Follow Friday | September 26

One of the things I love most about Ravelry is the opportunity it affords to see people knocking it out of the park in a way that you would never even attempt. While style is fluid, there are certain truths that we all eventually identify about ourselves and what style works for us. Which makes discovering someone who is rocking the hell out of a style we do not rock ourselves amazing.

Leah, aka yarnstylist, is one of my favorite examples of people with impeccable style whose projects are always amazing and (almost) always patterns that don't make it on my radar. Case in point: her Dior Jacket.

© yarnstylist

Let's, for a moment, put aside the fact that the knitting itself is gorgeous, the choice of yarn is amazingly inspired. I don't think I've ever taken that much time to evaluate yarn like this, but Leah knew what kind of texture and pattern she wanted to achieve and went in search of the materials that would permit that. In fact, Leah's entire thought process about her pieces is worthy of admiration. She doesn't just pick up needles and yarn and go, she considers not only how to modify the measurements to suit her figure, but how to adapt the construction of the garment to match her vision. That she has a vision at all makes me starry-eyed. And her pieces, when finished, do look like couture. And a lot of that has to do with the fact that she's approaching them the way the fashion houses approach their top-end pieces: as investments. I am floored anew each time she cranks one of these out.

But what really makes Leah so worthy of awe, is that the styles work so perfectly on her. I love the look of Chanel jackets...on someone else. On me they just don't work and would be so at odds with my wardrobe as to stand out in a bad way - like I was trying way too hard. Whereas Leah's aesthetic perfectly incorporates these highly stylized pieces (I kind of hope that she would feel out of place in knee high stiletto boots, a mini, and a moto jacket so that we're even) She never looks like she's trying too hard, she looks perfectly polished and incredibly fashionable. I get really excited when I see a new project on her needles because I know the end result is going to be gasp-inducing. While I might not look to her project page for inspiration on what I should make next, I am learning a lot about being deliberate in my knitting and this might result in fewer finished objects I never get around to wearing. And the eye candy value can't be beat!


Help Wanted


Sweater: Girl on Fire by Mary Annarella; Astral Bath Yarns Spectra DK in Rum, Sodomy, and the Lash; my notes and modifications on Scuttlebutt
Skirt: Boden wool a-line skirt, same style in cotton, similar style from The Gap, and wool pencil skirts abound at pretty much every store I looked at
Shoes: Manolo Blahnik; similar styles range from the pricey Jimmy Choo, to the moderate Pour La Victoire, to the very much on sale AK Anne Klein
Lips: Marc Jacobs Lovemarc Lip Gel in Showstopper

So first can we all just agree to ignore how blurry this photo is? Mary's lovely design barely shows up, but exactly 0% of the photos I shot this morning weren't blurry and I needed to get out the door - something I will have to take a look at since I have recently switched to my prime lens so that I can get crisper shots.

I'm sure you can agree that there's something missing from this outfit. It's kind of dull. Part of that is the fault of the wearer who, rather uncreatively matched her shoes to her sweater, but part of it is also the less fleeting problem which is that the wearer can't accessorize worth poop. I know that this outfit needs a something, I just don't know what that something is. And I'll explain my thought process so that you can help me better:

The neckline is a bit unique and lovely, therefore I feel like a necklace would detract.
Ditto a scarf.
The sleeves are long which, in my mind, makes the idea of a bracelet kind of silly.
Ditto a watch, were I to a) own a watch other than this one (ok, that's crazypants. I just went to go find my watch which I admittedly received as an 18th birthday present/graduation present from my best friend, but which I was sure was timeless enough to still be in the Tiffany & Co. collection. Nope. In fact there isn't a watch within nearly $2000 of what this watch cost available at Tiffany's anymore. If you want a Tiffany watch (which I assure you, you do not, the ones on the website are kind of uniformly hideous), you are going to be out $2350 - it's a small gold rimmed circular face with a black leather band) and b) have batteries in that watch
I really don't wear earrings other than my studs.
A hat?
A boa?
A fascinator?

This is what runs through my head as I am lamenting my crappy hair and inability to evenly color within the lines of my own lips in the morning. I always feared being ungapatchka.

