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Stealing the spotlight

This slouchy knit beret practically defines 'effortless.' Light and fluffy, it's a look favored by Sienna Miller and the Olsen twins, to name a few.

January 06, 2008|Melissa Magsaysay | Times Staff Writer

We were in the studio, getting ready to shoot the beret layout you're looking at on the opposite page. We had a stack of sophisticated designer caps, all lint-rolled, brushed and fluffed to perfection.

Then in walked the makeup artist -- in a hat that stole the shoot.

Garen Tolkin was wearing a charmingly floppy beret she had just finished knitting the night before. She spotted it at A Mano Yarn Center in Mar Vista -- "I saw it and I just had to make it," she said. And we felt the same way.

It was designed by Shannita Williams-Alleyne, who owns A Mano with her partner Annette Cutrono. Williams-Alleyne had noticed the slouchy beret around town on everyone from skater kids to celebrities. "People love them," she says. "So many people were coming in looking for the pattern, so I started playing around and ended up with a hat that I like a lot."

The result is a more relaxed version of the traditional beret associated with private school uniforms and mimes. With a slightly droopy shape, it is definitely more weekend boho than Left Bank chic, with a careless slouch that complements effortlessly styled ensembles. It's the hat that the Sienna Miller and the Olsen twins have been sporting with tuxedo blazers and high-waisted jeans, raggedy T-shirts and leggings. It looks just as cozy as it feels and easily hides a mess of unwashed hair.

With these unusually cold days, the nubby beret is a great accessory to keep warm without the drama of an insulated earflap hat. And it can be worn even when you've come inside from the cold. Just push it back on your head a little, and it will just rest in a way that ties together your whole look.





Adapted from Shannita Williams-Alleyne,

A Mano Yarn Center, Los Angeles

Time: About 5 hours

Size: Medium (Large)

Materials: 2 skeins Trendsetter Tonalita or SWTC Karaoke, or any worsted-weight or heavy-worsted-weight yarn, about 150 yards total

Needles: U.S. size 7 and U.S. size 9 16-inch circular needles; U.S. size 9 double-pointed needles

1. Using the size 7 needle, cast on 88 (96) stitches. Join for knitting in the round and knit in 1x1 twisted rib for 1 1/2 inches (Note: Twisted rib is K1, tbl, P1, repeat from * to end of round). Place a marker.

2. Change to size 9 needles and increase as follows:

*K2, M1, repeat from * around to end of round.

3. Knit even until hat measures 2 1/2 inches from beginning then begin eyelet pattern:

Row 1: *YO, K2tog, repeat from * around

Row 2: Knit

Row 3: *YO, SKP, repeat from * around

Row 4: Knit

Repeat eyelet pattern once more (or until eyelet insert is as wide as you want it to be). Then knit even until hat measures 5 1/2 inches from the beginning.

4. Begin decreases as follows (remember to change to double point needles when necessary):

Decrease round 1: Decrease 2 stitches -- once at the beginning of the round and once about halfway through the round. Work even for 1 inch.

Decrease round 2: *K2, K2tog, repeat from * to end of round. Work even for 1 inch.

Decrease round 3: *K1, K2tog, repeat from * around. Work even for 1 inch.

Decrease round 4: *K2tog, repeat from * around. Work even for 1 inch.

Decrease round 5: *K2tog, repeat from * around. Work even for 3/4 inch.

Decrease round 6: Repeat round 5. Knit 1 round even.

5. Repeat round 6 until you have 4 to 6 stitches remaining. Place all remaining stitches on 1 double-point needle and knit in 1-cord for 3 inches. Bind off. Weave in ends. Tie 1-cord into a knot.

Alternative ending (without top knot): End round with 5 or 6 stitches. Cut yarn and pull tail through remaining stitches. Pull tight. Weave in ends.

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