Imaginative ideas

This week while rummaging through my cabinet of sewing patterns I discovered an old Simplicity pattern for neckties. I hadn’t seen or thought of the pattern for decades and it instantly brought back memories of the ties I sewed my dad each year for Father’s Day.

Fabric via Etsy

Somewhat surprisingly, the Vermont town I grew up in had a shop that sold hand-screened Lilly Pulitzer fabric by the yard. As a girl I was crazy about the wild animals, bright colors and bold flowers of Lilly’s designs. Making ties with neon pink tigers for my father seemed as reasonable to me as surprising him with a breakfast-in-bed of cornflakes topped with chocolate ice cream. He adored both!

Happy Father’s Day!


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Photo: Jordan Doner -  Courtesy of Avery Marriott


These vintage Eame’s chairs, wonderfully and imaginatively collaged by artist Phillip Estlund, would be perfect for my studio!

In Estlund’s own words:

“These chairs were realized, rather fortuitously, while working on a series of collages in my West Palm Beach studio. I often work with imagery from field guides and books containing detailed images from nature. As I was organizing cut out images of flowers I laid them out on several surfaces, including on the seat of my Herman Miller, Eames molded fiberglass chair. The otherwise stark surface became immediately activated in a way that I hadn’t considered and after arranging and adhering the flowers to the seat the result was the Bloom Chair.”

At $3,600 each, I’ll have to let them pass, alas!


Sold via: Grey Area


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From parades on skis, egg hunts in the snow, crazy ski outfits and sunrise church services at the top of the mountain, for me, Easter and skiing have always gone mitten in hand.  I’ve rarely missed being at my local ski area with friends and family on Easter and this year will be no different.

Bored with the pastel hues of Easter decorations I decided I’d bring out this colorfully saturated 1930’s St. Anton poster depicting Hannes Schneider, the legendary ski instructor who made the “Arlberg” ski technique famous, surrounded by a class of playful snow bunnies.

From: The Art of Skiing by Jenny de Gex

Could it be pure coincidence that bunnies, spotted in a shop window in Salzburg last month by AlpineStyle56, bear a close resemblance in color and silhouette to Schneider’s unruly pupils?

photo: ©AlpineStyle56

Happy Easter everyone!


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As a knitter and lover of Norwegian sweaters, I fell in love with Nike’s limited edition Pro Oslo Glow tights as soon as I saw them.

Nike designer Ryan Noon drew inspiration for these running tights from the classic Setesdal lusekofte sweater that originated in the Otra river valley in southern Norway.

By digitally mashing up the familiar knit and hand-embroidered design elements found on Norwegian sweaters, Noon pays homage to a traditional design in a thoroughly modern and delightful way.

For more about Setesdal Sweaters click here.

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I’m digging the unlikely and brilliant cross pollination of themes in the print on this Fall 2013 Quicksilver jacket with a vintage feel seen at the SIA show last month. Gondolas, pheasant and elk – who woulda thunk?

Click to see  Vintage Camper Fabric


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A friend with a shared passion for skiing recently discovered a January 1948 Ski issue of Town & Country magazine in perfect condition in her grandmother’s attic. This delicious edition shares many of the same attributes of today’s magazine, large format pages, beautiful fashion photography, advertisements for luxury fashion, jewelry and destinations, and articles focused on the rich and famous.

The issue is rich with articles about skiing. A many-paged article by Elizabeth Woolsey, a former national ski champion, is devoted to the U.S. Women’s Ski Team  a.k.a. “The Belles of St. Moritz” and their chances for winning Olympic fame in St. Moritz later that winter.

The most exclusive North American ski areas are listed with information about vertical drop, number of trails and lifts, ticket prices etc.

An article devoted on how to get in shape for skiing suggests classes at the New School of Exercise in New York City. Tips on how to avoid injury, which salons offer the best beneficial massages, and how to prevent chapping ones hands and face.

The issue is packed with advertising – including apparel and hard goods brands and ski lodges and even a two-page spread of a painting depicting skiers arcing through untracked snow promoting Chrysler motors. The ads allow us a peak at how glamorous and exciting the sport was sixty odd years ago.