What's that, you say, you don't know what ungaptachka means? Let's start with pronunciation, or at least what passes for such in the telephone-like atmosphere of Jews 94 generations removed from anyone who actually spoke Yiddish: ooong-gah-potch-ka. Kind of like ooogachaka from Hooked on a Feeling. Same number of syllables too. Try getting that out of your head. Whatever ungapatchka once meant, it was transmitted to me as the condition before Coco Chanel takes off the last thing before leaving the house multiplied by 10. It's being too busy, style-wise. Like, for example, your Miami Beach grandmother who jingles when she walks because she has enough coral bangles to sink a small fishing vessel dangling off her desiccated (from tanning) arm. Ah, memories.

Now that you know a new Yiddish word, I can explain to you that I went in the entirely opposite direction when it came to accessorizing. If less was more, than none was best. Obviously this isn't actually true. But then I go and do a google image search of Angelina Jolie, whose style I both admire and covet (also her hair), and she almost never wears jewelry either, save some earrings with a slight dangle (and believe you me now I'm going to be searching for those and perhaps not wearing my studs every day). So I'll take suggestions, links, commiseration. Because I feel like I look really boring today.


The Colors of Fail

Today was going to be an exciting day because I was going to show off the great sweater I knit for the Colors of Fall KAL. It was going to be a really pretty Hey Girl cardigan in Wollmeise DK, colorway Bussi. I was going to style it with skinny jeans and (gasp) flat loafers. Everything was going to be terrific!

Except that sweater has been sitting in the WIP pile for over a month. It's not that I don't want to knit it, and it's not that I don't want to participate in the Colors of Fall KAL, it's that I may have ever so slightly over-committed myself these days. You see, in addition to the pipe dream of finishing (well starting and finishing in the case of the first) a Grandpa Cardigan and a Grace for Rhinebeck, I also committed to designing and knitting 5 separate items, one of which was a sweater for a grownup, in the same time frame. Obviously from a prioritization standpoint, the stuff I'm getting paid for wins. I have finished about 2/3 of those things, and don't even bother asking me about Grandpa and Grace. They are about the same amount of not done (I've made it past the underarm join on both and, were I actively knitting them, would be making progress on the bodies).

I am going to attempt not to beat myself up about this. However, it gave me great fodder to discuss some other recent fails in the wardrobe department. I have had more merchandise come into my house and then immediately leave it in shame over the past month than in all prior months of this year (and likely all the other years). There's something in the air that is making things appear lovely online and terrible, or at least not right, in person. And it's not just that I am a trifle ampler this autumn than last.

Let's start by saying, unequivocally, that the Joseph Altuzarra collection for Target is an embarrassment. I purchased extensively from the Jason Wu collection for Target and that merchandise not only was pretty decent at the start, but has held up over two full seasons of wear. I ordered a handful of things from the Altuzarra collection and was floored by how crappy the stuff was in person. Yes, it's Target and yes it's "cheap," but I'll say it again: if Forever 21 is going to sell cheap dresses for $20, any "cheap" dress that costs more than that should be better than that. This stuff was not AND it was more than $20. The material just felt like crap, the sizing was really weird (how could one dress sized in letters easily fit in a small where a dress sized in numbers barely wrapped around my hips in an 8?), and they did some trick with lighting because the photographs of the clothing were deceptively vibrant. I was so mad, I turned right around and ventured into White Plains (THE WORST "CITY" I have ever had to drive in and that includes Rome) to return the stuff to the Target in person. Huffily.

I almost left the house in another fail this morning because it was such a good deal. A pair of Casadei black suede pumps for 60% off retail. They were beautiful, they were totally filling a hole in my wardrobe...they were demonstrably too small. I realize I make fun of my feet a lot, but it's kind of disheartening when you try on the largest size a company makes and they are still too small - what makes it even more alarming is that, apparently, my feet aren't as big as I think. When I was buying my black leather pumps, the shoe guy measured my foot and on the little measure-y metal thing, it only read as a 10. In fact, to prove it to me, the shoe guy had me try on a pair of Gucci boots and Celine boots (boots notoriously require larger sizes than pumps or sandals) each in size 40 (aka 10); and come to think of it, all my Gucci shoes are a 40, but all my ALL THE OTHER SHOES are 41s, as was this pair of Casadei pumps. And they didn't fit. I really attempted to rationalize that suede is easier to stretch than leather and that it was a good deal for a high quality pair of shoes and, and, and then I put on my new black leather pumps which fit wonderfully and realized that no sale is worth that amount of discomfort. So back they go.

What else has ridden the fail train?

