Essie’s Cable Brim Hat: A Year-End Freebie

What I did this year:

1.  Got out of the house.  I stopped hibernating and went to knitting group, family get-togethers, my daughter’s place, the grocery store.  Nothing remarkable to you, but a definite increase in activity, especially the last quarter of the year. 

2.  Renewed some acquaintances.  Got in touch with some old friends and made more effort with my neighbors. 

3.  Made some decisions about my store.  Decided to treat it more seriously, and to open the children’s store.  Started more intense marketing, including carrying some finished products around with me to show off.

4.  Started to deal with my weight.  Joined Weight Watchers two weeks ago.  Increased my activity at home to an average of 40 minutes per day.  Lost seven pounds in the first two weeks. 

5.  Realized that I had been making decisions like a dying person.  This led to some major changes in how I handle finances.

6.  Decided to put my house on the market.  It’s that or take in boarders.  I don’t want stranger-boarders.  I’m too picky. 

7.  Cut off my hair.  Who needs hair?  Seriously, we hang on to dead hair like the person underneath isn’t beautiful in their own right. 

8.  Put extra effort into continuing education.  Got my 20 hours and then some, in areas that are important to me. 

9.  Took a different approach to pain control.  Pain limits activity, thus I need to take at least enough medicine to get me moving every day.

10.  Started cleaning out the clutter.  Even sent boxes of books to the secondhand bookstore.  Not that there isn’t enough stuff left to fill an eighteen-wheeler.

11.  Got more serious about herbal medicine.  See 12/24/2008 post.

12.  What?  I need more?  Hell, I was busy!


Aside from taking stock of my year (which took all of five minutes) I am knitting today.  (I know that comes as an immense surprise.)  I’m halfway through a pink lace scarf in my favorite Breeze (the cashmere and silk wonder that Karabella is discontinuing in spite of my objections). 


I’m more than halfway through a cabled hat in Blue Sky Alpaca organic, undyed cotton.  I was thumbing through a cable book today and saw something similar, only with a narrower band and plain top.  Of course, I’m obsessed enough that my top has to have teeny cables all around it, too.  When I put buttons on it, it will be a fashion statement.  I actually knitted in buttonholes so it will have a functional tab. 


My cousin’s black cashmere mittens aren’t done.  I let them rest while I waited for my portable craft light (Mighty Bright, $13 at to be delivered.  My eyes really needed the help. 


Joining the etsyknitters team has opened my eyes to some of the devious things people do to make their shops more successful.  Boo.  My experience has been that most knitters are wonderful, honest people.  I can’t get focused on the bad and ugly.  In that vein, I will now tell you how I made the cable hat.  This is a “how to”, not a pattern.  It will work for pretty much any button-banded hat. 

1.  Decide what design you want on the band.  Since you’re going to the trouble of making a band, instead of just knitting in the round from the forehead up, make it count.  It should be a design that lends itself to vertical display, like cables or ribbing or other vertical stitchwork.  It can be like the random-brim hat.   

2.  Cast on enough stitches for the width of the band.  In the case of the cabled hat, I used a chunky yarn and size 8 needles and loosely cast on 18 stitches:  4 each for the cables (8), 2 for each purl section surrounding and between the cables (6), and 2 each for the knit stitch bands at top and bottom (4). 

3.  Proceed to knit your desired pattern for 20 (if stretchy) or 21.5  (not so stretchy) inches.  The next row, knit in the desired number of buttonholes like this:  Follow your pattern to where you want the button hole.  Yarnover for the next stitch.  Knit (or purl-whatever works with your pattern) the next two stitches together.  Knit over to the next button hole location and repeat the process. 

4.  Work two more rows in your pattern, then bind off. 

5.  Turn your band on its side.  Use two circs or four double points that are at least one size smaller than the previous needles.  Starting two rows past the buttonholes, pick up and knit one stitch for every row of band.  Connect to work in the round. 

Round 1:  (knit 1, yo, knit 1, yo) repeat all the way around

Round 2:  It’s your choice!  You can make the top of this hat whatever you want it to be.  In the case of my cable hat, I picked up and knitted 40 stitches, so round 1 gave me a total of 80.  For round 2, I did (knit 4, purl 1, knit 2, purl 1) all the way around, to set up my mini-cable pattern.

Round 3 (my cable hat):  (knit 4, purl 1, 1×1 left cable, purl 1) all the way around. 

Row 4 and beyond:  I repeated rounds 2 and 3 up to where I decreased to make the top.  Okay, actually I’m not up there yet, but when I have about 7.5 inches total I will.  At that point, I’ll probably knit 2 together for a couple of rounds, get it down to something manageable, thread the yarn through the remaining stitches and pull tight.  You know the drill.  I want my hat to be kind of flat on top, so that means rapid decrease, instead of gradually decreasing towards a more pointy top. 


Okay, I guess that’s a pattern after all.  It’s copyrighted, folks.  Don’t sell it, just make it for yourself and your cold friends and family.  I do so love sharing!



