A wonderful thing happened to me this week: a favourite designer needed a spot filled for her online book tour. This meant I had a perfect excuse to take time out of the whirlwind of life this week and peruse “Twisted Woolly Toppers” in detail with a cup of tea. As a test knitter for Woolly Wormhead (but not for these hats), I saw each pattern in its initial form, but hadn’t had a chance to see it all put together: the attractive layout, the photos of the architecture that inspired the hats, all the little details so carefully assembled.
This is a book to make knitters happy. Both beautiful and practical, it’s jammed with gorgeous photos and instructions in both written and charted formats. ‘Twisted’ refers to all the cabling in it and not to the way you will feel all twisted up with that sort of tail-wagging, puppy-like enthusiasm as you try to choose a pattern to start.
Because I’m a last-minute addition, I didn’t get to do an interview with Woolly Wormhead and satisfy my curiosity. I didn’t get to ask her about living in a bus in Italy. Or about what it’s like to design for people’s heads all over the world. Or what a day is like designing, cleaning the bus, playing with a toddler, grocery shopping in Italian. Or which her favourite of the designs is, or where she manages to store all the hats she’s knit over the years – are they jammed into a box somewhere on the bus, just waiting to burst out like confetti the moment her son opens the lid?
So what I’ll do instead is share a little hat love.
Hats = Awesome
To begin, general waxing poetic on the topic of hats and their inherent fabulousity. They are:
~Potato-chip knitting. (Can you finish one and not think about starting another right away?)
~As portable as socks, but faster and there’s only one to make.
~One-skein projects for the most part.
~Great gifts. (Heads, everyone’s got one.)
~Clever projects to try new skills.
~Warm. Or just stylish. Or both.
~Charity knitting that makes you smile.
In other words, all the things we like about knitting are all the things you can find in hats. Simple or complicated, functional or fashionable, but always custom-made. And all those community things we like to do as knitters work so well with hats: swaps, knit-alongs, charity drives. Sometimes it seems like knitters are skipping through the world, happily tossing hats around them like petals from a basket.
These Hats = Awesome.
Now to a more specific praise of hats. These 10 hats in particular. There is a multitude of styles from berets to beanies to ear-wrapping warmth. It is a joy to find a designer who can take something good and elevate it with clever designs and well-written patterns. These are hats that make you feel smart while you’re knitting them, and then flatter you while you wear them.
Our lives are full of all sorts of people: toddlers, urban sophisticates, snowboarders, whimsical art students, fashion-conscious teens…there are more ways to be a person than I’d like to spend my precious time counting. And yet I’m fairly confident that no matter whose noggin needs a cover, you’ll find something here. Don’t forget to see beyond the photo; many of these are far more multi-purpose than your brain will initially think. Sure Tinker is on a toddler in a bright teal, but think of it in espresso brown and then imagine it on that snowboarder in your life. Duuuude.
Chevron walks that fine line of being interesting to knit while still being something someone with a more conservative style will wear. On the other hand, knit in an intriguing yarn, perhaps one with long colour transitions, this becomes a wild-child full of fun and energy.
Brownie would rock the charity auction scene. The thick cabled band is balanced with a sweet, spiraling top and then finished with a little band of stitches just right for keeping ears warm. I am getting a real urge to make it for the raffle at our annual family fun day. There’s usually wind and a chill in the air, and I bet people would love to win it.
This cable-within-a-cable hat seems to walk a perfect line in terms of the fashion I’m seeing around here. My teenage daughter (can you believe she’s 13 already?) thinks Slable hat is super, and I think a lot of other girls and women would agree:
It’s even knit in fingering weight – a yarn we all have in our stashes that is great for multi-season use.
This book makes me want to knit in series: I dream of knitting all of them in a row, or knitting one in multiple sizes (a Mama Bear, Papa Bear, Baby Bear sort of gift), and knitting another in multiple yarns to see what will happen. It makes me itch to explore the designs in many ways.
I just love cables. They are so impressive-looking yet you need only do the simple trick of knitting stitches out of order. “Twisted Woolly Toppers” makes use of all sorts of cables, from the thin structural look of twisted stitch cables to the think cushy warmth of a heavily crossed cable.
The instructions are available in both chart-form and written. The sizes stretch all the way from newborn to adult large. As one of her test-knitters, I can assure you that multiple knitters have tested multiple sizes for accuracy. Another neat feature: with so many sizes, changing yarn weights becomes simple. Try a bulky weight yarn by knitting up the numbers for the smallest size, perhaps. Just do a gauge swatch and see which size gets you the right circumference. There’s also information in the back on sizing for all different ages to help you if you can’t measure your recipient.
This book is such a treat, it’s like Christmas in July…er, May. You can buy it in a gorgeous PDF to print yourself if you can’t wait, or you can order a bound copy and haunt your mail box waiting for this sweet treat to arrive. At 9 pounds, it’s just over $13 (both Canadian and US) at current exchange rates. And speaking of Christmas, it’s a perfect time to start knitting little projects that don’t puddle wool on your lap. Oooh, I just had a brainwave: wouldn’t it be a great present for knitting friends to knit a hat from the book and give it along with a copy?
(To see the rest of the book tour entries so far, which include the story of how her publisher became a publisher and some interesting interviews and other bits and bobs, click here and then scroll down to the bottom.)