Sadly, I’m coming to the end of my fabulous year of vicariously fashionable living. This blog has been lots of fun but the title on the cover of the July 4th issue of The New York Times Magazine kind of says it all.

There were some fresh and lovely patterns in the last couple of Sunday issues of the magazine. I’m loving the ice cream scoops by Jake Godby in all those glorious colors,

and this illustration by Leanne Shapton in the Sunday Styles section is fun too.

The July 11th cover shows an overview of The Old City of Sana, the capital of Yemen. Though the story is disturbing, the city is pictured as a beautifully layered study of lacy architectural details.

Here are other striking views, also by Simon Norfolk, from inside the magazine.

I also enjoyed the juxtaposition of these playful rehab treatments in Detroit paired alongside some needlepointed pillows inspired by Klimpt’s paintings.

“OK designers, we’re coming around to our last couple of challenges. You have two very different covers to work with today and also lots of nice additional material for other looks if you chose to use it.”

“Thanks Tim.”

“I know your minds are starting to wander on to future endeavors, but enjoy these last few weeks before your runway show which we hope will be a thundering success.”

“Ok Tim, we’ll get to work!”


“Designers it’s time. Follow me. Let’s start the show!”

“Whew, fun Designer! Your baseball dress is striking and your ice cream ingredient dress is reminiscent of the very first dress you made in this show, your Betsey Johnson ice cream cone dress. You’ve really come full circle.”

“Yes, thank you!”

“Have you given much thought to what you might do after your runway show?”

“Well, a wonderful publisher invited me to write a book on my Jazzknitting techniques. That was months and months ago and I have yet to submit a proposal. They were hoping for some patterns to include, even though many of the shapes that emerge in Jazzknitting are a result of following the dyer’s color changes in hand painted yarn. If you scroll down to the bottom of this picture, you can see the socks I recently made from a pattern, which have gotten me thinking about new patterns I can design to include in my proposal.”

“Hmmmm, pretty socks! I see you’re going to be busy.”

“I will be, but I’ll also be available if anyone needs me for special projects. First though, I have another blog post and then my big show!”

“Ok, we’ll be looking forward to those.”


“Designers, we have a new challenge for you this week. Are you ready?”

“Yes Tim.”

“Yes, yes!”

“Well, I’m sure you’ve all seen some pretty wild interpretations of what life is like on other planets, and I’m sure you’ve all seen futuristic fashions dreamed up on our own. This week we’d like you to come up with stylish and wearable looks that draw on otherworldly elements involving oceans of time and space.”


“You have two New York Times Magazine covers to work with this time. The cover from June 20th will lend itself nicely to a space age concoction.”

“The cover from the June 27th New York Times Magazine is also pretty futuristic, but in a fishy kind of way….”

“As an added twist, you will be perusing the fresh fish counter at Food for additional ideas for your looks.”

This challenge was inspired by an article in The New York Times Magazine on the warm blooded and magnificent, Bluefin Tuna, who’s time on earth may be limited due in part to the BP oil spill sullying their only Atlantic breeding ground, along with our ability to fish for them too efficiently.

What the article didn’t mention is that Tuna and all the bigger fish and sea animals who feed on smaller ones, are toxic with mercury from our industrial waste. Theirs’ is an incredibly tragic story.

“Designers, are you ready?  You’ll find a lot of smaller scale fish at Food to get you in the creative mood. You’ll only have five minutes to explore, so let’s go!”

“All right Designers. As you’re assessing your haul I want you to think about transforming your material into otherworldly but fashionable pisces, umm, I mean pieces, that, like all good design, will endure. I know it’s hard to imagine what future life will be, but you want these garments to transcend their original forms and coalesce into timeless wonders.”

“Wow Tim, this material by the photographer, Kenji Aoki, is SO beautiful!”

“Yes, I’m glad you like it. I hope you appreciate the gravity of this moment and create your designs with grace and reverence. Carry on, Designers. I know you’ll give it your best and hope you’ll all do swimmingly.”

“Ok, time’s up. Everybody follow me. It’s time for the show!”



“We think you’ve scaled new heights with this challenge.”

“Well, thank you, Michael!”


“Yes Heidi?”

“I’ve been meaning to ask you something. Are you one of the Naked Cowgirls in Times Square who’ve been moving in on the Naked Cowboy’s orbit?”

“Hmmmmm. I’m not saying yes… and… I’m not saying no….”

“I see. Well, we’ll see you next time. Bye bye!”

