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Lady Violette

The Romantic Lifestyle

Archive for February, 2011

Elegant & Flattering New Tie On a Pashima Shawl

Monday, February 28th, 2011

Pashima Shawl Folded & Tied as a Scarf to Ring the Neck & Light the Face in Flattering Color

In her never ending creativity with scarves and shawls International Scarf Stylist Tricia has just invented this new way to wear a pashima – as a beautifully styled scarf to ring the neck and light the face in flattering color.

She actually just invented this new method of tying the shawl! It amazes me because I have seen stacks of these in department stores in scores of pretty colors and wondered exactly what one was supposed to do with them, beyond the obvious thing of wrapping your shoulders with a stole.

Now I feel like I need a stack of pretty colors to wear in all the ways she ties them! If you find a color that flatters your complexion, eyes, or hair (or all three) and learn how to tie it, you have an instantly unique accessory that lights up your face and also adds a bit of warmth around your neck and shoulders. And is unique to you!

The right scarf/shawl and way of tying it can transform any simple dress or blouse into a stunning outfit. I have begun to think of them as transformers! This is a traditional cashmere Pashima shawl size 28″ x 80″ and is folded and tied to wear as shown.

We are working on writing and photographing the directions for tying a pashima like this so you can learn to do it yourself. I’ll post them soon. meanwhile you can visit International Scarf Stylist Tricia James at scarfgenie.com

What Makes The Picture a Good Portrait? About “Fur is Fabulous!” … Part 2

Sunday, February 27th, 2011

"Fur is Fabulous"

Continued from Part 1, published on 2/16/2011.

*As a portrait the picture “Fur is Fabulous” is good because it captures me as a unique person and tells a lot about me. I also like it and what it says about me. I look like an exotic French bird of some sort. It reminds me of a film still from an old black and white French or Italian movie from the 1950’s or 60’s, an era in film which I love. Several of the kinds of art work I do are shown in the picture – my vintage clothing restoration work, my sewing, my passion for creating and wearing hats. I have often worked as a hat model (for hat designing friend, Princess WOW! several others milliners, and several photographers,) – is that not obvious? (I say in jest!) As well! And I am wearing an antique black silk kimono which I love and am very comfortable in.

Then there is the “hat/sleeve” thing going on. There is a saying, “He is wearing his heart on his sleeve.” which refers to him showing his emotions, what is in his heart, very directly, upfront, not trying to conceal it in deep secrecy. He is being very open about what he truly feels. It just happened that I was admiring and appreciating the softness and Absolute Beauty of the luxurious black Norwegian fox fur cuffs and I put one on my head to try it out as a hat and suddenly I was wearing my sleeve on my head!” Which brings me around to the other reason this photo is successful.

The brain is the center of thought. It is located inside the head. If one calls attention to that which is deep in his heart – by wearing his heart on his sleeve – it follows that one is bringing her thoughts on a subject to the fore by wearing them on her head! As I said, “Fur is Fabulous!” I was expressing my deep appreciation for fur’s Absolute Beauty.

By Absolute Beauty, I mean in the deepest purest sense. As a work of nature, as the coat of a wonderful creature, my appreciation for the beautiful animal from which it came, for that animal’s soul, and for his freedom to live in our world and be himself – running free and exquisite. I was thinking as I stroked the long dark soft fur of the Norwegian Fox, that he must, in his natural habitat, be a shining silky black creature living in a beautiful white snowy place, with deep green fir trees laden heavy with snow …..” And while I was thinking about him out there, blissfully and innocently living his life, streaking swiftly and gracefully through the forest…

I was also thinking about, and appreciating, the exquisite work of the professional fine art furrier who had made these beautiful cuffs and designed the 70 plus year old vintage coat I was rescuing from abandoned oblivion. I was thinking about the old furrier’s skill at working with the exquisite shining black fox pelts and how this ultra-skilled profession is also coming to an end. How it is, sadly, dying out.

I was thinking about my lovely and wise 96 year old friend who was a life-long professional furrier. And was, also, a teacher, in a now closed down fashion institute, specializing in designing and sewing with real and valuable furs. We have talked a lot about her career in the fur industry in the old days and what she knows about furs. She too is a dying breed. Even more in danger of extinction than the animals on the endangered species lists. This too is sad! Is it not?

That is what I was thinking! I was thinking that I must interview her formally and write about her and her work before it is too late. She is healthy now, but she is getting on in years and I have to do this before it is too late.

Lastly, I was thinking about the fact that I was recycling an elegant old coat. I had cleaned it, relined it, changed the buttons as it was missing one, and cleaned and mothproofed the fur. In changing the buttons I had found appropriate vintage replacements from the same era. I was now in the process of putting the cuffs back onto the coat so I could wear it. I am very proud of my textile and clothing restoration abilities and of the part I am doing to restore and reuse elegant clothing from earlier eras. I resurrect it. I give it a new life. I wear it. I photograph and document it. It gets used, seen, admired, enjoyed, generally talked about. The artists and designers who made it long ago and were forgotten about are remembered. In a way, I make all of them, including the animals whose pelts are in the coats live again. I think this is far better for them than having them molder away into total extinction, long forgotten, in a damp closet or attic somewhere!

I feel that, when I am wearing these beautiful vintage clothes elegance is, on some small level, restored to our modern world. I get a lot of interesting comments about my clothes and how I look. It opens peoples eyes to what was done historically and to what is still possible if you care to put the time and effort into dressing this way. In fact, into every aspect of your whole life. If you choose to contemplate on it you will become aware of many more ways in which you can reclaim elegance from the past and incorporate it into the here and now.

