Wednesday, January 11, 2012

An obsession with cloches

Remember this Target commercial? "I could wear hats - if I partook in hat-like things..."

In the end, she determined that she 'totally wears hats.' I agree; I totally wear hats too. Over the last two weeks, I went through a bit of an obsession with hats, cloches in particular. Cloche (French for “bell”) hats were invented by French milliner Caroline Reboux in 1908 and were especially popular during the 1920’s and early 1930’s. has an interesting slideshow demonstrating how a felt cloche is made, starting from scratch with a wool batt and a hat form. It's very hands-on, and also a bit messy - kind of like an adult version of fingerpainting with an extremely cool hat as the end product.

Since it's January and I had a nasty cold, I didn't think working with that much water would be good for me. I did have knitting needles and lots of yarn, though, so I decided to knit one. First up: Escargot, from Knitty. It was such fun to knit, and it's so cute! Apparently cloches are like potato chips; I couldn't knit just one. Enter three new patterns: Nefret, La Bonita, and Cloche Encounter. They're all variations on the cloche theme, but each has details that makes it unique. All three are shown at left, with two versions each of Nefret and Cloche Encounter. You can see how different color combinations give each hat personality.

The Nefret Cloche was named for the daughter in the Amelia Peabody mysteries by Elizabeth Peters. Nefret, accented on the second syllable, is an Egyptian name meaning "beautiful." You may recognize some similarity to the name of Queen Nefertiti, meaning "the beautiful one comes." The Nefret Cloche is a versatile beauty which can be knit in a solid color or using contrasting yarn for the picot edges. Several embellishment options are included in the pattern: a blooming rose, an I-cord rosette, I-cord bow, and double bow.

Nefret Cloche, $5.95 from Ravelry and Patternfish

The La Bonita Cloche has a welted hem and ridges. The sunburst / flower accent is knit separately and is reversible. It can be sewn or pinned on. As shown, it's attached with a coilless safety pin which passes through both the shank of the button and the fabric of the hat.

La Bonita Cloche, $5.95 from Ravelry and Patternfish

Cloche Encounter is, believe it or not, the simplest knit of the three. The hem is formed of welts, then the rest of the hat is plain stockinette stitch. The hat is finally embroidered. It looks complex, but don't be afraid - it's not hard, and a full-size diagram is included in the pattern. Watch this space for a how-to post in the near future.

Cloche Encounter, $5.95 from Ravelry and Patternfish

Happy knitting!

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