Thursday, October 19, 2017

Belle Époque Shawl

Kira Dulaney's Belle Époque Shawl

On Saturday afternoons I knit and/or crochet with a group of ladies in Santa Monica. We call ourselves the Ocean Park Fiber Artists. Previously, this group met at Fairview Branch Library in SM until they threw us out. We now meet at The Coffee Bean down the block.
Ocean Park Fiber Artists, L-R: Marian, Sherry, Meri, MaryLou, Barbara F, Ana, Lee, Barbara S.

One of the ladies in this group, Sherry, is a knitter. She knows how to crochet, but rarely practices. Sherry went on a knit retreat recently In Northern California. One of the knit designers in attendance was Kira Dulaney. Sherry was intrigued with one of Kira's crochet shawl patterns called Belle Époque Shawl.
Kira Dulaney's Belle Époque Shawl, close-up

Since I crochet more than I knit, Sherry asked me to help her with the pattern. There are written and charted directions. Sherry is more comfortable with the written instructions. I like charted patterns. Together, we figured out the pattern. It's a lovely pattern, very simple and shows off whichever yarn you decide to use. The main part of the shawl is a triangle. The stitches are easy double crochets with an eyelets every fifth row. The shawl border is a bit more complicated.
Kira Dulaney's Belle Époque Shawl, close-up

Sherry is using a beautiful sock-weight yarn in a cool, denim blue for the main part of her shawl. She will use a burgundy color for the trim. I was so enchanted by this pattern, so I decided to make one too. I had some yarn in my stash, gifted by my friend Carol years ago. It's from Art Fibers in San Francisco, called Sportif. It is merino wool tape. I have 448 yards. The fiber is rather bulky and the label suggests a #10.5 needle. I'm using a "K" crochet hook, so this project is going quickly for me. Once I finish the body of the shawl, I'm thinking of using a denim color for the edging. I'm using the reverse colors of Sherry's shawl for my Belle Époque. My yarn is less than delicate. We'll see how it turns out after blocking!
Ellen's Belle Époque Shawl in progress

The name for this shawl was chosen by designer, Kira Dulaney. The Belle Époque era is described beautifully by Wikipedia: "French for "Beautiful Era") was a period of Western history. It is conventionally dated from the end of the Franco-Prussian War in 1871 to the outbreak of World War I in 1914.[1] Occurring during the era of the French Third Republic (beginning 1870), it was a period characterized by optimism, regional peace, economic prosperity, an apex of colonial empires and technological, scientific and cultural innovations. In the climate of the period, especially in Paris, the arts flourished. Many masterpieces of literature, music, theater, and visual art gained recognition. The Belle Époque was named in retrospect, when it began to be considered a "Golden Age" in contrast to the horrors of World War I."
The fashion and the architecture is rather frilly, grand and glorious. A perfect name for this lovely shawl design!
Belle Époque Fashion
Belle Époque Architecture in Paris

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Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Let's Touch Base

Larry's U-Basses

Let's touch base. Oh no! Let's touch BASS! Larry bought three ukulele basses this past weekend at an estate sale in the Valley. One bass was for our friend Natalie. He kept the other two. All three are the popular Kala brand U-Bass.There were two other ukulele basses at this sale, Gold Tone brand. The estate sale company had the basses listed at half or less than half of retail price. All were in excellent condition.
Check out those FAT strings!

The owner of these basses and many other instruments at this estate sale was Herb Mickman. He passed away in January. He was a respected musician and teacher in this town with quite a career behind him. You can read about his career in music HERE. Herb's students loved him. Here are a few of their comments. Larry and I were wondering why Herb owned so many of exactly the same make and model of ukulele bass. Maybe he bought them to sell to his students.
The young Herb Mickman. Inset, baby photo.

The two U-basses that Larry kept are standard Kalas. One is a bit fancier than the other. One has raised frets. One has markings where the frets should be.
Left: Fret Lines. Right: Actual Raised Frets.
Larry played bass for a very short time when he was in a garage band during high school. He has very good instincts and last night he was playing along with some music on TV and nailed the bass line. This is his perfect instrument!
Natalie's U-Bass

Above is the bass that Larry purchased for Natalie. She said that she's been plunking away on it just because she likes the sound. Now that we have three of these beauties, maybe we can get a group rate on some beginner lessons! Too bad Herb isn't around to teach us.

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Monday, October 16, 2017


Jadeite Dishware

There was an estate sale this past weekend, close to our house, held by Again L.A. Estate Sales. WOW! I've never seen so many multiples outside of a department store in my life! The house was lovely, a very nice, 2-story Spanish Revival with a curved, wrought iron staircase in the red-tiled entry hall. The kitchen counters were covered in Spanish tiles, wood floors, lots of built-ins. This house was built in 1930....very elegant.

Photo by Mr. Larry
Photo by Larry Underhill

The sale started on Thursday. By the time I was able to go on Saturday afternoon, many of the top items were gone. HOWEVER, this house was so loaded with stuff, that there were still plenty of treasures.
Depression Glass

The collection of Depression Glassware, Fiesta-style dishware and Jadeite pieces was massive. I managed to snag a few pieces for me and a friend. Brenda requested some blue, green, aqua dishes and cereal bowls. 
Brenda's Dishes

Fiesta, Coronado, Vernon, Bauer Dishware
Duck Decoys and Irons
Larry Photo


There were musical instruments, shelves of bells, antique irons, coffee grinders, duck decoys and so many original paintings. It seems that the lady of the house was an artist. Every single room in that large, 2-story house was packed with canvases. She was technically a good painter, but nothing spoke to me.

