“It’s my heritage.”

An artist creates a masterful wedding dress for her daughter-in-law

In the life of every artist, resides a masterpiece. For lifelong crocheter Mary Toth of Brooksville, the pinnacle of her artistic journey is very personal in nature. Handcrafted from his own pattern, Toth’s crochet masterpiece, titled ‘Moonlit Garden’, takes the form of a flawless 59-inch-long A-line dress made from 62 crochet flowers. This dress is made with 8500 yards of delicate fabric yarn (which gives the illusion of silk to the veneer), shimmering lines of pearlescent glass beads, an I-cord stitch and flowing panels. This lush ivory robe, which consumed two and a half years of Toth’s life in his divine creation, was worn only once before going on display at the Panbanged Knits & Fiber Shoppe, located at 100 S Main St. in Brooksville. Toth’s new daughter-in-law, Jesse, wore the big dress for her wedding to Toth’s son, Erik. Toth said, “This dress is a special part of my life, it’s my legacy.”

Toth’s legacy started very early in childhood, when his grandmother taught him how to crochet when he was 11 years old. To this day, she makes sweaters and blankets for her family members. so it makes sense that his legacy would also be created for the sake of a family member. “I’ve always wanted to design a wedding dress,” Toth said. “And when Jessie told me she was going to marry my son, I asked her, ‘Can I make your dress?'”

Thus began a journey that consumed up to 40 hours a week. “My husband cooked while I was locked in my room,” she said. Her sister Pamela Merrill, an established Brooksville artist, also did a lot of work painting a decorative 13x7x4 floral gift box for the dress. The floral portrait was done in acrylics and matched the design on the bride’s wedding invitation. The work was worth it. “Jessie put the dress on, looked in the mirror, and started twirling the skirts,” Toth said. “She said, ‘I love it.’ She was crying and me too.

True to the spirit of friends and family, and after the Vero Beach wedding, Toth chose to display her dress at Panbanged Knits & Fiber Shoppe. It is a business owned and operated by a group of friends that has grown from a creative group known as Fiber Arts Under the Pavilion to a community center that offers supplies such as yarn, soaps , notions, knitting needles, as well as lessons in knitting, crochet and related skills. All of this takes place under a ceiling lined with sparkling chandeliers and filled wall to wall with exquisite antique furniture.

Christen Brandl, co-owner of Panbanged Knits & Fiber Shoppe, said, “We are building a community that uplifts people of all ages, ethnicities, men, women and children. We are best friends who love fiber arts,” said Christen Brandl. Peggy Johnson is the other co-owner who runs the store with the help of friends Donna Anderson and Susan Head. Brandl says she is honored to bring Toth’s legacy to the public.

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