What is it about hats?

Dreaming of the Garden designed by Catherine Reimers.

Rainbow Lambs' Tails Cap designed by Lynn Cosell.

The Trickster's Hat designed by Jacqueline D. Vaughan and Nika Vaughan.

Hats: Who we are and where we come from 

Hats have been used by humans since we could stitch palm fronds together to keep the rain off our heads or wrap a bit of an animal pelt around our ears to keep warm in the winter. Essential for surviving in the extreme heat of the Sahara desert to the icy fields of Antarctica, hats are also essential for expressing who we are and where we come from. When you add handspun yarn to that equation, the results can be phenomenal. When every fiber that is selected by the maker works together to aid in the function and expression of the hat, the presence of the hat becomes powerful.

For decades, we've been showcasing the hat creations of spinners in Spin-Off magazine. In fact, over a decade ago, the editor of Spin-Off at the time, Deborah Robson, challenged Spin-Off readers to design handknitted and handspun hats for a contest to be featured in our magazine.

Back then, I was the assistant editor working on Spin-Off magazine and helping sort through the 132 handspun hats that came in response to our call for entries. It was 1999, but I remember it as if it was yesterday—so clearly is it etched in my memory. Each box we opened elicited "oohs" and "ahhs," and we were completely amazed by many of the hats. We cajoled each other to try them on, pulled a mirror into the conference room to see how they looked. The response to the contest was so enthusiastic that it soon became clear the original plan of simply showcasing the winning hats in the magazine was inadequate. Soon what started as projects for the magazine turned into a book called Tops with a Twist, which was welcomed into the home of many a spinner.

Recently, while sorting through files in the Interweave basement, we stumbled across the archives from the contest and the book. It was great to see how many timeless designs were included in Tops with a Twist (and all the Interweave employees—past and present—who were talked into modeling them!). In the time since the original book went out of print we've entered the digital age and a whole generation of spinners and knitters haven't had a chance to experience these twisty tops. We've selected a few for you to enjoy in a range of sizes, styles, and levels of complexity and made them into a new eBook. We hope that they inspire you to spin some yarn and cast on.

Happy spinning,

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