Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Setting up a new Hat-related Blog

It's been quiet I know...but I'm in the process of setting up a new blog one that has a more professional edge since I've got an app and a book to promote. I'm also writing some new knit hat pattern. For those who are all about couture millinery and wired brims, these are bound to be a treat. Stay tuned.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Sun Ray Ribbing Sweater from A Stitch in Time....Finally!

Here's a close-up of "A Jumper with Sun-Ray Ribbing" from A Stitch In Time: Knitting & Crochet Patterns of the 20s, 30s & 40s. I used the vintage pattern in this book (page 132)  for this sweater.
I'm swearing a pair of vintage (probably 1950s or 1960s) white gloves. While this pattern is from 1935, it could pass for early- to mid-1960s.
Yes, I'm gesturing at the foliage behind me. I loved doing the ribbing on this sweater, all 34 rows of it. I know it's a bit weird, but what can I say. I'm unusual in many ways.
I'm wearing this sweater with a favorite black poly skirt, which has a low waist. I temporarily pulled it  up to my natural waist for this picture. In the future, I'll wear this sweater with a pair of high-waisted pants (jeans?) or skirt.
The final picture....a tad bit washed out. Thanks to Lynn Coe of Knit1 for taking these photos!
Okay. I'm going to take questions, mostly from the Stitch in Time crowd on Ravelry.  Or at least what I would think they would ask if they could.

1. Wow. You worked with the original 1936 pattern. Wow. Why? 
Well,  I had the 1970s book and while it was tempting, I wasn't about to buy the new, updated edition, although it was tempting. And it still is.  On the other hand, I took it as a challenge to knit directly from an old pattern. While I've crocheted from 1930s and 1940s pattern, I've never knit. It just looked too intimidating! But as an intermediate knitter (!!), I now know enough of the lingo and short hand of patterns to be able to follow it on my own. When I had questions, I just asked fellow knitters in the Stitch in Time group...I have to say having a knit-along made it much to ask questions in the middle of the night. We were all on the same page, so to speak. I have to say the layout of this pattern helped me a lot. It had a lot of white space, which unfortunately, isn't true of the other patterns in my 1970s Stitch in Time. God bless whoever did the typesetting for this pattern. He or she deserves to bypass Purgatory in my opinion.
2. Were there any errata?
There is one in the buttonhole band in the second to last sentence. It shouls read K11 (30 stitches). Overall, the pattern was very good, easy to follow. I would say this would be a great pattern for a novice to do...particularly somebody who's interested in vintage sweater but feels a bit overwhelmed. It helps that the pattern is strictly knits and purls. I highly recommend it.
4. You used vintage yarn too. What are you, a purist?
Not at all. I was ready to use new yarn, but I really wanted to use the Evermatch Sport and Sock yarn...which I actually used to make a pair of footies. My mother gave me a skein from her charity knitting bag (she knits hats and socks for newborns and the poor). When I asked for more...she didn't have any more of the leafy green color I'd been using...but she did have an entire bag of yellow Evermatch yarn! I took it....I think I used about 10 skeins for this sweater...and I swear I have another 22 skeins left. My batch, in terrific condition, is probably from the 1950s or 1960s. It's funny now that I think about it but yellow was popular in the 1930s in the middle of that recession, just as yellow is again trendy during our yucky economy.  I'm thinking though I might tired of yellow. That said, I'm thinking of making matching ribbed skirt to go with the sweater. I have just the 1940s pattern....
5. How did your iPhone help with this pattern?
Gosh, I don't think I've been asked that question before, but it's a good one. But after I lost a print out of the pattern from the book on the bus, I simply sent myself an email with PDF scans of the pattern. I put those emails in a special folder in my email account, and I just referred to that. I tracked what row I was on my Knit Counter Lite version 1.2. What a great app! I could modify it track various parts of the sweater. Since my iPhone is practically part of my body, it was easy to track.
6. Would you make this sweater again?
I might...I like mastering a pattern. I do it often in sewing, so it was only natural to do it in knitting. If I slightly modify it, give a little time in between projects, and use a different yarn...it's like a whole new pattern.  There's this new fingering weight yarn at Loopy Yarns here in Chicago that I want to try. I can't think of the name, but I know where to find it the store. I'm itching (pun intended) to make this in white wool.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Hat Photography Done Right: Angela Jolie in Parade Magazine*