Sometimes, when I am asked about my interesting clothes I get the chance to explain that I restore them and sew by hand and on old sewing machines. And that I also find and restore the old sewing machines and other tools of the trade that I use. I may get to explain that I am a major recycler. My entire house is filled with things I have found and gotten second hand. I have, for instance, a vintage Italian Pavoni Espresso machine. I use it everyday. I love it! I love the processes of doing everything from scratch. Doing things this way, by myself, pleases me.

I happen to have met the furrier I told you about because I responded to her posting on Craig’s list when she was downsizing and selling her Singer Featherweight 221 sewing machine. I went to her home to look at the machine, she saw my clothes and my style, we began to talk and we immediately hit it off! Her name is Dorothy.

I did purchase Dorothy’s sewing machine. She told me she also had boxes of old vintage sewing patterns and would I like them? I said yes! As it turned out she gave me a couple of hundred old patterns – and she had made all of them herself at one time or another during her life. The dates of the patterns she gave me began in 1932 when she was 17 with the dress she wore to her high school prom. and extended through to 2008 when she decided to stop making all her own clothes. Each pattern was carefully labeled with the date she made it and what occasion it was made for. In many cases there was a sample of the fabric she had originally used attached to the pattern envelope.

Dorothy gave me the documented story of her life in her sewing patterns. I spent a lot of time listening to her stories which I find fascinating. And from which I learned a lot. She apprenticed with a fine furrier when she got out of high school and spent her entire life working for his firm. She was also married and socially active. She also became a professor at The New York Fashion Institute teaching furrier design, construction and sewing techniques.

She is the only person I know who is able to explain how an older style fur coat or hat was made and identify the unusual types of furs in some vintage pieces. She has an amazing personal collection of vintage fur coats and yes, she still wears them, regularly. Dorothy is a treasure.

The Peta people wouldn’t dare mess with Dorothy. She commands there respect. She is also for the most part, on their side. She loves the animals that produce the fur and wants to protect them. She does care.

Anyway, Dorothy has been a fascinating person for me to get to know. I think she feels the same way about me. She told me that she likes being friends with me because she doesn’t have many of her old friends left any longer. And we have a lot of shared interests.

I am so glad that I have met her! And that we have become friends. And it all happened because we appreciate fur for it’s Absolute Beauty. We both think, “Fur is Fabulous” including the animals it comes on!  Mostly for that reason, actually. And we have become friends because we share this deep appreciation.

Amazingly, all these thoughts were going through my head when I said “Fur is Fabulous” and my son was taking that picture. He only made one exposure by the way. It was a very spontaneous experience.

To be continued with Part III, of “Fur is Fabulous”

Baaharaji, the Knitting Guru, and His Knitting Assistant Friends

Saturday, February 26th, 2011

Baaharaji & Knitting Assistant Friends

Baaharaji is hard and work knitting socks and has two assistants to help him. They are Measuring Sheep who conveniently sports a pull out tape measure in his tail, and Knitting Mama Sheep who knits miniature articles for small dolls on tiny toothpick needles while keeping track of a good sharp pair of embroidery scissors attached to a long black ribbon.

Baaha, as we call him for short, has just completed a sample sock as a test pattern. It turned out really well. Now we are ready to make one human sized!

Baaha is wearing one of his hand knitted Rasta Style hats today. This one is also a sample pattern which is now ready to be made up in a human size as well.

Measuring Sheep is a valuable  member of my knitting team now as he is responsible for taking accurate  measurements of all projects.

Knitting Mama Sheep is always knitting and she makes sure our scissors can be found at all times. She cleverly tied them to a six foot long piece of ribbon and herself so they cannot be carried further away from a knitting project than that! What a good idea!

The Fine Art of Draping the Human Figure

Saturday, February 26th, 2011

The Fine Art of Draping the Figure

Artists have drawn and painted the human figure draped in beautiful folds of cloth to enhance its intrinsic grace for as long as they have been making art.

And I have been thinking about this all week as I have studied the pictures of Tricia’s beautiful scarf tying techniques.

What could be more stylish and feminine in any time in history or in any culture than a beautifully draped human figure? I can’t think of anything! But I can think of many beautiful examples of draping.

There were the, the Egyptians, the Greeks, the Romans, the East Indian Women in their exquisite saris, Isadora Duncan the modern dancer, and more beautiful sculptures and paintings than anyone ever could list – just to mention a few examples. Every museum is full of them!

Draping the female figure alluringly is most definitely an example of the Feminine Arts throughout History.

Here Tricia has again used her basic wrap of the white silk shawl, then decorated it with a Ficcare Maximas Clip. These are designed to use in the hair to hold French twists and buns in place, but we have found them to work as excellent shawl and scarf clips as well.

I will post instructions for tying and styling these scarves soon. In the meantime you may visit International Scarf Stylist Tricia James at scarfgenie.com

Baaharaji ~ The Expert Knitter

Friday, February 25th, 2011

Baaharaji the Knitting Guru

Baaharaji is a young sheep from India who is an amazing knitter. He is nicknamed The Knitting Guru!  No project is too difficult for him to master. He is a very clever fellow.

He has a distinct personal fashion style always wearing arm bands made of his current favorite yarns and often sporting a turban created by a ball of yarn. He often wears hand knitted Rasta hats that he makes for himself as well.

Here he is about to knit Sari Ribbon Yarn imported by Louisa Harding from his native India, into a complicated project using many types of novelty yarns knitted together. The Sari Ribbon has a metallic silver streak throughout. Baaharaji is working on my knitted Poncho in this photo. The finished poncho is shown a few postings back.

