Tuesday, December 11, 2012


Yesterday I was reading the Yarn Harlot's latest post, in which she showed off the latest version of her very handsome men's hat pattern. As I was admiring the beautiful simplicity of a man's hat knitted in cashmere, it occurred to me that I'd never actually heard the term "watchcap" until I came across it in Elizabeth Zimmermann's classic, "Knitting Without Tears". (If you haven't read this, then hop to it!) This is a type of hat I know as a "toque", pronounced "tuke". Then I realized that the whole time I lived in Washington, DC, I'd never heard it called that. So, what's going on with our English language? That's when I turned to this Wikipedia article. I suppose that, growing up in Eastern Ontario/Western Quebec it's only natural that there would be some French language crossover. Interesting, eh?
Walked past the city market on my way to do some errands. Lots of apple cider for sale,

lots of maple syrup too.

The rink was open for business,

but although there was one man getting ready to skate (see under the window on the left?), he was wearing a helmet, not a toque.


  1. On the West Coast,when I was a kid, we called it a Toque when it had turned up sides & a pompom on the top. The Harlot's cap is a Watch Cap. Now the term toque seems to be interchangeable but to me, it will always have a big pompom on top!!

    1. Sharon,
      Just had a note from the Yarn Harlot, who agrees with you that a toque requires a pompon (there's a spelling we can disagree on!) I learned the word mostly from my grandmother, whose family lived during the 19thC in the then anglophone Eastern Townships of Quebec. It's possible that she had a broader notion of the definition. Either that or she was just sloppy linguistically. I don't think with language that there's any right or wrong.