I like this Parade Magazine cover...the brim of the hat jut covers one eye. This is hat photography done right. At least once when I've worn a hat tilted just so...the photographer has told me to tilt it back to he can see my eyes! That was at my brother's wedding. The wide-brimmed hat looks like it's ready to fall off my head. I'm looking at the the picture now because it's on my desk. Even a silhouette artist told me to move my hat so she could see my eyelashes in profile.
What these two artists forget is that covering an eye creates a sense of mystery. Think about any time you've seen a man with a patch covering his eye. Instant intrigue. There's a singer in the John Burnett Orchestra here in Chicago. A big African-American guy, he wears a suit, sometimes a turtleneck sweater and a black patch over one eye. I have this idea he has this most fascinating past because he looks like an extra out of a James Bond movie. Consider too, any time you've seen a woman with a fan in her hand, coquettishly covering her eyes. She's flirting..... That's it, covering an eye, even partially, is flirtatious. It's bold, and definitely calling attention to yourself. In a sense, it's a wink frozen in time. A wink is done in total confidence. When people call me shy, they've never see me wink. And I love to wink, but I only do it when I feel completely poised.
So if you love hats and making them, here's a Burdastyle hat pattern for you. And the model's got it right in the main photo. Check it out here.
*I'm still working on my second Gone with the Wind hat. Great progress! I had to rewire it, but I'm almost done. Pictures to come.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Happy Fourth of July

Got your sun umbrella? Check. Tote 1, 2, 3? Triple check. You're all set for the Fourth of July at the beach, fireworks included. These cute voile prints are on sale $1.99 a yard (!) at Vogue Fabrics in Evanston, Ill. I didn't buy today, but I still might....after the holiday. Over and out!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

My Slip is Showing:: Violet Beauregard Crochet Skirt from Stitch N' Bitch Crochet: Happy Hooker

The pattern: Violet Beauregard Crochet Skirt from Stitch 'N Bitch Crochet: The Happy Hooker.  While I've labeled this as Violet 2 over at Ravelry, it's technically my third take on this great pattern. Number one fits dreamily, but I don't wear it all that much because I have this ultra-tight zip-up matching slip that's not very comfortable. No. 2, well, I didn't check the gauge until I was done, and it was too small. Much more appropriate for a 10-year-old girl but not a over-grown child like myself. That one I made in a taupe, brown and green colorway. It sits in my cedar closet, unused but not unloved. Back to the pattern: it's very simple. I love how the shell stitch gets larger as you approach the hemline. Now this is a great project to take to the  beach, so if you lose the crochet hook a new one won't set you back too much. Or if water gets on the skirt, no worries. If you worked fast enough, you might even be able to finish the project at the beach. Only drawback; the sunburn. The more engrossed you get in your project, the more likely you are to burn. Anyhow, I think I used the suggested hook and I made the size suitable for 40-inch hips.

The yarn: Berocco Seduce in four colorways. I actually won the yarn in a raffle at Loopy Yarns. It was all color, a dark gray. I started knitting a Berocco pattern, got bored with it. Then I got this idea to swap out the yarns for other colors, which thankfully Vicki, the owner at Loopy allowed me to do. I embarked on the drawstring raglan from Interweave Knits, Summer 2008 (the Margery Winter design, fourth one down on the page). The exact same colorway. Anyway I was working on a set of wood circulars, it was getting frustrating 'cuz the needles weren't slippery enough, so I set it all aside for a long time. Then recently I picked up the whole shebang. I unraveled it and thought! My! I can use it for another Violet skirt! And I so did. I should tell you this yarn is great for crochet, although it seems to lose its luster the more you handle it. I would take special care to wash it in something extra mild.  As finicky and expensive as this yarn is, I plan to use it again. 

