Sunday, September 28, 2008

Help a Hat-Obsessed Knitter Find a Particular Yarn*

What I need is one skein, just one, of Gedifra Wellness 2115, lot 9100. This is so I can finish my third and what I do believe is the best rendition of the High Society Hat. I'm in the third and last lacy repeat on this pattern, and I don't think I'm going to have enough to finish this project. The hat is looking so pretty, and so brightly blue that I swear birds are going to mistake it for a human head-sized piece of sky when I finally do get to wear it (and I am! I swear. I just don't know when. It would be the perfect thing to wear on a gloomy day like today. We Chicagoans need our clear cloudless horizon whenever we can get it. When I can't command sunshine at a moment's notice, I figure a chapeau such as mine can go a long way to making someone's day a little happier. But I digress.)

Anyhow, I've searched on Ravelry, posted a desperate message on the Gedifra yarn group there, and generally yelled from every Internet mountain top I can think of. So far, I've heard one yodel from a Ravelrist who cannot help. Maybe it's time for a Twitter post.

So...I may need to put aside hat-in-progress to start another at least until I get what's necessary to finish up. It's not like there aren't any other unfinished sewing projects that could stand an afternoon's attention. Like the Simplicity dress pattern I recently started and somewhat abandoned because I didn't like how the V-neck was looking. I looked at it again the other day, and I see a "save" possibility that I really need to explore on an overcast day like today. However, the impulse is to start and finish something new. Like a Simplicity raglan style top that I think I could start and finish in about three hours.

Some kind of creativity will occur in the next 12 hours, I'm not just not sure what. To sew or knit that is the question, and a great slogan for a t-shirt. I might swatch Annie Modesitt's pattern for the Aquaduct hat (no distant photo exists to show you, unfortunately). Believe it or not, the brim pattern for the Aquaduct hat is exactly the same as the High Society Hat. Boring. But I'm not sure how to change it up so I just might do it as is.

Here's what I got on the schedule for this week: Stitch N' Bitch Edgewater, Wednesday; Nordstrom North Michigan Avenue designer event, Thursday (free appetizer and drinks!); big partee at Loopy Yarns' new store (it's not listed on the store's blog, but I know it's happening)
or Edgewater Antique Mall on Friday (complimentary beverages and eats again) and YarnCon Saturday. I plan to buy nothing (that's expensive) at any of the events. Seriously.
* This the Gedifra Wellness yarn of my dreams worked up in a sleeveless summer top. Just in case you need to see if you've got this fiber in your collection.

Monday, September 22, 2008

What's Up Next for the Hat Lady? A poll.

Hat no. 1
Hat. no 2
Hat no. 3
It's odd how two completely different people who don't even know each other call me "Hat Lady." One's the designer for my web site, another probably reads this blog, but suffice to she say she owns more than one dog. Anyhow both affectionately call me "Hat Lady." The designer even sent me a unsigned postcard from Paris with my moniker. I thought it was my other friend, which puzzled me because while she said she had just gotten her passport, she didn't tell she was going to France. The mystery was finally uncovered after Web man emailed and asked if I had gotten his overseas missive.

Anyhow, I'm working on High Society Hat no. 3. I will admit I'm kind of getting tired of the pattern, but I want something to do that's simple while I'm traveling Wednesday through Friday. A project that doesn't entail long-distance calls to Arcadia Knitting. So, the last High Society Hat for a while is the handiwork of the moment.

In the meantime, I'm pondering what I should work on next. Hat no. 1, I know was included in my last survey, but since I haven't tackled it yet, I'm including it yet again. I know I want to do this number in a mocha brown and kelly green to go with this fabulous $15 hand-sewn 1940s blouse I got at the Elgin vintage fashion show a few years ago. It barely fits my water-aerobics toned upper frame, but it's just so photogenic and demands an ooh-la-la hat like no. 1. Both no. 2 and no. 3 are from Boutique Knits: 20 Must-Have Accessories by Laura Irwin. My local library doesn't have this book now, so I might have to order it from another. I like the 1920s vibe of each hat, particularly the one on no. 3's model who looks like an extra from the silent film Metropolis.

