Saturday, November 30, 2013

Scalliope Hat ~ a Free Crochet Pattern & Tutorial

Scalliope? What in the world is that?

1. A portmanteau word, formed by combining Scallop with Calliope.
2. A cosy new hat pattern from Mrs. M...

...who really wanted to call this pattern Calliope, or Carousel, or Merry-Go-Round. But these excellent names were already taken, so something new was indicated - and Scalliope it is. I rather like it.

Scalliope features a Stretchy Star Stitch crown, with a unique oval starting method that creates a flat, almost undetectable center. The distinctive band is made from quick and easy half-double crochets worked into the back bar for extra texture and warmth.

My Scalliope has already passed some extreme wind-chill tests - these stitches give a lot of insulation!

Front post stitches, worked at intervals, coax the band into soft scallops...

...and also provide a handy place to tuck some tiny embellishments.

Scalliope Hat

S/M (fits up to 21½")
M/L (fits up to 23½")
Size may be easily adjusted up or down by increasing or decreasing crown rounds.

Yarn Requirements:
About 200 yards of worsted weight yarn
Small amounts of worsted or dk weight yarn for embellishment

Stretchy Star Stitch: 3 stars and 3 rows per inch
Scalloped Band: 12 sts = 3-1/4"

Marker or yarn scrap
Darning needle

Yarn I Used: NaturallyCaron Country (now discontinued, alas)

How Did the Yarn Behave?
Beautifully as always - glossy, smooth, frogs easily, great stitch definition. I still can't believe they discontinued this wonderful yarn. (Caron, are you listening?)

Hook Sizes:
For crown: US I/9, 5.5mm, or hook that will give gauge
For band: US H/8, 5mm hooks, or hook that will give gauge
For tiny bows, US F/5, 3.75mm (for worsted weight yarn) OR US D/3, 3.25mm hook (for dk weight yarn)

All crochet terminology is American.

Special Stitches Used:

Forward Loop Chain (forlp ch): Cast forward loop onto hook above working loop; yarn over and draw through all loops on hook. Click here for photo/video tutorial.
Stretchy Star Stitch (stretchy str): Chain 2, ins hook in back loop of 2nd ch from hook, yo and pull up a loop, ins hook in bottom ridge loop of same ch, yo and pull up a loop (3 lps on hook), ins hook in next stitch, yo and immediately draw through all lps on hookClick here for photo/video tutorial.
Single crochet 2 together (sc2tog): Insert hook into indicated stitch, yarn over and pull up a loop, insert hook into next stitch, yarn over and pull up a loop, yarn over and pull through all loops on hook.
Dropped Half-Double Crochet (dropped hdc): Yarn over and insert hook, from bottom to top, through top strands of indicated stitch 2 rows below; complete hdc as usual, skip next st of current row.
Front Post Half-Double Crochet (fphdc): Yarn over and insert hook from right to left (or if you're crocheting lefthanded, from left to right) through indicated stitch; complete hdc as usual, skip next st of current row.

Scalliope Hat Crochet Shorthand Pattern

RS facing at all times.
Crown (worked spiral):
Starting with slipknot, forlp ch 3. Do not turn.
Round 1: Rotating work to right, stretchy str in each back ridge across (3 stars), rotate work to right again, stretchy str in each st across (3 stars) = 6 stars total. Place marker to indicate round end. Do not join. Work will look oval-shaped.
Round 2: 2 stretchy stars in each st around = 12 stars.
Round 3: *2 stretchy stars in next star, 1 stretchy star in next star. Repeat from * around = 18 stars.
Following Rounds: Increase by 6 stars each round until hat is 54 (60) stars around, moving marker up with each round.
Work even for 7 rounds.
Note: Crown will seem very loose, but will tighten up as band is stitched.

