For our first post in October (my favourite month of the year, bar none), I'm nothing short of elated to bring you an excellent, engaging, photo filled look at the history of knitted hats, with scores of handmade examples, as presented by my dear friend, and fellow vintage blogger, Kate-Em, who is one seriously talented knitter! Kate-Em and I become fast friends online and share much in common, though she's the sole knitter in the relationship, which is all the more reason why I adore and appreciate that you opted to write on this wonderful topic. Thank you very much for doing so, sweet Kate-Em, and for sharing some of your (and your mom's) marvelous, super cozy looking vintage knitting projects with us while I'm on holiday.
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Hello! I am Kate-Em from the blog What Kate-Em Did Next and I am super excited to be guest posting on Chronically Vintage today. When Jessica asked me if I would like to do a guest post, my first thoughts were ‘yes’ followed by ‘it must be on hats’. This came to mind as I know how much Jessica loves hats and I always admire her vintage chapeau collection.
I love the way she tends to accessorize each outfit with one and is passionate about the way that a hat can really make an outfit. I also knew that I wanted to write about knitting as that is one of my major loves, especially knitting from vintage patterns to recreate vintage garments and accessories. I also love discovering pieces of fashion history in this way and like feeling a connection to knitters of the past, which may have previously used that pattern to create something beautiful too. So, as luck would have it, I found that I could combine knitting and hats by creating this knitted timeline.
We are starting in the 1930’s with The Sunday Pictorial Beret from Susan Crawford’s book A Stitch in Time Volume Two. I am sure that we can wear it on other days of the week than Sunday! I love the ribbon detail at the back; it makes it that bit special, whilst still being a practical daytime hat. It is possible to style the beret in a number of different ways depending on where you position it on your head and how much you poof it up. I think I needed more poof, I actually find berets quite difficult to wear which is a shame as I like them a lot. Berets replaced the cloche hats of the 1920’s but were not the only styles that were worn in the 1930’s. Tilt hats, pill boxes and wide sunhats were also popular.
This cute and cozy early 1940’s cap is featured on a pattern that also has a lacy knit headscarf and a tilt cap with a tassel in honeycomb stitch. This interests me as it is a little snapshot of the huge variety of hats that were worn throughout the 1940’s. If you look carefully you can see that the pompoms are multi-coloured and are tied around the top of the hat by a braid made from the three colours used in the pompoms. The original hat was knitted in a mid-grey with scarlet, white and grey pompoms. When I made mine I was stash busting so I used different colours. I imagine that if I was knitting one in the 1940’s I would have made it in complimentary colours to my coat.
I am pretty certain that this turban comes from a wartime pattern as the pattern is very small, consistent with paper rationing. This turban is knitted in moss stitch which gives a lovely texture. It has a cap that fits over the head and an attached long band which the wearer twists and pulls over the cap to achieve the knot at the front. With practise, different shaped knots can be made. Turbans were popular as they were a practical hat for women who went out to work, especially in factories. They were also a good way to hide hair that had not seen a hairdresser as regularly as it used to! The woman on the pattern is wearing it with a very smart checked suit.
Firstly, a big thank you to my mum as she knitted this fabulous hat. We saw it in a Stitchcraft magazine from 1945 and she fancied having a go at it. These are as near to the original colours as we could find, it is so colourful and cheerful. It would brighten up your utility suit and your day no end. It has a wired brim so it can be slightly shaped and on me is best worn at what might be termed a jaunty angle! The model wears it more like a top hat. I think the pompoms are such a fun decoration and it is interesting to note that they were present on lots of knitted items in the 1940s.
This snood and the cap to follow are particularly fitting for this post as they come from a ‘bags, hats and accessories’ book published by a Canadian company. It would have cost fifteen cents to buy! Again, my mum takes credit for these two as they are crocheted and my crochet skills are in no way up to this. Plain snoods, as in coloured but not decorated except maybe by ribbon, are often seen in old photographs etc. but you don’t find beaded ones as often. This snood has little pearl beads scattered over the headband and across one row of the netting. I think it adds interest to have the headband, then a gap and then the bag of the snood. It feels very glamorous to wear; perhaps it is an evening snood! It was originally knitted in Hunter’s Green according to the pattern.
This crocheted cap has these amazing circular earflaps. The cap sits quite far back on your head so from the front you can barely see that you have a cap on and then from the side you get the drama of the earflaps. This is made in as close to the original colours as possible, ecru, black and Hunter’s Green. Both my mum and I are not quite sure about that combination but it is accurate and therefore interesting. It looks really sweet on and I can see that it would work for both day and evening wear. Other popular styles of hat in the 1940’s were pixie caps, trilby types, a fez, toques and skull caps.
I made this purely because the pattern made me giggle and I wanted to know what it would turn out like. I have made it again since and made each petal slightly smaller which gives a neater and better fit. It is like the cap that a pixie or a flower fairy would wear which I think is what helps make it fun and appealing. It is definitely whimsical which was common for hats in the 1950’s. A smart woman of the time would always wear a hat and gloves and many styles of hat were popular including pill boxes, picture hats, Juliet caps, berets, headbands, saddle caps, bucket hats and lampshade styles.
This hat is definitely for your outdoors man and woman as it is a no nonsense pull on designed for practicality and warmth rather than glamour and appeal. That said it does have a pretty design on it which adds interest. I can vouch for its warmth as I wore it last winter and I made my husband one too so that we could have his n hers hats (in a tongue in cheek way) as the pattern suggests. The pattern also features matching socks but I haven’t made them for us. Yet! I wanted to include this hat as it or something similar must have been a daily feature in people’s winter wardrobes yet it won’t be seen in many magazines as it is not the height of fashion.
This is named the Lady's Snuggle Hood and is modeled on the pattern by a woman with a fabulous blunt cut fringe and checked geometric dress which sadly you can only see the shoulders of. When I started knitting it at my knitting group everyone laughed at it and several told me it would look silly on.
Well, maybe it does but I can tell you that it lives up to its name and is gorgeous and snuggly and cozy. If it is cold this winter you will find me wearing it. I also rather like the fact that it makes me feel like a knight going on a crusade, though I suspect I am meant to feel more like a spaceman given the obsession with and interest in space in the 1960’s. Space inspired helmets were popular after the moon landing. Also popular in the 1960’s were berets, pill boxes, baker boy caps, wide brimmed hats and headscarves.
Hooray for hats then. They can make an outfit, make a statement, anchor your outfit in the correct period, provide a distraction, become a talking point, cheer you up and keep you warm. What an amazing amount of variation is encompassed by that little word!
I am always on the look-out for hat patterns. On my needles I currently have a 1940’s cap which has more pompoms as decoration. I have a 1930’s cap pattern lined up and a 1950’s Alice band bonnet to finish which needs a crochet edging and some elastic sewing in. I hope you enjoyed this woolly tour through time and found a vintage knitted hat that would suit your style.