Monday, January 09, 2006

Fast Cap

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My mother-in-law loved to knit. Mostly she knit for others--for her husband, for her thirteen children and for charity. Once she told me about a ski cap she used to make. She called them fast caps. In the 1950's she would knit these hats and sell them to the ski shops in Stowe, Vermont, not too far from where she lived. After she died, I came across a pattern for this hat. It was typed (most likely on a manual typewriter), brown with age and taped on the creases that long ago began to give way. In her handwriting on the front were the words "Fast Cap", and in the margin was a small drawing of the hat. I made a photocopy of it to have for myself and the other day I decided to try to knit one. I followed the typewritten directions for the most part, but soon realized that the hat I was making was not like the drawing. I think my mother-in-law may have used this pattern just as a guide to create a hat with fewer cable repeats and maybe that's why she called them fast caps. I'm not sure. The hat I made is sized to fit a child. I'm fairly certain she knit her's for adults. I did not knit the ear flaps (as I'm sure she did) because it was not possible to place them symetrically on a hat with five cables, although that's what the pattern called for. Instead I picked up the stitches around the bottom and knitted a ribbed cuff. It was fun to make this hat and to think of my mother-in-law knitting from the same pattern all those years ago. Next time I make it, I will knit it to more closely match the drawing.
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12 comments:

  1. "because it was not possible to place them symetrically on a hat with five cables"

    That's fantastic, Tracy; it sounds just like something I would say. Your hat is lovely! It's wonderful that you had her pattern and were able to recreate such a meaningful hat.

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  2. Tracy that's so so cool. I love getting seeing touching and using not only old patterns, but old patterns that are so sentimental like that one. It really makes you feel closer to the person who used it even if you never met them. I have a cookie recipe from my ex husband's grandmother that I feel that way about. I don't care that it's my ex husband... his grandmother was someone everyone loved and I never got to meet her.

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  3. Thanks so much for your comment, Tracy. And that is a beautiful hat. I love the color combination, and the cables look great!

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  4. What a neat pattern. I'm so glad that you found it. I would have felt so sentimental while knitting that. I love thinking of my grandmother and the things she taught me. Thank you for sharing such a great story with us.

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  5. I love stories about the continuity of knitting. I guess since I was raised by my Grandma I can appreciate the old as well as the new. Thanks for sharing!

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  6. That is so neat! I think I got my love to textiles from my grandmothers. Both were quilters, and my Grandmother A. taught me to quilt. Everything else has sprung from that, though I don't quilt anymore. How great that you can use your MIL's pattern.

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  7. It is special that you get to use her pattern, what a blessing! I am new to knitting and I have started my first pair of socks--so far, so good

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  8. Mom, this is really neat. Do you think from Grandma's drawing that she made the hat with two pom-poms/bobbles? And maybe I'm wrong, but I thought I remembered that she had this hat pattern published somewhere. Or am I just making things up?

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  9. About the earflaps. On my flapped hat they are closer together at the back than on the front and that works well for me. You might try this, if you want to add flaps. The only disadvantage is that your hat has a back and a front instead of being symmetrical.

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  10. Kramer8:45 PM

    I have been looking frantically for this pattern that my Mother used to make. I had a copy and lost it before I finished the fast cap. They are wonderful because they tie under the chin and keep the child warmer. Any chance I could buy or get a copy of your pattern? Thanks so much.

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  11. Alison M.4:17 PM

    Hi Tracy -
    I was looking for a pattern for a Fast Cap and came across your blog from January, 2006. My Mom made "Fast Caps" for my sister and I when we were little. I subsequently found the original Fast Cap pattern by Bernat. The earflaps are placed directly below two of the cables so that there is a cable that runs between them up the back of the head, and two cables in the front above the temples.

    The cap has an 8 inch chain stitch cord with a pompom at the end of it attached to the middle of the crown. Very fifties, very cute, but I'll probably omit it to make it more contemporary.

    The directions say that the cap "fits all heads" and included mittens in children's and women's sizes. That said, the one I made knit on 100 stitches on size US 5 needles seems small. I'm going to try another on size 6.

    I can send you a copy of the pattern if you're interested.

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  12. Alison,

    I'd like very much to have a copy of the pattern. You can email me at woolwinder@gmail.com.

    Tracy

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Thank you for commenting!
~Tracy