Sunday, January 19, 2014

A Shawl by any other name...

I have worn this poor frazzled shawl forever.  It has been to Europe twice, Croatia once, countless dinners here in the valley, a bazillion evenings out with friends and been my constant companion on many a cool summer evening by the pool. I learned this week from my knitting friends that it's technically a Ruana, because of the way it is styled. Call it what you want - all I know is that I wish I would have bought one in every color years ago!

Not wishing to actually KNIT one as suggested by my knitting friends (too much stockinette for this Chicka), it occurred to me that I could probably sew one, if I could find a soft enough fabric - one with lots of drape. Mentally, I put that on my list of things to complete before our France vacation this Fall.

Meanwhile, my daughter and I were "touring" IKEA this week, and I happened upon a soft woven off-white know where this is going, don't you. It was the perfect size, color and feel that I was looking for in a new Ruana. I did note that the display throws in the store looked a little "pilled" from constant fingering, but hey, if it lasts til Paris, I'm good to go.

IKEA's strange product names - Gurli is a woman's name.

I measured the throw against my black shawl, which is slightly smaller than the 47"X 71" of the Gurli throw.

The lengthwise edges of the throw already have a nice tightly woven selvage edge, but the width of the throw was hemmed.
Cut the two hemmed edges at both ends off.

I want my Ruana to have the same long fringe that my black one does, so I will need to secure the loosely woven fabric above the fringe line.  In order to stay on the straight grain of the fabric, I pulled a single thread of the fabric about 6 inches away from the edge.  That will be my guide for the "blanket stitch" safety row.

Because my throw fabric is pretty loosely woven I stitched two rows of blanket stitches at each end of the throw, above the fringe line. Once the security rows were sewn, settle yourself into some major "fringing", which involves pulling out the crosswise rows to create the fringe.

As if the fringing wasn't tedious enough, knotting the fringe is over the top. I used about 10 threads for each knot. Laborious to say the lest, but totally worth it. Knotting also helps keep the fringe from pulling on the woven fabric above.

My IKEA Gurli throw becomes a chic Ruana when it is cut lengthwise up the middle on one end, stopping a little more than half way through the full length. (Refer back to the original black shawl photo above, if that doesn't make sense!)  Finish the Ruana by serging the cut edges and reinforcing
the "V" at the center back.

My new Ruana is just as light, yet cozy as the old black knit one.  The Gurli throw comes in lot's of other colors - red, blue , grey, etc.
May have to go back for a red one.
I love it!!!

Laurel. Working on that Paris wardrobe!!

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Let's End in Paris...

Half of the fun of traveling is in the planning. A trip to Europe requires a lot of research, unless you opt for a guided tour. Though Dave and I have done the whole tour bus thing, and though it was exciting and not too confining, we have decided to put together our own vacation to celebrate our 30th anniversary this year.

I was absolutely glued to the Le Tour de France this past year. Everyday I watched the superhuman bicyclists but I was more entranced by the videos of the French countryside - the quaint towns and picturesque mountains of the Pyrenees and the Alps were captivating. That whole Provincial area captured my interest and though we don't plan to retrace the Tour's routes, we hope to travel the region by car, ending up in Paris...sitting in a sidewalk cafe...sipping wine.

And so the preparation begins. Not withstanding the whole "planes, trains and automobiles"/hotel circus on the Internet, I want to learn some of the French language via Duo Lingo, a free app for your phone..more about that later. I'm also trying to get back to healthy eating, so that I can shed some unwanted pounds, but more about that later too. Which brings me to the fun part:

What do I take to wear?

Planning your travel wardrobe is easy as long as you don't care whether you are stylish or fashion conscious. But since I started sewing again for Suzan and myself and having Stonemountain and Daughter Fabric at my disposal, I care more about what I wear these days, especially for the end of our journey with a 4 or 5 day stay in Paris!  

My dilemma could also be an age thing: wanting to look the best I can without looking like I think I'm 20 again. Planning a travel wardrobe does present some inherent problems as I'm not willing to look like a tourist and I can't take my whole closet either.

Me in Croatia - I'm thinking flip flops might not work in Paris....
My travel fashion goal is to make some things that will be comfortable, easy to care for and yet be fashion forward and age appropriate.  Tall order, huh. I thought it might be useful to check out the Spring/Summer collections from Paris Fashion Week. Though I can't see myself trotting around the streets in 5 inch heels, I can consider some of the major trends from the Greats in fashion design when I start my fabric and accessory shopping.

1) All thing BLUE...lapis, cobalt, etc. Seems to be a trendy color along with

2) All things NEUTRAL...beige, off white, creamy stuff...and knits must be in order?

3) Soft whimsical prints, in the colors of Provence...maybe a soft flowy skirt?

4) Choker necklaces...not the long bangle styles any more.  Big gobby necklaces and shorter, hug the neck styles - Hey, those I have!!

5) High waisted bottoms - pants, skirts, shorts (though these legs will never see the light of day in Paris)

6) Bold Hand painted prints - artsy prints??? 

7) Pleats...

8) Boyfriend shirts and zippered jackets...

I think most of the trends are doable...the trick is to get fabrics that pack easily, can be rinsed out, and travel iron friendly. I tend to pack too much, so this year I want to be smarter about what I take. 

And that whole handbag thing? It's is a dilemma all it's own. 

Are you ready to help me, Suzan?

"Je suis une femme.." (my limited French..."like that isn't already apparent, lady?")

Thursday, January 2, 2014

1980 something...

In the process of putting away our Christmas decorations, Dave uncovered an envelope on the garage floor behind a storage box.  In it were a series of photographs of my going-away party at Kelly Services, where I was an Account Rep for two years back in the 80's. There was a old letter from the Detroit office, thanking me for my service and a card holder with one of my old business cards denoting me as an "Ex-Account Representative."

I had to laugh at the silliness of it all, as my boss's significant other had hired a "Policeman" to come to arrest me at the party. You know the rest of the story...the guy had a beautiful tan!! But what cracked me up more was the horrid kinky permed hair I was sporting at the time. And I mean horrid! My daughter, who is my hairdresser today told me once that she would NEVER give me a perm, and now I remember NO pictures of that fright on this post!

But I also uncovered another photo of myself that brought on a wave of nostalgia. I remembered the evening well. I was volunteering on a phone bank, evidently some time after the perm job grew out.  I was a single Mom, as Dave and I weren't even married yet, making the photo over 30 years old. I remember wearing that gold Coke bottle cap charm around my neck every day, along with a giant cubic zirconium. The silk blouse was a staple of my professional wardrobe. I still have that huge gold chain necklace which I bought at I. Magnins back in 1969. Not so much into gold chains these days, but the quality of gold-filled jewelry today can never compare to it, so I kept it.

The photo made me smile...not because I looked "hot", but because I looked so young. Shortly thereafter, Dave and I got married and settled into the whole chaotic "step-family" life. It was gritty and sweet at the same time - I've always said that it was our ability to laugh at ourselves that saved us...this August we will celebrate 30 years of marriage. 

He told me over breakfast yesterday, New Year's Day, that I was his "longest running success"...or something like that:) I think it's the red nails...

Laurel. It's gonna be a great year!!
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