In Autumn 2020 life began to close in once again, and even the small number of special events, weddings etc, came to a stop so naturally millinery went onto the back burner once more. As the instruction went out to stay at home we hunkered down for the long winter in the relative safety of rural Northumberland. It was an ideal opportunity to empty the cupboards (not achieved much here!!) and acquire new skills. So, I thought it would be interesting to have a quick round up of how I spent the months of lockdown, this third instalment covers autumn and winter 2020.

In the last post of this lockdown diary, I commented on the creation of a collection of accessories that I developed in the first half of the pandemic confinement. Whilst this collection utilised some millinery skills, it was a long way from my original love of couture millinery – which takes its inspiration from colour, texture, design, the complex techniques associated with vintage millinery, as well as the joy of simply making and creating. Over the months, however, I gradually felt the need to widen the reach for the new collections I had created so I established a retail store for my accessories on the new all British website “The British Craft House”.

You can find more information on these developments in my blog post entitled

Millinery is an unusual craft as it encompasses many different threads and types of creativity, but as I enrolled in the world of The British Craft House, I quickly realised I was on a quite different and steep learning curve. This was really useful as my knowledge of how the “backroom” of internet shopping works from a seller’s viewpoint was pretty limited. Very quickly I was enmeshed in the world of keywords, image sizes and alt text. I was fortunate that due to my involvement with the Business Northumberland programme, training and mentoring was also available. For a one-woman band however like me, digital marketing remains a challenge.

The other aspect of millinery is learning new skills, and through lockdown via the power of Zoom, I was fortunate enough to be able to spend time with several experts in their field including the inspirational Anne Tomlin. Anne is passionate about her interest in flowers, insects and all aspects of the natural world in fact. She concentrates on creating handmade flowers and 3D nature studies, recreating them through personal exploration them using meticulous traditional millinery techniques, which she frequently adapts to achieve her desired effects. It is a privilege to have benefitted from her wisdom and I can’t wait for Anne’s book to be published.

The image taken by Phil Punton, shows one of the pieces I have created using some of the skills taught by Anne in her masterclasses.