, a Wurm for Christmas out of a lovely soft alpaca and she loves it! Great hat, but yeah. It’s a lot of knitting. You can do it!!!

  13. I have yet to knit that hat but I have knit my older daughter 2 cowls based on the same knit x rows, purl x rows until long enough. Not only does it take 5 times longer than you think it will (you can knit for 4 hours of prime time TV & it looks no longer). But it also eats up yarn like you wouldn’t believe. The first one I used DIC Classy. I bought 2 skeins, thinking that would surely be enough. Well it wasn’t. Fortunately the LYS had another skein in the same dye lot. She wore it every day in Chicago’s cold winter. She loved that she could pull it up over her head into a hood if it started to snow or got really cold. All the women she worked with wanted one; would I make them? I told her to tell them that the yarn cost $51. That changed their minds very quickly. When she moved to DC, she decided she needed a lighter weigh one because DC is snot nearly as cold as Chicago (or so she says). I knit it out of Debbie Bliss Rialto (a wonderful yarn to knit – so soft & springy). Of course it took me even longer. But I do have a couple balls of it left. One day I’ll make a nice hat or little cols or something for myself.

  14. Am wondering what “departed for greener pastures” actually means. Did the hat go missing (my son lost his Turn a Square hat, and it was a sad, sad day), did it sprout an unfixable hole? What? And if a hat has been lost, is the loser entitled to an immediate replacement? (Yes, probably, because accidents happen, and it’s -20 outside!)

  15. I’m in Southern California so our knitting is fundamentally an exercise in making things we likely will never have the need to actually wear (sigh) but that is the cutest hat. Into the project bin it goes…

    The Willow Cowl by Amelia Lyon is a similar, lovely knit that “accordions” down and has a pretty little picot edge. Great fun to knit and wear!

    • I am just finishing a Willow Cowl, but I think it might be too itchy for me to wear. Luckily, it is in the colors of the local university that my teenage friend attends, so hopefully she will want it if I can’t wear it.

  16. Nice steam coming off of that tea. Gonna put the kettle on for a cuppa right now.

    Here’s my ‘duh’ moment. I knit something, often at night. I put down my knitting. A day or week or month later, I pick up the knitting. I start knitting – without looking at it very closely, or counting stitches, or anything smart. At the end of a row (or two), I realize there’s a mistake. I tink back at least 2-3 rows, swearing at myself the whole time, and losing an hour or more of productive knitting time. The question is why? Why do I make this mistake – over and over and over again. (You don’t need to answer, btw. Just a little rant.)

    • Hi!
      I used to make that same mistake, assuming that I would remember what to do next. After years of wasting knitting time ripping back errors, I religiously leave a note pinned to my knitting explaining what to do next. It is especially useful if one has numerous projects on the needles. I can now pick up any project and start knitting.

      • That. Is Brilliant. I have multiple projects right now, and while most of them are pretty clear on what to do next a few are murky even after overnight. That is a great idea. Now if only I would remember to keep notepad and pen near the knitting….

  17. It’s the same logic that has me thinking a little dress for a two year old should take me the same time as a dress for a newborn just because it’s the same pattern.

    • Wait, I know that one! I designed the dress myself, no less, and ended up with hundreds of stitches for my tiny daughter’s hemline, but still thought, “Huh, that’s funny– she’s so little, but these rounds are awfully long. I wonder how that’s happening?”

      Person=small, therefore clothing=small, therefore, “It will only take a minute.”

      I’m pretty clever some days.

    • If you increase the size of yarn and needles, keeping them proportional to the size of your daughter, it should take the same amount of time. For a couple of years, anyway. Could get pretty bulky by 2nd grade or so.

  18. The day after Christmas my sister put her feet up on my coffee table ( she’s allowed) and I noticed she was wearing the socks I made for her the previous Christmas. She noticed my gaze and remarked that they were her favorite socks. My heart skipped a beat, I swear, as I wondered if I could whip her up another pair before she went home.

