when you asked me what is the paradigmatic mountain of Patagonia, I did not hesitate in giving you the answer: Chaltén, the blue smoking mountain. In the last trench of the Andes range, Chaltén raises like a magnificent tower transmitting majesty and ferociousness. It is the main summit of a range that has the shape of a croissant opening onto the East.
The mountain, also called Fitz Roy in memory of the British sailor that explored the Patagonian coast with Darwin, is one of the most challenging peaks in the world, with vertical slippery slabs constantly hit by the icy winds of the South Pacific Ocean. These winds bring about the rare aeolic phenomenon that makes its top always appear as it was surrounded by clouds, which give the mountain the smoking volcano look its name is derived from.
In the rare occasions of good weather, its massive granite structure turns rose hue at sunrise. During the day, if it is not hidden behind the clouds, its image reflects on the Lagoon of the Three. By nightfall, the clouds usually thin out and wisp around its peak.
Mount Chaltén is certainly one of the most emblematic places of Patagonia, for its magesty and its wilderness.
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Since before the recent June Solstice (that’s winter solstice in Argentina) I’ve been working on designing a beret that I now present, and that I’m naming ” Chaltén “. As my dear and wonderful Argentine friend, professor, and naturalist Alejandro has taught me so many things about Patagonia, from the spectacular Andes Mountains to the wildlife & botany of the place, to the history of the Welsh settlements in Chubut. ( I mustn’t forget that I’ve also learned much about the making & drinking of Yerbe Mate , having many different kinds in my cupboard, sent to me by Alejandro. ) It was in fact , a daunting etherial image of Chaltén which being etched in my mind from a dream, which was the force of curiosity to bring us to meet (on an internet pen-pal site, nearly four years ago, as I wanted to meet a Patagonian to write to).
Thank you Alejandro ~~ this Chaltén Beret is dedicated to our many letters over the years, our story we are writing, your kindness, and all that you have taught me ! And thank you , thank you for the letter about Chaltén which I so wanted to have in this debut post. xx Jen
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Here is the pattern prototype, knit with Jamiesons Spindrift , and embellished with dos chuflines (two tassels) . . .
Chaltén’s snowy white teeth seem to leap toward the sky, shrouded by mist and blueish atmosphere ~~ here is my knitted interpretation of Chaltén in a colorwork beret. Colorwork motifs inspired by “Guarda Pampa” patterns, symbols of Patagonia, profiles of peaks of the Andes Range and reflections of them in the mountain lakes. The Argentine gauchos (shepherds & cattlemen) adopted some elements of the Mapuche design and incorporated them in their Ponchos and other fabric pieces, reinforcing regional identities of the provincial groups of Gauchos, almost along the lines of Tartans in Scotland.
And a second, the first prototype, knit in Alice Starmore Hebridean 2ply I had in my stash … embellished with a single chuflín (tassel)
Chaltén beret features a unique two-inch-wide shaped colorwork faced band, comprising of two mirrored shaped stockinette layers, a crown of concentric decreases and second colorwork motif just above the rim. Finished with Andean Folk style tassels known colloquially by Patagonians as chuflines ( much of yesterday was spent photographing for a tutorial on making these , which will debut with the pattern , a ‘chuflín-making’ tutorial on my Tips From The Table tutorial page.) And here is my own very sketchy hand-drawn schematic . Measurement A is diameter, measures 10-10.5 inches laying flat. B is depth, measures 8 – 8.5 inches when folded into quarters. C is circumference of band, measures 20 inches.
Chau ! In the near future I will be augmenting “Chaltén Beret” with a straight-sided ski hat version, the “Chaltén Skier” … it will be so re-loco … I am looking forward to designing it ! (( Note: All who purchase the pattern will recieve updates when the ski hat is augmented into the pattern. )) I have decided to make the debut of Chaltén Beret in two installments, this first being more informative and about the inspiration behind the design, and the second, featuring my nieces modelling (which I’m going to do this afternoon !) .. and also presenting the pattern. So watch this space, Chaltén Beret pattern arrives this week!
Edit in next day: Introducing the pattern & photo shoot presentation of this design, you must see ! 🙂