This is the third version of the cap I designed using the principle of traditional Finno-Ugric textiles. It looks more like an Art Deco cap, my daughter told me.
My friend Emma modeled the cap. It looked good on her: she has a smaller head and the shorter version fit her just right. So I gave the cap to her. She is an outdoor type and will find the cap handy.
We photographed in Fort Foster Park in Kittery, Maine. The park has been reopened for the locals just 2 days ago. The sky promised a rain. The wind was unkindly cool. The surroundings were pearly gray. In sum, not a cheerful day. But in the park by the ocean we could forget what was out there: people in masks, lines to the stores, take-out only restaurants, empty store fronts… We tried to have a good and creative day, regardless of the circumstances.
“What day is it?” ” It is today,” squeaked Piglet. “My favorite day,” said Pooh – A. A. Milne
But you are not reading this article because you need to know what we did. You are here because of the cap.
This cap is very similar to the previous 2 versions in Finnougoria series. See Finnougoria I : it has all the technical details. I used different yarns of approximately equal thickness for this cap just like I do for all my colorwork caps.
The diagram below has two starting points (I knit bottom up): one is smaller version (just like on the photos) and another is for the deeper version.
The diagonal patterns based on Finno-Ugric textile traditions offer such a great opportunities for the designers. Here is another cap with instructions. For the community use.
I worked out some technical kinks from the previous version of the cap with the diagonal patterns.
This version reminds even less the patterns of traditional Finnish or Komi hand-knit items. I extrapolated the new design from the previous one. And the previous one I derived from the traditional Komi patterns.
I used the traditional patters as a framework to extend the existing ways of making things. This is the most wonderful and robust thing about any folk tradition: it can be extended.
“Beyond the loom” was an exhibition within the large exhibition of women’s art “Women Take the Floor” in Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. Visited in January 2020. It featured the groundbreaking fiber works from the 1950s to 2000sby female artists.Inspirational.
In the 1960s and 70s, a number of pioneering women in America radically redefined textiles as modern art. Coopting a medium traditionally associated with women’s work and domesticity, these artists boldly broke free from the constraints of the loom to create large-scale, sculptural weavings that engaged with movements such as Minimalism and Abstraction. This “fiber revolution” sprang from a new philosophical emphasis on structure in textile art, as well as revived interest in tapestry weaving and the brilliance of the ancient Peruvian textiles.
From the introduction to the exhibition
Anni Albers (1899-1994), Dotted Weaving, 1959
I think [weaving] is the closest to architecture, because it is a building up out of a single element – building a whole out of single elements
Sheila Hicks (born 1934), Linen facets (1988)
Lenore Tawney (1907-2007), The Fountain of Word and Water (1963)
Water is fertilizing and water is dissolving and water is cleansing and water is life-giving… Water is thrilling.
Olga de Amaral (born 1932), Strata II (2007)
In the 1980s Olga de Amaral began to experiment with gold and silver leaf, connecting her work in fiber with a long history of indigenous Colombian metalwork artists.
From the exhibit description
Ruth Asawa (1926-2013), Untitled (1952) Kay Sekimachi (born 1926), Amiyase V (1956)
Everything has its limitations, and fiber does… and of course the loom has many limitations. I love working within limitations.
Sheila Hicks (born 1934), Bamian (1968)
All of the threads are actors on stage and none of them are hidden. They’re all part of the oevre
The diagonal patterns of Finno-Ugric textiles inspired the hat with ear-flaps. This is the last project of the year and the most challenging. I share design ideas in this post.
For about a year and a half I fiddled with the idea of a hat with ear-flaps. A “couture look” was my lofty goal: – ear-flaps should be one with a hat – a large-scale pattern should flow from the ear-flap tips to the top as if the hat is if it is custom-cut from a whole piece of cloth – combination of contrasting and gradient colors
This was a technically ambitious project. Perfect to finish the year but a bit difficult to write about.
I will break up the post into two parts. Something to share with textile artists of every level. The part about choosing yarns, patterns and colors is for all levels of aspiring knitwear artists. The brief instructions how to shape ear-flaps are for the technically sophisticated.
Judy’s Magic Invisible Cast-on (to knit the inner and outer layers. The knitting goes in both directions. The cast-on becomes a fold line. There are plenty good YouTube videos about this technique – look up!)
Short rows, Japanese style (to create ear-flaps. I found instructions online as well.)
Stranded color work knitting (optional)
To prevent curling, the bottom of the hat is knit into two opposite directions from the cast-on row. There will be 7-8 cm (or 3 in) of double-layering over the ears and forehead.
