So I had written a really long blog post last week, but changed my mind about posting it, so you’re left with the dregs of my writing today. Either way, it’s IWD2015 and my first May Day in the US. It’s not a public holiday here, but that’s besides the point (it’s not one in the UK either, the first Monday in May is.) Still, today is one day of the year that we are supposed to think about the role of workers in our society, one that ritually invisiblises those who make everything possible. It’s not the people in charge who run our countries, but the millions who are forced through economic necessity to wake up before daylight in order to do the jobs no-one else wants to do, or can do, and the thousands of shift-workers who keep us safe and alive on hospital wards and switchboards.
Whether minimum wage and zero-hour contracted, or better paid and more secure (yet probably still facing precarity down the barrel, teetering on the edge of our volatile and unpredictable economic climate, especially in anticipation of a General Election), it’s those of us who don’t own the means of production who make the world go round. Bottoms up.
Today is the day of the year when I generally feel the most complete, utterly ruinous despair at the social condition. A few years back when I started publishing knitting patterns, I chose to use May Day as a ritual day in my working year, when I release a free pattern that is designed to be accessible to most knitters, as a celebration of the people who make my world go round. If I think of functional contributions I can make to improving the economic reality faced by most of us, I end up feeling completely helpless, fateful, and overwhelmed, so instead I’ve chosen to trivialise and make light of something that runs far deeper than any one of us can effect. In any case, while it’s a day I want to make a point of commemorating it would feel utterly contradictory to sell my labour as part of that, so the only logical action is to give a gift. And here is yours: Torx.
I designed this beanie last summer as part of some experiments with Brooklyn Tweed’s LOFT yarn, which was touted as sharing the appearance of those rustic Shetlands I consistently rave about, while being softer and more accessible to the average knitter. Although, hark at the price! While it’s definitely not a cheap yarn, it does have a decent yardage for its weight thanks to a woollen-spun construction. This also lends itself to a lightweight fabric when knitted at an equivalent gauge to my precious Shetlands.
Also, the colours are amazing.
If you don’t want to shell out for LOFT, then this pattern works well in my perennial favourites of Jamieson’s Shetland Spindrift (Jamieson & Smith 2ply Jumperweight is also a good option) and Colourmart’s 2/9nm Shetland (also Gardiner’s 2/9nm Shetland). I’ve been trying out Polo&Co’s Masgot Fine recently and this is another delectable rustic yarn that I will showcase in the future. Needless to say it slots right into this roster as a prime candidate for Torx.
The name Torx is a reference to those six-sided star-shaped screwdriver heads that I keep finding in interchangeable sets. I’ve only encountered their usage a couple of times in my life but they do find a way of populating even the cheapest, most basic screwdriver set, as if there’s a commonplace function for them I’ve overlooked. If anyone can suggest what this might be I’m all ears.
It’s a really simple beanie that is genuinely both a quick knit and easy to wear. I have a couple of these in different sizes that I use to deal with bad hair days and those in-between spring and autumn days when you’re not quite sure if a t-shirt and shorts will be enough. I also love to wear them to dance in, as their lightness allows me to pretend I’m a cool street dancer who doesn’t drip with sweat the minute I so much as twitch a muscle. The delusion doesn’t last long, but it’s fun all the same.
As a basic hat pattern it provides a solid base for experimenting with colour and pattern, and I can think of a dozen colourwork patterns I want to apply to its smooth stockinette body, as well as some ideas on how to exploit the hexagonal decreases for some tricky patterning at the crown. Neither does it have to be knitted in a rustic yarn. If you’re a softness fanatic but want to retain the tweedy texture then Colourmart’s 2/12nm Cashmere/Silk/Viscose/Merino is a great option. But who says it has to be tweed? Go wild.