The June 6th New York Times Magazine features a Dutch soccer school which teaches young children the rules of the sport in preparation for their professional athletic careers.

I like to knit while I watch sports. Here’s my first ever completed sock that I made the week of June 6th, though I wasn’t exactly watching sports, I was watching movies! You can tell by the fact it’s a lace sock that I was watching movies without subtitles, though I love movies with subtitles too.

Another thing I can do when I watch TV is make braids for miniature rugs. The braiding is especially useful for sports that I especially like to watch, like skating, since once I start a braid I don’t have to look at it as I work. I have tried watching skating while knitting items I have to pay attention to and have found it’s entirely possible to glance at my knitting periodically and miss every jump in a skater’s routine. That’s why I’ve found braiding to be a better compliment to sports like skating, and as you can see from my collection of braids, I’ve watched A LOT of skating.

Last week, while not watching sports, I read The Help, by Kathryn Stockett, which I’d highly recommend. It’s about race relations in the American South, in the 1960’s. I was raised in St. Louis back then, just north of the Mason Dixon Line. I remember the Civil Rights marches my mother took me on when I was a little girl, trying to break certain social rules in hopes of making new ones. It was so hot we passed around Dixie cups of lemonade, everyone taking tiny sips.

Here’s a fashion spread from Bill Cunningham’s June 13th Style section. There are many rules in these bold geometries too: black and white exclusively rules, rules about symmetry, rhythmic rules and rules about making strong statements. I watched Bill’s accompanying video on The New York Times website where he took obvious delight in seeing these looks meander along the stripes of Manhattan crosswalks.

Here are a couple of other dynamic black and white fashions that appeared earlier this year in the same section of The new York Times.

The cover for The New York Times Magazine for June 13th, though blue (who ever dreamed I’d complain about color!) does utilize some of these same rules. You have symmetry in the centered typography and the six evenly placed views of our President in action. There are visual rhythms in the staccato of bold white letters punctuating the blue background. There’s even some interplay of Mr. Obama’s black suit slipping between white letters…

all of which brings to mind some of those aforementioned optic art outfits which are the inspiration for my challenge today….

I have rules for my game (this blog) too. One of my rules (though not specifically stated) is to make an outfit from the cover of The New York Times Magazine and post it before the next New York Times Magazine issue comes out. At the moment I am a whopping two weeks behind! I’m coming around the home stretch of my little marathon here, making these outfits for a whole year. I appreciate all the comments I’ve gotten so far, but think a little bit more of a cheering section (especially if you’re not a friend or family member(!)) could help me slog through to the finish line when I’ll have my runway show. I see the numbers people…. I know you’re out there!!

Cheers until next time.

The first time I saw M.I.A. (the rapper, Maya Arulpragasam) was on the televised Grammy Awards in 2009. She was dressed in maternity wear unlike any other. It wasn’t her radical political message that captured my attention, it was the fact that she was strutting around on her due date, singing her heart out, looking cute as a bug.

Here’s her New York Times Magazine cover for May 30th.

And here’s her sensational Grammy look.

Elsewhere in the magazine, I was intrigued by Pete Well’s confession that he’s been moving three unopened boxes containing 200 to 300 of those annoying eight-track tapes around with him for his last three moves where they’ve loitered in his various basements. He’d started his nostalgic collection after CD’s were already in vogue as a fond look back to earlier times and technologies.  I went from that article to one on the current trend favoring a rather retro interest in barefooted running.

I’m not sure I’d call these barefoot shoes cute as a bug in their muddy condition…. I can see it now, everybody sentimentally keeping boxes of sweaty sneakers packed up in their basements as a fond look back. I could understand it though, I ran in high school and college and loved it and remember my running shoes fondly, but I haven’t saved them in my basement.

Meanwhile, back to the runway….

Later baby!

“Designers, gather ’round. This week we have a fabulous surprise for you. First, I’d like to introduce our special guest who will present today’s challenge and will be with us on the runway to help judge your designs. Designers, it is with great pleasure that I present….

Vivienne Tam!”

“Hello Tim. Hello everyone.”


“First of all I’d like to say how delighted I am to be here with you today. This time we have an amazing treat and challenge for you. We’re taking you on a whirlwind, world tour to get inspiration for this season’s vacation looks!”


“We’re going to focus on ready-to-wear. You can use anything you find in this week’s New York Times Magazines, including ready-made pieces to layer into your own looks for travel, and into your runway looks as well. The folks at The New York Times Summer Style Travel Magazine have kindly provided ready-to-wear outfits for you and your models for the trip!”


