Monday, December 8, 2008

Snow Day

Today was Dusty's first official snow day from school. I'm afraid these snow photos are actually from the impressive snow that we got two weeks ago, but hey it's still snow. I am once again in the throws of moving. This time around I have chosen denial as my modus operandi. I highly recommend it. It's all so insane that it's surreal. I am supposed to have the samples for my summer line ready by January 15th, I am still filling winter orders, I'm trying to spend some quality time with my son and we are moving. Well, after changing countries and having to itemize all our belongings for Canada customs and filling out immigration papers for Tony this really all feels like small potatoes. I have made some great friends here and they are being so helpful to me. I have a new friend, Amy who found us the beautiful house we are moving into and she is an amazing artist. She loves to paint rooms and she is helping me transform my new studio from the strangest time capsule of a room frozen from 1969 to a beautiful work space. I could not do this without her. The room was a strange shade of lime green aged over 40 years and grey, which may have at one point been white. There is a built in work counter which is a kind of dark salmon colour. We have had to work around this. I am amazed that already I almost like the colour. I'll keep posting photos of the transformation as it progresses. Apparently we are going to be living in this new home by next Sunday. Since we need to be out of this one on Sunday I would say it will somehow happen. How this comes about will be one more adventure. Until next time. Happy Hatting

Friday, November 21, 2008

Lunenburg winter market

This past Thursday I set my wares up at our local winter farmer's market. I must say it was so nice to be selling to people whose faces I could see and who were actually my neighbours. Don't get me wrong. Selling over the internet is an amazing phenomena and through etsy it has even managed to feel more personal, but nothing compares to chatting in person. This is just such a small town. I keep repeating myself, but I can't quite get over it. I had one gentleman come in to introduce himself to me since I was soon to be his neighbour. Several women seemed to know everything there was to know about me although we had never met before. This photo is of 10 year old, incredibly beautiful and talented Katie. I would say that she chose this hat, but really the hat chose her. They have been looking for each other since this hat was born. The most incredible thing about the farmer's market (next to the french pastries) is the sheer volume of talented people that I am meeting. Seems like everyone here is an artist. One woman who might order a felt hat from me has a loom in her home. Another woman was a potter. I'm in good company. Katie in the photo is home schooled and was selling spindles that she makes for spinning wool from her own sheep. She plays violin, piano, and probably a million other things. Her mom's not in the photo, but she should be. It's so inspiring to meet someone so dedicated to their child. I'm going to participate in a small crafts show on December 6th, so I will get another healthy dose of old fashioned hat selling soon.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Moving Again

We got an offer that we just couldn't pass up. We are moving up the street, a five minute walk away (although straight up hill) To this incredible arts and crafts house with 3 bedrooms, a studio, tons of storage space and a beautiful porch overlooking the harbour for very reasonable rent. I think we are moving in 2 weeks or something ridiculous like that. Oddly enough the photo of this house is in my last post. It's the blue house overlooking the town. Crazily, I was really resistant to moving because I love our street, but I just couldn't justify not doing it. Especially since my working conditions have been dire, with Boxes and bolts of fabric all over the living room. It will be so exciting to have a door again. There is actually a separate entrance into the studio, so theoretically I could pack a lunch, go out the front door, reenter through the back door and feel like I've gone to work. Hopefully this will help me from being distracted by laundry and dishes. I've been dreaming of felting again. Definitely getting to the end of my production rope. I've got something black orange and red in my head. I'll let you know when it comes out.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008


