I went to a club meeting last Saturday at Cindy's Knitting Room in Princeton. One of the gals showed a baby hat she had knit on her midgauge machine that I thought was soooooooooo nifty, not to mention awfully fast to do.The hospitals have told us they'd like pink or blue hats that are 11-12 inches wide (circumference) by 6 inches tall. Using any machine you can get your gauge and do a little math. If they come out a little big, you can donate them to a different agency. The yarn I had on hand is suitable for the standard gauge machine. (Mary Lou's Symphony.) So, I allowed a few more stitches for the roll at the bottom and a couple of rows extra for the top. I got 7 stitches and 10 rows to the inch with the tension dial about 7. So I knit them 50 stitches by 124 rows, allowing a little extra width and length. You can fiddle and eventually get the size you are satisfied with.
What is fast is this. They are knit lengthwise so the number of stitches is the height of the hat and the length is the circumference. You start each hat and end each with waste yarn. Leave a long tail of the main yarn at the beginning of each hat that will be used for seaming and cinching the top. Fold with the purl side facing you and kitchener stitch the edges together. Then remove waste yarn. With the same yarn tail, finish the top of the hat. The top can be done in a couple of ways. If you do a short running stitch with the purl side facing you, about 2 stitches down and cinch it tight, it ends up looking like a little flower. If you do an in and out running stitch on just every other edge stitch with the wrong (knit) side facing you, cinch it tight, it gathers like most hats are done. If there is a hole, you can sew north and south, east and west, and it covers up the hole nicely. The knitting naturally rolls to the purl side. I like it for a change. And with kitchener stitch there is no seam for the baby's tender head to rest on.
Here's a diagram if that helps visualize the construction better:
What made them super fast for me is the diagram on the right. I started out with 20 rows of waste yarn, knit the hat, then 20 rows of waste yarn, etc. until I had 10 hats in a long snake-like piece of knitting, ending with the waste yarn. 20 rows of waste yarn was sufficient to have enough space to cut them apart. Not having to cast on repeatedly, saves a lot of time. I made 18 of them yesterday in a couple of hours and then spent some time finishing them while watching a movie. I still need to wash and dry them but that won't take long.
Wanted to share in case you are into charity knitting. I just thought this was cool and cute and am always happy to find something that goes so fast. Thanks to Pat!