Over the last week, the temperatures have dropped enough that I have had to change from my regular ratty summer baseball cap to a warm knitted beanie for my usual walks. At this time of year, I love to wear my little ode to fall, the “Autumn Trail” hat.

Autumn Trail Hat
Autumn Trail Hat

I designed this hat back in 2012 when we received a skein of Maxima from Manos del Uruguay to test. Gold dominated the palate and brought to mind the colors of autumn in the hills and fields surrounding Steamboat. Immediately, I decided to create a hat as an ode to the beautiful sights on the many hiking trails in the area.

After creating this hat and ordering more of the yarn, we discovered that this colorway wasn’t replicable. Manos del Uruguay hand-dyes their yarns (which are gorgeous!) so other lots did not match, and this particular skein seemed to be a sport – a mutant. Somehow, even through my frustration, this seemed right.

The unique colors of our mountain landscape show differently to each person each year. That year, the yellow aspens and golden fields dominated the landscape. This year, the deep green of the pines surround little spotlights of aspen gold zinging from the hillside while gray bare rocks are studded with dark red scrub oak. I know that as we travel across the country this October, I’ll see different colors for each autumn we pass through. Reds and browns will dominate the yellow in Asheville. During the trip to Arkansas mid-October, I know my palate will change to orange, brown, red, and dark green.

Trail color changes too. Here we have a dusty red brown. In Yellowstone, the trails were light and chalky. In the city, they might be dark gray asphalt.

The point of this hat is to emulate the colors of the autumn around you. Take a walk through your neighborhood, a hike down your favorite trail, a drive through the countryside on the weekends. Then, go to your local yarn shop and find a worsted weight variegated yarn which contains those colors. Use that as your base.

A dk, sport, or fingering weight yarn should be used for the trail (as you knit two rows of trail for every row of hillside). Use a solid or tonal colorway which comes close to the trail you followed. You only need about 25-40 yards of wool for this bit, so you might even have something hiding in your stash.

I used a bulky or chunky weight yarn for the leaves, but an aran or worsted weight yarn would work as well. The leaves are added at the end and sewn onto the hat, so any leaf pattern will work. Use your imagination, look up patterns, find leaves that work for you. These leaves use very little yarn, so dig through your scraps to find the yarn that matches your autumn leaves.

Autumn Trail Hat_Leaves

Take some time this weekend and get out to experience those gorgeous autumn trails. Walk your dog. Walk yourself. Drift along an old jeep road, slip through the trees, discover a solitary spot where the colors overwhelm you.

Then, go over to your local yarn shop and find that perfect skein. Remember the colors, compare a picture you took, dig a leaf or two out of your pockets.

Finally, snuggle into your favorite chair on these increasingly long evenings and memorialize the beauty of this particular autumn with this little hat.

On the next hike, it will keep you warm.