Very big day here. I realize there's a historical election going on right now, but that pales to the news that Dusty took the school bus to school for the first time today. I tried not to cry I really did. Dusty couldn't have been more excited he even got himself dressed. (unheard of from my child) So after Dusty was on the bus at 7:45am I got to take a walk around town and take some pictures. Lunenburg is one of the most beautiful places in the world. I feel totally fortunate to be here. All these photos are taken within a ten minute walk from our house.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Life seems to be slowing down to a more normal pace. I even got to take the time to make sure that Dusty was properly outfitted for Halloween. For the past two months he has changed his costume wish on me about once a week, but he finally settled on VAMPIRE. Not that he really knows what a vampire is, but they look scary and that is all that matters. Of course, only a hat maker's child would have a cape made out of silk and lace from the 1800's. Just happens to be what I have lying around the house. Trick or treating in Lunenburg was a blast. It's just such a perfect small town for it. Dusty and his friend Lilly, the tiger, got it down to a science looking for only houses with decorations or pumpkins to knock on and Dusty said trick or treat in the same tone one would say your money or your life. As can be expected, we did not get to bed without a complete over the top blood sugar level melt down, but we made it.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

A beautiful Bride

Sometimes it's just great to take a break from the madness of production and deadlines to create something unique and beautiful for someone unique and beautiful. When a neighbour asked me to make a wedding hair piece for her beautiful daughter Caitlin, it turned out to be such a breath of fresh air for me. So, here are some photos of Caitlin adorned by my silk, ivory rose with a tiny vintage forget me nots centre. I couldn't have asked for a better model.
I have had quite the string of wonderful things happen to me since I moved to Lunenburg. The latest is my new studio space, which I have yet to move into. It will be in the upstairs of a local store. I can't say too much about it, but the owner is being beyond generous and I can only repay her in hats. The space is big and gorgeous and as soon as I can find the time to help her clear it out I will be able to move in. I have thought about posting photos of my present working conditions, but decided against it since it kind of wrecks The Hat Junkie mystique. Better to look at my web site and see this wonderful, put together, little shop than to see photos of my living room and dining room over taken by shipping boxes, my work table piled high with unknown STUFF and every hand made flower trying to protect itself from the yogourt and blueberry covered hands of a very active four year old. Even if I never do an ounce of work at my new space it will be a relief to have my things out of harm's way
As the orders continue to pour in, I find myself dreaming of having the time to make curtains for our new apartment, mop the floors, take a yoga or maybe even ballet class, but ofcourse when the orders slow down I will begin dreaming of my summer hats and wondering when the next order will come. Until next time. Happy Hatting! Anna

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Getting a Grip

I'm still working on getting orders out, but I came to the realization that I also need to be a human being, so I have attempted to institute a work day for myself. I won't pretend that I haven't broken my eight hours of work per day rule, but it has made a difference. The main factor in helping me stay sane is the incredible woman that I have working for me, Wendy. She is a sewing wonder. I could not do this without her. I realize she is between bigger and better things, as she is a talented designer in her own right with a master's degree, but I'm grateful for her while I've got her. I received my very first order from my own web site. That was quite cool. I was so surprised when I saw the payal payment. I was sure there had been an error. The etsy orders keep on trickling in. It seems that my new heaband, Madeline, is a small sensation. The stores are selling them quickly. Actually, sometimes I feel like all I do is make the flowers that go on this hat. I've added two cute colours that were special orders.
Elsewhere in the news, Tony nearly got himself kicked out of town, by not quite saying the right thing in regards to pets. For those of you who know Tony, you might be aware that he is not exactly fond of pets. I on the other hand would rescue any and all animals that looked at me needingly. So, Tony has been working for some wonderful people. They have a very cute dog, Yoda, that is their life. Yoda is their child, their pride and joy. For some reason, Tony thought that he could share the story of how much he hated my neurotic dog, Maddie, and how it came down to the choice of him or the dog. Well, on hearing this story, Pat went pale and in her own words, felt every ounce of love for him pour out of her heart. Well, the short of it is that Tony was forgiven, but the infraction has not been forgotten. So, now Tony is working for this interesting couple who have a pet turtle that is twenty years old, impressively big and walks around their house freely. Wanting to make conversation, Tony told them how he has always wanted to make something out of a tortoise shell. Although he did not score any brownie points, they handled it quite well and I'm happy to report that at this point he still has a job. Now, because truth is always stranger than fiction, my cat got stuck in a tree, quite high up. This is a repeat performance for Chert. He did it in Marblehead and three times in Stone Ridge. This was his first canadian treeing. It's a pathetic event. He cries pitifully and insists that he just can't come down even though the tree is at a 60 degree angle. Tony feels really put out when Chert does this. I think he feels that the cat is trying to manipulate me and is just doing this for attention. In the past it has taken three days for the cat to muster up the courage for the descent and then he just walks down the tree. I knew that Chert could make it down in time, but he had already been in that tree for 36 hours and I felt awful. Our neighbour had attempted to get him down with a ladder, but the rustling of the branches caused by placing the ladder against the tree caused Chert to climb to the very top and out on to the outermost 2 inch diameter branch. So, at 11p.m Tony climbed up the ladder and then climbed the tree, and grabbed Chert. I was lying in bed and did not get to witness this, but I did hear an incredibly loud and angry hiss/meow/shriek and then Tony came down and reported that Chert was down. In his most grumpy voice he told me that I might want to call him in, he had a bit of a fall. Chert was waiting at the side door and was fine. He went right for the food dish. The next morning Tony confessed to me that Chert was going crazy in his grip and that he was actually forced to drop him about 30 feet. Really, there's nothing left to say, so until next time....Happy Hatting!