Friday, September 19, 2008

October Hat-Making Class & High Society Hat No. 2

First off, this is my Anthropologie hat knock-off, made after I had to return the $42 piece of junk to the store (the hat begin to unravel almost immediately; now to be fair, it was a little snug so that might have prompted the hat to fall apart, but still). This was the hat I intended to make before I did no. 1, but the salmon-colored yarn did its siren song number on me and I had to do that one first.

I've temporarily embellished this hat with a grosgrain ribbon and a vintage black buckle, but I'll more than likely stitch on a permanent velvet ribbon with a bow, much like the version in Romantic Hand-Knits. This striped grosgrain gives the hat a preppy vibe, still 1930s-looking but I'm after a more luxurious look. This brim is much wider that version no. 1, making it resemble something that a woman during the Depression might have worn, not a 1920s flappergirl.

I also put in a sweatband inside made of petersham, which I plan on purchasing at Judith M Hats & Millinery Supplies. Then I'll put in my label, of course.

But I highly recommend this pattern. It's not hard and would be a great introduction to lace: learning how to do yarn-overs and knit-two togethers. The brim is tricky, and I can see from my photos it's not perfect. It kind of curls up on one side. However, the beauty of this particular chapeau is that you can move it around. There is no back. If you've got any questions on this project, leave a note in the comments.

Now for some information that landed in my inbox, plus some interesting URLs I landed on this week. The two-day class below is worth the investment. You'll get to make a hat-block for a fraction of the price of those vintage ones found online plus you'll actually make a hat.

Hat-Making Classes: October 10th through the 19th. The poll results are in and the classes have been selected. Thank you for helping us make the best pick. Now, it's time to get you registered!! We are taking deposits now to save your space (please understand these are non-refundable) The balances will be due September 27th. Please follow this link to view the schedule and find the on-line registration buttons (or phone us at 630.963.9573 with your mc/visa/amex info.

HATMAKING: Block Carving and Felt Blocking
Instructor: Eia Radosavljevic of Eia Millinery Design
(Save your spot today with a $200 deposit)

Day 1: Carve a head or basic crown block and then go on to block a velour felt on a wooden brim block (from Eia Millinery Design's collection of vintage and custom-carved Parisian blocks.)
Day 2: Block a velour felt hood on the student's own carved crown or head block, finish the felt brim, and learn how to assemble the felt crown and brim.

Class Meets: Saturday & Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Class Dates: October 11 & 12
Cost: $400.00

Hatty Links I like:
* This picture of Nie Nie in matching hat and necklace. For those of you who don't her family's sad saga to date, there's this New York Times story.
* Bonnet and girl's coat sewn from what looks like a vintage 1950s Vogue pattern.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Ta-Da! The High Society Hat, Finally!

Here it is, folks, the High Society Hat (designed by Annie Modesitt for Romantic Hand Knits but made by me!). I knitted on no. 5 bamboo circular needles. I got lots of help from the Kelly sisters at Arcadia Knitting. Overall, this isn't a hard pattern if you're used to yarn-overs, slipped stitches and a willingness to riiiip back stitches done wrong, which I did lots. You knit the brim first, pick up stitches and finish the rest. I loved the chart pattern. This was the first time I ever that I followed a chart, and I think I'm a convert for life. It must be because I'm a visual person, but reading k2, yo, etc. now feels like I'd be interpreting Latin. What Annie doesn't tell you is that you need to switch over to double-pointed needles (DPNs) once you start decreasing. I didn't with this one, leading to a lot of stretched yarn which could break even now. I adored this project so much I wanted to do it one more time, using the DPNs. I did use a morel-toned version, using the same Classic Silk yarn by Classic Elite Yarns (a delicious blend of cotton, silk and nylon). Wiring the brim wasn't all that difficult either, but then again I've taken millinery classes at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. I used vintage 1950s hat wire that was given to me just prior to a massive estate sale. I got tons of patterns and other stuff too; that's what happens when people know you like to make hats! So put the word out there! I wasn't thrilled with the cloche shape of this hat at first, especially compared with the one in Romantic Hand Knits, but you know, I think it works. The bow I improvised after the one on the 1937 crochet Tuckaway hat (which I cannot find on the Internet right now, but that's where I printed out from a few years ago). Anyone, I'm just thrilled to bits with the results. Charlotte at Vogue Fabrics said, "It's so you." Another man on the El platform asked about my top (Simplicity 3759) and whether the cut-outs were individually appliqued on. Still another guy approached me asking for money while I was on my way to Vogue. Such is the attention that a pretty hat can get you! Anyhow, I'm feeling a little bit competitive because it appears while others on Ravelry have finished knitting this hat, no one else has actually wired it (we're not talking about electricity, but rather putting in a headwire and one at the brim).
Stay tuned for the High Society Hat no. 2 - it's completed, and I'm testing out a rather preppy striped ribbon and vintage buckle. I'll take photographs soon.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Monday's Millinery Milieu

