22 May 2014

About Hat Design, a guest post by Woolly Wormhead

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Thank you to Woolly Wormhead for taking some time out of her crazy busy schedule to talk to us about designing hats. Because Stories In Stitches 3 includes several helmet liners, which are essentially hats with cowls attached, I wanted to have a blog post to share with you about the structure and shape of hats. Not being an expert, I decided to ask my favorite hat designer to share her expertise with you.

 About Hat Design

a guest post by Woolly Wormhead

When I first started designing Hats and self publishing my patterns, I was enthralled by the endless possibilities that it bought. I’ve a background in textile sculpture and instinctively see things from this perspective. And then, some time later, after reading various comments on various forums, I started to worry that I was doing it wrong.

The general consensus about Hat design is that you make something that’s constructed like this for a beanie:

Hat Design: Beanie

and like this for a beret:

Hat Design: Beret

If you want to make a chullo then you’d add some triangles to either side of the beanie.

And this isn’t how I approach Hat design. At all. The more I experimented, the more confident I grew. The more established I became, the more I acknowledged to myself that my approach to Hat design was no more or less right or wrong than anyone else’s.

I’ll let you into a secret: we’re not Lego men and our heads aren’t shaped like this:

Hat Design: Flat Head

Beelore by Woolly WormheadOnce you get into the idea that our heads are the most 3-dimensional part of our bodies, and that the top half of our heads are much closer in form to a half sphere than a tube with a flat circular top, a whole world of possibilities open up. You don’t have to have a ribbed Brim. You can make the Crown more decorative than the Body. In fact, as long as it fits comfortably around the point of contact with the head and has a good chance of staying on, you can do whatever you want!

As with any other aspect of design, and in particular knit design, a relationship that flows between the different aspects (or elements or components) of the piece is never a bad idea. You could even throw away the conventions of the Brim, the Body and the Crown and consider them one piece. Why does the Crown have to be towards the top of our heads? Why can’t it be off centre and asymmetrical? You’re dealing with a half sphere here – why can’t the Body simply flow from one side to the other without even a mention of a Crown?

Limpetiole by Woolly WormheadNaturally when you start designing Hats it’s useful to view the different components separately. When I work this way, I start with the Crown and consider the shape I’m trying to achieve, and the maths that goes with that. From there I take that Crown maths and see how that fits with the Body maths, and then the Brim maths. Aside having design elements that flow through a Hat design to keep continuity, the mathematical structure is just as important. You may wish to have all design elements conflicting but it still won’t work if there isn’t a relationship in the numbers. It needs to flow.

But before you start thinking about the Crown and the Body and the Brim, and before you start thinking about your stitch patterns or the mathematical structure, try to visualise your Hat as a 3-dimensional object. Consider how it might look from the back or the side or the top. Imagine yourself walking around it and viewing it as one, continuous piece. Then go ahead and deconstruct that 3D piece; think about how it breaks down into it’s components, and how they all fit together. 

To see more of Woolly Wormhead’s hats, check out her pattern collection on Ravelry.

To learn more about the helmets in this volume of Stories In Stitches, check out the Stories In Stitches website. We’ve extended the pre-sale pricing on vol 3 until the end of May!


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