Well, I found a hat pattern that looked pretty interesting - and it required FELTING, which I thought would be good for my first completely hand made project. That way the irregularities in the yarn might be hidden a little. I jumped right in.
Here is the finished hat before felting.
Detail of the Merino/Alpaca stripe
The crochet on the top of the hat.
The crochet on the sides/brim of the hat.
Once the hat was crocheted, I put it into a zip up lace bag and into the hot washing machine. I couldn't decide if this was a good idea or not - it really looked nice just as it was, although it was too big for my head. I put the hat through 1 1/2 washer cycles, and when I took it out it was Just Felted Enough. I sat it on a large glass jar overnight to shape and dry, and am pretty happy with the results of this first "completely by my hand" project.
And now the hat is finished.