toot your horn

why don't you...wear a horn?

i blame diana vreeland. that fingernail moon of ivory looped through the tail of a flat, glittering gold chain is so impossibly chic. for the past couple of years, i've been wearing a little gold horn i bought for my husband back in the 80s. my italian-american mother-in-law gets a big kick out of it every time she sees it. do you know what that is, she asks me. it's to protect you against the mah-loy-kya! yes, this tiny charm, the cornicello, wards off all manner of bad vibes, including the dreaded evil eye. i like to layer mine with a couple of long, horned necklaces. paired with a silky plaid equipment blouse unbuttoned to there (find them locally at dado boutique), this trio of horns hits just the right note of boho grunge.

trio of horns, from bottom, free people horn charm necklace; my husband's cornicello and vintage horn pendant.


give me a wedgie

i get the whole wedge sneaker thing like i get the whole isabel marant thing. which is to say je l'adore. height without pain? sign me up immediamente. and you don't have to be a rock-it scientist to see how easily this trend translates to skinny jeans. but the real genius is that the wedge works wonders with other pieces: a floaty, long dress, for example. add a slouchy, lightweight sweater, layer a couple of long necklaces, and you'll see why wedges are made for all pursuits, trivial or otherwise.


diy derek lam

i am so excited, i could puke up a yarn ball. preferably lemon yellow sublime bamboo. this is the spring project that will officially put an end to my knitting hiatus.

derek lam S/S12 via nymag.com
the moment i spied this raglan mesh pullover in derek lam's spring 2012 collection, i knew i had to make it. then today, browsing through an issue of rowan in my lys, i spied "foxtail," martin storey's mesh pullover. bingo.

one of the key details in lam's design is the  shaping. i love how it hugs the shoulders, thanks to the clever combo of the ribbed mesh and raglan sleeves.

my hubby is taking me out for a birthday dinner tonight. but all i want to do is stay home and knit. is that so wrong?


black swan or snow queen?

i want this look from the celine resort '12. only about 16 square inches of exposed flesh from head to toe and still one of the sexy-chicest looks i've seen this season. go ahead. remix some stuff you probably have in your closet right now. LBD + slouchy black pants + major black belt. and you know you can whip up some slinky black gloves, don't you? but the one piece that takes this look from a 98-lb chicling to a black belt in va-voom is the white platforms.

one part barbie doll, one part nurse ratched, they are fully fab when used to offset an all-black look like this. these white platform boots from UO would work. here's a look at the real thing from celine. the unexpected pop of bright optic white in the darkness lightens and elevates the effect, preventing it from going too goth. or perhaps all that black prevents the white shoe from becoming too sweet? either way, i'm sure both the black swan and the snow queen would approve.


hot off the presses: my book collab with knitscene!

the best of knitscene book, which knitscene editor lisa shroyer invited me to work on last year, is just out. the book features all your favorite knitscene patterns in one handy volume so you can fall in love with them all over again. from the beloved central park hoodie to the adorably slouchy tempest beret, they're all here. 

my section of the book is a riff on my knitscene stylespotting feature, which regularly runs on the last page of the magazine. it was such a fun assignment: to write about three knitwear design trends that have transitioned from the runway to real life--through the pages of your favorite knitting magazine.


anny blatt: back to the future

this just in from nyc-by-way-of-england hotshop pixie market. a beautiful angora knit silhouette that is so refreshingly...retro. i was immediately reminded of anny blatt.

when i first started knitting, i had a major yarn crush on anny blatt. i still have a stash of the company's pattern books from the late 80s in a corner of my knitting closet.

anny blatt, by the way, was a contemporary of coco chanel. she began her knitwear design career in the 1920s in the lovely seaside town of deauville, france, before relocating her shop to paris.
an early anny blatt fashion illustration via
shortly thereafter, she began to create her own yarns. in 1991, anny blatt was sold to pierre de loye, the company responsible for another french luxury yarn line, bouton d'or.  based in provence, france, pierre de loye is still turning out some of the world's most incredibly chic yarns and designs. (many of the designs in their current catalogues are shot on location in and around paris, i might add.) for those interested in seeing more vintage anny, there is a wonderful collection here.

but right now, the ones that are most interesting to me are their designs from the late 80s. with some very slight tweaks to the designs and colorways, any one of these would be spot-on for fall//winter 2012.

