I’ve always loved baker boy hats. Not everyone calls them that though – they’re also known as newsboy caps, apple caps and cabbies. Whatever you call them, there’s no denying that these hats have a stylish, nostalgic charm. They were originally worn by men in the late 1800s, but they’ve become associated with various decades of fashion, including the 70s and 90s.
My love affair with these hats began (like so many things do!) when I was a child.
I first saw a baker boy hat adorning the head of Barbra Streisand in the movie What’s Up Doc? She starts the movie with all her hair tucked right up inside the hat, looking oh-so cool (have a look here).
What’s Up Doc?
A little way into the movie, she takes off the hat and shakes out her beautiful golden locks. I remember thinking that she was the most elegant yet individually stylish lady I’d ever seen. I think it helped that Barbra Streisand looked not unlike my mum in those days, who (up until then) had been the most beautiful lady I’d ever seen (and of course, she still is!).
The spark of stylish adoration for these hat had been well and truly ignited, but there was something more that made these hats special for me.
You see, What’s Up Doc? was my mum’s favourite film (and I think it probably still is). The first time we watched the film together (me, mum and my brother), I saw her laugh like I’d never seen her before – absolutely helpless and unable to breath, with tears of joy rolling down her cheeks. She was laughing like a child laughs and being a child, I thought it was amazing.
So all those happy memories of laughter and fun became tied in with the retro style of baker boy hats and the elegance of Barbra Streisand.
It wasn’t until I was about 25 that I felt comfortable and confident enough with my own style to start wearing a baker boy hat. I took my time choosing the perfect one, in black and white – to ensure the nostalgic charm!
A few years later, when I got back into knitting, I promised myself that I would design my own baker boy hat and fill the world with people wearing my happy memories. All I needed to do first was figure out how to knit in the round, and then have some time to do the designing…
Many knits later and a few more years wiser, it was 2011 and I finally got around to creating my long-awaited (and very first) knitted design. I made it in an orange tweed, as a cheeky ‘tip of the hat’ to 70s style.
One brave day, I showed the hat to my friend Louise Butt (whose knitting skills I hugely admire and respect). She loved the hat and encouraged me to submit it to Simply Knitting magazine (where we had met and became friends – she worked there and I had freelanced there).
The lovely Deb Bradley (editor on Simply Knitting) liked the hat and asked me to knit a fresh one for the magazine, which I did. They titled my hat ‘Beat Surrender’ (which I love!) and printed it in issue 86 of Simply Knitting in October/November 2011.
You can see more about the hat on Ravelry, here – the response from knitters has been so wonderful that my baker boy hat obsession has gained a whole new level of happy memories! You can now even buy the pattern, either on Ravelry here or on Etsy here.