The Emily


The jeans are from Banana Republic, the lipstick was one that didn't look good on me so I don't remember the name, and the sweater is why we're all gathered here today. The sweater as expertly photographed by Connie!

Making a long story shorter: I met knitters in person I had only ever "known" on ravelry, we actually enjoyed one another's company in person even though we live in NY Metro so it's not like there's a shortage of other people to hang out with, and now we hang out a lot. I'd been wanting to start designing my own sweaters because a) it's a good challenge and b) I would see sweaters I wanted to make that weren't already patterns. I didn't however, quite have the motivation to start doing it. Until I realized I could call upon these knitters I know in real life and see often and press them into service as muses and models. So a project coalesced. Five sweaters, five women. The Knitters I Know.

This is the first of the five sweaters and was inspired by a photograph of a Vogue editor, who kind of looks a little like Emily and is certainly shaped a little like Emily. I was certain this style pullover, a little bit cropped, would be flattering on Emily even if Emily was less sure (Yelena, my sweaters are generally at least 17" from the underarm). Fortunately, it was my yarn and my time and I could have made Emily a Big Bird sweater. Granted, she would likely have needed a lot of cajoling and alcohol to model it and let me put the photos on the internet, but I happen to have, at my disposal, a lot of alcohol. I think I sold her with the color, though. And I can't even remember how I discovered Lakes Yarn and Fiber, only that when I saw this color pop up in the store, I had to have it and I had to have it for Emily. When Emily saw the yarn, I'm pretty sure she would have worn it even if I had knit it into a pair of hot pants.

I'm a big fan of asymmetry when done subtly. I love an asymmetrical neckline or hem, and I think that it allows a simple garment to remain simple while not looking boring. So the double zips on the inspiration photograph weren't going to move me as much as a single zip. A single zip is a little sporty and enough of a statement without being a STATEMENT. Being a statement isn't my aesthetic nor is it Emily's.


The sweater is simple and pretty quick to finish. It, and many of my future (seems optimistic, but if I put it in writing I might have to make good) patterns will follow this example: work the back to the underarms, pick up the stitches for the front at the shoulders and knit to the underarms, join, and complete the sweater in the round, use short-row sleeve caps to make top-down sleeves. I have plans to make one for myself with long sleeves in grey - but those plans may likely not become flesh (or yarn) any time soon. So in the meantime, a number of really awesome, really cool people ar going to test the pattern for me. I'm hoping to release it in early November and I've already swatched for the next victim, er, muse.

I'll give you a hint: there will be cables.


Follow Friday | August 22

You know when you run across people who are way cooler than you are but you can't even be angry at them because their cool is, in no way, self-conscious (or self-aggrandizing)? That's how I feel about Dayana.

I look through her project pages with my jaw open (and likely some drool hanging about), and when I saw her most recent project, Truesilk Sandy which she also blogs about, I knew that now was the time to make her the Follow Friday.

It's not just that her knitting is pretty flawless, it's that she seems to pick projects designed to challenge her and to delight the rest of us. Her Anatolia is a project I likely look at every week because it's the kind of project I want to make and who wouldn't after seeing hers? and if you think her fair isle is impressive in technicolor, then you'll likely want to sit down and take a deep breath when you see what she does with only two colors.

But like all good crushes, she's good at everything. Her cabling is amazing and her sense of adventure makes me want to take up Parkour (not really). My Knitted Armor is an incredible work and she somehow makes it seem natural as a wardrobe piece - a talent I aspire to. Because what I love most about Dayana's choices is that she appears to say "eff it" to the idea that elaborate knits don't work in a regular wardrobe or a regular life. I see pieces all the time that I'd love to knit, but then choose not to because I worry that I wouldn't wear them. Dayana is (slowly) giving me the extra push I need to knit something and make it work with my wardrobe because, dammit, that's a cool frickin' sweater.

Finally, it is evident from her photos and tone that she doesn't take herself too seriously which makes her all the more cool.




Sweater: Arielle by Kim Hargreaves; Tilli Thomas Voile de la Mer (discontinued) in Parchment; my noes and modifications on Jumping on the Arielle Bandwagon
Skirt: bcbgeneration; similar (very similar) styles by Rachel Zoe and Nasty Gal
Blazer: Armani Collezioni; similar styles by ASOS, Topshop, and Anne Klein
Shoes: Cesare Paciotti; other cage-style shoes from Ivanka Trump, Vince Camuto, and L.A.M.B, all reasonably priced by the way, though someone really ought to buy these so I don't have to (I simply cannot, the shoe budget has been blown for the rest of 2014, you'll see why in a couple of weeks)
Lips: Bobbi Brown Art Stick in Rose Brown

Always reinforce buttonbands.