As an aside, I should tell you I'm a total sucker for nearly any garment that looks remotely like it was produced by the Missoni family in Italy. The drawstring raglan did, and so does the skirt too. My deep passion for Missoni motifs runs deep and you will find a great supply of zig-zaggy bargello knits in my closet, which I plan to use some day soon.

The Slip: It's a purple one I picked up at a vintage shop in Evanston, Ill. I love it. In another era, I wouldn't have dreamed of letting the lace trim show. But it's the 21st century and we do things like that now, don't we? I was going to make a slip with a square of stretch charmeuse from Vogue Fabrics and lace...but this skirt, ready-made, was a better deal. I've forgotten how much fun it is to wear a slip. I've been wearing this purple one with other outfits now. And I'm so ready to go on a vintage slip hunt at local thrift stores (probably picked over, I know, I'll just head further south and east to get what I need, I will).
The Drawstring: You can't see it here very well, but the drawstring is a purple Baby Phat ribbon. I'll post another pic soon, now that my 3G iPhone has been updated with an even better camera. I could have simply made a drawstring with a flower thing per the pattern, but I really liked the ribbon. So I bought it. Hah!

The Result: I love it. I'd make it again, but three's enough. For now. There are other yarn love affairs to conduct this summer, which you know technically started yesterday and I intend to make last until Nov. 1.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Please Welcome my First iPhone App: ✄ Fabric U ✄

Yeah, this was the big secret project I was hinting about for a month.  While  I was talking it up amongst friends, I kept it on the down low online. It felt weird in that respect because I'm on Facebook nearly nonstop (thanks, iPhone). I just didn't want to jinx the project...which has been incubating in my head for a while.

I had no idea how challenging it would be to write an iPhone app. Really and truly, the hardest part is getting all those photos and I have nearly near 800 of 'em on my app. Most of those I took, the rest are from the Creative Commons section of Flickr.  My task was much easier thanks to my partner, Sutro Media, which has an incredibly easy online interface for uploading images and text. It could not be simpler, really.

For all the years that I've been sewing and manhandling fabric (isn't that what you're doing when you're punching a hole repeatedly into fabric with a sewing machine?), I've learned so much more about fabrics, some of which I take for granted since I see them nearly weekly at Vogue Fabrics. Take Juliette Double knit. Who knew that Jean-Paul Gaultier uses this knit for pull-on pants? Since I'm an exercise nut, I'd like to try that. Or that mosquito netting is so versatile? Or that even cheese cloth, which can be bought by the bolt at Vogue, has a multitude of uses? I didn't and now I do.

What's so neat about doing this app is that there are so many more fabrics to list. Eventually I'd like to have 300 on there. By the time I'm done with that, there will be even more fabrics to add with all the new technology cranking out new textiles daily. It's a terrific gig for me because I never get tired of petting fabric. Never! I'm always thinking about new stuff to make, even if I haven't touched the sewing machine in a while. Yes, I'm thinking about sewing while I'm knitting. Crazy!

And the app world is full of possibilities. It's like a candy store, half  full. I look up potential apps in the iTunes store...only to find that what I have in mind doesn't exist...yet. Yet is the operative word.  These are exciting times, friends. Exciting!

I should add my app isn't strictly a list. You can sort by types. For example, you can sort by Eco-friendly to find everything in that category. Ditto designer. I think my favorite feature to date is the comment section...that'd be handy for say something like "______ is great for Butterick ____!" or "Emmaonesock has a great selection of _____ right now!" So keeping it as real-time as possible will make   ✄ Fabric U ✄  useful for you.

Finally, I should note what my app is not. It's not a stash organizer or a sewing machine.  It's not a talk-show host or a seam ripper. It's not even a pair of scissors, contrary to the dingbats ✄ you see in the name. My apologies. For those of you who have iPhones or iTouches, it's an on-the-go tool. Those of you who are using Loseit! or other apps know what I'm talking about. Others, well, you can listen in and learn.