Photo by Larry

Again L.A. is one of the most organized and fair estate sale companies in L.A. I would recommend them to anyone, and I have! We always enjoy their sales, whether we buy anything or not!
Photo by Larry

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Friday, October 13, 2017

Pussy Cat - Fashion

The original Pussy-Cat Bow

The pussy bow is back! Just in case you don't know what the pussy bow is, here is a description from Wikipedia:
pussy bow or pussycat bow is a style of neckwear often associated with women's blouses and bodices. It takes the form of a bow tied at the neck similar to those tied around the neck of kittens, cats, and the like.  While bows at the neck had been worn since at least the 19th century, the term "pussy bow" or "pussy cat bow" took hold in the 20th century. In 1934, the St. Petersburg Times offered a pattern for an Anne Adams dress featuring a convertible collar which could be worn in four different ways, including as "an intriguingly feminine pussy cat bow tied high under your chin." In 1947, pussy cat bows were part of the look inspired by Gibson Girls and 1890s fashions created by designers such as Omar Kiam.
By the 1960s, pussy bows were a fixture in American fashion having been incorporated by top designers like Coco Chanel and Yves Saint Laurent.
During the 1980s, the pussy bow blouse became a key part of Margaret Thatcher's political image after she became Prime Minister of the United Kingdom in 1979, and became closely linked with her. Thatcher reportedly said she thought bows were "rather softening" and "pretty," and at her funeral in 2013, the then Prime Minister's wife paid tribute by wearing a pussy bow blouse. The Thatcher look was imitated by other female politicians.
I remember vividly, during the 1970s, when women were taking on higher positions in the world of business, that this type of blouse was worn with a suit to mimic the professional look of men's ties. I even sewed a few pussy bow blouses myself. Below, is a photo of my Mom, wearing a blouse that I made for her. During the 1980s, we paired these blouses with shoulder pads for that "Dynasty" look!

Roz in her Pussy-Bow Blouse

British Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher wore this type of bow ALL the time!
Margaret Thatcher

The bow softens the look of a harsh suit jacket, but maintains a look of professionalism with a bit of fluff. At one time, these were called "Secretary Blouses." I must admit, during my many years as a secretary, I wore a few of these. I like the look!
Then, there's a whole 'nother story about the Pussy Bow which gives it a different connotation!

Ingrid Bergman, 1942

Last night Larry and I attended a birthday celebration / screening at the invitation of hometown friend, Fredde Duke. I've known Fredde's family practically my whole life. We grew up in the same neighborhood. Her older brother, Alan and I used to work together. Previously, Fredde made a film about her father, film producer Maurice Duke. Last night Fredde showed us a short documentary about her life with cats. It was a memoir of sorts about all of the cats that she has owned. It was hilarious, heart-warming and refreshing. In Fredde's honor, I wore my scarf tied in a pussy bow!

Many of Fredde's friends had on adorable cat-ear bandeaux. Fredde's daughter, Augie outdid everyone by actually dressing as a cat!
Augie and Fredde

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Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Halloween. It's all about the mask!

Ellen's 2016 Costume, inspired by Ingrato

Are you preparing your Halloween costume? This year, the West Hollywood Stitch 'n Bitch is having their costume party on Thursday, October 26th, 7-9 pm at the Original Farmers Market, upstairs dining area.
This year's special theme is TIM BURTON. There are so many characters from dozens of movies to choose. However, there are other categories for costumes and prizes: 

1.  Best depiction of a TIM BURTON character
2.  Most original overall costume
3.  Best use of yarn in a costume

Of course, EVERYONE is welcome to come to our party, even if you do not wear a costume. It is customary to bring a treat to share!
Witch Finger Cookie Treats!

Really, if you start with a fantastic mask, then the rest of your costume can be very simple. It's all about the mask! Here are some clever ones. Click on caption for link to pattern. 

Sugar Skull Mask

Men's Pom Pom Ski Mask

A BEARD is a partial mask! Jeff and Audrey

Batman Mask, based on this one

Fox Mask

No pattern for this one, but you could figure it out!

Ingrato. My inspiration for everything crochet!

SO, GET ON IT! Start making a mask and the rest of your costume will follow! See you on October 26th with your fab creation.

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Monday, October 09, 2017


Wall 'o Tikis

On Friday night Larry and I attended the opening of the new show at La Luz de Jesus / Wacko in East Hollywood. The show is called "The Art of Tiki." The show is in conjunction with a new book, also called "The Art of Tiki."  
We knew the show would be packed, since this is the 21st anniversary of tiki shows at La Luz. Billy Shire, owner of the gallery did a FANTASTIC job mounting this exhibition. He also published the book! Many of the contributors to the book were in attendance. There was a book signing previous to the show opening.
Author, Sven Kirsten

Almost everyone was dressed in Hawaiian attire. Luckily, the weather in Los Angeles on this October evening complied. We'd had 90 degree temperatures during the day, perfect for tiki togs!
My favorite tiki couple. Photo by Cindy Schwarzstein

Book contributor and designer, Michael Uhlenkott. Ellen is wearing a top made from fabric designed by Michael!
Celeste and Regina
Skip, Lee and artist, Josh Agle aka SHAG
Shirl Perl and Pretty Boy Floyd

Larry, Artists-Dale and Jim. Dig those crazy specs!
Tiki Boy was stumbling around!
Lee Joseph and Billy Shire

It was great fun seeing many of our friends. The gallery was SO crowded, that I could not really appreciate the artwork. I must return to the gallery on a quiet Sunday and view the show!

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Hiren's BootCD
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