Traditional Maine Clamdigger's Hat

This is my adaptation of the traditional Maine Clamdigger's Hat. This style of hat can be seen on the heads of clamdiggers plying their trade from the cold Atlantic beaches of Limerick in the south of Maine to the salty clam flats of Bangor in the North.

This has been the traditional garb of Maine clamdiggers since the first hardy settlers sailed into the placid waters of Buxton Bay in 1632, where they were met by the native Makatak Tribe who taught them the basic survival skills for this frigid land, including clam digging.

The settlers observed that the Makataks outfitted themselves with a curiously ornamented hat of an undulating pattern woven from porcupine quills. They were taught that the wavy pattern had a hypnotic effect on the clams, immobilizing them and rendering them easy pickings as the Makataks sauntered along the beach.

With experience, the settlers realized that sheep were easier to herd than porcupines, so they wisely adapted the Natives' quilled design to the now famous cabled wool hat.

After more than 300 hundred years, this tradition lives on despite attempts by P.E.T.A. and various environmental groups to ban the mesmerizing headgear in the belief that it puts the clams at an unfair disadvantage.

Of course, I just made all this up (I can hear Robert bouncing off the ceiling right about now). But as Maine is renowned for Its' story tellers, I figured I'd take a whack at it, though I'm a flatlander (that's Mainspeak for a non-native Mainer). So I knit me a hat, and I wove me a tale. Ayuh.

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purlyman's picture

Albert - that's awesome!! I've never seen anything quite like that. The colors are great too. I love how it seems to completely change its appearance depending on the camera angle... ;-)


albert's picture

Thanks. Frank! I had some fun plying different millspun yarns together on my wheel to create the resulting bulky yarns in the hat. Size 8 needles, and it's an adapatation of the Cabled Hat of Awesomeness by Kristy Boyer available as a free download on Ravellry.

QueerJoe's picture

Delightful use of yarn...makes me want to head out to the bay and rake up a bushel of quahogs.

Thanks also for the gratuitous kitty picture...beautiful!

purlyman's picture

oh!! I thought the kitty was just the hat from above! :-)


ronhuber's picture

Both hat and cat are beautiful, Albert. Are you implying you sometimes wear him on your head as well. I envy you being able to spin your own. Great tale and tail.

albert's picture

Fortunately, this kitty sports a bit of avoir dupoir, otherwise he would no doubt attempt to plant himself on my pate.

rjcb3's picture


Such eloquent use of the English language -- Maine style (almost) :)

Good story, though. Hmmm, maybe I should hire you to spin a few yarns for some of the midwestern folks that I know.

Nice hat
and a cat
with a mat...

(sorry...Electric Company moment, there)

I like, all the way around...


albert's picture

High praise from a real "Downeaster"!

What a wonderful hat Albert. Why is there not a pic of you wearing it?
Great history lesson too.

albert's picture

Why spoil a good hat?

Bill's picture

My dad was a Maine boy...and I spent every winter of my youth in Belfast....but never saw a hat like that.
It would have kept me very warm!

albert's picture

My, Bill, you must have been a very unobservant youth! :)

Kerry's picture

What a talented man you are both in knitting and story telling, two great old traditions.

Joe-in Wyoming's picture

Very lovely cat, Albert. And the hat is pretty nice, too. -- Books, knitting, cats, fountain pens...Life is Good.

Books, knitting, cats, fountain pens...Life is Good.

scottly's picture

I'm thinkin you could mesmerize more then clams in that hat.

chipsir's picture

Really very nice and your story telling goes well with it. Just Great!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Puss looks good too!!!!!!!!!!!!