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Lady Violette

The Romantic Lifestyle

Archive for April, 2011

Carry On In High Style! Vintage Basket Purses & Contemporary Woven Basket Totes Make Inspiring Colorful & Lightweight Spring & Summer Handbags!

Saturday, April 30th, 2011

2001 Vintage Cole Haan Cheery Cherry Straw Tote

Day 1: Come sort with me. By getting all my spring and summer clothes and accessories out and putting warm weather looks together I’m trying to inspire better weather to come to Seattle where it has been colder than it is in Moscow, Russia almost every day over the last 4 weeks! This is the coldest spring on record in Seattle! I’ve been going through my closet for a couple of days trying to prepare for warmer weather. I can, at least, add spring accessories to warm clothes to start with! A scarf or colorful bag will cheer me up, but I won’t freeze to death as I will if I wear a breezy dress or mini skirt. One problem with being fashionably thin, for me at least, is that I am always cold unless it is quite warm out. I love the fashion freedom warm of weather when I can wear anything I like and still be comfortable! Now I am just dreaming about that!

I adore this cheerful market tote by Cole Haan with the cherry cluster on the front. It has a big squares pink and red designer gingham lined interior with leather compartments that can be used for a cell phone and sunglasses, zippered pockets and a strong reinforced black leather bottom as well as the black leather rim and strong leather handles that won’t break! Leather laces tie the top closed for security. It looks like a breezy casual basket, but it is actually a marketing sized tote handbag that is very sturdy and well made! It’s big enough to shop with and fill up with small purchases. Stores do not give out plastic or paper bags where I live. A city ordinance was passed which requires you to bring your own bag. I’ll carry a shopping tote and put a wrapping scarf inside in case I end up with something to carry that is too big for my tote. I have been using the traditional Korean scarf wrapping method lately. I will post information about it soon. You make a carrying bag out of a big scarf. It is both convenient and attractive.

I have had this Cherry bag and used it every summer for 10 years! I bought it new from a Cole Haan shop. Is it contemporary or vintage now? Or at that awkward in between point? That is a good question! It was new 10 years ago. I have taken good care of it. It looks vintage. It is getting older. It’s a classic and I will not ever give it up! I’m going to keep this one.

Here’s how my mind works: I love straw, I love gingham, I love  everything with cherries! I love to eat them, I love maraschino cherries in cocktails, I love cherry blossoms! Come to think of it this bag might be cute worn with a breezy romantic cherry blossom pink dress. I sometimes like to wear red and pink together, so I’m going to try it. And the black leather is a good touch as it makes this go with black clothing or accessories. The 10 year old Cole Haan Cheery Cherry Straw Tote is definitely a keeper! And the last big important question I ask myself is: If I were rich and could buy anything I wanted would I keep this bag or get rid of it and get something else? The answer is, I’d keep it! I love it! I never get anything in the first place unless I really want it!

Vintage Cole Haan ~ Straw & Leather Wildflower Tote

Next Day: I am going to be sure I’ll be ready to dash out if and when the sun appears. Unfortunately it is windy and freezing again today. It’s too awful to go out so I’ve been sorting out and photographing my collection of vintage purses and decided I should do my contemporary ones as well. How to arrange your stuff so you can find it when dressing in a hurry is always a challenge and one has to develop her own methods.I’m organizing them in logical to me groupings. One such is summer basket style handbags, totes and purses.

Recently strolling through a really grungy thrift store of all places I spied this Cole Haan Basket Purse in the back of the store hanging from a nail on the wall. Other shoppers were standing right in front of it looking at several bags on the rungs below it. I tried to act nonchalant and not look at this one, not even look up, hoping and praying that it would not catch their eye. They were discussing the pros and cons of buying up a trio of old dirty Coach bags to attempt clean up and sell on eBay for a profit. I patiently waited pretending to look at old curtains hanging nearby. And I listened. None of them had ever sold anything on eBay, but they had heard you could sell Coach on there and make a lot of money. The bags under consideration were oil stained and terrible looking. And overpriced at $34.99 and up each! Finally, after fifteen minutes, they decided to take the Coach bags, they put them in their already overflowing cart, and headed off to the checkout counter. The coast was clear and I grabbed my prize!

A brand new, never used, perfect, in mint condition, gorgeous, precious, leather, straw and cloth, wildflower embroidered  Cole Haan Basket Tote handbag! It has a leather base and bottom, straw walls, a leafy green linen interior lining with leather compartments inside, a strong leather drawstring with which to draw the top securely closed and tied, and the prettiest embroidered wildflower garden dancing around the sides! The sturdy leather bottom, interior and handles are a beautiful saddle brown summer neutral color. The multi colored wildflowers will compliment almost every solid colored summer outfit! There was however, one possible problem. There was no price tag on the bag! I went up to the front counter. I asked the price. The cashier didn’t know. She called the manager. He was busy. I waited and waited. He finally appeared. The cashier showed him the bag and asked him, “How much?” He opened it, looked inside, turned it over and over, checked out the bottom, pulled the drawstrings shut, tied them and untied them and tied them again. I waited very quietly and patiently. Finally, he said, “How does $14.99 sound?” I said, “OK.” trying to keep low key. Then he turned to the salesgirl and said, “Give it to her for $12.99 since she had to wait so long!” I said “Oh, thank you, that is nice of you. I appreciate it.” I was happy! he also gave me a 20% discount coupon to use on my next purchase! The moral of this story is: sometimes it pays to ask!

Ann Taylor Straw & Leather Beach Tote with Mother of Pearl Button, Lined in Floral Print Cotton with Matching Sarong in Mini Drawstring Bag! Adorable!

Day 3: Because I knit I stash my unused yarn in my summer tote baskets during cold weather. Why not? It is a good way to sort and store yarn and make double use of closet space. But making this shift means I have to figure out an alternative place to store the yarn when I start using the bags again. Challenging! The one good thing about the seasonal shifting process is finding everything you own again, revisiting it, reevaluating it, deciding to keep it or not, and finally figuring out new ways to wear it! I love the last part! It’s like shopping in my own closet. And I don’t have to spend any money doing it! I feel so rewarded when I come up with new ways to wear something I already have.

The next thing to come out the back of my closet is this straw and leather beach tote from Ann Taylor. It is lined in a black, red and white floral print cotton and came with a matching sarong of the same fabric in it’s own little drawstring bag! It is adorable! The big scarf can be wrapped and tied scarf style, as a sarong skirt, or as a sarong dress. Or – for an elegant resort evening look –  it can be folded in half as a triangle and worn as a shawl over your swimsuit and a long black skirt! Versatile! Theoretically you should be able to throw in a black swimsuit, a black jersey skirt, a pair of sandals, your cosmetic pouch, a bottle of sunscreen, and a hairbrush and have everything you need for a weekend trip to the Bahamas. Or, at the very least, a glamourous day at the beach. Better remember a big straw hat to keep the sun off! And a pair of sunglasses. Everything fits in this bag because it is huge. Throw everything in and button the basket closed with the attractive real mother of pearl button that fastens with a leather loop! I’m dreaming. Today it is so cold and windy out that I am completely bundled up in several thick layers of knits.

I bought this Ann Taylor Giant Beach Tote with it’s matching sarong at the Ann Taylor store in the mall at the end of summer sale a couple of years ago. I’d had my eye on it and I swooped down on it the minute it was marked down. It was 30% off. There were two. I got one!  Like most women I do love purses and handbags. I don’t have a favorite type. I enjoy variety. It keeps things different and exciting! I have a mix of vintage, contemporary, old and new, artsy and designer, inexpensive and, well, you know, expensive. But that is relative… I am very selective as far as quality is concerned. Every bag that makes it into my collection is well made and well designed. There has to be something very unique and special about it. I have to love it visually, find it comfortable to carry and practical to use. These are my general guidelines. Within these guidelines is a lot of room for me to exercise my personal taste!

Liz Claiborne Palm Tree Tote

Macy's Special

A Macy's Special ~ Generic Tote Basket Purse

Day 4: I found these last August during the sales at the local mall. I love end of summer sales! I don’t really look out for them, but I tend to wait for them to happen and somehow, instinctively, wonder into the store at the moment they are happening. I was lucky to find both of these bags at Macy’s for 50% off. The one on the left, by Liz Claiborne, is natural straw painted with palm trees and pineapples. It has wooden handles and leather trim, The inside is lined in a tropical leaf printed fabric. It comes with a handy little matching zippered  pouch to be used as a small purse or cosmetic case. The burnt orange basket purse with round bamboo handles, is also from Macy’s end of summer sale. It is a generic brand with no designer name or label. They had them in five colors and they were only $12.99 on sale! It is lined in solid red cotton. I added the scarf for extra flair. I remember now that it was very hot out and I had gone to the mall to be in some air conditioning for a while and escape the heat. We do not have air conditioning in our house. Consequently it is way too cold nine months out of the year and way too hot when summer finally hits for 3 months out of the year! C’est la vie in Seattle!