The High Society Hat - the mushroom-colored one - is done. It's supremely cute, and very 1930s-looking since I got the brim just right with the helpful eye of Kathy Kelly over at Arcadia Knitting on Saturday (which was by the way, was so woefully wet all day long there was nothing else to do but knit if you weren't in a neighborhood sandbagged to the hilt). I'd take photographs of my latest creation but it's overcast outside, not even the least bit sunny. I usually like a little bit of sun so I can do my best work with the camera. In any event, I'm so thrilled with my latest knitwear that I'm all set to make 1930s-inspired hats for the rest of my life, and I think I could given all the vintage (and retro-inspired) patterns that are out there. I just ordered Knitting Millinery by Annie Modesitt, who was once a theatrical milliner. I'm hoping I can get the book by this weekend, and then I can started on a new project, which I can take with me on an airplane trip next week.

One disclaimer about the book. I've seen it already, so I know the layout and the photography could have been better, but I just want to cranking on another one of Annie's hats, and the Aqueduct hat looks the most enticing (it's another short-brimmed lace hat). Maybe the book will tell me how it got its name. If any of you have actually have made any of the hats in Knitting Millinery, I'd love to hear from you. Until the sun comes out tomorrow (really it's supposed to, and Lord knows we Chicagoans deserve it after all the rain we got this weekend), I'll be back with some photos of hats and at least one top I sewed up a week ago.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Last Call Before Fall Really Hits

Thirty-three percent of you have started your holiday projects. Another 11 percent will begin next month, according to these new poll results. I'm impressed with such diligence. If I do any sewing, knitting or crocheting projects for anyone other than myself I will dive in feet first in the last week before Christmas (I'm often sewing crazily in the last 24 hours before the holiday hits. I stitched a too tight Santa Monica Tee just before Christmas Eve last year. That project, for my sister, undoubtedly sits at the bottom of some drawer, untouched.) I will likely hit my gift stash in the linen closet first for unused doodads, books and other gadgets that could delight my siblings and their offspring before I put my hands to work. My mom? She's another story, that will take some thought and actual shopping if it's of the frugal variety. She doesn't always wear what I make for her, so I'm a little leery in that department.

But for those of you who will commence stitching and knitting presents next months, here are some suggestions: from the land of Posy Gets Cozy, there's this ornament kit. I also like the instructions for this allergy-free baby's blanket, for the sporty guy I'm warming up to this 70s ski hat.

I did do sewing this past weekend, a top from Simplicity 3759. I used the same fabric and pattern as I did for the dress. The main difference here is that I lined it with a pink mesh knit from Vogue Fabrics' $1.29 a yard table. Since I didn't lengthen it to accommodate my long torso, I added a swath of the lining fabric to the bottom, making this project wearable with my low-rise jeans. Overall, I'm happy with this summery tee (I used the same techniques for the dress. Again, as I suggested before, I'd make that neckband waaaayy longer than called for in the pattern and neatly adjust to front gathers first and then work your way back to the seam.). I must have been in a last-call-for-before-fall-really-hits mode because I also worked on a blue bathing suit too. Have any of you sewed this pattern, if so, do you like it?

