Barney’s Second Hat

The Shetland Flag crown - a perfectly symmetrical white cross closes in against a ground of warm blue, light navy and dark navy

Remember this?

Sometimes one idea leads to another, you find yourself charting crosses this way and that, and that you are unable to stop playing with your blue and green stash of J&S 2 ply Jumper Weight. Sometimes you find you cannot stop knitting FLAG HATS FOR YOUR NEPHEW.

Sometimes this…

another view of the hat blocking in my kitchen window

…based on this…

The Scottish Flag - a white Saltire crossing a blue field of colour

…morphs into this…

Barney's new hat - this one, like its predecessor, features bands of blue bisected by different greens, with flags upon it - this time the flags are the Shetland flag - an asymmetric white cross on a blue background - separated by the X and O shapes more commonly found in Fair Isle Knitting

…based on this…

Flag of Shetland

…and sometimes this…

A view of the hat and its glorious glowy blue crown

…inspires this.

The Shetland Flag crown - a perfectly symmetrical white cross closes in against a ground of warm blue, light navy and dark navy

I am reminded of a time when I found two similar but not quite the same lace knitted scarves in a second hand shop. I bought them both because I found the pair of them so intriguing as knitted records of process. The knitter had so clearly made scarf no. 1, examined it, had more ideas and immediately cast on scarf no. 2.

So it is with Barney’s Hats.

A collection of blue and green yarns, organised in a basket

I like trying to solve problems in stranded colourwork and conveying both the Scotland and the Shetland Flag have given me some nice chewy problems around representation in this medium. The Shetland Flag presents some similar issues to the Scotland Flag, as it involves a strong asymmetric cross which, if faithfully reproduced in stranded colourwork, produces long strands on the back of the work (boo) and tall vertical columns of inflexible stitches (double boo). Attempts to chart the flag on the diagonal, as if waving, looked very pretty in my journal, but would have almost immediately lost their visual reference to the actual Shetland flag once repeated many times around a hat.

KNITSONIK Bullet Journal workings and scribblings

A third colour introduced in the background would have perhaps helped my charts based on sideways, wind-blown versions of the Shetland flag to retain their reference to it, but a third colour means faff in the knitting process and more thickness in the fabric – both things I assiduously try to avoid! In my last post I touched on how X and O patterns are especially suitable for dispersing tension through the fabric of stranded colourwork, which is why they are the building blocks of so many patterns and motifs in this medium.

How about a smallish and quite flat/simplistic version of the Shetland Flag (all straight sides and some long-ish strands over nine stitches) interspersed with X and O patterns to counteract the effect of all those verticals on the flexibility and stretch of the fabric?

Barney's new hat - this one, like its predecessor, features bands of blue bisected by different greens, with flags upon it - this time the flags are the Shetland flag - an asymmetric white cross on a blue background - separated by the X and O shapes more commonly found in Fair Isle Knitting

Then: how about more blue space around the flags and Xs and Os, and instead of just two little lines of green and blue patterns, another X and O pattern made of peerie (little) shapes, to bisect the flags marching up the hat?

Then: how about making a totally symmetrical decreasing crown cross, rather than a slightly asymmetric one?

So many little decisions leading up to a second hat for Barney that is similar, but definitely not the same as his first!

Barney's Shetland hat photographed in the window sill, along with a lovely little enamel pin bearing the Shetland Flag and attached to a poster that tells the story of its design

I really can’t stop knitting hats, and for some reason the prospect of blocking them in THE KITCHEN OF DREAMS fills me with joy. Don’t ask me why, but I just think there is a really nice affinity between the moment of completion when a loaf of bread is baked, cooled, and ready to eat and when a hat has had all its ends woven in and blocking has occurred.

Is it because both end products are ROUND and TASTY? Is it because both LOAF and HAT turn agricultural produce into useful daily items of joy? I don’t know but hat-blocking is now my favourite kitchen sport…

Massive glorious loaf of sourdough artisanal BEAUTY

A further closeup of Barney's glorious Shetland flags hat

…YOURS IN LOAVES, FLAGS AND HATS,
Fx

2 thoughts on “Barney’s Second Hat

  1. Brilliant! I love this hat and the bread, both so lovingly made. There’s something really special about a newly-blocked colourwork hat, with its crisp, clean texture. You capture that joy so well! It’s a delight to think of you so happily working in your beautiful new kitchen.

    1. I agree! I think many years ago Liz wrote a lovely post about the transformation from scrappy project with ends hanging out to FINISHED OBJECT and this is especially true, I think, for a colourwork hat as there are always many, many ends to weave in… something about how they cinch the end/beginning of the round together and disappear into the strands when you skim them in is just so pleasingly COMPLETE!!! Thanks for totally getting how happy I am blocking hats/baking sourdough in the new kitchen – CECILIA UNDERSTANDS X

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