Update 8/2011 - modifications for knitting this beret with 2 colors are posted here.The Quick Bulky Brioche Beret pattern (see complementary patterns section on the right for a link to the download) has been tested several more times and some additional clarifications made - the November 15, 2010 version contains all the updates.
The pattern was designed to be knit with Wool-Ease Thick and Quick. This is serviceable, economical yarn, readily available at most big-box craft stores. You get 106 yards for about $6 - and if you use one of those 40-50% off coupons, it's practically a free hat. The yarn is machine washable and wears like iron. Lots to admire here, even if it's mostly acrylic. Even though I'm looking for more sustainable fibers, there is a place for acrylic in our world. And a hat that is going to be used over and over, for years to come, is probably one of the best applications.
That being said, I longed to knit this hat in 100% wool. I have had my eye on Malabrigo Rasta, a super bulky, 100% merino wool dyed in amazing colorways. This wool is not your grandma's wool. It is so soft and lofty, you can hardly believe it's wool. The only problem is that there are only 90 yards per 150 gram skein. At $22+ a skein, you really don't want to have to buy two for just a few extra yards just to finish a hat. So here are a few adjustments you can make to the quick slouchy brioche beret pattern to use only one skein of luscious Rasta.
First, make the ribbed band just a little shorter - 1 inch instead of 1.5. Then make the body of the hat just a little shorter - 6 inches vs 6.5. This will reduce the "slouch" just a bit, but it's still a slouchy beret. One last change that you can make is to leave out the two rows after Decrease Row 1 although if you like living dangerously, you can keep these two rows in and still have enough -probably.
This wool is worth every penny - the resulting hat is so squishy and warm, it's a joy to wear. This coming from someone who really doesn't like to wear hats.
If you have any questions or comments about the pattern, please don't hesitate to contact me. And of course, you are free to do whatever you want with the finished object.