The World is Flat

A lot of people seem to be wondering why I designed Halfdome to be knit flat. It’s a round item, after all, so knitting it in the round makes intuitive sense. I have some very good reasons for designing it flat, though, and I am now going to tell you what they are.

  1. Knitting stockinette stitch in the round is boring. Knit, knit, knit, knit, knit, knit, knit. Nary a purl in sight. Maybe it’s because I’m a bad buddhist and I haven’t fully accepted that boredom is a form of suffering, which comes from desire, which comes from a failure to recognize that the self is an illusion, or maybe it’s simply because I can’t read and knit at the same time, like my wife. Either way, endless rounds of knit stitches drive me bonkers.
  2. I like seaming.
  3. Stripes look funny when they’re knit in the round. I know there is a technique for preventing that little jog between color changes, but even the best examples I’ve seen don’t look as good as when that seam disappears and the stripes slide up together like teenagers on prom night.
  4. I prefer straight needles. I inherited my grandmother’s preference for straight metal needles (along with the needles themselves), and although I have a sizeable collection of circular needles, I don’t really like any of them. Their plastic wires never bend the way I want them to, I always feel like I’m struggling to point the needle in the right direction, and the spot where the needle joins the wire often features a yarn-snagging ridge. Addi Turbos are a lovely exception to these problems, but at sixteen bucks a shot, I’m not overhauling my circular needle collection any time soon.
  5. I’m lazy. Halfdome appeared in Knitty only this past summer, but I initially designed it about four years ago, when my relationship with double-pointed needles was on the rocks, George W. Bush was winding up for his catastrophic international blunder, and I hadn’t yet discovered the magic loop. Rather than going through the work of rewriting the pattern to be knit in the round (which Catherine has been kind enough to do) I sent Knitty the pattern as it was originally written.

All knitters have their quirks, and these are a few of mine. The great thing about getting your patterns published is that you get to revel in your own knitting quirks. The great thing about knitting in a free country is that you can ignore all of the knitting quirks you want.


  • wenders says:

    Amen, brother, especially to number 4. Me, too!

  • JulieT says:

    Okay, I’m with you on the straight needles and the stripes, definitely with you on lazy, and kind of there with the seaming, kind of, but DUDE! If you knit in the round with all those lovely knit stitches, you can read while you knit and be twice as entertained.

    Well, actually, you can read while doing plain purl stitches, too… this isn’t much of an argument..

    The thing I really love about knitting is, there’s a million ways to do things, and none of them are wrong. šŸ™‚

  • Lori says:

    I’m so impressed that anybody can read while they knit. There should be classes on how to do it. It would make my nightly “should I knit or should I read?” dilemma a thing of the past.

  • mc78 says:

    I’ll go ahead and plug those knit picks options needles. I can’t turn back now. And they come with caps so that you can pretend they’re straight needles.

  • Scarlet says:

    “#4 I prefer straight needles… Addi Turbos are a lovely exception to these problems, but at sixteen bucks a shot, Iā€™m not overhauling my circular needle collection any time soon.”

    Two (ish) words: KnitPicks Options.
    No cable memory, no snag, yummy smooth as glass tips, yummy smooth cables, and absolutely drool-over pricing!

  • Sean says:

    Are people picking on your about Halfdome again? The nerve!

    I learned to knit on straight needles, but once I tried Addi Turbos I never looked back. I use them for everything I do. I don’t even want to think how much I have spent on my needle collection in the last three years. And still, it seems that I always need another size/length. How can that be?

  • Kate says:

    hey jesse- i really enjoyed reading why your hat was knit flat because i hate knitting things flat, i hate purling and would much rather go around and around and around and i hate straight needles and love circular needles. my thanksgving dinner actaully consisted of a long discussion on the possibility of outlawing all straight needles! people are so interesting and i am glad there are people such as yourself to keep the love of the purl going and to keep someone using all those silly straight needles out there in the world. the denise interchangeable kit just came out in pink!! yeah for circulars!

  • Nigel Pottle says:

    After seeing your Half-dome, I really needed to knit it, but I had to knit it in the round. Sorry, but it didn’t make sense to knit it then sew it up. I hate finishing, so sewing in two ends is so much more preferable. I solved the problem of striping by not having any! I used Lorna’s Laces Shepherd Weight yarns which have a wonderful handdyed colouring, so the hats look wonderful all on their own. And I also did a little dabbling and made some of the hats with more than four sections. Oh, and I knitted them from the top down.

    I am going to add some pics to my blog soon of some of the hats I have made. Unfortunately I have not got enough pics of Half-domes I have made – I made seven of them, most of them in November, two as Christmas presents, one as a present for a friend who wanted a bike helmet hat,and the others for me.

    In any case, thanks for the inspiration.

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