Growing up, there was always one item that you could find on my wish list: a floppy hat. None that I ever found seemed to match up to the platonic form of pure "floppy hat" that lingered in my subconscious. So I never got one I was satisfied with. Then as I got older, my hat coveting turned into a strange wish to make my own sun hat. I definitely tried, but it never quite panned out (yarn + heat = sweaty head). I'd just about given up on my absurd quest, when I came across Wool and the Gang's new Ra-Ra Raffia yarn. My inner DIY radar started going off: NEW PROJECT ALERT! That would be perfect for a hat! And, sure enough, they had a kit for a hat all ready to go. I was powerless to resist. Definitely a #shutupandtakemymoney moment.
Lest any of you think that I'm cooler than I actually am, I'm not affiliated with Wool and the Gang in any way. I'm just a sucker for a good crochet project. I ended up ordering the "Worn This Way" hat kit in the colorway Desert Palm. The kit comes with 1 skein of the Ra-Ra Raffia, an instruction booklet, and a large tapestry needle for weaving in ends. If you want to pay a bit more, you can get a crochet hook in the kit as well, but it's already kinda pricy, so I said no thanks to the hook and just used my own (which ended up being an extra good idea for reasons I'll explain later).
I was most curious about what it would be like to crochet with raffia. I've used non-yarn materials before, and they're not always great to work with. Luckily, the raffia turned out to be pretty nice to crochet with. It's not as comfortable/quick as using normal yarn, but it's very smooth and glides pretty well on the hook. If anything, it's a tiny bit slipperier than I wanted. But it didn't tear up my hands at all. It frogs pretty well (but will change from perfectly smooth to wrinkly after you've crocheted with it) and I didn't have any issues with it ripping or tearing. That being said, I wouldn't recommend yanking on it really hard or poking your hook through the middle of it, because it definitely could rip if you put too much pressure on it. Normal crocheting/frogging should be fine though.
One thing that I definitely want to stress about using the Ra-Ra Raffia is to CHECK. YOUR. GAUGE. I know, I know. No one likes to do it. But it's really important for this one. Gauge is always crucial for sizing wearables correctly, and this is no exception. I ended up making several test swatches before I was able to match the gauge. I'm usually a pretty tight crocheter and have to size up a hook for most patterns, but in this case I actually ended up sizing down to a G (4.0mm) crochet hook and crocheting slightly tighter than I would normally to match the gauge. Maybe it's just something about the raffia? I'd be curious to see if anyone else had this issue. But once I managed to match my gauge, my hat came out to the exact dimensions outlined in the pattern. (Also, one heads up: there's a handy little printed ruler included in the instruction booklet...but it's totally inaccurate. So save yourself the time I wasted and use something else to measure your swatch. Maybe mine was printed weird, but someone at Wool and Gang should get on that one)
The Worn This Way hat pattern is easy to follow. It threw me off at first, because it wasn't formatted like most patterns I've seen; the writing style almost seems to be geared toward non-crocheters or complete beginners. But I had no problem following the instructions. The instructions also had explanations for each type of stitch in the back, in case any of them were unfamiliar. I will confess that I made one slight alteration to the pattern: for the first section of the hat, I staggered my increase stitches to help keep the shape as round as possible. But other than that, I just followed the pattern as written.
In case anyone was wondering about the sizing, the hat is designed to be a one-size-fits-all. I have a really small head and I was initially worried about it being too big, since most hats are on me. I contacted Wool and Gang and they were really nice about sending me a little diagram with the dimensions of that hat before I ordered the kit so I could measure some of my other hats and compare. My Worn This Way hat matches their dimensions and it fits me fine (although I could have made it slightly smaller for a tighter fit). For an average head, I doubt there would be any issues with the size. If you have a gigantic noggin, you may want to consider sizing up a bit, but that may require more of the raffia (I only had a tiny bit leftover when I finished mine). And if you use a larger hook, that'll mean looser stitches, which will cause more drooping of the brim, which may or may not be what you want. Personally, if I were to try to make the hat bigger, I think I'd just increase the number of stitches for the middle of the hat using the same gauge. If anyone out there has sized up this hat, I'd love to hear about it.
Overall, I'm really happy with my new sun hat! I finally managed to make one that I'll enjoy using (assuming summer ever happens this year...I'm not convinced yet). I think it's a beautiful hat and I can't wait to use it soon! If anyone else has made this hat or used raffia to crochet with, I'd love to hear your thoughts! You can reach me in the comments section below or on social media. Happy hooking!
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