Sunday, April 21, 2013

PI -- A Hat-Maker's Friend!

Π or Pi is a mathematical number that corresponds between diameter and circumference. This is important when creating a hat. If you know a few crochet basics to make a circle, then you really don't need a pattern for your very own hat.

The first important thing to know is the 'Magic Ring' or Adjustable Ring. This creates a wonderful closed circle of stitches and is the perfect base to build your crown. Crochet Me has a great photo tutorial of this stitch and it doesn't take much practice to get it down. Once you have this technique down, creating a perfect circle is just a matter of a simple mathematical formula.

I usually create my hats with a base of single crochet stitches. So I create a 'Magic Ring' and make 6 sc in the ring and then pull it almost tight. I mark the first sc in each round and then work in a spiral. After a few rounds, I will then pull the ring tight.

The second round starts the increases that make your circle larger. In Round 2 you place 2 sc in each sc for a total of 12. Now the math comes in.

For the succeeding rounds, you increase the stitches in the following way:
Round 3: 1 sc in next stitch, 2 sc in next stitch, 1 sc in next stitch, 2 sc in next stitch . . . well, you should get the idea. This row will give you 18 stitches.
Round 4: 1 sc in next 2 stitches, 2 sc in next stitch, 1 sc in next 2 stitches, 2 sc in next stitch, and so on to get 24 stitches.
Round 5: 1 sc in next 3 stitches, 2 sc in next stitch, 1 sc in next 3 stitches, 2 sc in next stitch . . .
As you can see, you are adding a stitch between each increase in each succeeding row. If you look carefully at the completed rows, you can also see that you are adding the additional sc in the first stitch of the increase of your previous row and adding your increase (2 sc) in the second stitch of the increase of the previous row. Being able to recognize the patterns created by your stitches will help you keep the increases in a consistent manner and reduces the anxiety if you lose count.

The next important technique is measuring. If you have a tape measure, you are not tied down to gauge. And this is also where Π comes in.

First, measure around your head -- this is the circumference. Unless you can manipulate your measuring tape around the crocheted circle, finding out if you've made the crown large enough requires some math. Here's how you do it:

First lay your circle on a flat surface and measure across it at the widest point. For those of you who remember your Geometry, this is the diameter. Now, multiply that number, say it's 6.5 , by 3.1415 ( Π ). This will give you a circumference of a little under 20½". By the same token, if you measure your head and come up with 21" and divide by Π, you will see you need closer to 7" across your circle. Amazing!

Once you have the correct size of the crown (or circumference of your head), then you can stop increasing and just continue your rows until you are comfortable with the height or length of your hat. At this point, I often start a pattern, such as crocodile stitches or perhaps a post basket weave.

In this hat, which looks like a type of weave, the pattern is created with a sc / ch combination. Since this doesn't affect the tension (say like a post created basketweave or cables), you can begin using this stitch after creating your base row of stitches in the magic ring. Yes, you do your increases exactly the same. In each successive row, you place your sc in the chain space of the previous row and then chain 1, sc in the next chain space, well, you get the idea. When it comes to the increase, you just sc, chain 1 twice in the appropriate chain space.

I hope I've taken away the fear of making hats, and have encouraged your to dust off your math skills.

With this simple formula for increases and measuring, you should be able to whip out hats in no time. You may even create your own looks by adding different stitch combinations as you create the sides of your hat. In fact, if you get confident enough, you may even become a bonafide crochet hat designer!!!