Vintage 1950's Cylindrical Basket Purse

Flowered Lid and Side View

Day 5: I can dream of warm sunny days… I am well into my week of wishful thinking! But it is still like the middle of winter here! Today there has been freezing wind, rain, icy sleet, and hail. It is only 1:30 PM and it is way too cold and blustery to go out for a leisurely stroll. They have been putting sandwich boards out on the streets to advertise summer markets opening outdoors in June! Last night we went out to a restaurant in pelting rain and the owner asked the waiter to go out and bring in the sandwich board promoting their specials because it was getting wet. Before he could get out to rescue it the wind had picked up the heavy placard and whirled it into the street where it had crashed into a heap on the pavement and broken. March is, notoriously described as coming “in like a lion and out like a lamb, ” but we are already into May! And the lion is still rumbling and prowling, raging, howling and mad!  It is so cold and wet that anything nice you might wear is blown to pieces and ruined! New and vintage fur coats get drenched by rain. Felt and fur hats are ruined the same way. Umbrellas are blown inside out and destroyed. Designer shoes and boots are damaged by the inevitable mud this frenzied climate produces. This weather is interesting and dramatic in its way but it is not conducive toward dressing up in lovely romantic outfits with delicate clothes and accessories made of precious materials! Silk flowers and feathers and lace do not hold up under such duress! If I dress up in them neither do I! Out of necessity we have to bundle up here. This afternoon I am wearing several layers inside the heated house just to stay warm enough to function! Cold drafts are blowing through the house. And it’s May! I want sunshine! I know it will eventually come, so I am continuing my preparations… I’m having fun in the sun in a way just preparing for it’s eventual arrival!

Now we are getting to the really great finds! My colorful true vintage basket purses. First, the 1950’s cylindrical basket purse above, which stands 10″ tall  and is 8.5″ wide not counting the handle. I paid $6.99 for this bag! Getting a small dog into it would be no problem but I think he would chew himself out and that would be a problem because he would ruin the purse! There is no way that is going to happen! It is in perfect shape. It is lined in hot pink cotton and has an inner pocket. The outrageous 3D hand embroidered straw flowers and leaves are shiny straw each made up of three graduated tones of each color. Black beads that look like watermelon seeds form the centers of each flower. This is one funky bag! I think somebody got it a few decades ago while on vacation. When she got it back to Seattle, in weather like this, she forgot she had it and it got lost in the back of the cupboard. So she never wore it! Another problem with things like this bag in Seattle is that the light here is cool, everything is tinged with a cool grayness which makes bright colors seem jarring to the eye. When I am in California or Mexico I instantly notice the warmth of the sunlight and the fact that bright colors look enticing and appealing in warm light. People can wear tropical colors in that kind of light more easily than they can in grey cool light. Brights are more appealing and easier to use in a warm sunny environment.

This cylindrical basket purse has no labels or country of origin tags. It looks like a tourist souvenir from some tropical resort in the 1950’s that somebody like Lucille Ball brought home with her. Luckily she took good care of it! I plan to carry it to a big summer picnic we attend every year and wear a pastel halter dress and espadrilles with it. And a great big brimmed straw hat tied with trailing long scarves in the colors of the flowers! I have three vintage chiffon scarves from the 60’s that will be perfect ~ a yellow, a coral and a blue.

Longaberger Handwoven Basket Purse, Signed by the Artist

Basket Purse From Hong Kong ~ The House of China

Day 6: Moving on! I found the miniature woven wood basket at a vintage flea market. I paid just $15 for it!  It has the name of the maker and the location on the back. When I got home I looked it up. The Longaberger Baskets are from Ohio and are handmade and highly collectable. Also very expensive – like Coach bags but way more unusual. I love it. It looks like a mini picnic basket to me. It is made of woven wood. I made the printed cloth liner for it with pockets inside. It is 10″ across x 6.5″ tall. The perfect size for a purse in my opinion. This one will be adorable with solid colored or flowery printed dresess that can co-exist with the printed lining which can also be removed or changed if it clashes too drastically.

Next is an adorable Asian style basket purse from Hong Kong ~ The House of China ~ is a vintage 1950’s bag. These were sold in Chinatown in San Francisco and in Seattle at the Shop of China and were well made attractive basket handbags ladies liked to wear with Asian inspired clothing. 9″ across x 6″ tall. I got this one at an retirement community rummage sale for $8! Isn’t the hardware great?

Golden Picnic Basket Purse with Silk Roses Decorated by Lady Violette de Courcy

The next basket purse is one I bought at a thrift store, but it didn’t look like this when I got it! It was a plain straw thing, with a plywood top and a gold buckle tab that looked weirdly fancy on plain wood. I removed the buckle tab and handles, spray painted the purse gold, made a yellow satin lining with a pocket, reattached the handles and tab, and decorated the flat wooden top with beautiful pink silk roses! I love the way it turned out! It looks like the most fru fru 50’s picnic basket imaginable, only it is a nice small purse ~ 6″ tall x 10 ” wide, plus the handles. The handles are encased in plastic tubing which is available through craft shops. You just insert a ribbon, straw, cloth, leather or paper inside so it shows through the clear plastic tube, then attach it to your bag. This makes sturdy strong handles that do not break. I had a few flimsy straw handles on basket purses give out on me so I always look for extra strong handles now or reinforce them myself. It is worth doing this because your straw bag will last years if you reenforce and strengthen the handles it comes with or add completely new ones that are of better materials. The ones to avoid or fix before you use the bag are woven straw. They are notoriously flimsy! Most straw bags and totes are made quickly for inexpensive exports or to sell to tourists. They are often really cute, but not well made, redoing the handles and adding a cloth lining will make them much stronger and lengthen their lives. If I buy or make something this charming I want to get use out of it! I also, admittedly, am sentimental about my accessories and clothes. If I love something I want to keep it, use it, have it around and enjoy it for a long time! That usually means years. So I take really good care of my stuff. I guess you could say I take the term investment clothing seriously. Even if it is a vintage purse I got for a bargain! That just makes me appreciate it even more! I put pink roses on the toes of a pair of 1950’s gold snakeskin stiletto pumps to match this purse. When I find them I’ll post them under shoes of the week photographed along with this little bag. It is a perfect combination!

Flower Basket Handbag from April Cornell 2004

Glazed Straw Flower Purse from April Cornell 2004

Day 7: Last but not least. here are two handbag size small straw basket purses bought at April Cornell on sale when they closed their shop in downtown Seattle in 2004. I miss that store! I liked the pretty printed rayon dresses and the flowery housewares they carried there. And the children’s clothes. Everything was extremely pretty and feminine, very well made, and the style and sizing was reliable. You could take a dress in your size right off the peg and buy it without trying it on and it would always fit the same way and look absolutely great. They had the most beautiful original floral prints. I miss them!

Good thing I still have several pieces. I guess, since they are no longer available, and were very charming and collectable, they are now vintage, even though they only closed in 2004. Generally vintage needs to be older than that but as April Cornell started out looking like it was made in 1920 when it was new, an exception can be made in their case! I do not have rigid definitions of vintage. I think the word can mean anything old, or of a particular era from the Victorian to the 1980’s. Even the 90’s or 2000’s in certain cases like April Cornell. To me it simply needs to be of a bygone era, look old, no longer be available, be very unusual and unique or a combination of these things. I have many vintage items that are really old. There is no question about a dress from 1930. It is definitely vintage. Or a pair of Victorian shoes. Again, definitely vintage. Things post 1980 have to be considered on a one by one basis! I know this is a touchy subject with some people. Definitions remain flexible and should! True vintage or newer, but vintage inspired, straw bags  are fun alternatives to heavy leather purses and give off a delightfully feminine and colorful artsy bohemian vibe well suited to summer weather when it finally arrives!

Straw basket purses were popular for casual wear during the summer and while on vacations during the 1930’s – 50’s. They are light weight and airy looking. They can be purchased at street stands while traveling or in department stores during the spring and summer seasons. You can often find cute old fashioned ones in vintage shops as I have demonstrated here. Contemporary designers, like Cole Haan, Ann Taylor, Kate Spade and Liz Claiborne, make better quality ones designed to last with more durable traditional handbag construction and leather bases and handles. Asian import shops often carry inexpensive new versions, and world wide markets often offer them. Baskets, like that other favorite accessory of mine, scarves, are an historically favorite international accessory that have been made and used by people of all cultures all over the world. Wherever baskets are traditionally made a basket with handles can be found and used as a market tote, luggage, a handbag, a purse or picnic basket!

I want Brie and French bread and a glass of wine now! And I want to carry it down to the park and eat it on the grass! But, alas, it is raining cats and dogs out! Today I will have to have my picnic in the kitchen, but I can spread out my checkered gingham tablecloth and enjoy looking at a basket of fruit on the dining table! And get my picnic basket out and ready to pack up on the first nice day! Hopefully it will be bright and sunny tomorrow! And, hopefully, those little pink and white daisies that I like will have popped up in the grass in spite of the fact that the state of Washington has banned planting them!

Why am I living in a city where the sun hardly ever shines and beautiful little flowers growing in the grass are banned? Not because it is my final choice! But, I am here now, and like the sun and the daisies, nothing can hold back beauty and the force of nature that it is. Somehow, like the hearty wildflower that comes back in the grass year after year, it survives and pops up to cheer us in the most unlikely times and places. When I see beauty , in any form, perhaps a sunny moment, wildflowers blooming in cracks in a sidewalk, and quirky individual artistic beauty expressed by a person of any age or style in unexpected places I am pleased and inspired to continue living and creating and carrying on. Beauty is important. It gives inspiration, joy and reason to life! So, whatever happens we must carry on!