Anyhow, if you've got one of the abovementioned devices, and you're dying to write a review, let me know and I can send a promo code so you can download  ✄ Fabric U ✄ for free. I've got a limited number of freebies, so act fast.  And pretty please with turbinado sugar on top let me know how I can improve ✄ Fabric U ✄.  Last but not least, you're most welcome to join my ✄ Fabric U ✄ Facebook group (there's a link on the blog sidebar; that's the left side of the page). That's all, happy sewing, friends!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

So Close, and So Far: The Gone with the Wind Hat

My Memorial Day weekend was a crafty one, aye.
I didn't swim, I didn't even venture outside of my state, I didn't make it to any parades. However, I got to experience short lines, nearly vacant buses and lots of silence. Oh yeah, boredom. Whoever said boredom is a precursor to creativity didn't have a refrigerator nearby! Empty hands and idle minds....well, they just lead to frequent forays into the kitchen.
Seriously,  I did get outside. The plan was to finish my Stitch in Time sweater and the Gone with the Wind hat.  That was the plan. My hands never even got into the sweater, although I did take my hat over to Arcadia Knitting. I sat that there patiently stitching my hat to the milinery wire. Man, I forgot how unwieldy and wonky a wide brim can be on a hat. The wider the circumference, the more problems in getting the wire to behave. In this case, I wanted the hat to "scoop" downward...but the wire insisted on flipping out so that one part was curved up while the rest was down.  I'd say the hat looked like a Kentucky Derby drunk walked into a wall wearing it. No matter, how much shaping I did with my hands....the wire just wouldn't behave. I was ready to ditch the hat despite all the hard work I did on it. Seriously. Pitch it into the closet where that 1940s crochet with a similar brim resides. That one sits under a pile of sheets, department store cloth bags and other stuff.  It has learned its lesson.
Somehow, I got in my head to dig that one out of the closet after all the frustrations with the latest hat. I thought, "Well, I'll switch gears and finish that!" Like maybe the wire powers-that-be would sit back because they were causing me so many problems with the Gone with the Wind hat. Funny, how the mind magically works that way at times.  I didn't act on that thought though. That was Saturday. That evening I attempted to make a t-shirt. That was a disaster. Drastically, the iron-on I used just left the faintest imprint on my jersey fabric. I also cut out a size too small. I finished the basic sewing, tried the t on. One look in the mirror at the too-small t-shirt  made out of very sheer fabric and I just thought, "Oh, forget it!" No. 2 stalled project. Yesterday,  I put on the Gone with Hat again, fiddled with the brim again for nearly an hour, but I didn't sew anything on it. Finally,  I picked up a crochet skirt that needed its loose ends sewn and cut.  I'm not finished with that part, but it's close enough to being done that I can perhaps say it's the one project that I actually finished this weekend.
For those of you who are experienced at making picture hats with wide brims, what's the secret to getting the brim wire to cooperate with you? In other words, how do you get it to curve downward all the way around? Post some words of wisdom, please! Before I do something drastic with the hat....

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Craft Corps, page 105*

Ok, it's here, I am there. Specifically, I'm talking about Craft Corps: Celebrating the Creative Community One Story at a Time. I just got it today, so I haven't had a chance to read it from cover to cover. Naturally, the book flipped to the story on me. Page 105! Right there. I was a little disappointed they didn't use the umpteen shots of me making hats. What can I say? I still clean up nicely.
*This isn't the big announcement. Still forthcoming!

Friday, May 21, 2010

Nearly Finished WIth Gone With the Wind Hat, version 2.0

Wow. I'm inchworm-slow when it comes to knittng. Inchworm. Now it helped considerably that I made this hat once before. I had the memory of all the patterns etched into memory. It also helped HUGELY that I had the assistance of an ace knitter when I was doing the short-rows in the lace section. No knitter should be left behind when this kind of torture comes around. Now it was my choice to do the short-rows. Had I skipped that part I would have had a short, circular brim not the oval one I aspire to. So it's hard to believe...but I'm done with knitting this hat...at least a full week before my goal, Memorial Day! That's a first for me. I don't usually even set deadlines for my projects. This one I did, and by golly, I got it done earlier than I expected. I think I'll go get the millinery wire tomorrow and get started blocking! Fingers double-crossed (I can do that with my long nails), I'll be able to wear the hat Monday.