Baaharaji is one of a group of sheep knitting mascots that I have. He is a patient knitter and is always willing to hold yarn stretched out between his paws so that it won’t tangle while I wind it into balls.

Baaharaji has a personal goal to teach as many children as possible to knit.

The Cost of Knitting is Always a Concern! A Couple of Cute & Affordable Projects…

Friday, February 25th, 2011

Lady Violette's Vintage Violet Knitted and Felted Clutch & Raspberry Lace Up Like a Corset Gauntlets

The cost of yarns to make a knitted project is always a concern so I called The Weaving Works  in Seattle where I often buy my yarns to check on the current cost of the yarns I used in these two little projects.

Brown Sheep’s Lamb’s Pride Bulky costs $8.15 per skien. Manos del Uraguay’s Wool Classica costs $ $15.25 per skein in solid colors as I used here or $17.25 in varigated colors.

My cost to make the gauntlets pictured was $15.25 for the ball of Manos. I used a bit of leftover yarn from my little Lady Violette Vintage Violet Clutch Purse for the lacings.

The cost of yarn for the clutch purse was $8.15.

You can make both the gauntlets and the purse for a total yarn cost of $23.40! Not bad is it?

The vintage buttons I used were in my button box and cannot be bought. You can use any buttons you already have or find some specifically for decorating your project. I often buy some inexpensive item at a thrift store or rummage sale just for the buttons because they are much less expensive that way than buying them new from fabric stores. I recommend having an eye out for buttons at all times. I have found old stock on cards in junk stores for 15 cents a card. I buy them if I like them because I know I will find a great use for them at some point.

These two projects are affordable, cute, usable and easy to make.

You can substitute yarns as well. If you are going to felt one for the clutch be sure to use all wool. Synthetics will not felt properly. For the gauntlets, anything that gives you a comparable gauge will work. My gauge for the gauntlets is 5 sts per inch. I did knit the Manos tighter than the suggested gauge on the yarn tag in order to get the effect I wanted.

These yarns can be purchased at weavingworks.com in Seattle.

Lady Violette’s Design for Knitted Raspberry Colored Gauntlets

Friday, February 25th, 2011

Lady Violette's Lace Up LIke a Corset Raspberry Gauntlets

I have just finished designing and knitting this pair of gauntlets which cover the arm from wrist to elbow and are laced together like a corset which allows a flirtatious bit of skin to show through. These are made to fit with negative ease and it took me a couple of tries to get the sizing down (small enough) as I wanted a good tight fit with stress across the lacings to give me the best looking laced up effect.

This was an experiment. I was not sure if it would turn out! But I love them and will now make them again and carefully document the process so I can share it. The yarn I used is left over Manos del Uraguay Wool Classica and required less that one full skein. I recommend winding one skein into two balls of equal size before starting a pair of these so you are sure to end the first one before you have knit over 1/2 the skein’s worth of yarn. The same way one divides a skein of sock yarn.

I used Brown Sheep’s Lamb’s Pride Bulky for the Lacings. The stitches at the end of the gauntlets are left live on purpose. I laced the Brown Sheep Lamb’s Pride Bulky yarn through them so I could try on the gloves for fit and it looked so cute that I decided to leave them live and utilize the lace effect of those stitches rolling a bit and creating a tiny ruffle on the end.

These must be made to measure for the person they are for. You need to make them a very tight fit. I made these up as I knit and did not write down the pattern but they turned out really well after some initial struggle with the sizing, so I have bought some more yarn and will make another pair and document the pattern, then post it. I will then be able to give exact directions for making personalized measurements.(I do get mad at myself when I don’t document the pattern the first time through. But I get carried away with the process and don’t take good notes. It is actually easier for me to write a pattern when I make a thing the second time as I am doing it very deliberately so that someone else will be able to understand it. Now that I am posting it on my blog I will take pictures as I go to illustrate the process as well.

I find it hard to know if I am doing something correctly when I don’t have an in process photo to check my progress against. Most knitting patterns only give you a finished photo to look at. I want to provide a few pictures of the step by step process of a garment underway …. so I am going to experiment with that on this little gauntlet.

This is a nice small project as it can be done quickly, doesn’t require a huge investment in yarn and is fairly easy to make. Then there is the added cuteness factor!

I used size 7 and size 6 needles. Manos del Uraguay Wool Classica for the main part of the gauntlet and Brown Sheep’s Lamb’s Pride Bulky for the lacings. Any yarn of the similar weight should work and you could use ribbon for the laces instead of bulky yarn. I had intended to use ribbon, but when I did my try on with the Brown Sheep’s Lamb’s Pride Bulky yarn lacings I liked the way the yarns look together so much that I decided to leave it in.

I will post the pattern and a photo of the gauntlet on a model soon.

The cost to make a project is always a concern so I called The Weaving Works in Seattle where I often buy my yarns to check on the current cost of these yarns. Brown Sheep’s Lamb’s Pride Bulky costs $8.15 per skien. Manos del Uraguay’s Wool Classica costs $ $15.25 per skein in solid colors as I used here or $17.25 in varigated colors. My cost to make the gauntlets pictured was $15,25 for the ball of Manos. I used a bit of leftover yarn from my little Lady Violette Vintage Violet Clutch Purse for the lacings. The cost of yarn for that purse was $8.15. You can make both the gauntlets and the purse for a total yarn cost of $23.40! Not bad is it? I will post this information as “Cost of Knitting” with an additional photo of both projects shown together for those who are interested.

Blue Morning Glory – So Art Deco!