One of Lady Violette’s Favorite Violet Quotes From William Wordsworth

Thursday, April 28th, 2011

Wild Blue Violet Growing in the woods

A violet by a mossy stone half hidden from the eye!

Fair as a star, when only one is shining in the sky!

~ William Wordsworth~

A Collection of Liberty of London’s Classic Vintage Scarves Showing Some Prototypical Designs and Floral Prints From the Past of the Type the Liberty of London Company is Famous For!

Wednesday, April 27th, 2011

Royal Blue Liberty of London Vintage Silk Twill Multi Color Flower & Paisley Print Scarf

My Treasured Collection of Four Liberty of London Vintage Silk Scarves

Yesterday I was inspired to get out my small collection of vintage Liberty of London flower printed silk scarves after watching the French stylist Lauranne Plats wonderful scarf tying tutorials for Liberty of London. They are bright and cheerful colors and I want to have them ready to wear in the hope that it might someday actually  become spring or summer here! It has been unseasonably cold, dark and wet in Seattle where I live this April, surprisingly even colder and wetter than London!  Everyday of the last month has been between 10 and 15 degrees colder in Seattle than in London!

A 1970's Liberty of London Vintage Scarf Label Shown Above Framed Inside the Bracelet.

It’s reminding me of the movie Enchanted April in which a group of London women in the 1920’s pool their financial resources to rent a Villa in sunny Italy and take a vacation against their husband’s wishes! However, when they get to Tuscany, it is raining hard, but “It’s Italian rain!” So, inevitably, things get better. I highly recommend this movie! Especially now, if you need warming up and cheering up and at least a couple of hours of escape from dreary grey dampness.I watch Enchanted April every spring if I cannot get away! It is a good mini vacation and it also reminds me that this seemingly endless damp overcast is good for my pale complexion! I remind myself that the humidity makes my hair wavy which is actually becoming. And that the sun finally comes out in this movie, as it will here eventually!

Navy Blue Border with an All Over Dense Floral Print Liberty of London Vintage Scarf

Meanwhile , I am lucky to have inherited four really pretty vintage classic Liberty of London scarves in excellent condition. I can wear them rain or shine! They are good examples of the traditional designs the Liberty company became famous for so I am posting them here to share with other scarf enthusiasts.

Another Version of a Liberty Label in a Close Up of the Scarf Pictured to the Left

I’ve recently been sorting out my scarves, bringing spring and summer ones forward and putting winter ones away, After watching Lauranne Plat demonstrate on the Liberty of London Scarf tying tutorials I was really inspired!  I learned some new ways to tie and saw some stunning scarves! So, out of curiosity, I went to Liberty’s Scarf Store website to check on what new scarves they were recommending for this spring 2011 that has yet to come! They have beautiful modern designs available by many designers. And, fortunately, they still offer many versions of the traditional designs for which they originally became famous. Designs similar to these.

Liberty of London 26" Square Silk Scarf

Burgundy Liberty of London Scarf Border

I have always loved Liberty of London’s ladylike silk scarves in tiny floral prints and paisleys. I grew up with them. Here is a sweet burgundy one with a printed “lace” border trimmed in traditional old fashioned English garden flowers including roses, cornflowers, and nasturtiums. Miniature bouquets, tied together with bows of the same printed lace are scattered over the rich wine background. This scarf is a 26″ square. I think this scarf is from the early 1970’s. The mannequins first two fingers are pointing out  the Liberty signature very subtly printed in the printed lace border in the picture to the left.

Vintage Liberty Of London Burgundy Beauty ~ Large Shining Silk Twill Scarf with Lace Motif & Charming English Garden Flower Border Print

My mother and my grandmother loved Liberty of London fabrics, regularly wore Liberty scarves and made themselves and me light and fluttery spring and summer dresses and blouses out of Liberty’s delectable floral printed cotton Tana lawn. I have fond memories of excursions to the department store to pick out fabrics for my summer wardrobe. I was always taken along to be sure I liked the final choices and to learn how to choose colors and appropriate fabrics and patterns that would work together. This was a very pleasurable part of my education! Everything they were trying to teach me really sunk it and stuck! We always went out to lunch afterward. I loved watching the women who went downtown to shop dressed up and wearing hats and gloves. It was a real dress up event for them! My mother told me that dressing up to go downtown shopping and out to lunch was a performance. Everyone you knew would see you and you should look as nice as possible. They carefully planned what they were going to wear each week! For them it really was a performance and they took it very seriously! They rehearsed for their performances as if they were fine actresses, often trying on the outfits they were planning to wear in advance to be sure all the parts went together perfectly. They were very elegant!

Spectacular Large 1970's Vintage Liberty of London Silk Twill Scarf ~ Cream Ground, Floral Print, Black Border, Hand Rolled Hem. The Liberty of London, Made in England Signature is Just Above the Mannequin's Finger With the Ring on it, Printed in Beige. These Labels Were Printed onto the Scarves as a Subtle Part of the Floral Print.

Some more things I remember from going shopping with them as a little girl to pick out fabrics. They taught me that Liberty’s floral printed cotton was the world’s best. I have always loved the floral prints. It was definitely the most expensive, both then and now, but it is well worth it! I fondly remember many of my favorite prints and the clothes they made out of them. I really loved some of my dresses. And the experiences I had with these women that included Liberty’s fabrics have influenced my life and stuck in my mind. They taught me to be an excellent seamstress, and designer, and Liberty was a big part of that. They taught me to dress well, and Liberty was part of that, too! They taught me to appreciate flowers and use them in every part of my life. Liberty was part of that as well. They taught me to shop for quality and not accept less. I remember, as a teenager, being in a prestigious department store with my mother looking through a rack of wool challis skirts and blouses, fabric from Liberty of London. She said to the sales clerk, “We’ll take two, one in each color.” I hadn’t tried them on, but she said, “I know they’ll look good on you and I know they’ll fit by looking at them and I know they are quality because they are made by Liberty.” She knew she could trust what they made. She was right. I wore those two piece dresses for two years and they fit perfectly. I wish I still had them!

A Royal Blue Paisley and Floral Print Vintage 1970's Liberty of London Silk Twill Scarf with an Ornate floral Border Print The Liberty Label is to the Right Side of the Lady Figurine.

To this day I very clearly remember particularly favorite Liberty of London scarf prints. This blue one with the paisleys was my mother’s. One summer she wore it a lot in San Francisco with a chic navy blue Christian Dior silk suit, a light blue Dior silk blouse, apple green jade carved squirrel earrings with diamond eyes, and an apple green Chinese jade carved bead and gold necklace. She wore a trademark pair of kelly green sling back Amalfi pumps, and a navy blue Christian Dior frame purse. Of course, she wore white Dior kidskin gloves with this. It was a beautiful outfit. This scarf is so pretty! It is the opening picture in this post as well. Below is a close up of the Liberty of London label printed amongst the flowers on the border of one corner. It is positioned to the Right side of the china lady figurine in the full scarf photo above. Liberty’s labels are subtly placed amidst the flowers or other designs on their scarves.

My Precious Collection of Vintage Liberty of London Silk Scarves

You can see more photos I have taken of Vintage Liberty of London Scarves and read more that I have written about Liberty of London’s Scarf Tying Tutorials with Lauranne Plat on my post titled “French Women are Famous for the Way They Tie and Wear Their Scarves.”

Liberty of London Made in England 100% Silk

One of Lady Violette’s Favorite Violet Quotes from Alice Dunbar Moore Nelson

Wednesday, April 27th, 2011

Wild Violets Blooming in the Woods

And now unwittingly you’ve made me dream

Of violets, and my souls forgotten gleam.

~ Alice Dunbar Moore Nelson ~

French Women Are Famous For the Way They Tie & Wear Their Scarves! I Highly Recommend Liberty of London’s Six Videos with French Scarf Stylist Lauranne Plat!

Tuesday, April 26th, 2011

A  Classic Vintage Liberty of London Scarf From Lady Violette’s Personal Collection

 

Today I happened upon the Liberty of London Scarf Tying Tutorial when I visited their store in quest of ways to wear the vintage Liberty of London scarves in my personal collection. And what a great find!

Liberty of London is famous for their printed fabrics and beautiful scarves. Also for their scarf shop in London where you can buy luxurious scarves from them and many other top designers. They now have an in shop scarf stylist extraordinaire, Lauranne Plat, who is French, has an adorable accent, and is fabulously talented at showing how to do all kinds of magical things with scarves in the most charming French manner. They have made a series of videos with Lauranne demonstrating and they are great! There are six so far and I hope there will be many more! The series of six is called The Liberty Way to Wear a Scarf. It is visually excellent as well as you will see when you watch her teaching in action on the video.