Band (worked in joined rounds):
Notes: Band Round 1 is worked in the top strands of the stretchy stars AND in the spaces between stretchy stars. (See phototutorial below.) Round 1 must result in a multiple of 6 stitches. If you have increased or decreased hat size, adjust Round 1 accordingly.
Switch to smaller hook.
Band Round 1, Size S/M: Sl st in top strands of next stretchy str to join, ch 1; starting in same st, *hdc, hdc in sp after star, (sc2tog in next stretchy str and next sp) twice. Rep from * around = 72 sts.
Band Round 1, Size M/L: Sl st to next stretchy str to join, ch 1; starting in same st, *hdc, hdc in sp after star, (sc2tog in next stretchy str and next sp) twice*. Rep from * to * 8 times, (hdc in next star, hdc in next sp) twice. Rep from * to * until 2 stars remain, (hdc in next star, hdc in next sp) twice = 84 sts.
Band Round 2: Sl st to join, ch 1; starting in same st and working in back bars, hdc around = 72 (84) sts.
Band Round 3: Sl st to join, ch 1; starting in same st, *hdc in back bar of next 5 sts, dropped hdc in top strands of hdc 2 rows below. Rep from * 11 (12) times = 72 (84) sts.
Band Rounds 4-5: Rep Band Round 2.
Band Round 6: Sl st to join, ch 1; starting in same st, *hdc in back bar of next 5 sts, fphdc in dropped hdc 2 rows below. Rep from * 11 (12) times = 72 (84) sts.
Band Rounds 7-8: Rep Band Round 2.
Band Round 9: Sl st to join, ch 1; starting in same st, *sc in back bar of next 2 sts, hdc in back bar, sc in back bar of next 2 sts, fphdc in fphdc 2 rows below. Rep from * 11 (12) times = 72 (84) sts. Sl st to join.
Cut yarn and weave in ends. May block if desired.

Optional Tiny Bow
Use a smaller than usual hook for your yarn, and very firm tension.
Leaving 4-6" tail, knotless chain 4, tr in back lp of 1st ch, ch 3, sl st in same lp (first half complete), ch 3, tr in same sp, ch 3, sl st in same sp. Cut yarn, leaving 4-6" tail, and pull up and out of loop. Wrap both tails (in opposite directions) once around front of bow and to back; knot to secure. Yarn tails may be woven in, or left long and pulled to reverse side of hat for greater security.

Make 3 bows; tuck into dropped hdc and fphdcs at band round ends (to cover joins).

Scalliope Hat Crochet Pattern in Mostly Plain English, with Photos

Don't forget to look at the Special Stitches above.
Right side will be facing you at all times.

Crown (worked spiral):
Starting with slipknot, forward loop chain 3 (click here for Forward Loop Chain photo/video tutorial). Do not turn.

Your next stitches will be made into the back ridges of the forward loop chain, indicated here by arrows:

Round 1: Stretchy star (click here for Stretchy Star photo/video tutorial) in each back ridge across (3 stars)...

...rotate work to right,
stretchy star in each stitch across (3 stars).
Your hook will be going into the same space as it did on the other side of the row - how easy is that?

Now you should have 6 stars, shaped like an oval:

Do not join - we will be working in a spiral. Now is a good time to place your stitch marker so you know where the rounds start and end. (I was working without a marker, and I paid for it a couple of rounds later. No photos, but believe me some frogging went on! After that I used a marker.)

Round 2: Make 2 stretchy stars in each star around = 12 stars. Notice how the shape is becoming circular:

Now we'll be increasing 6 stars every round. (Sorry, but I didn't take any photos of this bit.)

Round 3: *2 stretchy stars in next star, 1 stretchy star in next star.
Repeat from * around = 18 stars.
Round 4: *2 stretchy stars in next star, 1 stretchy star in each of next 2 stars. Repeat from * around = 24 stars.
Following Rounds: Increase as above by 6 stars each round (another way to describe it is to add 1 extra star between increases on each round).

Keep increasing on each round until hat is 54 (60) stars around, moving marker up with each round.
Then work 7 rounds even (no increases).
Your crown should now be about 5-1/4" (5-3/4") long from center to edge.

Don't worry if the hat seems very loose - it will tighten up as you stitch the band.

Band (worked in joined rounds):

Important Notes:
  • Band Round 1 is worked in both the top strands of the stretchy stars AND in the spaces BETWEEN stretchy stars. (See photo below.)
  • Round 1 MUST result in a multiple of 6 stitches.
  • If you have increased or decreased hat size, adjust Round 1 accordingly so you end up with a multiple of 6.
Switch to the next smaller hook.

