Toques (Knits By Nana) ~ What's Your Craft?

Toque - A winter hat. Pronounced tu·k.

From Wikipedia (I know, the most trusted reference around):

The fashion is said to have originated with the coureurs de bois, French and Métis fur traders, who kept their woollen nightcaps on for warmth during cold winter days. Such hats are known in other English-speaking countries by a variety of names, including beanie (American), watch cap or stocking cap; the terms tuque and toque are unique to Canada and northern areas of the United States, close to the Canadian border.

I love toques. I'm so happy I have someone in my life who is speedy with the knitting needles and whose skill keeps my children's heads warm through winter.

Before we left Nova Scotia Nana took the kids to the local yarn shop. Swoon, it's a beautiful shop. They each choose their own wool yarn and pattern for a knit-by-Nana toque.

This is Laurent's third knit-by-Nana winter hat. He's a hat boy and wears a toque throughout winter nearly everyday, even indoors. He's so melt-my-heart handsome. 

You might remember this toque my mom knit and gave me during one of their trips to our place in Maine

I have never knit a toque but a few years ago I crocheted winter hats for family members. One went to Damien. He wore it a couple years but has since passed it on to me, maybe that was my intent all along. 

I've come to a place in my creative journeying that I am totally cool with not making everything myself. I do like to knit, but I've only ever completed one large project and my current project on the needles will probably take me at least a year to complete. And I'm ok with that. 

I write. I take photos. I create artisan soap (watch for the bars I'm selling later this week). I make lip balm and lotions.

I dabble in other crafts and sewing projects when inspiration and time allows. In my next post I'll show you my crafty birthday present to myself - oh, it was so much fun! But I don't do it all. I simply don't have the time or resources. Focusing my energies is one of the ways I make time for creativity in my life

During the month of December the kids and I will be busy crafting. It's one of our holiday traditions. It's going to be a busy, messy place (breathe Renee) for the next few weeks. We'll be making gifts for family members but I know my personal limitations. So this year I'm also buying some handmades for Christmas gifts.

I'm happy to support artisans and creatives who are passionate about their craft and produce a good product.  

So, I have a few questions for you on this get-your-craft-on December morning.

  • What do you call a winter hat? 
  • What creative genius do you love to share with the world? (ie: what's your craft)
  • Do any of you sell your handmade goods? Please leave links in the comments. I have a few more gifts I need to buy and maybe others do also. If I get enough response to this question I'd like to write a post linking to reader's shops. I'd love to support you, even if only with some free advertising (this is only for handmade goods, not products in general you might sell).
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  • Nicole

    Nicole on Dec. 5, 2011, 1:55 p.m.

    Here in California we call the winter hat a beanie, usually. I learned to knit a few years ago, and that is my main craft. I LOVE knit hats & scarves! The problem for a hat-knitter here is that you don't really NEED to wear one, unless you go up into the mountains to ski or play in the snow. Our winter days are not usually lower than the 50's, maybe the 40's in January. But I make 'em and give 'em anyway! By the way, your Mom's hats she made the kids are beautiful, like your kids. And your shawls are lovely, too.


  • Karen

    Karen on Dec. 5, 2011, 3:23 p.m.

    What makes these toques special for me is that I was able to shop with each wearer when they chose their specific yarn and pattern. All different - just like the individuals. Love it.


  • Michelle

    Michelle on Dec. 5, 2011, 3:29 p.m.

    I call a winter hat a toque because I am Canadian! When we flew to North Carolina one year to visit my sister, a local called it a Toboggan. What??

    As for my craft, I knit. I just graduated to toques and simple sweaters last year. I usually stuck with scarves and slippers. But my craft I share is cooking. I love to cook and I think I am pretty good at it. At least that is what my guests say. Bad thing is, when I am cooking a big meal I often lose my appetite so I just eat a little of it. Oh well, half the joy is in the creating of the thing.


  • Matthew

    Matthew on Dec. 5, 2011, 3:43 p.m.

    I call them either toboggans (which makes me think of the sled) or beanies. My current favorite actually is hand-made by yours truly - I whittled a crochet hook from a pencil and crocheted it for myself. :D (Not nearly as good looking as yours, but a fun story at least!)

    I write, primarily. Though I can draw and paint, I don't do that nearly as often.


    • renee

      renee on Dec. 5, 2011, 10:07 p.m.

      Toboggans? Really? Those are what you go sledding on. How interesting... And I thought toque was strange (smile)...


  • Ginger Allman

    Ginger Allman on Dec. 5, 2011, 4:31 p.m.

