Knitting for Film.

Here’s a little tale about the early days in my spinning experience and how I managed (by great luck) to make a handspun and hand knitted hat for a film.

The film, Fanny Lye Deliver’d was released on June 26th 2020 and stars Maxine Peake and Charles Dance as Fanny and John Lye. It’s set in Shropshire in 1657. It is the story of Fanny who escapes an oppressive marriage to John when two strangers arrive in her world unexpectedly.

My friend Jane Smith who is a great hat maker for theatre, film, TV and so on took an interest when I started to learn to spin. Having previously undertaken some knitting work for another of Jane’s theatrical projects, she asked me if I could knit a hat like this image from an historical expert that the the costume designer wanted for a film. We had no dimensions, just a general shape to go on, so I was really making things up as I went along.

So I set about spinning some yarn for the project.

I chose nice dark grey Jacob tops and spun a basic two ply yarn on my Ashford Traditional wheel. It turned out to be a little thicker than double knitting, but thinner than aran. Some parts of the yarn were quite loosely spun and this gave the hat quite a nice rustic look as it was knitted up.

The remit was to produce a garment quite rough and ready and in keeping with rural seventeenth century farmer’s wear.

The hat was knitted in two sections: I started with a bottom-up basic beanie shape (like the one shown in the photo but without the ribbing) for the crown, then picked up the stitches around the base of the beanie and knitted the brim from the headline outwards, increasing the number of stitches until the desired brim width was reached.

The knitted hat went off to Jane to work her magic. She dyed it a deeper shade of grey, stiffened it and blocked the crown and brim sections to look more like a puritan shaped hat.

Here are the photos from the first fitting and you’ll see that the crown shape is fine, but the hat brim is far too big and floppy, so it came back to me to have the brim unpicked to a more manageable size.

With that alteration done, the hat went back to Jane to exercise some more of her amazing blocking and stiffening skills on the hat and here it is in a couple of photos in the movie!

If you’d like to buy one of my beanie hats handknitted from my handspun yarn, then please click here

Published by Sarah McAlister Hat Maker and Textile Artist

I make all my lovely hats, caps and textiles by hand.

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