There is just something about a hat.
Maybe it has to do with the endless design possibilities.
Maybe it has to do with the simple style.
Maybe it has to do with the practicality.
Maybe…just maybe…it has to do with the history.
The history of the hat is much too long and broad for me to discuss in one little guest post. To be honest, I don’t even know it. I doubt if I studied the history of the hat I could learn all it has to teach in 10 of my lifetimes.
However, I do know a little something about hats during a time in history still fresh in our minds. World War I and World War II brought about change not only within society and the world as a whole, it also brought about changes in knitting and knitwear design.
When I began doing research for my book, the very first pattern I noticed was in a magazine published toward the end of WWII. At least three of the patterns happened to be some type of headwear. Either a balaclava or a simple small cap or an extra-long cap meant for rolling up. There was something for everyone.
As my research continued a wealth of knowledge sprung forth. Hats were everywhere, and the interesting part was that most were knit on size 6 or 8 double pointed needles and worsted weight yarn, what we use today. Before this time much of the knitwear was knitted on smaller needles and much thinner yarn. My Grandma Dalton would knit on triple-oughts and double-oughts with yarn akin to thread.
I noticed the advancements were not only male oriented either. Many of the headwear patterns were meant for women as well. Turbans and snoods became ever more popular for practical reasons. Women loved their long hair and of course cringed at the thought of cutting it. However, with the men at war, women were forced to take manufacturing jobs. Long hair would undoubtedly get wrapped in machinery and well…let’s just say it was not a pretty ending.
It was also interesting to see the difference in knitwear from World War One and Two, just a few short years created an abundance of radio and transmission advancements. That means things needed to change. Earflaps were added as a way to allow hats to be worn while still allowing the radio to be worn. For example, planes reached horrid temperatures during air raids and proper clothing was essential. The Balaclava, which has been around for a very long time, was altered to allow the ears to come out the side, essentially cloaking the head in wool while keeping ears free to wear headsets.
My favorite hat in my book is called "Pappy." Now Pappy is a simple striped cap. A lot of people comment on the size, it honestly looks like it’s a tad small for the head, but there was a reason for this. Watchmen had to wear helmets, it was mandatory. However most helmets couldn’t fit over the head if a thick wool hat was on, so the cap was born out of necessity. I think that last statement truly sums up the hat, or at least the advancements made during the wars. Necessity is the mother of invention, or in our case it may be better suited to say, Necessity is the mother of design.
Now, if I may sneak in a little at the end here.... Rohn's book is fabulous. Double fabulous if you're into history, but it's also just skillfully designed and beautifully styled and photographed. I actually watched youtube videos on how to do victory rolls in my hair for an hour after reading it (conclusion: I have too many short choppy layers. But later, we're trying again!) This book also stands out as a wonderful resource for simple, sophisticated, yet interesting men's patterns- something which there is a dearth of, as anyone who knits for the men in their lives knows.
Also, the turban hat. Look at that turban hat.
Thanks Rohn, for stopping by!!
To purchase Rohn Strong’s book, The Heritage Collection, or any of his other designs please visit his website at: http://www.strongandstone.com or check out the book at Createspace.