Monday, December 3, 2012

Three Little Elves, One Big Tree and an Itty Bitty Hat Tutorial

This weekend was one I anticipate for about 11 months of the year - the one during which we pick out our Christmas tree. This tradition is significant to me for many reasons. Yes, driving out to the tree farm and tromping through in search of the 'perfect' tree, taking advantage of the cheesy photo ops, drinking hot apple cider around the fire, visiting the traditional native american teepee that stands on the grounds, these are all fun adventures worthy in their own right of looking forward to. Still, my excitement encompasses more than all this. On this day we clothe our house in it's holiday dress - boughs of fir cloak the mantle and every empty horizontal surface I can find, our menorahs are brought out and dusted off, pine cones strategically placed here and there, the holiday book basket is filled, and of course, the christmas tree in its twinkling, delicious smelling glory stands tall lighting up our house with promise of celebration and family gathering.

We drove out to Krueger's Christmas Tree Farm where we found our tree last year as well. It is a family farm that strives to grow trees sustainably, respecting the land and ancestors who inhabited the land before us. We headed straight for the fraser firs (consistently our favorite) and found this year's tree. Ava (and Eve, of course) helped Dada cut it down. In my, albeit very limited, experience, nothing beats a fresh cut tree. In addition to the experience of hunting for it and cutting it down yourself, it lasts so much longer than a precut tree and drops so many fewer needles. 

I lived nearly 30 years before I ever had a christmas tree or even celebrated the holiday. And, no, I never missed it - never had christmas envy. Since I met Will, who has always celebrated - and cherished - Christmas, I admit I've come to look forward to this time of year like no other. I've been known to start singing "We need a little Christmas" in the deep heat of summer. Perhaps it is this newness, in part, that brings out a child-like wonder and excitement in me about the holiday and the celebration of it. I still cannot get over the fact that we have a tree in our house! Yes, a live, majestic tree whose woodsy aroma dances straight to my nostrils every time I near our living room. I just love it so.

I decided to knit pointy elf hats for Ava and Eli to wear on our tree hunting adventure and through this holiday season. I used Joelle Hoverson's pattern from More Last Minute Knitted Gifts. This pattern is so quick and easy and so very appropriate for this season. After I ran out of yarn just before finishing Ava's hat and had to buy a whole other skein, I decided to knit Ava's doll "baby Eve" her own pointy elf hat. I modified Joelle's pattern to fit Eve's head. As you may imagine, this was a huge hit with the girl. This was such an easy and hugely appreciated gift for a girl who loves her doll. I'm guessing many other little ones might appreciate matching elf hats for them and their babies, so I've written out my modified pattern for the doll hat in a tutorial at the bottom of this post. The details for the three hats I knit can be found on ravelry.

Last night we lit our first fire of the season, mixed some egg nog and began my favorite part of the tree day tradition - trimming the tree. Every ornament tells a story of another season in our lives. As we unwrap these delicate adornments one by one, we are swept away on a journey of the years we've shared: this ornament is from our first year together; Ava made this wooden star at the Waldorf holiday festival last year; this gourd shaker (which was never meant to be an ornament) was a gift at the Medicine for the Earth retreat I attended when I was living, what feels to me now, a very different life; this one is the official White House ornament from 1999; the Buddah - one of my favorites - a gift from Aunt Leah; the jewish stars that nod to my Jewish heritage; the "I love my black lab" ornament - so endearingly hideous that we traditionally place it at the very back of the tree, hidden among the boughs that brush the wall; the delicate blown glass owl that was Ava's first ornament when she was just barely one week old; and the most special, our Owie dog angel - which is always opened with a moment of silence and moist eyes in rememberance of our beloved Owen who passed away two and a half years ago. The trimming of the tree is a nostalgics dream.

This day signifies that the end of the year holidays are upon us. Our house is dark no more with all the twinkling lights that hang happily from every corner. And the faces of our many loved ones filter in on cherished holiday cards that arrive daily in the mail. We are joyous in these dark days - and warmed by the fire, the lights, the closeness of our dear ones as the weather turns even colder.

 Tutorial: Doll Sized Pointy Elf Hat

This pattern is inspired by and modified from Joelle Hoverson's Pointy Elf Hat in More Last Minute Knitted Gifts - a wonderful book full of quick knits. 

I'll give instructions for a hat that will fit a doll with an 11 1/2 inch circumference and 4 1/2 inch tall (from forehead to crown) head. The hat can be easily modified to fit a different size doll head by using thicker/thinner yarn, different size needles, or by modifying the pattern itself (I will try to post easy instructions on how to do this soon).

2.5 stitches per inch. Gauge is everything - check it, my friends.

Bulky - one skein will make several doll hats, depending on your yarn and yardage. I used about 20 yards of Malabrigo Aquarella.

One set of four double pointed needles - whatever size gives you the proper gauge. I used size 11 double pointed needles to achieve the right gauge for the yarn I used.

Stitch Marker
You'll need one, unless you use your cast-on tail to remind you where the beginning of the round is.

Doll Hat
Cast on 30 stitches. 

Divide stitches evenly over three double pointed needles. You should have 10 stitches per needle.
Place marker (if you intend to use one) and join for working in the round. Alternatively, you can use your cast-on tail as a reminder of where the start of your round is.

Work in stockinette stitch (knit all stitches) until the hat measures 3 inches from the beginning with brim unrolled.

Begin to shape the crown:
Decrease Round: [K2tog, knit to end of needle] 3 times (27 stitches remain).
Knit 1 round.
Repeat Decrease Round every other round 5 more times (12 stitches remain).
Repeat Decrease Round every round 3 more times (3 stitches remain).

Break yarn, leaving a 6" tail; thread tail through remaining stitches, pull tight and fasten off, with tail to wrong side.

As always, I'd love to see your doll hats! Please link to them in the comments. Enjoy!


  1. we just read your blog together as our family activity. bean is fascinated by the matching doll hat. we too got our tree up this weekend, but our trip was to the staircase closet and it smells like dust bunnies. perhaps a real tree is somewhere in our future.

    1. An easy gift for your little one, Knitting Queen. Ava LOVES it. Girl, it's time for a real tree. Do you really need a jew to tell you this?? xo