See what happens when you don't? Even on a top that is too big (see waist bunching and whatever it is that's going on with those sleeves).

I should give this top away. I know I should. It looks sloppy and doesn't fit. But I love it. The color was perfect. It's really difficult to get a gold that looks natural and not sparkly, and I love this shade. It's actually one of my earlier knit pieces and I did it flat and seamed on teeny tiny needles. Which is why I'm in no hurry to make one that does fit even though I had the yarn (this time a pale peach). And I should have reinforced the button band, especially because the material is silk. Lesson learned? Perhaps. I don't know how much it costs to reinforce a button band, but I suspect it's more than $10, and I kind of hate the tailor I've used in town (he seems rather expensive and not all that thorough).

I originally was going to wear this with a black pencil skirt since I always wear this top with a black pencil skirt. I tried to shake things up by wearing it with my black pencil skirt that has a flounce, but that wasn't flying. So I tried the pleated skirt. The pleated skirt which is a pretty decent copy of an Alexander Wang skirt that I lusted after while simultaneously being unable to spend $300 on, both economically and philosophically, so was overjoyed when I discovered this one by the teen line of BCBG for less than 1/4 the price on sale. I wish they made more colors. Then I was confronted with a slightly drop-waisted effect given the length of the top. I thought I would hate this, but it's not so bad because the top ends where the pleats begin.


Then I got a little crazy (for a me definition of crazy) and chose the short blazer and it also miraculously worked with the look. The fun hem of the top peeks out beneath the cropped blazer and I dig that. A hand-me-down from my mother-in-law, I honestly don't see the difference between this fairly pricey blazer and my inexpensive ones, thus my recommendations for similar styles are all reasonably priced. The shoes were purchased on a lark and because:sale and I'm so glad I got them. They're different from every other pair I have an interesting without being over the top. I realized when I added them to this outfit that I was comfortable wearing them to work. My mother and I went to an exhibit at FIT last year on shoes and all the pairs on display were donated from people's personal closets. I realized that my own collection of footwear was almost uniformly safe. Yes there are color experiments, but the shapes of my shoes are fairly consistent and fairly traditional, and I have been actively looking at different shapes and compositions, perhaps not yet to buy, but to work into my idea of what makes a good shoe because eventually I'd like to have a more diverse collection. These shoes are a gateway drug of sorts.


Two Seductions

Dress: Audrey Totter by Kristen Hanley Cardozo; The Sanguine Gryphon Bugga in Longhorned Beetle; my notes and modifications on I Will Vamp Your Bleep Up!
Blazer: Duskfall Blazer by Madewell; similar styles by J. Crew (nb: I will pretty much only link to J. Crew when its stuff goes on sale; I think the quality is appalling at full price and, as someone who grew up with J. Crew when it made quality clothing, I get especially ragey about it - I only just learned that Madewell is owned by J. Crew, yet at a lower price point their stuff is routinely of a much much better quality), Rag & Bone, and Vince Camuto
Shoes: Manolo Blahnik; similar styles by Pour la Victoire and Prada
Toes: Butter London in Royal Navy
Lips: Bobbi Brown Art Stick in Rose Brown
Necklace: Ever Together magnetic necklace

The first question this post answers is, yes, I do wear my knitted dresses. Whenever I can!

I remember when this pattern came out I thought it was nice. It went into my favorites. Then at 2011 Rhinebeck while waiting in line at the Sanguine Gryphon booth early in the morning, I saw it in real life. I don't remember what I had been waiting on line for, but now I was waiting in line for this! The color in person was mesmerizing. I was already planning to accidentally-on-purpose high stick anyone in front of me who tried to lay hands on the bugga I needed to make the dress. I was smitten. Like many of you, I buy at fairs like Rhinebeck and then the yarn sits around a while. Not this time. It looks as though I cast on immediately and the only reason it took so long for me to finish is that I'm pretty sure between cast-on and cast-off I got married and spent 3 weeks in Africa. I like this story because it proves that sometimes you shouldn't think, you should just do. I likely blew most of my Rhinebeck budget on the yarn for this dress and I regret nothing!

Those Prada shoes linked above at Bluefly (and not available in size 41)? I regret those. The shoes on my feet in the picture just never quite measured up. I do not like paying full price for shoes, especially the shoes I buy. And by do not like, I mean cannot afford. I saw those prada peep toes and suddenly realized I didn't own navy shoes and desperately needed some. But they were $700. Fine, I said, they'll go on sale. But they didn't. Not the first sale season after they were released, not the second, and I was getting pretty desperate. After all, I had discovered a glaring hole in my wardrobe that now hadn't been filled for well on 9 months. Enter the Manolo Blahnik 50% off summer sale. They had a pair of open-toed navy patent pumps. And instead of $700, they wanted about half that. So I bought them.

