The Twageos in the Room

In my last post I talked about hat knitting; about how the combination of portability, simplicity but with a bit of interest, worked to make hats the perfect travel companions.

In the screenshot of 36 completed hats projects there was however a hat that, whilst it racked up a fair few miles on the clock during its knitting, had a little more to it and stretched the idea of simplicity with a bit of interest, compared to many highlighted in that earlier discussion.

Lurking in there was a Twageos hat from Susan Crawford’s  Vintage Shetland Project. A stranded colourwork tam of sizeable proportions knit on 2.25mm (US1) needles in Fenella yarn, a 2 ply yarn that knits as a vintage 3 ply,

Twageos from The Vintage Shetland Project, knit in Fenella

This was admittedly my second Twageos. I had knit the original sample, again as a travel project. That travel included a stopover in Ribeauville where after a long day’s drive my knitting just had to be accompanied by a glass of local Alsace Gewurtztramminer.

Holiday Sample knitting with Wine and Spider

The test knit/sample was pretty straightforward, a few tweaks were made to the pattern but largely it was knit as written.

The final sample modelled in the Vintage Shetland Project (Copyright: Susan Crawford)

My own version was a little more complicated, or I should say, I complicated it. The difference between the two is obvious – I changed the colours. It sounds so simple, but I actually worked through quite a few combinations before arriving at my final choices.

I started the hat in Italy, I figured the amount of travelling from Italy to Shetland for wool week would be ample time in which to knit the hat and I’d be able to wear it and get some finished object pictures in Shetland…. Well that didn’t happen. The first colour combination didn’t quite work, nor the second, nor the third, I think it was the fourth combination that I was finally happy with.

The main lesson I took from this, is that yes, hats may often be little more than a swatch in themselves. But if your hat brim includes casting on 155 sts and working 27 rounds, 17 of which are stranded colourwork, or knitting 4148 stitches, 2635 of which are stranded, before you know if it’s going to work out:


Smarten up just swatch one pattern repeat all the way through

And if you think the use of capitals up there is a bit shouty, please be assured, I’m not shouting at you, I’m shouting at myself, the person who knit and frogged THREE brims, a total of 81 rounds or 12,555 sts, 7905 of which were in stranded colorwork before getting it right…. arghhhh

Whilst I didn’t get to wear my own Twageos in Shetland I did however, see the original hat in the Museum and Archives. This hat was a companion piece to the Suffragtte tunic  with which it is displayed.


The Original Suffragette tunic and matching tam on display at Shetland Museum and Archives

The tunic is  truly epic and the recreated book sample garment was knit by my friend Debbie and below is worn by Amelia; woollenwords, photographed (by me) outside Shetland Museum and Archives.

The recreated Suffragette Tunic modelled by Amelia and photographed by myself outside Shetland Museum and Archives during Wool Week, 2018

The original tunic is one of a number of garments in the Museum that belonged to Christina Jamieson, and is as striking today as it would have been when originally knitted and worn in the 1920s. Based on the essay about her in the Vintage Shetland Project that would have been fitting indeed for it’s owner.

Christina Jamieson was a vocal campaigner for women’s suffrage on Shetland from the turn of the 20th century. She lectured, published pamphlets and in 1909 was elected Secretary and Treasurer of the Shetland Women’s Suffrage Society, the inaugural meeting of which took place in her Lerwick Home, Twageos House.

When in 1918, suffrage was extended to married women over 30 years old, unmarried women over 30 who owned or tenanted property Christina, regarded as a ‘fiercely proud spinster’, qualified on the basis of her tenancy of Twageos House, voting for the first time aged 55.

As a woman of standing, social and financial, Christina Jamieson would have supported the local hand knitting industry, as women’s work and for the important contribution it made to household income, as evidenced by the pieces held in the museum collection.

Whilst the ‘Suffragette’ Tunic was a fashion statement of it’s period, it was also a political statement.  This was a fashion for unstructured often androgynous styles that enabled women unfettered movement and emancipation from restriction, metaphorically, politically and literally.

The Suffragette Tunic and Twageos Tam from the Vintage Shetland Project (Copyright: Susan Crawford)

Paired with a Twageos Tam this statement would be amplified. The enlarged tam shape was traditionally regarded as a ‘mans’ hat, but was a style that women had, as Susan writes in the book, begun to be appropriated by women. It appears that Christina was keen to continue that appropriation and challenge notions that women should face restriction as a result of their gender across many domains.

In making my own Twageos I dispensed with the yarn strands that tumble out of the crown; whilst dramatic I’m not sure it’s quite ‘me’ as my fashion statements are perhaps a little more ‘understated’.

Since completion, I’ve worn my Twageos a lot, it’s certainly been put through its paces, including a chilly New Year’s Day walk along Hadrian’s Wall. It’s a fabulous hat, wonderfully warm and over 100 years since originally knitted and designed, it remains pretty stylish in my view.

Hopefully one day I’ll get to wear it in Shetland, it’s certainly perfect for the weather there!

I hope you like the hat and  little bit of the story of Christina Jamieson. There’s lots more Susan’s Essay in the Vintage Shetland Project which demonstrates what a remarkable woman Christina was, and how Shetland was part of an international movement for women’s suffrage.

This International Women’s Day it seems appropriate to recognise Christina and the contribution she made to the choices we have as women today, and to reflect and regroup to support those women around the world who don’t have our advantages.

All the best,




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