Archives for category: cool stuff

Just saw this cool project: a Prickle (knit jumbo-sized to go around the shoulders) woven through with electroluminescent (EL) wire.


Youtube video, Rav link.


OK! Here we go. I picked a number between 1 and 29 (there were 30 comments, 2 of which were from the same person). has spoken, and the winner of the Shabby Apple Mariposa Grove dress is commenter #5, Chris C./bookgeekgirl. Congrats, Chris! I’ll be in touch with the details.

Here are the Shabby Apple dresses readers have named as favorites so far in the comments of the giveaway post. Keep them coming!

Also, if you feel like buying something, here’s an even better link than the one I gave you last time (through a different marketing campaign)–this one gives you 15% off and me a $20 gift card.

Click here.

Pictures and commentary follow.


Bookgeekgirl posted “And I think my favorite dress is the A+ shirtdress, although I think that belt they’ve paired with it is about the ugliest thing I’ve seen! ” WHOA. You weren’t kidding. I love the pale blue pinstripe shirting fabric for the shirtdress style, though–perhaps I need one.

Those glasses are also horrible on her. This is like the “before” in the Beautiful All Along trope. Suddenly the nerd takes off the glasses and insane equestrian belt and is transformed into prom queen!

After Class–love the enormo-collar! I have a store-bought sweater dress with a similar collar (black, short sleeve, seed stitch). And the belt with buttons is great, too.

Look, she’s taken off her glasses and is on her way to popularity, sexiness, and glamour as everyone realizes she was beautiful all along!
after class dress

P.S. I clicked on one of the other dresses in the Academia collection, Extra Credit, and was horrified at the description (bolding is mine): “With an a-symmetrical ruching at the center front of the garment pleated on the diagonal and a collar accentuated by a tucked and folded flap, this two-tone charcoal taffeta dress is sure to have all your professors looking to add a few points to your test scores.” Are you kidding me?

Ahoy! I’d like this better if it weren’t mint green. And apparently quilted on top? It reminds me of my old judo uniform.
ahoy dress

Atlantic Fog–cute! I’d wear knit dresses like this pretty much 100% of the time if I could. PRO TIP from a Wisconsin resident: do not try this look in the snow for real. You’ll get cold. (Well, it’s possible that she is FROM Wisconsin or points northwards and enjoying a summery 30-degree day. I went out a few weeks ago with a friend who showed up in sandals because it was around 35 or 40 degrees out and hence “very warm.”)
atlantic fog dress

Baciami!–love the Fibonacciesque stripes.
baciami dress

Ballerina–see note re: Atlantic Fog.
ballerina dress

Beauty Mark–yes yes yes. I think I already picked this out in navy as one of my faves, but possibly with a different name because of the different color.
beauty mark dress

Boogie Woogie–I’m not a fan of the petri dish rosettes. YMMV.
boogie woogie dress

Confidential–gorgeous. I want to say “Oh, it’s very Gossip Girl!”, but I have never seen Gossip Girl and so this impression is based entirely on reading women’s magazines with articles about Gossip Girl. I don’t even know what Gossip Girl is about; some rich girls with great hair who wear a lot of headbands, I think? And they gossip?
confidential dress

Dressage–hmm. I like the color, but if you look at the unbelted, unembellished pictures on the site of the dress on a dress form, there’s a certain Mennonite, modest-dress air about the cut of it, though I guess it would be pretty daring in the ankles/elbows/neckline for that purpose.
dressage dress

Grand National–reminds me of Colette Macaron, but with wonderful skirt pleats!
grand national dress

Love Me Do–so pretty in the photo, but in real life I probably couldn’t pull off lime green lace on a white background. I’m sure there’s another style somewhere with a different lace color.
love me do dress

Madison Ave–one of my favorites. BUTTONS AND HOUNDSTOOTH OVERDOSE.
madison ave dress

Maize–I like it. I probably couldn’t wear it without looking like a set of curtains, but I like it.

