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The Shawl from hell 10-20-16 Update

I think that I have lost count of how many times I have gotten so frustrated with this project because of miscounting stitches or inadvertently added them that I’ve been left with the only thing to do is rip out everything and start over from the beginning.  I think that this makes reboot number 9.

Wanting to truly wipe the slate clean, I started over with not only two different skeins of your, but a new set of knitting needles to wipe any bad psychic vibes that may have been imprinted on my bamboo ones that I have been using.  The new ones are part of a multi size interchangeable set from a company called Knit Picks. The needles are made from multi layer dyed rosewood. They’re very attractive in a quirky sort of way. I like them.


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Costume College 2017 — The Shawl from Hell

As part of my personal continuing education and need to keep my brain alive by learning new tricks, I’ve taken up knitting, and not just any knitting, hand-knitting lace.  Because I don’t have enough things to drive my insane.  Anyways, my neurologist signed off on the idea as being a good one and gave me her blessing to proceed.  And ultimate truth be told, I fell in love with all the knitty bits that Claire wore on Outlander and had to have them …and the only way to get them was knit them myself.  Fortunately, Lion Brand carries the official Outlander kits.

As my current skill level is slightly better than a novice, there is a whole lot that I simply do not know, thus making any project that’s beyond knitting the 4th doctor’s scarf is new and has a steep learning curve.  I’ve ripped it out at least 5 times now because it’s such a simple pattern, it’s easy to get confused.

mohair-shawlMy chosen project is a Lady’s Wrap circa 1961.  It’s to go with my lavender silk cocktail dress for the Friday evening cocktail party.  According to the lady from whom I acquired it from on Etsy: “This pattern is from Bear Brand and Fleisher Yarns Hand Knit Mohair Fashions Vol. 55, from 1961….”  I invite you to check out her Etsy shop: Vintage Knit Crochet.  There are lots of good things to recreate there.

The yarn in question is Patons Lace yarn and the color I’m using what they call “Plum Smoke.”  I got it at Joann’s, on sale, before I even knew what I wanted to make because I loved the soft heathery deep lavender color.  So when I decided what I was planning on making clothing wise, a wrap for a sleeveless lavender silk cocktail dress seemed natural.

I decided to take a break and write up a little something on this project before I go bonkers and rip it out yet another time.





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Costume College 2017 Project list …

One of the advantages of going to Costume College is getting to learn what the next year’s theme is going to be, and thus getting a metaphorical leg up on your fellow costumers — not that there are any prizes to won outside of bragging rights and exposure.  But it’s nice to be able to dress the party and not be rushed, which I’m going to be anyway because I’m on a D-I-E-T and planning on losing a half a dozen or more dress sizes between now and then …and I am so not going to make everything in a size 28-30 when I could very well be a size 18 by then, just saying.

The theme for next year is the 1960s, which is actually rather great as far as I’m considered.  Besides being a child of the ’60s, I am finding myself actually preferring the clothing convention of those two decades: conservative clothes with clean lines and ended with a little funky.  Basically, me in fashion.  So I decided I would make clothing that I could rotate into my normal day-to-day wardrobe like dresses, skirts, sweaters, pants, jackets and cute little blouses.  So I started trolling the interwebs for vintage patterns — those iconic styles from my childhood that we saw so exquisitely reproduced on Mad Men and lovingly watched reruns of Bewitched — but since they are going to be incorporated into my capsule wardrobe, I’ve got to really like them.

I have now acquired about a dozen or two patterns now and each delightful acquisition, with the exception of  two, when shown to my (semi-retired) MOD revivalist hubby what meant with “No, that’s too high fashion.”  You can well imagine the conversation that has followed….

Me:  What do you think of these? 

Him: They’re too high fashion.

Me: Did I at any time say that I was specifically doing MOD?  No. I said I was doing the ’60s.  And for that matter, I don’t think I was specific about what century either.  I could very well be doing 1560s, [insert dramatic pause] which gives me an idea…

I also made a list of the number of outfits I am going to need for the three-day event.  There’s the Thursday evening Welcome pool party reception, Friday classes, Friday evening cocktail party, Saturday Classes, Saturday night Gala and possibly Sunday breakfast, but only if it looks like I can jet out of Woodland Hills in time for church in Glendale.