Leather jacket from J Brand, on massive sale at Hautelook for a reason: it was unlined, originally retailed for an unbelievable $1200 though it looked like it was sewn by chimpanzees on LSD
Absolutely stunning peacock silk blouse from Madewell which, for reasons passing understanding, is slit up to above your first rib on the sides - neither work nor play appropriate
The Cambridge Satchel Batchel which is adorable and utterly unsuitable for my lifestyle. I'll be looking to sell it
Everything I bought at the yoox end of season sale: Zanotti t-straps (almost good, but not great), Aperlai mules (completely different color in real life), Cesare Paciotti sandals (made me look like a prostitute)
The Boden dress which is legit see-through and which I am waiting to return until the other Boden dress arrives in case both need to go back (I don't want to get dinged on shipping twice)

I know there are others, but just writing that down depressed me. What doesn't depress me is the successes like my Reformation skirt and my new black pumps and the fact that I'm designing things which is a lot of fun (ok, the accessories aren't a lot of fun, but they're good practice). So while there have been a spate of knitting and fashion failures of late, I'm going to attempt to be a half-full kind of gal and focus on the successes. And the fact that with or without a new sweater, Rhinebeck is coming up quickly!


Follow Friday | September 19

I am wearing this sweater today, but I was incredibly late getting out of the house so I don't have a current photo, but I did want to show you the sweater because it gives me an excellent segue into today's Follow.

The sweater is Telluride Aran by Amy Herzog which I took the liberty of knitting in the round and modifying because I find her armscyes, as written, aren't a good match to my body; however, with these slight mods, this sweater turned out to be one of my best fitting sweaters and the inspiration to do many, MANY more cabled sweaters this winter. The yarn, however, is what we're going to concentrate on today. It's Pebble Worsted by Black Trillium Fibres and I discovered the brand through Happy Knits, which is, by the way, one of the nicest online shops out there (they also exist in person, but in Oregon where I do not live). The colorway is Moon Shadow and it is a perfect navy. I say "a" perfect navy, not "the" perfect navy because I have learned during my search for navy perfection that there can be more than one. If the perfection of the color was not enough (and it is), the perfection of how the yarn knits up would quell any dissenters. I am heartily in love with it and don't understand why I only have one additional SQ lurking in stash (and it shouldn't be lurking because I want it to be a sweater now, it just has to wait its turn in my increasingly traffic jammed queue of projects).

While this is a small platform from which I can bloviate, I do want to call out Melanie on one thing in particular that I find sadly non-universal in our little crafting world: I placed a custom order for my second SQ and Melanie charged me a deposit. Let me repeat that: a deposit. Not the full amount of money on the trust that someone with whom I had not done business before would make good, but a deposit that meant if something went awry, neither of us would be screwed in the process (or, if you're a glass half empty kinda person, both of us would be a little screwed). Melanie conducts her business in a way that pretty much GUARANTEES repeat business. It certainly will guarantee mine (and I may have just stumbled onto something I want to design and immediately knew I wanted to do it in Pebble Worsted, so I do smell an order coming shortly). I have been a small business owner and I understand that margins can be very very very tight. That sucks. What sucks more is expecting your customers to float you money. No real businesses do that. If you pre-ordered an iPhone6, Apple didn't charge you on the day you ordered it; Apple charged you on the day it shipped you your phone. Which, by the way, is the law. Anything else is a ponzi scheme because you're floating a business money it will likely use to fulfill someone else's order. That might work for Social Security, but it doesn't fly in commerce. Even those late-night TV ads for the Ab Smasher or the Mega Chopper Xtreme don't charge your card when you order. So Melanie's stock went up tremendously in the instant she didn't ask for money for a product not ready to ship. I'd like to see everyone else in the industry adopt this practice, and I have started to tailor my shopping habits to supporting those who are operating within the letter and spirit of the law.


The Dawn of a New Era


Sweater: Vivienne by Kim Hargreaves; madelinetosh tosh sport in charcoal; my notes and modifications on Place des Vosges
Skirt: Reformation Calico skirt in oxblood; similar styles by McQ Alexander Mcqueen and T by Alexander Wang - both are pricey, but I am very anti-fake leather. I don't have an objection to people who won't wear leather, I object to the hypocrisy of then going out and buying something that looks like you killed an animal to everyone else, but which allows you to feel smug because you know you didn't.
Shoes: Christian Louboutin Apostrophy black pump; there are, obviously, tons of black leather pumps in the universe at all price points, my recommendation for one that is more reasonably priced comes from Schutz, a Brazilian company that makes good quality shoes at a (relatively) affordable price.
Lips: Clinique Different Lipstick in Shy

