Downton: a hat

Downton Abbey. Oh dear! There always was some sensationalism in the dramatic mix, but now it's getting silly*. And increasingly historically inaccurate. What of the war to end wars? The house may be as full of convalescent army officers as the plot is of clichés but Downton's habitués remain remarkably unscathed. One dead, one injured, the scandal of Mrs Patmore's nephew, the shell shocked Mr Lang, and Ethel's ruin ... have I forgotten anyone? And where's the knitting? Surely someone, below stairs at least, should have knitted a soldier some socks by now? Or maybe Mrs Hughes would like to knit that meagrely clothed baby a hat! I have a pattern she could borrow.

This one. Updated and rejigged, by me, to be knitted in Sirdar Sublime Merino DK as the Downton. Raveled here. You can find the free pattern HERE, should you wish to knit one for a small person with a cold head, or for yourself of course. Edit May '15: Apologies that there is no longer a nicely formatted and downloadable PDF file available, you can blame the people who were selling it without my permission for that. The link above will now take you to a page here on the blog which includes detailed instructions.

Accurately dating undated knitting patterns is notoriously difficult, but this battle scarred Sirdar Knitting and Crochet Book** proved easy to pin down. The 'Doll Dressed in Crochet as a Soldier' was a joy of a clue ... he's wearing WW1 puttees. But the 'Crochet Respirator for Home Use' was the clincher.
"The respirator measures 2 inches at each end and 3 inches in the centre, and it is 9 inches long. Two pieces of crochet are worked exactly the same. Two thicknesses of cotton wool the same size as the crochet are laid between them, and the outside edges fastened together with a row of double crochet. After the respirator is complete, dip the whole in a strong solution of soda and let it dry.
1915 then, possibly late April, perhaps May. Chlorine gas, a new threat, was killing hundreds horribly at Ypres, and the Daily Mail was encouraging women to make pad respirators like these to be passed on to troops in the line. Unfortunately, the Mail's design was useless, even dangerous: ineffective against chlorine gas when dry, the pads blocked out all air when wet. Sirdar's crochet respirators seem similarly flawed, so it's a jolly good thing they were never needed for home use!

Back at Downton Abbey Mrs Hughes is now knitting her way through the chest protectors, 'comfy' colic belts, vaccination vests, baby's stays, 'useful' socks, coats, and gaiters that Sirdar so thoughtfully included in their little book. Well I like to think she is, anyway. She'll have that wee bairn properly kitted out in no time!

*We keep our television in a cupboard and rarely go to the trouble of wheeling it out. Downton Abbey certainly was worth the effort, but for how much longer? I chortled my way through this review, but beware if you are a fan and are yet to watch the second series as it's irreverent and full of spoilers.

**Part of my birthday present from that darling husband of mine.

  1. What a brilliant little book!
    Your hat is gorgeous! :) I think I'll give crocheting the respirator a miss, amazing that they thought that would work.
    My grandfather suffered from the effects of gas while fighting in France during the First World War, he survived but had chest trouble the rest of his days, which were quite long as lived until he was 84.
    I do love Downton though!
    Vivienne x

  2. I never got into Downton Abbey, not sure why, I think perhaps I was busy a few nights that it was on so couldn't get into it. I do love that sort of show tho'!
    That little hat is gorgeous Annie, well done, you are a wizz with patterns.
    x Sandi

  3. I too never got into Downton Abbey. We watched half of the first episode before declaring the dialogue laughable -something about the Titanic being unsinkable. I love a classic book dramatised for television but period dramas are just soap operas and I don't like soap operas.

    Love the hat though.

  4. I love your writing Annie! The mixture of humour and interesting facts. I can only imagine - or maybe you are a much more rapid thinker than I am - how much time goes into these amazing posts of yours.


  5. I adore your 'Downton' hat! Annie...I know what you mean about the series...I never miss an episode but it has developed srange 'pantomine' qualities..and I'm never quite sure exactly what is going on...Lovely to read some accurate historical facts here...Downton needs you!
    Happy Belated Birthday Wishes!
    Susan x

  6. The Downton hat is adorable, Annie!
    Your words and the link to the feature about Downton are so amusing, I read bits out to my hb. I love the look and atmosphere of Downton, but feel as if has become a spoof of itself! We record it on Sunday and watch it on Monday so we can whizz through all the interminable advert breaks. Thank you for a delightful post...I love old knitting books too, and you are very clever to adapt the pattern so beautifully.
    Helen x

  7. I know what you mean Annie...I do watch it & enjoy the story & drool over the clothes (But I also chunter away to myself about the inaccuracies & modern emotional take on the storylines)

  8. I so look forward to your posts Annie and you always outdo yourself. Really well done!

    And the Downtown Hat: Love It! I'm looking forward to the pattern; it will be a Must Knit for me. Thank you for sharing it.

    Janine x

  9. I have never seen Downton Abbey - our solitary small TV is in the B&B sitting room, so never really get the opportunity! I have some craft books published in wartime which have adverts for patterns for comforts for the troops, etc - edited by Flora Klickmann, don't know if you have come across her?