  • Thursday Evening: I’m thinking something hippie chick. I’ve got some truly obnoxious green and blue paisley that will make a wicked swimsuit. Or possibly the pink and orangish swirl for a skirt and some type of floaty peasant type shirt.
  • Friday Classes: I’m leaning towards something sporty so I can move around.  I have some blue and gray paisley reproduction print from Liberty of London that I’ll be using for the shirt.  Haven’t decided if I’m going with sleeves or not.
  • Friday evening cocktail party:  This is the one outfit I’ve got locked down. I have lavender silk crepe di chine that I am going to hand-smock the yoke and bead.  (Think something that you would expect Samantha Stevens would wear to a corporate cocktail party hosted by the Tates.) And I’m knitting a mohair wrap to go with it.  Said wrap is already in production.
  • Saturday Classes: Again, like Friday classes, I’m leaning towards something sporty so I can move around.  To appease the gods of MOD-dom, I’ve decided to go a bit more MOD.  I’ll be hand-knitting a sweater.  It’s cute: it has a bow. I just need to decide what to pair with it: a skirt or the 1960’s equivalent of skinny jeans…. and research appropriate colors.
  • Saturday Gala: Because it’s my first love and truly my field of expertise, I’m going 16th century.  I haven’t decided with I’m going Tudor or Elizabethan or Venetian, but definitely 16th century.
  • Sunday morning: something that I can wear to church.  However, as I’m typing this blog post up, I’ve decided.  I scored some borderline hideous, reproduction blue-green and bone floral print cotton from Liberty of London and a semi-current Simplicity Patterns 1960s dress pattern release that I’m going to whip up.

Costume College 2017 won’t be until the end of July or the first part of August next year so I’ve got six to nine months to change my mind.  Let’s see if I do.  [Okay, make that let’s see how much I change my mind.] Blog posts to follow as each item progresses.

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What the Dickens?

I’ve always wanted to go to a Dickens Festival and could never make it up to San Francisco to work let alone visit the annual event that is still put on by the same folks behind the original Renaissance Pleasure Faire.  I do not even remember how I found it — I may have been searching Steam Punk — but I found one that in held in Riverside, CA and in February.  Since it was only just a weekend event, I thought I might be able to get pastoral dispensation and work it, so I volunteered.  Then, I realized that I literally did not have a thing to wear, except for a pair of brown tights.

Here is my list:

My patterns are split between two companies: Past Patterns, whose patterns I’ve worked with before and will need to grade up a couple of sizes, and Laughing Moon Mercantile for the first time.  Their patterns go up to size 34, which is larger than I actually need.

Chemise: Past Patterns: # 717 — Tucked Chemise, circa 1850-1860, purchased via  I found some really awesome paisley eyelet fabric for the body at and some interesting eyelet trim from Korea on  The fabric washed up beautifully and is both delightfully semi-sheer and soft.

Petticoat and Drawers: Past Patterns: # 706 — Mid-19th Century Petticoat & Drawers, circa 1860-1870, purchased via  I found some very reasonably priced border eyelet fabric on in white for both and denim blue for the top petticoat.

Corset: Bijoux Pattern Co. (they’re a division of Laughing Moon Mercantile) Ladies’ Victorian Corset #1.  I picked this one because it’s got more seams and should be easier to make the necessary sizing adjustments.  I’m also going to make this in a light khaki-color 5.3 oz linen that I have in my stash.

Day Dress (wrapper style): Laughing Moon Mercantile 120# — Pleated Wrapper/ Word Dress.  I found a cream background reproduction print for it at

I also have a ballgown pattern and hoops and bustle pattern, but since I won’t be going to the ball, I won’t be making them for this go-round.

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Nottingham Festival 2015 — OMC, what have I gotten myself into?!

Having run my into the proverbial writer’s block known as having your characters sit down for supper and get stuck there for a year and a half, I decided what better way to get the mojo working again.  as I mentioned in my pattern review post, I had run myself out of original Renn Faire character story arc and the proverbial wall. So I decided, “Hey why not make yourself a costume and go to some local faire and be your female protagonist again and see where she takes go.”