Drumroll please, for these are the new black pumps. And lest you think I am made of greenbacks, not only did I agonize over buying these (or the runner-up pair), I rationalized for days after purchasing them, and then was rewarded by the universe with an unexpected check that pretty much took care of the cost (and since the Neiman Marcus near me didn't have my size and we had to order them AND there's no NM in my state, I didn't have to pay sales tax!). I do not buy a pair of full-priced shoes lightly. In fact, these are only the second pair of shoes (nice shoes) I have ever purchased full price. But classic black pumps don't really go on sale and I needed them. Badly. The women at the shoemaker's took a look at my old ones and told me, definitively, there was nothing to be done. I know I'm supposed to be talking about the sweater, and I'll get there, but I'll say another couple of things about the shoes. I had not been a fan of the designs of Christian Louboutin. I always thought they looked too Kardashian. A little cheap, a little too showy, a little everyone-mispronounces-the-name (looo-booo-tan (as in suntan), if you please). The red sole was a cute gimmick until everyone and her mother had a pair or a pair of knockoffs and then their ubiquity made them less cute. So how did I end up with a pair? These are ever so slightly different. For one, the heel is a bit shorter, the vamp a little less pronounced, the entire pair of shoes a little less stripper-y. Furthermore there's a really interesting detail where the red sole wraps slightly around onto the heel. I thought it was a really neat touch. I had one of each on my feet (the pair I bought and the Manolo Blahnik Para which I didn't) and asked a random passerby to judge (red sole unseen) and she (and the salesman helping me) both chose these. I think they will be appropriate and useful for the next 14 years I hope to own them. They've already been to the shoemaker who (see previous mention of ubiquity) was able to put a RED rubber sole on them, and today is their maiden voyage. So far, so comfortable.

Before we get to the sweater, I'd also like to take a brief moment to discuss the skirt. Reformation is a company out of California that buys up the mill ends of fabric from fashion houses and turns them into very limited edition clothing. Instead of the fabric getting thrown out, it becomes a limited run. I like the concept a lot. I like everything I've ever seen on the website a lot even as I recognize that their models are EVERYTHING I am not: very tall, very slim hipped, very small-enough busted and young enough to wear a button-down shirt without a bra and/or a backless dress. The clothing is also just a hair's breadth more expensive than I typically enjoy - especially when I have no experience with the brand and no opportunity to try anything on at a local store. However, when they have a final sale clearance where I can buy an oxblood leather skirt for 80 bucks, I figure it's a worthwhile experiment. And I could not be happier with my purchase. The skirt is EXTREMELY well made. It fits exactly as the website said it would (something that is absolutely critical for online-only shopping and something that, sadly, is not universal in either implementation or reliability), and the color is true to life. I'm really, really pleased. One thing to note is that the sizing is NOT vanity and very LA (i.e. if you are a size, say 8, you are about as big as Los Angeles thinks people should be).

Onto the sweater. I made this sweater because I bought the book it was in solely to make this sweater. I'm not even sure I looked at the other patterns in the book before purchasing. I just knew I needed this sweater. In grey. (And the model's hair, cut not color, but that isn't destined to be.) Much later, I was pleased I had purchased the book because it included the pattern for my Winter White and has many other patterns I might get around to one of these days. However it was for this sweater and this sweater alone that the not-inexpensive book was purchased. I thought this sweater was just as classy and sexy as could be and totally in my style wheelhouse. I couldn't be happier that I chose this colorway - it might be my favorite tosh grey - because it goes with so many things and allows the simple elegance of the pattern to take center stage. I do wish I had been ever so slightly less spastic about buttons, but I am not really competent when it comes to things in straight lines. C'est la vie. I do intend to make another at some point because much as I love this, it ain't perfect. The neck is too wide and I have to a) wear a strapless bra; b) push my bra straps to the side; or c) live with visible bra straps. I would also like to change how I did the wrists (and naturally the buttons), but all in all this is one of my favorite sweaters and, if I may digress, makes me really peeved that the Madewell jeans that were on my must-have fall/winter wishlist did not live up to expectations in person and now I am on the hunt for other skinny, high-waisted, deepest black jeans. Cause this sweater would also look awesome with them!


