Happy Hat

During the ideation process in class, I got 8 suggestions from the pile and out of the eight suggestions, the one that stood out for me was “Happy Hat Skiing”. The reason why I liked this idea was that I enjoyed picturing a happy ski hat, especially when it combines knitting and sewing with technology to get some interesting results. This approach of combining past and future skills and techniques is a personally interesting field for exploration.

My initial sketch of what I envisioned the hat to look like. It shows a hat with LED that lights using a battery.
My initial sketch of what I envisioned the hat to look like. It shows a hat with LED that lights using a battery.

 

Documentation

In the beginning, my idea was to create a hat that predicts the wearer’s mood and reflects it through an LED in the “fluff” at the top of hat. However, I am personally not sold on the idea of technology with mood prediction because of the social impacts it would have. So, eventually, I decided to go with a knitted and sewed hat with LED light in the fluff ball and ON/OFF functions rather than mood prediction.

Knitting was very challenging at the beginning and my first 6 or so attempts failed. However, after repeating a few times, I started to understand knitting and it can be used. I considered the option of knitting the conductive thread through with the yarn, but I wasn’t sure where I wanted to place the thread yet and so I decided to sew the conductive thread in the texture once I’m done knitting. I started with two 20-knot batches of knitted textile, not perfect, but enough to create a rough prototype of the hat by sewing the two batches together with normal thread.

Started with a 20 knot black knitted yarn. I still face issues at the first and last knot of each row
Started with a 20 knot black knitted yarn. I still face issues at the first and last knot of each row
Started with a 20 knot black knitted yarn. I still face issues at the first and last knot of each row
Started with a 20 knot black knitted yarn. I still face issues at the first and last knot of each row

 

I also knitted a 20 knot red yarn for the top part of the hat.
I also knitted a 20 knot red yarn for the top part of the hat.

Then I sewed a conductive thread from the LEDs to the positive and negative lines of the tester, which is sewed to the edge of the hat. When the circuit is closed, it lights the LEDs, which are 2 generic yellow LEDs connected using conductive thread to the battery.

Testing the circuit before closing the loop of the hat
Testing the circuit before closing the loop of the hat
When the circuit is close, 2 LEDs light up, which looks pretty funny on a hat.
When the circuit is close, 2 LEDs light up, which looks pretty funny on a hat.

Insights

I still find challenging to work with textiles since it is a new exploration for me and is still hard for me to visualize, especially in the ideation stage. However, this experiment pushed me to explore my prototype through and learn more about knitting. I would also like to explore different types of techniques and material for knitting because I believe knitting can be a surprisingly useful solution depending on how it is used.

Since I did not have the right frame for the circular weaving, I was able to repurpose an old frame by drilling through it and inserting yarn.
Since I did not have the right frame for the circular weaving, I was able to repurpose an old frame by drilling through it and inserting yarn.
I experimented with circular weaving also. I inserted conductive thread thoughout the lines.
I experimented with circular weaving also. I inserted conductive thread thoughout the lines.

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Next Steps

For the next step, I would like to find a better way to close the circuit, perhaps using a button or a sensor to light the LED. Also, I would like to focus more on creating a better prototype of the LED fluff ball because it can be used on its own, added to any hat, to light up through a button or an app in the future. An interesting approach to that would be to explore using felting to create fluff ball that lights under a certain temperature or with rain.

If done nicely, the fluff ball can be a nice addition to any ski or winter hat.