Laysan albatross chick Kaloakulua sits in her nest with both webbed feet up at her belly.

TrossHat’s Origins

Sometime in 2014 when I first became acquainted with albatross chicks I thought to myself that their body shape would translate well into a knit hat. This may seem like an odd train of thought and I don’t really have an excuse for it. Welcome to my brain.

The process from that first thought to the finished hat was a long one. I started by learning to needle felt because I thought it was a technique that would work well for sculpting the hat’s face and feet. My adventures in needle felting went off in another albatross-related direction but I never forgot my original reason for learning the technique.

I worried over yarn selection. I knew I wanted the hat to be fluffy but I wasn’t sure how best to capture the complexity of the chicks’ down. Ultimately I decided to keep it simple and settled on some eyelash yarn that was sold at a reasonable price point. This hat was going to be an experiment and I was reluctant to work with some of the beautiful but much more expensive yarns out there.

I made up the hat pattern as I went along. I cast on stitches based on the yarn and rough size I wanted for the finished hat and went from there. I have enough experience knitting to know some options for reducing stitches in a row so I used that knowledge to gradually shape the chick hat’s neck and head. I knit the wings separately and stitched them into place. Finally I felted the face and feet, adding button eyes, and stitched those into place as well. Finished!

The only notes I took through this process were on wing pattern since I wanted the two wings to match. I intended the hat to be a one-off, unique item, never thinking that other people would be as excited about it as I was.

In December 2016, shortly after I finished the albatross chick hat (now dubbed TrossHat) I knit it a Santa hat. The hat-wearing-a-hat idea was silly and fun and I wasn’t the only one to get a kick out of it, so I made more and TrossHat’s fame spread.

I decided to make a hat a month for TrossHat for 2017. It’s been a delightful project so far, giving me opportunities to explore additional craft materials and processes. The year isn’t finished yet and I have a whole list of hats yet to make!

During these hot summer months TrossHat keeps me company on my desk or elsewhere around the house, sitting with that stoic albatross patience (and often wearing the latest hat).

Cat and half-knit hat sit together on a desk.
Keppo sits next to the half-finished hat for scale.
Albtross chick hat, knitting partially finished, testing fit on head
A fit check, knitting still in progress.
Partially finished felt elements (face and beak) tested for fit on hat.
The felt elements are tested for scale on the hat.


Knit albatross chick hat worn on head
The newly-finished albatross chick hat.


Albatross chick hat wearing knit Santa hat
The albatross chick hat wearing a knit Santa hat. The beginning of a new project.


2017 Albatross Cam Chicks

Cornell Lab Kauai Albatross Cam Resources

posted in: Albatross Cam | 0

Thank you to everyone who came to my albatross cam presentation at Woodland Park Zoo today! It was wonderful to see so much interest in the birds and the cam.

As promised here are some helpful links for you to explore:


I will add additional links to this post as I find them.

– Betsy/Elizabeth

Minature needle-felted albatross chick

Miniature Needle-Felted Albatross Chicks

The 2016 Kauaʻi Albatross Cam season has come to and end, but I’m still finding ways to keep albatross in my life. I’m fine-tuning prints of a recently-completed watercolor painting of Kialoa and his/her parents and I’m making fuzzy little wool albatross chicks.

A couple years ago I and some other albatross cam volunteers got to chatting about albatross stuffed animals and albatross figurines and how there just weren’t enough things like that available for the ‘tross lovers out there. I started experimenting with needle felting and the tiny wool chicks (like the one pictured above) were the result.

I’ve started making the felt chicks available through my Etsy shop (listing here), but only a few at a time. I don’t plan to limit the total number of felt chicks I create, but taking the orders at a measured rate will allow me to manage my time and other responsibilities. I plan to list a limited number of felt chicks each week, probably on Monday. i will send out a notification via Twitter (@rownsmith) when I do that. At the present each chick is priced at $20 with $7 shipping in the USA. If you would like to ship a felt chick outside the USA please contact me and I can figure it out for your specific location.

I’m not taking pre-orders at this time but will consider it if my current system leads to frustration for potential buyers. If you’ve got your eye on a felt albatross chick and need it by a specific date (for a birthday or something like that) let me know and I’ll work with you on the timing.

Needle felting in progress:



Thanks for stopping by and reading!