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.
The Finno-Ugric diagonal patterns are beautiful and can be worked into a cap design. This post has a free pattern for the readers of my blog.
The charm of the diagonal patterns
I learned a lot about the diagonal patterns when researching the history of the Komi knitting. Komi is the large territory of the Russian North. The research resulted in several posts about the history of this knitting tradition. The posts have many examples of patterns and items made with these patterns by the Komi women.
The diagonal patterns can be expanded, contracted and interlocked in all directions. They can grow one from another without loosing their shared internal rhythm. Several patterns locked together create a fabric that look breathtakingly complex, but, in reality, it is easy to knit.
The flow of Finno-Ugric patterns reminds me the lines from the poem:
Time present and time past Are both perhaps present in time future, And time future contained in time past. If all time is eternally present All time is unredeemable. What might have been is an abstraction Remaining a perpetual possibility Only in a world of speculation.
T.S. Eliot, from Burnt Norton
Diagonal patterns and sizing
Enough of poetry. Back to knitting. Here is a bit of nasty news: these beautiful interlocking diagonal patterns do not lend themselves easily to sizing. The stitch count in a pattern repeat should be divisible by 6. It means that you must reduce the item size minimum by 6 stitches – 3 in the beginning of the first pattern repeat and 3 at the end of the last pattern repeat. This is a LOT. Plus, there is a need to deal with a jog.
The design of this cap calls for 180 stitches (6 repeats of a 30-stitch pattern). If you need to change the sizing, you can do it in other ways than reducing/increasing stitch count: – use smaller/bigger needle size – mix thicker and thinner yarns – use thicker yarn for an inner layer (You will understand what I mean by ‘inner layer’ a bit later, when we get to Overview) – make full inner layer instead of a partial one. – replace several bottom rows with ribbing In sum, design your own strategy to modify the size without changing the stitch count.
It took me several tries to get this cap right, so the pictures below are from TWO last versions of Finnougoria I cap.
Size: 59-60cm Gage: 2.5cm x 2.5cm = apx 9 stiches x 11 rows
You can choose your method of construction to adjust the size. I would assume here that you follow my way of making the hat.
The hat is knit bottom-up, without ribbing, but with double-layering on the bottom. I used Judy’s Magic cast on to start a double layer. Cast on 180 stitches on each needle. Put a marker every 30 stitches in both layers. Two layers – the inner and the outer – are knit separately in opposite directions from the cast-on rows. While you knit one layer on shorter circular needles, the other layer rests on longer circular needle or moved onto a string of waste yarn. I used #2 USA needles to knit the outer later, and #1 USA for the inner layer.
After the inner layer is about 17 rows and the outer layer is 18 rows, fold the fabric and transfer all the stitches onto one #2 USA needle. The next row: continue, carefully knitting each inner and outer stitch together.
The crown is formed by reducing stitches in the beginning and end of pattern.
Choice of yarns
I like mixing yarns. For this project I used “fluffy” mixed yarn for the white color and smooth yarn for the red.
Version #1 Red: Claudia Hand Painted Yarns, ADDICTIONS, Fingering Weight, 100% fine merino ~35 g White: two yarns mixed Plymouth Baby Alpaca, Lace Weight Kid mohair, Lace Weight ~30g
Plymouth Baby Alpaca, Lace Weight, doubled ~15g
Version #2 (final, as shown on model) Red: Cascade Heritage, Fingering Weight 85% merino 15% mulberry silk, ~25 g White: Rowan Alpaca Classic, DK weight 60% alpaca, 40% cotton ~25g
Plymouth Baby Alpaca, Lace Weight, doubled ~15g
One of the Facebook group members recommended brand Rauma Finull, because the red yarn of this brand does not bleed.
Circular needles: #2 USA 36in. or 48in. (optional) #2 USA 24in. #1 USA 24in.
Double-pointed needles (if you do not know how to use magic loop): #2
Important note: the pattern is free for the hand-knitters, but it is not for commercial use or mass production.
2 diagrams: the bottom and the crown. The diagram shows 30-stitch pattern repeat. As your recall there are 6 repeats, 30 stitches each. The leftmost 31st stitch on the diagram is the last stitch of the last pattern repeat tofix the jog. The rest of the important comments are right on the diagram.
Let me know how your cap turns out. While posting the pictures of this cap in FB groups, I found out something interesting about the items with red-and-white with diagonal patterns from the fellow knitters. It looks like at the turn of the 20th century the sweaters, cardigans and caps in this style were very popular in Finland and the neighboring Russian territory on the shores of the White Sea called Pomorye. Pomorye was a melting pot, because it has the important old Russian sea port of Arkhangelsk. The Pomors – that what the inhabitants of the area were called – were a mix of the Komi, Hanty, Mansy, Finns, Russians and other ethic groups. But this is the story for the later post.
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!
The redwork textile patterns of the Finno-Ugric people is a great source for designing knitwear patterns. This is the third post about the Komi knitting and its history.
Besides being skilled knitters, the Komi women were also imaginative weavers. The patterns on their towels, table cloths, belts and shirts are of the same diagonal geometric shapes as seen in their knitted objects, but the compositions are more sophisticated.
First: the postscript to Komi Knitting II
I had the most interesting exchange on Facebook with Johanna P. from Finland.
She posted several pictures with sweaters. I’m taking a liberty to republish the photos with Johanna’s descriptions. The items are excellent illustrations of the Finno-Ugric textile tradition, but they are not the products of the traditional Komi knitting.
… now back to topic – the Komi textiles
I found several diagrams in the ethnographic book. The patterns are copied from the original textiles and belts of the Perm region of the Komi Republic.
The diagonal patterns of the Komi are very predictable and easy to combine into large-scale intricate borders and all-over patterns. Charlene Schurch’s book Mostly Mittens: Traditional Knitting Patterns from Russia’s Komi People (see my previous post) explains the principle of the Komi patterns. For my vest featured above, I combined a couple of border patterns from for the socks and the pattern with a stylized female figure called Bereginya (Mother Protector) found on 19th-century towel pattern from Perm region of the Komi Respublic.