Saturday, October 18, 2014

More Talent in Lunenburg

Fall is in its full splendor in Lunenburg.  Every morning I walk the dog and marvel at the beauty of this amazing town I live in.  I also marvel at my inability to capture it in my photos.  Well, lucky me.  I have joined forces with one talented lady that lives right here.  Her name is Madeleine Kendall and she sure knows how to capture beauty.  Please visit her web site and consider her for when you might need a photographer, if you live in Nova Scotia.  Aside from being talented, she's also a wonderful person, a mom of two extremely adorable little girls and why not support someone like that.  Her web site is

This photo was taken on the back harbour trail of Lunenburg.  It was once the railroad track.  Almost looks like there is a train coming in the distance.  You can actually bike or walk for miles and miles on these trails, as they connect from town to town.    This hat is my Organic Charlotte hat, made from organic cotton and hemp fleece and hand dyed by me, just so that I can be sure to make things as time consuming as possible.

I think of this as polar fleece meets 1910.  This is my wide brim Margaret hat. Do you like my coat?  I found it in a local thrift shop for $12. It was just sitting there waiting for me.

I just love the reds in the background matching the red of my Organic Madeline headband.  I live in these headbands.  Some people dye their hair. I dye pretty fabric and put it in my hair.

Here Maddy (Madeleine) played with a photoshop technique where all but the hat is black and white.  This hat is Mabel Rose and is made from hand dyed organic cotton and hemp stretch jersey.

For quite some time, I have been wanting to photograph an older woman in my hats.  I strongly believe that there is beauty at every stage of the game and it drives me nuts when 17 year olds are used to sell clothing to 50 year olds.  Well, looks like I waited long enough to have become that older woman myself.  Now I need to go find a younger woman to photograph, so that people don't think my hats are only meant for senior citizens.  Don't take me too  seriously.  I'm not fishing for compliments here.  I'm just right there in the middle of life.  (I hope)  I'm actually enjoying my grey hair.

I'll leave you with this photo which was taken next to the lesser seen exterior of our Town Hall.  Aside from loving the composition of this shot,  I am also amused by how closely I ride the line between fashionable and bag lady.  To me it is a preview of a possible future self feeding pigeons in the park, calling tuppins, tuppins a bag.  But I'm not there yet.  Enjoy this beautiful season and if you can't capture it with a photo like Maddy does, you can always capture it with your eyes.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

My Aimless Walk

I will begin this blog post with a hat and the adorable Andrienne from Quebec City who bought it from me, but that is just because she is so damn cute and I had to put her on here, somewhere. The real reason I am writing this post is to tell you about the great revelation I had and how one little radio show has set me back on my wandering way. While I sew, I listen to podcasts and try to make up for all those years in school where I stared into space and learned nothing. The radio show is CBC's Maritime Noon, which is a local call in show and the subject was the purposeless walk. Many of the callers had trouble saying that properly, so I'm going with "aimless" Click here to listen to the show. The guest wrote a book called, The Slow Death of the Purposeless Walk. It really got me thinking. Aimless walking has always been one of my favourite past times. I have done it all my life and I have had many wonderful conversations with myself, possibly out loud, and I have discovered so many great little neighbourhoods or sites by just following my feet. Then one day a horrible thing happened. It's called, Busy. I hate that word and I use it constantly. While listening to the show, I realized I was doing what I never in my life thought I would do, (there's actually a long list of things like that) I was walking the same 45 minute route every morning. Blech, how did this happen? Well, I won't answer that boring question. I'm just going to tell you that I have mended my ways and I vow to stray from the path whenever the opportunity presents itself. So, here are a few photos from my first walk of redemption.
This is a view that I pass often, but don't often stop to enjoy. Lunenburg is eye candy. I really never get tired of it.
This gets the Best Driveway in Lunenburg award.
The house is not too shabby either. It's at the corner of Pelham st. and Sawpitt incase you would like to see it for yourself.
I headed off Pelham st. on to Bayview, which is a dead end road with only a few houses. This is the view onto Garden Lots, just past the Lunenburg town line. One of the people that called in to the show, suggested always having a camera with you on your walk. It helps you slow down and consciously see what's in front of you. Great advice. I forgot to do it today and I really regretted it, but tomorrow's another day.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Taking a Breath

