Tuesday 15 February 2011

mad as a hatter?

For sometime now I have been studying the idea of creating a hat that is completely made in Norfolk. A Norfolk beanie perhaps. Something that is not merely an experimental piece of wearable art but a viable, affordable and marketable hat.

Finding the wool.
Norfolk is not known for its sheep. Although there are some but it is rarely made into wool on any industral level and there are no spinning factories in East Anglia. There are two places that sell alapca wool alpacas of norfolk and Adzu although I find the wool a bit fluffy and one of them bit me during my research and they are quite ugly (maybe that's why he bit me, he can read my mind). For colour I have used charity shop and left over wool from other projects and the recent closing down of the textile centre in St Benedicts street.

The design.
I spent some time studying local fishermans designs and fairisle patterns before coming up with the windpump pattern as above. The only problem is that most people see a person (dont ask me what the third leg is!) or a white diamond and it takes ages to make. then I came up with the idea of a helmet design but the sides rolled up and made you look like a milkmaid! Lastly I changed the design so it would be like a trapper hat and could fold up in warmer weather.

A fleece sells for about £1.50 which is more than the cost of hiring a shearer. The black sheep shop in Aylsham sells British wool at £3.30 for 100g which would make one hat. It takes about 4 hours to make one. So you could sell it at £25 and feel like you had earned a wage. In fact I have sold one for this price. Of course knitting can be done in front of the TV. Not anything too complicated or visual. Lark Rise to Candleford would be the kind of thing. Not You've Been Framed or you will miss all the drunk people at weddings and the feeling of superiority from knowing the you have never danced stupidly at a family event or fallen backwards into a paddling pool while playing swingball or been bitten by an animal that you were researching for wool, oh actually those things may have happened.....

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