Hopefully,  in another week I'll be able to announce the top-secret project I've been working on for the past month. Yeah, the undertaking of a lifetime that has kept me away from blogging, but not knitting! Isn't that funny how that works? However, I go everywhere on bus and trains, so it's only natural that I keep the hands busy even if it's not at the computer keyboard. So knitting still happens even when the blogging doesn't.

Now it feels odd not to have a project to haul around with me. It feels strange to have the big masterpiece completed. It feels even more weird to have two adventures completed, one big, the other small, done. I feel so...empty. Don't worry. I'll fix that. There's a bottle of St. Germain on the kitchen counter. And more yarn in the front closet.

I really need to think about what I'm going to do during the Memorial Day weekend besides eat and not clean. Plan projects. Anyhow, I'll write up a review on the second hat once it's all wired together....sounds like I'm making a lamp, doesn't it? Over and out for now. What millinery projects are you working on...or not?

Thursday, April 29, 2010

More New Hats From Woodland Farms Antiques

This new hat no. 1 from Woodland Farms Antiques. I'm not ordinarily a huge fan of 1920s cloches, but this I like. The texture combination is hugely appealing. You've got the rough straw and the soft velvet trim. Now the brown....that's a little hard to love, as is the size. It's small. Something in the 20 inch range. It seems most hats I encounter from the 1920s are small. They're either from teens who never wore their hats, and stuffed them in the back of their closets, untouched, for posterity. And all the large-head ladies wore their hats to death. So there's nothing left for the museum folks to archive. Nothing. I'm sort of convinced that teens are responsible for  the dearth of decently-sized 1920s hats. It's their fault.  I mean would you wear this hat if you were breaking out and you had major perspiration problems? This hat, sorry to say, is on the dowdy side. It's the color, really. The hat just sort says, "I'm depressed, I know it, dearie." It just wants to be worn with a matching thick-wool cardigan, a calf-length kick-pleat skirt and t-strap shoes.

This hat, on the other hand, is all flirtiness. I mean, it hides the eyes, which on third thought, could make it a little dangerous crossing a street. Now I'm surprised what good shape this hat is in. A lit cigarette didn't do any damage back in the day? Now, here's another hat that didn't see much use. It's just too much fun not to have a few dings in it, especially to the feathers. No feline saw fit to play with this hat? Unbelievable. My guess that this hat was a gift to a schoolmarm-type from her husband, who wanted his wife to dress up a litle more and go out on the town BADLY. But she didn't acquiese. This hat was not her thing. At all. So she politely accepted the gift, and promptly dumped it...guess where. The marriage survived, barely. But no more hats, although schoolmarm did continue to knit and darn socks for said hubby.

The perfect Sunday hat. This one's in amazing shape too. No apparent moth holes; the flowers are crisp and pretty, just like they might have been plumped with steam yesterday. Actually, that might have happened. How does a hat this cute remain so darling? I refuse to believe that the owner didn't wear it and didn't go to church. I think this hat was worn to teas and special fundraisers, which didn't happen enough for the owner. But she kept it all wonderfully wrapped up in tissue paper in a certain hatbox. When the 1950s hit, this particular style went out of style and the owner didn't wear it anymore, and the hat box fell into the back of the closet. Later, it was unearthed and moved to the attic, where it sat untouched until the 1990s, when the owner passed away, and her daughter was cleaning up the house getting it ready for sale.

Ok. This hat is very Rockette. It's not the kind of hat you wear to show, drinks and dinner. No, it's a bit too kicky for that. And that orange plume! So curly, and provocative. My guess is this is another gift from abovementioned lovelorn husband to prim-and-proper wife. But again, she didn't bite. She couldn't bring herself to wear this hat....which looked so very Vaudeville in her mind. Gaudy! Unwomanly! She was so horrified by the hat, that she couldn't even bring herself to talk about it with her friends. What would they think? Charlie was spending all this money....to hide something he was doing. Something terribly wrong.  She didn't need her friends gossiping, they already yakked enough about the time Dobie Doberman destroyed the geranium bed. So the hat needed go quietly....and be with that other thing.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Gone With the Wind Hat, designed by Annie Modesitt, version 2.0

