As many guessed, the amoeba (aka grapefruit warmer, aka paramecium) has turned out to be a hat. It is a beret that is knit sideways. Voila!
The pattern is "Arbacia," one of Wooly Wormhead's incredibly clever and convoluted designs. It uses short rows not only to allow the top to taper to the crown, but also between the top and the band so that the top stays full while the band fits snugly. I still can't quite believe that this actually came out okay, looks good, and fits. What a knitting adventure!
The short rows were a nice refresher on creating and picking up wraps. Other fun? Well, let's see. How about "p2tog tbl"? Yes, that is "purl 2 together through the (ack!) back loop." Not my favorite maneuver at the best of times. And on 2.75mm needles with a somewhat hairy alpaca blend (Classic Elite Alpaca Sox), it was amazingly challenging. By the eighth, and last, repeat, I finally got the hang of it.
But the best was saved for last. Since the hat is knit around, there is some seaming involved. The pattern suggests a provisional cast-on in order to pop those stitches back onto a needle at the end and Kitchener all 136 stitches (68 on each side). I have Kitchenered many a sock toe, but that's only 12-14 stitches. Not one-hundred-thirty-six! And besides, why put those original stitches back on a needle just so you can sew them?
I decided to try Lucy Neatby's method, which I had watched on a DVD, but never practiced. I began with orange waste yarn and finished up with yellow waste yarn. Here's what I learned -- the Neatby method is so incredibly tidy and perfect that it's impossible to look back and see which bit is your sewing and which are the actual stitches. Makes tightening up the sewing difficult. It was easy enough to do on the straight stockinette part, but the band, with it's delightful cables and yarnovers, was another story. When next I knit this pattern (and I probably will, it's serious fun) I shall attach a new piece of yarn and begin weaving from the center of the circle. I'll also knit fewer rows with waste yarn. I thought more would be better, but they just added bulk and got in the way of the sewing.
Blocking was a breeze. I used a dinner plate, as recommended, and added one little variation. Because alpaca is prone to stretch, I fastened the hatband tightly to a glass in the middle of the plate. This provided maximum stretch for the crown and zero stretch of the band.
Two other points in favor of the Arbacia pattern – 1) it's free, and 2) it used only 40 grams of fingering yarn.
I was so enchanted with my adventures in hatland that I immediately cast on another hat. This one will be knit from the top down. And next in the hat queue is a fair isle tam knit from the bottom up. So . . . sideways, top down, bottom up. Have I missed any directions? Is there another way to do it?