What’s made of wool, looks and feels like a hat, but is covered with soft and glowing flowers? It’s a one-of-a-kind crocheted hat by Jo Eaton of No Repeats Fiberworks. Eaton will be one of 20 local and regional artisans displaying their handiwork in the Holiday Gift Shop during Wiscasset Holiday Marketfest, Friday, Dec. 3 through Sunday, Dec. 5, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. each day. The artisan Gift Shop will be in the Nickels-Sortwell barn on Federal Street, immediately behind the historic Nickels-Sortwell House on the corner of Main and Federal Streets in Wiscasset Village.
Eaton began making and selling hats in the early 1970s. It took her years before she developed a method for making hats that spoke to her creative spirit, which is inspired by nature. Her hats are all about “color, fiber, fun and design,” Eaton explained; her designed patterns are often flowers and landscapes. Many of Eaton’s hats are named for the location and vantage point depicted on the hat.
To get the inconsistent texture and vibrant colors she envisions when adapting her garden flowers, her observations and her paintings into hats, she started blending her own yarns. Eaton makes custom colors by mixing two to four strands of various yarn colors and textures into a single strand to represent the shading and vibrancy found in the landscape. “If you observe colors in nature, they’re very varied all at once, all in one place.”
When she’s crocheting an island hat, she might be working with 12 to 20 strands of yarn to depict the sky, water, rocks and seaweed, with each element requiring two to four strands of various colors and textures mixed and worked together as one. She also refers to her chapeaux as story hats. The story behind each hat is not just the making, she said. The sheep that produce the wool, the location depicted on the hat, the years of perfecting her skills, the shopper’s choice of hat, and the way a hat molds to the owner’s head are all part of each hat’s unique story.
“My hats are not for the faint of heart. Sometimes they’re a little outrageous, and sometimes a lot outrageous.” This, too, is by design and why she chose to crochet rather than knit. “Knitting can be tighter while crocheting is freer to design. It’s less linear.” And she likes to work in circles. Crocheting gives her the flexibility she seeks as she changes color, adds layers, and incorporates surface embellishments into the structure of the hat, like the sunflowers. She may add a sunflower to a hat after it’s completed or crochet a sunflower into the hat as she works. She keeps them loose “like the real flower,” and often with floppy petals to emphasize their joyfulness.
One of her greatest delights from making her masterfully textured and colorful hats is that “in winter, you can see people walking around with flowers and gardens on their heads!”
For a list of artisans participating in the Holiday Gift Shop (plastic accepted) and photos of merchandise, visit www.wiscassetholidaymarketfest.com. Wiscasset Holiday Marketfest is a partnership event of Wiscasset Creative Alliance and Wiscasset Area Chamber of Commerce.
Major sponsors for Wiscasset Holiday Marketfest are Carriage House Gardens, First Federal Savings & Loan, First National Bank, IndustrialME, J. Edward Knight Insurance, Midcoast Federal Credit Union, Norm’s Used Cars, Red’s Eats, Rock Paper Scissors, Water Street Kitchen & Bar, and Wiscasset Ford, with additional support from BIRCH Home Furnishings & Gifts, Chewonki Campground, Old and Everlasting and Sprague’s Lobster. FMI: email@example.com