Wednesday, 17 February 2016

The Horsey Hat

The Horsey Hat
The story of this hat starts way back - before 2001 when we moved from Norfolk to Cheshire. So let's say it was 15 years ago. In Norfolk, we were living next door to a farm and the owner offered me Suffolk fleece - if not they would be destroyed. I had just started spinning and took one!  This stayed in the paper sack I was given it in until 2014 when the Association of Weavers, Spinners and Dyers had their National Exhibition in Norwich Cathedral. I offered to spin some local fleece - I had Jacob fleece which I had spun already from a friend in Diss but they already had some of that. I was asked if I had any Suffolk yarn that I could contribute to the wall of wool. The answer was that I had some 15 year old fleece and I would see what I could do. This was coupled with the fact that we were having a big house sort out and had the house on the market in Cheshire as we intended to reallocate back to Norfolk.
The story of washing the fleece like this is described here on 8 Feb 2014 (2 postings) as I used my version of the fermented suint method.
The whole fleece looked like this!

I was delighted that the sad looking lump from the bag produced the most beautiful clean fleece, which was quite unexpected by me. I decided to spin the fleece thick for me ( 9-10 wpi). As my preferred spinning gauge is very fine lace this seemed very thick, but I wanted enough yarn to make a show - I had a time limit on producing it. Mary ( Chair of Diss Guild, who was organising this part of the exhibition said I could dye they yarn - if the dyes were native to Norfolk. So I left a skein undyed and dyed a skein with woad, another with nettle and a third with nettle and iron. We had plenty of nettles growing at the back of our garden, bordering on the farm where the sheep had lived, back in the days when we lived in Roydon. I was pleased with the results and the skeins were duly part of the exhibition.

My skeins are in this part of the large Wall of Wool, to the rightof the vivid yellow one - the colours are not very accurate in this unfortunately.

A friend sent me a lovely photo of Horsey beach for my birthday about this time and I mentally noted the colours were very similar.

Fast forward to September 2015 when we had settled back in Norfolk ; I was looking at doing something with the yarn. I decided I would knit a hat, which would be very much in keeping with Horsey beach as my recollection is that it is always windy there. My plan was to knit a fair isle hat as I just love fair isle patterns. But after much sampling and knitting of trial patterns I couldn't get a design that looked neat enough to me. Fair Isle works brilliantly finer Shetland wool of about 4 ply equivalent! I decided this yarn was just too thick for that and another approach was needed.
Then I remembered my Swaledale and North Ronaldsay hat ( yarn bought in Orkney).
This was a modification of a pattern by Elizabeth Lovick ( from Orkney) - the pattern is textured using purl where one might put another colour in Fair Isle knitting.

I used a draw thread so that the hat would double up as a cowl and be dual purpose.

But for the Horsey hat I decided to take another step and use patterns that might be found on North Norfolk fishermen's Ganseys. So more research on their patterns ensued and this proved difficult as quite rightly some of the fishing families are protective of their patterns. In the end I decided to use Gansey patterns that matched my beach theme and are found on some Ganseys.

So the bottom pattern represents pebbles worked in nettle and iron dyed yarn, the diagonal lines remind me of lines along the windswept Horsey beach , worked in nettle dyed yarn and the blue ( woad dyed) waves speak for themselves, the natural coloured yarn topping representing the clouds. I added the reverse stocking stitch ( also in natural) to separate the colours and thought it would represent the foam on the waves.

Another view using it as a cowl

I am really pleased with the result and thought the story worth telling.

1 comment:

  1. It's irritating to me that the colours of the hat are different from those of the cowl. The sun was doing funny things this morning but I can't really complain - there was sun!