  19. And what about those gigantic balls of soft fuzzy stuff that seem to get bigger the more you knit from them? That is, until you get three-quarters of the way through your project and discover that you don’t have enough left on the ball to finish and must purchase another behemoth, of which you use maybe 1/4 of the total yardage, the remainder going into the stash you were trying to bust in the first place. (Sigh)

  20. Yeah, I’ve knit Wurm, and it’s a great pattern, but a lot of knitting. I highly recommend a coordinated long cowl in the same stitch pattern – long enough of double it around your neck. Yeah, that a lot of knitting too!

  21. I’m loving the saga of Wurm. First time I encounter it, you’re lauding it for being an interesting and fun hat to knit which doesn’t make you look like a penis. Then you mention that Sam keeps trying to snitch it and so you cave to make her one of her own… accidentally falling into the trap of making you MATCHING HATS!!!

    And here you are again. Making me crack up and toast you.

    The Saga of Wurm: The Next Generation.

  22. Seriously? Knitting while you were in peer pressure? Middle school? High school time? I know that the most teenagers don’t knitting until older. I find that hard to believe that the children age between 4 to 10 can knit. My kids cannot knit due to tangle the yarns.

  23. Do you seriously only have one hat for yourself? I give tons away but still look like I have this weird horder issue that only applies to winter accessories.

  24. I made one this season too, it *IS* a great pattern and it *IS* a LOT more knitting than it seems like it should be. I actually ended that hat before the full number of knit/purl sections because I just. wanted. to. be. done. with. it. That being said, however, it still is a great pattern. And I’ll likely make it again as well.

  25. I’m trying to imagine what constitutes a phallic hat, since this one is non-phallic and all. It’s a lovely hat, regardless. But it does look like a good bit of knitting.

  26. OK, so, I have made this hat twice as a gift – once for my brother-in-law’s girlfriend (in her 20s) and once for my niece (8)…except I didn’t know there was a pattern for it. I just thought, “Hey, what if I purl about 6 rows and knit about 4, over and over, and it’ll accordian down and I’ll make it extra long so it’s kinda slouchy? Wouldn’t that be cool??? I knew it had probably been done a thousand times already but it’s still funny to look at my favorite blog and see that hat I came up with last year.

    • My dear friend and quilting mentor invented the nine-patch block in the late 60s/early 70s. She didn’t know that it had been around for thousands of years – she made it up!

  27. Hey! I’m the world’s slowest knitter and Wurm didn’t take me all that long. And it’s my favorite hat. That little turned brim is fanstastic.

  28. A knitter is supposed to have hats? What a novel concept! I had been knitting for 10 years before I realized I should probably keep a hat or two instead of donating them.

    • Me, too! I’ve been knitting my whole life and don’t have a single knitted hat! Gave away all the ones I have knit and for myself just pull up the hood on my down jacket. Toasty and I don’t get Hat Hair!

  29. I am a new knitter (exactly one year) and have been wanting to make the wurm but I’ve read the pattern and worry if I can figure it out (that turned hem I think is what is holding me back). I’ve knit other hats, I even made a sweater, and have done cables, but the wurm eludes me. Ah well.

  30. I love your posts about Sam. My daughter’s six now and old enough to specify what she’d like knitted for her and it makes me happy every time she asks me for something. Also the other day at school one of her friends was complaining about cold hands and Alice told her to ask her Mummy to knit her some mittens. She couldn’t get her head around the idea that not everyone’s mother knits them stuff.

  31. Oh I understand. I have knitted the “Wurm” too for a friend and it took SO.LONG. I never would have thought that. Really. It’s “just a hat”, but, seriously, some cabled hat wouldn’t have been knit faster.

  32. My daughter has informed me that if she gets a hat trick (3 goals in one game) she either gets to keep one of my hats that she’s nabbed on the way out the door on a chilly morning or i “get” to make her one!

  33. Everything seems to always take longer then you think. I just did lots of unknitting, on a simple garter stitch ghan, not sure what my problem was, perhaps the wine and then when I saw the problem, for the life of me couldn’t rip back properly and kept dropping more stitches when I finally got it back on the needle….most irritating. Sometimes the brain and the fingers fight each other. But, hey since you can make a hat in a minute love to have you help us out on Bridge and Beyond. Our numbers are really down and there’s lots of cold folks in need.

