During our West Highland Way club, we ran a couple of competitions: the first for interesting / creative uses of colour, using my Craigallian hat as a template . . .

. . . and the second for an original hat design in our new Milarrochy Tweed. This first time I’ve arranged this kind of thing and I had no idea what to expect: would club members even be interested in creating competitive hats?

Well, yes, they certainly were interested, and it was tremendously exciting to see all the hats popping up each week on Instagram and Ravelry. By the time the club concluded at the end of March, we’d received more than 130 entries across the two competitions. Wow! In the design competition particularly, the range and quality of entries was really pretty extraordinary and it is fair to say I was totally blown away by what knitters had chosen to do with their twelve-shade set of Milarrochy Tweed.

Some, like Ute, developed a feel for the full palette by working stripes.

Others, such as Sarah, found a different kind of rhythm in colour.

I love Sarah’s undulating corded waves so much! All twelve shades are used here!

Chevrons, waves and zigzags turned out to be a major feature of many hats entered in the competition . . .

Ingrid’s “Cadans” (cadence, in Dutch) – quickly became one of my favourites!

The West Highland Way club was all about exploring a particular part of Scotland. Some knitters, like Lynette drew on their own Scottish associations and memories when creating their hats.

Lynette’s Roamin‘ hat recalls her grandmother’s favourite Harry Lauder song. There’s just something about the range of techniques Lynette has used here, combined with those tiny flowers and thistle-tassels that is utterly charming! I’m have a feeling Sir Harry himself would have absolutely loved it.

One of the things I particularly enjoyed about the competition was seeing how knitters took inspiration from their own locales when creating their hats. Natasha drew on the watery landscape and flying geese of Nova Scotia’s Chezzetcook Inlet in in her lovely design.

I also enjoyed seeing how knitters often selected just two or three colours from the Milarrochy Tweed palette and used them in really interesting ways.

Jennifer’s cottage garden hat – featuring the hirst and campion shades – was one of my favourites.

The hats I’ve shown you here are a mere handful of the countless wonderful competition entries, any of which might have been chosen as overall winner. How was I going to pick just one to win top prize? Well, by the close of the club, I’d found that the hats created by one talented knitter had really begun to stand out from the crowd. With a tremendous sense of colour and balance, her entries were just consistently really beautiful, and looking at what she was knitting I had the strong sense of someone who’d been well and truly bitten by the hat-designing bug. I loved the first hat Justyna entered in the competition – inspired by the Sambucus (elderflower) plant.

I thought the gentle yet graphic two-tone effect of this hat was really lovely. But then Justyna produced a second hat which (if possible) I liked even more than the first.

In her Medieval Arches hat, Justyna comined Milarrochy Tweed shades Lochan and Stockiemuir to stunning effect.

But Justyna didn’t stop there. In the end she used her 12 shades of Milarrochy Tweed to design five original hats in total. Five!

So it is with very great pleasure that I announce Justyna Haberkowa as the winner of the West Highland Way design competition! Many congratulations, Justyna!

And I’m really pleased to say that the patterns for Justyna’s Medieval Arches and Sambucus Flower hats – together with several of the hats created by the other talented winners included here – will join me and some designer pals in a hat book / collection to be published later this year.

While I was top judge (ahem) of the design competition, the whole KDD team judged the colour competition collectively, and chose three winners. All of us were drawn to Maylin’s hat (pictured with the Liver building, above) because of her unusual and interesting use of neutrals.

Having spent quite a while designing and creating several different Craigallian colourways, I found that the hats I was most drawn to were those which made me see the colours differently – such as Carole’s restrained and pared-back version, using just three shades: Ardlui, Stockiemuir, and Horseback brown.

The whole team shortlisted Carie’s hat. I particularly liked it because of the way that single pop of orange buckthorn enables several different shades of blue and green to work together while remaining visually distinct.

A massive thank you to all the knitters who entered what was a really inspiring and truly international competition! The winners mentioned in this post hail from Germany, Poland, the Netherlands, Canada, Switzerland, and the USA as well as the UK. Many congratulations to you all!

I’m also excited to say that our West Highland Way book is scheduled to arrive from the printer very shortly – club members can expect to receive their copies soon, and, when we have it in hand we will then be able to put the book on open release. Watch this space!