Tag Archives: hats


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Leftover scraps and remnants of various materials have been used throughout the centuries by diverse cultures in all corners of the globe; manufactured goods such as clothing, for example, have been re-purposed in countless imaginative ways. So varied are the techniques, and so decorative and/or practical the results that many a book is devoted to the subject.

Knotting and tying short lengths of yarns into a longer, more useful yarn is by no means a new idea, and is a thrifty way to knit a garment. I have seen wonderfully vibrant kiddie clothes made like this in Africa, but unfortunately have no photographs. Where economic considerations aren’t an issue, beautiful multi-coloured yarns can be created by cutting lengths from yarns in one’s stash and joining them into what is now called a ‘magic ball’. I don’t know who first came up with this very apt name for such an exciting ball of yarn; Kaffe Fasset uses the technique to spectacular effect in some of his stunning garments, but as far as I’m aware, he didn’t coin the term. If anyone knows who did, I’d love to hear from you.

For those knitters not familiar with Magic Ball knitting, there’s a great deal of info on the Internet. Clara Parkes of Knitter’s Review has written a very clear description.

The Magic Balls, knitted hats and handwarmer I’m showing here were all made from leftover bits and pieces as I was knitting, and in particular from my always too generous length of yarn pulled out for a longtail cast on. I live in terror of running out before all the stitches are on the needle! I toss the scraps into a ziplock bag and wind them into balls every now and then, having several balls on the go so that I can vary the colours in them. So far I’ve knotted all the bits together, but there are many ways of joining the yarns so that no knots show at all. If that’s your look, turn to our old friend, Google.

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Woven, knitted

Beauty and utility

Simplicity in scraps

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It’s interesting that the rug, handwoven from cotton fabric scraps in India, produces the same effect.

The beret has the knots featured on the right side.
Fun! The hat’s knots are on the wrong side.

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I began by knitting a 3inch brim which was turned to the inside.

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The handwarmer is lined in mohair which both hides the knots and makes it reversible, as well as doubly warm.

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Raki, who can sleep through anything, including earth tremors and all that Hera, Zeus, Poseidon and the crew can hurl at us, was totally unaware that he was standing in for Jason.

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My adorable little models, Nellie and Michael, pictured here with their mother in their home in Volos, were very patient and obliging. Thank you, Lena and Sotiris.

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Nellie’s ready to go out, and she loves the handwarmer!

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Michael’s a sporty fellow

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Warmly snuggled

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I’ll wear it the other side out, shall I?

I think it’s pure magic that you can take knitting needles and yarn, a little knowledge and two basic stitches, and create almost anything at all. And if you’re not pleased with the result then you can simply unravel your work and hey presto – you have your yarn back! Very few handcrafted goods can be returned to their original materials; unfired clay can be reworked, but cut cloth can’t be restored to the original yardage, though the pieces can of course be used in a different way.

Whatever my yarn, whatever the project, for me the knitting magic will never end.

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Enough already – let me mess with this!


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Raki , convinced as always that he’s indispensable, was determined to be of assistance whilst I was trying to photograph these hats, gifts for friends’ children. I love knitting what I call my Happy Hats which brighten up wintry days with cheerful colours, but Raki also has a thing for knitting and it’s difficult to keep him away.

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Any knitter who has cats (or do the cats have us?) is familiar with the routine of cat grabs yarn, cat runs off with yarn, cat likes to sleep on knitting in progress, but Raki has taken this to a whole other level.

Raki is a Turkish Van cat; his ancestral homelands are the area around Lake Van in Eastern Turkey, a region inhabited and criss-crossed since earliest antiquity by peoples who wove intricate carpets, and created exquisitely coloured felted wool rugs, tents, hangings, articles of clothing and horse trappings.

Somewhere in Raki’s DNA is an understanding of yarn, of textiles, of wool, which of course explains his keen interest in deconstructing my efforts and obviously has nothing to do with his highly developed ability to destroy whatever takes his fancy.

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These colours set off my pelt perfectly

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Are these yarns soft enough?

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What’s going on over there?

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I’m off…this has become old hat now



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I knit. I love colour. Two simple statements, but the fact is that my very earliest memories have to do with colour and with knitting. I was not yet three years old, gravely ill with pneumonia, lying on a bed in my grandparents’ home, while the doctor fussed in and out and my mother sat knitting steadily, reassuringly, by my side. Her yarn was brown, but the floor and walls blazed with the vibrant hues of kilims. I recovered; we continued our interrupted vacation and returned to Scotland.

A few years passed and I joined the Brownies, learnt to knit and got my badge. And no, the required knitting was not of the my-first-scarf variety, but a baby’s sweater, no less. I’ve been knitting ever since.

Knitting is not my Winter activity, it’s my constant activity. All kinds of knitting, all kinds of items, but hats are my default knitting. Hats in progress are scattered throughout the house to be worked on at any opportunity. By each chair, next to the bed, in bags hanging on available hooks and knobs, in the car, and always at least one ziplock bag with yarn and circular needles in my travel bag. You just can’t get into too much trouble with a hat. It will fit someone, for sure, and will never go wasted.

Hats are my gauge swatches where I try out new techniques. Hats allow me to indulge in wild colour. They never bore me as round and round I go on my circular needles. Hats are obligingly quick to knit, happy to use all my scraps of yarn. And they do pile up so cheerfully!

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Silent and solemn as ever, my clear-headed Jason is very good about wearing a hat so that I have a record of it, as well as memories of the scene, something I’ve learnt to do in recent years, having failed to do so in years gone by.

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And he’s not my only helper – various of the hairies and furries are always very eager to get involved.

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This year’s hats are about to be sorted. Some will be gifts, but most will leave home to travel where they are needed to bring a little warmth and colour into lives.

Hats off to knitting!