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?

Monday, March 15, 2010

It must be Spring: Two Hat Events in Chicago

Loreta Corsetti Millinery Atelier
200 E. Delaware Pl. Lower Level Chicago
(entrance on Mies Van der Rohe)
Grand Reopening Party
Friday, March 19, 6-9 p.m.
RSVP, 312-640-6004
or by email;

Please join us to celebrate the opening of Urban Style Emporium and the new home of Loreta Corsetti Millinery. Evening festivities will include delectable bites of sweets and savories, wine, Champagne and live music.

Spring Reverie, a Hat Tea
Friday, March 26, from 3:00 to 5:30 p.m.
In the spectacular Lobby of The Peninsula Chicago.

Lisa Farrell’s collection features all things colorful and feminine. Veronica Chin has bedazzled her Burning Bush Millinery pieces with a plethora of baubles. Laura Hubka has rekindled her love affair with blocked straw. Carla Faso has dreamt up sculpted wonders as well as fedoras for the season. Laura Whitlock’s collection in linen and silk is at once tailored and romantic. And Loreta Corsetti describes her pieces for spring as simply, “Irresistible.”

Stop by just to browse the collections, or enjoy tea service, which includes a petite soufflé, scones, finger sandwiches and delightful desserts served with your choice
of marvelous tea for the cost of $38. Or enjoy tea with a glass of Henriot Souverain Brut champagne for $47.

The Peninsula is located at 108 East Superior Street, Chicago. Phone 312.573.6760 for reservations, which are recommended for tea.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

in Sickness and In Health:The Sun-Ray Ribbing Sweater *from A Stitch in Time

I've never attempted a vintage sweater before. Wait. Let me think. Oh yes, I did try a crochet sweater from a Stitch in Time about four years ago. Even went so far as to buy some vintage yarn on eBay. I had trouble getting gauge from the get-go and the yarn kept breaking. I eventually ditched the project, and tossed the yarn. Now there are two reasons why I decided to attempt another vintage sweater pattern. I figure it's time. Why let a project gone wrong keep me away? The crochet sweater that wasn't meant to be is from another lifetime already! Besides, the Sun-Ray ribbing sweater is a new-to-me sweater. Fairly uncomplicated. Not one yarn-over in the top. How hard can it be to screw up a sweater that's strictly knit and purl? Besides, I decided to participate in a knit-along on Ravelry. If I went astray or the yarn went awry, I could always log in, whine, rejoice, get back on track or carry on as necessary.

Okay, here's the other thing. I've become one of those people with an iPhone nearly permanently attached to my hand. And I'm all for free apps! So I wanted to try the Knitminder. Downloaded the thing...and it has probably become my most frequently used app, even if it does drain the battery when I forget to close it out when I'm not using it. Yelp and the Whole Foods apps don't compare. Here's what I like about the doesn't compel you to spend money! All those other apps....they're just trying to get you the buy something! The Knitminder is focused on counting rows, that's it. There are no advertisements either. Okay, there are some iPhone games out there...but a lot of them have ads on them too. I don't need dancing jars of yogurts across my screen to distract me when I'm working hard on my sweater. It's bad enough to have email and the mobile Safari browser at my beck and call when I'm on the bus or squirreled away in my bed.

So the sweater.....I'm using vintage yarn. Again. Totally different stuff. I've actually used the Evermatch Sport yarn for a pair of slippers. It's fantastic stuff. I got a bag of 27 skeins (all yellow) from my mother who participates in a knitting for charity group. So I actually owe her some hanks. The Evermatch is wonderful for the most part. It doesn't break...although it splits, but not enough to cause major problems. I just wish I could find more Evermatch in different colors! My batch looks like it's from the 1960s at the earliest. I look on eBay...nothing there. I see a few skeins here and there on Ravelry, but no stash substantial enough for a sweater.

Now this is slow surprise, in a sense, given that this sweater is like 7 stitches to the inch. And I'm not doing it in the round, which I kind of wish I were. It would go much faster. There'd be less stitching in the end. But no! I wanted to do the sweater as it was written. Forget that the next time around. Speed is of essence, otherwise, I might just give up! I've finished the back, frogged 34 rows of ribbing intended for the front, and started the ribbing for a sleeve. How's that for progress? Who cares. It's all an adventure. I'm not competing against any one. Best part, beyond my initial investment of knitting needles, this project isn't costing my anything. For weeks on end, this sweater will singlehandedly keep me from purchasing sale patterns at Hancock Fabrics, more yarn and remnants at Vogue Fabrics. Even sewing doesn't keep me from buying stuff for weeks on end. Amazing!

I'm aiming to finish both sleeves this week and do the front next week. Can I just say I really don't want to have sew this up? My mattress stitches aren't great...and I'd imagine my not-so-great technique would stand out in a bad way on this fine-gauge sweater. I'm sorely tempted to hire this part out....with all the money I saved!
*I've been knitting this for the past few days while nursing a cold. Somehow I can always find the energy to knit when I'm ill, but you couldn't pay me to do the same on the sewing machine. Too much work when I barely have energy to move!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Finally, Chicago's Fashion History: 1865-1945 (Images of America)

Finally, my book, Chicago's Fashion History: 1865-1945, is available for pre-order! Knitters, take a close look at the cover. You're going to love it. In case you're wondering, yes, there is a second book in the works. Off to do the happy dance and call up a few fans with my news!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

A round-up of Hat Links

I love the Stranded Cats hat pattern - it's so playful and modern. On the more retro side, here's a knitted pillbox pattern. For something a little more complete, there's this cool 1940s raffia hat. I also adore books with hats on the covers. Why aren't there more of these? If you've got any links to books with great hats on the cover, link to them here!

Monday, March 1, 2010

What I didn't Buy: Midwest Vintage Clothing, Jewelry, Textile Show & Sale*

Oh, my goodness. Saturday afternoon at this show felt like a day at the local shopping mall, only with much better people watching. You would have though the costume contest, which ended Friday night, was still in full swing. Two 20-something guys dressed head-to-toenail in authentic 70s clothes (yes, one polyester shirt included). Bunches of couples in rockabilly togs, ready to rumble. At least one guy in what looked like ultra-fitted or maybe too small button-front pants from the turn of the last century. Anyhow, this dealer (above) snagged her 40s cocktail hat Friday night. I love the button detail in the back. The best hats have some element of surprise...something you don't see at first glance, but catch later, perhaps as the wearer turns or walks away.
I think this collection was on the first floor of the show. On closer look, there's no one hat that pops out as something I'd really want...but the composition of all these accessories on stands and hatboxes is interesting.

Now, I loved this wedding's apparently from the 1970s. It's sort of ethereal, very floaty and simple. In fact, it looks like something you could easily make using inexpensive tulle from a store such as Vogue Fabrics and a stack of inexpensive cream appliques (at Vogue these are about $2 a piece). I wouldn't ordinarily go for a cream on a ivory background, but somehow it works.

Throw in some beads...and you've got a one of a kind heirloom veil. Now what kind of dress would you wear with it?
*Yeah, I didn't buy anything, but I snapped photos. I know, boring. But I did knit. I'll show what I'm working on shortly. Promise.