The Combined Modular construction method

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Carrying on with modular construction, as we work our way through this series about the different ways to construct a hand-knit Hat, the next method I’m wanting to talk about is combined modular construction.

Beanie Bopper, Encircle and Campello patterns all combine construction methods.

the ‘Beanie Bopper’ Hat

the ‘Encircle’ Hat

the ‘Campello’ Hat

Simply put, ‘combined modular’ means we combine vertical and sideways knitting techniques in one Hat. The examples I’ll talk through today focus on two ways of doing this, but it doesn’t have to be only these two ways. What’s key is that once the Hat is finished, the stitches travel in directions that are perpendicular, or at right angles, to each other.


The Bottom-up Approach

Each of these designs features a band of knitting worked sideways, with stitches then picked up around the upper edge of the band so that the remainder of the Hat can be worked vertically. Done this way, it avoids the shaping techniques that a sideways knit Hat would require, but still adds a bit of interest that only sideways knitting can provide. It also allows us to make the most of the properties of each construction type.

In Campello, the sideways band is worked in garter stitch, which becomes incredibly stretchy when turned on its side, and the folded-up split brim would be harder to achieve without it. In Encircle, the sideways knit band is worked as a tube, which acts as an extra warm band of double knitting. And in Beanie Bopper, not only do we get the benefits of a sideways knit garter stitch brim, but also the fantastic contrast between the way the stitches travel, highlighted by the bulky handspun.

Diagram 1: this schematic of a beanie highlights how the brim can be worked sideways, with the horizontal arrow running parallel with the brim to indicate the direction of the stitches, and the rest of the Hat worked vertically.

Diagram 1 highlights how the two sections might work together.

Hats made this way don’t have to be a beanie shape; they can be any shape you want!

The section that’s worked sideways is usually the brim of the Hat or a lower band, and as that’s where the Hat needs to fit to stay on, it makes the most of the excellent properties that sideways knitting brings to a Hat.

Hats made this way may include some sideways knitting techniques – a provisional cast-on, then grafting to make the brim or band entirely seamless. If the Hat will feature a button at the brim, as it does in Ruislip, then regular cast-on and bind-off methods can be used.

Then we’ll want to pick up the stitches, and it’s mindful to note here that ‘pick up stitches’ is not the same as ‘pick up and knit’! Depending on the shape of the Hat and what’s going to happen next, knitting the stitches as you pick them up might not be helpful, so do keep an eye on that.

From there, the rest of the Hat will use techniques often found in bottom-up vertical knitting – knitting in the round, decreasing and a draw-through bind-off. Hats worked this way are rarely worked flat for the vertical knit sections, as seaming is tricky.

I tend to call this method the ‘Bottom-up Combined Modular’ method. That’s a bit of a mouthful and sounds a little daunting, yet it’s the easiest way for me to remember which is which!

The Top-down Approach

We can also approach the combined method from the other direction, and the Niamh pattern is a good example of this.

With this Hat pattern, the crown and body are worked sideways, so that those striking cables turned on their side would take centre stage. I then wanted to add a ribbed brim, and so the stitches are picked up and worked downwards, before being finished with an elastic bind-off.

Diagram 2: this schematic shows a beanie with the brim worked vertically, as directed by the arrow, and the rest of the Hat worked sideways, as shown by the horizontal arrow.

This schematic shows how the direction of the knitting, and therefore of the stitches, is different from the method above.

This is a less common way of making a Hat, as it usually involves more sideways techniques than the first one, and it’s the short rows that can be trickier to fit into the pattern. But with the right stitch pattern, it can be particularly effective.

Although there are fewer patterns for Hats made this way, it’s a useful method to know – should you make a sideways knit but find it comes up a little short when you wear it, you can simply pick up stitches around the brim and work downwards, effectively extending the length of the Hat without needing to start again.

the ‘Quoin’ Hat

the ‘Incatenato’ Hat

the ‘Niamh’ Hat

There are lots of reasons why making a Hat with a combined modular construction may appeal! Stitch patterns look particularly striking when paired with each other at right angles, and hand-dyed yarns bring a whole other dimension and can bring both the Hat and yarn to life.

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