Today I did something I have been dreaming of doing for months. I hung the closed sign up in my brain. I have been filling non stop orders and I finally got to the end of a list. These hats were part of a 62 hat order heading out to Beauchapeau Hat Shop in Niagara on the Lake. This was my fourth large order in a row, with etsy orders coming in between, selling from my shop and doing the Halifax and Lunenburg Farmers Markets. I'd like to say I did it all with Grace, sort of Jacqueline Kennedy style, but I'm afraid I turned into a pretty impressive basket case by the end of it. I put my back out for a week, came down with a cough that sounded like I had the Plague and was generally grumpy. That's not the word that came to mind, but I'm keeping it family style.
So, as I was making a few of my new Suitcase Sarah travel hats, it occurred to me that for someone who makes a whole lot of packable hats, I don't actually go anywhere.
I need to show you the folded version before I go on with my tale.
One excuse for not going anywhere is that I really love being at home. Especially on these glorious days of summer where I can just take my sewing out in the yard, but what tends to happen when you stick around the homestead is you notice that pile of laundry that hasn't been folded in months, or the dog hair on the floor that is turning itself into a second dog, so I resolved to get the heck out of town.
I took the bike out of the shed, pumped air in the tire, (this is significant information) looked at the rain and decided I was tough enough to handle it. I hit the back harbour trail and then onto Second Peninsula. I did get soaked, but I was so damn happy.
It took me about an hour and a quarter to reach my destination of Bachman's Beach. As you can see by my bicycle, speed is not my priority. One of the most amazing thing about living in Nova Scotia is that you can be all alone at a beautiful beach. I sat down, had a picnic and then ...
I collected a bag of seaweed to use as mulch in my garden. Sometimes, I need a sort of fake work goal to justify some time off. Anyways, it did the trick. I got back on my bike and began the ride home.
I'm always struck by what you see when you slow down. We drive this road quite often and I never would have noticed the Lilly pads.
Or this guy. I was at my absolute happiest when, you guessed it, I got a flat tire. It's been on my mind that I should really learn how to fix a flat, but that's as far as that thought got. I did bring my cell phone with me, so I called my knight in Shining Armour. His first question was whether I had tried standing on the side of the road and crying. I told him that was plan B. Tony came to the rescue and here I am... relaxed, happy, and ready to tackle the next round of orders. Well, almost.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Customer Appreciation Day

I'm having one of those female highly emotional days. Ya, you know what I mean. I'm just sitting here blubbering and thinking about how much I love my customers. I have also been crying over dog food commercials, but still, the feeling is real. The thing is, sometimes I get these great little pats on the back from some lucky newspaper feature or video and it's wonderful when it happens and sometimes I run into various brick walls and it's not so wonderful, but in the end the only thing that matters are these beautiful women of all ages that come and buy my hats. They are the ones that have made me one of the lucky craftspeople that actually gets to do this for a living. They are women from all walks of life and they all have stories and I love to hear them. Oh, good lord, I'm blubbering again. I'll get on with it. These three ladies didn't actually know each other, but you see the kind of love that hats inspire. Pictured here are Randi on the left (professor extraordinaire), Ruthie on the right and Judy in the middle.
One of my most colourful customers, Regina is a public service. In a town like Halifax where one discusses what shade of grey the sky is today, a woman who makes it her mission to dress as creatively and colourfully as she does is a site for sore eyes.
This is Evgenia. Really she is the daughter part of a mother and daughter hat team. Gali, the mom is just as beautiful and there are also two mini hat junkies in the group.
Anne is one of those inspiring ladies that always sees the bright side. Women like that are a beacon for me. I'm definitely a glass half empty kind of girl and when you meet ladies like Anne that are committed to milking every last bit of joy out of this life it puts the little things into perspective.
And then there are the countless women like Judy who I have never actually met, but have sold hats to over the internet or through a boutique that carries my hats and by way of back and forth messages and photos, our lives briefly cross. Judy contacted me because she works in her son's butcher shop in Ottawa and needs to keep her hair covered. You have to love a woman that wants to add a touch of beauty to the walk in fridge. I have just hit the bottom of my box of hat labels and by these calculations I have sold about 5000 hats in my Hat Junkie life, so to all those inspiring and beautiful women out there who have supported me over these last 20 year...I love you. This post has been brought to you by a serious hormonal imbalance and fueled by a pint of cookie dough ice cream.