So I have embarked on the second version of this hat even though the first hat was a hard project and it's too big on me. I'm feeling stubborn, like I want to master this pattern. Like I need to know if the hat is the right size, maybe I'll know it's not for me? That's an odd thing to say, but it's kind of like trying on clothes. If it fits and it's the wrong color, you know it's a combination that was meant to be? That's kind of how I feel about this hat at this moment. I'm going to give it another chance before I kick it to the curb. And I really don't want to kick it anywhere. Yarn is too expensive and time is even more so, so why go to all the trouble to make something and not love it? I know it happens. So anyhow, I'm planning on really loving this baby way more than no. 1. And wearing it too. It's amazing how much I wear the things that fit me than the stuff's that's too small or too big. I'm certain that will be the case with this new hat.

Anyhow, I've cast on my swatch and I've off to the races....and an odd analogy now that I think about it with the Kentucky Derby around the corner. And this hat would be perfect to wear the Derby. Perhaps the only knitted hat in sight. I'd love to be that odd duck. So I've set my 'due' date as May 25. I want to have this hat ready to wear before summer breaks out.

The yarn I'm swatching is actually my contrast yarn....the star of my show is a grey yarn, not shown. Grey and navy. I can see that with a pair of navy linen pants and a red, white and blue sweater knitted. Of course.

That's all for now. I'm back to my top-secret project. I'll announce it, probably in a few weeks. I'm quite excited about it and I think you will be 2.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Midwesterners Represent at Judith M Millinery Competition

Between Judith M Millinery in Indiana and the growing crop of hat designers in Chicago, it appears the Midwest is gaining traction as a millinery mecca. It may,  in part, have something to with the loss of Manny's Millinery in New York. There's nowhere on the East Coast to buy hat-making supplies. It's all online now with Judith M as a premiere resource. Anyhow, Judith M had a contest recently, which I understand drew entries worldwide. I'm just showing you the runner-ups because they're mostly Midwesterners like myself. My favorites would be those by Lisa Farrell (lower left) and Susan Freese (lower right). Freese's design makes me think of sheet music, Farrell's has the feeling of movement with the little feathers (?) in the back. What do you think? Which ones do you like?

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Eugenia Kim Hats at Target beginning April 18

Eugenia Kim will begin selling her hats at Target beginning on April 18. As much as I like to see milliners become as successful as possible, I sort of have mixed feelings about being able to buy her hats at stores nationwide. I bought my floppy Eugenia Kim sun hat at P45 a number of years ago. It's very unique, which I can't say about what will be sold at Target. Eugenia's written a book Saturday Night Hat: Quick, Easy Hatmaking for the Downtown Girl, so the hats at Target seems like a natural segue, perhaps part of a business plan to become a brand like Marc Jacobs or Kenneth Cole. What would you do if Target approached you to sell your products at their stores? Would you gleefully sign the contract or tell 'em to take a hike? For those of you who sew and have the greatest affinity for Liberty Fabrics, what do you think about the Liberty-related products at Target? Good, bad or just plain cheap?

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Lost My Serger Mojo...Onto Buttons for the Sun-Ray Sweater from A Stitch in Time Book

What can I say? I've lost my sewing mojo. Both my sewing machine and the serger sit unused. I last used the sewing machine for a set of silk scarfs at Christmas. The serger? I tested it out at Vogue Fabrics,  *sort of* learned how to thread it....now it's back in the box. Untouched. Unused. **Unloved.** And I feel particularly guilty about the serger, considering how long it sat in lay-off, now to only sit in the box, virtually untouched. Of course, I forget the investment too. The payments I made regularly just to get that baby into my home. Now, sewing doesn't interest that much. Although, I still go to the sewing demos at Vogue Fabrics and scrupulously take notes on my iPhone.