They include The Chiffon Knot, the Flower Headband, the Halterneck, The Chunky Braid, the Turban, and The Handbag and I advise watching all of them. They are realistic and easy to execute styles. Pretty and Fun. So is Lauranne! The styles she teaches us to do will work with new and vintage scarves, many sizes, the lovely designer scarves they sell and scarves you may already have in your collection. I learned a few new tricks for scarves I’ve had for a long time! This scarf tying tutorial  is definitely worthwhile! Merci Lauranne!

To see a collection of beautiful Liberty of London scarves and read about more them please view my blog post titled  A Collection of Liberty of London’s Classic Vintage Scarves Showing Some Prototypical Designs and Floral Prints the Liberty Company is Famous For where I show a lovely collection of four vintage scarves in detail.

The Mannequin is Pointing to The Liberty of London Label Which is Subtly Printed Into the Floral Design of This Scarf. You have to Look Carefully in the Field of Flowers to find it!

Lady Violettes Sewing & Photography “Studio” in the Corner of the Kitchen! The Dress Form Trying On the Necklace!

Monday, April 25th, 2011

KItchen Studio

Lady Violette's Sewing & Photography "Studio" in the Corner of the Kitchen ~ Trying on the Necklace!

Every now and then I am producing something in my little work space and I look at the ‘moment of making’ that I’m in the middle of and think, “This scene might make a good photograph!”So, I have been stopping, now and then, to take a picture and preserve the experience in my creative process in this environment that caught my attention. They are usually messy, interesting work in progress moments, and that’s what makes them appeal to me.

I posted one last week, when I was working on Princess Wow’s concert dress. Here is another, from the same day. I was photographing the two long dresses I had just finished making before I sent them off for her to wear in her upcoming NYC concert.

In this one I was dressing the mannequin in the second one, a bright colored sleeveless gown, and trying out a multi-strand amethyst, garnet, silver, and art glass necklace to see how it would look with the dress. I had just arranged the necklace on the mannequin and turned around to reach for a pair of scissors. When I turned back to work on the next detail of preparation, this interesting scene of the half clothed dress form trying on the necklace caught my eye!

One of Lady Violette’s Favorite Violet Quotes from H.D. (Hilda Dolittle)

Monday, April 25th, 2011

"Ah, could they know how violets throw strange fire, red, and purple and gold, how they glow gold and purple and red." H.D. (Hilda Dolittle)

Ah, could they know how violets throw strange fire,

red and purple and gold, how they glow gold and purple and red

~ H.D. (Hilda Dolittle) ~

Scarf Styling for Long Oblong Scarves ~ Two Ways Lady Violette Likes to Wear an Oblong Scarf ~ Simply Looped and Draped & in a Dramatic Double Side Wrap Style for a Long Scarf

Monday, April 25th, 2011

Step #1) Begin with Oblong Scarf Simply Draped -

I have a 96″ long crinkly green silk scarf with beaded fringe on both ends. Here Tricia James, International Scarf  Stylist, shows us one way she wraps and ties such a scarf It is lovely as is and can be worn in a simple elegant drape looped around the neck with both ends hanging down as shown in the first photo and Step #1 ~ You can wear the scarf simply looped just like this or begin with this drape as the first step of the dramatic double side wrap style.

With all the fancy scarf tying and embellishing experiments of late I still think the simple drapes are sometimes the most modern and sophisticated ways of wearing and showing off  beautiful scarf shapes and textiles. I like both elegantly simple and ornate ways of styling scarves and shawls. I want to wear them in different ways at different times. I like having both options and the skills for styling both of them.

This scarf is particularly long ~ eight feet long to be exact! It was given to me by someone who thought it was too long and awkward for her to handle! I was delighted to receive  it! It is silk, permanently pleated, and embellished with seed beads on both ends.

Because it is so very very long it is perfect for wrapping. Here is how to do this dramatic double wrap style ~ done the same way Tricia demonstrated on one side in the earlier post titled ~ How to Tie the Orange Pashima ~ but done on both sides to create this lovely style.

Step #2) Wrap End on Left Side Under & Around

Step #2) Begin with the Left side. All you do is wrap the end on one side under and pull it through…

Step #3) Pull it Through

Step #3) Then wrap it around again, repeating under and around and through…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Step #4) Wrap Fabric Around & Around Until You Reach the Bottom of the Front Draped Loop

Step #4) Continuing until you have wrapped the fabric around enough times to get to the bottom of your front drape loop.

Step #5) Repeat the Wrapping Process on the Right Side of the Scarf

Step #5) Repeat the exact same wrapping process on the Right side of the scarf.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Step #6) Voila! The beautiful finished Dramatic Double Side Wrap Style for an Oblong Scarf! Once again demonstrating that tying and wearing a scarf beautifully is definitely one of the foremost Feminine Arts! Thank you Tricia for demonstrating this beautiful style! You can visit Tricia James at ScarfGenie.com.

Step #6) The finished Dramatic Double Side Wrap Style for an Oblong Scarf!

How to Tie and Wear a Scarf on a Purse or Bag from Lady Violette! You Can Style and “Pursonalize” Your Spring and Summer Bags and Baskets with Bright Scarves Tied to Decorate the Rings or Handles!

Saturday, April 23rd, 2011

Plain Basket Purse Pretty But Boring!

Scarf Tied Basket! For a Summery "Pursonal" Effect!

An attractive bag can be made even prettier with the addition of a silky colorful scarf tied to the handle. This one is a chiffon square folded in half in a triangle, then the triangle point folded into the center, then folded in half again to make a long skinny rectangle. The folded scarf is then looped through the handle or ring of your basket, handbag or purse and tied into one soft knot or a floppy bow for an easy to do, ultra feminine scarf tie decorating your bag and making it very “pursonal.” I call it “pursonalized!”

I have used 18″ square scarves on these two bags, but any shape will work. You can tie an oblong scarf into a bow for a slightly different look. A larger square can be folded the same way to start and made into a bigger bow as well.

This is a cute casual look for a beach basket, or a dressy look on a leather bag. You can get a lot of variety out of a single bag by using different scarves for decoration. Now that I have started doing it I never want to use the two bags I’ve used for this demonstration without a scarf again! They are so much more fun with the extra color and softness of the scarf addition! I have even seen this done on luggage at the airport to mark a suitcase and distinguish it from similar ones in the baggage claim. Don’t use your best scarves for that purpose though! They are likely to receive rough treatment! A bandana or inexpensive cotton scarf will work on luggage. The point is to make it look unique so you can find your suitcase in a crowd. I recommend as colorful a scarf as possible tied to the handle of your suitcase or travel bag. Your goal is to “pursonalize” your luggage. And have fun!

I like to make fall and winter bags, like the purple leather one below, look more summery by tying on a bright contemporary scarf or a flowered vintage scarf. It cheers me up and gives me more variety and mileage out of my bags. Some purses or baskets I have are open on the top and I tie a scarf on both handles as a way to hold them together and keep the bag closed for added security. It is often handy to have that scarf along for unexpected reasons too! Like needing to tie your hair back in a ponytail or getting caught in a rainstorm and needing a head covering. Look at all the style variations I have for the bag below! It is almost like having four different purses! When I am busy or rushed I often find it easier to change the scarf I’ve tied onto my purse for a new look than to switch out the contents to an entirely different bag. Try doing this! I “Pursonally” guarantee it’s fun!

Next week I will explain how to wrap the handle of a designer purse with a scarf like they are doing in Paris! You can do it on regular purses and make them look like designer purses too! It’s a beautiful technique and it protects the handles on your bag as well! And it’s one more pretty way to wear a scarf on a purse to “Pursonalize” it!

You Can Wear the Plain Purple Purse with Gold Hardware!

or You Can Tie a Silk Chiffon Square into a Soft Feminine Bow Tied Scarf !

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

or Try the Purple Purse "Pursonalized" with A Darling Vintage Floral Scarf!

or Go For a Contemporary Look with a Geometric Print Ellen Tracy Scarf!

Lady Violette’s Vintage Purse of the Week is a Darling Golden Picnic Basket Topped with Pink Silk Roses & Lined in Yellow Satin That You Can Make Yourself!

Friday, April 22nd, 2011

Lady Violette's Darling Golden Picnic Basket Basket Purse Topped With Pink Silk Roses Lined in Yellow Satin!

Spring is hopefully going to come! So I’m getting ready! I”ve been sorting out my purses making the change from winter to spring/summer appropriate bags.

I’ve emptied out my entire closet and the bags are all spread out. I’ve quite a witty assortment! And I’ve never really looked at them all at once before. A friend told me there is a blog site called The Purse Forum and I should register. It’s a place where handbag enthusiasts can show off their bags and share their collections with other purse fanatics. So I went over there to take a look. It is interesting but there is no section for my type of vintage purses! They focus on designer name brands rather than artsy interesting and unusual pieces such as the ones I collect and sometimes make myself. I do have some of those, but I do not decide to collect a bag just because it is produced by a certain design house. I choose to acquire and use bags that I like. Period! Often they are from unknown artists or obscure origins and I like that.

I did register on The Purse Forum and will return to check it out further, but it focuses on a different area of bag collecting than I do. So, I have decided to photograph and post some of my personal favorites from my own collection on my own blog so that people who like these sorts of bags can see them. The great thing about some of these is that they are gorgeous and they are affordable. Sometimes you can even make one yourself. The purses I show will give you lots of good ideas for collecting or embellishing or making unique artistic bags. You will see that it is not necessary to spend a fortune to acquire a great collection of fun bags.