A fashion and gear guide highlights the newest innovations and there is a lovely spread of illustrated après ski styles. I will be sharing this nostalgic skiing gold mine in the weeks to come. Below is a little taste of what’s to follow. I thought it particularly appropriate timing to post these as the the skiwear and ski equipment brands will all be unveiling the latest and greatest for next winter at the  Outdoor Retailer, the SnowSports Industries America and ISPO trade shows within the next couple of weeks. Maybe I’ll see you there!

An ad for Marjorie Benedikter’s ski fashions in the January 1948 issue of Town & Country

“Designed for action, the well-tailored three-piece suit on the left is of water-repellent Forstman wool gabardine in gray, by Irving of Montreal. An added accessory is a smart belt and belt-bag made of pony. Bally Boots. At Saks Fifth Avenue Ski Shop. Marjorie Benedikter, an accomplished skier herself, designs with an eye for the practical. Right: her becoming parka of white Byrd cloth may be worn in or out, and has a convenient drawstring around the face. Navy wool gabardine pants are essentially functional with front fullness achieved by trouser pleats. Dayton Co., Minneapolis; Frederick & Nelson, Seattle”

Saks Fifth Avenue had it’s own ski shop in 1948.

For more vintage ski inspiration click here.

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Si Leong Chan, a London College of Fashion student,  has created a series of  unusual menswear jackets surrounding the theme of “Hug Me”.

In Chan’s words, the collection “makes use of hand movement especially the hug to express the (dis)connection between people to people. “Hands” are the key point of the collection and a very figurative object to express this abstract idea.”

I particularly like this jacket’s group hug humor. Its intricate construction is worth admiring too. To see more of Chan’s Final Major Project for Fall 2012  including beautiful concept sketches and the fashion show click here.

Photography: HILL&AUBREY Model:Tom Nelson

To see more fashion inspiration click here.


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After the Second World War a group of relocated Latvian writers founded a literary magazine called Jaunā Gaita in their new home – Canada.  Jaunā Gaita translated means “the new course” and is still published today.

Traditional Latvian arts are often graphically incorporated into the distinctly modern magazine cover designs. I am particularly drawn to the covers below perhaps because they allude to textiles. Their bold graphics and colors are appealing and timeless.

The covers are a mine of design inspiration and I can foresee dipping into the Jaunā Gaita archive again for future blog posts. For more textile inspiration click here.












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Dutch apparel designer Maartje Hoogland has come up with a cycling themed collection she calls “Valsplat”. (I can’t figure out how it translates into English so if anyone does, would you share it here?)

Hoogland’s collection was inspired by the colors of the rainbow jersey, features found on cycling jerseys and the “whole circus” surrounding bike racing.

Her knit dresses are really great, but I feel her cut and sew pieces need a bit more polish and attention to fit. Overall I love the way she’s translated the World Championship rainbow stripes into non-cycling fashion. For more about Maartje Hoogland click here.

More cycling inspired fashion here and here.

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Ten years ago I was obsessed with staying at a Swedish ice hotel. The closest I came was having a shot of Aquavit in an ice cube glass at Quebec City’s ice hotel bar, running my mittened hand over the deerskin blankets that covered the beds and freezing my toes off gawking at the amazing and abundant ice sculptures.

My obsession has shifted to craving a stay in one of the lofty tree houses at the Treehotel in Harads, Sweden in a forest high above the Lule River valley.

Treehotel was inspired by the film ”The Tree Lover” by Jonas Selberg Augustsen. It’s a tale of three men from the city who want to go back to their roots by building a tree house together. “The Tree Lover” is a philosophic story about the significance of trees for us human beings.

Each architect-designed “treeroom”  is unique and was built with minimal environmental impact using eco-friendly materials and energy solutions.

The stunningly, almost invisible “Mirrorcube” is hidden among the trees and camouflaged by reflective glass that reflects its surroundings.

To prevent birds from flying into the mirrored walls, they are clad with infrared film. The color is invisible to humans, but visible to the birds.


“The Blue Cone”, which actually is red, is based on simplicity and accessibility, both in terms of material and design. Its traditional wooden structure, with three foundations in the ground, gives the sense of height, lightness and stability.


“The Bird’s Nest” is my favorite. Its exterior is nothing but a gigantic twiggy bird’s nest that disappears into its surroundings. The sleek interior defies Its rustic shell.


