Wednesday, October 28, 2009

More Hats to Love*

Quickly, with feeling. 52 Hats in as many weeks? Impressive. Check it out here on this blog. A pumpkin patch of hats for newborn babies (so it was last year. It's still a good idea!). From Anthropologie Addict, there's this sheer black hat with matching embellishments.
* The above hat was in the window yesterday at Dame Couture in Evanston. Guess how it was made? Leave your thoughts in the comments.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

A Little Halloween Knitting: Emily Fitzroy in The Bat (1926), Origins for "Batman"*

Vogue Knitting didn't exist in 1926. Nor did Knit1 or Interweave Knits. But if any one of these knitting publication had been around then, you know they would have made a beeline to interview Emily Fitzroy, who knits nearly non-stop in the Bat, the silent film that led to the Batman movies you see today. Here's they no doubt would have heard Ms. Fitzroy say (you can see her in action in the above clip.)
Reporter (R): Miss Fitzroy, you're quite the knitter. We were quite impressed that you didn't drop a stitch in any of the scenes for The Bat. How did you do it?
Fitzroy (F): How do you know I didn't drop any stitches, young lady? I know how to make my marks. I'll have you know I've been knitting nearly my entire life. I learned how to knit and purl when I was five.
R: That's quite young.
F: You mean you didn't learn how to knit at at that age? All my friends and relatives did. If our mothers and grandmothers didn't teach us, we learned in school. How will you ever get married if you can't knit?
R: I learned when I was eight. I was a late bloomer. All of my girlfriends made fun of me and poked me with their pins. Yes, I'll be an old maid already at 20, don't remind me!
F: That'll teach you. Learn to knit properly and you'll get married in no time.
R: Yes, ma'am. Tell me what pattern were you knitting? What yarn did you use?
F: A Minerva pattern for a man's golf sweater. Fingering weight yarn.
R: How did you remember the pattern? Especially in those tense scenes with the Bat!
F: Listen, young lady. I'm a professional actress. I know how to work under duress. This was nothing. I used to knit in the dark when I worked in vaudeville. I'd poke those players with my pins to get them out on the stage on time. More than half of the time they were so stone-drunk they didn't know what end was up. If the poke didn't work, I'd get a lit cigarette. That usually worked like a charm and cut through the alcohol.
R: My. I had no idea. That was before my time.
F: You can only imagine the motion-picture industry was a piece of German chocolate cake in comparison. I didn't have to rely on my knitting skills to make it through the night.
R: Did Roland West know that you knit?
F: Absolutely. He saw me working up a pair of socks on an earlier picture, and he thought knitting would be a great prop in The Bat. It became part of my character, Miss Cornelia Van Gorder. I was so good I was typecast as the knitting grandmother in nearly every role after. I hated Joan Crawford. She got all the best roles - before and after the talkies.
R: You captured your character's nervous energy and confidence. She didn't let The Bat shake her up.
F: Of course not. Miss Cornelia didn't believe in ghosts or spirits. She was ahead of her time in that respect.
R: You mean everyone else on the set was superstitious?
F: Wouldn't you be if you saw a bat, even a make-believe one, everywhere you walked? My co-stars were skittish to even open a door.
R: I see a mouse and I make for the hills. I love that last scene where you-
F: Don't say it! Don't spoil the plot for anyone who might want to see The Bat! Didn't you read what Mr. West said in the beginning of the picture? He said don't ruin it for the others, you silly reporter. Now you can quote me on that.
* I saw The Bat at the Portage Park Theater last week. Excellent! I give it four stars out of five.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

What I Like Now When It Comes to Hats...

I like this shot on The Sartorialist, this hat made from sock yarn, this 1930s vintage hat pattern (from this eBay listing), this Anthropologie knit hat embellished with a tartan tie, and this pricey but lovably warm fur hat pattern (in Kelly green, of course, for me).

