Ginny Harrington: She wears all the Hats

Hi—My name is Ginny Harrington and I am a 5th generation native to Western Colorado. My family settled in the Montrose, Colona and Ridgway areas beginning in the early to mid-1870’s, where they were ranchers and hard rock miners. My husband Tom and I live on a cow-calf ranch in Carbondale, Colorado where he is ranch manager and we run some cows of our own. In this first blog I thought I would introduce you to a little bit of what I do and who I am. Hat Maker and gear builders -- I don’t have a fancy hat shop in town where I sell my wares to folks who wander by. I am part of a growing movement of western artisans and craftsmen who have set up their shops in their homes, garages, or even outbuildings on the ranches where they reside. Out of necessity many pioneers and settlers would take up a craft to provide an item of necessity. They learned to make their own gear. We are continuing the tradition of making the gear and tack that we use; and make some too for family, friends and neighbors.

We do this in the evening hours and the odd times off, and when night calving the heifers. We do it because we take pride in our gear and we like making things with our hands. I say we, as my husband is a saddle maker, makes chaps, and other gear of the trade, repairs tack; and even makes some ‘fancy stuff’ like purses and belts too; if you catch him in a weak moment. I caught him in a weak moment and he will be making a carved leather hat band, for the Fusion Show hat I am making. My husband first did leatherwork in 4-H when he was around 14 years old. He works out of a converted ranch outbuilding that once stored tools, grain and even housed the walk-in- cooler, with meat lockers for all the ranch hands.

 Kingsley M50 Foil Stamping Machine. Circa 1940’s. I believe this is the model from research and pictures I have found on ebay and Facebook. The model and serial number are worn off. I use this to stamp the sweatbands. Kicking it old school around here.

Kingsley M50 Foil Stamping Machine. Circa 1940’s. I believe this is the model from research and pictures I have found on ebay and Facebook. The model and serial number are worn off. I use this to stamp the sweatbands. Kicking it old school around here.

Another gear maker that will be collaborating with me on my hat is Travis Clelland of Filer, ID. Travis will be building the buckle set for the leather hat band. I am really excited about this. Travis participated in the 2016 Fusion Show. I first learned to sew in the third grade in 4-H and have loved to make stuff with my hands since. When looking over the catalog for the 2012 Cowboy Poetry Gathering in Elko we saw a hat making class listed. It sounded like something I would really enjoy while my husband was participating in the leather carving class. I was bit by the bug. My husband began purchasing tools of the craft for me and helped me set up my shop in our converted garage. It has been wonderful to have his support.

I call my hat company Quarter Circle Lazy H – Hats by Ginny. The Quarter Circle Lazy H is our cattle brand and was a gift from a dear friend, from a pioneering ranch family in our home area. My 100% beaver cowboy hats are all done by hand, by me – from the blocking, flanging/ironing, pouncing/sanding, burning, luring/oiling, and shaping, to sewing in the sweatband and liner, stitching the bound edge, and stitching on the hat band. I even make my own hat liners. The exception for the Fusion Show is the hat band and silver which I am really excited about, as detailed above. I am not a full-time hat maker. I am a typical ranch wife, wearing many hats.

On the ranch -- In the winter you might find me helping drive the tractor and feed wagon to feed the cows when we are short-handed or on my husband’s weekend on. We do all cow work horseback. I especially love checking on the baby calves and the cattle drives to and from the summer country. We have 2 grandkids, Riordan age 3 and, Tegwyn 6, that along with our daughter, Crystal come to spend the summer with us. I love being a mom and a grandma and the ranch is a perfect place to raise kids up right. Irrigating, being horseback, and mutton bustin’ at the rodeo are some of the grandkids favorite activities. Ranching requires long hours and sometimes little sleep, but it is the life we love. We take pride in raising cattle that becomes the beef that is served at your families table

In the community – Like many ranching families we are busy serving in the community. I am membership chairman of our regional cattlemen’s organization. I keep track of memberships and plan our meetings and annual banquet. I also serve on a committee for Colorado Cattlemen’s Association. For our 12 week community rodeo series, I am in charge of updating the website with results, photos and news releases. Tom keeps busy serving on all of the above boards.

Ranch Ropings -- We are members of the Rocky Mountain Ranch Roping and Stockhorse Association, a statewide organization in Colorado that hosts ranch/big loop ropings. Tom is president of the board. I have announced our state finals a couple of years and Tom ropes in the ropings. We also host our own Roaring Fork Ranch Roping (RFRR) in September and this is our 8 th annual event. For RFRR, I help acquire sponsorships, do the advertising, secretary, time, and announce. Tom has roped in the Pro-Am Vaquero Roping since its inception. I enjoy going along and just watching for a change.

Self Sufficient – Canning, Gardening…. I’m addicted to gardening and canning. There’s a certain satisfaction that can be found in growing your own food. I do have to buy some produce at lower elevation to put up the approximately 500+ jars a year of salsa, pickles of all kinds, jam and fruit. We don’t eat it all, friends, family, neighbors, ranch crew and some of the ranch ropers help us with that.

I hope that these words have helped paint a picture of what it is like to live and work on a ranch, where we take pride in not only raising beef to feed families like yours and ours; but where we like to build the gear we use, serve our community and have a lot of fun too!! I am sharing a few pictures from both ranch work and my hat making. Check back as I will be sharing more as I start on my hat for the Fusion Show.

The Fusion Show is proudly sponsored by Denim & Velvet Marketing and the following...