All Sizes: Slip stitch to next stretchy star.

Remember, you'll be working into the top strands of each star AND into the spaces between each star:

Band Round 1, Size S/M only:
Chain 1.
*Hdc in same stitch,
hdc in space after star,
sc 2 together in next stretchy star and next space,
sc 2 together in next stretchy star and next space.
(You have just turned 3 stars into 4 stitches.)
Repeat from * around = 72 stitches.

Band Round 1, Size M/L only:
Chain 1,
*hdc in same stitch,
hdc in space after star,
sc 2 together in next stretchy star and next space,
sc 2 together in next stretchy star and next space.*
Repeat from * to * 8 times - you should be about halfway around the crown.
Now for a funky increase:
hdc in next star,
hdc in next space,
hdc in next star,
hdc in next space.
(The funky increase will help give you a multiple of 6 at the end of the round.)
Now we return to our regular stitch pattern:
repeat from * to * again until you have 2 stars left, then:
hdc in next star,
hdc in next space,
hdc in next star,
hdc in next space.
You should now have 84 stitches in your round.

Note: In the following rounds, nearly all the stitches will be worked into the back bars of the previous round's stitches. To find the back bar, tip the edge towards you. The back bar is the horizonal strand that runs just beneath the back loop:

Band Round 2:
Slip stitch to join,
chain 1;
starting in same stitch and working in back horizontal strands,
hdc around = 72 (84) sts.

You can see how working in the back bar tips the top of the previous row forward:

On to Round 3!

Band Round 3:
Slip stitch to join,
chain 1;
starting in same stitch: *hdc in back bar of next 5 stitches,
dropped hdc in top strands of hdc 2 rows below.
Repeat from * 11 (12) times = 72 (84) stitches.

Here's where you'll make your dropped hdc:

Tip: After you make your dropped hdc, don't forget to skip over a stitch in the current row. The stitch you skip will be right behind the dropped hdc. Resume stitching in the next stitch after this one. This will keep your stitch count even.

Band Rounds 4-5: Repeat Band Round 2.

Band Round 6:
Slip stitch to join,
Chain 1;
starting in same stitch, *hdc in back bar of next 5 stitches,
Front Post hdc in dropped hdc 2 rows below.
Repeat from * 11 (12) times = 72 (84) sts.

Getting more scallop-y! (Scallopier?)

Band Rounds 7-8: Repeat Band Round 2.

And here we are at the last round!

Band Round 9:
Slip stitch to join,
chain 1;
starting in same stitch:
*sc in back bar of next 2 stitches,
hdc in next back bar,
sc in back bar of next 2 stitches,
front post hdc in front post hdc 2 rows below.
Repeat from * 11 (12) times = 72 (84) stitches.
Join with slip stitch.

Pause for a moment to admire those lovely scallops:

Then cut yarn and weave in ends. You may block the hat if you like, but it probably won't need it. :)

Optional Tiny Bows

Use a smaller than usual hook for your yarn, and very firm tension.

Leaving a 4-6" tail, knotless chain 4,
treble crochet back loop of 1st chain,
chain 3,
slip stitch in same loop (first half complete),

chain 3,
treble crochet in center space,
chain 3,
slip stitch in same space.

Cut yarn, leaving a 4-6" tail. Pull yarn end up and out of loop.
Wrap both tails (in opposite directions) once around front of bow and to back; knot to secure. Yarn tails may be woven in, or left long and pulled to reverse side of hat for greater security.

Tuck the little bow into your hat band, under the dropped hdc at the end of the band round. (You can tuck it anywhere, but here it will cover the slightly bumpy join).

If you like it, make a few more and play with the colour arrangement. Or you can make them all the same colour. I chose these shades to match my winter jacket:

You can customise your hat band all sorts of ways - try crocheting it in stripes, with a single colour button or bow for trim. Or string little chain-stitch or tiny bobble garlands from one post stitch to the next. Decorate it with a brooch or a single large button. Or try something funky like this:

The possibilities are endless. :)

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You may do whatever you like with the items you make from this pattern, but you may not sell the pattern or reproduce the text without permission. Links to this post are always welcome. If you have any questions or find any mistakes in the pattern, please leave a comment below (or you can contact me in Ravelry).