On The Outside Looking In

it's raining, apologies for the terrible indoor photos - my house COULD NOT BE MORE YELLOW

Sweater: Aidez by Cirilia Rose; madelinetosh erin in antique lace; my notes and modifications on Vieux Dentelle
Dress: Alice + Olivia; similar style for this season
Shoes: Manolo Blahnik black patent, open-toe d'orsay pumps (that was a mouthful); similar style by Via Spiga, on sale for the big-footed by Gianmarco Lorenzi, and absolutely not on sale by Christian Louboutin
Toes: OPI A Roll in the Hague
Lips: Bobbi Brown Art Stick in Rose Brown

Take a look on Ravelry at the sweater patterns with the most projects and those deemed most popular and you'll notice something: there are A TON of open front cardigans. I'm wearing one today and I have made more than a few others. I would say that you can't swing a cat (and knitters love them some cats) in a room full of knitters without hitting at least half a dozen open front cardigans. I know knitters who describe their open front cardigans as THEIR FAVORITE SWEATER. And I am saying now, on September 16th, that I still don't understand why.

I assure you that the dress I'm wearing underneath my Aidez is really really pretty - I mean look how cute it is and, I would argue that my slightly more exaggerated hourglass shape is flattered even more by it than on this blonde famous person I feel certain I am supposed to recognize. And this wasn't the dress I intended to wear today. I had my DVF Kaley dress on at first until I realized that (and I'm so glad there are no disagree buttons on my blog): open front cardigans look terrible with anything approaching a structured outfit. They're just sloppy full stop. Which is fine with jeans or a housedress or that drop-waisted flannel dress they keep trying to sell you at Madewell that you keep refusing to entertain because you are no longer in high school and besides you already tried on a pair of Doc Martens laceups and remembered that they weren't flattering the first time around because you have small, autonomous islands for feet.

But I can be more accommodating. You know where else open front cardigans look ok? On the bodies of people without breasts and hips. And I'm not saying that pejoratively. If you have a slender-hipped figure with proportional breasts, open front cardigans are a-ok on you. Because they neither stubbornly refuse to remain firmly on the outside of your bust, nor do they flare out ridiculously when they meet your hips. Much like jeans and tucked in white button downs, I might have to come to terms with the fact that the open front cardigan will never be part of my weekday wardrobe. I always think I look sloppy and I always think the outfit would look better with a more tailored piece.

Now part of this is also the fault of my wardrobe in that it is long on flared dresses and straight skirts; had I more shifts, it's possible I would be less confused by what to do with my open front cardigans. However, even with the cute shirtdress I originally photographed for the Aidez FO shots, there's still a degree of not-quite-polished that upsets me. What is more upsetting is that there are a number of open front cardigan patterns I both like AND want to make: Kara, slanted Sleeven, Soubrette - though the last one I have way higher hopes for since there is an accompanying hip flare in the pattern that looks as though it might fit over both my capacious hips and flared skirts.

The other part of the problem could well be sizing - perhaps given my shape, I should knit a size larger, but dear god, what if that isn't the answer? Then I have an even sloppier FO and I'm ragey because I spent time making it and I could have had a lovely pullover instead. But I think what makes me really feel like the last kid picked on the dodgeball team is that I seem to be 100% alone in this view. Both knitters I know in person and those I only see online have love affairs with this style. Sometimes I think their FOs look lovely, but more of the time I feel like the mom admonishing her kids to tuck in their shirts. I, personally, cannot do sloppy-chic, but I don't think most of the population can. So I'll spend the day fidgeting with Aidez and searching both my brain and the ravelry database, for cardigans more suited to me lifestyle.

P.S. Who the hell drew on my dining room wall? I have a pretty strict no children-with-crayons rule.


Follow Friday | September 12

My entree to the world of hand-dyed, dare I call it luxury, yarn was madelinetosh. I don't remember how it happened, I just know that it happened all at once and then I looked around me and there were sweater quantities piling up faster than I could justify paying for them. I've knit a lot of madelinetosh sweaters. I don't know if it even occurred to be back then to search out other dyers, but I know I didn't. Fast forward 50 sweaters or so and I got antsy. It wasn't that I no longer loved tosh, I mean take a look at my stash and you'll see it's still heavily represented, it's just that I had been so pleased with my projects in tosh yarn, I hadn't been motivated to see what else was out there.

Over the past year or so, however, I have been actively seeking out other dyers. People are doing amazing things with yarn and, as you look closely, you can notice that some dyers have a way with certain colors. I like to think of it like a trip through Paris. There are many MANY excellent shops to buy bread and pastries, but there are specific shops that do specific things the best. And you're a winner because you're walking around Paris sampling the best things from the best places. Ok, that was counter productive: now I want both a kouign amann and to be in Paris.

