And now, let's just get into the first design preview: the Cochran Puffy V Shoulder Warmer. Named for Jacqueline Cochran, the mastermind at the helm of the WASP (Women Airforce Service Pilots) program during WWII, this beautiful cowl-cum-shawl encapsulates most of the elements of the book: lovely textured crochet lace, great leather notions, the ability to keep the wearer warm in the grittiest of situations (although no grit in these photos), and the grace to look great dressed up or down.
While the sun at the end of the day was attempting to make a mockery of the gorgeous color of this Cascade Highland Duo (it's #2301 burgundy), both of my models enjoyed this piece. It's written for two sizes and the trapezoid shape is constructed bottom-up for a super quick project. The ribbing along the edge really adds dimension to the piece, and it can be worn down over the shoulders and upper arms or casually across the shoulders and around the neck.
(Note: The alpaca/merino blend slides rather easily over a leather jacket.) If worn about the neck and shoulders, definitely let your imagination (and your need to straighten things) go - this actually looks better just slightly mussed up. I strongly suggest using statement pieces for the closures (there's only two of them).
I love the texture play as well as the bold statement it makes, much like Jacqueline Cochran and all the other women that inspired this book. While I have far more to say about Ms. Cochran in the book, hers is a real rags-to-riches story. Born into extreme poverty, she eventually owned her own beauty business prior to her flying days; once a pilot, she set all kinds of speed records, including breaking the sound barrier several times in the 50s (which is just beyond the time frame of the book). She earned the respect of high profile male pilots, yet she was not without controversy. Cochran's personal story raises all the wonderfully thorny questions of notoriety, including, how do we want our heroes to behave? While she championed the cause of white female pilots before and during WWII, she denied women of color the same opportunity (search for Janet Bragg and you'll see what I mean). No matter one's personal opinion, no history of the early women of flight could be complete without Jacqueline Cochran's inclusion.
Thanks so much for being here for the beginning of Leather, Lace, Grit & Grace's design previews, which will continue in no particular order between now and December 22nd. There will be a break over the Christmas holiday, and I'll conclude the previews prior to the New Year with a focus on a few of my tester's finished pieces. Some of them are truly amazing, and I'm super proud of each one of them.
Pre-orders will commence on December 1st and I'll have more information on just how to do that in the next design preview installment. In the meantime, have a great weekend (and don't forget Small Business Saturday is tomorrow).