I let my gaze wander for just a minute while waiting for a tuna fish sandwich at Abundant Yarn & Dyeworks' Busy Bee Café (8524 SE 17th Ave., 258-9276, www.abundantyarn.com). It landed on what looked to be a fuschia, purple and raspberry-red Muppet. I sauntered over, trying to conceal my joy and to not behave like a dog rollicking in a pile of dirt. Every once in awhile a ball of yarn seems worth $26 a skein. Even though I had no idea what I would make, I had to have some of this over-the-top, hand-painted, Artyarns Wool Fur.

I asked manager Stevanie Waldorf if she thought I could get a hat out of one skein. She unleashed the skein, fluffed it out, and decided by weight that it "felt" like a hat. Hmmm. Okay, I was ready to trust her instincts. But I wanted to make a hat that fit any adult head without using a pattern. Hearing of my inability to knit pretty much anything but scarves and blankets (rectangles or squares), Stevanie shared the following:

The average head size is 21 inches
Multiply the gauge by 21 to get the number of cast-on stitches (first row of loops on your needle)
Knit for about 4" before starting to decrease (creates the shape of the cap)

Stevanie's encouragement boosted my confidence and sealed the deal. I gratefully accepted her offer to wind the skein into a ball for me. (Yarn that comes in a ball is usually ready to go. If it's in skein form, however, it needs to be turned into a ball or it will end up a huge, tangled mess.) It makes me sound lazy, but I loved that she volunteered to do the winding. Most yarn shops have an umbrella swift-and-ball winder for customer use, but I usually end up making a lot of racket, breaking something, or calling attention to myself. (Winding can also be done anywhere by hand with the backs of two chairs and a few minutes.)

Back at home the yarn sat around for a while, neglected, until a spell of overcast sky and steady downpours hit town.

Next Week: Knit Cap—Part 2

Made is a weekly how-to advertising-sales feature that focuses on D-I-Y projects and the local businesses that can help you make them.