When in Washington, D.C. last month, I bought a skein of green worsted-weight hand-dyed yarn from this very nice woman, at a street market near Dupont Circle. Solitude Wool makes breed-specific artisan yarns from sheep in the Chesapeake Bay area.
I started knitting this lovely yarn into a beret during the week I spent with my father, just after that trip, and finished it a few days ago. (I ripped out the ribbing and reknit it with smaller needles after the hat was finished...typical me.) My pattern was the Simple Beret by Hannah Fettig, ($6 for the PDF download) which comes with directions for four different yarn weights: fingering, double knitting, worsted, and bulky.
I've worn berets and beret-style hats forever, even as a kid: I remember an authentic Scottish tam o'shanter that I loved, and two berets my grandmother made me -- one in black angora, the other in grey mohair. Somehow, though, I had never made one myself. The typical shape is created through increasing a great many stitches between the ribbing and the body of the beret, and then decreasing to make the flat crown, which makes this wonderful swirl pattern. A beret can be made as perky or as slouchy as you want. When you're finished, you wash it in lukewarm water (I added a little hair conditioner for softness) and block it on a dinner plate. Fun!
The photo shoot didn't go quite as planned, though I should have known better. This is the background: the wonderful scarf that goes with the beret, and everything else -- a gift several years ago from my dear friend Gay.
You can probably figure out what was going on behind my back as I was trying to take my own picture...
I guess I should make her one of her own, with little ear-holes: she's a French cat, after all!
But I got it back eventually.