Polar Chullo on Winter ’09 Twist Collective – a Fair Isle earflap hat design

Fair Isle Polar Chullo by Mary Ann Stephens, on Winter '09 Twist CollectivePolar Chullo by Mary Ann Stephens, in the Winter '09 Twist Collective, a fair isle polar bear ear flap hat

Polar Chullo, sized for adults, knit in Jamieson’s Shetland Spindrift

That’s my Polar Chullo design which you can now find in the Winter 2009 Edition of Twist Collective.  The pattern, either printed or as an emailed PDF,  yarn packs and kits (pattern + yarn pack) are all available here, on my retail site.

A lot of thoughts of movement went into this:  The natural colorway moves back in time with a retro feel.  The bears move their legs from one motif to another as they amble around.  Some of the bears get just a bit leaner as they wander around toward the top.  They’re “stranded” – they can’t help it!  But it’s just by a stitch – can you find it?

If you’re moved to knit the design but want different colors, I’m busy putting a few alternate colorways together.  At 9 sts/inch, I’d recommend either Spindrift or Baby Ull (which I used for my Postwar Mittens, which were knit at exactly the same gauge.)  Here are some colorways to consider and I’ll add more as they become available:

Some traditionally-inspired Spindrift possibilities:

Polar Chullo by Mary Ann Stephens copyright 2009

My delight with Spindrift at 9sts/inch has prompted me to start carrying it at Kidsknits.  Both of these colorways are available and I’ll post more as my Spindrift stock expands.  (Link to be posted shortly.)

Some Baby Ull options:

Polar Chullo by Mary Ann Stephens copyright 2009

Just the tip of the iceberg, my darlings!


About twostrands

Traditional knitting with a colorful twist. Website = MaryAnnStephens.com.
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11 Responses to Polar Chullo on Winter ’09 Twist Collective – a Fair Isle earflap hat design

  1. Linda M says:

    wow, choosing is going to be fun!

  2. Kim says:

    I’d love to buy a pack in Baby Ull in blue with yellow. I am a Cal (Berkeley) fan and I’d love to make the hat to wear to those late season football games.


    • twostrands says:

      Only wish I could be there to cheer the Golden Bears on! (See the revised BabyUll swatches above, using black, deep blue, bright blue, yellow and pastel yellow.) Hello to all of you Cal knitters!! And for all of you upstate NY knitters, check out my Big Red bears!

  3. Audrey says:

    I got the pattern but not to knit a hat with. I love the designs so much, I want to use them to knit a child’s cardi with it 🙂

  4. Jessica says:

    Love the alternate colorways! My brother and his fiance love earflap hats, and I was thinking of making one with white polar bears (for her) and one with dark brown grizzly bears (for him).

  5. Melissa says:

    I’ve started a hat in Baby Ull, using white for the bears plus a combination of colors you might find in a box of crayons. I also decided to work both earflaps at the same time, separated by 9-stitch steeks, so I don’t have to purl stranded colorwork. I’m most of the way through the earflaps, and I’m seeing a lot of curling and rolling. Any thoughts on whether the i-cord edging will be enough to prevent this in the finished hat? I’d like to get this figured out before I start the rest of the hat, because my Plan B is to knit a facing for both the earflaps and the bottom part of the hat, if curl is an issue.

    Was the sample severely blocked? Any guesses about whether the shetland wool vs. Baby Ull will make a difference in the amount of edge curl?

    • twostrands says:

      I didn’t do anything magical with finishing the sample. I washed it in a bit of el-cheap-o Suave shampoo (lavender – moths hate lavender and I love it), rinsed it and let it dry flat. Honestly, I forget whether or not I lightly steam ironed it, but that wouldn’t hurt, as long as you do it at a low enough temperature for wool and don’t get over-zealous about it.

      All plain stockinette pieces without any edging will curl. Mine sure did! As the pattern states, the I-cord edging should be done using the smaller size needle – it’s the tighter edging that reigns in the curling stockinette earflaps and keeps them flat. With all sorts of edgings – hems, ribbing, attached I-cord, etc. – it’s always important that the knitter keep an eye on their own tension and adjust their needle sizes accordingly – too loose and it will still curl, too tight and it will buckle – but it’s most likely that dropping down 1 size from whatever size needle gets the right main gauge will do the trick for controlling most folks’ curling earflaps with the I-cord trim. However, your addition of steeks on the earflaps might (or might not) really change the whole game plan – I really can’t say, without having done them on mine.