i'm loving this geometric pattern. and the play of texture is pretty amazing, too.  i'd shorten the sleeves and body length to hit more at the waist, similar to pixie market's fit. perfect to wear with a pair of wide leg trousers. it's also a great piece to winterize spring/summer's maxi dress or long skirt.
 this is my fave, especially with the rich shades of rust. i can totally see this with a pair of alexander wang leather corset shorts.
 dig the styling on this one. the matchy-matchy gloves...and it's perfect with the pencil skirt.
futuristic techno details and gleamy silver perfectly accent the soft poufy sleeves.

 i don't like the sweater design, but those shoes are TDF.

 kind of reminds me of the opium ad that ran not long ago.
 super cute styling on this one with those amazing booties again.
i want those silver shoes!! the credits in the mag say they were by carel, which incidentailly is a parisian shoe line still carried by bon marche, printemps and swanky french boutiques.
the sheer skirt looks so pretty with the fuzzy angora.

what do you think? are you ready to go back to the 80s? or maybe it will be your first visit. either way, with design inspiration like this, i hardly think you'll feel "stuck."


anthro luv

have you seen the fall anthro catalog yet? so much to love in there. including this amazing beaded cuff. it reminds me so much of rowan's solaris, a beloved project from some years back. might have to try one in this colorway! especially since it is way more satisfying and way less expensive than anthro's $898 piece!


zig. zag. bullesye!

get ready. in less than 12 days, missoni will hit a target near you. but not for long. these are my favorite items/looks from the 400-piece collection, which includes women's and kids' clothing, housewares, home decor, and even a bike!

in the meantime, you could satisfy your missoni jones by knitting up a pair of ms. oni opera gloves. these were my homage to missoni from a few years back. i've decided to post the free pattern, previously only available via email, for your knitting pleasure. so stop back soon if you're interested!


free pattern: good night irene victorian choker

easy to make choker with floral applique and I-cord button in one size.

good night irene victorian choker
by kate sonnick

the perfect one-skein wonder for your hurricane sunday.  my first published design, the victorian choker was inspired by a pair of victorian wristlets originally featured in weldon's practical knitter, circa 1890. originally published in the (sadly) now-defunct spun ezine in 2006,  reprinted here by popular demand... just in time for fall 2011's bold choker trend.

width: approx. 3.5 inches with scalloping (may be increased or decreased based on neck length)
length: 13 inches

1 ball debbie bliss cashmerino
one pair size US4 (3.5mm) needles
one size 4 dpn (for I-cord)
size G crochet hook (for floral applique)

6 sts = 1 inch over rib pat

cast on 80 sts.
work in k1, p1 rib for 10 rows.
work vertical buttonhole over the next three rows as follows:
row 11: k1, p1, bind off 1 st (79 sts); continue in rib to end of row.
row 12: k1, p1 rib to last three sts; join a length of yarn on other side of buttonhole; rib to end.
row 13: work across buttonhold one more time in rib.
next row: work in rib to buttonhole; cast 1 st back on; continue in rib to end of row.
k1, p1 rib for nine more rows. (there will be 10 rows above and below the 3-row vertical buttonhole.)
bind off loosely in rib.

scalloped edging:
1 single crochet (sc) in the first rib; chain 1, 5 double crochets (dc) in the next rib, chain 1*
repeat from * around top and bottom of choker.
join at end with slip st.

I-cord button:
with dpn, cast on three sts.
work I-cord for 16 rows.
slide sts to right end of needle, pulling yarn to tighten.
pull yarn tail through all sts and gather.
tie cord in single knot and tie tail ends together.
sew knotted button on back.

floral applique (knit):
cast on 57 sts.
row 1: purl.
row 2: k2, *k1, sl this st back to left needle; lift the next 8 sts on the left needle over this st and off needle; (yo) 2 times, knit the first st again, k2, rep from * to end.
row 3: k1, *p2tog, drop 1 yo loop ([k2,p1] 2 times) in rem yo of previous row; p1; rep from * to last st, k1.
row 4: knit.
row 5: *k2tog; rep from * to end.
row 6: *k2tog; rep from * to end.
with needle, thread tail through rem eight sts on needle. gather up and fasten securely.
sew seam and weave in end. sew floral applique slightly off-center on front of choker.

scalloped edging (crochet):
consider the ribs as valleys and mountains.
insert crochet hook into every other valley.
*1 single crochet in the first rib; chain 1, 5 double crochets in the next rib; chain 1; rep from * around top and bottom of choker.
join at end with slip stitch.