This one is a little straw and wood picnic basket purse probably made in the 1960’s. It was natural colored straw and plywood when I acquired it for $2.98 at a thrift store. I carefully removed the gold faux leather buckle tab and the plastic tube handles which are screwed on. Then I spray painted the bag gold! The inside was rough and not very attractive, so I made a simple drawstring bag out of some left over yellow satin lining fabric and a yellow ribbon and put it inside the basket as an interior lining. I reattached the handles and buckle tab and, as a finishing touch, glued four pink silk roses with buds and green leaves on the lid! I already had the artificial roses. That’s all there is to it! And the total cost was less than $15. Basket purses such as I used are easy to find at Japanese dime stores and often show up at thrift shops. I think it is one of the cutest bags ever! I love the fact that it is easy to make yourself! It’s absolutely perfect for spring and summer! And I get lots of compliments whenever I carry it!

Three Ways the Stunning Swedish Actress Greta Garbo Wore Large Shawls as Elegant Vintage Evening Wraps

Friday, April 22nd, 2011

There are even more beautiful ways to wear a large square shawl. As I promised I am continuing with my demonstrations using my 43″ square blue silk shawl with the 6″ hand tied fringe. Because I am showing more methods of styling this size and shape of shawl or scarf with this blue shawl I am continuing to identify them as part of the sequence of large blue shawl styles and they will be numbered as style # 6, #7,and #8 accordingly. You can find the previous styles in these former posts:

In an old original publicity shot for the movie The Tempest the great Scandinavian film actress Greta Garbo is wearing just such a long elegant evening shawl draped around her shoulders and pinned in place. The photo was taken shortly after her arrival in Hollywood. The studio was determined to capitalize on her exotic European elegance and extraordinary beauty to turn her into a top grossing international star. I searched and searched on the internet but could not find that photo to add to this post. I saw it years ago in a museum retrospective on her films and it has stuck in my memory ~ it was a full figure shot and she was leaning against a wrought iron wishing gate wrapped in a long shawl much like this one. Of course Garbo, in a lovely setting, wearing a beautiful vintage shawl shot by a professional Hollywood glamour photographer made a magnificent and alluring fashion photograph! In her honor I will name these three styles which she inspired after her!

Style #6) Greta Garbo ~ Version A Simply Drape Shawl Evenly Across Shoulders

Style #6) The Greta Garbo ~ Version A. Hold the shawl spread fully open. Fold the fringe of the shawl and about 2 inches of the top edge of the fabric forward so it will hang toward the inside facing the back of your neck. Place the folded edge of the long top side of the shawl at the middle of the back of your neck, bring it across your back and forward over your shoulders making sure the center is in the middle of your neck and back so both sides hang down in even equal lengths. Make sure the fringe is hanging straight. You have very simply draped the shawl evenly across your shoulders. This is the classic way to wear a large shawl in every country and every culture, for both warmth and graceful feminine beauty. It shows off the fabric, the design and style of the shawl, and the woman!

 

 

 

Style #7) The Greta Garbo ~ Version B

Style #7) The Greta Garbo ~Version B. Arrange the shawl as shown in Version A, Then bring both sides of the shawl together in the front and cross it over a bit in the center and clip it together in one or two areas to hold it firmly in place so that it doesn’t slip off your shoulders and fall to the ground.

That’s all there is to it! It is amazingly simple and lovely.

You can use one or more brooches or pins, a shawl clip or clips, a stick pin, or, as I did here, two vintage clip earrings. I have discovered that I can use clip earrings from the 1950’s which are too big and heavy for me to wear on my ears as shawl, scarf and sweater clips! It is great to have another use for these earrings because many of them are very pretty.

Clip Earrings Used as Shawl Clips

These vintage clip earrings are made of blue butterfly wings used to create little tropical landscape pictures complete with palm trees and sunsets! Jewelry and other objects made of butterfly wings were popular souvenirs from South America in the 30’s, 40’s and 50’s.

This is a good place to mention that I found this lovely large square fringed scarf/shawl at a thrift store for only $4! Isn’t that amazing as well? I recommend looking for scarves and shawls on a regular basis at vintage stores and thrift shops. I think people get rid of them because they don’t know how to wear them! Which is lucky for us who are willing to work with them and learn how to style and use them.

I have also realized that many different and interesting types of ethnic scarves and shawls become available on the second hand market. I think this happens when people get tired of things or think they are old fashioned. And when people immigrate to the United States or Europe, and want to wear the new contemporary clothing to fit in in their new homes, they often get rid of the ethnic styles and national costumes of their homeland!

Many lovingly handmade scarves and shawls are also given away or gotten rid of.  I have found an East Indian sari, silk scarves from occupied Japan, a Ukranian shawl, a handwoven Tibetan silk scarf, an embroidered Spanish shawl, a French Leonard of Paris designer silk scarf, four British Liberty of London scarves, an Italian silk scarf, 3 Italian Missoni designer scarves, a hand knitted traditional Irish scarf, a Mexican rabosa shawl, an Indonesian batik sarong scarf, an Estonian hand knitted lace shawl, a hand made Breton lace scarf, a Scottish cashmere shawl, an old East Indian paisley shawl, a Russian flowered wool challis shawl, a Thai silk stole, a mink fur stole, a British wool and cashmere muffler from Burberry of London,  several American designer mufflers, a Spanish mantilla, and many more in second hand and thrift shops! I am often happy to rescue a beautiful ethnic textile or a handmade or historical vintage piece! I realize I have accumulated a pretty good collection of beautiful and historical  international scarf styles which is why I am now completely committed to learning how to wear them all!

For me, and many other women, scarves are purely fashion and style statements – beautiful expressions of the art of femininity! I was initially interested in them as textiles and clothing and only later realized they were not only means of expressing oneself fashionably and  artistically, but also embodied complex social, philosophical, cultural  and religious issues and beliefs. I learned that these squares, rectangles and triangles of cloth often represent much more than geometric shapes or beautiful ways to drape the body or set off your face. And I will write more about that at a later time.

I also noticed, in artists renderings, that many great beauties of history have often been draped in flattering shawls and scarves! Queen Cleopatra is beautifully draped in artists portraits. Helen of Troy as well! The notoriously beautiful Spanish dancer, Lola Montez, was wearing a magnificent Chinese embroidered piano shawl with long silk fringe when I “met her” in the photographic portrait gallery of the Metropolitain Museum of Art in New York City. I first discovered her and developed an interest in her when I viewed her portrait on exhibit there! The modern dancer Isadora Duncan was also famous for wearing her reconstructed versions of draped Grecian style dresses and trademark blue shawls.

The list of glamorous and beautiful women in shawls goes on forever! Because I became interested in this subject I noticed them everywhere! That is how I eventually got to Greta Garbo! Years ago I saw several of her silent movies at a museum in Los Angeles and noted the shawl she wore and how she was wearing it in the film The Tempest right away! She was so beautiful and carried it off so well that I committed the image to memory and have often worn and fastened my own large shawls inspired by the way she wore them! This one is my favorite!

Style #8) The Greta Garbo ~ Version C ~ as she wore her shawl in The Tempest

Stlye #8)  The Greta Garbo ~  Version C ~  Another way Garbo the great wore her long fringed shawl in the film The Tempest. Wrap the shawl over the shoulders bringing the Left side all the way across the front overlapping it to the Right shoulder. Secure it in place with a brooch or shawl clip. I used my Eissenberg Ice blue and silver brooch because it is a lovely look with this shawl. It is there on the Right shoulder of the mannequin, but it is so sparkly it is almost blinding! That makes it hard to see in the photograph. I assure you, it both attractive and very noticeable in person!

This manner of styling makes a beautiful long formal evening wrap over a long columnar dress. It would be lovely worn over a simple bias cut spaghetti strapped gown! I would ideally have that in a dark royal or navy blue with this particular shawl!

I have always loved Garbo. I love to reference her in her films for clothing designs, makeup ideas, hair styles, and, of course, the incredible evening gowns designed for her by Adrian. Together they created great art in film fashion and, it epitomized femininity as an art form.

In my opinion no one, and nothing in the world that came before or after Greta Garbo, could possibly be more elegant!

I will continue to search for the publicity photos I saw of her wearing a shawl like this for The Tempest and post them here if and when I find them.

Speaking of artist’s renderings of supreme beauties there was another film, starring Garbo, in which she plays a popular artist’s model in Paris. A long and dramatic story that I cannot remember much about, including the name of it, although I distinctly remember the artist studio scenes with her posing for the painters and sculptors in them. As with most of the horribly melodramatic stories in the majority of her films it is not memorable as a movie, but it is worth seeing to see her and her fabulous clothes. I am always amazed at how Hollywood dressed the actresses playing starving artist’s models and other poor working women in those movies in extravagantly beautiful and outrageously expensive designer clothes.