Friday, February 21, 2014

The Making of a Wet Felted Hat

I love this hat and fortunately, I love my aunt, who I made it for even more. Making this sort of hat is a small act of insanity. There is no measuring the hours. I had to stop calculating somewhere after 3 days. Wet felting is a process I truly love and the clock just stands still while I am doing it, but how does one calculate the price of that? So, for now, I make these hats when the mood strikes and only for people I love. Thought you might like to see how this hat came into being.
I start with Merino wool roving. This is unspun wool where the fibres are combed into the same direction. I use merino because it is super soft against the face. Much of that said three days it takes to make this hat goes into fretting about the colour combination. Yup, that's just the way I am.
I make a template. I used bubble wrap, but I have used 2 pieces of oil cloth, sewn together. Has to be waterproof and bendable. I lay out four layers of whisper thin pieces of wool. The outside of the hat will be burgundy and the inside is black. I love the way some of the black will felt through to the outside.
This particular batte (the laid out wool) was humungous because I wanted to have enough felt to make pleats and a wide brim. Moving it to the kitchen counter did not go completely smoothly, but felting is very forgiving.
Did I mention that you need to make two wool battes. The second one is laid on top of the first with the template in between. Then you begin to wet it down with warm, soapy water.
This is what it looks like in its prefelt stage. Basically, I have gently rubbed both sides for about an hour at which point it is safe to remove the template. Then with one palm on the inside and one on the outside you make endless circles around each part of the hat body. Book a trip to the masseuse. I haven't done that yet, but dream of it daily. Then the hat gets kneaded like dough and eventually thrown against the counter 150 times. Great for anger management. The soap is rinsed out under hot water. At this point the hat has shrunk a whole lot. Now to block the hat.
As you can see, plenty of room for folds.
Once I'm happy with the general shape, I tie it off and let it dry for a couple of days. Wet wool likes to stay wet. All those pleats are then sewn with invisible stitches into place. I find with wet felting that it is better to let the hat tell you which way to proceed than to try to stick too closely to a plan. I trimmed the brim, wired it and covered the edge with velvet ribbon. Then comes the flower. I had planned to make a flat, petaled flower, but this hat just screamed rose, so I listened. As of today it is on its way to Montreal to live on one of my favorite heads anywhere. Hope you love it, Isa and I hope it matches your lipstick. (inside story)

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Heidi's Photos

Here we are in January. Not sure how that happened. I often have things I want to share with you, but then I have to make a choice between cooking dinner, cleaning the bathroom or blogging and sometimes I just have to do the "grown up" thing. After all, next week I will be 46 years old. That's quite the grown up number. I know, I'm supposed to say how young I feel, that numbers don't mean a thing, but I'll leave that statement for the serial optimists out there. I feel every year of it and possibly a bit extra. As a present to myself I am posting some of the wonderful photos that Heidi Jirotka took of me in my hats. She always makes me feel beautiful, so I love her. I don't know how she manages to make that haggard look disappear from my face, but some things are better left unanswered.
I had so much fun making this wet felted merino wool hat. I called it hat for a Russian Princess. It now lives in Salt Lake City, Utah.
This is my Emma rose hat in fleece with hand dyed silk velvet bows. One of my best sellers ever.
My Margaret Suffragette hat. She is practical, comfortable, strong and elegant and always votes.
Another wet felted merino wool hat. This one now lives with Randi in Halifax, Professor extraordinaire and fabulous person.
Penelope- wild and wacky. This photo is what I think Heidi does best- capture a spirit. She can do anything, but I think that's her passion and it shows in all her photographs.
Me in my little sanctuary/studio/hat shop. Hope to get back to you soon. If someone out there wants to clean my bathroom, I won't let 2 months go by before blogging again. Be sure to check out Heidi's web site. All her photos are spectacular.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Beauties at the Historic Halifax Market

Tony and I have been selling our wares at the old Historic Halifax Market. I really love it there. While the crowds are pushing each other at the Seaport market down the street, customers are leisurely shopping in the most gorgeous historic stone building. Regina ordered this fascinator from me and I wish I could take her everywhere to model it for me. That hair!
Two very beautiful women modeling my Margaret Suffragette hat. The lady on the right is Lynn Rotin. She is an amazing painter. We have set up a trade and five of her beautiful flower paintings will soon be in my possession and she will be the proud owner of one of these hats, but in grey and red.
Randi was back again this week and walked home with this hat. Randi understands that there is no such thing as too many hats. Turns out that Randi is an expert on Suffragette history and has promised to direct me to the right books, so that I can learn more.