    Here in the Ozarks we don't wear winter hats. We don't really wear coats, either. And if we do we don't zip them up. Even though winter can get every bit as cold here as it does for you, we consider winter a temporary arrangement and just refuse to acknowledge its existence. We sputter and spit and denounce the weather as we rush from house to car to building, shivering and shaking. Luckily, cold snaps don't last long here and it's back above freezing within days. Usually.

    My craft is knitting, however, and just today I was in fact surfing Ravelry because I think I MIGHT consider a hat for myself. Just maybe. Though I doubt I would wear it much. But if I could look as cute as you guys then maybe I would. Hmm....considering.

    BTW, Renee, I've really been enjoying your posts lately. Your Advent post cause much reflection for me and has stayed with me constantly. Like you, my life is shifting to a place which reflects my values. It's so good to see others doing the same thing. Thank you.


  • kelsey

    kelsey on Dec. 5, 2011, 6:25 p.m.

    ive recently started knittibg- and i love it. its becoming obbsesive.. always planning to have it in the car when my husband drives... (knitting time is scarce with the two littles all day!!!) ive always been crafty and im reaaly getting into the 2 yr old crafts too... painting and drawing right along side her. My other love is baking- but you know its not the healthiest one )though i try!) so i try go easy!

    these are beautiful hats!!


  • Shanda

    Shanda on Dec. 5, 2011, 8:47 p.m.

    I'm from West Virginia and we've always called them boggans. I'm just learning how to knit but I love it and can only hope to one day to knit as lovely as your mother! Her's are lovely.


  • Stephanie L

    Stephanie L on Dec. 5, 2011, 10:34 p.m.

    I think here in New England (MA to be exact) we just call them winter hats. We also are blessed with a grandmother who knits and keeps all heads warm in the house!

    I have been an avid scrapbooker for quite awhile but have recently been hit by the sewing bug. Both of my grandmothers were seamstresses and I guess it it is in my genes. I just started a little Etsy shop were I have been selling a few of my wares. Mainly gifts for children the same age as mine (1, 3 and 5) and some things for kids of all ages. You can visit me at

    Thanks so much for letting us link up. I have been a subscriber for a few months and am loving your blog and the scenery!



  • Lynette

    Lynette on Dec. 5, 2011, 10:39 p.m.

    I call them beanies, toboggans, or hats - probably has something to Do with living in oho, Indiana, Wisconsin, Florida, and Arkansas....

    My craft is baking...although thanks to you I'm starting to fanciful the simple soap recipe!
    And this year I'm trying my hand at "weaving" rope rugs. Really up cycling climbing ropes (I work at a ropes course) into rugs/wreaths/paper weights...


  • Kyce

    Kyce on Dec. 6, 2011, 3:37 a.m.

    These last few days I've been fantasizing about going into business selling re-purposed (up-cycled) woolen gear made from felted sweaters found at the thrift shop. I've made hats, mittens, sweaters, sweater pants, hair accesories, dolls...My fantasies usually begin and end around the fun task of naming my business. I think I'm still a few years away from having this go anywhere, but I am excited to watch and learn as you dive in to the artisanal marketplace universe.


    • renee

      renee on Dec. 6, 2011, 11:17 a.m.

      Oh... you'll like my next post - mitts made from a hand-me-downfelted sweater, and reusing a scarf was given eons ago, like before marriage but held onto this long for sentimental reasons, even though I didn't wear it anymore. I'm not diving too deep into the artisanal marketplace. I'm just going to sell a bit of my soap when it works for me to do so. 


  • Naomi

    Naomi on Dec. 6, 2011, 3:51 a.m.

    I love the pic of Brienne with the bird! How cool! We are quite boring though and just call our hats, hats. My sis is selling a few of her handmade items on my blog, but my craft varies too often to say I have a favorite. I like trying my hand at new things, it keeps it interesting and my family never knows what they will get for gifts!


  • down2earthsmiles

    down2earthsmiles on Dec. 6, 2011, 5:55 a.m.

    Hi Renee!

    I just love the beauty and simplicity of your posts. Very inspiring! Being a Canadian, I've always called my knit hats "toques". I sometimes say "winter hats" but it seems too unnatural...

    I have an Etsy shop! I make sewing patterns and tutorials of plushies, fabric flowers, and some munchkin clothes. It's called Little Smiles. My link is

    My fav patterns would be the Norah Doll or the Planet Earth plush globe pattern. It would make a great unique, handmade gift to someone special.

    By the way, I also homeschool and just got invested in making my very own handmade soaps and body products. I appreciate your Canadian suppliers' links. They came in handy!

    Smiles and Greetings!


  • Heather

    Heather on Dec. 6, 2011, 11:07 a.m.