Of course, like all the girls and women who saw these actresses, it made me want to be like them and dress like them.  And that was the point, wasn’t it? The movies did a lot for fashion in their heyday! I think that they are hugely responsible for the fact that women were more glamorous in general back then and dressed as much as possible like these stars in their real lives.

Because I love that period of fashion history and it inspires me so much I try to dress that way myself now, whenever I get the chance.Of course this takes effort and time but it is well worth it to bring more beauty and pleasure into the world for people to enjoy!

I am grateful for the inspiration I receive from all the people who worked  in the old movies to create the glamorous effects we associate with the great stars of the old Hollywood films! These actresses were beautiful women to begin with but their memorable images were also created with the help of many experts. The makeup artists, hair dressers, costume designers, lighting experts, photographers, brilliant film directors and publicity departments and the writers all contributed to create the final images.

The making of a great legendary Hollywood beauty and star of the old days of high glamor depended on a lot of people doing an incredible amount of high level creative work!

I think about that every time I set out to get dressed up for a high level social effect on my own! I think it must be a lot harder for me than it was with all that professional help! But this is real life, not the movies. I am only inspired by the old movies. I don’t live in them!

Thus, I try to get organized well in advance as I have found that that really helps me. By this I mean laying out my clothes and jewelry and shoes. Trying them on a couple of days ahead of the event for a dress rehearsal. That way, if anything needs to be repaired of altered I’ll have time to take care of it in advance. Figuring out any color co-ordinated makeup I need to plan on wearing in advance, etc. And figuring out some kind of wrap if it will be necessary to get from place to place on a cold winter’s night without freezing to death! Fur coats were popular in the old days for good reasons! They kept you warm as you went from place to place.

A shawl such as this is a good evening wrap in the late spring and summer, but in fall and winter it will not be warm enough worn alone as an outdoor wrap. In such a case you can wear a fur coat or long evening cape to the event and either carry or wear the shawl as neck scarf. When you arrive at the event, check your cape or fur coat, then go to the powder room and style your shawl as shown in one of the photos above. This way, if you are in a cold drafty venue, which is often the case, wearing a lightweight  evening dress with bare shoulders or no sleeves, you can wear the shawl to both stay warmer and look more glamorous! I did this at a winter black tie event this year and was the only woman there who was not covered with goose bumps! I also got a lot of compliments on my beautiful shawl!

I can imagine someone saying carry it? What does she mean, that would look tacky! Here is what I did. I carried a black satin evening purse, sort of a pouchy style between small and medium size. I rolled the above scarf up in a tight and quite small roll and put it into the purse along with a lipstick and a folding comb, and my brooch to pin the shawl. When I arrived, in high style, I checked my long black velvet evening cape and went to the ladies lounge, took my shawl out of my evening bag and put it on in front of the mirror. Then I checked my hair and lipstick, went out and checked my purse, because I don’t like having to hold onto those during an evening, and joined the guests. Many women who were purple with cold commented on how smart this was and said they had never thought of doing it!  I got through the evening looking grand and managed not to catch a cold! Silk is amazingly warm, in case you don’t know. It can actually be too hot during the summer.

Another thing worth mentioning is that I felt glamorous because I was not cold. I was comfortably warm. I do not find suffering in any way to be glamorous and, I really enjoy being glamorous. In order to feel elegant and beautiful I have to be comfortable in every way as well as feeling assured that everything I am wearing is properly co-ordinated and put together and the proper choice for whatever I am attending or wherever I am going. I love coats and capes and shawls and furs and knitted sweaters and winter scarves because they are beautiful fabrics and designs, but also because they keep me warm and comfortable. Greta Garbo wore a lot of gorgeous furs in her movies! And I always take note of this fact!

The Blue Moon – a Recipe for a Delightful Antique Violet Petal Cocktail Made with Creme Yvette or Creme De Violette

Friday, April 22nd, 2011

The Beautiful & Romantic Blue Moon Cocktail

 

We can now make the long lost, beautiful, and enjoyable, vintage Blue Moon cocktail again. It is made from liqueur compounded of violet petals and other secret flavorings and it is divine!

Lady Violette and friend, Lavande Lamour say,”Treat yourself. It’s absolutely fluerific.”  We had read about it for years but the necessary flower liqueurs needed to create it were nowhere to be had during our lifetimes! Now they have been revived which, to us, is akin to reviving a lady who has fainted! What a relief! She is still alive! We thought, for a moment, that she might be dead!

The violet liqueurs Creme Yvette or Creme de Violette required to make The Blue Moon had been discontinued for decades, but are fortunately available again. The recipe and the story behind it, and other vintage spirits and forgotten cocktails are now available in a a new book by Ted Haigh reviewed in the Cookbook Profile of the Global Gourmet. The earliest version was created in 1917. Here ’tis:

Ingredients

  • 2 ounces (1/2 gill, 6 cl) gin
  • 1/2 ounce (1/8 gill, 1.5 cl) Creme Yvette or creme de violette
  • 1/2 ounce (1/8 gill, 1.5 cl) fresh lemon juice

Shake in an iced cocktail shaker, and strain into a cocktail glass.

Garnish with a lemon twist. Enjoy and,

Read more: Cocktail Recipe: The Blue Moon (Gin and Creme Yvette) http://www.globalgourmet.com/food/cookbook/2009/vintage-spirits-cocktails/blue-moon.html#ixzz1KFHaQK4n

 

 

A Good Looking & Thorough Candied Violet Tutorial & a Recipe for a Feminine Rose Shaped Lemon Poppyseed Cake Garnished with Real Violets

Thursday, April 21st, 2011

Sweet Candied Violets & Lemon Poppyseed Cake Done in a Rose Shaped Cake Mold! A True Example of The Feminine Arts!

I have found this tutorial for crystallized violets which looks very complete! Complete with a pretty cake recipe decorated with the lovely little real flowers. The writer, Diane Levinson, on her blog 2 Stews suggests it for Mother’s Day which is a very good idea! I must read everything she has written on food as it looks fascinating! Another good discovery dug up when resourcing how to sugar violets. Plant hunting pays off! I include looking for ways to eat edible flowers and collecting recipes for cooking with them as a sub category of plant hunting!

Personally I don’t always like cakes covered with thick sugary frosting and this manner of decorating looks like a pretty tasty alternative. Lower in calories too! This is an old fashioned homemade looking cake which is also appealing in it’s way! It seems to go with the old fashioned flower itself. I’m going to try it! It looks like a sweet blend of the feminine arts of baking and flower preserving and decorating. It is baked in a rose shaped cake mold as well. That actually makes it a rose violet cake! Just adorable! Merci Diane for sharing your recipe, methods for preparing sugared violets and great photos! Sweet Candied Violets and Lemon Poppyseed Cake .

Step One: Diane preparing to sugar the violet flowers!

Diane has beautiful step by step instructions with photos illustrating the making of sugared violets. These were the best instructions I found on the web for making them! I recommend them. I have made them before and she does a very nice job showing the steps and the patience involved!

Her explanations are complete, detailed and beautifully photographed. Lady Violette de Courcy approves! I love good photographs! This little bouquet has me smelling the scent of violets in my office. It is very cold outside where I am, in Seattle, WA and this has cheered me up today! When I see violets blooming even though it is nearly freezing out I know that spring is in the air! There is hope! It will eventually get warmer!

 

Incredible Violet Cakes – Inspiring Floral Baked Goods From the Heavenly Violet Bakery in London!

Wednesday, April 20th, 2011

Candied Violet Cupcake from Violet Bakery in London

Searching online for a sugared violet topped cupcake recipe this morning I came across this review of a bakery from Eat Family Styles which has me positively intrigued! Starting with:”a brief interlude of cupcake glorification: violet cupcakes at Broadway Market are lovely bites of heaven.” Look at the photo from their review of the Violet Bakery stall below! OMG!

Of course I read this and I wanted to go to heaven immediately! They make elderflower cupcakes, and rhubarb rose water cupcakes as well as violet. I honestly almost want to die and go to edible flower cupcake heaven! I am half way across the world from this place right now but it has me totally intrigued!

Delights From the Violet Bakery

I would love to visit this bakery in London called, simply, Violet. These are all organic. No recipe, but loads of inspiration for doing it right! The names of their flavors alone are fulfilling! Such names as French Apricot, English Raspberry, English Strawberry, Elderflower, Rhubarb and Rose Water.

My yard is full, literally of blooming violets. They are growing in the grass as well as the flower beds which I love about them! I would rather have violets that release their delicate perfume underfoot when walked upon than grass any day! But I am Lady Violette de Courcy, lover of violets, and violets are my personal flower.

Inspiring Array of Heavenly Cakes From Violet

Having reminded you of that, I decided to look up making candied violets out of some of the flowers I have blooming in my yard. I am thinking about making some violet topped cupcakes for an upcoming birthday.

I know other people do not always find flowers growing in their grass as charming as I do! I love Queen Anne Daisies growing in grass as well. So I tried to buy grass seed that had them mixed in or the tiny pink and white daisy seeds that I could mix with grass seed and discovered that it s illegal to plant them in WA state where I live! They still pop up now and then in the grass in parks but people hate them so that they have banned them by law! This is crazy! Don’t you think? Outlawing beauty anywhere should be against the law!

