Tag Archive | style

Just enough warmth

Sometimes I get cold, even in the summer. The first summer that my family moved back to the Pacific Northwest after my body had acclimated to 90+ days all summer for the previous twelve years was a major shock to my system. These fir trees block out a lot of sunlight. When there is sunlight. I’ve since become re-accustomed to the less-than-summery temperatures we often experience up here. And part of my survival is sweatshirts and jackets. What can I say? I’m a wimp when it comes to cold.

While functional, hoodies aren’t particularly chic. Since I’ve been making all these lightweight summery-type clothes (Take that, clouds!), I needed a way to keep warm without instantly demoting my outfit to “college student” (Not that there’s anything wrong with that. heh But my college career was many years ago and I milked the sweatshirt/flannel pajama bottoms ensemble for all it’s worth back then).

My first thought was a shrug — something to cover my shoulders and a little bit up top, just to add a tiny bit of warmth. I had found a pattern that I liked in one of my crochet magazines and bought yarn for it. First, the yarn.

You got my money once, punks.

You got my money once, punks.

It’s a Martha Stewart (Lion Brand) acrylic/wool blend (65%/35%). I liked the aqua color (called “igloo”), which is similar to the yarn pictured in the pattern. I’m easily swayed by suggestion, apparently. I also liked that it is a smooth yarn and, while the weight is listed as a 4, it’s not too thick or bulky. As far as working with it goes… eh, I’d be hard-pressed to buy this again. It tends to be splitty; I found knotted lengths within the skeins and one skein even started with several inches of dirty yarn — like it had been walked on! I was too far along at that point to want to abandon the project or deal with the hassle of returning and finding another skein in the right color lot. Besides, who’s to say the next one wouldn’t have some kind of weird issue, too? Obviously, I cut off the dirty part and forged ahead.

The pattern. Well, the pattern ended up consisting of block motifs joined together. If you know anything about me, you know I hate weaving in loose ends. Look, it’s one thing on a blanket, but on a garment? I’m pretty good at hiding those suckers, but there’s always a couple that will work loose eventually. I didn’t like the idea of sporting little fuzzy ends sticking out. Plus, there was the weaving to start with. So I nixed that pattern and went to my fallback — Crochet Pattern Central.  I looked at all the shrugs, shawls, ponchos and capes. Some of them I looked at twice. I finally landed on Anke Spilker’s “Knock Knock Knock Penny.” I have no idea what the name is about, but I liked the look of the little poncho. It had enough coverage to offer warmth, but enough open stitching to keep things airy.

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Fans and summer go together!

As you can see in the pictures, it is basically a series of fans, which really aren’t that difficult to execute, but look fancy. And, while the pattern isn’t difficult, I did find it a bit of slow going because the first 15 rounds are all slightly different, so I couldn’t get into that yarnworker’s zen-like rhythm (full disclosure: I can never spell “rhythm” correctly on the first try). Rounds 16-26 repeat previous rounds, but I only went to about Round 22 or 23 because I was running out of yarn and time (this was one of the projects I wanted to get done before my trip back East). I like the finished length, so it doesn’t bother me that it is a little shorter than how the pattern was written. If I fold my arms across my chest, the poncho is long enough to cover them for a quick warm-up. And, just like I had hoped, it’s warm without being too warm for a cool summer day.

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I'm not the only one who likes it! She has commissioned me to make one for her, too.

I’m not the only one who likes it! She has commissioned me to make one for her, too.

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French Friday #38: Ruby slippers

In preparation for our move to France in 2003, I did a little clothes shopping to class up my wardrobe. Even though France is no longer the world power it used to be and some would argue that Paris is not even the fashion capital of the world anymore, there’s no denying that the concept of French style still holds a certain cachet. And, let’s face it, everyday American style post-1964 is awfully sloppy. The last thing I wanted to do was look like an American tourist for three years. It’s that whole “When in Rome, do as the Romans do.” The Parisians appreciate some effort, too.

If you’ve read French Friday #33, you’ll remember that all those new clothes didn’t show up for six weeks, so I did look like an American tourist for awhile. But once I had the opportunity to begin dressing “more French,” I noticed that something was off. I had missed a key component that I hadn’t even been aware of before. French women, regardless of age or formality of dress, have an affinity for red shoes. Powder blue was a close second. It didn’t matter what color the rest of the outfit was, in Paris, red shoes go with anything. At first, I thought it was kind of funny, but I began to warm to the idea of the red shoe. Why not have a little fun? Why not tell the world, “I am so confident in the rest of my look, that I can put on these red shoes and not even care.” Sounded good to me. Not having the occasion to wear pumps that often at that time in my life, I opted for the red sneaker, which was perfectly acceptable.

Ok, so this is in Spain, but goes to show I wore them everywhere.
On top of a fortress with Baby Rana in Valencia.

I wore those sneakers into the ground. By the time I threw them away several years later, there was no tread left on the soles, the red was scuffed off the toes, and the soles were peeling off from the shoes themselves. It was kind of sad to let them go. By that time, we were back in the States where white sneakers reign supreme and most women would never consider wearing something as attention-getting as red shoes. After all, if you don’t do it right, you could be flirting with “street walker” rather than “fashionista.” Nevertheless, I made a little vow to myself to always own at least one pair of red shoes from then on. Just another way to keep a little bit of France with me.

My current red shoes (wearing them right now!) which are comfy and look fun, but don't bother buying a pair -- they're falling apart after just a few months. Lame. Looks like I'm in the market for another pair of red shoes!