Beret, Tam, or Slouch?

You all know that I love knitting hats. They're cute, quick, and can be easy or challenging.

As hats become more fashionable, there are more types of them out there. For myself, I favor a beret or slouch; definitely not a beanie, which makes me look like a basket ball head! My mom and sister, on the other hand, look great in beanies (and every other type of hat—lucky dogs!).

I'm lucky, too though, because there are so many fun knitted hats, slouches, and berets out there. I know there's such a thing as a tam, too, but it looks exactly like a beanie to me.

I came across this article in Knits Accessories 2011, though, which explains the difference. Here it is:

Clockwise from top right: The Linocut Beret is a beret with less drastic shaping and blocking. The Corinthian Tam features true beret shaping and flat blocking. The Intaglio Hat is a slouchy hat.

In knitting, we throw around the terms beret, tam, and slouch as if they are synonymous. Are they?

Historically, "tam" is short for the Tam O'Shanter, a Scottish wool hat with a pom-pom. These hats were worn by men and became part of the Scottish military regalia during World War I. "Tammies" are the more universal version of the tam, being worn by both genders and all ages in the United Kingdom. The body is roughly twice the circumference of the band, similar to a beret in proportion.

The beret emerged in Bronze Age Europe and later became typical to France and Spain. The Scottish tam is considered a specific, regional type of beret. Traditionally, a beret would be worn tilted to one side, while a tam would perch straight on the head.

The slouch is a contemporary hat style. It can start as a regular beanie in shape but then is worked to greater circumference and depth to create the characteristic slouch at the back of the head—as the Intaglio Hat above. Or it can be worked as a beret with less drastic shaping and blocking.

The trend of blocking berets over dinner plates seems to have waned, creating a trend of handknit berets that are more slouchy than disk-like. And we certainly don't attach pom-poms to all our tams. So, for knitters, the terms are loose and can be interchangeable.

Maybe we should be saying tammie in place of tam, however! Berets and tammies are generally twice as large around the body as they are at the brim. The brim should fit snugly around the head.

—From Knits Accessories, 2011

Interesting, right? I guess my hat of choice is the slouchy beret.

All three of these hat knitting patterns plus several more are available in Knits Accessories, 2011. It's available for download, so get yours today!


P.S. What's your favorite type of hat? Leave a comment and let us know!

Post a Comment