Monday, November 25, 2013

Hatstruck Couture Millinery's Impromptu Crocheted Infinity Rope Scarf Post

 Sorry to disappoint some of you, but there are no hats in this post.  Instead I thought I would share my first completed Christmas gift, a crocheted rope scarf.  For those of you that don't knit and/or crochet and have no interest in these crafts, please feel free to change the channel.  For those of you that do, stay tuned.

Although I've been knitting and crocheting since the age of 10, I'm no expert.  I can read patterns but I prefer free-from crocheting and knitting.  I have to admit that I'm more partial to crocheting because, for me, correcting mistakes is so much easier, just unravel and proceed on.  Plus, I prefer to be in a meditative state when I'm crafting; I don't want to think about what I'm doing.  Whatever I end up with is exactly what you will be getting.

I made similar scarves last year, but this one was made using a different method.  Last year I made rope scarves using both Crocheted I-Cord and Knitted I-Cord techniques, both of these methods are found on my Crochet, Knitting and Tutorials Board on Pinterest.  I preferred the knitted I-Cord to the crocheted one.  If you decide to make this scarf using one of these methods, make a swash using both methods and choose the one you are most comfortable with.  Also, please note that the thickness of the cord depends on the number of chain stitches you use to start circular tube, the thickness of  the yarn, and the size of the needle.  If you do not crochet and would like to learn how to, I've created a query link for beginning crocheters here on YouTube.

How I Made This Scarf--My Yarn Box Runneth Over!

I really wanted to make a thicker, faster, and easier rope scarf this time around; so, I decided to crochet in-the-the-round rather than using one o the I-Cord techniques.  If you are a crocheter, this scarf will be extremely easy and fast to make.  I chose a chunky (they called it chunky; I refer to the really thick, thick yarn as chunky) and a large crochet needle (10mm--[N]) .  Again, the same applies here as mentioned above about the thickness of the I-Cords, it all depends on the number of chain stitches you use to start the circular round, the thickness of the yarn and the needle size.  Proceed as follows using the yarn, number of chain stitches, and needle size of your choice:

1.  Chain 5 stitches and slip stitch the ends together.

2.   Insert needle into the second chain.

3.  Single crochet into each chain in the round (just go around and around) until you reach your desired chain length.

4.  To finish off scarf when desired length has been achieved, cut thread leaving approximately seven inches, pull thread through last crocheted stitch and pull tight, but gently.

5.  End the rope by threading the excess thread onto a wide eyed needle and sewing in the round until the rope (tube) has been closed and secure.

6.  To hide some of the excess thread, work it through the stitches, and finally cut the excess thread off.  If you don't crochet and you are trying this project, you may want to follow the beginner's link above.

That's it!  I collect vintage brooches, so I just temporarily put one onto the scarf to dress it up for the shoot.  I may even keep this one for myself because the color looks great on my skin tone.  Enjoy!

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Mrs. Essie Edwards, You Look Beautiful in That Hat! Contest Winner, Please Step Forward?

For those of you that attended the Rose Garden millinery classes with Mrs. Essie Edwards, well there is great news!  Mrs. Edwards is back teaching there--millinery and sewing.  This is your opportunity to take classes from a master in both crafts again.  Our retired and loved teacher is lending her time to all of us that have been morning her retirement.  So please come out in numbers to support her.  Mrs. Edwards has been a milliner for over 60 years; no fluff here.  This is the real deal.

In case you recognized the hat Mrs. Edwards is waring, it is the hat from my last post, Blocking on My First European-Style Hat BlockThis time Mrs. Edwards won over my granddaughter, because I knew she would cherish and really rock that hat; so, enjoy your gift Mrs. Edwards.

Contest Winner, Please Step Forward!
I am so guilty of not visiting my favorite blog sites, and when I visit I usually don't leave comments.  For the second time (or more), I will improve.   So I understand why some may do the same when visiting this site--Oh no! I have to log in?  Let me stop this moment and at least thank you for the number of daily page views I receive; I really appreciate them.  The response to this site has been fantastic.  I have truly realized my goal of giving back through millinery.

 I was thinking, What if I made leaving comments a little more fun?   So, at the end of the last post I asked several questions, for which no one responded to any of them.  The purpose of those questions was to select a winner of my little secrete contest.  Well, what I did was to choose a site visitor that had commented on this site very recently, satisfying at least one of the qualifying answers.  I don't think she is a member of the site (a first and may be the last), and I think she lives outside of the States.  Her name is Georgia Lordorche(?), and she is a student or was a student [from your profile]....  Georgia, since you are a student (you gave me some information about yourself in an earlier post before your last post--new to millinery), I will be sending you some millinery supplies (fur felt and straw, a hat stretcher, some millinery needles, and whatever else I can think of.  Or you may want to make  suggestions as to what you would like to have in your box of goodies--within reason :)   No, all questions contained in future posts will not be contest related....

Log-In for Site Members

Although I set up pages and a test log-in (extreme bottom of page) for site members months and months ago, I thought, This is not why I created this site--exclusivity to some.  A lot also had to do with the people that may be excluded and those that would actually take advantage of this site.  So, the log-in is at the bottom of the page, there for when I need it.  I will use it one day for something; maybe I will create a class for a site contest winner(s) or something.  Also when I presented the private log-in idea, I did not associate it with any contest, etc.; that's because I wanted to be able to change my mind if I became uncomfortable with the idea.  Another thing is that the volume of respondents is usually a little more than I want to manually handle (check membership, assign numbers, etc.).  Also the reason for the secrete contest was to capture the comments of those that took the extra effort to leave them without the coaxing from a contest.