Right now, knitting is all that interests me. I can't believe I'm saying that, considering how made I get at my needles and projects at times! Truly, knitting is the only hobby that takes the edge off any concerns I  have at this moment. That's why I can happily slip in a pair of bamboo needles and knit away on the ribbing on the front half of my Sun Ray sweater. It fits so nice and neatly. What's more, I can usually finish a row before I get off even a short bus ride! It's nice that it fits into one purse compartment perfectly.

So anyhow, I like to think I'm getting to the tail end of my Sun Ray sweater. Like to! Even though I still have a major part to complete. So when yesterday's sewing demo was cancelled, I looked at buttons at Vogue Fabrics. I really like the buttons with the embossed flower and leaf print. Very suble. Pretty,  even a bit retro. I think these buttons are a dollar a piece.

Let's say I didn't like those buttons. I could knit up a swatch, felt it, give the fabric to the ladies at Vogue Fabrics and I could have self-fabric buttons for a pittance (see the prices on the burgundy buttons above). So many people don't know that this is an option. They think this is only available online or in swanky places like New York City and Paris. But no! You can get  this inexpensive couture touch right here in the Midwest. Just ask at the cash register in the notions department at Vogue! As for me, I think I just might go with those cute little yellow buttons.

Anyway, what do you do when your sewing mojo disappears for months on end? Induce labor? Ignore apathy and guilt? Find new hobbies?

Sunday, April 4, 2010

My iPhone contribution to the Easter Parade: Annie Modesitt's Gone with the WInd Hat from Romantic Hand Knits

I was the only woman wearing an Easter hat today at church. How about you? I didn't realize how red it was until I felt like it was too late to change. For some reason I was thinking it was burgundy when I was getting ready. Bu you know, red is too hard to match, so who cares? I was the only woman having at this church having too much fun getting ready. Isn't that half of the fun of Easter? Getting gussied up? The pretty dresses, spring shoes, flirty purse, perhaps even lacy gloves....you know it's not only renewal in a religious sense, but it's a rebirth of the wardrobe, the time of year you might start wearing more white, break out the cotton or the light silk dresses and skirt, just because you know on Easter you can. I enjoy the ritual Easter egg hunt (which I supervised later in the day)...but I just think the ritual of Easter morning, getting up leisurely, turning on the music on the laptop....wondering can I wear? That's just the best and certainly the most peaceful part of the day, especially when you have a lot of young nieces and nephews underfoot like I do in the afternoon.

Looking at these photos, I can see the hat needs to be made again and improved. I think I even see where I grafted a bit of hat wire to brim, there's a bit of crimp where I made the graft. I'm not happy about that. Between that designer touch and the fact that it's a tad LARGE, I'm not sure how much I'm going to wear this hat....but it's so pretty! (It's from Romantic Hand Knits: 26 Flirtatious Designs That Flatter Your Figure). Someone else make it please!

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

A round-up of Hat-related Links

A round-up quick-o:

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Finally, the Gone with the Wind Hat by Annie Modesitt for Romantic Hand-Knits

Ta-da! The Gone with the Wind hat. It's been finished for a couple months, but I just really, really wanted to take a picture of it at the Lincoln Park conservatory. I had it in my mind that I would get great pictures in there, no harsh lighting. It turned out it was difficult to get a good snapshot, although it was better than outside, where I was getting shadows on my face because of the sun and the lacy brim. Any ideas on how to fix that in the future so that my face is adequately lit?

Photo issues aside, this is a great pattern (you'll find it on page 126 in Romantic Hand Knits: 26 Flirtatious Designs That Flatter Your Figure). However, one big caveat. You're going to have to be patient. There are mistakes in this pattern. If you're not an ace at making short rows while knitting lace, this will be challenging. I wish I could tell you the various mistakes to watch for, but would you believe it, I lost my marked-up pattern nearly moments after I finished this hat??? I kid you not. I finished the hat at Arcadia Knitting, boarded the bus home with all my supplies, purse, the hat, etc. I get off the bus, and I realized right away I was missing my supply bag (Short sock pins! a nice set of bambo circulars! Leftover yarn!). I called the bus garage every two hours for the next two days, but they never recovered it. Oh well. Onward, we go. Here are some particulars on the project itself.