Friday, February 25th, 2011

Blue Morning Glory ~ Art Deco Beauty

These are amazing flowers! So blue and so delicate! I came across this photo this morning so I decided to post it to cheer myself up! I took the photo on a trip to California last summer where these were blooming in  profusion against a hill of jungle growth. I have tried growing them in Seattle without luck.

The White Shawl “Scrunched” to make a Fresh Stylized Flower Blooming in the Cold and Snowy Dead of Winter!

Friday, February 25th, 2011

White Shawl with Schrunchy Flower Styled by Tricia James

Here is yet another variation on the same basic wrap of the white shawl – this time “Scrunched” with a brown taffeta hair scrunchy. This flowery variation blew me away!

Tricia took a cloth covered hair scrunchy edged in beads, and pulled a section of the shawl through it, then fanned it out to create a Stylized Flower on one shoulder. After shaping it with her fingers she secured the “flower” with one corsage sized long straight pin, hiding the pearl pin head in the folds of the flower.

It is snowing outside and this is a way you can make and wear a fresh flower corsage in spite of the weather! And what a clever way to actually use that stack of seldom worn hair scrunchies made of pretty fabrics that have accumulated in a drawer! I must have 1/2 a dozen of them in various colors that I am now excited to try out as flowers on scarves!

Tricia will come back next week to help me write up directions for tying and styling these scarves which I will then post for you to follow. Meanwhile you can visit International Scarf Stylist Tricia James at scarfgenie.com

I am going to make myself some hair scrunchies  just for the purpose of wearing them as cloth shawl flowers. This seems like a great way to utilize a small bit of pretty fabric, doesn’t it? When I figure out how to make them I will post the instructions as well.

Snowed In & Sewing Today! What is in my mind’s eye as a costume designer?

Friday, February 25th, 2011

The Amazing Vintage 60's Giant Paisley Print Silk Fabric

It is dark and ominous out, cold skies, crows circling, dustings of snow occurred during the night.  The roads are deserted. It is weirdly overly quiet and still. A big snow is predicted! It snowed about 3″ during the night. So the rooftops are white and the grass lawns are white, but, so far, the roads are still black, and we have been getting only flurries …

But something is coming … it feels spooky… so I got prepared, last night, to stay home and sew all day! Now we are waiting for the storm to begin…

A huge black crow just swooped past my window…It is cold and drafty… awful… and I am happy to be inside!

But I wonder if he is spying on me! Does he know what I am doing in here? They always seem to be watching! They are everywhere! Maybe they have a bird’s eye view of the design process! I went to the fabirc store yesterday and they were circling around above the parking lot when I left! What is it with these huge black birds? I feel like I’m in a Hitchcock movie!

I am currently working on two costumes for, Princess WOW! to wear in upcoming  concerts. I have decided to document my design process, as if to give a telescopic view of how a costume for a performer evolves.

I want to describe and show what happens, in my mind’s eye and in my imagination as a designer, when I conceive of a design and execute a costume.

This one began with discussion of Princess WOW’s current work. She described how she is dressing in bright colors and styles reminiscent of the flower children of the late 60’s because these costumes instantly charm  people and make them happy. She explained that she uses the hippie styles and bright colors, to get people’s attention, get them to stop, take notice, then interact with her. Her entertaining and colorful costumes get them to smile,  then stop and listen to what she has to say and ultimately join in her efforts. These efforts are, ultimately, to make the world a better, happier, more functional place. These are the same ideals that propelled people in the late 60’s and early 70’s at the height of the hippie movement. The flower children of 1968 wanted the same thing for the world. They were idealists.

As Princess WOW! described her work I remembered that I had this amazing vintage 60’s giant paisley silk fabric pictured above. I have had it, packed away, just waiting for the right project for years! The colors are bright & beautiful. The paisleys are huge about 9″ to 13″ in length. The weight and drape of the silk is right for a costume of the sort she would like to wear. I could picture the entire thing in my mind’s eye, as they say, as she described her needs. I also just happened, luckily, to have quite a lot of this amazing fabric!

I could envision a long empire waisted , flower child/ princess gown with huge beautiful billowing ecclesiastical sleeves,  ~ part Elizabethan, part Chinese, part Penelope Tree 1968 fantasy flower child in a David Bailey photo shoot perched precariously on a Himalayan mountain peak, and part fairy tale princess.

I could instantly imagine people saying WOW! when they saw the giant silk paisley print pictured above as the long gathered skirt and the full sleeves of this amazing concoction combined with a strong, acid bright and highly textured magenta silk shantung crossed over in the front for the bodice. Then the whole dress lined and accented in a softer slightly lighter shade of magenta crepe de chine that would show here and there, now and then. I could imagine the inside of the gown as secretly beautiful and unusual as the outside! I say secretly so, because only the designer and the wearer of the finished gown will see the lining, and  the way the costume is structured and executed on the inside. And the way it is decorated, on the inside, just for them, with ribbons and tiny flowers made of ribbons.

The way a gown is made and how it is put together is extremely important in achieving the end result.  It gives it structure and body support for the figure within and makes a world of difference in the finished and final effect. I often add special touches that only the designer and the wearer will ever consciously realize are there. The wearer/performer gains confidence and self assurance from these details. She must be able to slip into her dress and go onto the stage without any further concerns as to how the dress may fit or move or look during her performance. She must be able to forget about all of that and simply concentrate on her music or her dancing or her acting …As a dancer I wore many performance costumes myself and became very aware of what was needed. As a performer one must be able to forget her costume when she is wearing it. It has to become a natural part of her.

