get your woolly on

Posted on Posted in book reviews/events

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 thoughts on “get your woolly on

  1. I have just discovered Wooly Wormhead and would love this book because her designes are so amazing!! So sweet of both of you to offer this to us – thank you so much!!

  2. These are more wonderful hats from wooly wormhead. Distinctive designs that work for a wide range of tastes. Fantastic !

  3. Amazing knitted hats! Who knew you could knit hats like these? Thanks so much for the chance to win the book.

  4. Lovely hats. Thanks so much for sharing them. I’ve just finished a ginormous hat! It would be good to try something more normal sized 🙂

  5. I love Woolly! Everglade was the first hat pattern I ever made. Highly entertaining, and her patterns are well laid out and easy to follow. Please put my name in the hat… I would like to have a go at that turban-type hat. Thanks, Anne!

  6. Great review. I’ve not heard of Wooly Wormhead before, so these hats are a new experience. I’m not necessarily a hat person, though I do like to keep my head and ears warm on a super-cold winter’s day. Maybe I should check this book out for some ideas. Maybe I could win it………

  7. Amazing hats! I know of quite a few people who would love it if I went on a hat spree. This book certainly has got my fingers itching. Thanks for the wool pairing too.

  8. Great toppers! Believe it or not, it is even getting chilly in Austin, TX. I could make good use of these.

  9. Oh, I have a few of the suggested yarns and would LOVE to make some of these for holiday gifts this year!

  10. Ooo, I love ALL the Woolly Toppers! This is perfect for this time of year! was just contemplating which hats I could make myself before the cold arrives to stay. Currently I’m spinning small blips of color for a fair isle tam. Thanks for the wonderful giveaway, Anne!

  11. Lovely hats! Wonderful suggestions for hat/yarn.
    I, too, love the last hat. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and suggestions.


  12. Thanks for the opportunity to win these great patterns and thank you also for giving us a glimpse into your stash. Those yarns are beautiful! I knit hats all year long and use them for birthday and Christmas gifts. This would be a great addition to my every-expanding library.

  13. I’ve always loved looking at her patterns. I have yet to knit one though, which is sad… I like your yarn suggestions! I also think I have some great yarns in my stash for her patterns that I would love to try! Pick me! LOL

    thanks for the giveaway!

  14. What a great variety of hats! I usually make my own (very simple) designs, but I may just have to try a few of these.

  15. Wow, what neat hats! Sometimes I think there are no variations on hats and then you go and show us these!! Great news..Hope I win!

  16. I love these hats! I also like that you went through, looking at each hat and making good suggestions for yarn. I found that very insightful and helpful!

  17. Love hats! I would love to make them and give them to people with cancer! So stylish they would be!!!!

  18. Love these hats! Great patterns and a perfect time to be knitting them. Thanks for the gift for one of us lucky readers!

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