You have to have a well-developed sense of humor to live in the Carlsborg household of John and Carolyn McAndie. Where else could you find a grown man modeling a mohawk hat in a rainbow of neon pastels — or a skunk hat? The entire McAndie family is involved in making, modeling and marketing Carolyn’s menagerie of warm crocheted head gear and often gets the sillies in doing so.
“They’re fun, funky gifts — more of conversation pieces — and when people wear them, everyone smiles at them,” said Carolyn McAndie, who created her company Crocheted Headwear about two years ago.
“My daughter showed me a crocheted hat and I said, ‘I can do that,’ so I made one and started looking at other pictures of them. Family and friends asked me to make some, then co-workers and it just snowballed last year,” McAndie said, adding that the 20 or so characters that she crochets into hats have been a big hit at several bazaars. “People try on hats and have a hoot,” she said.
“I grew up on this farm and my mother taught me how to crochet, but I didn’t appreciate the art it was, so I forgot how to read patterns. Nothing’s got a pattern — they’re all in my head — and I try to keep up with the latest trends by adding more all the time,” McAndie said.
Since she’d already crocheted a bunch of Viking beards, McAndie’s niece suggested she add dreadlocks to a Seattle Seahawks hat as a nod to players Richard Sherman and Marshawn Lynch.
“My grand-nephews started wearing them all the time and I started getting orders online for them,” she said, hoping more diehard Seahawks’ fans pick up the style.
The dreadlocks are the most labor intensive part but the fun is in seeing youngsters and adults playing along.
“First I get wool and braid it, mat it, back brush it, wash it in hot soapy water so it shrinks, back brush it again and finally untwist the yarn to give it that dreadlocks look,” McAndie said. One of the most hilarious things she said she’s seen is infants wearing one of her baby dreadlocks caps. In the hair department, she also features Viking beards, Reggae/Bob Marley dreadlocks, mullets and mohawks. “Last year short beards were really popular and our teenage daughter got a lot of double takes when she wore one.”
Her beards came close to going national after a producer of the “Duck Dynasty” TV show saw some of her beards online.
“Last January a producer of “Duck Dynasty” saw my Viking beards and for a special exposition at the Daytona 500, wanted competitors and fans to dress up like the ‘Duck Dynasty’ guys,” McAndie said, still amazed at her good fortune. “They had me make beards like Willie, Jase, Si and Phil, the family members. Unfortunately, it didn’t air on TV, but it was fun to be asked and get to make them because each character is different.”
Among McAndie’s zany, weird and whimsical characters are bunnies, cats, owls, bears, sock monkeys, angry birds, bees, one-eyed minions, ladybugs, fish, monsters with horns, skunks, frogs, ducks, hippos, pigs, cows and last but not least, Bambi. John McAndie’s favorite one is his sock monkey hat.
“A lot of stuff is custom-ordered and if it turns out cute, I’ll make more of them. The hardest one I’ve made was Wiley Coyote for Sequim superintendent of schools Kelly Shea. I won’t be making that one again even though it turned out cute!”
McAndie uses acrylic, washable yarn in a palette of colors and one hat can take from one to three hours to crochet, depending on the style. Prices range from $15-$95. Crocheting differs from knitting in that the former uses a single hook and the latter employs two needles, plus crocheting is faster. McAndie said more often than she’d like, she uses a trial-and-error method, adding crocheting is very forgiving.
Now that she appreciates crocheting is an art, McAndie loves it because, “I’m creating thing just using my hands and my eyes. I’m creating a 3-D picture — it’s wearable art — everything always is a little bit different in textures and colors. It’s like painting with yarn. I look at different yarns and see what pops to mind.”
And the rewards?
“It’s knowing that the recipient is getting a unique, fun, wearable piece of art that will make them happy when they wear it; that it makes a statement about themselves and that I made it on my own time with working the farm and taking care of my family,” McAndie said.
“It’s the artsy-crafty side. Creative, artsy-crafty, that’s me,” she laughed.
See McAndie’s assortment of crocheted items, at www.crochetedheadwear.com, or call 360-477-1570.