  34. My daughter “borrowing” my stuff when she can’t find hers is why I no longer have matching mitts & hat. *sigh* They were my first mitts, too… and so dense that even if it was RAINING, my hands wouldn’t get wet. I used them more than once to re-position logs on the fire. They were awesome mitts and I miss them. She can’t have my hat.

  35. We always expect it to be faster than how it goes, it seems! 🙁 I started a sweater recently that I didn’t think would take that long, but I forgot how much time 2×2 ribbing takes, so it’s taken about 3 times as long as I anticipated! hah

    Katie =^..^=

  36. My seven year old daughter asked for a stripey hat two weeks ago. I knit it over the weekend, she wore it Monday and lost it at recess. When by Friday we all admitted it was gone for good she said, “it’s ok Mama, you can just knit me another one!”

    Last Friday it turned up at the bottom of her cubby. Good thing I waited.

  37. I think it is also the maternal delusion that ties in and just makes it all worse. Of course baby girl, I can meet your needs instantly because I am KNITTER MOM. It’s a blessing and a curse.

  38. I knit Wurm for my sister-in-law while she was having chemo. It is kind of fluffy and looks like it might have hair tucked up under it. She said she is still wearing it even though her hair grew back. It’s a great pattern.

  39. My six foot tall son left 2 weeks ago to study in England, and I cast on a Sweater (!!) for him, thinking, “He will need something warm. I’ll just mail it to him!” Ha! It will probably end up being a nice gift for him this next Christmas! Maybe I should put the sweater on hold and start a hat for him instead!

  40. I think Sam may be at the age at which she needs to have the knitters’ version of the Riot Act read to her: “You will always be my daughter (other relative as appropriate) and I will always love you. However, you can knit now. If you steal another one of my hats, I will jab you in the a** with a fistful of steel DPNs.”

    Follow through on the promise as needed. To make sure she gets the message, see if you can bribe the cat to pee in her hats.

    • Strangely harsh, methinks, considering that (a) Millie, in her cat-god-like perfection, would view a bribery attempt as being beneath her dignity; and (b) dirty dishes are still parked on top of the dishwasher rather than making it inside.

      Baby steps and all that.

  41. Like Greta above, I knit several of a very similar hat awhile back, the first one simply because it’s easy to make a baby’s hat that would grow for awhile with the kid if you do it that way and then a couple more just because it was a fun pattern.

    So, does that mean when I finally made one my size I hit myself over the head with a 4×4?

  42. Well, I suppose that you’re all better mother’s than I.
    I lost my heart for knitting for my boys several years ago. I hated watching them lose/misuse or complain about my labours of love. Nobody that runs around in the street without shoes deserves handknit socks, that’s all I can say.

    • I couldn’t agree more. Misuse or abuse of knitted items constitutes grounds for discontinuance of said knitting. At least until they’re not jerks about it. (That day is coming.)

  43. I love wurm! I knit 2 last feb for my brother and sil and Dh saw them and wanted one – well the one he wanted was in fingering weight on size 2 needles – Im still working on it! SO MUCH KNITTING! and sooooo boring after 2 already!

  44. I’m chuckling… Just completely unravelled latest two projects (dissatisfied, want to tweak design)… They were ‘quick,’ too… :-/

  45. When I knit welts, I “wrap and turn” to avoid purling. Go back and tighten the stitches near the turn and no one will know that you didn’t actually purl. It helps to knit the first few stitches of the final “knit” round firmly, to help when you tighten stitches in that area.

    Also, you can vary the “wrap and turn” spot – it doesn’t have to be “spot-on”, really.


  46. I’m so pleased you wrote this because I’ve knitted four Wurms now and always do the same crazy thing about this will be done in a day…
    Thank you!

  47. I wish I could find the photos of the fingerless mittens I made to go with my DIL’s wurm hat (I’m a Ravelry slacker, no doubt). I knitted them around the hand in the same repeats as the hat, running the stripes parrallel to the fingers, and made the same turned hem from the hat as a cuff. I’ll ask her to send a photo after they finish moving this weekend.

  48. Pingback: Crocheted Tea Cozy: a quick personal project.

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