Inspiration comes from many sources. I made the first bright red animal hat to accompany a set of mittens attached with a string. My son requested the mittens on behalf of his best friend's one year old son. However, when I finished the mittens, I felt that I really needed a hat to accompany them. Should the hat have a pom pom, a stripe, or an animal face? My son's girlfriend settled the issue with her vote for an animal face. This cheery little piece was the final result. Although the hat was meant for a boy, I had my 11 month granddaughter model it so I could get an idea of size. Size was perfect Okay, cute as a button. So now I needed another hat for her.
How do I get from 2 hats to a collection? Customers at this year's holiday fairs were attracted to the knitted animal hats that I had created several years ago. Out of the 30 hats I had about 5 left, and I was hoping to sell them on sale at my booth. The colors weren't quite right for a sale, but the faces attracted so many people that they stopped to look at the many other items i displayed on my table. I wondered if I offered brighter colors and fresher designs if I would attract many new potential customers. While I have finished this year's fairs, I can still experiment with color, design, and character features. The crocheted hats take less time to complete than the knitted ones. Also, instead of felt, I would crochet the eyes, nose and other details.
Most of my blog postings start with inspiration and move on to research. What designs were featured on favorite blog postings? Facebook, and Pinterest? As I scrolled through the many photos of attractive, colorful, and appealing hats, I noticed that the hats generally fell into two categories: My original plan was to embellish beanies with a variety of ears, noses, eyes, and mouths. However, many of the newer hats were based on a hat with ear flaps and braided or crocheted ties. Once you master the basic hat style, all you have to do add the features that will make the impression of your chosen animal or character.
When I crochet a beanie, I generally use a half double crochet stitch or a double crochet stitch. I no longer follow a pattern. I use a measurement chart to get the correct dimensions. I start with a magic circle and build to crochet rounds until I reach the desired crown diameter for the age and size. Then i stop increasing and crochet additional rounds until I am about an inch short of the designated height. One alternative is to switch to a hook one size smaller and crochet several rounds before finishing off. Another finishing style is to use alternating front and back double crochet post stitches for several rows.This gives a ribbing effect.
Useful sites for basic beanies include:
To make a hat with ear flaps, you will be following the basic beanie design before making the triangle ear flap on the first ear. Then follow the same directions for the second ear. Choose a contrasting or coordinating color yarn to single crochet along the bottom including the ear flaps. Many styles show braided ties that extend from the corner of the ear flaps. I prefer to use 2-3 thickness of yarn to crochet the tie. A tassel at the end is optional.
Although the following link is for the polar bear hat, the basic hat design will will work for any of the ear flap animal hats.
Type in link or copy and paste.
The monkey hat follows a similar construction and can be adapted to any color combination.
How do you vary your animal hat?
Ears: oval ears for dog, pointed ears for cat, round ears for bear, floppy ears for bunny
Eyes: large round eyes for owl, patched eye for dog, heart eye for any animal, button eyes
Nose: two round circles with triangle nose in between, crocheted oval nose, tiny pompoms
Mouth: rounded rectangle with red line for sock monkey, stitched smile for a variety of animals
Other: flowers, hair bows bowties, curls, braids, stars, buttons
I have had so much fun with this initial bunch of hats that I will continue with a new batch for my next post. Please share your designs and creations. It is glorious to crochet pieces that make everyone smile.
By the way, which hat should I give to my granddaughter?