When I finished knitting the Haro crescent, I had extra yarn. Really quite a lot of extra yarn. This gives a knitter some flexibility: if you like a deeper shawl, you can merrily add extra repetitions of the Fir Cone section. Or you can work the edging chart a few more times. You’ve got plenty of runway. But I wanted a narrow shawl—a scarf, almost—just a little something around the neck for adornment and a bit of coverage for bare shoulders in summertime. And all that leftover Brooklyn Tweed Plains was really giving me the eye: use me, dummy.

Plains is special. There isn’t much of it in the world and there won’t be more, and for many folks it’s an indulgence to buy yarn at this price point. So I was feeling guilty about writing a pattern that require two skeins but uses only a little of the second. And I hatched a plan.


Now there’s a matching cap. It’s a free pattern, because I like to publish at least one of those per year in gratitude for the generosity of the worldwide knitting community in sharing wisdom, techniques, and encouragement. Like Haro, the Fir Cone Lace cap begins with a curvaceous short-row crescent in garter stitch and then breaks into a simple openwork pattern.


Unlike Haro, the cap is worked in the round. To avoid a jog in the garter stitch, there’s one jaunty little fir cone placed within the brim itself. I initially thought I’d wear it with that wee detail at my temple and let the garter crescent fall asymmetrically to the side, but found I like it more centered on my forehead. (And please do excuse the fact that these photos look like I’d just spent three days in bed with a fever. I’d just spent three days in bed with a fever.)

Since I had all that yarn to play with, I knit my cap long and slouchy. If you prefer a close-fitting beanie or something in between, the pattern contains directions for working to two shorter lengths. Plains is very springy, so I made this a one-size-fits-most in terms of circumference. The sample measures 19 1/2″ and easily stretches to accommodate my rather large 22 1/2″ noggin. If you have a small head or want to knit for a child, I’d recommend casting on 10 fewer stitches so you’ll have one less repetition of the lace motif. (Your garter crescent will come out proportionally a little wider, but I doubt this will affect the fit.)


You can download your copy of the Fir Cone cap on the Free Patterns page or from the link in the sidebar. I hope you have a jolly time knitting it and wearing it. Plains is very soft with a pleasant dry hand; the cap is weightless and just a little bit warm. (Read: a good solution for bad hair days. Or no hair days.) I like mine with Carhartts under the oak trees, but you could dress yours up a bit more if you prefer.


Thanks to everyone who’s written in with kind words about Haro! I so look forward to seeing it in the wild as you share your versions. (Fun fact: my kids pronounce that word “virgins.” I can’t read or write version without substituting theirs in my head and tittering like an elementary schooler. #arresteddevelopment)


In gratitude for your company in this space and for the league of knitters worldwide whose generosity invites newcomers into the fold, I’ve added a new free pattern to the Whistling Girl collection today! Meet Kulshan.


She’s definitely the coziest hat I’ve ever made, and just the ticket for the blustery wet outdoors. I used a heavy worsted farm yarn that my friend Betsy sent from Bridge Farm in Maine, but the construction makes it simple to use lighter or bulkier yarns and to tailor the fit to the recipient’s head size. (Brooklyn Tweed Shelter would be a great substitute if you wanted less heft without sacrificing warmth; The Fibre Company Terra would make an amazing silky version…) The cabled band is knit sideways, then stitches are picked up for a crown in slouchy fisherman’s rib. The oversize crown traps heat and allows versatility in styling. Those buttons? Not just for decoration:


Now it’s… a snow bonnet? I’m not sure what this shape of headgear would rightly be called, but it’s useful if you need to guard the back of your neck against drafts or if you don’t wish to flatten the front of your coiffure. As for the giant pompon…well, why not? It was a bit of fun I couldn’t resist.


The contrast color in the pompon was a happy accident. I wanted to use every last inch of my 250-yard skein, but it’s really a large hat and a wimpy pompon simply wasn’t going to suffice. So I mixed in some Madeline Tosh from the stash that exactly matched the buttons from Jenny the Potter, and I quite like the balancing effect it gives.

I want to tell you about the stitch pattern on the brim. I’m calling it single honeycomb because it’s like the classic Aran honeycomb, except a single stitch is traveling rather than a pair. I spied it on a friend’s cardigan, a wonderful garment knit by her great-aunt in Ireland. (Let’s all pause for a moment to indulge in a bit of envy, shall we?) Every woman in their family has a sweater featuring panels of this motif, which they think of as the family cable. I cast on my Kulshan hat in part to swatch the single honeycomb for use on a little jacket for my new nephew (that pattern is probably next in the development queue once Winter Garden is out), and it turned out to be a perfect match for this yarn.


Koma Kulshan, or simply Kulshan, is the original name for Mt. Baker, the snowy peak that stands sentinel over the islands where I grew up. It’s only the fifth highest mountain in the Cascades, but it’s one of the snowiest places on the planet. The Mt. Baker Ski Area recorded 1,140 inches (2,900 cm) of snowfall in a single season in 1999, which set a world record. That’s worth an eponymous hat, I’d say.

I think you’ll find Kulshan knits up quickly enough that it’s not a completely unreasonable late addition to your holiday gift knitting roster, should it catch your fancy. But you may want to queue it up for decompression knitting once you’ve survived the frenzy, too. I’m told it’s going to be a long winter. Mr. G’s cousin in Arkansas says the oak trees hurled down bushels of fat acorns like shot this fall, and the last time that happened it was a granddaddy of a winter. My neighbor says there are birds coming in from the hills that never venture into the city—a brown creeper here on our very street, if you can believe it!—so there’s sure to be thick weather. So bundle up!