I knew, in my mind, as described above, exactly what I wanted to do! This further included;

the addition of a giant obi sash/belt to be tied at the empire waist just under the bust, in a soft bias cut yellow ochre fabric with long trailing sashes,

making an optional use sequined silk organza overlay for the skirt (which will essentially easily create a second version of the costume that looks completely different from the first version) and can be used during concert to achieve an alternate effect easily,

outlining (and thereby enhancing the shimmering effect from the stage lights) the giant paisleys pictured above with tiny beads and sequins which I would have to sew on one by one by hand,

accenting that magical glittering effect even further, by strategically hand applying more of  sequins on the top layer of the organza overskirt.

Well, It is snowing today, and I am working on the costume!

And – at the end of the day, – when I look at the photo, again, of the paisley fabric I can also see large colorful Japanese carp swimming in a pond with bright flowers floating in it. And a beautiful crested bird. All of these images will influence  the formal final version of the dress when it is finished.

In this case,the concert costume designs arose from  discussion about what the flower children wore in 1968 and tangential associations I made between my experiences and the needs of the client, Princess WOW!

The White Shawl Again – This Time Antiqued with a Vintage Gold Brooch by Sara Coventry

Wednesday, February 23rd, 2011

White Shawl - Antiqued with Vintage Gold Brooch

Here is the white shawl yet again! Tied in the same basic way and accented with a lovely vintage 1950’s gold double pin brooch with a chain and dangles designed by Sara Coventry. This would be beautiful paired with a simple gold bangle bracelet , gold rings and gold earrings. I like all the looks we have tried so far, but I think this one is particularly  glamorous. It demonstrates my belief that vintage glamor is timeless.

The creamy natural white silk shawl is a perfect foil for gold jewelry which in turn is very flattering to every skin tone. The reason gold jewelry is popular is that it actually does softly flatter women and, if carefully chosen, can be worn with just about anything.

The gold is lovely here paired with the white shawl and would be equally so with a perfect white blouse. I have put it over a basic dark velvet sheath dress. A dark sheath dress, or a dark skirt or pants always work as base pieces under scarves and shawls.

The same white raw silk shawl, again, is tied by International Scarf Stylist Tricia James of scarfgenie.com

Soon, Tricia will give us instructions with pictures to follow on how to do these shawl and scarf ties and variations  ourselves. then we will have to practice! I for one am determined to master this!

I should point out that i antiqued the photo one step as I could not resist doing so to enhance the antique feeling just a touch. It just made the photo a tad warmer.

Lady Violette’s Knitted Neckpiece ~ The Unique Tie~on Scarf in Fleurific Colors & How to Make a Version of it for Yourself

Wednesday, February 23rd, 2011

Lady Violette's Fleurific Neckpiece/Tie-on Scarf

My Lady Violette Neckpiece is actually a little scarf made of scrap yarn – albeit, very elegant scrap yarn! And scrap ribbon! I used about 10 different kinds of yarns from mohair through shetland wool to novelty yarns, tweeds, smooth, fluffy, sleek, and some bias tape ribbon sort of stuff which is what you see in the grayish sheer lavender bows. I had lots of little odds and ends left over from larger projects or single balls of yarn I had collected in my personal color way.

I began with all my yarns in a basket and a pair of straight 10 ” long size 10 US wooden knitting needles. That’s it! I have found that the yarn looks and knits differently on wooden versus metal or plastic needles and I far prefer the look of knitting done on wooden ones. I have made swatches, even entire gloves on different types of needles using the same yarn in order to compare the end results. If you have a choice, use wood. In my opinion it makes a more beautiful stitch.

I didn’t knit any swatches. You don’t need to! You can just jump in and make this. It took me less than two hours. I made it while a friend was reading a draft of his novel to me. Which just goes to show that you do not have to concentrate too hard on this knitting project either! No counting of stitches or rows is necessary, nor do you have to follow any patterns or chart! Isn’t this easy? This is a simple little knitting project that you can do quite quickly for pure enjoyment with no frustrating side issues!

Finished scarf should be about 5 – 6 inches wide. The length can be whatever you want. I put it around my neck crossing the ends over each other and stopped knitting when I felt it was long enough. At that point I cast off. Then I inserted the ribbon through a few knit stitches on each edge where I wanted to tie the scarf together to hold it around my neck. I tied the dangling ends into little bows and trimmed them to the lengths I decided looked nice. Et Voila! C’est fini!

To start knitting: cast on enough stitches to make a 5 – 6 inch wide finished piece. I worked at an estimated gauge of about 3.5 stitches per inch. I combined yarns of various thicknesses as I went along, maintaining the feeling of the gauge between my fingers. Thus, I begin with a mohair and a tweed held together, knit a couple of inches, then added  in a different  thin yarn, knit a couple of rows, removed one of the yarns I had been knitting with and started with another thicker, bolder one. When I added a yarn I did not weave in or cut off the yarn tails. I left them for incorporation into the design at the end as little ties or dangling tassels. Some yarn ends I tied into yarn string bows.

I tied the over lapped ends in place permanently so there is no fiddling with the positioning of the neckpiece when you put it on. You just pull it over you head and arrange it into your desired wearing position. It will stay in place, never slip or fall off because it is, essentially a collar or cowl neck ring, not a rectangular scarf. It is like a lovely, cozy, soft, knitted necklace around your neck! It is there to envelope you softly and keep you warm and make you beautiful with it’s flattering flower colors.

Choice of yarns: be sure they are soft, non-scratchy or non-itchy types. I cannot tolerate any irritating yarns around my neck. I know, from experience that children will discard itchy hand knits! And adults will make every excuse not to wear them! Of course yours can be any colors you want to use.