Thanks for viewing, and happy crocheting!

P.S. Don't forget to enter the Grateful Giveaway (open until December 8, 2013), for a chance to win a special crochet, knit, or sewing magazine from Interweave Press (also some chocolate and as-yet-unrevealed goodies).

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Thursday, November 28, 2013

Words of the Week: Grateful ... and Giveaway

And now, a special Thanksgiving installment of Mrs. M's Word of the Week, with not one, but two featured words.

This week's words are Grateful and Giveaway.

grate·ful (ˈgrātfəl/), adjective
Feeling or showing an appreciation of kindness; thankful.

give·a·way (ˈgivəˌwā/), informal noun
1. A thing that is given free.
2. An outburst of generosity in the blogging world.

Used in a sentence:

"I am so grateful for all of you," said Mrs. M to her readers, "that I would like to hold a giveaway."

~ ~ ~

(Here we depart from our usual format to talk about some rather astonishing statistics.)

Somewhere back in July, I passed the million-pageview mark. (I know! Can you believe it?) As of this writing, that number has climbed to 1,260,520. Good grief. More statistics: 608 posts, 618 followers, 8563 comments. (Of course some of those are my replies to your comments, but still!)

What can I say but "Thank you"? I so appreciate all of you who visit, and read, and comment, and email, and share bits of your lives and thoughts with me. I am truly grateful for you.

On to the giveaway:

I'm a big fan of Interweave Press. They publish some of the finest fiber and craft magazines around, and I would love to send out one of their special issues to a lucky winner. So I'm offering you a choice of ONE of these:

Interweave Crochet Accessories - chock-full of wonderful accessory patterns (including a hat by yours truly):

OR, Interweave Stitch Gifts - containing dozens of cute and useful stitch projects, sure to be appreciated by my sewing friends:

OR, Interweave Knits Holiday Gifts - for the knitters out there, lots of lovely projects suitable for gift-giving:

(Click on any of the magazine names above to preview the exciting contents.)

And what's a giveaway without chocolate? As usual, I'll be throwing in some Green & Black's organic chocolate bars. And perhaps a small surprise or two. :)

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How to enter:

1. Leave a comment telling me which special issue you'd like to win. (Be sure there's a way for me to reach you.)


2. If you can't leave a comment because you don't have an online profile, then send me an e-mail (see my profile for the address), and include your chosen magazine in the subject line.

That's it!

This giveaway is international.

The deadline for entries is Sunday, December 8, 2013 (midnight, US Central Standard Time).

The winner will be announced on Monday, December 9th.

And again, thank you all. :)

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Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Reading While Crocheting

(And coming up for a breath of air before diving into the next project.)

What am I reading?

Daddy-Long-Legs, a classic of the early 20th century, written by Jean Webster and recently recommended to me by Ellen. I love this book -  it's funny, it's sweet, it's romantic and just a tiny bit sad, and it has a very happy ending. (I like happy endings, don't you?) Though written for a younger audience, Daddy-Long-Legs is full of great words like amiable and inimical and acquisitive and misanthrope. More importantly, it's a good story well told and well written. I raced through it the other morning (while crocheting) and liked it so much I'm actually reading it over again (while crocheting) before returning it to the library.

Here's a favourite quote from the book:
In the spring when everything is so beautiful and green and budding, I feel like turning my back on lessons, and running away to play with the weather. There are such lots of adventures out in the fields!
(Obviously a kindred spirit.) And another great quote:
It isn't the big troubles in life that require character. Anybody can rise to a crisis and face a crushing tragedy with courage, but to meet the petty hazards of the day with a laugh--I really think that requires spirit.
Which brings me to my second topic.

What am I crocheting? In the sketch it may look like a lacy slice of pizza, but in real life it's a shawl. I call it the Shawl from Hell Shawl That Requires Spirit (see quote above). Talk about petty hazards - I've frogged and re-stitched enough to have made this thing about 3 times over. I seem to have been crocheting it forever, though it's really only been about 10 days.

