One of the really incredible things about Fancy Tiger Crafts is the amazing community of talented people that share their inventive minds and skillful hands with us. Ben Holladay-McCann is the perfect example of this! Equal parts awe-inspiring knitter and aw-inspiring soul, we love that Ben shares ALL of his talents with us. He originally came to us though Man Made, the gentleman's craft society we host, but as soon as we heard he was starting a new adventure into pattern making under the NoahNoa Crafts name we knew it was time to share his talent with everybody we know. Take it away Ben!
I don’t remember who I first heard this from, but this advice sticks in my head all the time: the best way to start something is to start. I love knitting other designer’s patterns and have always admired the creativity and inventiveness that comes with knitting, but I was always a bit nervous about starting my own designs. “Am I good enough? Is this pattern too basic for people? Do I really know enough about knitting to do this?” were thoughts that I’d have. Maybe you’re familiar with that feeling too—the tentativeness to jump into a new project, worried that it won’t meet your expectations. For me, sometimes that meant not starting the project at all.
It wasn’t until the Launch Point hat where I finally decided to just play with yarn and see what happens. I was looking to explore texture in a straight-forward construction, and hats are a great way to do that—they are “low commitment” knitting, so an excellent way to try out theories (and yarn!) without a ton of investment. Even though this was experimental, I wanted to balance that with the goal of having an every-day hat that you could pop on without asking yourself, “Does this go with my outfit?” With Launch Point, the answer is hopefully always “yes!”
Pattern: Launch Point from NoahNoa Crafts by Ben Holladay-McCann
Materials: 1 skein of Woolfolk Tov Light Grey (T2)
Size Made: One Size
I wanted to add a few special touches too—things that would be easy for a beginner to follow but provide for a professional and polished finish. It’s always a good feeling when someone asks “where did you buy your hat?” and you can respond “I made this!” For Launch Point, it starts with a tubular cast on, which gives it a lovely rolled-edge. 2x2 ribbing creates a nice border to frame your face, and panels of stockinette and seed stitch give enough texture to keep things interesting without being complex.
But one of my favorite touches that give the hat the extra feeling of luxury is using Woolfolk Tov. If you haven’t tried it, this is definitely a “treat yourself” yarn! It’s an Aran weight 12-ply merino wool that produces one of the softest fabrics ever while also making texture crisp and defined. In Launch Point, you end up with silky stockinette and structured seed-stitch that looks and feels amazing when you wear it. The Tov colorways are beautiful and mostly neutral colors, which add to the everyday wearability. While I knit mine up in their light-grey (T2), I think it could also look wonderful in the Denim (T7) or Bark (T5). I ended up getting two skeins and got three hats out of it, one for me and two as gifts!
I experimented with this hat in a few other yarns too – some to try out the technique, and others to try out the yarn. My “technique” hats were in Cascade 220, a solid choice with so many different colors. When experimenting with yarn for the hat, one of my favorites was Malabrigo Merino Worsted. Their kettle-dyed yarns give lovely dimension to all their colorways, and it’s easy to show off their colors in Launch Point. I also enjoyed knitting up one in Quince & Co. Owl, in a super-deep blue colorway, Huckleberry. Owl gives the hat a nice rustic texture, and their colorways are dreamy.
On a personal level, this hat and its name are symbolic for me. My husband and I are starting on the path of having a baby through IVF, which comes with quite a large price tag! We’ve saved a lot of money so far, but are still only about 30% of the way there from being fully funded. I decided to start NoahNoa crafts and design patterns / knit-for-hire as a way to raise additional funds. Any money that we make as part of pattern sales or bespoke designs goes directly to our IVF fund. We’re also committed to paying forward any residual money that we make. So, if you’re reading this in ten years and want to pick up the pattern, know that all money goes to another family working on having a baby through IVF! This is our launch point, and we can’t wait to see where the journey takes us. I'm excited to see where Launch Point takes you, too!
Thanks for sharing, Ben!