Cast in durable composite material that is both strong and light, “The UFO” is the complete opposite of The Bird’s Nest with its space age sleek shape and porthole windows.


To access “The Cabin”, a cube-like capsule, one must traverse a horizontal bridge among the trees. There’s a splendid view from its rooftop deck.

The Scandinavian-modern interiors are ingeniously compact and cozy looking and do not give the impression of being too cramped. They even have bathrooms. Treehotel’s website has more photos and nice floor plans for each “treeroom”.


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Kathleen from Fashion Incubator blog pointed me to an article that a meteorologist friend of hers posted on her Bad Mom, Good Mom blog about the global environmental impact of raising cashmere goats to feed the western world’s insatiable desire for garments made from their luxurious fiber.

Little did I realize that the soft and lovely cashmere sweaters in my closet were a cog in the wheel of global warming. Her post has stuck with me for many months and I feel compelled to share it with you as winter sets in and holiday shopping begins. Sadly it all really makes sense.

photo: © Ellen Warner (

In her post titled “The Planetary Cost of Cashmere”, which I strongly urge you to check out along with all the links attached to it, Bad Mom, Good Mom writes,

“The global dust belt has not received as much press as the global fashion weeks so you might not be familiar with this story. Occasionally, dust can be injected into the jet stream, a fast-moving river of air that circles the globe. Asian dust ends up in north America, American dust ends up in Europe, European dust ends up in Asia and so on.

The Sahara desert used to be THE major source for dust, but there are other smaller seasonal sources, such as glaciers grinding rocks in Alaska. The amount of dust is rising, and global dust season is lengthening due to both growth in dust sources (industrialization and desertification) and lengthening of local dust seasons.

In recent years, Mongolia has become a major source of dust. The Gobi desert is spreading up into the Mongolia Steppes and the goats did it. Or rather, we did it, with our collective lust for cashmere.”

Photo: The Green Backpack

So what do the goats have to do with it? Here’s what The New York Times article “Pastoralism Unraveling in Mongolia” says

“Sukhtseren Sharav has a herd of 150 goats and 100 sheep, and as they chew their way through everything else, and the sharilj spreads, he must shepherd them ever higher into the mountains to find fresh grazing land.

The lack of foraging terrain is not Mr. Sharav’s only worry. The price for cashmere, the wool made from the fleece of his goats, has plunged 50 percent from last year. The price of flour, his most essential food staple, has more doubled.

These are hard times for Mongolia’s cashmere industry, which provides jobs and income for a third of the country’s population of 2.6 million and supplies about 20 percent of the world’s market for the fluffy, feather-light fiber, prized for its warmth, delicate feel and long wear.

To compensate for low prices, herders have been increasing supply by breeding more goats — a classic vicious circle. Mongolia’s goat population is now approaching 20 million, the highest ever recorded.

Environmentalists and social scientists say this is destroying biodiversity and pastureland, and undermining herding livelihoods. But goats are hardier than other livestock, breed faster and can survive on sparser resources: so, the more the land is degraded, the more herders are driven to switch from cows, camels or other less destructive herds — another vicious circle.”

This is a tragedy for the herders with global consequences. Aerosols are a strong feedback to the global radiative budget. In plain English, this means that dust traps heat. This can have both local and global consequences as the trapped heat changes the global air circulation, impacting storm patterns, heat waves, etc.

With all this knowledge I feel guilty about my cozy cashmere collection and realize that I need to take good care of those sweaters since I won’t be buying any more new ones.  Whether you are consumer or manufacturer I urge you to carefully consider the global impact of purchasing or manufacturing cashmere garments.

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The 1972 Münich summer Olympics were darkly overshadowed by the Palestinian terrorist attacks and murder of Israeli Olympic athletes during the games. But forty years later Otl Aicher’s Olympic posters are a bright reminder of those tragic games.

German born Aicher, led the team that designed the 1972 Olympic posters. He also designed the logo for the ’72 games, a pictogram system of stick figures used for public signs that has become the standard throughout the world, and the first Olympic Mascot, “Waldi “, a multi-colored dachshund.

