On knitting hats, and Twisted Woolly Toppers

I like hats; I just don't knit many of them. Sometimes a hat or cap pattern needs to be tested for a magazine or book I'm editing, and I'll knit it to check the instructions . . . or knit the sections that are trickiest, then reclaim the yarn for the next time, or for another project. Not many hats get completed around here.

Exception: I've knitted two of Jared Flood (Brooklyn Tweed)'s Koolhaas hats, one red and one blue, that my daughter and I wear throughout the cool seasons. They even fit under our bike helmets. I knitted them one holiday season while I was visiting Seattle, location of the library that inspired the hat's design.

Exception: When I test knitted a particular hat for Spin-Off years ago, I made one and kept it, and later I made a similar one for my mother.

So while I wear and value hats, I'm both picky about their design and far more likely to cast on for a pair of socks when I need a carry-around project.

Thus it's all the more remarkable that recently, when I needed a small project to work on during a conference, I dug into my box of leftovers and cast on for a hat . . . and that I enjoyed the process so much that I cast on for another immediately after . . . and will probably make another hat before I make my next pair of socks. (The sweater I've been working on has gotten too large, and is a little too complex, for conference knitting, although it's fine for around town.)

A knitting designer with the unlikely nom de plume of Woolly Wormhead designs intriguing, wearable hats. She has a new collection, from which I knitted my two conference projects. Technically, I'm part of a blog tour for the book, and she provided me with a preview PDF so I could take a thorough look and talk about the book intelligently. As a bonus, I've ended up with two new hats and become one of this designer's admirers.

Called Twisted Woolly Toppers: 10 Original Hat Designs Featuring Cable, Bias & Twist Techniques, this publication consists of 45 aesthetically pleasing pages, clear instructions, and excellent photographs. From the design perspective of the book itself, I especially liked the way photographic depth of field highlights the hat designs, which are shown with unusual clarity, while providing a sense of appealing contextual background. Patterns include both written-out instructions and (yay!) charts.


See that nice photography? There's more inside that lets you see that hat (and the others) even better. You can check out the basic contents on this page

What's not evident from the charming and varied models is that although sizing for the hats varies, if you have a medium-sized adult head, you can knit any of the designs for yourself, including the ones shown on the little person. Yarn weights run from sport to bulky. Although exquisite yarns are specified, for me these designs are prime candidates for using sweater leftovers.

The first design I picked out was Aeonium, which has a swirling pattern that picks up from the ribbing and covers the whole crown. It's in the spirit of, but quite different from, the Koolhaas hat. Because I didn't have enough leftovers of a single color, my ribbing contrasts. This is Brown Sheep Top of the Lamb.

Here's what it looks like on one model:


And here it is on another:


To get it to look more like the hat in the book, I'd need to make it a size or two smaller than I did. Here's the original model:


Yet it works out as a fine and wearable hat either way, and the larger size I got would be great for tucking in an abundance of hair (mine's both fine and short). I like the extra warmth around the ears.

So I liked that hat, and would knit it again, aiming for something closer to the designer's intention as displayed in the photo, but I can already tell that the next hat I knitted from this collection will become a favorite, complementing my existing single hat: this one won't work under a bike helmet, but it also is more relaxed feeling. I chose the design because I had yarn I thought would work for it—a single hand-dyed ball of worsted-weight wool with coloring that wouldn't be so busy it would fight with the stitch patterning on the hat.

It's called Medici, and here's the original:


And here's mine:


Again, I could probably go down a size, but I like the effect I got . . . which doesn't mean I won't go for another version that's a bit snugger. The Medici top's quite a bit simpler than the Aeonium design or its own lower portions, but still thoughtful: 


So my overall impression of this collection is that it's interesting and carefully wrought in all regards. I can imagine knitting each of the patterns in it, just for fun.

And that's quite a statement for someone who doesn't consider herself a hat-knitter.

Whether or not you consider yourself one, check out this book. It's available in both print and PDF versions. I think you'll be intrigued, as I am. A browse around the author's website reveals two more pattern collections of hats, and a large variety of single designs as well. Several tempt me (a couple of them seriously), but I think I'll explore more of this collection first.


Twisted Woolly Toppers blog tour

Here's the tour for the book, so you can check out the weekly contributions. Next week is Janel Laidman, of The Beebonnet Report. Janel is another fine designer and independent publisher of knitting resources.

March 18—Just
Call Me Ruby

March 25—Baby
Long Legs

April 1—Binge

April 8—Stolen

April 15—Knit
With KT

April 22—Faina’s Knitting Mode

April 29—Tot Toppers

May 6—The Independent Stitch—that's me, here, now

May 13—The BeeBonnet Report

May 20—Knit Circus


3 thoughts on “On knitting hats, and Twisted Woolly Toppers”

  1. Woolly Wormhead has some amazing designs on her web page. I first noticed her work about four years ago cos there are some really whacky hats that I love (but would I wear? Mebbe not). Looks like she’s created some more conservative designs for the book?

  2. Susan, these knitting projects are both quite finite and interesting to do. I think you might enjoy a little knitting!

    Lynne, yes, there are a number of more conservative hats in this collection. And having knitted a couple, I would also be more likely to try a couple of her quirkier designs . . . I might be surprised at liking them myself, or I can think of younger relatives who would love them.

    So glad to be reading about your travels, Joanne, and I think you are *definitely* a hat person if you bought one at this year's reportedly incredibly not Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival!

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