I hope I’m not jumping the gun too much, as I’m going to have to use some of my “official” pictures in these detail posts – but the big reveal is in a day an a half, and it’s going to take me a while to write these up! If anyone knows how to save a bunch of drafts with uploaded photos in Blogger, I’d love to know for next time.
I wanted a lace picture hat. (Yes, that was a little bit crazy, given the time limits, but I did have a back-up tote idea. One of these days I will make it to the library with something other than a 5 year old “Toronto Public Library” tote that’s definitely a little worse for wear…)
In the interests of the time limit, I thought crochet would be the better option (faster!). Besides, isn’t this something that crochet should excel at? Shaped/free form, lace… Except I couldn’t find any wide brimmed crochet hat patterns. Admittedly I am a novice in the crochet supply chain, and these things aren’t quite in fashion yet (should be, with the amount of fear over skin cancer!!), but I was still surprised. I found two knit versions, but they weren’t quite what I was looking for.
So – change the stitch pattern in one of the knit versions, or go for broke and design my own? I have made up toques before, but this is a whole ‘nuther ball game! Well, hanging out at the library one day, I find IK’s Harmony Guide Basic Crochet Stitches (how have I not seen that one before?!?), and paging through, started to see some options. While I was at it, I pulled other books off the shelves, and found an interlocking-circles motif in the middle of an afghan square. My idea was to start off with big holes (let heat escape off the top of my head!) and get more dense for the brim to provide more shade. Why not at least swatch and see where it goes?
It went a little like this:
The biggest hurdle turned out to be how to incorporate the increases. In knitting, I just add knit stitches until there’s enough room for a full lace repeat, and keep going. Except in crochet, at least in the lace bits I was doing, you skip over lots of base stitches to put in the lacy bit – so it wouldn’t matter if I added another stitch in the previous row! Not having much experience with crochet, I did what made sense to me – figured out where in the pattern I could increase enough that I had an extra full repeat (or could fudge one) the next time I needed it. Between that, and my strange ability to end up with more stitches than I should have at the end of a round, I managed to get the stitch count I was aiming for eventually. Freeform, baby!
So that made picking stitch patterns tricky, because I didn’t want anything with too high a stitch count – that would make it too hard to increase. I ended up with Theatre Box Stitch for the main hat (p. 109), and Winkle Picot Stitch for the brim. Surprisingly, I was making pretty good speed on this project (hey, when I’ve got a bee in my bonnet… 😉 ).
Next tricky bit – how to stabilize the brim!! The knitting patterns called for millinery wire. I was having trouble tracking down a local source and online would mean (a) too late for the contest, and (b) requiring me to either buy a whole roll or pay way more in shipping charges than the wire was worth. So first I tried coating one of the swatches in white glue, like they do for Christmas ornaments. Well, it works fine when it hangs with gravity, but horizontal… gravity wins. So DH tried hitting every possible place on our way home one day – no dice. Most people looked at me like I was speaking in tongues. Beading wire and floral wire is the extent of things around here. Last stop: Home Depot.
Grand total: somewhere on the order of $3.50. Almost makes up for the time and gas!
A bit of tongue-sticking-out concentration as I cut the tape lengthwise (it’s pretty thick – using the whole width wrapped around was getting too large and bulky) and tried to evenly coat the wire.
My attempt at joining the ends – I ended up bending back each end linking them together, then pinching hard with needle nose pliers and taping over the whole thing. It’s secure – but it does tend to pivot at that point. Next time – super glue? soldering?
I used a joined half double crochet over the wire to partially hide it and hold it on.
Not bad for guess-or-by-golly:
Next time (well, give me a minute to get over the annoyance of the last round – even with the covered wire, trying to hold everything in place, with a spool of wire off to one side, and not develop RSI over the kabillion stitches at the edge is a feat!): thicker wire maybe (this one crushes pretty easily), try to find a thin white cloth tape to cover (I had trouble at the tape joins), and figure out a better gauge – the lace on the brim on this one isn’t really taut. It lies perfectly in a circle unblocked – but that was probably the problem. I also guessed the length of the wire, and I was a bit too long – I have a hyperbolic shape rather than a flat one!
Still, I love it!