      You know, I’m a bit of a steek geek. Have you seen my (rather lengthy) article on Norwegian vs. Fair Isle steeks on my Kidsknits.com site? I love the process and never hesitate to use a steek, whenever I think it adds to the finished product. However, there are times when I think steeks are more trouble than they’re worth. I think this is one of those times, but I’d be happy to be proven wrong.

      For instance, I often think they’re more of a detriment than a blessing when used for shallow necklines. Although a neck steek can save you from having to purl on the wrong side for a few rows, it leaves you with having to finish off a raw edge that has a high likelihood of peeking through. I know plenty of folks hate the idea of purling on the wrong side. When a complex, non-symmetrical chart is involved, it’s understandable, for that can be confusing, even downright blinding. In those cases, I usually like to stay on the front and “knit back backwards” and I still get to avoid the neck steek. Sometimes, if it’s a simple, symmetrical chart like Polar Chullo’s earflap chart, I might purl on the wrong side, for there’s no need to read that chart back backwards every other row – each row on that chart is the same, whether you’re going right to left or left to right. And once in a blue moon – okay, I admit it – a neck steek, or even a hat steek, can be a sensible choice.

      So why am I blabbing on about neck steeks when we’re talking about a hat? Because my feelings about steeking earflaps are about the same as my feelings on steeking shallow necklines. Yes, it’s possible to steek the earflaps and, if you’re pleased with your result – great – that’s the way to go. But, to my mind, steeking the earflaps leaves you with the new problem of managing the raw steek edges and, unless you’re figuring on lining the hat, the rationale for taking on that problem escapes me. (And if you are figuring on a lined hat, or at least a lined lower portion of the hat, there is an easier/better/steek-free way. Hopefully, you’ll see it in a not-too-distant-future design of mine.)

      Not having steeked my Polar Chullo, I really can’t comment on whether or not the attached I-cord will be adequate to finish a 9 stitch steek off properly, but I kinda doubt it. You’ll have a thicker edge you’ll have to cover and I-cords only work out neatly over so many stitches. You might be better off using the covered steek technique there to reign in and hide those bulkier edges. And 9 stitches? Whoa, that leaves a whole lot to hide! Are you figuring you’ll fold the resulting 4.5 sts in on the edges of each flap? That could be tricky on the curved sections. Plus, wouldn’t you still have the bottom part of the earflap, which I presume is not steeked, left unfinished? Maybe having the bottom of the earflaps come to a point would work better in that case. If you do find it getting bulky around the curves, I guess you could always machine stitch just outside the earflap and trim away some of the 4.5 sts of steek bulk. I-cord trim might work fine after that. Or maybe you’ll have another solution – something magnificent that has totally escaped me that I would dearly love hearing about. If so, I sure you’ll tell us about it and let us know how it turns out.

    • Melissa says:

      Well, I steeked my earflaps, and as I was sewing those steeks I realized there’s a better way to handle it for next time: a patterned, lined earflap very much resembles the start of a toe-up sock. It doesn’t help me this time, but I’ll know for next time: start with something like Judy’s Magic CO, work the charted pattern on one side, and something like salt-and-pepper on the other side. And it would be easy enough to add the I-cord edging to that sort of earflap.

      Meanwhile, I’ve started working on a facing for the bottom part of the main hat, which will extend downward to become the earflap lining. When it’s long enough I’ll add a purl ridge everywhere that isn’t earflaps, to take the place of casting on for the rest of the hat. It’ll be easy enough to then work the earflaps of the facing downward, and mattress-stitch them in place. (I think I’ll skip the I-cord on this edition of this hat.) We live in an area that gets lots of snow and wind, so an extra-thick earflap is not a bad idea from a practical point of view anyway. And I’m even toying with the idea of inserting an additional something between the layers to help with windblock.

      • twostrands says:

        Yep, just as there’s really no difference between sock toes and sock heels, there really needn’t be any difference between either of those two and lined earflaps.

        Mary Ann

  6. Great post. I just stumbled upon your blog and wanted to say that I have really enjoyed your blog posts. I will subscribe to follow if you write any more updates.

  7. junglejanet says:

    Earflap genius! I made a bunch of earflap hats a couple of years ago, and for the people in cold climates I made double earflaps, but I knitted the front side, decreased down to a few stitches, then increased back up to the original stitch count, and did a single crochet edge to hold the two sides together. It never occurred to me to make the earflaps in the round like a sock toe!

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