I cannot advise you how much to knit up in any one yarn. You have to be the judge of that as you see your handiwork unfurling before you! That is a nice thing about this little project! It will be very personalized because you will be using your own yarn choices and your own unique judgement as to color and textural combinations. I only used knit and pearl stitches, but you could use pattern stitches or combinations if you want to try it. Anything goes! Because this is Making Art!

My finished Lady Violette Fleurific Neckpiece Tie-on Scarf, can be worn over many things. I wear mine over a long sleeved jewel-necked Michael Stars t-shirt or a very plain thin knit rose-colored sweater. I can wear it atop my hand knitted striped poncho for a really dramatic combination which is also extremely warm. It also works for me over a long deep purple wool coat, or over the top of a turtle neck sweater. It is very lightweight and soft so it s an ideal and extra beautiful top layer. A nice final icing to the cake in winter!

Lady Violette’s Very Personal Color Way ~ Fleurific Shades of Violets, Lilacs, Lavender, Orchids, Cosmos and Roses

Wednesday, February 23rd, 2011

The Fleurific Poncho & Neckpiece by Lady Violette

As Lady Violette, I have my personal flowers – the violet and the rose, and I also have my own favorite and very personal colors ~ the same range of colors ~ the violets and the roses and every variation of lavender, lilac, pansy, orchid, cosmos, and purple in between! These colors remind me of my personal flowers and, if I wear them, do their job, as they flatter me in every way!  I know they will look good on me so I can grab them and go

I have made up and used the word Fluerific, to describe them for years. After all fleur means flower in French so it figures that it would work, as a word, combined with terrific. La Fleur is also feminine! Of course! As Lady Violette, I have created a new word and It is here to stay. Permanently! I have been using it for years. I am now making it available for everyone to use.

I knit. A lot. Period! And I love beautiful fibers and yarns, and ribbons. These luxury yarns and fibers are expensive and hard to come by, and it takes a lot of time and a lot of money to knit a full garment out of one. Not to mention discipline, stick-to-it-iv-ness and determination to  make a garment from start to finish. One can easily spend over $100 on supplies and 100 hours or more on execution of a hand knitted article of clothing. If I am going to do that I am going to end up with a garment that is a work of art.

I cannot possibly knit and crochet everything I dream of making! There is not enough yarn or time available in a lifetime! Thus, I discovered that I could somewhat satisfy my yarn lust by buying  just one ball of yarn that fell into my fleurific color way and adding it into my yarn basket and using it in combination with others to make totally unique items of my own design. Thus I have developed my style of knitting. I draw yarns from the basket and work with them just as I would if I were painting.

I have experimented with knitting like this a lot and have gotten to the point that I can feel the yarns coming together through my fingers in the correct gauges as I work. I develop the shape of the garment I am making as I go. I have made sweaters, scarves, shawls, ponchos. hats, gloves, socks, etc, in this way. No two ever come out alike! and I think making two alike would be incredibly difficult! I also have no idea how it will come out until I am well into knitting it. This is because this kind of knitted work cannot be designed ahead of time ~ it is a flowing design process that just comes out of me while I am doing it rather, I assume, like a silkworm produces as he is spinning his silk!

Pictured is my Fleurific Poncho and separate Lady Violette Neckpiece shown in one way it can be worn ~ over the poncho for extra warmth and dramatic flair at the neck…Both are my own Lady Violette Original Designs. The neckpiece is actually a kind of scarf, tied together with ribbons.

I am working on writing instructions to give other people so they can make their own versions using the techniques I am using. I cannot write exact patterns as all yarns and knitters will differ, but I can explain how it is done so that another knitter can embark on a similar project. You can begin by collecting a big basket of yarns in the color way you desire to work with. I recommend a personal color way of course!

A big beautiful basket of colorful hand made yarns is a nice interior design element in your house as well! People seem to enjoy looking at the balls of yarn, picking them up, feeling them, commenting on the textures, softness and colors. One more example of the enjoyable  “The Feminine Arts!”

The Red Shoes & Berry Colors

Tuesday, February 22nd, 2011

The Red Satin Shoes

Here is another view of the red satin shoes and the Princess WOW! Costume design project. I wanted to show the graceful lines of this elegant pump. And the rich red color against the magenta fabric I am using in the skirt along with the giant paisley print. The scalloped sides of the shoe are flattering to the feminine ankle, as is the graceful 3″ heel.

This style shoe was initially created by Christian Dior to flatter the feminine foot and ankle. He used them in his New Look Collection right after World War II and they have been around, in one version after another ever since. The lines are classic and a girl can never have too many of them in her personal shoe collection. Contrary to popular belief this is not an uncomfortable shoe style. If they fit you properly they are comfortable.

I love red shoes in general. I think they can be worn with many things. Here I am showing you a color combination I really like – bright shiny red with bougainvillea magenta pink! Luscious! Berry colors! Flower colors! Lady Violette Colors! Amazingly beautiful colors!

Outside, it is cold and grey, overcast and foreboding… and getting colder! Inside I am sewing, in my kitchen, surrounded by the pinks and reds in this project and four blooming African violet plants… Snow is predicted later in the week…

Vintage Shoe of the Week – An Elegant Red Silk Satin Satin Slipper

Tuesday, February 22nd, 2011

Red Silk Satin Vintage Slipper

I promised to show a vintage shoe each week. – This one is an elegant red satin slipper with scalloped sides and 3 inch high heels that was  that was dyed to match something from which it was separated years ago.

Currently I am designing and making a costume for my friend, Princess WOW!, to wear while performing in an upcoming concert in NYC. (More about that in an upcoming future post.)

