Friday, April 7, 2017

What is a Toque?

So since moving to Seattle I have discovered I use words that the average person here does not know. Toque is just one of them but it is one that often results in a conversation started with What is a Toque?

Being Canadian means I have a different meaning for this word then some other people. And No a Beanie and a Toque are NOT the SAME.

a close-fitting knitted hat, often with a tassel or pom-pom on the crown

So this is about the closet definition to what I would define as a toque. It also needs enough length so that you can turn up the edge so you can have an extra layer of warmth for your ears. And a proper toque should definitely be knit, personally I crochet more but a crocheted toque just don't seem right somehow.

A Dictionary of Canadianisms on Historical Principles

Type: 1. Origin - Toque was borrowed into English from French and has been used to designate certain kinds of hats since the 16th century, including chefs' hats and lawyers' hats. Toque may also refer to a style of women's hat fashionable in North America in the late 19th century. In Canada, this word and the spelling tuque was likely borrowed from Canadian French, as the hat was associated with French Canadians. Voyageurs and lumbermen wore tuques with long tails, later the meaning was generalized to include those without tails. Toque is also culturally significant as one of the most widely known Canadianisms and is often used as a generic name for winter hats, at least by younger residents.

Here is the type of picture I would of been given in elementary school in either french class or social studies of the traditional French Canadian Voyageur. I remember kids joking that he was wearing Santa's hat. You can also see that the French spelling is tuque here, sometimes you will also see touque.

So here is an image of a very basic toque with a moderate size pompom. You can pull it down to cover the back of your neck some or you can fold the edge and get double thickness over the ears.

If you were lucky maybe you would have one with an oversize pompom. Those were the ones I loved. It was an awesome Snow Day if you came back in and it looked like you had a snowball attached to the top of your head. You were then told to take it back outside and you knocked it onto the side of the house to remove the snow and ice.Then you brought it in and put it on the radiator/woodstove or somewhere to complete melting and be nice and toasty next time you ventured outside.

Here's one that actually says Canada. Not handmade but it is technically a toque and I these are the type I most commonly see here on the West Coast, though normally with a sports team written on them instead of Canada.

Without the pompom or at least a tassel the toque then becomes a watchmans hat to me. And then from there they can start to develop into a beanie. A beanie is most commonly crocheted, does not fold up at edge, and fits tight to the skull. If it is made from fabric it becomes a skullcap. Or if it is loose at the back of the head it is then a slouchy beanie. I know I am being particular but it is one of those things I always thought of as pretty common knowledge. I admit this may be because clothing definitions are important to me. I also have a tendency to be a little specific about colour terms, both are side effects of an education in fashion. But the main thing that I am reminded of when a conversation like this starts is how people from different regions and generations can call things such different names or be confused by anothers terminology. 

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