Knit an Aalto hat for yourself or a friend!

Follow Marja Niemi and Outi Elina Kansanen’s knitting pattern to make a lovely gift for someone special
Harmaa-valkoinen ja musta-valkoinen kuviopipo
Photo: Eevi Laine

Marja Niemi and Outi Elina Kansanen have many things in common: a friendship born at their shared workplace, a love of handicrafts, and trauma from knitting at school.

‘After all the test knitting, the woollen socks I made in primary school still turned out to be doll-sized, even though they were supposed to fit my feet,’ laughs Niemi.

‘I remember at that time the stiches were added with yarn overs, leaving horribly ugly holes. The sweater I knitted in high school was also a terrible experience,’ says Kansanen.

Kaksi naista istuu penkillä neulomassa
Marja Niemi (left) knits what she calls a multi-purpose scarf, a never-ending project. Outi Elina Kansanen is knitting a Cousteau hat to her father, who at the age of 79 plans to fulfil his dream of buying a sailboat. Photo: Eevi Laine

Now, the trauma is a distant memory. The duo is sitting on a bench at the Maarintie 8 building at Aalto University, knitting needles in hand, talking about their love of the craft.

‘Knitting relaxes you and helps you concentrate,’ says Niemi. ‘You can knit in any state of mind and anywhere. Although my spouse tried to tell me that I couldn't take my yarns and needles on our biking trip, I knit on a raft in the breeze - and it made waiting for the raft much more enjoyable.’

Nainen mustavalkoinen kuviopipo päässä.

Outi Elina Kansanen enjoys following patterns. ‘I don’t consider myself a skilled craftsperson, but when I follow the instructions, I can create really cool things.’

The duo knit together at meetings, in coffee shops and when they visit each other. Perhaps the most special thing is knitting gifts. ‘It's fun to think about what to make for each person you care about. It makes me feel particularly good,’ says Kansanen.

Nainen harmaa-valkoinen kuviopipo päässä.

Inspired by ‘hockey beanies’

A year ago, Niemi and Kansanen designed knitting patterns for Aalto socks. This year, they’ve created patterns for two different Aalto hats with bobbles. They drew inspiration from the popular ‘hockey beanies’ with bobbles because they wanted the pattern to be current.

The designers say, laughing, that as two doctors in science they have a disciplined and methodical, pixel-oriented approach to knit design. ‘Creativity wasn't as important as getting the fonts precise and the lengths of floats just right,’ says Niemi.

Knitted with thick yarn, the colorwork hat is straightforward to make if you have at least some previous knitting experience. For beginners – or people who’ve been traumatised in school craft lessons – Niemi and Kansanen recommend a plain-coloured hat instead.

Knitting with heavier yarn and matching circular needles is quick and rewarding, and YouTube is full of good tutorial videos.

‘It's worth choosing a yarn that feels good in your hand and inspires you. You can invest a little in the yarn, because if your knitting fails, you can always pick it apart and start over,’ says Niemi.

Kaksi naista seisoo hymyillen merimaiseman edessä.
Kansanen and Niemi thought they only became friends as adults at Aalto. But a couple of years ago, they discovered that they had been playmates as small children. Photo: Eevi Laine

Warm toes and a warm mind – knit a pair of new Aalto socks for yourself or your loved ones!

Wool socks are used in Finland all year round. Would you like to knit some logo socks or a pair of pattern socks? Or perhaps both?

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