27 December 2016

My Brother Knows Bartholomew Cubbins

Although I don't recall my childhood household having a lot of Dr. Seuss books, I've always been partial to The 500 Hats of Bartholomew Cubbins. (My humor tends towards a kind of whimsical lunacy on some days.)

My brother, Architect, has his own whimsical streak. Five years ago he and his daughter, Hoja, had the idea of creating a one-day, live-action, role-playing children's theater event based on the first-day experiences of a group of new wizarding students a la the Harry Potter universe. (I've chronicled the making and the day itself on this blog via the tag wizarding event if you are interested.)

Architect, who designed and built most of the day's props and sets, also played our school's Headmaster. I offered to make him some proper hats as no wizard or witch worth his/her salt goes without proper headgear.

"Hats are radical; only people that wear hats understand that."
Philip Treacy
(Irish milliner and designer based in London)

It began with this Photoshopped image he sent me, along with the request: Might I be able to make him a wizard's summer straw hat?

The making of that hat was its own adventure (chronicled here, here, and here). It included a practice run of crocheted, variegated yarn which mastered the concept and a follow up variation made of raffia to get the cone top right.

It's so fun to just slip on different hats and play
different characters, even if it's just for a minute.

Reid Scott, Actor

The final hat was right fine and much appreciated. Other hats followed--for house wear, for formal occasions--each with its own prototype to test out style and fabrics. (Some were later worn by other cast members.)

First version of the headmaster's formal "Great Cap."
Fabrics: Drapery pieces found at Goodwill.
And as worn by our videographer during a pre-event portrait shoot.

The crocheted "witch's cap" worn by the event-day photographer.

Second draft of the Great Cap.
Fabric: Old cotton bedspread and upholstery remnant.

Final version of the Great Cap.

 As worn on event day.

The House Cap
Fabric: Upholstery remnants. Purchased, dyed feathers as accessory.

The House Cap worn during the morning's Sorting Session.

The House Cap worn by our Headmaster as he relaxes in his private office.

* * * * * * * 

In more recent years, Architect has employed more mundane head coverings.

This past year he asked me if I might make him some caps for various daily-living needs: for sleeping, for when he is in his workshop, for when he is in his house.  I agreed, but on one condition: that I might also make him a proper cap for reading!

As the house and workshop caps I used the basic pattern that came with a historical pattern for a banyan, a house robe worn by men in the 18th century.

Pattern from the online company, Patterns of Time.

I made a draft version using a piece of fabric from an old apron I'd made some time ago. I didn't like how it came out, though. What the pattern illustration shows as a lop-sided cap turned out looking more like a military cap that wanted to be an old-fashioned sleep cap.

So I pinned down the point with a pin Hoja had given me once upon a time and literally went back to the drawing board, redrafting the top piece to be a little less pointy. With each succeeding cap I tweaked things a bit more. Unfortunately I forgot to take pics of Architect on Christmas day when he tried each cap on and pronounced them all very fine. But here's how they all turned out.

House cap: Heavy cotton flannel.

Workshop cap: Cotton denim from an old pair of jeans. The emblem in
 the front is a patch my late sister embroidered some twenty or so years ago.

Reading cap: Heavy cotton, velveted drapery fabric with 
heavy-weight, wide wale corduroy for the band. 

All three caps were lined with the light-weight flannel
recycled from a worn out shirt from my husband.

The two sleep caps, one lined and one a single layer, were cut from old cotton polo shirts.

* * * * * * * *

The 500 Hats of Bartholomew Cubbins. Dr. Seuss. Inside cover. 

23 December 2016

Happy Solstice 2016

"Winter is the time for comfort,
for good food and warmth,
for the touch of a friendly hand
and for a talk beside the fire:
it is the time for a home."

                    — Edith Sitwell






May the deeply dark star-filled nights,
the cold, bright mornings, and
the long shadows of afternoon silences
be yours and be for all who share your path.
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