So I've been having a delicious time learning about new dyers and what they excel in. But then it happens, you realize that there are people you really ought to have tried by now and somehow haven't. Which is annoying. Because you already have 7000 projects you're supposedly actively working on, a guest room that you hesitate to call a guest room since it is really a bed you've staked bags of yarn on, and a retirement plan that really ought to be funded with something non-yarn-based. But you'll find something to do with that yarn, right? I've got my eye on two must-tries and two opportunities to try them and two reasons why. This has the added benefit of giving me fodder for two Follow Fridays! I'm sneaky like that.

First up is Shalimar Yarns which is having/has had an update today (I really intended for this post to be done by now). I solved the problem of never having tried the yarn by, for no good reason and with no project in mind, buying a heap of the Equus worsted in Toast Points. Sigh. I didn't want to retire anyway. The yarn has always looked amazing; I am amazed I limited myself to one sweater quantity. I don't consider myself a nature person, though I seem to become a little more of one each year (I SWAM IN A VOLCANO THIS SUMMER!), but when I see the posts on the Shalimar blog of the color that have been inspired by the nature around the dyers, I do get a little purple mountains misty if I may mix metaphors in a cringe-worthy fashion.

© mindofwinter

But if I want to point fingers at why I just bought yarn I don't need, I don't need to look far. Stand up and take a bow, Julia! Julia Trice, aka mindofwinter on ravelry, aka the best example of surfer-chic mom I've ever seen (I mean look at her perfectly slicked hair - how does that even work?), designed this gorgeous sweater, the Yukiya Pullover with Shalimar yarns. Specifically with the colorway Toast Points as the main color in the design. If you can stop looking at her effortless hair for a moment and focus on the sweater (which I have languishing on the needles in grey, black, and red, because I am nothing if not predictable), you will see what an incredible advertisement it is for the yarn. As soon as I saw the sweater pop up on the ravelry feed, I knew that color was destined to be mine. I also knew I needed the sweater. And that's the problem with Julia - she's doubly dangerous. She chooses amazing yarns for her amazing sweaters and you discover you're going to HAVE TO HAVE both (I have yarn stashed away for her Reverie and I have no idea when I'll get to that).

So there you have it: two Follows for the price of one Friday. Stay tuned next week when I admit failure and possibly have exciting news (the two things are not the same).


Lalalalalala I Can't Hear You


Sweater: Chuck by Andi Satterlund; Western Sky Knits willow worsted in Quarry; my notes and modifications on All-Star
Dress: Lilly Pulitzer Blossom dress in yellow seersucker; similar styles available at Zappos and at this person's ebay store (I own the blossom dress in pink and yellow seersucker as well as in the blue silk organza - I love this dress)
Shoes: Giorgio Armani brown leather sandals, similar styles by Givenchy and Jeffrey Campbell
Lips: Dolce and Gabbana passion duo gloss fusion lipstick in Sensual
Toes: OPI A Roll in the Hague

It's not cold out. No. It's, um, cold in my office (it is, actually, really cold in my office).

In honor of the temperatures being uncooperative, I have decided to flout all convention and good taste and wear a decidedly summer seersucker (strapless) dress with a wool worsted weight cropped cable pullover AND strappy sandals. Take that, summer (and the calendar tells me it is still summer)! The dress is amazing. I bought it for my fake wedding (that would be the just-the-two-of-us moment at the place we had planned to elope before we discovered no one wanted to come elope with us) and it was perfect for that and perfect for so many other things. So perfect, in fact, that as referenced above, I have purchased it two additional times. It fits great, flatters tremendously, and is fun (something my wardrobe used to be sadly lacking). You know what else is fun? This cropped sweater. Do I wear cropped sweaters a lot? No. Should I wear cropped sweaters a lot? No. I am neither teenager nor twenty-something and the only work I do on my abs is rewarding them with cake. But I love this sweater and need to find more ways to make it acceptable clothing. So: this silly experiment. Much as I love to knit, I'm rather anti-cold weather. And by rather, I mean extremely. I love the wardrobe: fur hats, chunky cables, leather, boots, etc. but I do not like being cold. I don't like the dry air, the frigid toes and fingers, the muted sun - it all sucks. Which is why when the air was chilly this morning, I needed to rebel in the most you-can't-wear-that-after-labor-day way I could.

