Trond Anfinnsen is a knitter from Norway who picked up the craft in 2006 and started knitting hats from the get-go. Eventually he ended up knitting 200 hats that he gave away to family members, friends and others in the town of Stavanger and beyond.
His friend Klaus Nilsen Skrudland, who was getting into photography at the time, took a picture of each of the hats and its recipient, and the Knitting Project was born.
Hat Heads: 1 Man + 2 Knitting Needles = 50 Fun Hat Designs shows the fruits of that project, with pictures of many of the 200 hats and patterns for 50 of them, along with the story of who they went to and why.
Hat Heads spends a little time telling the story of the Knitting Project, what it meant to him and what knitting means to Norway and offering an overview of the basics when it comes to materials and techniques, but for the most part it is a book devoted to the 50 hat patterns.
In actuality many of these hats are basically the same pattern. Anfinnsen uses just three different kinds of yarn in the projects (two medium weight and one bulky) and each pattern is sized either small (for kids), medium (for women) or large (for men) without any numbers to say, convert a small hat to a large.
He does offer some suggestions for modifying patterns, changing sizes, adding designs and doing the math for the crown decreases, but newer knitters probably won't feel that comfortable altering his designs to make them for different sizes.
All of the patterns have in common that they have either a ribbed or rolled brim worked on a smaller needle, and the body of the hat features some kind of colorwork, often stripes and/or a graphic motif that runs along the bottom of the hat just above the brim.
Beyond that, the basic shape and size of the hats is exactly the same from pattern to pattern, which makes this book less useful as a book full of hat patterns, but it's still interesting from an artistic and creative perspective to see some of the many variations that can be done with a really basic hat pattern.
Hat Heads is also fun because each of the 50 patterns is named for its recipient and the pattern includes a little story about why this person got a hat and why they got that particular hat. One boy, Tobias, who is fond of farm machines, got a hat decorated with tractors, for instance, while the author's sister, Kirsten, got a turquoise hat because she loves that color. It's decorated with flowers as a symbol of brotherly love.
Some of the patterns are really cute, but some you kind of need the description to understand what the color pattern is supposed to represent (such as a fox and a cow's head).
A few of my favorites include Venke, which is decorated with butterflies; Kjersti, a spiraled hat in beige and black; and Silje, a bold blue and red number.
The book is probably best enjoyed for the stories and as a photo essay more than as a book that you'll want to sit down and knit patterns from (though you could certainly do that, too). The point of the book is really that hats -- or really anything you knit for another person, Anfinnsen would argue -- should be made with that individual in mind and thus be unique.
While the patterns in Hat Heads can serve as a jumping-off point for your own designs, they really represent just the beginning of what can be done with the basic hat shape, a little yarn and a good dose of imagination.
Publication date: July 2009