I bought a gorgeous pair of Danner hiking boots yesterday: tan leather with really fun red laces! Got them home, opened them up, and inside the box there was this little card which talked of the company's philosophy. It resonated with me and I thought it was particularly well written. Any thoughts?
A few people have asked “how long does it take to make a hat?” The short answer to that question is: “about 12 hours” of actual knitting time. But there are so many factors involved - every hat is individual and every knitter is different.
First, the thickness of the wool is a consideration to answer how long does it take. The thinner the wool, the longer it takes for the hat to grow by an inch. So the adult size Autumn Melange takes me about 12 hours to make. The adult size Winter Tomte takes Sarita, about 10 hours to make because the wool is thicker.
Second, we should consider the design of the hat. l.a.n.a. wants to produce a beautiful handmade product, and the knitted fabric should be uniform, without any lumps and bumps. One of the challenges of making a handmade product is how to make every single hat come out the same size with the same look, all the time. A knitting machine can be programmed to produce exactly the same thing every time - people are different! Most of the time, the second hat I make is more difficult than the first because I am trying to produce a hat that exactly matches the first.
I design l.a.n.a. hats with the knowledge that wool stretches naturally, so when it is brand new, it should be really snug. Over time, the hat will shape itself to your head. The tension, or tightness, at which the yarn is knitted plays an important role here. And different types and thickness of wool behaves differently.
The Spring hat has a gorgeous lace design. This pattern takes the longest time to knit of these three hats, because of its complexity - and along with the complexity we still want to achieve a uniform fabric and a great fit; so always taking the time and paying close attention to tension.
It is also important to mention that a lot of time also goes into designing the hat. What is the shape going to be? What do we want this hat to do? Does it have to multitask like the Autumn Melange? How will this hat resist the blowing wind? We make a few samples, try them out so that what goes on sale is our best version.
So a l.a.n.a. hat is really a work of heart. A lot of time and a lot of love, goes into designing and making one. I hope you love wearing yours!
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Facebook: LANA - New York
You have to imagine the coldest winter you have ever experienced... got it in your mind?
Now, minus another 20 degrees.... ok?
Add a horrible biting, blustering wind.....
This was January and February 2014 in New York City. -17 degrees celsius with the wind chill - that is just 1 degree fahrenheit.... well, the kids wore their ski pants more or less 24 hours a day for 2 months, it was crazy!
I had made a hat for myself out of the extra thick merino that the 2014 Winter Collection is also made from, and I decided that I would make a matching one for N. Well, we walked around NYC with our matching hats - which saved our lives - and random people in the street stopped us to ask where we got them. Not just once, but at least once every day!
I love that about New York! Perfect strangers will stop you when you're rushing to get the kids to school, running for subway, when you've got your hands full with grocery bags and your only focus is not to slip on the black ice - and people complimented me on my hat. It happened a lot and it made me think....
Lots of people have said they like something that I make - if only I had been able to give them a card, so that they would have been able to contact me. Maybe I should start making them for others?
Another thing about winter hats that I found frustrating was that I wasn't able to find one that held it's shape. They would all stretch out and after a few weeks would not sit properly, or they would fly if the wind picked up. This is an important design consideration of a l.a.n.a. hat. Merino wool holds it's shape and the stretch, and loss of shape is minimal and the beauty of it is that when you wash it (strictly by hand only) it goes back...
(Note to self: write a care label, and do a page on washing instructions for the website...)
So midnight, February 2014, and I am finishing another hat, everyone has gone to bed and there is (finally) peace in the house, and the name for the business comes into my head.
I had been knitting hats for all the members of my family since October. They had been the ones who graciously wore hats that were too short, too wide, too ugly, until I got the design right. So it only seemed fitting that their contribution to the R&D was recognized. And playing with the initials spelled "lana". We are half Italian and "lana" means wool - it just worked! It was a sign - and that is why I decided to give it a go!!
When I was thinking of the design of the hat for Winter, I asked for suggestions from N and L - "Make a tomte hat!!" They both said... and now I'll explain what that means and why it turned out to be a meaningful design for l.a.n.a.'s Winter hat!
A tomte is a Scandinavian Christmas fairy, Santa's little helper and he/she (?) appears in December in the house to sneak peek and make sure the kids are behaving well so that he/she can report to Santa. In the l.a.n.a. house there is always a huge mix of cultures and traditions. We love to pick and choose the ones we like and we adopt them as our own.
The Christmas tree comes into our house at the beginning of December and a couple of years ago I made a tomte fairy to sit at the top our tree. That year, Santa also brought N and L their very own tomte hats - long and pointy just like our tree topper. That is where the inspiration came from for l.a.n.a.'s Winter hat.
Now because the shape is slightly unusual, a little whacky even, I've decided to design it in neutral colors. Beiges and grays and some darker neutrals. Of course N and L were horrified at the idea of these "boring" colors. So we came up with a compromise: colorful pompom! This makes the hat a little more floppy and not so triangular. So you won't be walking around looking like an elf... promise!!!!
Tomte is made by Sarita. My Mama, a talented artist in many fields who, amongst other things first taught me how to knit.
So the first attempt at making this hat came out a little too short - but it made L's day!!! Now he and Mama have matching hats - it's a dream come true! Also because "it's not fair! You and N have matching hats I want to match too"!!!
The whole matching hats idea, is what made me start l.a.n.a. in the first place ... but that is a whole different story that I will tell soon!