Mulholland–so beautiful. I’m a sucker for that scallopy lace. Her shoes sure are sparkly.
mulholland dress

Nine to Five–see note about Atlantic Fog. This has some really nice details with the ruching and gathering and tie collar.
nine to five dress

Overboard–fabulous. I need to make a gingham shirt dress this summer.
overboard dress

Pina Colada–This is the only dress I saw on the site where the different color options weren’t named different things. It’s a nice design. Maybe it would be nice in gingham. Just a thought.
pina colada dress

Yorkshire–Very cute, and the tweed is an interesting fabric choice for the style. I’d like to see it with a big brown leather belt and not the big leather boots they’ve styled it with.
yorkshire dress

The folks from The Shabby Apple contacted me about doing a giveaway of one of their dresses–they have a lot of adorable vintage-inspired dresses, and I love free stuff, so I figured why not? Perfect timing to give away a girly sundress, too, since around here it recently went from apocalyptic snow-free 50-degree weather to the current 4 degrees below zero that “feels like -12” according to my weather app. It will give you something to look forward to. Or possibly to wear, if you live in a more reasonable climate like the Pacific Northwest uh, Florida?

The dress I picked out for the giveaway was Mariposa Grove, a kelly green cotton A-line dress with layers of raw-edged ruffle or petal detailing around the neck. (Different colors of the same style have different names–I find that a little unintuitive, but I will point out that you can get this same dress in golden orange, as “Cider,” or royal blue, as “Trevi Fountain“.) It reminds me a bit of the Coffee Date Dress.

mariposa grove dress

I think it kind of needs a belt, contrary to how they’ve styled it, and it would look pretty adorable with a neutral-colored cardi fastened below the bust, like Broderie or the Leitmotif Cardigan.

Go check them out! The Up and Away collection is probably my favorite, but I also kind of adore the Bon Voyage dress–flouncy yet tailored–and the Manhattan Collection. Look at those buttony dresses! LOVE.

To enter, go “Like” Shabby Apple on Facebook, then come back here and leave me a comment that you’d like to enter and letting me know what your favorite dress from the website is. It’s not going to change which dress you receive, but I’m curious. Or send me a link to any patterns you think would be cute with this dress. No exchanges, US-only. Since it’s been such a ghost town around here lately, you probably have a very good chance of winning.

Also! Even if you don’t win, you can use this code for 10% off: featherandfan10off. It expires in 30 days, or possibly 30 days from when I received the code, which was a week ago. Commence shamefaced foot-shuffling, apologetic language. I notice there is also currently a code for 20% off, so if they can’t be stacked, you may want to use that one instead. (I am a PRO SHOPPER! When am I going to get invited on that extreme couponing show?) Bloggy disclosure thing: I signed up for their affiliate thingy, so if you buy something, I will get 5% of the purchase total.

I’ll pick a winner on January 29. (Make sure you leave some kind of contact information.) Go forth and window shop!

I picked up Teva Durham’s Loop-d-Loop Lace at the library the other day and I’ve been drooling over it. Unfortunately, I don’t think the Loop-d-Loop series has the greatest reputation for being well-edited, there haven’t been that many guinea pigs on Ravelry yet for most of the patterns, and I don’t feel like risking casting on for a large project only to find some major error or to discover it’s insane-looking or unflattering in a real-world setting. Just look at these, though:

Bell Sleeve Blouse
bell sleeve blouse (gorgeous, but knit on size 3 needles; I don’t have the patience!)

Rose Trellis Blouse
rose trellis blouse
Knit on a size 2 needle. Even worse!

Thistle Bodice
thistle bodice
This one may be knit on size 2s, but it’s at least tons of open lace and sleeveless, and seems interesting to knit. A gorgeous doily adaptation! And there are a few FOs on Ravelry that look good, but unfortunately, they all have comments about the confusing or incorrect directions, e.g. “I’ve ripped this 3 times and reknit all the way to the Arrowhead chart where, once again, the confusing directions stymied me. This is going into Time Out until the goobledy gook directions get sorted out. As many times as I’ve knit and reknit, I could have had another camisole knit by now.”

Butterfly Lace Tunic Dress

I have the feeling this probably works best if you have the same figure as the model in the book, but there are no FOs on Ravelry, so it’s hard to tell.

The one pattern I’m most likely to make is the Lace Leaf Cravat, which is small and bulky-weight (a quick knit) and has been available for ages as a single pattern, so probably any editing issues have been worked out by now. But I’ve made so many of those little ascot things and I almost never wear them, which perhaps is a message from the universe that I should stop knitting them? I dunno.