Yarns, patterns and colors
Creative mix of different yarns – fluffy angora and smooth merino – produces a wonderful “watercolor washout” effect.
Background: Forrest Green, Dark Orange
rated for #5-7 needles
1 skein each. 1/2 skein of Dark Orange left
Foreground: Medium blue, Bright blue Light blue
rated for #4 needles
1 1/2 skeins from Katia Ombre gradient set
Choosing needle size
Ignore the recommended needle size on the label if you are making a hat. The fabric should be dense, but thin. It should retain the shape and to shield from the cold. I used #2 needles – a much smaller size than recommended.
Ideas for patterns and colors
I adopted the traditional Finno-Ugric textile patterns ( See the previous post about Komi textile patterns) as a basis for design. The diagonal patterns come in wide variety of sizes, but all of them are all based on a rudimentary 6×6 pattern. The background colors are contrasting and of the same intensity (Forrest Green, Dark Orange). The foreground colors are gradient of the same color (blue). Change one color at a time to achieve the harmonious transitions. The number of rows for each color combination should be a multiple of 6 (or close to it):
Dark blue (not the best combo, alas…)
apx 12 rows
apx 36 rows
apx 24 rows
apx 18 rows
Ear-flaps: very brief instructions
I must be honest….
1) It is easier if you can knit with either hand: there is no need to turn over the fabric. This is how I knit, but the ear-flaps are doable without a trick of ambidexterity. Just skip the stranded colorwork at the bottom edge of the hat.
Below are several earlier models with ear-flaps: the hats look just fine without all-over stranded colorwork.
2) Try to practice with some junk yarn until you get the technique that is just right for you. The first experiments – especially with my brief written instructions – might not be promising. Mine were not. It took me quite a while to get the technique straight.
3) Planning is a key to success.
Well, caveat emptor is stated…
Now back to the brief instructions…
The same instructions apply to knitting both layers of the hat. The double-layer part of the hat is about 7-8cm (3 in.) over the forehead. From that point, the layers are joined.
Use Judy’s Magic Invisible Cast-on (plenty of how-to videos on YouTube). The cast-on will become the folding line for the layers.
Use thinner yarn for the inner layer. I chose the combination of angora (baby blue, over the ears) and very thin wool-silk yarn for the rest of the inner layer. Both colors fit the color scheme of the outer stranded colorwork.
Place markers: back, front and mark the ears. Especially – the center of each ear-flap. It is critical for symmetry. Use odd number of stitches for ear-flaps: 1 central stitch makes things easier to track.
For inner and outer layer repeat the same procedure (with your minor personal adjustments, of course.)
Knit the whole first row in a round. Knit 2 stitches together 3-4 stitches before and after the center of each potential ear-flap.
Shaping an ear-flap with short rows
The picture is worth a thousand words. It shows how to shape the left ear-flap with ever-increasing short rows. The right ear is a mirror image of the left.
Note that you cast 12 stitches more than required: it is for controlling excess fabric from short rows.
The outer and inner layers are knit in more or less identical fashion: after shaping of ear-flaps is done, knit in a round 7-8 in (3 cm).
Now is the easy part: fold the layers along the cast-on line, transfer the stitches from both layers onto one round needle (one stitch for the inner layer, one stitch from the outer layer, one stitch for the inner layer, one stitch from the outer layer… until all on one needle). Knit together.
Continue knitting in a round into whatever shape you choose.
My version came out like on the picture below. I wonder what yours will look like… Keep on creating!
Humble New Hampshire knitter made sweaters for her extended family. It became a collection lovingly preserved by her nephew.The collection reflects the hand-knitting trends of the 1970s-80s.
While taking a lunch walk, I saw the unusual exhibition in the hallways of the building in Portsmouth, NH: the walls hung with hand-knit colorful sweaters. The nephew of the woman he calls aunt Dottie knitted over 70 sweaters for the family as Christmas gifts. An individual sweater on display was not a work of art. Many are the replicas of commercial patterns. Some of aunt Dottie’s designs are lacking composition. The workmanship of some is not the best. What counts here is the whole body of aunt Dottie’s work. The messages and intentions that were knitted into the sweaters. They reflect the ages and the interests of the giver and the recipients of the sweaters. There is an interesting historical aspect of the exhibition: it reflects the American knitting aesthetics of the 1970s-80s. Large, bold patterns. Heavier yarn of bright, contrasting colors.