The yarn: Classic Silk Color 6953 and 6906. Three skeins total. I love the cotton/silk yarn...I wish had more in different colors, particularly a tweedy brown and a Kelly green. I'm certain I could get more on the Internet, but I really need yarn that's available at Arcadia Knitting 'cuz this project is hard and I need Arcadia's help every step of the way. Any ideas on substitutes, fellow Arcadia regulars? The gauge is 5 sts and 7 rows 1 inch.

Additional supplies: 1 and 1/2 yards, millinery wire, Vogue Fabrics. I used to have this great lightweight hat wire, I think that was from the 1950s, but since that's long gone, I've turned to Vogue Fabric's hat wire. Good, but not great. It's a little unwieldy. All that shaping! And I had to graft a piece of wire for the outer brim, which I hope stays put, although I seem to feel a shift when I ever so slightly shape the brim with my hands even now. Not good.

Size: Medium (21 1/2 inch). Here's my biggest regret. I have a 22-inch head, but this hat is too big on me. It's really more suitable for someone with a 23-inch head. But it's such a beautiful hat! I could undo it, but I really can't! Too much work. I rather start anew, and try again, different yarns and definitely the smaller size. I'm not sure how much I'll wear this hat because I feel engulfed by it. I could wear it into traffic, stop it, and the result would not be good. There the hat would be on the pavement with no person underneath, kind of like that scene in the Wizard of Oz with the Wicked Witch's hat after she melts away. It's a shame. It's so pretty. I can't decide which I like better the High-Society Hat (also in this book) or this one. It's really a tie. They're both grand.

In looking at my picture and then at the one in the book, I made the same styling mistake they did! There's a seam where the two yarns shift on the crown. I put mine in the front, just like the stylist did on the model for Romantic Hand-Knits. And I wanted to avoid that mistake. Funny.

So once I'm finished with the Sun-Ray sweater, I'm ready to tackle a hat again. I never get tired of making them...even I don't always wear them. I think this is the fifth Annie Modesitt hat I've made, if I count the half-finished High Society No. 3 in the Gedifra Wellness yarn...which wants to be finished but I need more matching yarn!

Maybe I'll take some close up photos of the hat sometime soon. I had more photographs but they just weren't to my liking, so I deleted them. I just might wear this hat on Easter Sunday. What do you think? I don't know what to wear it with! It's hard to match. I know for summer, it would look fantastic with a sailor-style pair of oatmeal-colored wide-legged linen pants! And a white short sleeve top of some sort. Somehow, I can see this hat with a lacy top (Krista) from Joan McGowan's book Knitting Lingerie Style: More Than 30 Basic and Lingerie-Inspired Designs and the above-mentioned pants.

What's more, I think this hat demands a pair of matching gloves if I wear it to church on Sunday, don't you? Weigh in please.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Grand Re-Opening: Loreta Corsetti Millinery Couture

And so I went. Hat and all. To the grand re-opening. What a space and an incredible location, kitty corner from Water Tower Place (that's American Girl Place for you moms) and the John Hancock Tower.

Just one of the many, dare I say, at least 100 hats on the premises. Loreta's output is most impressive.

Another hat with milliner Lilly Dache's book on display.
A close-up of Talking Through My Hats, which I've read. Have you?
More hats...of all the ones on display, I'd say the leopard print one, perched above, was my favorite.
A neat, hat-themed mirror.
A Loreta Corsetti customer trying on one of her hats.

A cupboard full of hatblocks. Now I've done my share of blocking hats. I forget the purpose of the aluminum foil. Someone refresh my memory!
A better view of those blocks....
A cloche call atop hat boxes....
Hat books. I'd love to sit and read these. I should have with a glass of the ever-flowing mimosa outside the door...
A cupboard of ribbons.
A closer view and you can see me reflected in the glass. Hah! Told you I was wearing a hat.
The milliner herself (left) wearing one of her creations, posing for a photo with a friend.
Same lady from early in the photos, trying on yet another hat. I think she looks pretty good. After I left I thought the atelier would be a great place for a tea or a book signing. Hmm. Now, everyone would have to wear hats. But such fun! Don't you think?