By the way, I'm done with the High Society Hat, at least the first one. I'd take pictures, but while I'm having a bad hair day, which is actually ideal for hat photographs, I'm having a not-so-good hair color day, which I'd like to fix before I snap some pics. Besides, it's overcast outside, which would make for very some very shadowy photographs.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

More on Hats...*

I just finished embellishing my first High Society Hat with a big self-fabric bow. I can't decide if it's too large or just right. Better on the you can see it from a quarter-mile away side than something so small it barely registers on the fashion radar. In any event, it's already attached to the hat, if I remove it, I risk cutting the yarn on the hat and then all the hard work will unravel in one fell swoop faster than Tracy Ullman's work did when it got trapped in the door of a fast-moving automobile. But it's easier to deal with projects that fall apart when they're small and inexpensive (mine's in the $14 ballpark) than when they're large and expensive (anything over $30). I just love the low risk of making a hat...if you make a mistake, you only have to riiiiiiippp back a few roows as I did with the mushroom-colored version of this hat yesterday. Hopefully, I can manage to complete this project with my yarn-overs in their correct spots. I'm eager to start on a new project, either a pair of these or this hat. I'm in such a hatty mood these days...especially the ones with a retro vibe. Maybe it's the economy. Perhaps it's the cooler weather - I wore a sweatercoat this morning. It could even be my response to what's going in the Presidential Elections. The answer to it all is hats. Here are a few that I've marked as favorites on Flickr: I like this one belonging to to, this unfinished crochetted hat, Pamoolah's 1940s knitted hat that I want to recreate, still another one of Pamoolah's creations and no. 2 on this 1930s Simplicity pattern. By the way, there's a good chance I'll put what I should make for a vote this week. Stay ultra-tuned.
*The image above? That's Phillip Treacy's hat. Way cool, huh?

Thursday, September 4, 2008

More Millinery Inspiration...

5 Katherine Hepburn in Sylvia Scarlett, 1935
Forges Spring & Summer Catalogue 1936-1937 #14

Some of these images I scanned while I was vintagecrochetgirl and I had a blog strictly on 1930s hats. I didn't keep up the blog, and now it longer exists, except for in fragments on Flickr. Anyhow, these are great inspiration for the wired hats that I've been knitting. I was knitting (and frogging) my latest High Society hat while I watched the Republican convention coverage on my laptop last night. I'm thinking about heading over to Vogue Fabrics tonight with my hat to see what kind of ribbons they might have that could work with the Salmon-color version. For those of you in Illinois, are any of you going to the Elgin Vintage Fashion show next week? I'm thinking about going, if only to get inspiration for the hats I've been making. With a little luck, perhaps I could score some new vintage hat patterns. Even if I don't spend an Abraham Lincoln penny, I'd like to show off my newest hat, perhaps in the vintage fashion contest Friday night. That's the bestest night to go - lots of people love to get dressed up and compete. I wish I had this pattern in my not-so hot hands (they feel dry from working out in the pool). I'd do the blouse; I've seen two fantastic renditions of this top on Patternreview, and the simplicity of it would look great with my new hat, and perhaps the black and white pinstripe skirt pencil skirt I've got in my closet. Vogue Patterns online has a great deal for today only - so I'm thinking about getting Vogue 2859, but it probably won't be in time for next week's show. I may have to make do because I'm just so eager to show off my handiwork. A trip to the closet and thrift store might be in order just so I can have something suitably retro. Or I could finish Simplicity 4179 this weekend.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

1930s Hat Patterns On the Brain

I've got 1930s knitted and crocheted hats on my brain ever since completing the first version of my High Society hat. Boy, this was an easy project, although it looks hard. Even other knitters who made this hat on Ravelry have yet to wire the brim. I'll need to show them the way. This two-skein project inspired me to work on other similar hats. Now the High Society hat isn't technically a 1930s hat, although it's got the look with the short brim. Now I'm on the hunt for bonafide 1930-39 knitted hat patterns with wired brims. I've got a few in my personal collection that are crocheted, but I'm eager to craft one made on two needles. I've always loved hats from this time even though I really have the hourglass figure more suitable for the fuller skirts of the 1940s. There is a school of thought though that chapeaux created during World War II were the most creative ever. Yes, period. If you look at some of that were made in Occupied Paris, you just might agree. I might have search around online to see if I can find any of those.