(c) kate sonnick, 2011


my fave five french pharmacy finds

a typical french pharmacie around the corner from us on rue st. andre des arts
if you're a product junkie like me, the parisian equivalent of a drugstore is a treasure trove of mysterious and seemingly exotic finds. the most ordinary items--cotton swabs, bandages--somehow seem more glamorous here. thinner. more refined. even earwax syringes--or poire, french for pear-- sound downright sexy.

before we moved here, my friend peggy sent me a list of french pharmacy finds from gwyneth paltrow's blog, goop. i couldn't wait to get to a pharmacy and check them out in person. so i searched, holy-grail style, enduring only occasional french-taunting (and, thankfully, no vaulted cows). 

i've found that french drugstore clerks are not huge fans of the "just looking" types. especially the ones who can't think of the french phrase for "just looking" under the stern gaze of a french pharmacist. from the moment you enter and utter the requisite bonjour madame/monsieur, the clock is ticking. you then have approximately 30 seconds to make your selection and move toward the till. i don't perceive this as soup-nazi arrogance. rather, it's french efficiency.

in the spirit of that efficiency, i offer a small but mighty list of french pharmacy finds. some of them are my own faves from gwynnie's list and some are a few new items i stumbled upon myself. briskly, of course.

i hope you like the list and will share some of your own favorites, too!

marvis whitening mint toothpaste.
the best OTC whitening toothpaste i have ever used. i think they actually sell this brand in my grocery store back home. but being a crest girl (look ma, no cavities!) from way back, i never tried it til we moved here. the shiny silver tube looks glam in the bathroom. and i am convinced my teeth have never been whiter.

weleda amande fluide confort absolu moisturizer.
this was recommended to me by the pharmacist around the corner. my combo dry-oily skin is sensitive and prone to redness. this moisturizer feels rich without being too greasy for day. it absorbs nicely and leaves my skin feeling smooth and fresh. 

a. zagorski rose shower gel.
our paris apartment is so full of pink toile and chintz, before we moved in, i liked to say that it looked like sister parrish threw up in here. but being bathed in a rosy glow has really grown on me. and i mean that literally. this rose shower gel is actually made by a pharmacist in my neighborhood. it's gentle to the skin and smells absolutely divine.

klorane gentle dry shampoo with oat milk.
this is one of gwynnie's recommendations and i can see why she loves it. i wash and blow dry my hair twice a week. this stuff really helps to extend a blowout. but unlike other dry shampoos i've tried, this one leaves absolutely no white powder residue. for a messy-chic, half-up, half-down hair trick that is more bardot than snooki-bump, spritz a little at the roots, back-comb gently and secure with a couple bobby pins. pull out a few pieces in front to add softness around your face.

embryolisse lait-creme concentre.
another gwynnie fave that is my new BFF. i use it after the shower as body cream and also as a hand cream. it instantly smooths rough patches on my elbows. it feels creamy, dreamy, and milky but not too greasy. and it has a light, fresh scent that doesn't compete with my perfume.

reminiscence eau de patchouli.
ok, this is number 6 and you can't find it in a french pharmacy. but since i was on the subject of perfume, it would be tough to compete with this one. back in 2001, while in cannes on business (my only other great french adventure), i picked up a sample of perfume at a reminiscence boutique on the croissette. it was called 2000 ans d'amour. for some reason, i didn't buy it, even though i fell instantly in love with it. over the last 10 years, i've sporadically searched for it but it remained an elusive elixir.

so you can imagine the pitter-patter of my heart when i spotted a reminiscence counter at my favorite fancy french department store, printemps. as fate would have it, 2000 ans d'amour has been discontinued. but the clerk produced this bottle instead and said it was very close to the original notes of 2000 ans d'amour. i never thought i was a big patchoui girl, but this one is a sophisticated yet subtle mix of what i love in a perfume: woodsy, sensual and exotic.

kind of like a french pharmacy.


alexander the great

loving alexander wang's balloon-sleeved angora knit for fall 2011. paired with a slinky satin skirt in a dusky ballerina hue and ankle-strap sandles, the look has a luxe vibe that is evocative of 30s hollywood glam yet utterly modern.


seeing into shadows in the city of light

pablo picasso, guernica, 1937
living in paris, i sometimes feel like the kid in the film american beauty, shooting the video of the plastic bag. like he says, there's so much beauty, i feel like my heart could cave in.

my upstairs neighbor anne-lise told me that picasso had an atelier down the street from our flat. you can catch a glimpse it through her tiny kitchen window. from there, it looks like every other building on the street. but the next day, when i walk by with the pooch for our morning constitutional, the brass plaque on the doorway says it is the place where he painted guernica in 1937. shivers run through me and i begin to feel myself inexplicably welling up.

