This is a first, as I donít normally put other peoples work on my web site, but I was so impressed with this, it just had to be added. So this is the now famous hat given to Jayne by his mum in the Firefly episode ĎThe Message. í

So why did I add this, I was just very impressed with the person that made it, the level of attention to detail in the hat, and the way it was presented.

Heather was also kind enough to agree to send a few pictures and description of how it was made in stages, so you can see it from start to finish.

     The raw materials of a Jayne hat are a good bulky wool single (unplied yarn), 16" long circular needles, a set of five DPNs (double-pointed needles), and two cardboard circles for making the pompom.  Not pictured is a large-eyed needle for weaving in ends.  The colour  of the wool can be tricky to get, as many oranges and reds tend toward the fluorescent.  While we are going for garish, we're going for a rustic garish, more appropriate to what the mother of man-ape Jayne would choose.

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     Here, several rows of the hat have been worked.  Ma Cobb, no fool, knew what every experienced knitter knows: simply knitting every stitch produces a fabric that curls at the edges and ends.  Rather than give her boy a roll-brim cap, she worked a few rows of ribbing (alternating columns of knits and purls) in order to stabilize the edge.  At this point, the stitches are quite bunched up on the needle, as the length of the needle is 16" and the average adult's head is at least 20".  This is normal, since it is best not to stretch your stitches out.  They'll spread once the fabric is relaxed.
     There are several ways to join colours together.  Here, I have simply knitted a few stitches with both yellow and orange, then dropped the orange and continued with the yellow.  This is the interior of the hat, showing the loose ends.  As with the yellow in this picture, the ends will be threaded onto a tapestry needle and woven into the material to prevent it from unravelling or poking through to the outside.
 
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     Jayne's hat doesn't have a nice, gradual decrease at the top, but instead rises up above his head a little, then draws in suddenly.  To achieve this, we do not work a mathematically calculated series of even decreases - really, would Ma Cobb? - but rather pull in quickly with a series of k2tog (knit two together) all across the row.  When there are no longer enough stitches to fit comfortably on the circular needle, we switch to the DPNs, which are perfect for knitting small circumferences.  When we are down to eight to ten stitches remaining on the needles, the yarn is cut, threaded onto a tapestry needle, and drawn through the remaining stitches to cinch up the top.
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     The earflaps are worked after the body of the hat.  Stitches are picked up along the cast-on edge and worked downward, in the opposite direction of the hat.  Normally, it would be best to place the earflaps further back on the head, since peoples' foreheads are broader than the backs of their necks.  However, Jayne's mom gave her boy large earflaps that crowd his face a bit.  She didn't worry about the math, she just placed them evenly on both sides.  These earflaps each cover just under a quarter of the circumference of the hat.  I mentioned the ribbing above, and how it prevents curling.  Jayne's mom didn't provide for that here, which is why the earflaps flip up 
on the ends.

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     To make a pompom, take several lengths of yarn, thread them through the centre of two disks, wrap the yarn around the outside, then thread the yarn through again.  Continue this until you can no longer stuff yarn through the centre.  Cut along the edges of the cardboard, separate the disks slightly, then wrap a length of yarn around the mass of yarn which pokes through the centre holes.  Tie it firmly.  Use a tapestry needle to attach it to the top of the hat, weaving it through several spots so it doesn't flop about.  The cardboard disks I use are the diameter of a drinking glass.  The center hole is between 1/2 and 3/4" in diameter.  The size of the centre hole will determine the fullness of your pompom.

 

The final step is to weave in all the ends, place it on your head,  and ask someone, "How's it sit?  Pretty cunning, don't you think?"

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     So the box arrived on my doorstep, and that in itself is worth keeping.  Unlike most people Heather has gone to the trouble of having the rubber stamps made from various places around the Firefly Universe so she can stamp the outside of the box to make it more authentic.  I don't even know of any official prop making companies that do this, so a lesson to be learnt by all here.  Presentation makes the product.

     So on opening the box you are confronted with the same sight Jayne would have been in Firefly.  The hat from his Mum, a bit of packaging and the note.  Heather has also gone to the trouble of writing out the note, word for word from the episode.  Itís not printed on a computer either, its proper hand written.

     With the opening of the box out the way onto the hat itself.  The first thing you notice is unlike many of these hats you see for sale on places like eBay, Heather has got the colours spot on the real screen used hat.  Many use to darker red for the ears and lower section, and the upper section to brighter a yellow.  The yellow used is what I call a dirty yellow; just like the real hat was done in.  In the scenes where you see Jayne wearing it, even the first time, to the casual onlooker the hat looks used and dirty, but its the colour used.  I dread to think how many different colour balls of wool she had to look through to get the right one, but again its attention to detail like this that makes her Jayneís hat the best one I have seen anywhere in the whole verse.

    I have included pictures from all angles thanks to the help of Fred the polystyrene head.  Heís a very good model, but not to good on the conversation front.

     Prior to making it Heather asks for your head size, which again is a first to my knowledge as most people just make one size, and it has to fit.  Asking for you head size makes so much more sense, as it fits perfectly, which is always nice with hats.  If itís too big it moves around, and too small and you look a right plonka.  However because she takes a few extra moments to ask your head size you don't avae to worry about will it fit or not, as you know it will.

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