And I've regretted it ever since. Don't get me wrong, there's nothing the matter with the shoes and they're actually quite comfortable, but they're not what I wanted. The cutouts are too cutesy. These are polo match shoes, the Pradas are queen of the boardroom shoes. I wanted the latter. I'm not saying I should have spent $700 on the shoes, I honestly don't think they're worth that, but I shouldn't have been seduced by the on-sale shoes right in front of me. Just because they were cheaper, doesn't mean they were right.


So now I have a question for you: blazer buttoned or unbuttoned? I go both ways and tend to keep it unbuttoned while seated and buttoned while standing. Thoughts?


Follow Friday | August 15

Hmmm, I seem to have missed a couple Fridays. Rest assured, I was deliriously relaxed on vacation in Costa Rica, but now I'm back and am going to do some extra following this Friday to make up for lost time. I'd like to start by belatedly blog hopping with the lovely Kelly of Knitigating Circumstances who tagged me in her post. I first discovered Kelly through her amazing Audrey sweater which she made for her daughter and blogged about extensively. I am still absolutely planning to almost entirely copy her and make myself one because it is so so beautiful. I like reading Kelly's site because she's whip smart and much much much more thorough than I am when discussing process. Now the questions of this particular blog hop seem a little premature since I've only been writing here for a short time, but I like following rules, so here goes:

Question 1: What Am I Working On?

Oh dear, what am I not working on? I finished my 1858 while on vacation and snapped this photo which needs no outfit attribution as there's really no outfit to speak of - it's a 6 dollar tube skirt from H&M. And now I have some behind-the-scenes projects to work on, while also somehow managing to finish a Grace which I am past the join on, and which I have modified so that the entire yoke is lace and knitting in tosh merino light in the I-can't-believe-they-discontinued Brothers Grimm and starting and finishing a Grandpa Cardigan which I will knit with Plucky Trusty in In The Navy before Rhinebeck. In my fantasy world, I also finish another 1858 this time using navy as the main color, white as the stripe, and with a ribbed collar.

Question Two: How does my work differ from others of its genre?
There ain't nothing new under the sun, my friends. I like knitting what I like knitting and I like wearing what I like wearing and neither is particularly groundbreaking. I like figure flattering patterns, but I also like interesting designs. I would like to say that my work differs from others in that I am in the minority of people who ADORES that the question used "different from" as opposed to the grammatically terrible "different than." So that's different.

Question Three: Why do I write/create what I do?
I took up knitting because I moved from Manhattan to Connecticut and was suddenly faced with a commuter train ride two times a day. I assumed (and please commence laughing now) that knitting would be a less expensive way of filling that time as I would have easily read two books a week and that could add up to $20! I also have discovered about myself that I am a craftsman, not an artist. I enjoy hobbies where my lack of fine motor skills doesn't affect the finished product. One time a girlfriend and I spent a day self-teaching ourselves how to decorate cakes. I whipped up tubs of buttercream and had all the pastry tips available and a pretty comprehensive instructional book. At the end of the day, her cakes looked like Martha Stewart and my cakes looked like Martha Stewart's 5-year old grandchild. I'll grant you that the buttercream tasted fantastic, but that's because I'm a craftsman, not an artist.

As for why I write, I guess that would be vanity: the notion that what I have to say is both so interesting and so well phrased that to not put it out in the universe would be unkind.

Question Four: How does my writing/creative process work?
I absolutely stink at these questions. My process is to do the thing and then be done with the thing. There's no special sauce. Half the time I'm re-watching the Family Guy Star Wars spoof as I knit, the other half it's reruns of Top Gear. I have started ripping back when I make a particularly glaring error, but my definition of glaring may be far more liberal than others - I'm definitely a goal knitter. As for this writing. What you see is what I came up with at the moment I sat down to write it. It's not that I don't care about my readers enough to edit or be thoughtful (and I will go back and clean up typos when I catch them), it's that my "voice" (if we can pause our collective gag reflexes long enough to use that term) is spontaneous. I like my writing to sound like my conversations which I don't have the luxury of editing or thinking about. If you think I sound pompous in print, please ask people who know me in person: I sound equally as pompous in real life. I wouldn't want the people who only read me not to know this terrible thing about my personality, so you get unvarnished me.

So now it's time to pass the torch. I selfishly am including Alicia of Two Little Plums here because I really really want her to blog more. After all with a successful design career and the raising of children, I imagine she has gobs of free time. Also if she has the time to make her hair look that enviably amazing, she has time to entertain me with blog posts! My affection for Alicia's designs can, at first, seem incongruous. Her style is very much country, easy, unfussy, and natural - if she owns a pair of 4" heels, I'd imagine they're her wedding shoes, but her aesthetic is so consistent and so reflective of her environment that it is incredibly seductive. Full disclosure, Alicia's backyard is, coincidentally, where I was proposed to, so it will always have a special place in my heart.

