This is not a hat that belongs to a single unlucky leprechaun. It is a hat made of unlucky leprechauns, or so the story goes.
On a recent St. Patrick’s Day over beers, whiskey, and Irish Cream, my friend June described a bowler / derby hat made from leprechaun hides (complete with bits of red whiskers) all stitched together with bits of green clothing and shiny buckles. I love a challenge like this, so she dictated and I sketched and took some notes. The sketch accidentally went though the wash, but I think that gives the story more character.
The easiest way to give the hat a good shape would be to felt it, so I started collecting random balls of green wool yarn. I wasn’t positive that all of the yarn was wool, so I tried the flame test to make my best guess on it. The smart move would have been to knit sample swatches of all the yarns then run them through the wash for a felt test, but I was too impatient. I roughly followed the Felted Hat pattern from Cascade Yarns, but switched colors up regularly. Since it was knit in the round, I wanted it to look more like patchwork than stripes, and I didn’t have enough yarn/patience to pull off intarsia, I flipped the work each row and randomly worked in new shades of green. Fortunately felting is incredibly forgiving, and even better that the final effect I wanted to achieve was sort of a rough, homespun look.
Fingers crossed, I sent the hat through the wash in a regular load of laundry — hot water, cold rinse, with a bit of baking soda. I lucked out with the yarns I had chosen, but it took a total of 3 washes before it was mostly felted. I stretched the hat over a bowl and used spools of thread around the brim to give it a good shape.
Once it was fully dry, I started to embellish it. I unraveled gold trim to salvage as thread, and started putting patchwork style stitches in a random pattern across the hat. I also applied upholstery fabric samples to a belt covering kit to create the band. The belt allowed the fit of the hat to be adjustable (and I think it looks pretty cool!)
Next step was to add a few extra gold buckles then sew on some gold buttons, and a handful of coins. All told, the hat took me a week to make. Last weekend was knitting and starting the felting, and I stitched in the details over a few nights this week.
Leprechauns are definitely going to think twice about crossing paths with the wearer of this hat lest they become material for the next one.