Monday, May 26, 2008

And the Winner Is..........


RANDI! with her guess of 58 toques! By my best reckoning, and verified by e-mail to Lovely Daughter, the actual number of toques knitted as of the date of my Blogiversary (May 11) was (everyone over there sitting down?) SIXTY-THREE (63) toques. Randi, if you'll e-mail me (address in profile) your information I will send off your Spectacular Prizes!

For those who may not know - a "toque" is a cap associated with the French and French-Canadian Voyageurs during the Fur Trade era. You see lots of pictures depicting the voyageurs in their canoes, and almost invariably they're wearing red knitted caps. A bit of research showed me that the originals looked like knitted footballs; they're then folded in on themselves to the preferred length.

Here you can see how the same toque can be worn in different ways. Well - no, the SAME way, but with a varying length.

The preferred color for toques is "red"; however, within that description you have your brick, your maroon, your burgundy, your ruby.....other popular colors are "French bleu" and the occasional green. Because they're easy for me to knit I really DO (ignore all that complaining) enjoy knitting them.

After making toques for some handsome, studly young reenactor friends of ours (whom we have "adopted" as "nephews") I found myself with requests, and so began my career of knitting toques on commission.

Now, a ship went down in the middle of the 18th century in the icy Canadian waters which effectively preserved much of the contents. The ship was The Machault , and among the wealth of material goods on board was found a knitted toque. My pattern nearly replicates this, which means that I have some historical documentation for it. This is valuable information for historical reenactors, let me tell you. Serious reenactors fancy looking as close as possible to what history tells us we would've looked like, had we in fact lived in New France, circa 17something.

As a result, (if I may say so) my toques became known in our crowd and while I piss, moan, whine, chafe, stomp demur slightly, I must likewise admit to being proud that my toques are enjoyed, and that they ARE "close to the original" to a degree. One of my "nephews" has actually travelled to see the exhibit of items from the shipwreck, and having a knowledgeable eye (and a knitterly bride) he said that it appeared to him that the original had been made of what we would call approximately worsted weight, and probably on larger needles - something like 7s, perhaps. Much easier than if it were very fine wool on those blasted, confounded very thin knitting pins!

THAT is how I've wound up making 63 toques. There have been very few weeks that I did NOT have a toque on the needles. But it happened! I finished the very last toque, which will arrive at its owner's home in Nova Scotia later this week (depending, of course, on how long it takes getting through Customs, &c). NOTE: when I send off a toque, I include a monograph on the history of le toque in the life of the voyageurs; a sheet on the care of the toque (like voyageurs ever had time to run into town and use the laundromat); a description of the importance to the voyageurs of Ste Anne -- and I affix a small Ste Anne medal to each toque with an 18th-century style straight pin.

FYI: I have, for almost each and every toque, used Cascade 220. It comes in a rich assortment of reds as well as proper dusty grey-blues which pass to my eye as "French Bleu" and many delicious shades of greens and natural colors as well. The exceptions have been some made of Lopi Lite (nice, but a tad scratchy) and once or twice Lamb's Pride (although the likelihood of a knitter in New France running into mohair is just a tad on the side of YEAHRIGHTNOWAY and FUGEDDABOUTIT). If you know what I mean. I usually use either #6 or #7 DPNS, but have used #5s and #8s.

I've since made a few dishcloths (the common granny kind); I've made some progress on a baby wrap, cast on a sock (I think the appropriate word here is WOOT! ); made progress on a scarf and dug out my felted slipper pattern.

"But WAIT", as they say on late-night teevee - "there's MORE!" One of my customers sent me a copy of an e-mail he sent to a fellow he heard from. The fellow had apparently seen and admired HIS toque and asked where he got it . Soooooo...there'll be another commission coming around the bend, I ween. ("Ween" is a sort of medieval-ish word meaning "betcha hunnert bucks".)

Therefore! Again, CONGRATULATIONS TO RANDI (I think it's "Blogless Randi") and I will reveal what her panoply of posh prizes is when I know she's gotten them. No way I'll spoil the surprise!

Oh - and thanks to everyone who guessed! And to my fellow Hog-and-Bloggers and dear companions at The Sow's Ear: if you hear me griping about toques, feel free to stick out your tongue and say "You know you love 'em."

8 comments:

MollyBeees said...

All hail the goddess of the touque!!!!! Glad you're back safe and sound from the wilds of NY!

Elizabeth said...

That's a LOT of toques! I didn't guess, but if I had, I would have been way under!

kmkat said...

I am officially ashamed of the lowness of my guess. You are a toque (that's a good Boggle word) machine!

CathyCate said...

I also didn't get back to guess (meant to) but I also would have been a low-ball guesser! Extremely impressive!

yarndork said...

Congrats Randi. And thank you for the history lesson on touques. Now, if I only had a link to a pattern so I can make some too.....

Yarnhog said...

Darn that Randi, anyway! I was second-closest; does that count? (Yeah, I think I probably was that kid in school.) Congratulations on all the toques. On the upside, you can probably move on to knitting them in your sleep--double your knitting time!

Jane said...

Well, dang! How did I miss the annnouncement of your contest? Congrats to the winner - that was a close guess. Your toque looks nice and warm, which I suppose is the point.

Beth in WI said...

Tagging you for a meme.....