Next Post?

I don't know what my next post will be, but I'm leaning toward an American-style hat block, blocking video.  What I need to do is get back to couture millinery (foundation covered hats), my first love technique.  So stay tuned.  What do you think?  No, this is not a contest question.  Anyway, I'll try to keep the site as exciting for the both of us as I can.  If you have any ideas, just let me know.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Blocking on My First European-Style Hat Block

Recently I acquired a European-style hat block. I had always wanted one to add to my block collection, and when one popped up on Ebay that suited my budget and of a shape I liked, I jumped on it. OK, now I'm over it. I must say that I prefer the American-style block more because I found it to be faster and easier to block on. So what is the difference between the two styles of blocks. Well American blocks, the more complex shapes at least, are cut into sections of two or more and have rope lines to secure your material (felt, straw, etc.) over it. The complex European blocks are not sectioned off and may not provide rope lines. I think I read somewhere that the sectional/collapsible American block was actually invented and patented her in U.S.; I don't know.

 Déjà Vu

 When I was creating the video below it suddenly occurred to me that I actually, to a certain extent, block on my wooden bowls in the same manner I was trying to block on the European block, except that I used push pins on my bowls, something I would never do on my hat blocks. If you have followed me for any length of time, you would know how much I hate seeing milliners pin or nail into their hat blocks. Actually, this is how I was taught but after seeing how hatters blocked their hats, I immediately changed the way I blocked mine, and that was a couple of decades ago. To me, blocks made today are not as sculptural as those made decades ago. Plus, many new blocks have knots and the wood is not as heavy or as beautiful. So when I purchase a hat block today, for the most part, I am buying a piece of art, a sculpture, history, workmanship. Of course there are block makers today that make beautiful hat blocks, but I prefer to collect vintage, soon to be antique blocks.

There's a Reason for My Passion

Another thing I wanted to mention is that my daughter suggested that I should not make comments on Facebook. I think I'm getting it. When you read my blog, you may read it in a kind gentle manner or you may read it in a harsh angry manner. You can't see my eyes and you can't see my demeanor. That's why I prefer face to face interactions with humans, but we know that that is not always possible. All I will say is that it is hard to convey the passion you have for certain things, especially when you have a history that causes you to think a certain way. I have a thing about learning; I have a thing about not giving up; I have a thing about outside imposed barriers, I have a thing about sincerely supporting people, and I have a thing about independence. I don't particularly care for the word perfectionist and I would never subject myself to it.  However, I do believe in continuous improvement; and I do believe in doing my best, thus my never ending desire to improve on WHAT I WANT TO IMPROVE ON and I should give others the respect to do the same. Enough said.

A Few Blocking Tips

This post came about because I hated seeing milliners' half blocked work, as well as seeing blocks that looked like termites had been chewing on them for some time. I guess I have lots of issues.... I'm tired of complaining. I figure I could either complain about this stuff or give suggestions to those that would welcome suggestions. So here are a few blocking suggestions whether you are blocking on an American-style or a European-style hat block:

When working with straw, felt, etc., you should block your material. If after you've finished blocking it, and your finished product is lumpy and looks like thigh cellulite, it has not been properly blocked.

Although I block almost everything, let's concentrate on fur felt for the purpose of this post. What is interesting about blocking felt is that you can nail a hundred nails into your block when securing the material or zero nails, the outcome could still result in a bad blocking job. It is not how many nails you nail into the block, it's how well you steam, pull, and iron the material that's on the block. So when you block, start from the bottommost rope line or from the bottom of a block having no rope line, then move up the block, securing the material. As you go up the block, the material gets tighter and tighter. Continue steaming and pulling until material is secure, ending by ironing with a dry iron over a damp pressing cloth. By the way, a correctly tied knot on a blocking cord will not slip. If you are insecure about slippage, just drop some water onto the knot or push a millinery pin through the knot, but not the hat block.  I actually left out the portion of the film wherein I ironed the felt with a dampened press cloth; the video just became too long; sorry.

Always have a pressing cloth at your disposal while blocking your material. A damp pressing cloth can solve problem your steamer can' nt.

Finally, if you are new to millinery, read my fingers, you do not need a lot of money to start the craft. Yes, I have plenty of toys to play with because I like collecting them, and I have collected them over many years. However, I can do without most of them, except my balsa wood hat block. Women/men invent things to make life easier for them; no matter what the craft may b
e. Milliners did not start out with many of the toys they have today and the hats they created back in the day were just as beautifully and well made.  Sometimes we defeat ourselves before we get started because we want to start where we should be ending.  Wow, that was profound!

A Few Questions

Well this post is getting too long, so I will touch on some other things in the future. However, I have a few questions. What types of tools (blocks, materials, etc.) do you have and work with, especially if you are new to millinery. If you had one thing in your work area that you don't have today, what would it be and why? Now tell me how do you improvise since you don't have this object to work with today. Just leave your answers in the comments section. The reason I ask is because have become accustom to improvising when I missing a millinery tool.

Enjoy the Video

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Coming Soon: Blocking on My First European Style Hat Block Without the Use of Pins or Nails

I've always wanted a European style hat block.  I've finally acquired one, and I was determined to block on it without the use of pins or nails.  If you follow my blog, you know how much I hate seeing pins and nails pushed and nailed into these beautiful wooden hat blocks--sculptures.  Well, I hope to put the final touches on the video to the post soon.  Stay tuned  to view the process and to gather a few tips on blocking your work!