Time: A couple of weeks to make two.
Cost: Around $25 for both.
Theo decided early in September that he wanted to be a baby panda for Halloween — a decision which he adhered admirably to, despite deciding in early October that his alter ego is, in fact, actually a baby polar bear. And as a lazy / pragmatic costume assembler, the baby-polar-bear-dressed-as-a-baby-panda outfit was a really easy one to pull together: black pants, a black-and-white baseball tee, and a wool panda hat that will later enter into the winter rotation.
A quick search of Ravelry reveals a lot of unintentionally creepy panda hats (hand-embroidered eyes can be cute, or… not). I was able to get this pattern book from the local library system, which presumably saved a lot of pattern-searching headaches. The hat is worked flat, so the pattern has you follow written instructions for the hat construction and shaping, interspersed with a chart, which you need to integrate using intarsia. It wasn’t mindless TV knitting, that’s for sure.
Modifications, for anyone who might be thinking about knitting the same pattern: I used the twisted German cast-on, and for simplicity’s sake I skipped the mouth / muzzle part of the chart, and used just one shade of black yarn and one of white. Because I have never made a pompom that is not thin and relentlessly self-destructive, I followed the book’s instructions for brown bear ears, holding my black yarn double and using size 10.5 DPNs.
After going trick-or-treating around the neighborhood, Theo — who is not super into dress-up — is fully on board with Halloween. Now we just need to convince him to wait another year before it is again appropriate to rap on neighbors’ doors and ask for candy.