A Bousta Beanie for a Big Head


Big heads make hats difficult. Well, they make buying ready to wear hats difficult anyway. With the biggest head in my family, hand knitted hats have been the only solution for years and I’ve actually got a great collection thanks to the London Knitter. So great in fact that I’ve rarely knitted hats for myself but when I saw the Bousta Beanie pattern for Shetland Wool Week 2017, I got rather excited.

Each year, the patron of Shetland Wool Week designs an official hat for the festival. They have a history of producing some pretty awesome designs too, like Donna Smith’s legendary Baa-ble Hat and Ella Gordon’s fantastic Crofthoose Hat. For 2017, Gudrun Johnson is the Wool Week patron and she has designed the Bousta Beanie.

When I saw the pattern, there were quite a few things that made me pretty desperate to cast it on now. Chief among them was the beautiful contrast edge to the hat which is just such a great idea. I also really loved the wavy Fair Isle design and then loved it twice as much when I realised that because of the small scale design repeats, there would be no need to catch big floats when doing the colour work. Hurrah!


The wool to make the hat with was an easy choice since Shetland wool is probably my favourite to work with and the most readily available up here! For this hat I used 3 shades of Jamieson and Smith‘s 2 ply jumper weight in the shades 82 (green), 72 (pink) and 203 (grey – my absolute all time favourite yarn!). The green and pink have lovely heathery tones to them and overall, I’m pretty happy with how my colour choices worked out. There is just something about green and pink together that really appeals to me, even when my mother tells me it’s a terrible idea!

Due to my big head, I did some (poor) maths to increase the pattern size and still make it work with the pattern and crown repeats. This wasn’t terribly successful in that a) I forgot that you increase after the ribbing so I had some fudging to do then to get a stitch count that worked with the pattern and crown repeats and b) I’ve made it slightly too big. It still fits and I properly love it but even I have to admit that it’s definitely on the slouchier side of slouchy. Any suggestions about how to shrink is just a wee bit would be very welcome!

This was a super enjoyable knit and the way the pattern knits up always seems to be encouraging you to just finish this little bit more before doing the dishes and so on! I also really enjoyed having the chance to practice knitting with one yarn in each hand as I’ve not done a lot of that and I can’t say it comes naturally to me.

This pattern would be great for people who want to try colour work as the pattern is really well written and the floats are all nice and short. My favourite bit about this knit: that the inside is just as beautiful as the outside.


Helpful Information

Pattern – Bousta Beanie by Gudrun Johnson
Modifications – I cast on 152 stitches which wasn’t great as it meant I needed to do some fudging at the increase row in order to get a stitch count of 180 stitches which would work with the pattern and crown repeats. This is too big for me with my 22.5″ head so I reckon the next time I cast on I’ll try to have 156 stitches after the increasing row
Cast on – long tail cast on. I use this video by Wool and the Gang whenever I need a reminder.
Cast off – followed the instructions in the pattern for crown decreases and cast off
Colour dominance – I did a night class with Donna Smith last year and that really got me thinking about colour dominance. This tutorial from Ysolda Teague has a really good explanation and examples about how to work out which colours should be dominant. For this hat, I made the green the background colour and the  pink/grey the dominant colours.


Needles – 3mm Addi Turbo’s for the cast on and changed to 3.5mm needles as instructed by the pattern at the start of chart A
Wool – all colours are Jamieson and Smith 2 ply jumper weight. I used 2 x 25g balls of the shade 82 (green) and one each of the shades 72 (pink) and 203 (grey). I used all the rest of the pink for the pom pom but I’ve still got a good bit left of the grey and the second ball of green.


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