When I was 21 years old, I headed off to Scotland in April. I was well-equipped for the weather, since I lived on the very northern tip of Vancouver Island. My regular wardrobe for April at home had all the perfect garments!
First day, taking the train from Glasgow to Edinburgh, I left my toque on the train. I thought,“How hard can that be to replace?”I didn’t have any knitting tools with me (backpacks are limited for space!) so I decided to buy one. There were plenty of shops selling knitted goods, so I went into one and looked all around. Not a toque in sight! But there were lots of helpful clerks.
“Excuse me”I asked the kind lady“Can you tell me where your toques would be?”
She stared at me….”Toook??? What might that be?”
And I was stumped! How could someone not know what a toque was?? It was like someone asking me“What might a shoe be?”or“Shirt?? What on earth is that?”My mind just went blank. It took a bit, but the brain finally started working.
“A toque. You know, a knitted hat? That’s nice and tight and stays on your head?”
“Ah, says she“A tammy!”and she pulled out some lovely tams.
“No, thanks for trying. But I need a toque…you know, tight and…”
I looked around at the people in the crowded shop, and way over in the corner was a lady with a knitted hat. Not as tight as a toque, but close. It had a large pompom on top. I am not a pompom on my toque person, so I pointed at the lady and said to the clerk“Sort of like that white hat the lady over there is wearing”
“Ah!….you wanting a bobble cap!” she was beaming!
“Well, yes, if that’s what that’s called, but without the pompom. And snugger too. What would you call a hat like that?”I had finally realized that“toque”was just not in the Scottish vocabulary.
“Well, if you’re wanting a cap like that with no bobble, then you’re wanting a bobbleless bobble cap!”She smiled even brighter. “I’m afraid we don’t have any of those, but other shops will. You just ask them for a bobbleless bobble cap and you’ll find one with no difficulty!”
She was right. Three shops later, and I had a“bobbleless bobble cap that fits tight”and not one clerk thought my request was strange. I did ask for a“toque”as well, but that just made them stare at me, totally bewildered.
Years passed, and my lovely red“bobbleless tight fitting bobble cap”finally wore out. I knit more toques, for myself, my husband, and my boys. More years passed.
I attended Olds College Fibre Week, and met a lovely lady named Jayne, from Washington State. We were chatting over a cup of coffee, and both of us were knitting away. “What are you knitting”I asked her. “Socks for my daughter”she said“And you?” “Oh, I’m making a new toque for my husband”
She stared at me. “Toook???”she said.
And that’s when I realized,“Toque”is a Canadian word. Who knew, eh?
We hashed out what made a toque an actual toque and not a bobbleless bobble hat.
- It must be knit, and not felted.
- It must keep your ears warm, but you must be able to roll it above the ears on warmer days and it has no ear flaps.
- It must give you major hat head after only 10 minutes of wear.
And there you go. That’s a toque.
Step 1: Measure the head, and subtract 10%. That’s how big it needs to be
Step 2: Make a swatch to get the gauge per inch of your yarn (make sure the fabric stretches!)
Step 4: Multiply step 1 x step 2 = how many to cast on.
Step 5: Knit until you have about 9 inches (you can do all rib, all stocking stitch, a combination. It’s your choice!)
Step 6: Shape the top. You measured your gauge per inch in step 2.
- Knit this many, k2 tog. (fudge the numbers a bit if needed!)
- Knit 1 round plain.
- Knit 1 less than you did in“A”k2tog.
Repeat B. and C. until you have about 1/3 of the stitches left. Now repeat C. only until you have abut the number of sts. in an inch. Gather these up and sew in ends etc.
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