ROCKPORT—Sometimes you just want to say things you can’t out loud. Liz Polkinghorn, a knitter, understands that need, and designs the type of hat that ”allows you to put all the things you'd like to say out loud, but sometimes just can’t, onto your hat instead.”
Her hand-knitted hats have become a home business called Bespolk Hats. It can sometimes take a whole day to custom create with 100 percent wool and pom poms of real fur, faux fur or cotton. And her biggest seller is a word you can’t say on TV.
Polkinghorn, who grew up in Maine, moved to California for a spell, before returning home to Maine in 1998.
“One winter day, I opened the front door and realized how cold it was, so I started making hats that stated one of the first expletives that came out of my mouth,” she said. “Remarkably, people loved them. I never actually wore one, because I thought I might get accosted.”
The “S—” hats have been her most popular seller. But her other hats are family-friendly with such sayings as “Maine,” “Ski,”and “Merry.”
Still, it’s easy to see Polkinghorn’s ideology through her other popular hats such as “Vote,” “Resist,” and “RBG.”
“During the Trump years, that was a heyday for phrases,” she said.
She'll make whatever the customer wants, whether it’s a child’s name on the hat, or as one customer on Vinalhaven wanted: “Salty B—–.”
“I’ve had some really rude ones that I’m not even going to say,” said Polkinghorn. “I don’t know how they wear them, frankly.”
For those who are not keen on wearing a hat that swears, she has another one, which is just as snarky: “Calm Down.”
That’s funny — just calm down, all you pearl clutchers.
“My daughter used to be an editor at The New York Times and she’d wear one I made called ‘Fake News,’” said Polkinghorn.
As a microbusiness in Maine, she works when she gets orders, but doesn’t want to mass-produce her wares. Each hat is custom-made. She was excited to get her hats in a store in Rockefeller Center in New York, but as she said: “It’s not brain surgery; it’s just me, sitting in a La-Z-Boy chair knitting. But it’s fun to personalize sayings that people want.”
“The fun thing is it’s something different every day,” she said. “It’s like making a painting every day.”
Kay Stephens can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org