i think: how could something so dark be conceived here in this city of light?

i imagine picasso stepping through that doorway onto this very same street. looking at this very same light. and seeing something more in the dark.

kat coyle, lace, 2010
yesterday, i saw artist and designer kat coyle's lace. i have long admired kat's exuberant use of color. the darkness of this piece immediately put me in mind of guernica. kat's piece also seems to reflect the suffering, and beauty, that exists behind things, and the life, and strength, that lies within. a canvas, a plastic bag, some thread, a city, ourselves.

i asked if i could post about it here. she responded:

it means a lot to me that you are reminded of guernica when you see lace. since i made this in july, i lost my partner of 13 years. he was hit by a car as he crossed the street. i mention it because i am very attached to lace now because johnny helped me in so many ways to bring it into being. he was a big inspiration for me, and he responded to my work with passion. we were in the anarchy show together, he exhibited a painting he did of Jesus driving a 57 chevy. he made the frame for lace and helped me figure out how to show it. i could go on and on but, long story short, every time someone responds to lace I am reminded of a how close johnny and i got during the time i made it.

it never ceases to amaze me how some bits of string, and beauty, and pain, can bind us together.


white before memorial day

via here and here
i had been saving the knit look (left) from isabel marant AW11 show for one simple reason: i happen to love everything about it. i just can't get over marant's impossibly cool, chic and incredibly wearable clothes. this icelandic cowgirl look is no exception. it combines a huge fall trend, fringe, with a giant, cozy turtleneck cape-y dress you could literally throw on over everything. but what really makes the whole thing work for me is all this texture in pure WHITE.

but let's face it. fall is a looong way off.

so i was pretty happy to open my email today and find chinese model bonnie chen's sheer, angelic, white-on-white knit look that is absolutely spot-on for right now. as whowhatwear points out, it's easy to recreate the look yourself. they suggest a gorgeous rachel pally grecian dress. i think it would be fun to scout the vintage shops around here for something to that effect. and of course, i would love to try to find a pattern to make that nubby, loopy, texturiffic vest. add a pair of black or tan ballet flats and you're good to go!

guiq out

right around the corner from our flat is the teensiest pocketbook of a boutique. called guiq'chaq (pronounced "geek shack"), it features an eclectic selection of fashion, art, and design--all for the gothic lolita harujuku lover in you. the shop's charming window displays are as likely to showcase a pair of angel wings as they are a pair of handcuff bangles.

the walls of the shop feature the work of japanese artists, including the amazing "lost princess" by japanese fiber artist/fashion designer kosuke tsumura, which has the most exquisite hand-wrought needlework. i'll try to get a picture next time i visit so i can show you stitch-o-philes. in the meantime, get your guiq on at the shop's newly launched blog. 


annie, get your shades

from the village collection
these karen walker shades are so annie hall, circa 2011. (check out the inspiring snapshots for this collection on KW's anti-fashion-fashion blog, right here.) part cat-eye, part nutty professor; with a pop of color for a little nudge-nudge, wink-wink. the gradient lens adds just the right touch of bobo cool. i'd sport these cuties with my paul & joe mini-trench for a great springtime gal-about-town look.

not that the french would notice. one thing that has struck me here is that very few parisians wear sunglasses. i'm not just talking about when it's grey outside. (and believe me, there are a lot of grey days.) but even on a day like today, with wall-to-wall sunshine. i wonder what that's about?


help olga help japan

olga modeling the amazing hari

my long-time friend, the talented designer olga buraya-kefelian is waiting for word on whether she will have to evacuate her apartment in atsugi, japan. in the meantime, olga has graciously offered to donate the majority of her sales to help japan. 

in case you're not familiar with her work, her designs are challenging, innovative, and always inspiring...much like olga herself.

she writes:

I am pretty sure all of you have been glued to the TV's and watching the heartbreak of Japanese nation and the scale of this tragedy is just impossible to grasp. The military base I live on has organized taking and transporting donations to the affected areas. Blankets, non-perishable food, water, basic medical aid. As I am already here and just donating money didn't feel enough of what I could do.

So from March 14 for the next 2 weeks - 85% of my knitting pattern sales would go to Japanese people. I (with the help of hubby) would buy available provisions to donate for the Japanese victims relief.

my heart goes out to olga, her husband jason and their beloved kitty cat. i hope and pray that they are able to find a safe haven soon. to find out more about olga and participate in her efforts to help japan, please visit her blog, knit creations of a curious mind.
Related Posts with Thumbnails