First the gauge wasn't right, then the pattern just wasn't jiving with the yarn. I told myself that blocking would heal all, but on the final round realised that it wasn't good enough. So I started over, re-designed the pattern, and made the whole thing again. And then re-designed the border. About 4 times. While stitching the last row of the border, I noticed a mistake in the very MIDDLE of the shawl. (Mrs. M clutches her head and groans.) Finished the border, took my courage (and scissors) in hand, and carefully snipped into the middle of my finished (ha!) project. Placed the stitches above the snip on holders, and frogged back to the beginning of the mistake. (Luckily it was only about 4 stitches wide.) Re-worked the section, threading the yarn back through the stitches above, and splicing in a new piece of yarn to join to the other cut end. Wove in the ends. Wove in the other ends. Folded it up and thanked Heaven for the grace to see it through. Now I just have to block it.

And after all this, I can't even show you a photo because the darn thing is for a magazine! This is one of the frustrations of selling patterns to magazines: the Big Reveal comes way too late. "Hey everybody, look what I made ... last year." Ba-dump-bump. :)

Dear me, I meant this to be a short and snappy post and here I am maundering on. (Ooh, good word - "maundering".) Don't mind me. I've got yarn on the brain.

Back to the table, where another project awaits. (That is a table, by the way, in my sketch - a round table - though it looks like a giant smile with objects floating above it. I just forgot to draw in the surface and the legs. The book is not floating, either - it's propped up against another book.)

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What are you reading? Or working on?

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Friday, November 22, 2013

Sunset, Snow, and Cinnamon Rolls

It's been a damp and drippy grey week (for the most part). Crochet deadlines are hanging over my head like the clouds in the sky, and spare minutes are taken up with yarn in my hands and bits of pattern running through my head.

What with weather and craft obligations, it's not been a good week for outdoor exercise. But on Tuesday, which was beautifully bright and clear, I snatched a walk just in time to catch the afterglow of sunset on the lake.

The sky was an indescribable twilight blue, somewhere between peacock and steel, fading to the faintest flush of apricot on the horizon:

Dried flowers and leaves showed beautiful in silhouette against the evening sky:

The trees and houses along the shore cast magical reflections:

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Today (Friday) we wake to a thick powdering of snow on the ground. (How delightful to open the bedroom curtains and see a world turned suddenly white.)

While cinnamon rolls bake in the oven, I step outside with my camera to see what we can see. The air smells scrubbed and fresh as it so often does after a snowfall, and everything looks clean and bright under the clearing sky.

Even the burdocks behind the house are beautified by their burden of fluffy white:

A squadron of geese flies high overhead, squawking for a lost October:

Back on our doorstep, one last-lingering pansy bows its head to the inevitable:

Indoors, the air is warm and spicy. The cinnamon rolls emerge from the oven, bubbling over with buttery-brown sugary goodness:

A faint popping sound from the hallway signals the last-minute roasting of coffee beans as I finish cooking breakfast.

We sit down to plates full of goodness.

Local eggs, scrambled and topped with Swiss cheese and the last of our fresh chives. Broiled tomatoes from our own little planter - the vines are long frozen, but the fruit lives on, ripening on the kitchen counter (hooray!). Topping the tomatoes is crumbled frozen basil from this year's basil patch, smelling like a green whiff of summer as it thaws on the hot tomatoes. And, of course, the cinnamon rolls, beautified with a layer of buttery icing.

Snow outside and fragrant food inside. The sun streams through the south-facing windows and lands like a warm caress on the back of my neck. On the table between us, the seasons overlap: summer on our plates, autumn in the background, and Christmas getting closer all the time.

Not a bad start to the weekend. :)

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P.S. I'm sorry I haven't been answering your comments lately - a change in my work schedule has thrown off the balance of the entire week, and the extra crochet deadlines have made it hard for me to blog (and read your blogs) as regularly as I'd like. I can't seem to squeeze it all in right now. But I thank you for your comments and hope you'll keep leaving them. They truly make my day!

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Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Word of the Week: Inexorable

My, how the days do fly. Here we are again with yet another (kettle drum goes BOM-bom-BOM-bom-BOM-bom-BOM-bom-BOMMMMM)...