But I'd also like to talk about this yarn. Kim of Western Sky Knits makes beautiful yarn that I have been fortunate enough to knit with on several occasions (and plan to knit with on many more). While she has some very loyal customers who use brightly colored rainbow yarn for...something...she also dyes colors like this one, Quarry, and Barnwood which I made my Cheyenne out of. I also made and then frogged a cardigan out of her Winter Wheat and am trying to find the perfect pattern to reuse the yarn for. In short, she has a way with what I can only call nature colors. And I love them. I also love her excellent customer service and that she's a really lovely woman. Seriously: try this yarn!

And while I think I've said as much as can be said about this slightly ridiculous getup, I will renew my enthusiasm for the orange toe. I had been in navy for a couple of weeks, which I also loved, but knowing that this would likely be the last pedicure with a summer color I'd get until the next tropical vacation (which might come up sooner than anticipated), I happily painted them orange again. Summer I feel I barely knew you (and may have overcompensated by buying ALL the clamshells of greengage plums at Whole Foods yesterday), but you gave me these orange toes, and for that I thank you.


Follow Friday | September 5

Oh god, is it really September?

Last Friday, I was in Maine enjoying the fresh air and taking on way too long of a bike ride for a person who hadn't really ridden a bike in 20 years, and that's why there was no Follow Friday last week. But fear not, I bought yarn in Maine. A shout-out (and admonition) to the lovely store KnitWit in Portland. I've shopped at you joyously on several occasions, but I always forget that you kinda seem to hate knitters with jobs. This problem is, by no means, limited to KnitWit, or to yarn shops. I am equally peeved at nail salons, leg waxing joints, and the Greenwich Town offices, but people, the kind of people who can dump over $100 on yarn, WORK FROM 9-5! If your store with this schedule: Tuesday-Wednesday 10:00 - 5:00, Thursday 10:00 - 6:00, Friday-Saturday 10:00 - 5:00, and closed Sunday and Monday, it's going to be really difficult for working to people to shop at you. We spent Thursday at Old Orchard Beach which I describe as "Coney Island without the mafia and heroin," and I had really wanted to swing by KnitWit prior to meeting Ridgely of AstralBath Yarns and her partner, Scott, for dinner. Then I looked at the KnitWit website and looked at the clock, which read 5:00. Old Orchard Beach is less than 30 minutes from Portland, but we weren't really ready to immediately jump up, gather our things, run to the car, pack it, and jet to Old Port so that I could show up 10 minutes before closing time and rushbrowse. I might have been able to convince my husband to stop there on the drive home, but the drive home was Monday which, in addition to being Labor Day, is a day KnitWit is never open. And KnitWit, truly, I'm sorry to pick on you, I was just bummed I didn't get to drop mad bucks on Quince & Co. yarns! So please, local yarn stores who frequently complain that we knitters shop online, remember that we shop online because it's convenient. I am NEVER available between 10 and 6 on a weekday because I am either actively at my job (where I earn the money I use to buy yarn or actively commuting from my job. Furthermore, since I am at my job during the week, it would be super awesome if your stores were open ALL DAY EACH DAY OF THE WEEKEND. Ok, rant over, KnitWit, you are a super awesome store with many super covetable buyable items, I just am peeved I didn't get the chance to pet and purchase any of them.

A hearty thanks to Heidi of Swans Island for being "in the office" at 3ish pm on a holiday weekend Saturday so that I could screech at my husband to "TURN THE CAR AROUND" on route 1 and pet the delectable yarns in person PLUS thanks for finding me a sweater quantity of your new yarn that didn't quite make the showroom floor so that I could have it at a discount (unasked for!!!).

But we were talking Follow Friday. I finally, this morning, made a twitter account so now I can hashtag the heck out of things like #followfriday or #ff or #throwbackthursay or #tacotuesday or whatever the kids are doing, so I feel a little more authentic about my Follow Friday entries. This week I want to talk about yarn, specifically the yarn I used to make The Emily. I really have no idea how I found Lakes Yarn and Fiber, I only know that when I did I knew immediately that Ami's colorway, Mustache Man, was destined to be the color for The Emily. I mean can you blame me? It's gorgeous! Not only is it gorgeous it is the perfect color for Emily herself!

And if you think this is the only color of Ami's that glows like this, I urge you (ok, no, wait if I urge you to stalk yarn I want to stalk and buy perhaps I won't get the yarn, but I want you to know how good it is, but I want it all for myself, arghhhh!) to check out her colorways peony, darkwash, and cloak (wait, not cloak, cloak is mine, go back and look at the peony which, while gorgeous, isn't a color for me). I don't know anything about dyeing, but I know that Ami's yarns look different - they glow and I like the glow. Her etsy store doesn't have a regular update schedule, but when they do come up, boy are they ever worth it. Her blog shows what she's working on and what life is like in her home state of Idaho, and the tourist board should hire her because she makes quite an argument for the natural beauty to be found there. I'm a definite fan and I can't wait to see what she comes up with next!