Anyway, if you haven’t looked through this book, check it out–it’s awesome knitting eye candy. Beautifully styled and photographed, and the patterns are inventive and gorgeous.

A few people were interested in hearing what I thought of my first Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab order (a 6-sample order) so I thought I’d post a followup for the folks who are interested! If you are not interested in perfume, stop reading right here because there’s a lot of frivolous rambling coming.

General notes first:

  • Shipping was very slow, which in all fairness they do warn you about. I think it took about 2 weeks for them to get the samples sent out to me.
  • Wish I’d known that if you log into the forums on, a swap forum appears in the list where you can buy or trade for perfumes and/or samples. For any future samples, I’m going to check there first, since the samples are typically going to be cheaper and faster to ship.
  • I wasn’t sure what the imp’s ears samples would actually look like. They are tiny 1/32 oz bottles similar to this: the lid pulls off and has a little stick attached to it that you can use to dab on the perfume. There’s a white printer label label wrapped around each with the name of the fragrance printed on it. They are resealable, and I’m guessing you could get quite a few applications out of each– one might last a month, if you were wearing it every day, but that’s just a wild guess.
  • These oils are strong! My neck got a little red and irritated when I put on too much.
  • This is old news, but I hadn’t ever given it too much thought before: perfume branding is really something! There were several scents in this order that I wouldn’t have given a second thought to if they were fragrances pushed by Justin Bieber or J. Lo, but I’m finding myself wanting to give them more of a chance due to the vivid descriptions on the site (not only the official ones but the ones written by fans! The kind of cultish product loyalty companies would kill for). The site is kind of ugly, ridiculously hard to navigate, the shipping super slow, they sell mail-order perfume, which is such a difficult item to buy online–and you pay a few dollars apiece for the size of samples you could get for free by walking into Sephora, but the narrative and cultural allusions are like catnip to a certain breed of nerd or goth. In point of fact, I went to Sephora the other day and was thinking of getting some Fresh perfumes (my hands-down favorite scent is Fresh’s Brown Sugar,and I could bathe in that stuff–it smells amazing!) but somehow it seems like it would be more interesting to get a BPAL fragrance. Even if nobody around you knows, you’re not just dabbing on a smell, you’re dabbing on a subculture! And my little sheeple pea brain tells me I’d much rather be a “BPAL person” than a “Sephora person,” even though I’m perfectly aware on a conscious level that this is stupid.
  • I’ve read the Patrick Suskind book but not too much else about perfume, so I think at some point I might also check out: The Secret of Scent: Adventures in Perfume and the Science of Smell, The Perfect Scent: A Year Inside the Perfume Industry in Paris and New York, Essence and Alchemy: A Natural History of Perfume, and/or The Emperor of Scent: A True Story of Perfume and Obsession. Maybe even The Scent Trail: How One Woman’s Quest for the Perfect Perfume Took Her Around the World, although just from the title, I think this is probably insufferable, narcissistic privilege-lit in the vein of Eat, Pray, Love. (Which, to be fair, I didn’t read all of, but the little bit I did read rubbed me the wrong way in so many ways I couldn’t continue.)

The samples I ordered (the first five from the Mad Tea Party collection, the last one from A Picnic in Arkham):

