26 July 2007

The Come-Back Hat (Button-Flapped Alpaca Hat)

A little over a week ago, I received an order from a Swiss Etsian for my Stripey Flappy Baby Hat. I hadn't received payment with the order, so after a few days, I sent along an email and an invoice requesting payment. To my dismay, the order had to be cancelled... but an opportunity for custom work was opened.

The specs were actually pretty precise, and for that, I was thankful. Creme-white and peach, natural wool, pearlized button flap closure and a matching button on top. Circumference to 23" and buttons no larger than 1.5".

The biggest challenge was finding peach. Peach is considered a summer color, so most of the yarns in peach are in linen/cotton blends or lighter weights like fingering or DK. This hat was going to Switzerland. I checked the average temps there, and discovered that the average temp ranges from 30 in January to 65 in July. It's cool there. A warm fiber would be needed.

I found the color I thought I wanted in an alpaca blend. Double-bonus, since alpaca is light in drape and weight but extremely warm (some would almost say too warm). When it finally arrived, it was more of an apricot than a peach, but I realized it would have to do. I set about on the hat.

As you've probably guessed from my blog and store, hats themselves are easy for me, and I had this one done in about an hour. The flaps required a good deal of experimentation. My model head is a 21" head, so I had to ensure that I made the hat and the flaps big enough to accomodate a 23" head. I also had to make sure the stitches were large enough to double as adjustable buttonholes.

In the end, I came up with a wonderful hat. For the life of me, I can't get the hat to photograph the color right - even with a grey-balance card. It still looks orange to me on the screen. But in the hand, a peachy-apricot alternates with a creamy white, and it looks delicious.

So, lessons learned:
1) Alpaca, even the smallest amount, will warm up your lap to an uncomfortably warm level when you're working with it
2) Shank buttons are harder to place than standard buttons
3) No matter how hard you try to match color, your monitor will never display it properly.

This hat goes up in my shop today for approval. If you'd like a hat like this, just drop me a line and we'll talk details!

I Got Screwed (Corkscrew Earflap Hat)

As I may have mentioned, I'm trying to destash my stash by making a lot of different projects. And my choice, as I also may have mentioned, has been hats. It's funny, really, that I like hats so much, because I actually hate wearing them.

In any case, I've been wanting to play with corkscrew fringe for awhile now, and I figured what better way to do that than with a hat. I knew that the screws would make the hat top-heavy, so ear flaps seemed a logical choice.

I had light and dark purple acrylics in my stash, and I went ahead with making my basic hat. I added flaps, then got to work on the details. As my dear mother-in-law once said - you don't pay for the whole, you pay for the details. And she's right. A simple hat becomes unique when details are applied.

I decided on a dozen screws - 6 for the top and 6 for the ties. I didn't want braided or ponpomed ends - that just seemed silly. So I used slip-stitch reinforced triple chains for ties and added screws to the ends. Then I added the screws to the top.

The finished product was supposed to be for an older child - 19-21" circumference, but that can also fit a petite adult woman. The hat stretches quite a bit, so it may even fit me (I have a 23.5" head). I'm ridiculously proud of it, even though it is just a hat.

Lessons learned? None really, other than
1) I love making hats
2) I hate making corkscrews

As always, look for this sweet hat in my Etsy shop very soon!

22 July 2007

Hot Blue Choker (The Fashion Denver Promo Choker)

Ah, promos. Flowers seem to be the common thread between all of my promos. So when the need for a promo for Fashion Denver's Biannual Show and Market came up, I knew a flower would be involved.

My original idea was to mount tiny flowers to big bobbies, but I just didn't have the time to learn how to make that. I decided instead to raid my yarn stash, whereupon I stumbled on some scraps that were donated to me by NorthStar Alpacas. It was beautiful two-ply alpaca yarn with a strand of angelina (no relation) interspersed. I had some blue and some tan. So I decided to make a choker.

At first, I wanted to create a choker that would fasten with a rivet snap, but I didn't have enough yarn to make it the right diameter. Then I was going to tie it closed with ribbons, but I didn't have matching ribbon. So I settled on a button closure.

