REVIEW: Stitch -Mi- Lane Snug Spectator Merino Hat

Stitch -Mi- Lane is a relatively new brand, founded by bicycle enthusiast and designer Stephanie Drake. Stephanie, in her own words, has a passion for homegrown design and manufacture – and this shows in the small but perfectly formed range of cycling apparel and home-ware that makes up the Stitch -Mi- Lane collection. All products are made in the heart of Scotland, including the Snug Spectator Merino Hat, which I have got my hands on recently.

When I took this hat out of it’s packaging I could tell it was a bit more than your average bobble hat. The double thickness merino wool which the hat is crafted from gives it more weight than you’d expect from your everyday beanie, and certainly makes it feel like a luxury product. It just feels really nice – the fabric is thick and soft…..and it smells nice.

We all probably know the benefits of merino now. You can’t have a conversation with a cyclist without somebody mentioning it. But in case you’ve been hiding in a hole, here’s an overview. Merino has excellent heat retaining qualities whilst remaining breathable, and wicking sweat. It also has a clever way of deterring bacteria and the subsequent odour it may produce, and, being a natural fibre, reduces chances of irritation and itching.

The design of the Snug Spectator Hat is Stephanie’s own take on a contemporary jacquard pattern and contains bikes and chevrons. The nod towards the traditional makes for a subtle but rather lovely design. Not to forget the large pom-pom, or bobble, or whatever you would like to call it. This is also made of UK sourced merino, like the rest of the hat.

If you prefer cream or pink to navy, the hat is also available in those colours.

The knitted fabric has a decent amount of stretch in it. I think I probably have a large-ish head for a woman (I’m going by helmet size here..) and it fits fairly snugly, but would stretch to fit on a much bigger noggin than mine.

I haven’t had any problems with the fabric being itchy, which can sometimes be the case with knitted products. That’d be thanks to the merino, as mentioned above.

The double thickness merino makes this hat very warm indeed. I have worn it out on cold, windy walks, a trip to the park, to the pub, and on some very chilly trips on the bike (no, I do not always wear a helmet) and at my desk on days when I cannot afford to top up the heating. It has kept my head and ears very toasty on all these occasions. Despite being incredibly warm, it somehow manages to still maintain breathability. Useful when wearing the hat on a chilly but fast ride to the pub, and not wanting to have a fringe which is stuck to your head with sweat by the time you arrive. Thanks again, merino wool.

Because of the thickness of the wool, I found the hat sat a little oddly at first – with the seams sticking out a bit where the fabric joins. This has become much less noticeable as I wear the hat more and it moulds to be a head shape, not a flat thing packed in an envelope.

I haven’t washed the hat yet (thanks once more, odour killing merino), but the instructions state that if you turn it inside out then it can be machine washed at 40 degrees celsius. Useful if you get splattered in mud wearing this whilst watching a race. Or if someone spills beer on it in the pub.

In conclusion: a premium product with a very pleasing design, which is seriously warm and snuggly. More than I would normally pay for a hat, but you are getting more than a hat would normally give you.

What I like most about it

The beautifully simple bike design and the double thickness merino which makes it incredibly warm and cosy.

What I like least about it

Nothing.

Best for:

Wearing whilst watching a cyclocross race in bleak mid-Winter.

The details:

Price: £32.00

Material: 100% Merino wool

Colour: Navy (also available in cream and pink)

www.stitchmilane.co.uk