Ain’t Too Proud to Beg, Part II

Jimmigirl, you are absolutely right.  What good does it do to moan about the loss of Karabella’s Breeze if I don’t let them know my thoughts.  I went right to their website where I saw that only an odd colour of yellow is left on their colour card for Breeze.  I felt slightly faint when I saw it. I immediately sent them this email message: 

Dear people,
I am lamenting the discontinuation of Breeze.  I am so sad that I wrote an open letter to you in my blog.  You may see it here: .
Wouldn’t you like to reconsider your decision?  Or maybe you could just make a little for me?  I wouldn’t tell anyone.
Regretfully yours,
Essie Bruell
If any of you have your own love affairs with Breeze, please feel free to use the letter above, or to compose your own, and send an email to to let them know that we won’t take this lying down.  Come on, it worked for Obama!  Stand up for your yarn!  Knitting activists, we have nothing to lose but our yarn!  Knitters of the world, unite!  Breeze forever…!


I know that such public discussion of the discontinuation of this cashmere and silk beauty may initiate a run on the yarn.  I’ve already ordered one emergency box myself, but I hope that knitters will be as nice as our joint reputation dictates and not hog more than a dozen balls for themselves.  I can see a black market springing up just for the trading of this lovely product, and I won’t be held responsible for my actions if it gets down to the last few balls. 


Ain’t Too Proud to Beg…

I had my treatment today at the oncology center.  It was fun.  No, they didn’t give me anything that affected my brain, except the usual Benadryl.  I met some new people, including a woman who’s been on and off in treatment for breast cancer for 20 years, and makes it her business to know everyone in the center.  There was also a new oncology nurse who was an Ohio transplant.  She called me “Sweetheart” and worried when her first IV turned into a blood bath.  I didn’t care.  We had a good laugh about what to call it (a hemorrhage?  a massacre?  or be modern and call it a “hot mess”?).  We had a wonderful Thanksgiving supper with all the fixin’s.  The office was letting us in on their holiday party.  My IV seemed to be done faster than usual, although I had time to knit a fingerless mitt all the way to an inch from the top.  Seriously, it was a good time.


I can’t help but contrast that with the disaster of the week.  Karabella is discontinuing that gorgeous yarn, Breeze, that I love so much for lace scarves.  (see Karabella Breeze Lace Scarf « Essiewb’s WeblogCashmere and Silk Lace Scarf Yes, that’s it, the photo is straight from my store.  Flying Fingers has a discontinued yarns section, and that’s where I learned of my imminent loss.  I ordered a few balls, since they are on sale, but not near enough to make me feel secure.  After all, I’m going to have to have enough to last the rest of my life.  I’m not sure how I should estimate that:  two balls per month x 12 months per year x 3 new advances in lupus therapy x 10 years per advance…oh heck, I may as well just corner the market.  I wonder if begging helps in this situation. 

Dear Karabella yarnmaking people,

I am desperately in love with your yarn, Breeze.  As you know, Breeze is that fantastic combination of silk and cashmere that has such a nice way on small needles.  It just wants to become a gorgeous scarf, or a wisp of a top over a pretty camisole.  It moves well in my hands.  It is made for me.  Please, please, please, keep making it. 

Please.  I could have a nervous breakdown if I am forced to exist without it.

Please, please. 

If you don’t keep making Breeze, I will hate you forever.  So there.

Yours very sincerely,


P.S.  I am a doctor and I know what I am talking about.


Prayer v. Knitting

Sunday morning.  I am talking with God today.  The conversation doesn’t have anything to do with the day of the week.  I talk to God every day.  My discussion today is about the anguish of having three days with no sacroiliac pain, and then the recurrence of it today.  Why three good days?  Why let me build up hope, anticipate the long-awaited end of this flare?  Is it to emphasize my ignorance about this process, make me see the limitations of thinking of it logically and scientifically?  Am I supposed to learn some lesson here? 


I find myself in that humble, bargaining frame of mind.  I’m looking back over the past few days, trying to see if my behavior was too confident, too soon.  My only activities during the lovely three days without pain were a trip to the grocery store, the usual household stuff, and knitting group.  I didn’t overdo it.  Uh-oh, maybe I didn’t do enough?  Do you think, God, that I should have used the three days more wisely?  Maybe I could have spent that time engaging with the world on some more useful, less selfish level? 


Yesterday I was intoxicated with happiness, jubilant over a few days free from the lancinating back pain.  Today I am angry and low.  The flare that I’m begging to go away has been with me since springtime.  It is the fall, my favorite season.  I haven’t been able to enjoy the outdoor allure of the fall in years.  The whole time my daughter was in high school, I was entering flares in the fall.  For eight years, I didn’t see a live football game, go on the color cruise and enjoy the lovely fall foliage around the Tennessee River, take my wares to the Chattanooga Market.  I’ve had such great hopes for this fall. 


