Tuesday, 13 September 2011

A Hat For an Antarctic Adventurer

I have for a while now been avoiding a request from my husband to knit him a beanie.  But not just any old beanie.  An Antarctic explorers beanie.  This of course may seem like a strange request unless you know that my husband is also an archaeologist and is returning this summer to continue archaeological work at Mawson's Huts.  It is quite an adventure to get to Antarctic even in this day and age so hats off (pardon the pun) to the men who went down there to explore the region in the early twentieth century.  Mawsons Huts are at Cape Denison, which is properly on the Antarctic continent and can only be accessed during the summer months when there is a bit less ice.

For the last two seasons my husband, lets call him adventure husband (AH) has been asking me to knit him a replica of Mawson's balaclava, made famous on the old Australian $100 note.  Here is Mawson wearing said article of knitwear.

The problem of course is that despite having a collection of vintage knitting patterns I am pretty crappy at knitting.  So I have been politely turning him down.  Given however, that this is the 100th anniversary of Mawson's first expedition to Antarctica, I felt that perhaps I should reconsider.  So I am embarking on an Antarctic hat project.  To start myself off on something that is less likely to be full of holes and more likely to fit I have started with a fairly basic beanie (apparently Mawson also had one of these), so that at least AH will have something to wear in the vintage Antarctic headgear vain.  Although I suspect it will be fairly quickly abandoned for the high-tech gear provided by the Australian Antarctic Division.  

The pattern I am attempting is from one of my WWII knitting pattern books.

This fellow looks like a dashing jewellery thief no?  The sort who would seduce the ladies while relieving them of their valuables.

I am using lovely New Zealand merino wool in a suitable explorer grey colour.  Despite having to restart the first few rows about 8 times (practice makes perfect don't they say?) progress is now being made.  Will try to post some pictures of the finished article and all going well will be starting on that balaclava soon.

On the subject of knitting patterns I couldn't resist sharing a few more images from my collection.  The back of the pattern above has a great ad, discouraging wastage during wartime with a great Dad joke about making wool go the distance.

Then there is this wonderful Vogue knitting book.  I had to do a double take when I saw the year on this.  1947? The cover looks so modern and those sandals are rather like elegant Birkenstocks! The styling inside is also wonderful.  A notch up from your avaerage knitting pattern.  You can tell it is Vogue.  Don't you love the lovely black jumper with the bell sleeves?  It is a bit Hepburnesque.  Or is that just the model? Maybe my knitting skills will improve enough to allow a jumper one of these days.


  1. Wow that Vogue book looks amazing! Yes I have quite a bundle of balaclava/beanie patterns (especially for knitting for the forces!) but I've not yet found someone willing to wear one (my husband is not keen at all. But seeing as it never really gets below 12∘C here I can hardly blame him!!).

  2. Happy Belated Birthday my fellow Capricorn :)