Thursday, 17 April 2014

My 1914 Hat

Here's a hat I knitted last month, and already mentioned here. (I'm still trying to catch up with myself.  It won't happen.)   The idea came from all the knitting and crochet patterns from the First World War that I was collecting together to send to the costumier of the "Tell Them Of Us" film.   One of the sources I used was a  Weldon's Practical Knitter magazine, issued in 1914, with patterns for a lady's knitted coat and hat. I really liked the look of the hat (after mentally adjusting the picture - in 1914, women had lots of hair and hats were worn very big so that they wouldn't crush the hair-style).  

When I read the pattern,  I found that it's a very simple idea.  The preamble to the pattern says: "This cap is knitted in "bag-shape", which is at present the most fashionable wear for ladies and children.  It is very easy to make, being simply a piece of knitting, about 28 inches wide and 24 inches long, and sewn up in the form of a bag.  The brim is folded in place, the top corners are brought down and lightly stitched over the edge of the brim on each side of the cap, and a fancy button is sewn on each point."  That's the essence of the pattern, although it then goes into more detail - and I think there is a mistake in the measurements quoted, because a piece 24 inches long would give a circumference of 48 inches, which even for 1914 hairstyles is much too big.  The detailed instructions say to knit 112 rows, which is more like 12 inches.  

The brim in the illustration is a garter stitch border at each edge of the 28 inch wide piece, and the seams are at the sides, underneath the buttons.  I decided that although I liked the overall idea, I didn't want to have the seams at the sides.  The brim would be neater without a seam, so I knitted a tube instead of  a rectangle, starting at the brim.  The seam is instead across the top, from point to point.  I used a 3-needle bind-off and it is quite inconspicuous.   

I kept to the "dice" stitch pattern from the original pattern, i.e. alternating squares of stocking stitch and reverse stocking stitch, 4 stitches by 4 rows.  I used Wendy Merino DK in dark grey and cast on 120 stitches to fit the circumference of my head.  (It had to be a multiple of 8 stitches, so that the dice pattern would line up exactly along the seam.) 

The buttons are a key part, of course, and here's an opportunity to  use some really special ones.  I chose some Fimo buttons made by my friend Steph  - she sells similar things on Etsy here and also in the Spun shop in the Byram Arcade in Huddersfield, which is where I bought these.  

You can see that I wasn't trying to achieve an authentic 1914 look - I would hardly have chosen Fimo buttons if so. 

The Weldon's pattern said that this was a fashionable shape for hats in 1914, and I did in fact find several similar hats in my search for WW1 patterns.   There is even a doll's crocheted coat and hat which is very cute.  
Doll's crochet coat and hat
 The crocheted golfing outfit (below) features a similar hat, but it's a cone shape rather than a rectangle, with only one point fastened to the brim rather than two.  

Crochet coat and useful cap
And you could buy similar hats ready-made - the Pryce-Jones ad from the Girl's Own Paper of March 1914 that I showed here offers a cap to match the sports coat, for 10½d  (about 4p).   

Pryce-Jones ad, Girl's Own Paper, March 1914.

I made my 1914 hat because it is a beautifully simple idea that I thought would look good (and it does).  I wore it a couple of times last month while it was still cold enough for a woolly hat, and it will come out again next winter.  And although it is not entirely authentic, I love the fact that it is essentially a 100 year old idea.


  1. I like the style. It is much more flattering than today's tight beanies.

    1. Yes, I like wearing it. And it's very easy to adapt to any stitch pattern.

  2. That's fun to recreate knits from longer ago. It looks nice! have a great day


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