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Friday, February 19, 2010

New Adventures and Ventures

I have decided to delve more into the retro world of the 1950's influenced "Facinator" headpiece style. I dipped my toes into those waters a bit last year with "Moonlight Serenade" (see last January's BridalDreamTeam winning Challenge headpiece) and another I called Camellia.

Both Moonlight and Camellia featured Ostrich feathers, hand wired sterling silver, freshwater pearls and Swarovski Crystal sprigs, and knitted sterling silver wire leaves. They were my first venture into the wonderfully messy world of playing with feathers. Chasing feathers around the house is an interesting experience. I was finding bits of ostrich everywhereOstrich sticks to everything by its little feather barbs, and of course static electricity. A year later, and I am still cleaning up last years feather remainders! I decided that when I would start playing with them again, the feathers were going to stay out of the sewing room as much as possible. And also, while working with feathers, I am not going to wear polar fleece.

So, a few weeks ago, I spent several days on the computer hunting down new supplier sources for millinery flowers, Russian/French veiling, Ribbons and more feathers. And then in the following days, the packages began to arrive. Oooooh! What fun! New products will be arriving into my Etsy shop in the coming weeks. The flowers are stunning. These are not A. C. Moore, Michael's Crafts or Hobby Lobby flowers, but true Millinery flowers. I am also going to delve into the world of making my own handmade silk flowers for the types of blooms that I cannot find.


Also coming will be new bridal veils with new edgings. I am experimenting with some new styles and new edges. I will be adding a 1/4" double faced ribbon edge. I found the most wonderful ribbon a few weeks ago that will drape beautifully on a veil. The ribbon is available in White, Ivory and Diamond White/Silk White. I am going to experiment with a 3/4 inch in the near future to see if it will work on a curved edge. I am also considering a satin bound edge for special order veils. It is a very elegant veil. All of this inspiration to experiment has come from two very lovely brides that I have been working with from Project Wedding. These wonderful young ladies have given me the shot of enthusiasm that I really needed to get back to business after the passing of my mother last year. And somehow, returning to millinery just seems right, since she was a milliner.
Another new adventure has been in the world of knitting! I belong to a group of knitters called the "Presque Isle Stick Ladies". We meet at the Presque Isle Gallery Coffee Shop in Erie every Tuesday night to knit, crochet and what ever fiber. I was asked to teach a class on how to make a knitted and felted handbag. To wind the clock back about 6 years or so, I need to introduce everyone to Avis. Avis was my best friend during our year in Minnesota. She is an avid knitter, and had a stash that was beyond SABLE. (stash accumulated beyond life expectancy). Avis is also a designer, and was in on the felting craze before it was popular. I had never heard of it before I met Avis. I wasn't even knitting when I met Avis. I had left my knitting behind me years long before I met Avis. Then Avis sent me a prayer shawl just before I had surgery, and that reawakened my need to be with one with the fiber gods again. When we moved to Erie in 2005, I started haunting the local yarn shop, Cultured Purl, as a way to meet people. And then, I discovered felting too, and got hooked, along with other knitting projects.
When I started "re-knitting", I had said I would never knit on a needle smaller than a size 9 which is medium size needle. I have now learned to never say never. I had thought that with some of my brain difficulties I would have problems with the more complex patterns in knitting and the smaller needles. Knitting had something else in mind. And it seemed that the more I knitted, the more my brain retrained itself. Knitting is really an amazing craft. Its rhythms and patterns are soothing and mediative. Relaxing. Soothing to the soul. The regular repeats of a pattern do seem to re-order, "defrag" one's harddrive so to speak. So, with in a few years, I started knitting more than just basic prayershawls and basic purses. I knit a coat. A vest. I ventured to a beret that challenged me to use double point needles in a size 5. Then mittens. And when I was doing the cuff of the mittens I realized, hmmm, if I can do this cuff, why couldn't I knit a sock? So I bought a book on knitting socks visually (Ann Budd's I Can't Believe I'm Knitting Socks)and now my husband has been blessed with handmade socks to wear in the winter.

Anyway. Back to the Tuesday night group. Our leader, Shelley, asked me to teach a class on knitting a felted handbag. so, I designed a pattern for a Messenger Style Handbag. This is my first real pattern endeavor as a knitter. This pattern has pictures for those that like to learn visually, like me. I am excited about teaching my first class. I have six students starting in March, and another six waiting for a class in mid April! Since I will be knitting along with the class, the messenger bags that I am knitting will go up for sale in my Etsy shop. I don't need that many more handbags! At least of the same style. I have other ideas to pursue!

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