So about a month ago I tweeted out the picture below saying, I’m thinking about making this to wear to the Nottingham Festival, which they favorited and replied they’d liked to see it.  My source is taken from the Album Amicorum of a German Soldier that is housed at LACMA.  It was part of their online collection a few years back, but is currently unavailable.  In looking at my graphics, I found similar gown in “gray” that might fit the bill, too.

Option #1

I have less than a month to build something from the ground up. And by the ground up, I mean the gown, some type of head covering since I have barely shoulder-length  hair, partlet, and a farthingale or petticoat, though I leaning towards just lining the gown with some heavy-weight linen and see where it take me.  The only things I don’t need are a smock and a corset.

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Tudor kirtles and petticoats

Intro: The Tudor Tailor’s Patterns for Tudor kirtles and petticoats

I am still in the midst of writing my historical romance novel and have hit that crossroads where I have run out of original Renn Faire character story arc and the proverbial wall. So I decided, “Hey why not make yourself a costume and go to some local faire and be your female protagonist again and see where she takes go.”

So I’m going the Nottingham Festival …. in a month …from yesterday. It’s the last local faire until the spring and will tie in nicely with the timing of #NaNoWriMo which starts on 11/1. No pressure. Since time was of the essence, rather than draft my own patterns because I have to start from the ground up, I chose to go with The Tudor Tailor’s Tudor kirtles and petticoats pattern. I bought the pattern a couple of years ago and it’s been sitting around calling to me.

The fabric of choose is asphalt grey 5.3 ounce linen that I also acquired two years ago. The sleeves may or may not be made in either willow or natural linen, it depends on our capricious weather.

More to follow …

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A Whovian’s …err “Delight”? — making the fourth Doctor’s Scarf: part 2

It is finished, at least the knitting part.  I still need to weave the ends in and add more tassels — the Whovian Times pattern that I used calls for seven tassels and I think that must have been wrong and every scene I’ve seen while streaming classic Doctor Who via Netflix has much more.

My Doctor Who Scarf ticker — as of 7/8/13


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A Whovian’s …err “Delight”? — making the fourth Doctor’s Scarf

You always remember your first Doctor…

I know I either heard or read that somewhere, just can’t remember exactly where so I”ll give the Doctor himself the credit and move on from there.

Being a child of the sixties and seventies, my first Doctor was number 4, although retrospectively speaking it could have actually been 3 because it was my father who introduced me to Doctor Who [pun not intended, exactly], but it was Tm Baker that won my heart and like all fans I had to have the scarf.  That was also 30 years ago.

2013 has sorta of become my bucket list year, not that I’m dying or anything like that, just finally getting around to doing things that have been sitting around too long — the first being the (almost fully finished) Eleanora of Toledo Gown; the second being my beloved fourth Doctor’s scarf.

I started the scarf on May 18th as sort of an early birthday present and I’ve being tweeting my progress on the scarf via one of my twitter alter egos, which I’ve recapped below and have gotten a couple of replies.  One was a woo-who, very excited and the other was “I’ll never do that again.”  Surprisingly, when I did a search on the #DoctorWhoScarf hash tag on Twitter, that was the majority opinion: never again.

Perhaps I’m in the minority, the extreme minority, but I’ll only been at this 6 weeks and I’m over half way there as testified to my my scraf-o-matic ticker below.  [Come on people, it’s only a simple garter stitch! You can do it!  she says in a bad impression of Matt Smith as 11.]

My Doctor Who Scarf status ticker – 6-29-2013

I am delighted that I’m finally knitting this and that is going so very quickly and yes, I am available for hire to knit one of your very own, I’m just trying to figure what it’s going to cost.  (Reply to this post if you’re seriously interested and I will get back to you.)

For those who’ve just gotta know, I’m using the “Official BBC Enterprises Knitting pattern for the ‘Doctor Who’ Scarf,” which can be found here:  I am using a combination of acrylic yarns that best matched the colors with a slight deviation from the original — I’m using an oatmeal color instead to the camel to go better with my skin tones …after all, it is my scarf.

