Things, Stuff, and Monmouth Hats,

My blog friend Shoreacres sent me a link to a poll being taken to see what people called those kind of hats I make and where they live. That got me sidetracked onto Monmouth caps — you know how that happens.  In pursuit of more information on these historical hats, I turned up this website which details one knitter’s version of how you make them.

The Monmouth caps (at left) were interesting to me for two reasons:  (1) They use only the knit stitch, since the caps were popular between the 14th and 16th centuries and the purl stitch did not come to Europe until the middle 16th century.  However, even in the earliest versions, a row of purl stitches is found on the caps at the point where the hem is “creased” i.e., the bottom edge of the cap, and it is thought that this was accomplished by turning the work around and knitting around the inside in the opposite direction (using the Columbus method*) to produce a row of purl stitches. (2) The brim is turned and hemmed in just the same way as I hem the “brim” of my toboggan caps.  Knitting every stitch produces what is called stockinette stitch, which has a fierce tendency to curl/roll, and I suspect that hemming the brim was developed as a way to prevent this.

You will notice that the cap above has a little loop hanging from the brim.  That’s because there is a “button” at the point of the cap.  The loop is put over the button so that the cap could be hung from a belt.  The Monmouth caps were knitted overlarge in woolen yarn that is then “felted” or “fulled” by washing it in very hot water with soap. This causes it to shrink down and makes it waterproof.  Of course, for chemo hats, you have to use hypoallergenic yarn, which means acrylic, which won’t “felt.” This is just as swell, actually, because knitting with woolen yarn makes my hands itch.

I was thinking about doing a modified version of this cap (without the “fruit loop”) for a chemo cap for men.  I was also thinking about doing one for women where the brim was made on a larger needle and on the row after the hemming row, switching to a smaller size needle for the crown  — and maybe do about an inch of ribbing while I was at it.  This would cause the brim to stand out like the one at left.   I wouldn’t make the crown as tall, though.

I think I’ve perfected the pattern for the toboggan hat with inside ribbing, which I’ll post soon. Watch that space.

The fat(cat)boy got taken to the vet and got his shots.  Needless to say, he was not amused.  (I swear that cat is a fur factory.  I brushed him and brushed him the night before, and he still shed vast clouds of hair all over me, the vet tech, the vet, and the examining room.)  He is in my bad books at the moment.  Guess why.   The solar eclipse is on August 21st, which would have been my dad’s 95th birthday.  It will be about 76% total here.  Close enough for government work.


*Columbus method – going east by sailing west, i.e., doing something in an  arcane and/or complicated, and/or counter-intuitive manner, especially when there is a less complicated, less difficult, more straightforward way to do it.

2 thoughts on “Things, Stuff, and Monmouth Hats,

  1. And here comes your blog friend shoreacres, huffing and puffing and just trying to keep up with things. I’m glad you enjoyed that link I sent, and it’s been really interesting to read your follow-up. That button-and-loop arrangement is neat. I vaguely remember being able to hook mittens to a snow suit that way, too. And, if we didn’t have loops, we had little thingies a few inches long that we could clip to our coat and then to the mittens, to keep them from getting lost.

    Speaking of clips: sweater clips. When did sweater clips disappear? Now all we get are video clips.

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