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Done: Interweave Knits Ribbed Tank, Spring 2007 issue*

I think I started this top back in May, when springtime was a mere promise, and thoughts of frilly cotton tops, saucy skirts and particular pants filled the stale air inside my apartment. A new season with brand-new outfits that would have all the mannequins at Anthropologie swirling their little vintage heads like nobody's business. Not to mention their counterparts at Free People. They'd be even more jealous, to the point that their detachable limbs clatter to the ground, their feelings on display for all passerby to see.

I started tracking my progress in June on Ravelry, after more than a few false starts. The pattern looks so simple, deceptively so. For one thing, it's knit up in a dark brown so you can't see the details, which should have been a tip off to just how difficult this pattern would be. But I won't bother you with the details, just hit the major points, some of which can be be applied to other knitted wearable works of arts.

1. If the instructions warn you to be careful of twisting the chain, be aware that this is extremely easy to do, especially when the chain is long. I think I twisted the darn chain at least three times, and finally mastered the fibery beast with the help of one of the sales ladies at Loopy Yarns. In the future, I'll knit back and forth three rows, then get the circle of stitches going when I have something more substantial to hold onto that won't be so wiggly when it's time to get everybody (all the stitches) holding hands in a circle.

2. Be willing (yes!) to put the project aside temporarily if things aren't going well. This happened to me plenty of times. More times than I care to count stitches, which I think I did a lot of. Instead of starting other projects, I read books, magazines and newspapers. I couldn't bring myself to launch anything else, though on second thought, that's a good time to do something really easy - a pair of leggings with a basic repeat. Honestly, I feared buying some expensive yarn and starting something that would be equally difficult to finish.

3. Be creative when yarn runs out. I thought I had plenty of the Lion Brand Cotton-Ease. I didn't. It was the creative Kathy Kelly that came up with the brilliant idea of using the Ty-Dy cotton for the bodice, which is probably the best part of this top. The colors are just Dreamsicle cool. I just used one skein of the Ty-Dy for the bodice, which set me back about $15. Not bad for a great punch of color on a tank top that might have a little ho hum otherwise. On the flip side, I think a multi-color yarn looks best in a ribbing or stockinette, but it would lose its fantastic-ness in lace. I might try this combo (plain/multi) combo again - but in a much simpler pattern. It's also good way to work in a little luxury into your work if you're trying to save bucks. Think of it as the summer version of fur.

4. Don't be afraid to wear cotton in the fall. I thought this would be too hot to wear now that the temperatures have dropped, but I found this pleasantly warm, a great layer to wear over something else. I might actually wear this through the winter, even though we are not in that time of year yet. Nope, it's not here and I'm not going to think about it right now. It's still Indian summer right now.

5. Edit, edit, edit! Yes, I creatively cropped the pictures. You can't see the lace. There's a reason for that. I don't like how the fullness of this top - it makes me look like I'm expecting. I wish it were a little more fitted, and less roomy. That said, I will still probably wear it. All that time I spent working on it - ripping back, starting, ripping back yet again, but not tossing it into the corner of the living room. I didn't go to that extreme, not that there would be anything wrong with that. Some projects are meant to be pitched into dark places where dust mites cavort. I might eventually take some other pictures that show a close-up of the lace part, but it won't be anytime soon. If I do, I might do what the models do: clip the back so that the whole shebang gracefully skims the hips. Okay, I'm linking to Interweave Knits' version. Their version doesn't skirt the issue like mine does. Sigh. Time to go get a Guinness and forget.

6. Plan your next project while you're on the last lap of the Big One. It makes all the stitching and grafting go that much faster. Me? I've kind of decided that I've had it with knitting anything for the body. I need things that work up much quicker, say in a week or two, a month or so. So I'm thinking leg warmers, arm warmers, a hat, socks, anything else. Of course, these little projects are much lighter and easier to carry in a bag on my way to one adventure or another. Easier on the checkbook too. That said, there's a little part of me that wants to launch a February lady sweater or even a bolero jacket. These things can't be all that complicated, can they? Stop me!!! I have other things to do! Other molehills to climb!
* The ruby lacy top underneath? I sewed that, using the Santa Monica Tee pattern.