I am determined that I will see that this new dress is properly shod and presented with the correct jewelry at it’s debut. I always deliver a costume fully accessorized.

I am showing the shoe against the colorful giant paisley fabric I am using in the skirt of the gown. The fabric is a 1960’s vintage  crispy silk which I have beaded and sequined. The red satin shoes will be worn with glistening magenta stockings and will peek out below the bright paisley fabric of the skirt. Colorful? Yes! And, did you know that paisley, as a design motif, was originally inspired by a flower petal? Perhaps that is one reason why the flower children of the 1960’s liked using paisley fabrics!

Because Princess WOW! – the client for whom this dress is being made – specializes in wearing beautiful clothes that get people’s attention, make them smile, and remind them of the late 1960’s. The challenge for me was to design a stage costume reminiscent of the flower children of 1968. I have had this beautiful giant paisley printed silk fabric for years! It’s time has finally come!

Shortly after beginning the design process I found these beautiful red silk satin shoes, in her exact size, while thrifting! They had been worn only once and were essentially brand new. What luck! And I paid only $6! I think this particular pair is one of those dyeable white satin shoes from the 1980’s that was specially colored to match an outfit worn just one time. Then it was probably stored in a box at the back of a closet for 20 years.

I think this particular pair of red shoes is lucky that it got to come out now – after 20 plus years of living in oblivion – and will have an exciting new life performing on the stage in New York City and on live television! At the moment I am enjoying having them in my studio for inspiration while I am designing the concert dresses. (There are now two in the works. ) I am fully enjoying the experience of having so much pretty color  around me in the dead of winter!

A Lady Violette interior design tip: Shoes are beautiful sculptural objects and I often put a pair out as an art object to enjoy. Sometimes I display one pair on a coffee table, or I put  several colorful or whimsical pairs out, one on each stair step, leading from my little living room up the stairway to the second floor level of the house. It is a great way to enjoy my shoe collection and people find it very entertaining. It is a good thing to do for a party. People will sit on the stairs, talking and admiring the shoes. Shoes have many uses beyond wearing them on your feet! They are objets d’art! Another fine example of the Feminine Arts!

An Asian Style Shawl Clip is an Option – Rushing is Not Glamorous! Ever! Relax and Take Your Time, Contemplate Your Options as You Put Yourself Together, Enjoy the Process…

Monday, February 21st, 2011

White Scarf Styled with Japanese Lobster Hair Clip by Tricia James

Here is the same  initial wrap and tie of the white scarf I posted yesterday. Styled by Tricia James. But here she has achieved a completely different look. She has accessorized the shawl with a beautiful black lobster hair clip from Japan that is decorated in a lacquer finish with red flower and a butterfly on a broad black clip underlaid in bright red. This creates an Asian feel of austere elegance. Peace and quiet! Calm! Pure Zen!

I consider the way a scarf or shawl is tied to be an art form. The way a woman presents herself to the world, when she has the time and inclination to do so elegantly styled, is a performance art of sorts.

Of course dressing carefully and artistically takes time. One cannot rush! Rushing is not glamorous. Ever! It makes one feel awful! It is always nice to be able to get ready to go out in a relaxed manner, slowly and methodically. The process is enjoyable then, not rushed and stressful.

I suggest you make yourself a violet or lavender cocktail, and allow yourself a half hour to put yourself together. Relax – and getting ready might just be the most enjoyable part of your evening!

Contrast that idea with the stressful modern practice of rushing around like a chicken with its head cut off to get ready to leave which is just awful! So uncivilized!

I am now going to be gathering up accessories items I barely ever use  – and shawls and scarves I can’t figure out how to tie or drape properly. Barrettes that are too large or heavy or slippery to stay in my hair. Scrunchies I only wore once, headbands and lobster clips. Tricia wittily utilizes all of these varied items in her scarf and shawl styling techniques. Other good additions are finger rings, actual scarf clips, brooches, pins, chains, elastics, feathers and flowers, and all manner of heretofore unusable hair clips that can, hopefully, be redirected to higher and better uses decorating scarves and shawls. Finding out what can be done with them should be great fun!  I will show more of Tricia’s ideas on my blog so keep coming back for more and visit International Scarf Stylist Tricia James at scarfgenie.com to see what else she is up to.

Lady Violette cocktail from The Mansion on Peachtree

Monday, February 21st, 2011

Lady Violette cocktail from The Mansion

I found this cocktail on the web. It looks delicious! I love the idea of floating an orchid blossom in the drink! Lovely!

2 ounces gin
3/4 ounce lemon
1/2 ounce creme de violette
1 ounce simple syrup
1 egg white
edible flower for garnish (optional)

Shake all ingredients vigorously for 30 seconds in a cocktail shaker and strain into a martini glass. Garnish with edible flowers of any variety if you like (an orchid is used here).

Lady Violette cocktail from The Mansion on Peachtree

You Can Sash Your Waist With a Scarf! or Do It Doll Size! There are Endless Possibilities with Scarves and Imagination!

Monday, February 21st, 2011

A Dramatic Scarf Sashed at the Waist by Tricia James

Isn’t this a darling way to use a scarf!  Tricia James has taken a small pocket sized square, folded it and wrapped the waist of my little 16″ tall mannequin as if she is wearing a giant sash! She has put one of the scarf clips in her collection at the waist as if it is a pretty buckle. This is one of her own designs and is gold plated over sterling silver and set with small pearls, the epitome of classic elegance.

