28 February

Derbycraft – Roller Derby knitting!

Janey Canuckle

By Janey Canuckle

What do roller derby and knitting have to do with each other? (Well, apart from the fact that they’re my twin extracurricular passions, and that I was introduced to both by referee Zebra Harry?) It would be difficult to skate and knit simultaneously (just imagine the A&E visits!), but the ethos and aesthetics of roller derby and the craft revolution seem to have a lot in common. Although men can be and are involved in these two phenomena, both derby and crafting are primarily associated with women. They’re also both intertwined with the forging of community and a propensity for DIY in various forms: it’s what I like to think of as radical amateurism.

Of course, there are instances where roller derby and craft intersect, like craft stalls at bouts, or indeed Joan of Dark’s book Knockdown Knits, which includes patterns for everything from mouth guard covers to baby wheelie-booties to broken-arm sweaters! Here amongst the Harlots, we’ve been working away on different projects in recent years. Harlots have contributed enthusiastically to Innocent Smoothie’s Big Knit campaign, helping to raise money for Age UK. In 2016, we embarked on a project to raise money to fund our A team’s way to Roller Derby Caen’s Slip It! tournament in France in January of this year. Over nearly six months, we knitted individual squares in Harlot colours to make up a blanket, raffled off at our Christmas party.


100+ knitting hours never looked so comfy!

100+ knitting hours never looked so comfy!

As you might expect, we all had high hopes our ticket would be the winner, but that honour went to Clawed Ya, who shows no sign of giving the blanket up!

The winner!

Now it’s a new year, a new derby season, and we’ve been plotting new crafty projects, including a foray into a crocheted blanket, with crochet novices like me slowly getting to grips with granny squares. (I promise I am going to practice lots more…)



But while for some of us crochet skillz are most definitely a work in progress, we’re pleased to report on a recent completion of some Harlot knitwear design: a team toque! (Or ‘hat’, as translated from the Canadian.) Harlots and Harlot fans can follow the pattern as is, and members of other leagues can customise for their own team. Here goes…




1) Worsted or aran weight yarn in at least two colours. Suggested yarn: Rowan Pure Wool Worsted (in photos, 109 Black as MC, 101 Ivory as CC1, 124 Rich Red as CC2).

2) 5 double-pointed needles each in 4mm and 4.5mm (or size to reach correct gauge)

3) Stitch marker

4) Darning needle

5) Pompom maker (optional)


Gauge: 20 stitches and 26 rows = 4″/10 cm in stockinette stitch using 4.5mm needles


MC: main colour
CC1: contrast colour 1
CC2: contrast colour 2
k: knit
k2tog: knit 2 stitches together
p: purl
*: repeat instructions that follow


With MC, cast on 102 stitches with smaller needles. Place marker and join for working in the round, making sure your stitches aren’t twisted.

Work rib as *k, p2 all around, for 20 rounds.

Purl 1 round. (Note: this creates an edge so you can flip up the brim of the toque. If you don’t want to flip it up, for a slouchier look, or you want more flexibility about where it flips up, you can just continue the rib for this round as you have been doing.)

Work rib as *k, p2 for 7 rounds.

Change to larger needles and knit for 13 rounds.

Change to CC1 and knit for 16 rounds.

Change to MC and work crown shaping as follows:

Rnd 1: *k15, k2tog (repeat to end of round: 96 stitches)

Rnd 2 (and all other even-numbered rounds until Rnd 18): knit

Rnd 3: *k14, k2tog (repeat to end of round: 90 stitches)

Rnd 5: *k13, k2tog (repeat to end of round: 84 stitches)

Rnd 7: *k12, k2tog (repeat to end of round: 78 stitches)

Rnd 9: *k11, k2tog (repeat to end of round: 72 stitches)

Rnd 11: *k10, k2tog (repeat to end of round: 66 stitches)

Rnd 13: *k9, k2tog (repeat to end of round: 60 stitches)

Rnd 15: *k8, k2tog (repeat to end of round: 54 stitches)

Rnd 17: *k7, k2tog (repeat to end of round: 48 stitches)

Rnd 18: *k6, k2tog (repeat to end of round: 42 stitches)

Rnd 19: *k5, k2tog (repeat to end of round: 36 stitches)

Rnd 20: *k4, k2tog (repeat to end of round: 30 stitches)

Rnd 21: *k3, k2tog (repeat to end of round: 24 stitches)

Rnd 22: *k2, k2tog (repeat to end of round: 18 stitches)

Rnd 23: *k1, k2tog (repeat to end of round: 12 stitches)

Rnd 24: *k2tog (repeat to end of round: 6 stitches)


Cut yarn and draw through final 6 stitches. Fasten.

Add lettering and design onto CC1 section in duplicate stitch (see below).

Make a pompom (if desired) and fasten to top of toque.

Weave in all ends.


1) For a smaller or larger size, either change needle (and possibly yarn) size or cast on fewer or more stitches, in multiples of 6. Note that if the latter method is chosen, you will need to adjust accordingly for crown shaping, and may need to alter decorative duplicate stitch-work if there is not enough room for the suggestions here. The pattern as written should fit head sizes 23-24” (my head measures 20”, so it is slouchy on me).

2) Use your own league’s name (what a notion!). See the alphabet below for suggestions of letters in the same size.

3) Play around with your league’s colours! Consider a multicoloured pompom, or maybe including some glow-in-the-dark yarn.

4) Use different decorative shapes than those in the Harlot pattern, such as hearts or skulls (see below).

5) You can try to use stranded knitting instead of duplicate stitch, if you want to use just your MC and one CC, and if your stranded knitting is better than mine!

Please note: this pattern is offered free of charge, but a donation to the Nottingham Hellfire Harlots of £5 would be greatly appreciated. Feel free, however, to adapt this toque for your own league and sell knitted toques as a fundraiser at your league events! (And if you’re not in Canada or Canadian, it’s OK if you don’t call it a toque. Just not as good. ;))

You can also view the following charts on stitchfiddle.com:


pattern1 pattern-2 pattern-3 pattern-4 key pattern5