The two photographs below present Hat Version 1 and Hat Version 2. At first glance they look identical and for the most part they are identical. I used the same width of ribbing, the same open staggered increases and decreases and the same bottom up construction. The key difference is the size. This is not a lesson in the importance of checking your gauge (I think sometimes you need to and sometimes you don't!) but in the possibility for a well-considered knitting project to still turn up something unexpected.
For this project I did check my gauge and I calculated the amount of stitches per inch and worked out the size accordingly. I even calculated for the stretch of the knitting at about 10% and so made the hat 10% smaller than the measurements indicated.
This is where I went wrong because the knitting was much stretchier than I calculated it at. I did think at first that this was due to the difference between a relaxed and a tight tension. But after thinking it over for a while I don't think this would account for such a great difference in measurements. The lesson here is the difference between gauge measured flat and when measured stretched. Unfortunately this little issue did not present itself during the making of the hat.
The hat was tried on many times during construction (with a patient Mr' wearing knitting needles on his head) and it fit just nice. But when I took it off the needles and bound off, it turned out about 4 inches too big! So after a couple of heartbreaking moments I resolved to undo the hat and start again. Because I chose bottom up construction I had to go back right to the beginning. I also discovered I finish things too well, as it took ages to find the ends I had so nicely woven in!
Remaking the second time was much faster because I: a) knew what I was doing and b) the hat was 4 inches smaller. This time the hat fits perfectly and does not make the Mr. look silly. Since I was remaking, I also took the liberty of curving the decreases at the top in a slightly more so as to reduce the bulk of fabric at the top of the head.
Hat Version 1. Sad Hat.