This is my favourite hat. (I apologize for the rather dull picture, but my camera is packed so this is a blackberry image.) I bought it about 15 years ago at One of a Kind from a wonderful woman who calls her business Gwendolyne Hats. And yes, her name is Gwendolyne.
I remember talking myself into it, as it was a lot more than I had planned on spending on a hat. But it was, in fact, a work of art. All the wonderful trims and textures in it - so incredible in its chameleon-like character that it seemed to go with every coat. I knew it was an investment piece even then.
For whatever reason, a few years ago it didn't feel good on my head. It was tight and gave me the worst hat head ever, which it hadn't done before. Does your head grow after you turn 50?. So I would look at it longingly on the shelf, but not be able to wear it.
Fast forward a couple of years. Our office moved downtown to Duncan and Richmond Street and I was a 5-minute walk from Gwendolyne's shop, which is as colourful as the artist herself. I told her about my dilemma. She insisted that I bring the hat in, so she could see what could be done. When I did come back with my precious hat, she immediately had a solution.
For her it was a trip back in time. She got to work on a hat she made at the beginning of her journey. She could see how her art has evolved over the years. And she was happy that I brought her the challenge.
This past week I had a call from her saying it was ready for pick up, so Friday I trekked down there (since the office is no longer in that neighbourhood). And much to my delight, her solution for making it larger worked perfectly. Yippee, I can wear my wonderful hat again when the weather gets cold at my new home. (Winters are long there, so a good hat will be invaluable.)
Thank you Gwendolyne. This entire experience was delightful. It shows that when something speaks to you in an artistic way - even a hat - you feel differently about it than you would a mass-produced thing. And when you connect with it, you also connect with its creator.
Her time and artistry are in every stitch of every hat she makes - just as our rug hooking and knitting projects hold us in every stitch and loop. We feel special making them. And we hope that the people who choose them feel the same way.
If you go to One of a Kind, look for Gwendolyne. She is like her art - very interesting, and a true original. If you are in Toronto, look for her shop at 401 Richmond Street West. And if you can't do either of those, then visit her at her website
No matter which way you find her, you will enjoy meeting her.
Be sure to tell her I sent you.