Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Gramma Nancy's Animal Hats {A Review}

For our handicraft this winter, we decided to learn to knit. I taught myself how to knit and then showed Ceesa and Jo-Jo. They started working on wash cloths and I thought I'd give a bigger project a try. I had read that Gramma Nancy's Hats was a book that was suitable for beginners to advanced knitters, so I thought I'd give it a try.

Nancy Nielsen started making animal hats for the families of those that were in her son-n-law's Navy submarine the USS Alabama. As her hat knitting passion grew, she developed her own patterns and designs for her hats (the hat obsessions came mostly from a pumpkin hat that she was determined to make just right). 

To get you started, you have the option of making two types of hats: a rolled-brim hat and an earflap hat. Then there are different animals to choose from... 

There are Forest Favorites:
Bear, Beaver, Fox, Owl, Rabbit, and Toad

Jungle Jubilee:
Monkey, Fish, Lion, Elephant, Panda, and Turtle

and Barnyard Buddies:
Cat, Chicken, Bluebird, Dog, Duck, Lamb, and Pig

There are also directions for making booties and handsies that go along with the hats as well.

There are knitting instructions for...
  • knit cast-on
  • circular knitting
  • knitting in the round on two double-pointed needles
  • picking up stitches for ears
  • 3-needle bind off
  • binding off
  • i-cord
  • knit stitch
  • knit 2 together
  • knit 3 together
  • knit front & back
  • knit through back of loop
  • knitwise
  • make 1
  • make 1 purl
  • purl
  • purl 2 together
  • purlwise
  • slip 1 stitch
  • slip, knit, pass over
  • slip, slip, knit
  • stranded color knitting
  • wrap and turn
  • long cast-on tails
  • creating a flat ledge
  • long ending tails
  • stitching a mouth
  • assembling a face: snouts, noses, jaws, cheeks, and beaks and bills

I, however, need to see it being worked. A link to www.lionbrand.com is provided that gives helpful video tutorials.

To complete the projects, you need the following materials (exact measurements are provided on page 16):

  • yarn
  • circular needles
  • set of 5 double-pointed needles
  • stitch marker and holder
  • yarn needle
  • crochet hook
  • scissors and serrated knife
  • measuring tape or ruler
  • Styrofoam balls
  • Plastic eyes and noses
  • acrylic paint and fingernail polish
  • pliers
  • felt
  • fiberfill
  • bowl or vase
  • hot glue gun and glue sticks

The older kids have animal hats, but Wheel doesn't so he gets my first attempt. He's also the one less likely to complain, if my knitting turns out bad. I decided to try out the ear flap hat (I like my kids' ears to be covered. It gets cold around here!) and a bear seems most appropriate for Wheel.

Since this was my first true knitting project and I've never attempted a hat, I needed to purchase many of the materials as I didn't have any of them on hand. I really wanted wooden needles, so I had to order them online and then wait for them to arrive.

Once I got started, it only took me (knitting in the evenings an hour here and there) about a week and a half to make the hat.

One major catastrophe occurred. I was so disappointed when a knot I made pulled out and the hat started to unravel. I was ready to throw in the towel and give it up. Luckily, I have my Ceesa. She found the loops that were supposed to be tied together and saved the day.  

I have been crocheting for a couple of years, but I'd still consider myself a beginner there too. Since I've been doing it longer, I find that I'm so much more comfortable crocheting. So when I had trouble with the I-cord stitch (it was getting too tight), I made the cords by crocheting them instead. And I cheated on the ears and crocheted them too. And while it isn't perfect, I was amazed that I created a hat.

Look at those beautiful eyes!

Gramma Nancy says that she wants us to be fearless in changing her patterns and so my bear face is a bit different. I used brown buttons sewn on blue felt. I embroidered a nose and mouth on brown felt. Finally, I sewed the eye felt and nose/mouth felt pieces onto the hat. And....

If you are an absolute beginner, do not expect perfection. I imagine an intermediate level knitter could pick up this book and make remarkable creations. If you enjoy knitting and have some experience, if you have a little one in mind that needs a hat or booties or handsies, if you are not overwhelmed by multi-step projects, then this is your book. There are some very lovely, adorable hat patterns.

You can learn more about Gramma Nancy's Hats and check out an author bio, too.

I received a free copy of Gramma Nancy's Hats from the Blogging for Books program in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review nor was I compensated in any other way for writing the review. All opinions I have expressed are my own or those of my family. I am disclosing this information in accordance with the FTC Regulations.

Wishing you homeschool blessings,

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