Next up is Lisa of Indie Untangled who is a brilliant writer and tons of fun both in person and online. Lisa is a knitter I actually know in person. We met at the knitting group we both used to go to in Connecticut and she was kind enough to let me guest post on the Indie Untangled blog when it first started. I will warn you that the site will introduce you to all manner of new yarny obsessions, but you should go any way because your stash was looking a little bare. The site is a great combination of community and editorial and I definitely look forward to seeing what's new!

I hope you'll forgive me for number 3 which is not in English, but Sylvie of Polo & Co not only designs, she also dyes and sells yarn which I have had the good fortune to have used: once on my Nora sweater, and I'll be using it again for Birchbark (by the aforementioned Alicia). Even if you don't read French and don't like using google translate to do the page for you, you can still be entertained by the lovely photography. Then you should go buy the yarn which is deliciously rustic and comes either in its natural hue, or naturally dyed. To borrow, and then misuse, a French idea, Sylvie's entire aesthetic is imbued with terroir.

Have a wonderful weekend. I will, of course, be on the beach with several September issues to keep me company (and to help keep my biceps in shape - is it me or have September issues quadrupled in size? I can't believe the mailman could wedge my copy of InStyle in the tiny box).


The New Monochrome


Sweater: Capricious by Elena Nodel; Cephalopod Yarns Bugga in Grey Scalloped Bar Butterfly (have I mentioned how heartbroken I am about the CY closing?); my notes and modifications on "Disraeli Blues"
Dress: Jason Wu for Target. Yes, I was one of those people who stood in line to by a Target capsule collection. If you did not wait on line, here's the thing: the dress is terribly made. I love it, but it's clearly disposable clothing. And while you can't swing a cat without hitting a black fit and flare dress, here are some I like: Shoshana's ribbon fabric variation, this boatneck dress from French Connection, and holy crap, they're giving this Banana Republic one away - despite the iffy reviews I'm nabbing a couple of sizes because if it works, it's a 30 dollar dress!
Shoes: Manolo Blahnik pink suede ankle strap sandals. A quick note on shoe substitution: I know that my shoes are not cheap. I know not everyone agrees that shoes should be such an investment. I happen to believe that if given the choice between 10 $60 pairs of cheaply made shoes with cheap material and 1 $600 pair of perfect, well-made shoes, you choose the 1 pair. So when I offer alternate styles, they're generally only from brands I trust, which are frequently expensive, though I try to find sales. After having personal bouts of bad luck with Steve Madden and Nine West, I just don't believe in the quality enough to recommend it, because even if something's only $75 that's still $75 you had to earn and you shouldn't just throw it away. That being said, if money is no object, I adore these Dolce & Gabbanas, and if you're a size 10, the deal on these Pedro Garcias can't be beat, while there are still some sizes remaining of the Proenza Schouler embellished sandals
Toes: Butter London in Royal Navy. I was going to try Essie's After School Boy Blazer, but the navy of this one is much truer.
Lips: Clinique Different Lipstick in Shy
Scarf: Giorgio Armani, similar style in blue and more reasonable alternative by Michael Stars

Everything is always the new black, but I've never been a believer. I adore navy. Adore it. Don't know why I came to my love of navy late in life, but now I want everything in navy. But not the things I want in black. see what I mean? Navy is Riviera cool, black is SoHo cool. There's a place for both, but I will never want a navy evening gown with a plunging neckline, nor will I want a black twill jacket. But monochrome, which traditionally referred to black and white uniformity, has a little more wiggle room. The dress is definitely black, but with a grey sweater, light pink - almost nude - shoes, a scarf with hints of apricot and aubergine, and navy toes, there's a diversity to the neutrals that I think works really well together. It's a bit pointillist in its execution where, from far away the colors are all of a type, but when examined more closely, there's a lot more going on.


As I mentioned, I've been on vacation for the past week and a half and vacation me is a lot different from work me. Vacation me doesn't wear makeup (I used my tinted lip balm with spf twice), doesn't shampoo her hair (I think of it as hair detox), and certainly doesn't wear her high heels. Vacation me went diving and surfing and hiking. This outfit is comforting in that it didn't take a lot of thought. That's the virtue of the monochromatic palette - it's intuitive. Everything goes with black, so it's just a question of reaching into one's closet and pulling out those things. For that week after vacation when your brain is still on the beach but your butt is solidly in an office chair, easy is good. And the reason my face is all grimace-y in the photos is not that I'm angry, it's that I'm trying not to quint at the sun.