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.

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