get your woolly on

one of my favorite people in our industry is woolly wormhead, who i have the pleasure of seeing a few times each year at TNNA and knit nation. one of the things i like best about woolly is that she focuses her design work on hats—and only hats; she describes herself as a hat architect.

woolly is the author of seven books about hats and today i have the pleasure of introducing her newest publication, classic woolly toppers, which presents ten timeless hat styles, redesigned for the modern knitter.

hats are wonderful, one-skein projects that make terrific traveling companions. and because a hat is the perfect project to start in the middle of a sleepless night or when snowed in at home, they are great stash busters, especially for those fun single-skein impulse purchases. i thought it would be entertaining (and hopefully informative) to pull my favorite styles from the book and show how i’d pair them with yarns from my studio shelves.

this red toque, named taboosh, looks like it should be knit from a yarn with some body to help it keep its upright shape, but enough softness that it doesn’t grip too tightly around the ears—it should feel relaxed when worn. and maybe in a fiber that blooms just enough to give the surface a cohesive density. blends are great for getting a combination of yarn qualities in one package—foxfire upland wool and alpaca or the cormo alpaca classic might be nice choices. each has a good measure of springy wool and enough twist to support the hat shape, with some alpaca to soften the surface and provide stitch cohesion (which helps keep the cold out).

the camden cap definitely wants to stand up off the head in an architectural shape, so i would look for a somewhat stiffer yarn with a tighter twist and possibly a bit of polish to the surface—something that will support the architecture vey well and not sag.


string theory caper aran is a nice choice—the firm twist gives it lots of body and a bit of sheen to make that cap really stand up, while its blend of merino/cashmere/nylon provides a soft edge to counteract the stiffness of the hat brim.

i just love a nice slouchy tam, don’t you? annular is a soft mound of loveliness that sets onto your hair without mushing it—just right for days when you’ll be running in and out, and wanting to take your hat off. for this i want yarn that is very soft, with a relaxed twist to maximize the slouch—and maybe some fuzziness as well. i’m thinking something luxurious—cashmere, mink, silk, alpaca, yak are all fibers that will contribute the right qualities of softness and drape for a slouchy tam.

great northern yarns sport weight yak or mink/cashmere DK would be lovely in this hat, creating a luscious cloud of soft fabric that drapes just right—both are so light that they will keep some shape despite the volume in the hat’s fabric. the bloom of these fibers helps support the fabric while keeping it very light in weight.

karenin is an adorable earflap hat with a button-up brim and a fairly close fit. i’m thinking a wonderfully sturdy worsted weight yarn, such as briar rose charity would be just the ticket. studio june andrea mae DK would be another great option in  a super wash merino.

in one of chris’s signature tonal handpaints, this cap could be a witty replica of grandpa’s old plaid hunting cap—the perfect gift for one of my nieces or nephews.

sumner is one of those hats that can fit itself to any mood or personality—this is a great cap to make ahead and keep for when you need a last-minute gift; it will suit any age or gender and its lightweight fabric can be worn nearly year-round. and who doesn’t have some fingering weight yarn on hand? the original is knit in a luxury merino/silk blend, which will make a drapey fabric with lovely sheen

this skein of periwinkle sheep merino/silk would recreate the same look and be an elegant choice for someone with sophisticated, subtle taste.

on the other hand, for that rugged hipster skater in your life, you might want use a sturdier, washable sock yarn, such as spirit trail sunna

still soft with a nice sheen, but a bit more practical.

bobba hat is a fun, retro look that can be worn by anyone—a funky, fun choice for that über-sure guy you know and one that will fit over a voluminous hairstyle, such as dreadlocks. on the flip side, i see lots of elderly women wearing this style hat as well—a testament to its universal appeal. this hat requires worsted weight yarn and the original is a singles, so i’m looking for something with a light twist and some density that will create good stitch cohesion . . .

green mountain spinner mountain mohair would be a nice choice for a soft solid or the fibre company terra for a more textured, tweedy look.

now here is my very favorite hat from the book—a delicious garter stitch piece that folds into a soft, smurfy shape and can be worn in any direction. i don’t know if i can pull of this look with my short hair, but i’m probably going to try—if it doesn’t work for me, i can give it to someone else.