    I used to call them beanies - its what I grew up calling them at least. Then I met my husband who lived for quite awhile in Nova Scotia, and he calls them toques - I've since started referring to them as that, not entirely on purpose! He used to have a coworker who called them toboggans. Both of us were baffled as to why that person called them that. I wonder if its a regional thing - this was when we lived in Tennessee.

    I sew, mostly. At least..when my sewing machine is working. I knit some, but honestly, I'm the slowest knitter, possibly ever. I am much more likely to dye yarn. I needle-felt. I love photography. My key right now seems to be based on how quickly I can get it done. Between the demands of 3 kids who are 5 and under..well. Time to get projects done is scarce.


  • lisa

    lisa on Dec. 6, 2011, 1:24 p.m.

    hi renee! toques all the way here! canadian through and through! have you heard about the poppytalk holiday market!? it's a great online homemade "craft show" featuring hundreds of artists and crafters! happy holidays!


  • Dee

    Dee on Dec. 6, 2011, 1:44 p.m.

    Renee, I call them hats or caps. I'm a knitter and sometimes crocheter. Lately, I've been doing some hand sewing, and this holiday season, I'm dabbling in making body butters and lip balm. I don't sell anything at present, but I plan to do some holiday craft shows next year.


  • Britton

    Britton on Dec. 6, 2011, 1:54 p.m.

    The hats are lovely! I crochet hats for the family (single crochet so they take a while but they're dense and cozy). One of the things I love is that I get to keep making hats- they're so satisfying to finish and see in active use through the cold months (we're having a record cold spell in New Mexico- it's -4 this morning!)- because my kids keep growing and my husband keeps balding... My kids call them "yarn hats" to distinguish them from fleece ones, but otherwise they're just hats here.

    I also like your discussion of letting go and being okay with not making everything by hand for everybody- I struggle with that idea. As Lead Domestic Engineer at my house, I already spend lots of time as Head Chef, Maid, Dog Walker, Child Rearer, etc, and have to pick and choose what I want to accomplish in the crafting dept. A friend of mine has opened a local yarn shop and boutique and I've been spending the last two weeks making some wraps and scarves to sell. My wrists are now inflamed and painful, which means I can't do this regularly as a hobby (but now I know- I've always wondered if homemade items would be a good career path). But letting go and knowing that I do lots of other things means I can concentrate on making hats (and my husband and kids love my hats and request new ones yearly). I'll need look up pronunciation guide so I can hear "toque"- I'd love to introduce a new word to our vocabulary!


  • Charity

    Charity on Dec. 6, 2011, 3:04 p.m.

    I call winter hats...well...winter hats (not too creative). And I don't really have any one craft that I am really good at. I tell myself that I am in the "figuring it out" stage. I am always trying new things. I just finished by second batch of homemade soap and have enjoyed that. I have made pillowcase dresses for family members, I made my very first quilt for Kaylynn's birthday, and I would really like to learn to knit. So, nothing that is good enough to sell yet, but maybe in the future (maybe when I have a bit more time too). Alan has been working with leather and has made quite a few leather sheaths and a few pairs of moccasins. He is getting quite good, and we plan on selling those but don't have a "shop" set up yet. I can post a link to our blog after I post about them a little later in the week. Enjoy your day! And Happy Birthday to you and Brienne!


  • Starlight

    Starlight on Dec. 6, 2011, 3:37 p.m.

    Winter hats = stocking hats/caps in our house. Even though those kind are arguable not "stocking," we'd call them that anyway. Just being honest...

    I make a few things that we sell. Mostly crafts that I find in the magazines, though. I'm not as creative as I'd like. I'm a copier. :( Except my writing. That's all mine. (I don't think anyone else would want the credit...).

    I do make some really cute Santa stockings, though. You can see them here:

    Thanks and enjoy the snow!


  • Heather

    Heather on Dec. 7, 2011, 5:12 a.m.

    Thank you for the pronunciation guide. I wondered about it, and had been saying it incorrectly. I live where cold means 50 degrees, Of course, when hot is 115, the 50 degrees is downright chilly. I call head warmers just plain old hats or sometimes stocking caps.

    I find my creative time is spent knitting. I also sew and bake. Right now it is knitting. I don't do it for pay unless contracted by someone.


  • Natalia

    Natalia on Dec. 7, 2011, 7:50 a.m.

    We call winter hats 'beanies' and that seems to be the thing both in Australia and the UK. Toques is so much more refined though!

    My craft is mainly seen in my letterpress studio, though I have recently taken up knitting - early days yet, I am only doing scarves right now!

    I love craft, but yet to find something I can do while reading a book as well, so not that much gets done around here.


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