Sunday, September 28, 2008

The Insanity Continues

It's been really hard to write lately because I've been so busy that I feel as though I've lost my short term memory. I've caught myself trying to make my coffee with a plate instead of a coffee filter. When I mean to turn the faucet on I turn the toothbrush. I wish I was kidding. I will try really hard to make sense. We've had some great visits from Tony's family and aside from having wonderful company I also had some wonderful slave labourers around. Basically, the rule has been that if you come into the house you will be put to work. Everybody has obliged me so far. Our niece, Maddy was here and I had to take advantage of her beauty by having her model hats for me. I posted one of the photos of her in a little felted cocktail hat on etsy and wouldn't you know it, it made it to the front page of etsy. That resulted in a small avalanche of sales.
Dusty has also started French school. It's a public school nearby which has a pre primary year or junior kindergarten. For the first time ever he actually says he likes school and seems quite proud of himself when he remembers a new word. They speak to the children entirely in French. All those notes and forms that come home with kids from school are also solely in French so it's been pretty good for my brain aswell.
Well, these are all the thoughts that I can formulate in my head. Maybe I'll try writing down the thoughts as they come to me before they are transplanted with images of polar fleece and serger thread. Until next time.....Happy Hatting!

Sunday, August 24, 2008

a new obsession, straw braiding

You can tell I'm busy when the length between posts increases. I'm trying hard to not panic. I have seven stores due in 2 weeks, plus the etsy orders keep coming. I keep trying to remind myself that this a good problem to have. I work constantly. Anywhere I go I bring ribbon with me to sew flowers. I have one woman who is helping me and she is amazing, but I could seriously use more help even if it's just for cutting hang tags. As you can see in the photos, I am spending a lot of time making the same thing over and over again. Strangely, I enjoy this, but it gets pretty exciting when I get to change colours.
Yesterday was our wedding anniversary. We went to this wonderful farm museum called New Ross Farm where they recreate life on the farm in the 1800's. I had read that they were having a yellow birch hat making demonstration. There wasn't that much in it for Tony, but that's the kind of guy he is. Well, in actuality Tony really liked the old plows and the sampling of fresh churned butter and Dusty was quite taken with the pigs, cows and horses. I, however, didn't see any of this because I was braiding yellow birch sheens. It was incredible. First the log is soaked in a pond, river or bathtub, then the bark is stripped and then you go at it, whittling away with your knife. You have to get pretty well into the log before you start getting long enough strips for braiding and you can't cheat by sawing into it first. For some reason it won't work. Then you soak the strips and start braiding.
I wish I could describe why this all makes me so happy. It's just so darn satisfying. The estimated time to complete a hat is 100 hours. Sure makes you appreciate all the unseen labour that goes into that made in China straw braid hat on your head. There is no machine that does this. One of the things that's so amazing is that you can't find a lot of interesting straw braids anymore. When the millinery trade was in it's hey day, there were all kinds of beautiful braids available, but what is mostly available now is raffia and artificial straw and the braiding is very standard. I would love to be able to recreate the braids of days gone by. Well, Tony's comment to me was, Oh Boy, Here's a whole new way to lose money. It's true I'm so attracted to things that have no connection to income. I guess it's the plight of every artist and craftsperson. How to find the balance between art and making a living.
So, Tony did go out this morning scavenging for yellow birch and he found it. I guess there will soon be birch logs in my bathtub.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