  • The Dormouse: “A dizzying eddy of four teas brushed with light herbs and a breath of peony.” My hands-down favorite out of everything that arrived! This smells ridiculously good to me–fresh and green-appley and tea-leafy, with light floral notes that come out more in the drydown. I might order a full bottle of this when my sample runs out. The green tea smell is the strongest and purest in this one out of all the tea blends I tried–just wonderful.
  • White Rabbit: “Strong black tea and milk with white pepper, ginger, honey and vanilla, spilled over the crisp scent of clean linen.” Based on the description and my love of all the component smells, I thought this would be my favorite out of the batch. Unfortunately, I thought it smelled just terrible out of the bottle, with an overpowering baby powder aroma that I guess is probably the “clean linen.” It gets more interesting as it dries, with the black tea, ginger, and vanilla smells emerging, so I’m on the fence about it–will have to wear it all day and see what I think. I haven’t had the chance to wear all of these all day (the first day they arrived, I put dots of each one on my wrists, inner elbows, and knees and walked around smelling them all day until I got a headache and had to take a shower.)
  • Tweedledee: “Ridiculous! Kumquat, white pepper, white tea and orange blossom.” This has a nice, slightly bitter citrus scent, and the orange blossom gives it an interesting soft note, but it doesn’t have the immediate pure, sharp grab of, for instance, the Fresh citrus fragrances. I like it, but it’s lower down on my list of something I would buy.
  • Bread-and-Butter-fly: “Bread, lightly buttered, with weak tea, cream, and a lump of white sugar.” I thought I’d like this because I expected it to be more of a toasty, nutty smell, but it smelled just vile to me: a weird, sickly sweet, strong mixture of baby powder and fake buttered popcorn. Just awful. Hours later, it dries down to something nicer, with gentle vanilla and sugar notes, but I don’t think I could handle going through the earlier stages of reeking like an accident at the movie theater concession stand just to get to that softer base note.  I don’t smell bread in this at all, which I think would have made the butter smell more acceptable.
  • Eat Me: “Three white cakes, vanilla, and red and black currants.” Very sweet, as you would expect from the description. Not awful, but not my favorite. Initially, the sugary cake smell overpowers the fruity currants, but the blackcurrant becomes more noticeable once the cake fades a bit more. I’m still looking for a perfect vanilla perfume–I tried a few samples of Lavanila on Julie’s recommendation, but they were all too heavy for me, even the grapefruit vanilla one.
  • Night-Gaunt: “Their scent of their slick, rubbery hides is bittersweet, ticklish, and skin-creeping: something akin to yuzu, white grapefruit, and kumquat mixed with the snow-dusted flowers of Mount Ngranek.” I hated this initially, really thought it smelled disappointingly strong, bitter, and disgusting, but I just put a tiny drop on my arm to think about what to write about it now, and now I can’t stop huffing the crook of my arm. Maybe I over-applied it before? It currently smells just delicious, like a mixture of grapefruit and white gardenias–brings back memories of family vacations to Hawaii.

Plus they threw in two additional free samples:

  • Fae (from Bewitching Brews): “A brilliant, ethereal scent: white musk, bergamot, heliotrope, peach and oakmoss.” This is not anything I would have picked out for myself, since I don’t like musky scents much, but it’s not bad. The peach and musk are pretty evident to me, but I don’t smell the bergamot, heliotrope, and oakmoss at all. Because of the musk, it reminds me of either teenage drugstore perfumes or very expensive old-lady perfumes… nothing I would pick out for a signature fragrance, but maybe appropriate for certain occasions?
  • Deadly Nightshade Honey: (from Rappaccini’s Garden–there’s no detailed description of each of the honey scents) A wonderful surprise–I absolutely loved this one. It was my second favorite after Dormouse. It starts out with a somewhat spicy, green layer over a strong honey smell, and eventually dries down to just plain honey, but not too cloyingly sweet for my tastes. Actually, the entire time I tried it, I would have said it just smelled like plain honey, nothing more complicated than that, but comparing the dried version of the perfume to the freshly applied version made the green notes much more evident, and I think whatever the “deadly nightshade” smell is helps tone down the honey a little.

Some other BPAL fragrances I’m interested in trying at some point:

  • Dorian, from Sin and Salvation: “A Victorian fougere with three pale musks and dark, sugared vanilla tea.” Possibly something I’d hate because of the  musks, but I’m curious.
  • Aizen-Myoo, from Excolo: “Yuzu, kaki, and mikan with cherry blossom and black tea.” Katinka’s recommendation, and one that people keep comparing to Night-Gaunt. Mikan didn’t register as a citrus fruit to me when I was browsing the descriptions, but after looking it up, it sounds really appealing.
  • O, from Ars Amatoria: “Amber and honey with a touch of vanilla.”
  • Carnal, also from Ars Amatoria: “Bold, bright mandarin paired with the sweet, sensual earthiness of fig.”
  • Snake Oil, also from Ars Amatoria: “By far, our most popular scent! Magnetic, mysterious, and exceedingly sexual in nature. A blend of exotic Indonesian oils sugared with vanilla.” It’s described as “spicy” and “incensey”, which I’m not sure I like, but apparently the vanilla smell is strong too. There are a lot of glowing reviews in the forum about people being stopped on the street and asked about their perfume.
  • Akuma, from Diabolus: “Devilish temptation, as sweet as sin: blood orange, neroli, and raspberry.”
  • Kumiho, also from Diabolus: “A sharp, biting blend of crisp white tea and ginger.”

