Thursday, April 14, 2011

Customer order with a difference

One of my neighbours has asked me to do a custom order hat with scarf flaps for her.   Because of her rather unique needs, I've asked her permission to blog about it, which she has graciously granted.  I will be blogging the process in a series of posts as I try to figure out a design that will work for her.

There are a couple of ways I've made hats with scarf flaps; vertically in rows, with the scarf portion worked up at the same time as the body, or horizontally in rounds with the scarf portion added either horizontally or vertically.  Working the scarf portion vertically allows me to easily add keyhole slits to close up the scarf without having to tie it.

My neighbour (I'll call her G) wants a keyhole scarf.  Here are a few of the things I need to work around.

First off, she has an unusually shaped head. Or, as she puts it, a big head. *L*  So the circumference will need to be somewhat larger.  However, having spent the first 6 months of her life lying on her back, the back of her head it also flat.  Her proportions are quite different, and her neck is mostly hidden. I had some concerns about her oxygen tubes, but it doesn't look like they will be an issue at all.

G's other challenge is that she cannot reach up to put a hat on her head.  With the scarf she uses now, she has to hold the ends and sort of toss the loop over the head.  This is the same motion she'll have to use to put on the hat she's asked me to make.  This means the hat has to have at least some stiffness to it to stay open and not flop closed while she tried to toss it onto the top of her head, then use the scarf flaps to put it into position.  She then wants to be able to close up the scarf with the keyhole and tuck the ends into her jacket.  With her arm mobility, the keyhole can only be on one side.

Today I was finally able to head over and get some measurements to work with.  I've got the circumference of her head, the distance from her temple to the top of her head, her temple to where the top of the keyhole will need to be, from temple to temple across her forehead, the distance from the nape of her neck to her eyebrows, and finally I figured out the maximum width the scarf flaps can be, and the minimum length for her to be able to tuck it into her jacket.

The yarn for her hat will be a double thickness of Paton's Silk Bamboo in Sea, a colour that matches her winter coats quite well.  I think, however, I will use some Bernat Satin to work up swatches and test out different ideas.  I had been thinking of working the hat vertically, but now that I've got her measurements and taken a good look at the shape of her head, I don't think that will work as well.  Ooh... unless...   I could work it vertically without short rows for shaping and leave the top with a drawstring closure.  This way, she can put her ponytail through the opening, if she wants.  Hmmm... there's a thought.  Oops, never mind.  She wouldn't be able to put her pony tail through herself, and the whole point is for her to have a hat that she doesn't need to have someone else put on for her. 

The closure for the scarf portion is another issue.  The scarf G showed me is a knit scarf that has a narrow, ribbed, portion near the ends, then it widens again before coming to an attractive, leaf-like point.  At the narrow, ribbed portion on one side, there's a second layer that's open, so she can tuck the other end through, and the two narrow portions overlap.  This lies somewhat flatter than a keyhole slit, but I think a keyhole might actually be easier for her to thread the scarf end though.

Whether I decide to work the hat vertically or horizontally, I will need to figure out stitch patterns that will combine stretch and flexibility to conform to her head shape, but will also have enough stiffness, at least along the edge, to stay open when she tosses the hat onto her head while holding the scarf flaps.  It also has to be somewhat dense to cut the wind and actually keep her warm.  The double thickness and silk blend will help with the warmth, but cutting the wind is always a challenge. A surface braid has the flexibility and stretch, but it doesn't cut the wind as much as I'd like.  Hook size and yarn thickness can help with that, though.

So, lots to think about and figure out. 

Time to break out my hooks!

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