This week's word is Inexorable.

in·ex·o·ra·ble (inˈeksərəbəl)
1. Impossible to stop or prevent.
2. (of a person) Impossible to persuade by request or entreaty.
synonyms: relentless, unstoppable, inescapable, inevitable, unavoidable, irrevocable, unalterable; persistent, continuous, nonstop, steady, interminable, incessant, unceasing, unremitting, unrelenting

Used in a sentence:

"In the howl of the wind, in the bitterness of the air, I sense the inexorable approach of Winter," said Mrs. M as she put the flannel sheets on the bed.

(No, I don't really talk like that. Or not usually.)

Most recently seen or heard in:

"The Horse and His Boy" by C.S. Lewis

Why I like this word:

Sternly grand and rather mysterious, it rolls around the mouth like organ chords in some vast cathedral. Inexorable is an austere and dignified word - I can feel my back straightening when I say it.

If Inexorable were a person, how would he look? Definitely male, for starters: pale and upright, narrow of jaw, with steely grey eyes and a firm mouth. He may be wearing a toga and laurel wreath; whatever he wears is worn with dignity.

Once he decides on a course of action, nothing can dissuade him; his greatest fault is the lack of a sense of humour. Because of this, Inexorable gets dragged into many a dry and depressing sentence (Google "inexorable quotes" and you'll see what I mean). It takes the lighter touch of a genius like P.G. Wodehouse to give Inexorable his proper due:
It would seem to be an inexorable law of Nature that no man shall shine at both ends. If he has a high forehead and a thirst for wisdom, his fox-trotting (if any) shall be as the staggerings of the drunken; while, if he is a good dancer, he is nearly always petrified from the ears upward. --The Man With Two Left Feet
I can't find anything funny to say about Inexorable - in fact he's rather difficult to be around, and very hard to work into conversation - but I like him nonetheless. He ranks right up there with Immortal, Invisible, Invincible, and Unalterable for sheer syllabic splendour. Like them, he should be used but sparely, lest he (and the speaker) descend into the realm of bombast.


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Are there any words you like that you find hard to work into conversation? Do tell.

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Friday, November 15, 2013

Mr. M Builds a Coat Rack

For years Mr. M has been wanting a new coat rack.

We used to hang our coats on a bland wall-mounted affair - a glorified 2x4 with wooden pegs. But when we painted the kitchen this had to come down, and Mr. M was determined not to put it back up. He wanted to build something better.

We Googled "do-it-yourself coat racks", but somehow none of the results fit our aesthetic. For a few weeks we tossed ideas back and forth until one day I said, "What about a ladder?" and Mr. M said "Yes! With hooks down the sides."

Mr. M sketched out some plans, went shopping for a bit of lumber and paint, and got to work.

 And here is what he made....

Mr. M gets all the credit for design, labour, and finishing. He cut the feet and the top at proper angles for leaning the ladder against the wall, and replaced the top and bottom rungs with shelves for extra storage. The top shelf holds a basket for gloves and mittens:

And though he didn't plan for it, we were tickled to find that our kitchen radio fits perfectly onto the bottom shelf:

Since I wanted very much to include something upcycled in our project, we decided to use charity-shop forks as hooks:

On bending stainless steel flatware: it's harder than you might think, and turning the forks into hooks cost Mr. M quite a bit of effort and sweat. He also (very carefully) drilled between the tines to make room for the screws which would hold them to the wood (breaking a drillbit or two in the process until he figured out the best method).

I think the forks look very appropriate on a kitchen coat rack. :)

Between the shelves, Mr. M built flat, offset rungs for draping scarves and other cold-weather impedimenta:

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A note for the sake of honesty: when people blog about their coat racks, they usually post photos of a rack hung with one elegantly-draped coat or scarf, and perhaps a pair of shoes beneath. (Witness my photos above.)

But here's the cluttered reality:

Guess which side is mine?

A month or two from now, and it will be even more covered with coats and scarves as our Wisconsin winter gets into full swing.

But thanks to Mr. M's hard work and skill, I think our new coat rack can take anything we hang on it.


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