The Adventure Continues

It's been just over three weeks since we arrived here in Nova Scotia. I'm still thrilled with the beauty and friendliness. Dusty continues to establish himself as a regular about town. He is particularly fond of the library these days. It's a great place. They have no overdue fines. They also gave Dusty a little prize for reading 5 books. Clearly, the size of the books was not an issue. It was a one inch plastic cheap made in china robotish figurine. Dusty believes he has won the lottery. He spent the entire afternoon building his spaceship and bed and floating him in the sink. In fact he is sleeping with him clutched in his little palm as I write. The dollar store has also become one of his favourite hangouts. Although in true canadian fashion it is more of a three dollar store. He may have burned out on the fisheries museum after his 14th consecutive visit. I think he also loves living in a neighbourhood where he can stand outside on the stoop and holler to passersby. He often will insist that they stop by to see his colouring pages which I have downloaded from the computer. He's really into starwars now, although he has never seen it, but he calls all the characters including Darth Vader heroes. It's a bit of a transition for him having to keep his underwear on, now that we have neighbours less than two acres away. I would call it a constant battle. It's amazing how many times you can get a kid dressed in the morning.
I, personally, have been trudging my way through reestablishing myself in a different country. One of the great things about Nova Scotia is that nothing happens quickly. One of the worst things about Nova Scotia is that nothing happens quickly. Although I love my local post office, it seems to take about 9 days for letters to arrive from the states. The forms one has t fill out when moving to a new place, not to mention new country, are endless. After being in the states for twenty years I have been surprised to discover that I basically don't exist. Well, I'm actually getting good at this form filing purgatory. So, the adventure continues and I will keep you posted.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

