Ex vestris discite erroribus*

When my now-married friends met, she owned a hat that featured earflaps, a big pompom, and pompoms on the ends of the earflap ties. And according to my friend, that hat is the reason her husband fell in love with her. (We all know the reasons are much more varied than that, and include her intelligence, beauty, and kindness.) But she lost that hat within their first year, and he’s been wanting her to get another.

So when I told them over dinner that I was in a knitting slump, they didn’t offer sympathy, or try to find out if there was a deeper reason I wasn’t knitting. No, they said “Knit the earflap hat!” And I didn’t need to be asked twice. We looked at yarn online, and I’d ordered and received it within a week. I started knitting it last Tuesday.

I’d never designed an earflap hat before, and I debated all the ways to approach it. I thought earflaps that were knit beforehand and then joined to the brim would create a neat, continuous effect. I thought, let’s put a stitch pattern on the earflaps, continue it as a hat “brim,” and then switch to stockinette. Great idea, right? I knit on this happily away, and then I stopped and tried it on.

And realized what a horrible mistake this was. Don’t deny it. It’s hideous. It looks like a helmet, right? Like something from ancient Rome.

so awful.

The truth is, I tend to look bad in hats, but this is atrocious. I can’t even believe I’m posting this picture on the Internet for all to see, but you need to recognize JUST how awful this hat was turning out. I couldn’t give this to my friend! I even showed these pictures to other friends, who were trying to convince me the hat was going to be fine, and then they’d stop mid-sentence at the sight of these photos and say, “Oh, wow. Yes, it’s bad.” Friday morning, I frogged the whole thing and tried to really learn from my mistake.

I ruminated. The biggest problem, to my mind, with hats, is that you need it to be thicker right at the brim. It’s why so many hats have a folded-up cuff. Without that, it hugs the shape of your head and is rarely flattering. So I tossed aside the idea of having earflaps continuous with the brim, and found a way to make a thicker brim using the same stitch pattern, which I liked.

Et voila!

new hat for Liz--but it's not done yet!

I know this is more flattering light, but this is a more flattering hat in every possible way. I might venture to say it’s a perfect hat. I’m going to knit another version for me–and leave it just like this. But this hat is not done yet–still have to figure out the earflaps.

Can I just say that earflaps are tougher than you might think? At least, getting the perfect earflap is. I’ve got the second one on the needles–FO soon!

* “Learn from your mistakes” in Latin (you know, ancient Rome)

19 Responses to Ex vestris discite erroribus*

  1. j says:

    Hmm. I think I’ve already knit an earflap hat for that exact same friend. Apparently my efforts were not enough–I’ll avoid offering you any useless advice :)

  2. pamela wynne says:

    Ha! I so, so love the first picture! I mean, of course, the second hat is way better — but the bad-hat-unhappy photo has a definite charm. :)

    I have earflap-hat plans this winter, so any tips once you’ve finished are much appreciated.

  3. maryse says:

    haha i’m sorry. the first hat made me laugh. the second hat on the other hand is a keeper. you will post the pattern when you’re done, right?

    i love earflap hats, but alas, i have too much of a melon head and earflaps make it look extra melony.

  4. Arianne says:

    Loving the hat! Big time! :) But yes, the first one is a bit Septimius Severus or something like that.

    When you get those earflaps figured out let us know! :)

  5. Katie says:

    The second version looks much, much happier. You do indeed look like you are going to war in that first hat. But maybe I’m just picking up on your aggrevation. Can’t wait to see the earflaps.

  6. Lynne E. says:

    Why design an earflap hat from scratch, when there are free patterns available? Here are a couple of not-too-bad patterns that I found by Googling “earflap hat pattern”:


    The second hat is very attractive, but has no earflaps!

    Did your friend give you any details about the hat her husband liked so much? For some reason I envision something soft and rather impractical!

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