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.