I’ve used the color resources at Doctor Who Scarf .com to help pick my color palette. I opted for the more natural colors.

Twitter feed recap:

5/29/13 — #DoctorWho scarf status report week 1.5 I’ve gotten about 27 inches done.

5/30/13 — This witty knitter is using a blend of acrylic yarn and cat fur so it won’t be too itchy #DoctorWho

5/30/13 — #DoctorWho Scarf — the first 27 inches

6/8/13 — Knitting 54 rows of the same color is so unfufilling #DoctorWhoScarf

6/9/13 — I confess, I’m making the 9ft version from S-15, not the 12ft as it’s for me & I’m only 5’6″ #DoctorWhoScarf

6/9/13 — 40 inches knitted #DoctorWhoScarf

6/10/13 — I do not understand why most swear they’ll never knit one again. It’s easy-peasy lemon sqeezy #DoctorWhoScarf

6/16/13 — #DoctorWhoScarf Week 4 knitting total: 52 inches

6/27/13 — I have just passed the half way point. Huzzah! #DoctorWhoScarf

6/28/13 — Whovian Highlight of day: knitting 4’s scraf while watching 11. #DoctorWho

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Eleanora of Toledo Gown — part 7

To quickly recap what’s been happening over the past couple of weeks, although in reality it’s only been three, four days of limited hours of sewing…

Corset: We have achieved corset, but not without making the first one two sizes too small, which I supposed had much to do with the fact that I took two people’s measurements at the office on the same time and had the petite-er of my two petite co-workers in my head at the same time.  My corset pattern is The Mantua Maker’s 1550-1630 “Quilted Pair of Bodies — the same pattern I used for my own a few years ago.  The pattern is a dream and props to the person who drafted it.

Because my current victim is well-endowed with vast tracks of umm… [insert Monty Python reference here] to make a corset that will fit her frame and accommodate the girls, the straps have to come off as they hit her in the wrong place…for example the back of her arms and generally force the corset up too high on her.  Other than trimming the waistline up about a 1/2 inch across the back and sides things have worked out well.

Camicia: For those not is the know a camicia is a shift or what is more commonly referred to as a chemise.  The fabric of choice is 3.5 oz. linen which comes from my favorite online fabric source which is surprisingly a local vender — local meaning the greater Los Angeles area, though the lady for whom I am sewing from kept saying ‘This feels just like the linen I’ve seen in the Ukraine.  This is just perfect, I already feel at home in my costume.”  [me: Gotta love the neophytes …but she should know as she’s basically from there.  *rolling eyes*]

I following the instructions that came with the pattern for 1540s-60s Florentine Lady’s Outfit from Reconstructing almost verbatim, the exception being is I made my own bias for the neck band.  While this is most likely not 100% period, it does give it a much nicer, smoother and cleaner look and finish.

People, take the time to learn how to cut and make your own self-bias, it will make all the difference in how professional you finished garments will look and you’ll feel awesome that you finally did it.

Farthingale: Completed and I’ve ranted about it already in my post about Simplicity’s 16th Century Underpinnings.

The Gown: It’s under-construction and worthy of its own pattern review rant.  I will say this n the interim: “Kass, I love you but the slacker girl in me would readily pay an additional $10 for skirt pieces on separate sheets of paper rather than trace them off separate. I just don’t have the time to do it every single time.

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Eleanora of Toledo Gown — part 6

It begins.  Be afraid, be very afraid.

Okay, here’s my sewing frenzy work plan:

Today:  Ordered what I hope will be a 20 yard piece  of a very nice black and silver-gray jacquard ribbon that has the feel of the original trim work on Eleanora’s gown.  Humorously enough it’s from a vendor on Etsy from my next of the woods [go figure.]

New Black & silver trim

Next stop is to order linen from for the lining because the Thai silk is a bit lightweight to stand by itself.

On the sewing front, it’s underpinning day so it’s time for corset making, chemise and with any luck, I’ll find my farthingale pattern… well, actually any farthingale pattern will do, mine, the one I bought from Mantua Maker or heck, even the Simplicity one will do.