In my eagerness to find some free patterns, I did a little searching. Here's a Depression-era hat pattern I like, the price I don't. At this site, you can buy instructions for a hat and a dress. Remember, you didn't walk out of the house back without either. In anything less, you'd be considered a rebel or communist or both. In the free department, I really like this 1930s crochet pagoda hat pattern. I even have gimp from that era. If you have access to online newspaper archives, they are apparently a great source of crochet hat patterns. This one is from 1935, but even I can't access it unless I pay $$. (I'd check to see if you can see the full newspaper page through your local library, college or ant hill. Just kidding about the last part. If you're not familiar with the silhouettes from the 1940s, click on this primer. I'm really warming up to to the pattern for this 1942 crocheted hat, it's got a brim I like, but I'd lose the tassel.

There are other freebies that I printed out a while ago so I'll have to go hunting for those when I have a moment or two or three.
* The swatch above is for the mushroom-colored iteration of the High Society hat, coming soon to a computer screen near you.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Cat-enabled knitting...*

I was recently at the Little Brothers of the Elderly vacation facility in Rochelle, Ill. Out in the country with a window overlooking corn taller than this Olympic swimmer, I felt content. No noise could be heard unless you count the rustling of the abovementioned vegetable stalks. This is no small thing for an urban dweller who hears motorcycle rumbles and ambulance sirens every few minutes.

So in Rochelle, I got a chance to kick back a little and knit. Some of that was done under the ceiling fan of the screened porch. Aah, that was nice, but I particularly enjoyed the company of this very friendly feline who would hop on your lap if you asked. While I savored his/her presence on my lap, it did come with a price. Claws that could draw blood even through a skirt and a slip. So naturally I wasn't terribly inclined to check out this cat's gender. I didn't want to get any more scratches. However, It Cat purred while I knitted the second version of the High Society hat. This newest rendition is mushroom-colored, the first one, which I will take pictures of very soon, is salmon. I just finished putting on the brim wire and covering it up with a blanket stitch. I tried my latest masterpiece on for size - testing it out with some of my vintage 1930s and 1940s belts that I've made. I especially like it with a floral fabric belt with a mint-green plastic buckle. The beauty of this hat is that you can embellish however you want. I can even see it with a burlap ribbon tacked down with a big light blue Depression-era two-inch wide button.

Here are some early thoughts on the High Society hat:
1. Go with the smallest size unless you have an unusually large head. Yarn stretches. The hat will likely be blown off if it's too big.
2. The pattern doesn't tell you this, but switch over to double-pointed needles once you start decreasing. I did a lot of stretching of the yarn in the prototype and I was afraid I was going to break the yarn. It might be even weak now and still break. Oh well. Learn and live, or something like that.
3. Cut the wire with a little extra so you can tweak the fit. When you're pleased, wind thread where the two ends meet until it's tight. Then tack the wire to the hat with pins. Annie Modesitt recommends double wire, I don't think that's necessary, but then again I've been using vintage 1950s millinery wire, which I understand is more durable than the modern stuff.
4. Modesitt also suggests using a crochet hook to attach the wire to the hat, but I found that much too unwieldy. I prefer a flexible, plastic darning needle. Just do a blanket stitch around and around until the wire disappears beneath the yarn.
5. Blocking is unnecessary. I blocked my hat an overturned plastic bowl swathed with a terry cloth towel. Hat didn't look any different after steam from my iron.
* Yes, I am wearing a t shirt that reads, "Just One More Row Before I Go," which I bought from White Lies Designs.