Koolhaas hat: knitting beats architecture in this case (plus random car thoughts)

I’ve been spending all waking hours researching replacement cars and doing essential Nomad Press and freelance work.

I’m driving a rental car that adds a charge every day (no longer paid by the insurance company of the person who totaled the car I now need to replace . . . apparently the company covers three days of rental after they OFFER you a settlement, not after you receive it; I don’t know how they think a person can find and buy a car in three days, while working, no weekends included, but I don’t think they think at all, actually).

The rental is a sedan, which is not at all suited to my needs, other than just getting around town. The thought of heaving boxes of books into or out of either the back seat or the trunk . . . well, that’s not a pretty thought. I can’t even put the hand truck or the dog crate inside to take them to see if they’ll fit in the cars I’m considering, so I take a steel tape measure instead and hope measuring is good enough. I do have another car that I can move cartons of books in if I need to, but my daughter’s driving it to and from her several jobs (bookstore, clothing store, teaching fencing for the city).

As sedans go, the one I’m driving is pretty decent. It’s been okay in light snow and has been fine for necessary trips to Boulder and Denver, but it’s definitely a temporary fix. I’ll be glad to have the fundamental car problem solved.

So here’s some holiday knitting that succeeds at its many tasks:


On the right are two of Jared Flood’s Koolhaas hats. Jared found his design inspiration in the relatively new Seattle Central Library, the principal architect for which was Rem Koolhaas. Here’s what the library itself looked like on December 28 when seen from a car window in the rain.


The pattern for the hat was in the Interweave Knits Holiday Gifts Issue, and now that the issue has sold out ($7.99) is available as a standalone pattern from the Interweave online store ($4.50).

It’s a terrific pattern. Although the start-of-round marker shifts a couple of times, once I’d made it through the repeat a full time I had the sequence memorized and it was easy to figure out when to shift the marker (necessary repeat won’t work without shifting? shift!). I used Cascade 220 leftovers from the Norsk Strikkedesign sweater for my two hats. (The Norsk Strikkedesign sweater is getting a workout in this cold weather. Its sleeve length is perfect: the sleeves aren’t so long that they get in the way, but they are long enough to double as built-in fingerless mitts in frigid weather.)

Just after the new Seattle Central Library opened, I walked all the way from the top to the bottom through the spiraling stacks and research areas, checking it out. It was interesting. It’s still a nifty looking building, but after several years of use is taking some hits in evaluations of its functionality. Lawrence Cheek’s article in the Post-Intelligencer covers those bases pretty thoroughly: "There’s something missing from the art in this building, and it’s so basic and simple that it can be captured in one word: warmth." Cheek also comments about odd walls installed to keep people from bonking their heads and on uncomfortable seating and noisy areas.

The Koolhaas Hat is, by comparison, extremely well designed, functional, and warm. It’s a great pattern, with the decrease sequence neatly worked at the top so it doesn’t interrupt the flow.

I did make it in the longer ("men’s") size to ensure that there’d be plenty of wool over my ears. I wear it folded up one level (just the ribbing), which puts two layers where they’re most needed.

Highly recommended. A delight to knit and to wear.

The socks on the left: these have been my carry-around, no-brain project for a while, and I made progress on them but am beginning to think of them as The Eternal Socks, which is not a good sign. I’d better finish them pretty soon and start another pair. There comes a time when even a carry-around project needs to get OFF THE NEEDLES.

I’ve been delayed in getting it there by the Cotton Chenille cardigan I’m making for my acupuncturist. It’s also no-brainer knitting. I’m heading for the finish line on its body (the sleeves are done). No photos lately.

And now I’d better get back to work. I haven’t decided yet whether it’s going to be too cold today to do more car research, although it’s already 4.5 degrees warmer than the predicted high (currently 16.5 degrees F/ -8.6 C). I’m at the test-driving stage. If I can’t do that, though, I’ll be able to get more essential desk work done. Either way is fine.

My hats and sweater, on the other hand, are superb no matter what.


4 thoughts on “Koolhaas hat: knitting beats architecture in this case (plus random car thoughts)”

  1. Initially I thought Koolhaas referred to “cold house” as in perfect-to-wear-inside-to-stay-warm. If it weren’t for the Lopi sweater and the cats…

  2. I know this is random, but I feel for you about the car and have you checked out any used Pontiac Azteks? I have one. I’ve also heard they are selling very inexpensively…that’s because some folks think they are ugly. I think they are darn useful. It’s a small SUV-shape, with plenty of room for two dog crates, or a lot of books, or five people, depending on how you use the thing. It comes in all-wheel drive or not. It has a lot of clearance off the ground, and it’s not horrible in terms of mileage. (21-23 all wheel drive, 26? if not.) I like the knitting progress, and I’ll hope that things get easier soon!

  3. Regarding having to move the marker at the end of rounds… on most simple patterns, if you just don’t USE a marker at all, the pattern flows naturally around and around and around. (On some complex patterns, it is indeed necessary to move the markers because it’s too hard to keep track in your head and you do need to know when the round actually ends.) On a hat, you can arbitrarily decide where the round begins and place a marker when you are ready to start the crown decreases.

    I think this is an artifact of trying to write patterns in some standard way that always calls for a marker to indicate the beginning of the round. I did it in on the Fishtrap hat and wristers in Arctic Lace, and I wish I hadn’t.

    The chart I had originally drawn and included in the book would have worked if I didn’t have a marker (the way I actually knitted the items), and just said something like, Set up the pattern according to the chart, then *Knit until you come to the next YO, ktbl into the YO, YO, k2togtbl* and continue to spiral around in this manner until you reach the desired length.

    Instead, I wrote a “standard” pattern and ended up needing an errata on the chart, which is very ugly and makes the project look difficult even though it is a no-brainer.

  4. I’m having a terrible time figuring out the pattern…or I must be doing something wrong? Am I supposed to twist the stitches on the cable needle?
    Sigh… I saw the hat originally here on your blog and just “needed” one… or five. A skein of Noro Cash Iroha later and I’m loving it, but frustrated and feeling like I’m making too much of it 🙂 You’re an inspiration, I’ll hang in there as a result of that pic of those two hats!

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