I would have missed you terribly while you were off getting lost in the woods, but I was awfully busy making hats. (Ach, still with the making hats!)
First I had to make a hat for my boy, which I showed you last week. My boy’s haid was cold, and he refused to wear anything but the worthless nylon hood attached to his jacket. He refused, I tell you, most unpleasantly. After much futile application of the Good Mommy/Bad Mommy technique, followed by the You Will Not Leave This House Young Man technique, he told me that the reason he would not wear any of his hats was that none of them were…green.
Oh, well then, as long as he had a good reason! Good Mommy and Bad Mommy spoke to Knitting Mommy: one green hat, check.
Niece Maggie, age 7 1/2, requested a felted Noro hat like one I had made for Carrie. No problem. Dig out a skein of fuschia Kureyon and the Yankee Knitter roll-edge hat pattern, make it too big, felt it in the sink, and wa-la: Fabulous Niece Hat. Sort of a hot pink bowler. (This is one of the Undocumented Hats.)
Maggie has a brother, Paul, age 7 1/2 and 18 minutes. Where there is a hat for Maggie, verily there shall be a hat for Paul. Not that Paul likes hats. Paul likes Justice. Paul likes Inter-Sibling Equity. I am a sibling myself. I share these time-honored values. No problem. I made Paul a stevedore-style watch cap like Joseph’s, also in Kureyon.
Maggie has a mother, Kathy. You can see where this is going. Kathy also expressed a wish for a felted hat like Carrie’s. But I thought, that hat is too much of a kiddie hat for a woman of style and substance such as Kathy. I thought, I can do better than that. Kathy has a lovely little head topped with a haircut reminiscent of Audrey Hepburn in “Sabrina”. In other words, an excellent Hat Head. Ah-HA! I thought. Here is my opportunity to make a felted version of that ChicKnits Bucket-o-Chic hat everybody in Blogville is making.
I went to the yarn store, got two skeins of Big Kureyon in a subtle and grownup green/brown/gold/red colorway, and set to work making a large floppy object that looked a lot like that cat bed everybody else in Blogville is making. But such was my faith in the Power of Felting that I soldiered on, knitting round after limp and lifeless round, until it became the World’s Largest Hat-Shaped Object. A skein and a half of Big Kureyon–a whole lotta wool, done up on Number 10 needles. Not a dainty thing by any means. More oil drum than bucket.
Now before we continue with the dramatic felting of Kathy’s hat, I must share with you that Maggie has a father.
How could I make a hat for everyone else in the family, but not Ron? That would be so bad for his self-esteem. So I got out the new ‘Knit It!’ magazine, which features a hat modeled by 3 latter-day Beach Boys who look like a knitting magazine’s notion of what skateboarders would look like, if they had ever seen any. I had a last spare ball of Noro, in a manly, dadly colourway. I made Ron a hat of impeccable grooviness. A blast from Rowenta and it was done. (Sadly, another Undocumented Tour de Force.)
That pretty much took care of the entire family. All that remained, as I watched ‘Another Woman’ (one of those movies where all of Woody Allen’s friends are standing around talking in airy, book-lined apartments) on Channel 13 late Saturday night, was to felt Kathy’s cat bed and/or hat. Instead of venturing into the crypt of our building to unreliable washing machines that may or may not fill up with hot water when you turn the dial to ‘Hot Wash/Cold Rinse’, I filled the kitchen sink with scalding water and dish soap, plunged the cat bed in, and swished it around with all my (considerable) might. I did this repeatedly, and then I squeezed it out and re-plunged it into a basin of ice-cold water. Swish–Rub–Plunge–Repeat.
All of this while Gena Rowlands struggled with many choices of mid-life lovers. It was steamy, let me tell you.
The result: A smaller, but alas, still technically humungous hat. A head covering that would be none too tight on Mrs. Shrek. To make matters worse, the brim, which I had done in garter stitch to avoid the curling problem others had warned about, was now ruffling. I attributed this effect to the fact that the pattern calls for the brim stitches to be picked up along the row ends of the main band of the hat; the hat felted more in one direction than the other, causing ruffles. Not subtly undulating ruffles that one might flatten out with a few whacks from Rowenta or a couple of hundred pins. Ruffles reminiscent of Betsy Ross’s nightcap. Ruffles that make you hum, ‘Dear Little Buttercup….’
Hardly the Edgy Big City Look I had in mind to set off Kathy’s shearling coat. Fairly disgusted, I plopped the sodden mess on the bottom of an overturned mixing bowl and crawled off to bed.
So (oy! still she carries on with the War and Peace of hat felting!), Sunday evening at our Family Super Bowl Festivities, I passed out hats, saving Kathy’s for last. After everybody got done laughing at it, I put it in Kathy’s washing machine with a load of blue jeans and some dish soap, cranked it to Hot Wash/Cold Rinse, and let it run. Twice. ‘Die, hat, die!’ I howled.
And whaddaya know? The dang thing felted, it really did! It felted all the way down to Kathy Head Size!! And it was a super-dense, super-fuzzy, super-fab felt, too. Only one eensy problem remained: Das Ruffle. Although smaller and thicker than before, it was still hanging in her eyes and bringing down the whole hat.
You will be so proud of me, girl. Do you know what I did, in front of God and everybody? With a steady hand and a pair of dull kitchen scissors, I cut the brim off! The felt was so thick and felti-licious that there was no danger of unravelling. Furthermore, brim or no brim, the only direction for this hat to go was UP. All that remained was to figure out a way to finish the raw edge, and perhaps counteract the fez-like appearance of the now-brimless bucket. I took the hat home with me on top of a 3 pound coffee can we found in the basement, with the shorn-off brim in my pocket. To quote Scarlett O’Hara, ‘Ah’ll think about that….tomorrow!’
This morning, and I know I am going on a bit (a BIT!), but I am so proud, I had the idea of sewing the brim back on, around the bottom edge of the hat, upside down so that the curved outer edge of the brim would hug the hat. To give you an idea of the extent of the Ruffle Problem, I had 8 inches of cut-off brim left over.
Can we be brutally honest here? I. Am. A. Genius.
Doesn’t this hat look like it was handcrafted by somebody who actually had a clue about what she was doing? Well, maybe not. But I like it anyway. (This gracious model is a fellow school mom.) (I also made the lovely Lis
model it at lunch.)
As I was doing all this, I got to wondering, why didn’t I knit this thing in one piece to begin with? Then I wouldn’t have had to fuss about picking up stitches (which left little holes, after felting), and the brim would have felted in the same direction as the rest of the hat, eliminating the ruffle problem. I went back to the ChicKnits site, and wouldn’t you know it, Bonne Marie has a new Bottoms Up Bucket Hat that is knit in one piece, in the round. All the stitches are headed in the same direction, so everything will felt harmoniously. I know a brilliant idea when I see it. PayPal, ka-ching!
My next felted bucket hat may be better, but it will not give me so many hours of fun fun fun.
I’m done now.