During that freezing winter in Beijing back in 2005, I became a fan of the knit earflap hat: there was simply no better way to stay warm outside than to keep my head nearly encased in wool and Polarfleece lining. I’ve had several earflap hats over the years, and while they’ve all looked ridiculous on me, I was willing to accept that in exchange for having non-frostbitten ears.
Last January, though, I was at a work event that required me to stand outside and greet people in 30-degree weather. I pulled on my trusty Chinese earflap hat that morning and promptly realized that it had to go: I needed a winter hat that would also look professional. I made a mental note to keep my eye out for just the right knitting pattern. Serendipitously, only a couple of weeks later Stephanie Pearl-McPhee wrote two blog posts about the Wurm hat and I realized that it could be exactly what I needed. Wurm is designed to be extra-warm (it has a double-layer brim) but doesn’t “look handmade.” I jumped on WEBS and ordered a hank of Cascade Eco+ in cornflower blue. The yarn arrived, I wound it into a ball, and then … did nothing. (Typical.)
I finally cast on Wurm in mid-January this year and had the hat finished a couple of weeks later. It’s a lot of knitting—the ridged design means many rows disappear into the accordion folds—but certainly not difficult. I completed the hat just in time for one last blast of cold weather; it’s been springtime in New York this week and predicted to stay that way for the indefinite future, so I think my Wurm-wearing days are over until next winter.
When I finished my Wurm hat and posted a picture of it on Facebook, my colleague Jess asked if I could make one for her as well. Jess ordered a hank of Cascade Eco+ (an excellent yarn, by the way) and I got to work as soon as it arrived. The second Wurm went even better than the first, and I delivered Jess’s hat to her last week.
One final finished object to round out this knitting update. Last Friday was my maternal grandmother’s 95th birthday, and I wanted to knit her this little bluebird pattern from Rabbit Hole Knits. My grandmother loves birds—especially bluebirds—and I’ve been giving her bird-themed gifts from around the world for years (starting with a glass bluebird I bought at a turnpike rest stop during my class trip to Plymouth, Massachusetts in sixth grade). But I don’t think I’ve ever made her a bird before, and I had never tried knitting a stuffed animal or toy, either.
So last Saturday morning I sat down with some leftover Cascade Eco+ from my Wurm and worked through the pattern line by line, trusting that if I just took it one step at a time I’d wind up with something bird-like in the end. Two hours later, I was using a chopstick to push polyfill in the little bluebird body, not 100 percent thrilled with how it turned out (I think all the increases and decreases would have looked better if I’d used a smoother yarn) but overall pretty happy with my first attempt at a stuffed animal. It’s hard to shop for a 95-year-old—my grandmother certainly has everything she needs and wants—so I was glad that I could make her a small but special, if not store-bought perfect, gift.