Are you a BPAL devotee? What’s your favorite?

Hey! From now till August 13, if you’ve never used Kiva before, you can click here to get a free $25 microfinance credit that you can lend to an entrepreneur in a developing nation to help alleviate poverty. (Teach a man to fish and all that.) I’m part of Team Ravelry; members of the team keep an eye out for relevant fiber arts-related borrowers, and will send messages to the group like “Knitter in Peru seeking funding to buy wool” so that the team can chip in to help fund the loan.

If you lend out your own money, once the loan is paid back by the borrower, the money becomes available to you again to lend to someone else or withdraw. (In this case, if you use the free $25 trial, the repaid money goes back to Kiva since they put up the money originally; but you can at least see how the system works.) I’ve made 13 loans to date, and enjoyed lending to knitters, seamstresses, or just random people around the world–after a trip to Cambodia a couple of years ago, for example, I lent to a Cambodian woman who owns a soup store and was struggling to expand the business on her income of $7 a day.

Today I lent $25 to Samvel Arakelyan, an Armenian veterinarian trying to buy a horse and a sheep shaver with his loan so that his family can sell their sheep’s wool at market. He’s 11% of the way to his $3000 goal.

If you’ve thought about lending via Kiva but never gotten around to signing up, please go use that $25 credit, join Team Rav, and continue to lend if you enjoy the experience!

(Edited to add: oops–I’ve been told they’ve run out of free trials, but I’ll publish this post anyway since it’s still something worth setting aside 25 bucks for.)

Make your own solid perfume locket!

Curly i-cord!

Doe Hare intarsia sweater!

It’s very hot here, which makes me not want to do anything except take cold showers and eat frozen grapes. When I can actually bear to hold a big pile of yarn in my lap, I am slowly working on a Liesl in Golden Siam–opting for the low neckline, cap sleeves, and probably a ribbon tie at the neck to close it–although what I think I really need as for my wardrobe is a plain, reasonably fine-gauge white cardigan and one in plain black too. Ideas: Manu, Favorite Cardigan, Leitmotif Cardigan.

So, instead of showing you anything I’ve made, here are a bunch of other things you can look at instead. (I’ve been girlin’ it up like crazy lately for some reason. OMG CLOTHESHAIRMAKEUPLOLOLOL)

Yarn as drugs metaphor, expanded. Surprisingly, Cracksilk Haze is not even mentioned.

Giant flower pillow tutorial. I would like a gray leather handbag with an enormous flower like this on the front.

New Look 6000. Retro sheath dress with starburst gathering on one side and an option for a big foldover collar. There was a Vogue pattern with similar lines (can’t remember the pattern number) that I wanted to make about a year ago, but it got such terrible reviews for being poorly drafted, with the pieces not fitting together, that I thought it wouldn’t be worth the trouble. This, on the other hand, might be worth picking up and sewing for fall.

I love this no-heat vintage curls tutorial. My hair is hopeless at holding a curl, but I’ve been trying to get this to work anyway since I haven’t cut it in about a year and it’s actually long enough to do interesting things with again (and putting it up keeps it off my neck). I can’t get my elastic band updo nearly as neat and pretty as these examples, but the dental hygienist did compliment me on it when she was cleaning my teeth the other day.

Neon friendship bracelets.

Free Spotify invitations.

Adorable one-yard skirt patterns from Spoonflower designers. I wish they gave more details on the pages, like if the $18/yd 45-inch quilting cotton will do, or if you need to order it on one of the more expensive bases like cotton sateen or linen-cotton.

Clothkits skirt kits. So pretty, so expensive.

Alice in Wonderland-themed perfumes from Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab. It seems nuts to buy perfume online, but the scents sound amazing and the forums offer extensive, very descriptive reviews that tempted me into ordering a sampler. We’ll see if I like it once it arrives–I’m not much of a perfume wearer, but the ones I like are generally citrus, vanilla, or tea-based, all of which appear in spades (ha ha) in the Mad Tea Party collection.

Knot shorts. Can’t remember if I posted about this before but I really want to make a pair before summer’s out. Not sure how the ties should scale up. 6″ long on a 5-year-old = ?? on a 31-year-old?