We're finally here

We are alive and well and living in Lunenburg , Nova Scotia. It's truly amazing when you put one foot in front of the other and then you finally get there. To start I should say that we are so happy here. It's beyond beautiful. it's great to be living by the ocean again and the people are so friendly and calm that I see I will need to seriously chill out to fit in.
There were so many wonderful experiences along the way. I would be lying if I described the move as anything less than a stress fest, but when you are in need of help it's amazing what you discover about friends. About one week before our departure date I discovered that we needed to itemize all our worldly belongings for canadian customs. This sent me over the edge. It was at that moment that I felt that I was at my complete limit and proceeded to melt down. I went upstairs and cried in utter despair. But just when you think things can't get worse..... Tony calmly called up the stairs to tell me that he was stung by a yellow jacket to which he is severely allergic. It usually takes about 20 minutes before he goes into a coma. So, I called 911 and within minutes we had the volunteer first responders, pitch forks in hand, in our house and then the paramedics. Everybody was unbelievable. I am eternally grateful to all these people. The short of it was that thanks to Tony's epipen and probably a not very deep sting, he was fine, but we did spend the day at the hospital and Tony got a ride in an ambulance with me following behind. My friend Nicci picked Dusty up from school and watched him all day.
So, needless to say we had a little set back. The incident actually calmed me down for a few days since it put life in perspective for a while. Nicci and her husband Dave were beyond helpful. They watched Dusty constantly as well as helping us pack. Another friend, Kaye , who I didn't get to spend nearly as much time with as I would have liked also showed up at our door step and spent the day packing our kitchen. This wonderful old man, Perry Cobb, who is well into his eighties also stopped by to offer assistance. Tony's friends from work helped out. It was incredible to be the recipients of such generosity.
Dusty was a dream. He was so enthusiastic about every step. I had been so worried about him seeing his home reduced to boxes and a pile of rubble, but he loved it. He called the tower of boxes his castle and was thrilled to sleep on the floor with us in the living room. He loved the 26 foot moving truck and assumed that since all our belongings were in it that it was our new home. We spent a ridiculously short time in Marblehead, less than 24 hours, that was awful to be so tired and to have all this family and friends around and not be able to spend time with them, but they are all going to have to come to nova scotia. And then when we spent the night at the Howard Johnson's hotel in Portland, Maine, Dusty wanted that to be our new home. He has a great room here and he made a sign today saying, Please go Away. He loves to shut himself in there and play. This is nothing short of miraculous for me. We also have a museum in town called the atlantic fisheries museum. We have been there 10 times in 14 days. We got a membership. Dusty is known as their resident child and is greeted be name when we come in. I think we will probably be sorounded by boxes for quite some time, but things are definitely coming together. The first photo is Dusty having a snack in Stone Ridge, in front of the moving van with all our belongings on the grass or in the truck. The second photo is at Hirtles beach near us, where one side is wild ocean and the other side is fresh water. (This is the fresh water side)

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Nostalgia for the good old days

I have been sifting through tons of papers, old photos and documents because in three weeks we are moving to Lunenburg, Nova Scotia. Things sure get slowed down a lot when I have to pause to stare at the photos I come across. I keep finding photos of craft shows that I have done which gets me longing for the good old day when I did several shows a year and met many wonderful customers and fellow artisans and had my beautiful booth made by my extremely talented woodworker husband.
Tony made this booth for me in our courting days. It was like a little hat store complete with hat stands, mirrors, shelving and moldings. As he was building he would explain that his goal was to create a booth that I would be able to set up and break down with ease. Well, he later went on to describe the booth as a complete failure. It was heavy, awkward and required many tools. Tony had to accompany me to every show. The resentment was intense. He would be the sweetest most devoted husband for days on end and then the day before a show he would turn into the most unrecognizable ogre. Eventually, we had a burning of the booth ceremony to save our marriage. When I do shows now I have a seriously scaled down set up which is simple and sweet, but it's not the beautiful little shop that Tony made for me. I do still have Tony, though, so the trade off was worth it.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Crazy Busy

The countdown to Nova Scotia has begun. Are we really doing this? How crazy busy can one person be?
I have found a wonderful new sales rep in Toronto. I'm quite excited about expanding my line to more stores in Canada. I couldn't figure out why my new canadian stores wanted their winter hats in July and August, but then I remembered, oh yeah, it's Canada. I'm so used to our October heat waves here in The Hudson Valley, NY. So, here I am trying to sort through the attic, pack boxes, and keep the house clean for people coming to see our house, ( we are renting it out). At the same time I'm filling my wholesale orders and of course the etsy orders. Amazingly, I have not really lost it yet. I think I have come to the realization that all I can do is put one foot in front of the other and that freaking out only makes it harder.
Dusty and his best friend Sophie (who is three years old) had the best conversation the other day. They were sitting across from each other at the kitchen table when Dusty matter of factly said to Sophie, "So, Sophie, do you have a Bagina or not" (spelled like it was pronounced) And Sophie replied, "Dusty, my mom made me I wasn't made in China." I love listening to those two discuss life. It's heartbreaking that I am separating them by moving. They see each other every day. Tony and I are hoping that they will eventually get married and hopefully she will by that time stop decking him. So in honour of Sophie I am posting this photo of her modeling a hat that sold. I'll make another one one of these days. Until next time. Happy Hatting. Anna

