Hats off to you!

I'm a hat person. I love designing, knitting and wearing hats, so no doubt there'll be at least a couple in my next book.  I've been looking at the sort of hats I've designed over the years and it's soon clear that I do love the beret. For my market research it would be great if you could let me know your faves - the sort of hats you like to both knit and wear.
Boho Hat in Artesano Inca Mist
Boho is from my second collection for Artesano, a Fair Trade yarn company specialising in yarns from South America. It was inspired by a similar hat worn by the little girl in the film Secret GardenI've vamped it up a little with tiny bugle beads in the centre of each flower for a 1920s sort of look.
Chulo in Artesano Hummingbird
Another design for Artesano, this time inspired by the Peruvian Chulo hat.  Worn in the Andes to keep the head and ears warm and usually made from alpaca yarn, as it's both warm and a good insulator.
Aquamarine Hat in Manos Wool Clasica
Aquamarine was from my first Manos collection, featuring an easy drop stitch pattern with a couple of pompoms for added panache.
Bola from Wandering Spirits

Bolivian woman wearing a bola
This is a fave shape, inspired the Bola (or bowler) hats of Andean women. Bowler hats have been worn by Quechua and Aymara women in Peru and Bolivia since the 1920s.  A shipment was reportedly sent out from Europe to Bolivia via Peru for use by the Europeans who were working on the construction of the railroads. On arrival, the hats were found to be too small, so were distributed amongst the locals.
Shoowa Hat from World Knits
These hats are inspired by the patterns of the cut-pile raffia embroideries of the Shoowa people in the kingdom of Kuba, now known as Congo. Originally meant for seat covers, the intricate textiles were also used as dowries, currency, status symbols and sometimes even shrouds.
Maya Hat from World Knits
I'm not a great felter, mainly as I don't like the feel of the finished product, but I have been known to dabble a couple of times and the Maya hat is one of the results. Although it's called Maya, the source of the design couldn't be from further afield.  In fact it's based on the thick woollen men's hats called pakuls worn in Afghanistan.
Albion Hat from World Knits
Another beret, this time with an intarsia brim, adorned by a felted rose and leaves. Small bits of leftover felt can be made into instant embellishments with a tiny bit of tweaking, so I always have a big bag to hand.

I'm a lazy felter and usually just run up long lengths of woollen fabric on the knitting machine at the loosest tension, or I recycle old woollen sweaters. I then put the fabric in the washing machine on a hot 140F/90C cycle, with a towel for friction and a scoop of powdered detergent et voilà... when the cycle's finished your fabric will be felted and ready to use when dry. NB Only natural fibres will felt, synthetics will not. Even machine-washable wool which is coated in silicone will not felt.

Just one other thing... tomorrow is the last day to enter the draw for a free copy of Sweet Shawlettes.  All you have to do to qualify is to become a follower of my blog before midnight on the 31st March. I'll get Philip to pick the winner on Monday. Bonne chance!


  1. Personally, I love berets! They look good on everyone, but most of all, they're the only kind of knit hat I've found that looks good on ME. I have made an insane number of berets myself, and I intend to continue doing so. Lovely designs!!

  2. Like Tracy, I like berets too. They suit me and I can decorate them with all sorts of brooches and pins to suit my mood. Having said that, I have never made a hat for myself, always for others... The two you have shown today are beautiful!

  3. I absolutely love Boho and Albion so looks like I'm in the beret camp too???? I must confess though that I have never knit one for myself -I wear my hair very short so struggle to get the look I want without any hair showing around the edges - and have made only a few for others :( Time for a change in attitude!!!! Here's hoping for Sweet Shawlettes too ;) ;)

  4. I love a deepish BERET, bit not so deep it goes floppy and shapeless. I reeaky admire the shape if the Shoowa as well. Visible, crisp structure.


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