Urban Safari and The End of an Era


Sweater: Moody by Elena Nodel; madelinetosh 80/10/10 worsted MCN in dust bowl; my notes and modifications on Safari Moods
Dress: White House Black Market fit and flare black bandage dress; similar styles at Guess, House of Fraser, and of course if you want the original, Herve Leger
Belt: Madewell leopard belt; similar styles from J. Crew and Ralph Lauren
Shoes: Manolo Blahnik; the pair I almost bought to replace them and a more budget-friendly yet still quality pair by Schutz, you'll have to wait to see the ones I did buy...
Bracelet: Silver bangle from Tiny Sparkle Studio
Lips: Make Up For Ever Rouge Artist Natural in Aubergine N50 that I actually applied with my fingertip like the magazines say you should when you just want it to look like a stain - god, being a woman take a lot of effort

I was pretty positive I needed a leopard belt. The only belts I currently own are the polyurethane ones that accompany dresses I've bought and three of my mom's from the 70s. I haven't owned a belt of my own that was just a belt since high school. Don't ask me why, I don't have a good answer. So as part of The Adulting, I decided to intentionally buy a belt. And I love this belt, but it's been in the house over a month and hadn't been worn yet. Because it actually is a big deal for a gal like me to intentionally wear leopard. Also the belt was too big and didn't do that thing belts should do which is cinch the waist (the belt experienced a post-photography trip to the shoemaker and now fits). So how to style a leopard belt without going overboard? While leopard is a neutral, I firmly believe this, I thought I would start small and pair it with a simple black dress. But then I didn't feel like wearing a black blazer with my black dress, so I opened a tub of sweaters (for all interested parties, yes, I store my sweaters in huge plastic tubs from The Container Store - I've filled five of them; not the sweater boxes, the one called Jumbo Box! Nota bene: the majority of my shoes live in these same boxes, but the shoe sized ones) and decided to see if my Safari Moods sweater would do the trick.

The problem with this sweater is that I both love it AND I find it goes with nothing. It's got the big floppy, occasionally stand-up collar, the buttons that don't go all the way down, the short sleeves that are shorter than other short-sleeved things. It rarely makes it into the rotation even though I really like it (and worked on it when I personally went on safari so it's got good juju). Yet it works with this outfit. It's got a little of the leopard vibe without being over the top and the oversized collar contributes to the devil-may-care attitude of the outfit. And it's safari colored. I am a huge Out Of Africa nerd and go through phases where I want to look like original Banana Republic all the time, despite the fact that I live in a place that sees a distinct lack of impala and a distinct surfeit of ice and snow.


I am happy to give a shout out to Tiny Sparkle Studio on etsy who made the cool bangle and say it is the first, but by no means the last, purchase I make there. The bangle is light, simple, and perfectly my speed. I was really excited that it looked as good on my wrist as it did in the photo and at a really reasonable price. More bangles please!

And now the shoes.

Dear Manolo Blahnik Classic Black Pumps,

When you came into my life during the winter 2000 sale and I was so happy to have you, I never realized we would have so much time together, nor did I know how sad I would feel when it came time to retire you. Yes, I didn't treat you right all the time. I walked in rainstorms, on grass, and without hosiery; while I had you continuously reshod and heeled, I probably ought to have had you polished more than once a year. You went with everything and never objected to walking miles at a time. Though your heel could have been 1/2" higher like the camel pair that preceded you, you were the perfect black pump in a world where perfection is rare. I will admit that I asked the woman at the shoe place could she do anything for you, and I will spend the money to see what can be done, but your replacement has been purchased. At a high cost, both financially and emotionally, and we will no longer be to one another what we once were. You gave me 14 years of life, thereby justifying the idea of an investment shoe, and your successor has (dear god I can't believe I'm about to unironically say this) big shoes to fill. The new pumps are different. They're the naughty girl side of classic and I will likely wonder every time I wear them if that was the right decision, but it was time to move on, and so I shall, albeit much poorer than I was before you needed replacing. Fare thee well, oh shoes of mine, I shall not consign you to the garbage bin, but rather stick you in the top of the closet, a memorial to our collective lost youth.

With warmth and affection,