I am thoroughly and fully inspired and I will continue my search for a recipe tomorrow! I’ll keep you posted.

One of Lady Violette’s Favorite Quotes About Violets From Marcel Proust

Wednesday, April 20th, 2011

A Violet Colored Bouquet of Roses

I waited alone, in the company of orchids, roses, and violets, who, like people waiting beside you, but to whom you are unknown, maintained a silence. ~ Marcel Proust ~

Lady Violette’s Dji~Dji Hand Knitted Winter Scarf of Vintage Boucle Mohair & Fine Fingering Yarn ~ A Complimentary Lady Violette Knitting Pattern!

Monday, April 18th, 2011

The Dji-Dji Scarf Designed by Lady Violette

The Dji-Dji Scarf Designed by Lady Violette

The Dji~Dji Scarf is 42" Long, but You Can Make it as Long as You Like!

I had about 2 & 1/2 balls of old vintage mohair boucle yarn called Dji~Dji in a heathery purple and grey melange. They were not complete balls and the yardage was unknown. I also had a bit of skinny grey wool yarn, fingering weight, but not enough to make a pair of socks. I wondered if I had enough to make a scarf? It was a gamble, but I decided to try it. I knit a small swatch holding the two yarns together. I used size 8 needles and they worked fine. I wanted texture, so I made up a simple pattern and knit until I ran out of yarn! I am posting this as a complimentary knitting pattern that anyone may use! Enjoy making & wearing it!

Here’s the pattern for the Dji~Dji Scarf! I used size 8US straight knitting needles.

To Make: Cast on 32 stitches.

1st & 3rd rows:(K2,P2) to end

2nd & 4th rows: (P2,K2) to end

These 4 rows form the pattern.

Repeat until you nearly run out of yarn or the scarf is the length you like. I was able to knit to 42 inches. Then cast off. C’est fini!

You can use any yarn or combination of yarns held together that will give you an approximate gauge of 4 stitches and 4 rows to an inch. You can make the scarf any length you like from about 40 inches to 96 inches! The Blackberry scarf I posted earlier is 96 inches long including the fringe if you wish to use the way it looks as a guideline. The good think about scarves is that you can easily take them off the needles and try them on to decide what length you actually like and want to make!

A Close Up Showing the Texture of the Yarn & the Pattern Stitch & the Pair of Hair Sticks Used as Shawl Pins!

I didn’t block this piece because I wanted to retain it’s lofty nature. It is a little short for tying so I simply crossed it over at the front of my neck and stuck two hairsticks in it, one above the other, to hold it closed. You can use children’s chopsticks as well. They are shorter than adult ones and make great shawl pins. I have a shawl pin that would also work just like a hair stick! I like the look of two hair sticks slightly juxtaposed one above the other. Chopsticks make great scarf pins or shawl pins which is really scarf/shawl jewelry. You can wear them in your hair too to keep it pinned up when knitting! And I encourage you to try hair accessories such as these, lobster clips, and barrettes to hold your scarves and shawls in place. Hair jewelry can often double as scarf  and shawl jewelry!

This scarf is great over a high necked sweater or tucked inside the collar of a woolen coat. The double layer of crossed over knitted wool or mohair keeps your chest cozy and warm. It’s easy to make, looks good with black or any co-ordinating color. It’s a good solution to keeping warm and looking stylish at the same time!

Depending on the color and type of yarn you use this can be used as a man’s or a woman’s scarf. It is extremely easy to knit. And the results look very professional. This would make a great first scarf pattern!

Please feel free to use and enjoy it with my compliments! If you do so please credit me and refer people to my blog. And, if you make it, please send photos and I’ll try to post them for others to view. I recently sent photos of a finished project and the link to my blog to a designer  whose sweater pattern I knit and she wrote back thanking me. It was very encouraging getting that feedback!

The Delicious Blackberry Scarf by Lady Violette ~ Making and Styling a Fabulous Extra~Long Handknitted Winter Scarf with Fringe! Made with Noro’s Yarns Using a Jane Ellison Pattern

Sunday, April 17th, 2011

The Blackberry Hand Knitted Winter Scarf of Noro Yarns

Everything about this scarf is scrumptious! The yarn, the colors, the softness, the easy to execute pattern, the design, how warm and thick it is and how finally how elegant it looks! I love the name too! I think the stitch pattern is sometimes referred to as the blackberry stitch, but the Noro book doesn’t explain that. Anyway, it was easy to make. I am often working on really difficult knitting projects in which I have to concentrate closely on every stitch and row I make. This was a good break being a repetitive easy to do and remember pattern that I could work on while talking to people, watching a film, waiting for an appointment, etc.

Because I was only knitting with two types of yarn it was also an easy to carry around project! I need to take on more like this. It is hard to lug around a basket of 50 different colors and types of yarns when I want to knit away from home. All serious knitters usually have several different kinds of projects on needles and in the works at any given time. Of late I have been finishing a lot of things and don’t have something easy that I gan grab as I leave the house and work on when I get a chance while out. It is time to set up another one.

 

Close Up View of the Blackberry Stitch

The Blackberry is another pattern from the book Naturally Noro by Jane Ellison using Noro’s yarns. This is actually a booklet, rather than a book. It looks like a magazine. As far as I know these are not available from bookstores. I believe they are only sold by specialty yarn shops that also carry Noro’s yarns.

The yarns specified and the ones I actually used are Noro’s Iro in shade 9 and Noro’s Kochoran in shade 17. You work with one strand of each type, held together throughout the entire project. It is also done on giant size #13 US knitting needles so it knits up really quickly. That means instant gratification! I used Clover bamboo needles.

I have experimented with many types of needles and these are my favorites. I have found that stitches and the finished fabrics actually look very different knit on needles made of different materials. I recommend using the same type of needles made by the same company of the same material for your entire project.

I once made a pair of gloves on size 7 wooden needles. I had a pair of Clover and a pair of Brittany – both wood, both size 7. I wanted to make both gloves at the same time. I launched into the knitting. Unfortunately both gloves looked different! They were knit of the same yarn in the same technique, by the same person. The difference came from the two brands of needles made of the same type of wood. I showed them to many people at my local knit shop. They could all tell there was a pronounced difference. Caused by using two different brands of wooden needles in the same size! The one knit on Clover needles looked the smoothest. So I ripped out the other one and reknit the entire glove to match the better looking one done on the Clovers. A tough lesson learned the hard way! You don”t have to go through that because I am warning you ahead!

The Fabulous Dramatic Hand Made Yarn Fringe

This finished scarf is 96 inches long. It is mighty long and mighty thick and I love it that way! It’s very warm! Mighty warm! It also has fabulous fringe on both ends! I also love fringe! It is so dramatic! I love tossing it! This scarf is so long and big and thick that is is almost like wearing a coat! It does it’s job as a winter scarf! I also like having all the warm thickness of several layers of it cuddled up around my neck.

Noro’s yarn is hand dyed and hand spun in small batches in Japan! When they come out with a color it is usually not available very long. In fact I have had a lot of trouble actually getting enough of it in the same type and color to make entire sweaters – even size small women’s sweaters and children’s sweaters which is what I am usually making!

Noro, himself, is a painter who became a knitter and spinner. Working with his yarns is like painting. They are spectacular! To me at least. I actually like the immense amount of variation in each skein and the difficult to get enough of it aspect. I like the uneven spinning and unpredictable differences found in each small batch because It is like painting. I approach knitting with it like painting and I am willing to experiment and work with it’s unique qualities to achieve the effects I want. Incidentally these are unpredictable and they evolve as you work with the yarn. They cannot be planned in advance. There is an element of chance involved. I like that in my knitting. Even though I am a technical perfectionist! In the end, when I have finished knitting a garment out of Noro’s yarn I know I have a unique to me one of a kind piece!

The Fabulous Blackberry Scarf Designed by Jane Ellison & Knitted by Lady Violette with Yarns by Noro

Now I am all excited and I want to go buy yarn and start another one! I am worried about what may happen to Noro yarn given the Tsunami disaster in Japan. Of course I am more worried about other things in Japan, but the Noro yarns are definitely important elements in my work! They have always been hard to get and I am concerned that their availability may be seriously impacted. I am going to investigate this.

The oak leaf pin with an acorn looks like it is made of copper, then enameled. It is a vintage piece that I found at the Goodwill! It is a perfect accent on this scarf!

People often ask me how much it costs to make something like this. The kinds of yarns I use are luxury yarns of natural fibers. In the case of Noro all the steps of production are done organically. All of them! From raising the sheep to getting the ball of yarn onto a shop’s shelf! The fibers used are the best available and often rare. Consequently, Noro’s yarns are very expensive. These are $20.25 per skein and the sweater required 6 skeins total! So the yarn cost was $121.50 before tax, The pattern book is $24 and you will also need a pair of Clover bamboo or similar wooden knitting needles in size 13US which are about $10.  Allowing for a few other miscellaneous supplies and tax the project cost comes to about $170 just for the materials.

