You know how much I love a challenge. And "challenge" here means something along the lines of poking a sleeping teenager, or dinner for twenty, or possibly re-roofing the house all by myself. So it should surprise exactly none of you that when I was asked to make a hat out of gorgeous yarn that features handmade buttons, I didn't even blink. The hat should have texture, but not too much texture. It should have surface embellishment, but nothing too fussy. It should look classic, but not uptight. And it should be a beret.
I started to look around at photos of handknit tams (thank you, Ravelry), and immediately noticed some things:
The hats with gorgeous smooshy texture look properly tam-like, while lying flat.
But decidedly more relaxed, when actually perched on a noggin.
And the toppers without fancy stitch patterns, while definitely more tailored-looking on human heads
Have much less to offer in the way of texture (see also, "Fun Knitting")
And also aren't highlighting the specialness of their yarns.
Which is where my boss (whom you know is a total spaz) and I disagreed. Fervently. She thinks that choosing just the right stitch pattern is job one, because without that, the yarn isn't being shown to best advantage. You know; the thing the yarnmaker hired us to do.
But I argued that unless the fit of the hat is dependably wearable by lots of different heads and hairstyles, the design isn't going to get made by anyone besides me. Which is sort of important to my pals, The Knitters.
So while the boss and I debated the higher concepts of millinery, my hands quietly picked up some needles and started to swatch. And before either of us had noticed, the hands had made a few decisions of their own, and the beret was beginning to be designed, right there in our lap.
And it's getting really good. Textured but tailored. Whimsical but not silly. Good thing the hands know what to do while the brains are otherwise engaged.
The challenges remaining are: Show off the yarn without upstaging the buttons, and call attention to the buttons without leaving the yarn too far in the background. Our quest is balanced on the edge of a sword: Include all the right elements, and neither too many nor too few. The internal bickering has settled down to a dull roar, but I'll let you be the judge of who really won, once the beret is done.
And an aside for those who dream of working for yourselves, without the need for consensus or compromise (as I once did): Turns out there's no such thing. There will always be somebody you have to argue with.