Friday, August 15, 2008

Considering Ellie*

The High Society Hat Project has officially begun. It's not as snotty as you would think. Of course, the name alone just summons all sorts of images of snobbism and elitism. You know - of women who hold up their noses when they see a haggard woman without a proper hat and gloves walk by. Or ladies who have tea everyday at 2:30 p.m. on the dot without fail, a proper Earl Grey - but no bags of dust in hot water please. The hat might even make you think of your great-grandma shushing all the grand kids at Mass when the priest is giving the homily and laying down the law when a fight breaks over whether the pew should be up or down. This is what you might imagine about a woman (most certainly not a gal) who dons a High Society hat.

I'll admit I had none of those ideas when I saw the High Society hat designed by Annie Modesitt. No, I just took one look and said, "How gorgeous. I want that hat!" But then I shuddered to think how difficult it might be to make. While I knew it wouldn't take much yarn, I just pictured myself all tangled up on the two skeins of yarn it took to knit up the thing. Yes, I took one peek at the instructions in Romantic Hand-Knits and then the four pages long (very grey to my eyes) of type on Millinery. I felt afraid, not too afraid, but I did remember the 1940s crochet hat that went well until I wired it, and the whole thing turned into a Saturday Night prop for Amy Sedaris. Wobbly, tornado-blown brim created by me. The whole, expensive fiasco sits in my linen closet, crushed by a load of pillowcases. I'm not sure what I'm waiting for, why I don't just ditch it already?

But that's what I think of when I even consider playing Milliner (Winona Ryder does it so much better in this movie which I've never seen).

I dwell on that much more than now that the actual knitting is going much more speedily than I thought. I've just begun! And I'm almost already done. Gosh. I'm never going to knit sweaters or skirts that months to complete after this. Never. Not when I can start and finish a project in about a week, which is what it takes for me to sew a skirt or a dress these days between laying out the pattern, cutting it up the fabric and stitching. (Not counting this dress I just made, of course. One day!) And the size of the project. Oh, my. This wee hat, circular needles and one yarnball, fit into a sandwich baggie. Yes, a plastic bag the size of six-inch Subway sandwich. Unbelievable. So I can naturally fit this into my tote along with a couple of newspaper sections. Oh day soon, I'm going to be able to carry the project - along with the pattern in its plastic protector sheet - in my skirt pocket. This will not fit a jean pocket, I know. Not enough room, not to mention that I might poke myself with a needle or scrape myself on the elbow with it. But I could get it into a medium-size skirt pocket. Then I would never ever be without something to do. My digits would never be idle, not for a minute, no. I'd be cranking out lots of hats, so many that some would need to be sold, if only to pay for this:This is Ellie, different from the one that Alicia Paulson owns. I've no idea what she (the object above, not Alicia) costs, since there are no price tags listed on this web site. But I like her already if not for her modest name, her brown eyes and hair (much like my own, except my locks are highlighted and I've got bangs). But brown-eyed brunettes are always much more fun! Now, if Ellie would only smile, she'd be perfect. No, she's ideal now with her Clara Bow lips stained ruby red. Now if I were able to purchase her for princessly sum, I'd put her to work straight away. Modeling hats, of course! Her primary work would be modeling all of the hats I make, starting with the High Society hat (see above). Then I'd protect her dark hair with this hat, and then maybe this, all of them made by me.

If it turns out Ellie is out of my financial reach for the moment, that's fine. She's a reproduction. There will be more like her. Now I could get the real McCoy (or McKay as the name was mutated in Buster Keaton's film on the South's most famous conflict - not the Civil War. ) at the Broadway Antique Market. Now the display model has blonde locks, and she's really old - from the 1940s although she really doesn't look like it. She doesn't have a dowager's hump, a cane, fake teeth, none of those tell-tale signs of a 70+year-old. But I really don't want an antique, especially one that can break. If I'm going to have a display piece for my hats, it's going to be one that's readily replaced. None of these wringing out hankies or t-shirt edges over a one-a-kind old thing that can't be fixed cheaply. Forget it. I've got enough World War II memorabilia in my home.

So that's it. I'm saving my nickels, dimes and pennies for Ellie because she's worth it. She'd have a special place here and I'd treat her well. She'd have the best food. Wait, she can't eat. Never mind.
* The swatch above is for the High Society hat!


Barbe Saint John/ Saints and Sinners® said...

I love that mannequin head too, I THINK they are 175, but don't quote me on that.

Annie has some gorgeous patterns, but my knitting sucks. I need a BFF who will knit for me and I can crochet/jewel/yarn for her in exchange.

I'm going to London in mid sept-can you email me some recommendations? its been 15 yrs since I was there!

the_lazymilliner said...

Barbe, I just looked at the updated Deco eyes site. One mannequin head will set me or you $295...I could almost get a vintage one for that same price...but I'm afraid to get an old one because if it breaks...I'd be heartbroken.

Lucky you going to London! Phillip Treacy is the hat shop to visit there, but there are others because England is so into hats. I'd do a Google search on milliners, hats and millinery.

Cristina - madhatter wannabe said...

I fell in love with those mannequins too, but found it impossible to get in touch and I suspect they have gone out of business (my favorite head was Matilda). If you manage to get in touch please let us know.

Just today I saw this other company that make replica's: ... they're nice but not as nice as the other ones.

I'm making do with a cheap and cute modern head called Mimi. You can see her here:

I'm looking forward to your crochet creations!

the_lazymilliner said...

Cristina, I did finally hear from Deco Eyes....the site has been updated with prices, so hold onto your hat!
I will eventually get around to crochet hat, but right now it's about all about knitting.