It is rather nice to be considered part of the aristocracy, despite having absolutely no airs and graces! After receiving an invite to her 'oldest American' friends wedding, Samantha was told, "You are English, you must wear a hat! Or one of those fascinating things". Of course, the fascinating thing referred to was a 'fascinator'. Not accustomed to wearing any headgear other than a cap or crocheted animal shaped around the circumference of her head, this concept was a little alien to Samantha, despite being English! Her reaction to this statement was directed back to me; "You can make me one!" was not what I wanted to hear!
I had been given a task by said daughter, a few months earlier, which meant that my current project of crocheting a cardigan, was put on hold, once again. (This is what I do for 'down time'!) After deciding that attempting to make animals out of a ball of yarn and a stick with a hook on the end was not something at which I excelled, I decided to stick to something that was not beyond my capability. I have proved to be successful at knitting cardigans, and once I learned how to crochet, doing the same with one needle rather than two was not too difficult. My horse has remained in three pieces. The head was used in a 'godfather' spoof, and placed on my husband's pillow, but the joke backfired, as he was unsure as to what was this odd shaped stuffed woolly thing . The pig is a little more accurate, but mainly because it is pink! However, I digress! The job with which I was tasked, was to knit a scarf for my son-in-law. When asked by his wife, "What would you like for your birthday?", he replied, "A Doctor Who scarf". For those that are unfamiliar with 'Doctor Who', (and I will try to be as brief in an explanation as possible) he is an 'alien' who became popular on British television in the sixties, and has lived on! Instead of dying, he regenerates (giving opportunity to change actors) and each new doctor has a thing. One such doctor had a scarf. The story is that the lady tasked with knitting the scarf was given several balls of wool, and rather than stopping when it was of reasonable length, thought that she was to use all the wool. Therefore, the scarf went on and on! Edward wanted one of these scarves, and my daughter, in her own words, is not 'a knitter'! Mum to the rescue! I was given seven balls of wool, and instructions as to when to change colours. The instructions started with "Cast on sixty stitches" and ended with "Complete the 862nd row". Not only was my crochet project put on hold, but it would appear that most of my life was going to have to be also! Every spare moment was taken up with knitting this monstrosity.
Upon completion of the scarf, all fourteen feet of it, which was received with grateful thanks, from both Samantha, and a rather shocked, but animated, Edward, I thought I could return to the monotony of crocheting in front of the television, with no time restrictions.
The horses head and unattached body stared at me, as a reminder that I should not venture into areas where I had no experience. It was a wonder to me, therefore, as to why I agreed to make the headdress that my daughter felt she needed to wear! I did make the suggestion that perhaps she could buy one, made by someone who knew what they were doing, but the reply was a definite, "NO!" As she did not have a dress to match said fascinator, it would be impossible to know what colour to choose! Of course, the other problem was that they are not a common feature in our local stores. The third, and probably most prevalent fact, was that my daughter (being whom she is) wished for something that 'popped!'
Buying the dress was, thankfully, not as bigger deal as I had first thought. "You, me and Hannah are going dress shopping", was the announcement! "Why the three of us?", I asked, wondering why I was going to have to be a part of the action as it would be more appropriate for Samantha to have a native with her to know what would be appropriate wear. "Because Sandra is busy this weekend, otherwise there would be four of us". Slightly baffled by the reply, I resorted to the subservient that overcomes me, and accepted the demand! We did find 'the dress' in the first shop. The next stop was the craft store, where I would find all the materials necessary to make this amazing Piece De Resistance. I felt someone overwhelmed, as the two younger women looked at me with complete confidence. I felt like the young girl in Rumpelstiltskin, being given a pile of flax to weave into gold, whereas they saw me as the fairy godmother, able to change a pumpkin into a coach! I could not let the faces of these two children fall from wonder to horror, and decided to at least look as confident as they felt!
I found a base quite quickly, and then started to imagine what I was going to do. Walking from one aisle to another, and picking up a bag of feathers, another shopper asked, "What are you making?" I am still a little shocked by the open inquisitiveness of my fellow Texans, and found it slightly unnerving attempting to explain. "I am making a fascinator" was my reply. "Oh what fun!", was followed by, "What is that then?" I explained as best I could, but it was not understood completely. I continued on my quest for materials, and in doing so completely changed my mind as to the style. "What are you making?" asked another inquisitive shopper. "I am making a fascinator" was my reply. "Cool", was followed by, "What is that then?" Once again, I attempted to explain, but I could tell by the smile and vacant look that I was not being understood. Fully aware that it is not necessarily ignorance on the behalf of those to whom I am explaining, but my accent and use of words, I decided to use a different approach on the next person whom asked, "What are you making?" After going through the routine, I simply said, "A little hat like the Princess Kate wears". Everyone knows 'Princess Kate', so this appeared to be the phrase that worked. I would add that I am not always understood on the 'other side of the pond' either, so perhaps 'explaining' is something I should place on the chair with the horses head!
Making the fascinator was not quite as hard as thinking about making it! The idea that was in my head did relate to the finished article, and I sent pictures to my daughter, who thought that it might just be the thing that made her outfit 'pop'.
Transported in a cake tin (as I did not have an appropriate box that was high or long enough) I took the 'little piece of nothing' to the office, and left it on the seat. "What is that?" was asked, by the gentlemen in our office. I did not hesitate. "It is not cake!" This explanation was good enough, and they nodded moved on!
Samantha took the dog to the office on Saturday morning, and deposited him with Dana, while I went shopping on my own. I negotiated Costco, Walmart and the Dollar Tree quite successfully, not having to talk to anyone other than the check out staff, and somehow I manage to convey, "Fine thank you, how are you today" quite coherently! I received a picture of my daughter, wearing her beautiful accessory, as I was about to order dinner. The waitress smiled at me, looked down at her pad, put her pencil to her lips, and then grimaced. "What is that?" was the question asked. She was not asking about the fascinator, nor the picture, but my preference of beverage. Laughing, and explaining that it was not her fault, my husband repeated, in American, "Wadder!" If I cannot make myself understood with a simple word like that, what chance do the locals have with my explanation of headgear!
Apparently, the fascinator was a great success. Being English was the only explanation my daughter had to make as to why she was the only person with feathers and sticks protruding from her head. It was exactly what she was supposed to wear, according to the general consensus of women in attendance. I was quite delighted at all the compliments received. However, this one success has not in any way encouraged me to further advance my career in the millinery department!
The cardigan remains unfinished. Perhaps when it is finally finished, I shall embark on something a little more exotic, like a sweater! However, unless I am able to crochet a tiara to match, the airs and graces of the aristocracy will elude me. Maybe, I should just answer with the generic response, when asked, "What is that then?", and simply say ............... another story!