I don't know if you can tell from the picture, but the choker closes when you place the center of the flower over the wooden button. I wanted to add a leaf, but I was on the clock - I cranked this little thing out in about 15 minutes, took another 5 to block it, and was, for the most part, satisfied with the result. Really, the only improvements I can think of are crocheting the button into the fabric and adding a leaf behind the flower. But all in all, for a last-minute project out of scrap yarn, I'm incredibly happy.

Lessons learned:
1) I can come up with something original and cute on short notice
2) I love working with handspun yarn
3) Shank buttons can go on like beads

This piece will never see an Etsy listing - instead, it will be raffled off at the Heatwave show tomorrow along with some wonderful pieces by AnnushKa Designs, Little Bitsys, and She's Crafty. Checkout the 'mart tomorrow at noon at Cervantes!

17 July 2007

Mad as a Hatter (More Baby Hats)

Well, my re-application to EtsyKids was denied. I won't go into how there are team members there that have fewer kids items or a smaller kids:other ratio than I do, and will instead focus on how I keep making more hats.

I have a yarn stash to destash, and baby hats work up quickly. And cutely. So I fashioned a few more sun hats to indulge my destash addiction. I don't have much to say about any particular one, other than I like them all.

Lessons learned:
1) It's hard to make different hats with the same basic design
2) It may be the wrong time of year to be selling sun hats

A brief post, I know, but I just wanted to share my new creations. Baby sun hats: oldies, but goodies. They'll post over the next few days in my Etsy store.

09 July 2007

Feeling Fruity (Baby Sun Hats)

Okay, I'm the first to admit that I've been offline for awhile. Between mothering, having family in town, cleaning up the aftermath of having family in town, friends in crisis, and trying to find time to network in my day job (you know, the one that will pay the bills), creativity has had to fall to the wayside.

But in the process of cleaning up the apartment, I had to organize my yarn stash. And I was appalled at how much yarn I had amassed that was just sitting, doing absolutely nothing. I'm sure my stash isn't the biggest or the most colorful, but in a one bedroom apartment, and belonging to someone who prides herself on never buying more that she'll use... it was an abomination at best. And so I set to work creating.

I decided on baby hats. As my dear husband points out, I excel at hats. For some reason, they're just something I can do really, really well. And I wanted to be a little different. I started out wanting to make an apple hat, but then I did a search on Etsy and found several. My daughter was wearing a watermelon onesie at the time, and so I decided on a watermelon. Again, a search on Etsy yielded several watermelon hats, but I noticed that none of them were sun hats. All of them were rolled brim or beanie style hats. And none of them represented the rind accurately.

I set to work with my first two hats: a red watermelon and a pink watermelon. The red is the original. I added the pony beads as an afterthought; I realized that seedless watermelon just wasn't all that cute. The pink I did because I remembered my daughter had a pink and green fruit dress. I thought it was covered in watermelons. Turns out, it's covered in strawberries. And that's how the strawberry hat was born. The last hat was a pomegranate. I don't know why, other than I didn't see any other pomegranate hats on Etsy. So I figured, "Why not?"

All the hats but the red watermelon have their beads crocheted into the fabric, making them more child-safe... but you should still keep an eye on a teething baby - they're little jaws are strong enough to crack metal beads if given enough time. And all color changes are carried through under the stitches, so the body of the hats are all done in one continuous piece. The strawberry features a bendable stem, thanks to a piece of pipe cleaner inside the stem, and the pomegranate's arlis' end was sewn on after the fact. Each one is sized to 0-6 months, depending on the baby. Brie is almost 3 months, and they are just slightly big on her. But then, she has a small head.

Lessons Learned:
1) I have too much yarn
2) Baby hats are incredibly fun to make
3) Crocheting star patterns is much easier than I realized
4) Doing color changes simultaneously with increases is relatively difficult
5) It is easier to add beads as you're crocheting than it is to sew them on after the fact

Look for these very soon in my Etsy store (as I must post them quickly in order to make myself reeligible for EtsyKids membership).