A Packable Cloche Hat and Other Life Tales.

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Hello, Happy end of April. One day I will make my peace with the month of April, but not yet. For now I am happy to be heading into the beautiful month of May and I have made just the hat to celebrate. This is my new Maude cloche hat. I’m really excited about this one. I know I have said that before, but this time I really mean it.

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The Maude cloche hat is made from hemp braid that I sew into a hat on my antique straw braid sewing machine. The ribbons are so pretty and come from Japan. The flowers are made from my endless supply of hand dyed organic cotton and hemp jersey fabric scraps. The flowers easily come off the hat and can be interchanged with other flowers and can also be worn alone as a brooch. The hat also looks quite classic without the flowers.

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Best of all this is a packable hat. Are you travelling yet? Maybe dreaming of travel? There’s nothing worse that worrying about crushing a pretty hat. (OK, there are some things worse, but I would like to stay in the world of pretty things for now.) I hesitate to tell you that I tested out the hat by putting it under a wooden block for a couple of hours, but I did. Please don’t go to this length, but I needed to see what would happen. It got a little bit crushed, but I put it back on my head and within a few minutes it relaxed back into shape. I’ll feel better if you put some rolled up clothing inside the hat before packing it, but it’s nice to know that it really is very resilient.

Making a sample of this hat in every possible colour combination was on my to do list, but today I realized that if I went down this road I would be able to share my new hat with you at the end of summer. So, here is the teal ribbon and I pulled out an unfinished flower spray as a colour combination example. Sharing everything unfinished just might be the necessary wave of my future.

This brown ribbon has a little hint of pink in it. Reminds me of old sepia photographs. If you would like me to make you a custom Maude hat feel free to request one of these other ribbon choices.

As for flower colour choices, the sky’s the limit. If you have a vision in mind just let me know or you can browse through THESE FLOWERS for inspiration. Of course, you can add as many flower sprays as you like.

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I also discovered that these sweet little rosettes look very pretty on my Lavinia hat. This hat is also quite packable and the hat band can be worn alone as a headband. I have listed this brown one in my shop, but I can make this in so many colours.

There are many other creative hat endeavours happening in my studio, but there are also many pre and post “work” creations. Every single morning begins with coffee and knitting. This is a non negotiable. The kitten runs circles around me trying to steal my ball of yarn and the dog lays down with one eye open, staring at me, waiting for the cue to walk, but I will not be moved until I have knit for at least an hour. After dinner, I spin and then knit again until I can’t keep my eyes open. Basically, my hands move from the moment I wake till the moment I crawl into bed. If my hands are moving I am happy. I am super proud of this shawl. I spun all the yarn on my early 1800s, made in Lunenburg County spinning wheel. Deborah Robson, in the Fleece and Fibre Source Book, talks about how spinning, knitting and other fibre arts connect us to the past while creating memories for the future. So perfectly put. She also talks about the concept of slow fibre. It’s so nice when an author can put your thoughts into writing.

Our friend Desmond lives on the property of some local folks who tend a flock of sheep. If you are ever out in Blue Rocks having a coffee at the Point General Store you just might be lucky enough to see this flock of sheep walking in single file onto a boat that takes them out to a nearby island where they live for the winter. I casually mentioned to Desmond that I would love a small bag of wool if he could score it. In my mind this bag was about the size of a paper lunch bag. A few weeks ago Desmond came by on his bicycle carrying two full garbage bags of wool. Two entire sheep fleeces. Two entire unprocessed, rather filthy sheep fleeces. Well, who am I to walk away from a challenge. I grabbed about a pound of wool and stashed the rest up into the attic (which now smells like a farm). I spent several hours washing the fleece. I wish I had known about skirting before I washed it, but next time. Skirting is where you first sort through the fleece and throw out pieces of poop and other unusable parts. Makes the washing process a little less disgusting.

After washing and before carding comes a process called, Picking. This is where you tease the fibres apart and flick out the grass and whatever else the sheep have rolled in. There are some simple machines for this process and one day I will get one because this is really, really, time consuming. It is quite relaxing, but it brings slow to a whole new level. In days of yore this was work given to children. My child has no interest. Once the fibres have been picked it is time to card the fibre. These antique hand cards were a gift from my friend, Sharon Orpin. They belonged to another friend, Elly Danica, who passed away last year. I think Elly would be pleased that they are in my possession. There’s that connection to the past thing again. Finally, it is spinning time. Turning this local fibre into yarn is so rewarding. Connection. It’s all about connection. Seeing the sheep, knowing where they graze, adds so much value, emotional value, to the finished product. I’m looking forward to naturally dyeing this yarn in the summer.

A brief word on the passage of time and my inability to control it. Last week my baby turned 18. I will say what every mother before me has said, “How did this happen?” I have been observing myself from above and noting that I’m a bit of a basket case these days. Sometimes I blame it on the casual stressors of life, but if I take a moment to be honest with myself, I know that change is the real reason. Watching a child turn into an adult, a really beautiful adult, is intense. When Dustin was around two, Tony made baby Dusty an arts and crafts rocking chair. He lived in that chair. A few weeks before Dustin’s birthday I walked into Tony’s SHOP and noticed a beautiful chair. He had wanted to keep it a secret from me, but once I spotted it he told me that he had built an adult size version of baby Dusty’s rocker.

My six foot one baby.

I instantly broke down crying. There it was, my jumbled up emotions in the form of a beautiful piece of furniture. Tony is still going to make the seat part. I’m so incredibly proud of my young man, but I do miss the little boy. Grandchildren? (Don’t tell him I said that.)

Well, thanks so much for spending some time with me. Hope to see some of you in Lunenburg this summer, but if that’s not in the stars, I will settle for our online play dates. Take Care. Anna


  1. Dr. Randi Warne on April 28, 2022 at 5:31 pm

    He’s HUGE! I can’t believe that is Dustin. My, my, my….It’s a good thing that adults don’t age. ; ))

    I love the cloche. I don’t need more hats. I WANT more hats. Hmmmm (remind me, how did this work out the last few times?).

    Wishing Spring for everyone! Randi

    • HatJunkie on April 28, 2022 at 5:43 pm

      Oh Randi, What’s need got to do with it. I do think you need this hat though. xoxo

  2. Colleen Callahan Sharpe on April 28, 2022 at 7:35 pm

    Watching our kids change to adults is bittersweet. My 24-year old son is home this week from grad school in Ontario. He left home for the first time this past September. We were lucky to have him here for a year beyond him finishing his undergrad, so we miss him. The emotions came tumbling out again this week, as I thumbed through photos of childhood!!

    • HatJunkie on April 28, 2022 at 8:34 pm

      It never really ends, does it, Colleen? Love to you.

  3. Anne on April 28, 2022 at 9:26 pm

    I love this post. So “you” in so many ways

  4. Doris on April 28, 2022 at 9:57 pm

    What a great story…. It’s difficult to see our babies grown. But there are so many stories to follow … a lot of great loving ones.