I finally discovered why one should use the recommended yarn when knitting from a pattern. Though I got over my fears of knitting from a chart (more on this later), I am still too thick to know that a cotton/silk blend (instead of the wool/silk recommended) will stretch like crazy, unfortunately making my new cabled beret a possible candidate for a nice microwave cozy. (I put it in the dryer tonight on high and managed to shrink it quite a bit, hence it looks pretty cute in this photo. However, a light rain might make it spread, blob-like, again. I'm wearing it as I type, and it's sagging faster than my daughter's diaper at the spray park).
And the rub is that the yarn I used for this project had already been used — and then rescued — from another failed knitting project, a cardigan from the Stitch and Bitch book, which I started about five years ago and then put away 3/4 finished about 4 1/2 years ago. When I got the itch to knit earlier this month, I unraveled the mostly finished cardigan so I could stave off buying any new yarn. (I'm always trying to do my part to keep America's economy in the dumps). But my thriftiness did not pay off.
If you've ever seen a pizza-maker throw dough in the air, you have a sense for what this beret is like: The more you handle it, the larger it gets! It fit me fine at first, a bit slouchy but that's what I was hoping for. But now it's just getting bigger and bigger, like some magical Sisterhood of the Travelling Rasta Hat.
Anyway, I knit this beret from a free pattern I found online at www.sweetsassafras.org (just look at how cute the creator's is!), for the first time using a chart, which I had always been totally intimidated by. But it's easy — kinda like reading tab for playing guitar. It's totally visual and easier to read then long sets of small-print instructions. I even cabled. And I choose the pattern specifically because it was hard. I decided it's good for me to keep learning new things. I watch my daughter learn new things every day (like where her ears are, for example) and I don't want my brain to atrophy.