Angelfish Beanie

This is a double-barrelled post.

Barrel 1 -- The Inspiration
The other day I splurged and bought the Craftsy course Lace Shawl Design. I should add that it wasn't expensive at all, and it was actually cheaper than usual as they have a sale on right now ($20 instead of $30), I'm just cheap. I've only watched the first lesson, but I'm really inspired by it. The epitome of creativity is designing something original, and since I started knitting, this has been my aim. In fact, it's a dream of mine to knit my own wedding dress one day. Sorry, Mum, there's no man in my life right now, but that doesn't stop me from planning my wedding. I love knitting lace and I've done quite a bit of it. I've also done a small bit of designing -- mostly beanies and simple bags, that kind of thing (and a jumper for my niece which you know about already) -- but I can't for the life of me figure out how to design lace, especially with complicated shaping like in a fitted gown. When I handed up my thesis last year, I bought myself a book about designing and fitting knitted garments which I can see being useful to me later on and is a good general guide, but it didn't get into the nitty-gritty of complicated things like lace design.

So, I bought this class. Miriam Felton, the teacher, is very inspirational in her enthusiasm for knitting and just getting out there and having a go. As I said, I've only watched the first lesson so far, so my wedding dress is a long way off, but I have been encouraged to finally post my first pattern online.

Barrel 2.1 -- The Story Behind the Pattern
Last year I made, as a Christmas present, a beanie for a relative. Apart from rectangular projects, this was the first thing I designed myself. My family contains many aquarium enthusiasts and this one (who is not my Dad, but my Dad owns one too) owns an aquarium shop. I've grown up with community fish and I like them very much. One of my favourites is the angelfish. Here is a photo of one that I found on a public domain site:
I decided to make this relative a beanie with an angelfish on it. My aim was to make a beanie that reflected his aquarium-shop profession so he could wear it at work but not be so wacky that he wouldn't want to wear it in public. This is what I ended up with:

I'm pretty proud of it. I especially like the moss/seed stitch (I believe the name of this stitch is controversial but I say go cry a river) edging as it serves the purpose of providing a more rigid bottom of the beanie while also looking like aquarium gravel. I had originally planned to do a blue background (like water) and black stripes on the fish, but I wanted this to be something a grown man would be happy to be seen in (the blue is gorgeous but quite garish, or should I say garfish? No, no I should not.), so I switched the colours.

Barrel 2.2 -- Angelfish Beanie Pattern
Here is the pattern for my angelfish beanie. Please feel free to sell finished objects made using this pattern but please do not sell the pattern itself. I've only made this once and wrote the pattern down as I went along. If you find any errors or any confusing bits, please let me know so I can improve it!

This pattern requires the use of Intarsia colourwork. As a basic principle in Intarsia, each time you change a colour, you start a new ball or strand of yarn. You do not, therefore, carry long lengths of yarn behind the work (these are called floats). This said, if you have just a couple of stitches of one colour, you may want to cheat a bit and carry the yarn at the back for that (I like to weave these floats round the working yarn like with stranded knitting, to make the back look neater) But, at the intersection between colours, it is a good idea to cross the two yarns over each other at the back so there are no holes. For the intricate bits, some people (not me) like to leave them off and fill them in using duplicate stitches once the piece is done. I'm sure this advice is far too vague to be useful, so here is a good tutorial on Intarsia techniques:

This pattern is knit flat (as are most (/all?) Intarsia patterns).

    Needles and notions:
     Tension: 22sts x 28 rows = 10cm

     Size: To fit an adult head 50-55cm/20-22in circumference (I can tell you it fit my head which is about 22in and about how big you'd expect a man's head to be)

       Intarsia Chart:

Using brown and a one-needle cast-on (long-tail), cast on 112 stitches. Work in moss stitch for 7 rows.

Next row: Switch to black. K41, pm, work row 1 of Angelfish Beanie Intarsia Chart, pm, K44.

Continue the Angelfish Beanie Intarsia Chart between markers and black on either side of markers in stocking stitch throughout.

After Angelfish Beanie Intarsia Chart is completed, work 11 rows in black (stocking stitch).

Decrease for crown:
Row 1 (RS): [k6, k2tog] to end. 105 sts.
Row 2 and all alternate (WS) rows: P all sts
Row 3: [k5, k2tog] to end. 90 sts.
Row 5: [k4, k2tog] to end. 72 sts.
Row 7: [k3, k2tog] to end. 54 sts.
Row 9: [k2, k2tog] to end. 36 sts.
Row 11: [k1, k2tog] to end. 18 sts.
Row 13: [k2tog] to end. 9 sts.

Cut yarn, leaving a long tail. Thread tail through a tapestry needle. Pass thread through remaining live stitches and tighten. Use mattress stitch to sew together back seam of hat. Weave in ends. Block. Enjoy.