Blackberry Scarf Simply Wrapped

That is the cost to make this sweater if you knit it yourself! No allowance is figured in for the amount of time and expertise for an expert knitter to make if for you!  I am often asked why I do not sell the beautiful hand knits that I make on eBay or Etsy. It would not be worth it for me to do so. The honest truth is that people are not willing to pay what it costs to make them! Or to pay me anything for my time to make them! I have friends who knit and sell their work that way and I have watched the process. They make wonderful things but cannot charge enough to even cover the cost of using top quality yarns. I have had many discussions with fiber artists sharing their experiences selling in these venues. If they continue to do so they knit items in acrylic yarn and make only uncomplicated things that they can produce quickly. The online buying public is not willing to pay for hand knits in particular. Too few people who do not knit themselves understand what is involved and are, thus, unwilling to pay for it.

I have sold on eBay and Bonanza and I know how these systems work. It usually isn’t worth the effort involved. I have written an article about selling on eBay which I will intend post on my blog soon. I am quite willing to share what I have learned about that! I sold high end high quality vintage clothing on eBay for over a year. It was difficult and not worth the effort involved! More about that later!

The bottom line is that, if you want a really gorgeous hand knitted scarf like this one you will have to knit it yourself or find a friend who will do it for you. Or, better yet, teach you to knit! And that is a good thing as you will have the enjoyment of the knitting process for your time investment as well! Knitting is a wonderful fulfilling meditative calming, and grounding experience.

I honestly hope seeing this Blackberry scarf and the other projects I have posted inspires you to knit!

The Blackberry Scarf ~ A Wonderful Hand Knitted Winter Scarf

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As far as I am concerned that is the big picture!  This is the softest, warmest winter scarf I own! The easy pattern is appropriate for a beginning knitter who knows how to knit, purl, cast on and off, and can read a basic pattern.

Scarves are worn in every culture and knitting is done all over the world. Every country has techniques and styles to contribute to the great knitting, scarf  design and styling repertoires available for us to draw from.   Interestingly the Blackberry is truly an International Scarf because the yarn is from Japan, the designer, Jane Ellison is British and it was knitted in the United States by Lady Violette! I find this crossover of influences fascinating and it adds interest to the scarf for me!

Lady Violette’s Sewing Studio ~ in the Corner of the Kitchen! Where I Cook Up Gowns for Real Princesses!

Saturday, April 16th, 2011

Lady Violette's Kitchen Corner Sewing Studio ~ Where Gowns are Made for Real Princesses!

This morning I was taking final photographs of the dresses I have designed for Princess Wow! before I send them to her in New York. Between taking pictures of the right side of this dress and shooting details of the wrong side, or inside, I snapped this photo of my tiny sewing area in the corner of our kitchen! It is a very tiny area and I rather like it! This picture reminds me of something from Victoria Magazine when it first came out years ago and was full of lovely photography of interiors, artist’s work spaces and romantic settings!

In this tiny space I have taken all the photos on my blog, done all the sewing and knitting I have shown, styled and photographed all of my recent scarf and shawl tying and styling demonstrations, styled and shot all the vintage clothing I have shown on my blog and sold on eBay and Bonanza, made adults and children’s clothes, made dresses for princesses of all sizes, made and photographed jewelry, written things and cooked every day! I have often been doing several of these things at the same time!

We also use this same space for reading, talking, visiting with friends, having tea and watching movies! Everyone who comes by the house heads for this corner first! And usually plops down on the couch, hangs out here for a while, has a cup of tea, talks, plans what is going to transpire next and eats something. It is very conveniently located right next to the tea cupboard, the teakettle, the stove and the refrigerator! I like it when friends feel so comfortable that they walk right in, ask me what I’m cooking, grab an apple or banana from a bowl on the counter, and make themselves at home. It doesn’t disturb me or my work at all! In fact I find it forces me to relax and take a break and afterwards I am able to return to whatever project I’ve been working on and be more productive.

Even I am quite amazed at what can be done with a small space if one is resourceful. It was all I had to work with and presented an interesting challenge. The more I experiment with using it the more I find I can do within the limitations it presents. Sometimes limitations and restrictions help you make good art because you have to begin by working within their confines. This photo is another humble little example of that fact!

Short Ribbed Poncho/Capelet/Shawl/Scarf – Hand Knit of Noro’s Iro Self-Striping Yarn in the Brown Color Way by Lady Violette

Friday, April 15th, 2011

Hand Knitted Ribbed Poncho of Noro's Iro Yarn in the Browns Color Way

This is a short ribbed poncho or capelet that just covers the neck, chest and shoulders. Sort of like a scarf, actually, but in a circle so it stays on. Vogue has put out a knitting pattern book with scarves, shawls and ponchos so they, too, feel they are all in the same category. The keeping warm stylishly category!

The pattern is called Cat and is in the book Naturally Noro by Jane Ellison beginning on page 44.  It is hand knit of Noro’s Iro self-striping yarn in shades of brown.

It takes 300 Grams which is 3 skeins of Iro yarn in the color of your choice and is worked on size 10.5 US needles. It is an easy pattern and is very quick to knit. The poncho is a very cozy cover for the upper body. I like wearing it to grocery shop because I get really cold  in the super cold store grocery stores! The yarn is a little scratchy so I wear a tight cotton turtle neck sweater under it.

This Poncho is knitted in one piece on straight needles and seamed together down the back.

Handcrafted Scatter Pins Made From Vintage Buttons & Seed Beads

I felt the poncho needed a little embellishment so I made three accent scatter pins to decorate the left shoulder. These are very easy to make out of  vintage buttons stacked together, then glued and attached to a metal craft brooch pin. The flower pin is made of seed beads strung on thin wire, twisted into the shape of a flower and, attached to a craft brooch pin.

Pins like this are very lightweight so they won’t stretch out and damage hand knits. They also make excellent personalized embellishments for hand knitted or felt hats.

The book, Naturally Noro, by Jane Ellison is full of cute modern knitting patterns. I have finished two scarves out of it and am working my way through a vest and a sweater now. The designs are fairly easy to make, and are casual and wearable. Maybe I will be able to knit them all! I’m trying!

 

Lady Violette’s Hand Knitted Blue Violet Striped Cardigan Sweater

Thursday, April 14th, 2011

Lady Violette's Blue Violet Striped Top Down Circular Needle Hand Knitted Cardigan

This is the first cardigan I have ever knitted using the top down circular knitting technique. I used scrap yarns in blues and purples left over from years of projects people in my family had knitted. Thus my name for it:Lady Violette’s Blue Violet Striped Cardigan!  The yarns were in many different weights so I had to adjust the needle size to maintain the gauge throughout the project. Sometimes I knitted with one strand, sometimes 2 or 3 combined or held together, and I used sizes 6,7,and 8 US needles. There was a lot of guess work and re-knitting involved. Fortunately I’m pleased with the finished results.

Blue Violet Striped Top Down Cardy Sweater ~ Back View

The shape looks a bit odd on my mannequin, but it looks good on my body as I fill it out in the right places and I actually have shoulders and arms! Those are required to make the sweater look good. The arms look long in the photos but they actually fit me. I have measured and carefully worked to get the sleeves to be the correct length. Of course real human arms fill them out and pull them up to make them look the proper length and  shape. And a lot better! Someday I hope to get a mannequin with arms! Meanwhile this will have to do.

The Blue Violet Striped Top Down Cardy Can Also Be Worn Unbuttoned

I’m taking these photos by myself and don’t have equipment to photograph myself in the sweaters so the mannequin will have to do as my model until someone is here to photograph me modeling my sweaters.

It is better to take these photos than none! It has taken me forever to get around to photographing my finished knitting projects. I think that is because I am very concerned that I do a good job! I do not like seeing photos of knitted garments that do not do them justice.

I also would rather be knitting than photographing and posting photos of my knitting! Knitting is the most relaxing thing in the world. Photographing knits and writing about them is not as pleasant in my opinion. It requires discipline! However, now that I am blogging I want to get them up and I want to post them on the knitting website Ravelry.

I created this pattern myself as I went along. I kept notes, but I think it would be very hard to recreate the pattern and rewrite the instructions for someone else as I did  many try-ons for fitting and adjustments as I knitted along. Also, having used many old yarns which no longer had their labels and are of mysterious identity even to me, I would find it hard to write the pattern and advise people on exactly what currently available yarns to use.

If you want to make something like this I suggest you find a plain sweater pattern that you like. Then dive in! Decide what you want to use for the ribbing and front bands, start there, and add yarns when and where it looks good to you to create the stripes as you work. That is how I did it!

Blue Violet Top Down Cardy Knit on Circular Needles From a Medley of Scrap Yarns

I have also used self striping yarns such as Noro and Tonalita for other striped sweater projects. I love them because there are no ends to weave in or splice! And no gauge changes to calculate. You can safely knit them mindlessly going along and end up with excellent striping results. The yarn makers have dyed the yarn to make the stripes for you. If you want to make a striped sweater similar to this, with less work, I advise you to choose a Noro yarn in the color way of your choice and knit a plain cardy. You could use a solid color yarn of the same weight to make the ribbing and button bands if you chose to. Using a self-striping yarn for a sweater like this would be an intermediate level project. Using the varied yarns as I did is more challenging and I would rate it as an advanced level project.

I will post a brown striped cape/shawl soon to illustrate how one of the Noro Iro self striping yarn works up.