Oftentimes, in the wake of finishing a large project, I am gripped with the urge to knit a hat. While I was waiting for my copies of Colours of Shetland to appear from the printer, I worked away on Snawheid, and similarly last year, in the hiatus between going to print and shipping Yokes, I happily whipped up Epistropheid. This year was no different and, once we’d finished work on the new Buachaille book, the familiar hat urge gripped me once again. I found myself unable to resist, and before I knew it, I had charted a hat and found myself knitting it. The hat featured goats.
Goats? Yes, goats.
(goaty photograph courtesy of Mark Stanley – thank you, Mark!)
In the areas of rough, brushy woodland that connect Loch Lomond, Loch Katrine, and Loch Ard live several herds of feral goats. Much beloved by walkers of the West Highland Way, goat and human paths frequently cross near Inversnaid, which is where I’ve most often come across them. The Inversnaid goats are thought to have the longest pedigree of any Scottish herd, and are associated with one of many legends about King Robert the Bruce. As Bruce fled from his English enemies along the shores of Loch Lomond, he took refuge in a cave near Inversnaid. The goats surrounded the King’s cave, and lay down in front of it, disguising its entrance.The English soldiers paid no attention to the goats, passed by the cave, and Bruce remained safe. In gratitude, Bruce passed a decree, stating that the goats should never be harmed, but despite this their numbers now have to be controlled due to their destructive effects on the surrounding woodland habitat. As you can see from Mark’s photograph above, with their shaggy black coats and long curving horns, the Inversnaid goats are spectacularly beautiful and characterful beasts.
I am very fond of Loch Lomond’s wild goats, and fancied celebrating them in a hat.
As you can see, happy goats chase each other around and around the hat, and amorous goats encircle the crown.
I played with and pared down a few different goat-y motifs until I settled on this one, and was really pleased with the overall effect. One never quite knows how repeated motifs will work until you knit them, and what I like about this one is that it has a graphic simplicity and rhythm that is almost independent of its goat-iness. What I mean is that the fabric of the hat possesses its own overall visual structure – and then you notice there are goats on it.
I was so pleased with the fabric, in fact, that I couldn’t stop at a hat, and whipped up some goat-y gauntlets to match.
The rib and main colours are reversed on hat and gauntlets and together they make a really fun, wintery set.
I knit my goats in Buachaille shades Highland Coo, Between Weathers, and Ptarmigan, and the Scandinavian feel of these accessories is not unintentional – I have been an avid fan of the Gävle goat for several years, and I felt that that the Inversnaid goats might be similarly celebrated. The hat and gauntlets are probably a better idea than my other plan of erecting a massive straw goat at the bottom of the garden. Tom felt that the giant goat would have divided neighbourly opinion.
The Goats of Inversnaid are now available as a single download from Ravelry. Additionally, we had a delivery of Buachaille last week (hurrah!), and, as we are still waiting for the books to arrive, I had some time to prepare a few kits. So if you fancy knitting yourself a goaty hat and gauntlets in Buachaille, I’ve put a few kits up in the shop. The kit contains 3 skeins of Buachaille, a wee project bag, and a PDF download of both patterns. At the moment the kits are just in the shades I’ve knit my set in, but Mel has of course knit herself some goats in a slightly more restrained and classy colourway, and I should be able to make up a few more kits in her choice of shades next Sunday (which will be our regular day for shop updates going forward).
We’ve really enjoyed getting out in this spell of fine weather. Hope you’ve also had a great weekend, everyone! x