    Pomona x

  10. I have never seen DOwnton abbey, but I love that hat- just right for dog walking!

  11. Hi Annie, lovely to meet you and thanks for leaving a comment on my blog.

    I am not much of a knitter but I do love your Downton hat, so I might just have to get my needles out again.

  12. Downton sounds like the sort of thing I might have become addicted to in order to allay the thought of work on Monday. No work these days means Sunday nights are generally spent solving a murder.

    Love the wee hat.

  13. What, it's intended for a small person? I'm a bona fide grown-up and that hat is so so me - I love the brim action that is evident but not ostentatious. And the colour is perfect; I sure do wish it were mine.

  14. hey Annie - thought I'd pop over and say THANK YOU for popping my button on your sidebar!
    I have knitting envy looking at that hat - another year I'll learn!
    Beautiful photography on your blog btw...
    fee x

  15. I have never watched Downton Abbey, so I haven't got a clue what is what! The hat however, I LOVE......I am a hat person and wear them all the time.

  16. ps I hate misplaced apostrophie's too...

  17. What I love are the Downton Abbey glances:
    "Cora, dahling, we shan't be able to have six footmen at this evening's dinner."
    "Oh my goodness. What is the world coming to?"
    (dramatic music. Glances. More music. Close ups of scenery-chewing glances.)

    I love the hat though. Just right for what is gearing up to be a very chilly winter!

  18. What a cute hat!

    And an interesting little tidbit of WWI trivia. I've learned my new thing for the day, and it's not even two in the morning!

  19. Your not wrong - Downton had suffered a downturn!

  20. such an adorable hat ... and we're loving Downton Abbey down here too!

  21. That is the loveliest hat I have seen in a long long time!
    Wishing you a lovely Sunday x

  22. Love the little hat so cute! What a wonderful find that little book was.

    Have to say the Downton Abbey thing has clearly passed me by. I don't mind a bit of costume drama but the other half isn't so fussed!

    MBB x

  23. Annie,

    Another wonderful post and I do love the hat and the way you photographed it...brilliant!

    annie d.

  24. That is wonderful - and wow, having a useable magazine that old (the oldest in what I call my 'collection' is only 1940s - sigh).

    Have avoided Downton after book-hurling episode after first prog in first series. Having read the Telegraph review - good link - I may have to try it again!

  25. Just love that hat - will check out Ravelry.
    Downton Abbey wasnt broadcast in Scotland first time round - too stingy! So I bought the dvd. But this second series I find appalling and have stopped watching it. Tho I expect I will buy the dvd! The adverts I find so annoying....

  26. Beautifully knitted hat Annie, I love the colours and so appropriate for that period. I must say that I am a big Spooks fan and so I have missed Downton Abbey altogether xox

  27. I've just been reading the newspaper article on Downton, and agreed with some of it, I must admit. I think last night's episode was the first one that gave me an uneasy sense that it is starting to become a little rushed and jam packed with incredulity. Lord Grantham and the house maid? Hugo felt that wasn't part of his character. So there are the first rumblings of dissatisfaction in this house. One of the best period details so far for me, was the electric hair tongs that Lady Mary was using, that's really stayed with me. Anyway, lovely hat you've knitted, and so very wonderful because it's from an old pattern! Vanessa xxx

  28. What an interesting hat! It looks absolutely thick, squishy, and warm. :)

  29. Don't get to see Downton Abbey but don't need to - this hat is gorgeous and I must make it. Immediately! Thanks,

  30. Great hat! I've never seen Downton but had gathered from other people's Tweets that it's gone a bit bonkers :-D.

  31. Oooh, what a perfect show to knit to! I'm looking forward to the second season, I think we'll have it in the US in January. Oh, the drama!

  32. What a cute hat!

    I feel the same about Downton Abbey - loved the first series but this second one has been a bit silly and dumbed down and some of the characters are a bit ridiculous. Still watch it tho!

  33. Downton is now quite daft, but somehow perfect Sunday night viewing. And there was a 'knitting' moment in one episode where one of the maids had needles in her hand but they had to keep cutting away from her as she clearly hadn't a clue what she was doing. (Fab hat.) C.x

  34. I spent Season One wondering about the Great War, which didn't appear to be part of it. I thought perhaps the American version was edited to make it a bit shorter that the historic references were omitted. I guess not. We have to wait until January, however. BTW, I found a Bunnykins mug like yours on Ebay. I couldn't resist!

  35. oh your hat is lovely. I spend most of the time watching downtown looking at the hairstyles and wishing I had someone to make mine into ringlets.....
    thanks for visiting and for your comment, you should definitely try that mitt envy pattern, it's a nice knit x

  36. I could swear I saw Ethel Knitting, and... someone else. One of the kitchen maids? No idea what they were making, or who it was meant to be for, though.

    I agree that too much happened in too little time. At least they didn't try to cram all of 1914-1916 into the first few minutes, though!

  37. Thank you so much for the hat pattern. It's lovely!

  38. I found the pattern a while ago and saved the link. Today I decided that I want a new red hat, and will go out and buy yarn. Will support Medicins sans frontieres.

  39. I would very much like the pattern but don't know how to obtain it. Could you tell me how to do that?

    1. There is a link in the third paragraph of the post - - if you follow that all the instructions are there.

      I am afraid the pattern is no longer available as a PDF only as a webpage.


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