Colors chosen for the posters reflected the tones of the Alps. The mountains in blue and white made up the palette of colors that also included green, orange and silver. The colors are as fresh and exciting today as they were in 1972.

Twenty one sports posters were produced by Aicher’s design team using a technique called “posterization”, a process which separates the tonal qualities from the images. Today this effect would be easily achieved by Photoshop, but back then it was painstakingly done by hand.

Here is a small selection of the twenty one 1972 Münich Olympic posters designed by Aicher.

Read more about  Otl Aicher - For more posts about Olympic inspiration click here.

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T.G.I.M.! (Thank goodness it’s Monday!) After a long hard push getting my perennial gardens in order last week I’m ready to be back in my studio today. I’ve been eradicating invasive monsters, weeding, dividing, transplanting and edging in anticipation of the arrival  this week of a dump truck load of composted manure and mulch.

It’s a pleasure each evening to survey my day’s work and see the progress I’ve made. But there’s so much more to do, including planting the vegetable garden now that the danger of frost is hopefully past. So blogging will take a bit of a backseat until I can get the dirt out from underneath my fingernails. In the meantime here are a few garden photos that inspire me – regardless of how far fetched they might be for northern Vermont’s zone 3. Enjoy!

Via: Flickr

via: Karla Akins

Via: John Glover Photography

Via: Christopher Baker Photography

Via: Flickr

Via: Home Design: Martha Stewart

Via: Flickr

Via: John Glover Photography

Via: House to Home 

Via: Georgina Mirphin Garden Design 

Via: Golden Age Gardens

Via: The Complete Kitchen Garden

Via: /0/” target=”_blank”>Steve Messam

Via:  Small Rooms

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If you follow my blog regularly you know that I am transfixed by anything with an alpine theme: edelweiss, cowbells, dirndls, snowflakes, schnapps and cuckoo clocks. So when in the midst of my April ski tour in the alps we descended into Zermatt, Switzerland for the night I immediately went out and window shopped. And I do mean “window shop”. Our group had skied from Italy to Zermatt, carrying just what we needed on our backs, staying in mountain huts along the way. Alas, it was impossible for me to fit those amazing hand-stitched pony hide boots with the skier on them, or the equally cool Luis Trenker daisy shoes into my already stuffed pack. But I did get my fix of alpine themed paraphernalia even though I didn’t carry any of it back over the mountains with me!


Dynafit skis – love the edelweiss!

hand screened scarves

Sweet bag

Wouldn’t want to get these dirty

So cool!


Bogner in-the-boot stretch pants with retro photos

So many great textiles

These shoes wouldn’t fit in my pack…

Fantastic packaging

Pillow inspired by paper cut design

Matterhorn shaped chocolates

For more about my alpine adventure click here and here.

For more “Alpine Inspiration” check out my Pinterest board here.

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One of the highlights of my recent ski trip traversing the alps from Italy to Switzerland was staying in the new Monte Rosa hut. The old Monte Rosa hut was a lovely stone structure with painted red shutters built in 1940, and is my romantic idea of the perfect mountain refuge. When I caught sight of the sparkling angular architecture of the new hut as I skied down the Grenzglacier I was unexpectedly delighted by what I saw. Called the “Bergkristall” (mountain crystal) it’s modern design blends into its snowy and icy environment.

Built by the Swiss Alpine Club in 2009, it is a wonder of self-sufficiency. Isolated by mountain ranges and glaciers it sits alone at 2,883 meters and is accessible only by skis in winter, and foot in summer. The building’s shiny aluminum clad exterior is broken up by a band of windows and south facing photovoltaic panels. A small supplemental heat and electricity unit runs on rapeseed oil. Meltwater, collected in the summer and stored in a rocky cavern above the hut provides hot and cold water. Waste water is purified in a biological microfiltration plant and uses the grey water for flushing toilets. Surplus water is cleaned and returned to the environment. The new Monte Rosa hut is 90% self- sufficient.

The warm timber framed interior defies it’s cold metal exterior. The supporting timbers in the sunny dining room are digitally carved with lines that resemble the rings of a tree, or the contour lines of a map. The meals served by the hut keepers were surprisingly delicious. Tucked into my wooden bunk and covered with a duvet I slept like a log.

Photos Via

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