The inspiration behind this cowboy hat pattern
"Where did you get that hat? Where can I get one like it?" is the question these
hats draw, whether in the lift lines in Colorado’s high country, or in the urban
wilderness of Manhattan.
This is how it started: A friend had knit what purported to be a cowboy hat from
flawed instructions. It turned out to be formless, difficult to felt—five trips
through the washing machine!--and impossible to block properly. It was also very
shaggy—untrimmed and unbrushed.
My first try, adapted from those instructions, was suitable largely for a woman,
with a low crown and a fairly narrow brim. It was from a hairy yarn, and shaggy and
almost matted looking. So I trimmed the excess first with scissors, then with my
late husband’s electric shaver, to avoid looking yeti-ish. Still, because I’d knit
in a striped band and a contrast brim edge, I got a perfectly presentable hat out
of the venture. Not a perfect hat. Not even an actual cowboy hat.
So I began a series of experiments with hats that could be made to fit, and to
suit, either a man or a woman. Josh’s, above, has a knit in band, 7 1/2 inch crown,
and a wide brim with contrast edging to provide shade from the brilliant sunshine
of Colorado, a place where Search and Rescue regularly finds lost High-Country
tourists suffering from both frostbite and sunburn.
Josh’s was the first of the hats worked up from the band, and then down from the
band, doing the picking up and increasing to begin knit down the brim. It has a
version of the knit-in band to define the angle between crown and brim, a 7 ½ inch
crown (as knit, before felting) before the decreases, and a snug brim edge in which
decreasing at the bind-off (in this case, K 2 tog, K 14) perfected the shaping and
durability of the brim. All these combined to make for the proper, crisp shape and
definition. I later worked out a method of preserving a certain tidy shagginess,
perfected in my own Bearberry hat, photographed here on Katie. It was brushed
repeatedly while I blocked and dried it, and I love the look of its halo of mohair
in the blend I used.