Of course you can use a larger scarf and make a waist sash to fit yourself. Either a square or rectangular scarf will work. Wouldn’t it be pretty to wear a vibrant silk scarf this way over a simple black dress and accent the whole with vintage or modern costume jewelry you just happen to have? I have used my string of vintage red glass beads doubled to fit the little dress form. I am able to be wear it myself as a long single strand necklace. Any brooch or scarf clip could be used as a clip at the waist. Even a hair clip will work!

I have lots of scarves languishing in my dresser drawers and I am anxious to get them out and try them in all these new ways! I can see that the strategic use of  scarves can transform and massively extend my wardrobe. I am wondering, for example, how many different looking outfits I could create with two  basic dresses and five different scarves… And what a great solution this would be while traveling  – allowing me to travel light and still have enough different looks along to be super stylish and surprising at all times! It is exciting to consider this. Also, it requires no shopping (or spending of money) so it is a very economical solution to updating one’s wardrobe for the spring season. I liken this to going shopping in my own house which is always a good thing. Everyone probably has a lot of untapped potential in their closets and drawers that they don’t realize is there or know how to use. Specifically, a lot of scarves and shawls that could come out and get used imaginatively…They are kind of wasted sitting in dark drawers aren’t they?

This small dress form pictured is the same size as a Madame Alexader Cissy doll at 16″ tall. Madame Alexander also makes the My Favorite Friend doll who is 18″ tall and is designed to be a play doll. I have discovered that you can make great outfits to dress dolls out of scarves. This is a fun way to play with dolls with little girls while teaching them ways to tie and wear scarves themselves when they grow up.

Scarf tying is a fascinating subject! Definitely an art form and definitely one of the Feminine Arts! Lovely!

I am thinking, this small one on this tiny mannequin looks like a beautiful red silk skirt worn over a straight black sheath dress. Why couldn’t I find or make a gigantic scarf into a “skirt”  like this and wear it over a straight black jersey dress, thus creating an elegant high drama look? It is all about changing the proportions. A large silk scarf made into a wide sash at the waist, human sized, is one lovely idea. And a much bigger scarf made into sash so large it becomes a dramatic overskirt is another! I am inspired and I must try it! So I will, soon…and I will post a picture of the results!

Visit International Scarf Stylist Tricia James at scarfgenie.com where she shows many of the things she is creating and producing…

The JOY perfume bottles are from Lady Violette’s personal collection of classic vintage perfume bottles.

A Simply Beautiful White Silk Scarf Pinned with a Silk Flower! Exquisite!

Monday, February 21st, 2011

Scarf Styled by Tricia James

This is a large off white gauzy raw silk scarf. It is a 3 ft x 6 ft rectangle. It is artfully draped and tied by my friend, International Scarf and Accessories Stylist, Tricia James.

Tricia has endless ideas and techniques for using the accessory pieces you already have and those you might buy! She is an absolute wizard when it comes to tying scarves.

We are embarking upon documenting her styles in photographs and video. And we will be writing instructions on how to do it yourself. She created 6 looks for me out of this one white scarf!  She also showed me how to use other items I already have to accent it and create different looks. In this particular case – the white silk flower pinned to the shawl with a pearl headed corsage pin.

This is so light, airy and romantic! I just love it! Perfect Lady Violette Styling! It also reminds me of a romantic poet’s shirt! And that is a look I have always loved!

This week I will make 6 different blog posts showing this scarf in each of it’s different renditions. Tricia is returning on Wednesday and we will write instructions illustrated with photographs on how to wrap and tie this or any similar large rectangular scarf or Pashima to achieve  this stunning effect. You can try it then and let me know if it is clear to follow and works.

We are achieving these elegant photographic effects in my kitchen corner nook! The only place in the house with strong enough natural light! Sometimes I actually enjoy the challenge of seeing how nice I can make something look with the most limited or restricted of resources – such as a completely bare bones photographic set up or a very inexpensive item picked up in a thrift shop and made to look amazing, original and expensive.

In this case the white scarf we have used came from a thrift store. It was $2  and was completely clean. It looked as if it had never been used. The silk flower was $7.50 at my local sewing supply store. I believe beautiful items like this scarf end up in thrift stores because people receive them as gifts or buy them without understanding how to use them. Sometimes, as in this case, this becomes a lucky find for the clever thrift store shopper. That illustrates the thrill of the hunt!

Consider this photo a little preview of things to come! More scarves, more ideas on how to wear them, more technical advice on how to wrap and tie them. And more from and about the scarf styling expert! Tricia James is Scarfgenie.com

Dorothy Lamour – The Queen of Flowers in The Hair!

Sunday, February 20th, 2011

Dorothy Lamour Lounging in Tropical Floral Sarong with a Large Flower in Her Hair!

Singer and actress Dorothy Lamour was as famous for her personal style and use of flowers as for her talent and her beauty!

Her signature looks included sarongs, dresses and gowns featuring tropical flower prints in bright floral colors and tropical print swimsuits.

Dorothy  often wore her long wavy brown hair decorated with real flowers. She also wore leis as necklaces regularly. Large flowers were used to great effect as accents in many Hollywood  Glamor studio publicity  photos taken of her.

She continues to inspire us today with her feminine grace and elegant taste.

Her costumes are a great source of  ideas for styling vintage inspired fashion looks today.

I am determined to learn to tie scarves into halter tops, scarves into long skirts and sarong “dresses”  like she did in time for the upcoming summer!  I find that putting a picture like this up inspires me to think about finding an appropriate piece of floral patterned fabric or a large silk scarf and practicing my scarf ties!

I will be asking my friend Tricia James, the International Scarf Stylist,  to show me tips on tying and wearing sarongs soon! And of course I will post them so we can all wear them this summer!