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Truly Amazing

There have been many truly amazing things going on this week. In the hat world I feel like a rock star. The orders just kept coming this week. Tony, my husband, would ask me in the morning if I sold any hats in my sleep. This is a dream come true for me. To be able to work from home and be there for my son, have a successful wholesale line of hats, and also to be able to sell my one of a kind creations. The hat I am posting here is a hat that I made just a couple of weeks ago and was so in love with. I was so thrilled when it sold.
Today, however, I had to admit that there are greater things than hats. No, really, I think it's true. The flowers in my garden are incredible. The poppies opening are such a fleeting moment. I'm usually so bad at recording things, but now that I'm a blogger I actually got my camera out. Then Dusty and I went off to the sand box, where Dusty discovered some small disgusting centipede or something. It was as though he struck gold. He named it Don't eat this caterpillar and called him Catty for short. He went on and on for quite sometime about how this was his best friend in the whole world. It is evening now and he has since completely forgotten its existence.
The move to Nova Scotia is ridiculously close. I was in the attic today hyperventilating about what to do with the boxes and boxes of fabric that I have accumulated over my life time. Well, I guess it will get done just like everything else. Until next time...Happy Hatting,
Anna, The Hat Junkie

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Bound for Nova Scotia

Hello again, I mentioned a couple of entries ago that we are bound for Nova Scotia. The big move is only about six weeks away. I am in some sort of stupified denial stage, similar in feeling to being nine months pregnant. I hear your question. Wow, why? Because of a job? No. Do you have family there? No. I guess the short answer is we are having an adventure. The long answer is:
(a) I grew up in Canada, so we can. Socialized health care is a really great thing for self employed people.
(b) My husband grew up on the ocean in Marblehead, MA and I lived there for twelve years. We really miss the ocean.
(c) I can't take not living in a town anymore. We are in the country, in the Hudson Valley, NY, which is one of the most beautiful places on earth, but we have to drive everywhere. The roads are fast and sidewalks are non existent. I find myself driving to towns 20 miles away a little too often. I have definitely stamped my carbon footprint.
(d) I really want my son, Dusty, to be a hoser, play hockey and say, Eh!
I picked Lunenburg, NS, from a picture on the internet. I'm not kidding. I just saw this photo and said, "Tony, we need to move here. " He several times suggested that we might be open to other nearby locations, but I shut him down in my typical tunnel vision fashion. The town looks quite a bit like Marblehead. We went there last year and it took our breath away. You can walk everywhere, There are tons of cute shops and cafes and a whole lot of amazing ships in the harbour. Oh yes, this reminds me of my last reason for moving. (e) I have been in the states for twenty years and have taught myself to write- theater, harbor, center, favorite in the american spelling and frankly I'm sick of it. THEATRE, HARBOUR, FAVOURITE, CENTRE. Oh, that felt good.
A little of hat life, Last week was amazing. The orders were just rolling in from etsy. Well, at least rolling in for me. It was so exciting. Felt like I won the lottery. This week is the depressing come down. Feels like pulling teeth to get anyone to look at my sites. Oh, well, perseverance. I'm posting a photo of my new hat design for the fall. Her name is Brooke. I think it's pretty darned cute, but of course I'm a little biased. Until next time, Happy Hatting. Anna

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Chef Dusty

People often ask me if I make hats for men or boys. The answer is not usually because they are just not that fun. Basically, my true joy in making a hat is when I get to the details part, the icing on the cake. There is, however, an exception to my rule and that is if you are my son or husband. Dusty loves when I make him hats, or anything for that matter. This is Dusty in his new outer space chef hat. It also doubles as a space helmet. For this it gets pulled down over his eyes. The special du jour is mashed rotten avocado mixed with uncooked kidney beans.