What is a Stocking Cap?

Niki Foster
Niki Foster

A stocking cap is a tight-fitting knit cap worn in cold weather. It is typically made of wool, synthetic fibers, or fleece, and it is a fairly easy knitting project. This garment is the unofficial national hat of Canada, where it is called a tuque or toque, as the cold winters in that country make it a lifesaver. While some consider these hats gauche and merely functional, they are a fashion statement for others.

Various knitting techniques can be used to make a knit stocking cap.
Various knitting techniques can be used to make a knit stocking cap.

There are many variations on the stocking cap. It may be made in any color and style of yarn imaginable, from the extra-warm and functional to the stylish or the quirky. If you are not up to knitting a cap yourself, many vendors offer the buyer a choice of colored yarn and/or custom embroidery.

Stocking caps are often used as night caps when people sleep.
Stocking caps are often used as night caps when people sleep.

Some stocking caps fit snugly on the top of the head, while others are made with a loose portion of an inch or two on the top. Others are very long on top so that they hang down over the shoulder. This type of stocking cap is often worn for novelty and is associated with Christmas and Santa's elves.

A popular model features a wide cuff that is folded up, but can be pulled down a bit to cover cold ears. Another optional feature is a pompom on the top. A relatively new style features a small cardboard brim in the front.

Stocking caps are sometimes associated with sailors, and they are traditionally issued to those serving in the navy, where they are called watch caps. In India, this hat is known as a monkey cap. Different names for the stocking cap abound throughout English speaking countries. Some common variants are: beanie, boggan, knit cap, knit hat, ski cap, sock cap, skull cap, skully, toboggan, and wool hat or wooly hat. One topped with a pompom may be called a bobble hat.

A stocking cap is the unofficial national hat of Canada.
A stocking cap is the unofficial national hat of Canada.
Niki Foster
Niki Foster

In addition to her role as a wiseGEEK editor, Niki enjoys educating herself about interesting and unusual topics in order to get ideas for her own articles. She is a graduate of UCLA, where she majored in Linguistics and Anthropology.

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