Whoa. Where did September go? One moment I’m sending my kids to school, writing a post featuring a picture of my daughter across the windshield of my car and the next moment it’s weeks later, I don’t have any new completed projects, I haven’t spent time searching patterns online and no new projects have been started. My knitting group has started asking when my Hitchhiker will be done. September was brutal for my knitting.

To combat this lack of knitting progress, I’ve decided to do some quick Christmas gift knitting. I’m going to knit each of my nephews a simple hat and scarf. Nothing too fancy and knit from Lion Brand Wool-Ease Quick & Thick. But I was having trouble finding a simple pattern that included sizes for a fourth grader and a college student. In searching Ravelry projects made from the yarn (one of my favorite features of the site) I saw a number of cute hats called “Basic Hat Pattern.”

This basic hat pattern is found in the book, “The Knitter’s Handy Book of Patterns” by Ann Budd. It’s possible I squealed when I found this book (and promptly purchased the e-book) then wandered from room to room in my house telling whichever family member I found how cool the book is and asking them to pretend to be interested (they failed miserably, by the way. No Academy Award winners in this house).

This book is exactly what it says: a handy book of patterns. But not fancy patterns. Basic patterns for mittens, gloves, hats, tams, scarves, socks, vests and sweaters. Really, this is less a book of patterns and more a book of charts. For each item, Budd offers several size options. You knit a swatch with whatever weight yarn you want on whatever size needle you want and get the base number from which to base your specific item on. For my project, I want to make a youth size hat, bulky yarn and on larger needles. Based on that, I follow each stage of the pattern with the number of stitches suggested in the charts.

It sounds more difficult than it is. Gauge down one side, size across the top, and figure it out like you would with a multiplication chart. There are different charts for each new part of the project. Budd also offers quick information (quick tips and “personal touches”) throughout. In the hat section, she offers information on four different edgings and six different “toppers” (including an I-cord topknot, tassel and pompom).

The idea of a foundation pattern is something I’ve been looking for for some time now. I don’t mind adding my own patterns to objects, but I like solid guidelines for sizing and basic shaping.

Currently, I’m working on the basic hat for my youngest nephew. I’m following the pattern, but I’m not sure how this is going to turn out. Without a fourth grade head to try this out on, it seems large and it’s knitting up a little stiff. I’ll be curious to see how it actually fits, but won’t find out until Christmas (I still want this to be a surprise!). However, my daughters assure me he will always be able to grow into the hat. And a thicker hat means a warmer head, right?

What is your go-to knitting book?