for this hat, i definitely want a soft yarn that will maximize its luxurious draping. since the fit doesn’t rely on elasticity at all, i can go for lots of softness with just enough body to add some plumpness to the folds. a little sheen wouldn’t hurt either to provide some shadowing.

i’m choosing shalimar haven for this one—a delicious 70/30 merino silk 5-ply that is somewhat round, with a sueded soft surface finish—completely luxurious, yet knits up very evenly with good stitch definition.

this piece would also be incredible in a luxury fiber blend, such as miss babs tierno or spirit trail holda.

oh, there are many more hats and yarns to go with them, but i’ll let you do the exploring for those yourself. in fact, woolly wormhead has generously offered a free digital copy of classic woolly toppers to one lucky reader of today’s post. if you’d like to be considered, please leave a comment below by 9 pm EST on sunday, october 28. the winner will be announced on the blog shortly after.

ooops, i almost forgot; the next stop on the blog tour will be bricoleur knits!

have a good day; i’ll be back with more of my travels in a day or two.

224 Responses to “get your woolly on”

  1. Diane says:

    Woolly Wormhead’s new designs are intriguing and fun — just what we’ve come to expect from her. I’m looking forward to seeing the new book in person.

  2. Barb says:

    Would love to win this book. I like how you suggested the yarns for the hats!

  3. Victoria says:

    I just recently saw on another blog about this book, and I’m very excited that review copies are going out. It looks like fuuuuun.

  4. Lynn says:

    Love the hats. Would love to win this book!! Thanks.

  5. Sandy says:

    I love, love Wooly Wormhead patterns. In fact, I am working on a series of them for a family of boys that need warm head wear for the winter. Easy to work and quick knits to boot.

  6. DeeS says:

    Lovely hats that I would love to knit!

  7. LissaG says:

    Great hats! Especially love Sumner, thanks for sharing!

  8. MamaSue says:

    Great timing…I need new hats! Love the designs and hope to be able to knit a coulpe.

  9. Arlin says:

    I adore Woolly’s hat patterns, she’s a construction genius. Thanks for mentioning your yarn choices Anne, that is very insightful and helpful.

  10. Dorothy says:

    I love knitting hats because they’re a chance to try out new yarns without commiting to a sweater!

  11. Jennifer says:

    Looks lovely–and I’d love to raid your stash!

  12. Beth Grim says:

    Woolly Wormhead patterns are the best! Your yarn/pattern pairings have my fingers itching for some stash-diving and hat knitting! My fingers are crossed…

  13. susan says:

    What a great review, with the hat photos being paired with yummy yarn choices, I would love to win a copy and get started on my own pairings!

  14. Lucy says:

    I love knitting hats though they have mostly been for the kids would be nice to knit one for me…

  15. Brandon says:

    Thanks for a wonderful review. It’s great to get to see so many of the patterns AND ways to use them. It’s not often you find reviews that add to the book.

  16. Nicky says:

    Oh, I would love a copy! I could definitely use some one-skein buster projects, and these are all SO COOL!

  17. janine says:

    I would love to win a copy of this book. I really enjoyed your yarn discussion about pairing a yarn to the hats.

  18. Barb T. says:

    A beautiful book; I’d love to add it to my collection!!

  19. jocelyn h. chilvers says:

    Thanks for such a wonderfully informative article. I think yarn fiber content and how it can make or break a garment is an important and fascinating topic. I’d love to win a copy of the book — my first project? the lovely folded turban…

  20. Marie-Louise says:

    Lovely hats and you have even suggested yarns for each model.

  21. Maryjo says:

    I’ve always felt I’m not a “hat person” but this collection really has my interest, so of course I’d love to win! There are at least 3 hats that would be great for me LOL I’m so taken with these designs that I just signed up for her Mystery hat KAL …. it will be fun!

    and thank you, as always!

  22. Myong says:

    Love Wooly Wormhead’s designs. Very unique, fun, and stylish. I can see myself knitting a few of these beauties.

  23. Cindy says:

    Love the hat patterns. Especially like the red one. Wooly’s patterns are so inventive and fun.

  24. Melodie Thomas says:

    I love her patterns, it looks like a great selection of hats.