I am not having a good conversation.  I have no sense of why this is happening.  I have no feeling of when I can get relief enough to walk to my kitchen and stand up to make a meal.  Today I hurried to the kitchen, irrationally trying to outrun the onset of the pain.  I sat on a stool and rolled back and forth between counters, preparing my cup of coffee and a bowl of random food choices.  Right now, I’m sitting down, waiting for a pain pill to bring some relief, and hoping that nausea doesn’t accompany it.  It’s not so much the pain, as what it means.  The sacroiliac pain means those joints are still inflammed, meaning the flare isn’t gone.  Damn.


I am trying to knit my way through, as usual.  The beautiful Karabella Breeze yarn has gone a long way.  I will finish this scarf from one ball of yarn.  I’ve stretched it out to imitate the blocked shape, and it measures a good 52 inches.  I can finish today.  That will feel like an accomplishment, making use of what I can do while this stupid flare persists.  This is something that reminds me of my career in medicine-working until the job is done.  Every day, I stayed in my office until the last patient was taken care of.  These days, I sit and knit until I have a finished product.  I am proud of what I do.  It feels useful.  I produce beautiful products that perform well and last a long time.  Today this knowledge soothes me more than my prayers. 



Things I Do in the Fall

I just realized that I might have my first non-flaring fall in many years.  I’ve speculated that the increased light exposure from summer (even though I try and avoid it) eventually causes a flare that manifests itself in the fall.  I began to notice this because I was never healthy for football season, and missed seeing all my boys play.  My daughter was a basketball cheerleader two years in high school, and I missed the first games of the season.  Usually I was recovering by late winter, and feeling better in the spring and summer.  That’s the old schedule.  Now, with the help of the current therapy, I’m looking forward to a fall when I’m improving rather than flaring. 


Those fall flares have been more of an insult, because fall has always been my favorite time of the year.  The feeling of crisp, cooler air, the leaves changing colour, the summer drought ending-all those things make fall feel wonderful to me.  Much more than spring, they felt like a beginning to me. 


My adherence to an academic schedule rather than a calendar year schedule also made fall the beginning.  There were new challenges, new projects, new people…all the things that held my interest and made my work more interesting. 


This year, I’m determined to use some new yarns.  I opened two packages that came a month ago, and that I deliberately left sitting in the foyer, tempting me, until I couldn’t remember what they held.  When I pulled them open yesterday, the new yarns in them were a wonderful “surprise”.  All three are new to me:  Karabella Breeze (40% cashmere/60% silk), thin and refined; Buffalo Gals (70% bison/30% merino), tightly spun with some long coarse hairs; and South West Trading Company Saphira (100% merino), a fat superwash single-ply, beautifully dyed.  All of these were ordered with specific projects in mind.  I have pictured what I want them to be, and I will show them as they develop.  I am proud that none of these late purchases is a duplication of anything in my stash.  I am selecting yarns with increasing discrimination and thrift.  (Yes, thrift.  I said it, didn’t I?)


My fall will have some new people this year.  As I improve, I’ve begun to call people and make plans to meet.  I am expecting myself to become more mobile, and I am setting up obligations that rely on that.  There is a certain faith in that.  More than just being hopeful, I am leaping off the edge with the certainty that I will grow wings to sustain my flight.  If I hit bottom instead, oh well, it won’t be the first time.  My butt is padded. 


Two days ago I tackled the huge pile of belongings left in my front room by one of the boys as he departed for school.  “You can just send these to me,” he said.  I didn’t yell and scream at the time.  We were headed to the bus station with him and his three giant rolling duffles, and I needed my energy for other things.  I waited for him to settle into his dorm room and realize that he and his two roommates wouldn’t survive the influx of another pile of-largely unnecessary-paraphernalia.  This week, I packed five medium-sized boxes of essentials (yeah, he left his winter jacket, boots, sheets…), entrusted them to the U. S. Postal Service, and sorted the rest to charity or storage.  Now, if I can make it through the left-behind belongings of the other two before another year dawns…it’s a wonder that mothers don’t find themselves running down the streets of their neighborhoods, hands in the air, screaming undecipherable laments. 


I ordered some “Jesus was a community organizer” buttons this week.  More than most insults, the McCain/Palin portrayal of a community organizer as a useless citizen with an insignificant job was ignorant and cruel.  Yes, it was rude to all of us who have ever tried to organize a community movement, sit on a volunteer board, spread a public service message, or provide a needed service in an underserved area.  More than that, it was a slap in the face to the folks who are helped by all such community efforts.  It said to them that their loss of jobs, their unsafe living conditions, their poorly educated children, their lack of affordable health care, their dismally impoverished lives, are insignificant.  It said that they aren’t worth helping, educating, protecting or representing.  I have been a registered Independent all my life, and I always thought myself capable of separating the message from the party, but the conduct of Republicans in this election makes me want to change my affiliation to Democrat forever.


So, I guess that’s the other thing that this fall means to me.  This is the most ferocious, thought-provoking, history-making presidential election of my lifetime.  It’s all on the backdrop of a war that I consider unnecessary and national economic woes that are affecting my own bottom line.  So this fall will be remembered for headaches and heartburn along with the other features I’ve noted.