“So, let’s get suited up so we’re ready to go.”

“Hmmmm, not your stylish best, but you do look kind of um, well, ready for adventure….”

“Oh, now these styles, on the other hand, are lovely!”

“Ok everyone, be sure to bring your drawing pads and cameras so you can collect plenty of ideas and materials, and then we’ll come back and create our collections.”

“Ok Tim and Vivienne, let’s go!”

Here’s the cover for May 23rd for The New York Times Magazine and for The New York Times Summer Style Travel Magazine.

“Our travels will take us to many countries.”

“We’ll see lots of colors and patterns.”

“We’ll eat fabulous food,

see pretty flowers,

and beautiful fashions.”

“And at the end of our tour we’ll spend an afternoon chilling at the beach, collecting our thoughts…

and then we’ll get down to business.”


“Designers, you’ve had a couple of extra days to pull your looks together, you’ve been to hair and makeup, you’ve sourced the accessories wall, and now it’s time for the show! Are you ready, Designers?”


“Ok, good luck, I’ll see you on the runway!”

“Well Designer, this is quite a show.”

“Thank you.”

“As far as ready-to-wear goes, the dragon dress is perfect, you barely altered it at all. The flower dress is good and the tile dress too, you really didn’t do much, just found them in among the patterns. Some of the others clearly required more work, so they weren’t exactly ‘off the rack’. What’s the story with the lobster dress?”

“I guess I was hungry.”

“Fair enough.”

“Well Designer….”

“Yes Vivienne?”

“There’s a lot of color up there. Personally, I’m responding to some of the more neutral pieces. I don’t know if you’ve seen my current collections but I used a lot of beige for spring and black for fall.”

“Yes, I was hoping that Mediterranean architecture dress had a kind of purity like some of your spring looks.”

“Thanks, yes, I liked it.”

“I liked the vintage crochet apron in the magazine which inspired my cover dress, and my first ever experience knitting lace socks this week, inspired the lace socks with the architecture dress.”

“Hmmm, interesting.”

“We think your dragon dress is the winner today, though it was hard to pick just one, and we like your own ensemble too. Good job.”

“Wow, thanks!”

This week’s metallic New York Times Magazine cover, and several of the images and illustrations within its pages, are inspiring me to commemorate some of the golden girls of design from an earlier age. Here’s the cover from May 16th.

Although this is clearly the ultimate contemporary American symbol, the waves in these stripes echo the striking beauty of the geometric Constructivist textiles designed in the 1920’s by Varvara Stepanova.

Fellow blogger Andrew Kuo’s stunning eye chart, open with worry, is reminding me of some of the illustrations from the Atelier Martine, Paul Poirot’s school for decorative arts which he established for young women in Paris, in 1911.

The colors and radiating lines in Andrew’s illustration are a little like these painted Art Deco flowers which were designed originally for embroidery in Paris, probably in the 1020’s, and the other paintings with their radiating lines and colors are from a workbook from Atelier Martine.

The stacked fine lines in this lettering by Greg Lamarche conjures thoughts of Bauhaus textile design and of fashion design from the 1920’s.

Take a look at these Bauhaus weavings. The carpet on the left is by Otti Berger from around 1929, and the wall hanging by Anni Albers is from 1926 or 1927.

These Russian Constructivist dresses show similar geometries to the weavings. The red dress was designed by Alexandra Exter in 1922 and the black one was designed by Luibov Popova.

Stacked lines and squares are key elements in this embroidery by Sophie Taeuber-Arp as well. She made this piece in 1928.

Sophie Taeuber-Arp and her friend Sonia Delaunay, both painters who’s work moved into the realm of textiles, formed a creative colony where artists could work together and share ideas. Imagine how glorious it would have been to work with them in their circle! Here are some of Sonia Delaunay’s graphic paintings for costumes and women’s fashions for the 1920’s and ’30’s.

It’s not hard to make a jump from Sonia’s work to this collage by Portland-based designer, Tsilli Pines, as featured in this week’s New York Times Magazine.

While Tsilli was inspired by our present day economy, designing women from our past were responding to industrialization and the movements in art it inspired like Cubism. Here’s a beautiful and classic ensemble with subtle Cubist inspired detailing by Louiseboulanger from 1932. Each of these artists were formulating their own visions for a modern (or in Tsilli’s case, contemporary) world.

“Ok designer, it’s time for the show!”

“Ok, we’re ready to honor our sisters from the past.”

“Wow, interesting, Designer. Where did you get all these great photos to share with us?”

“I have  a few terrific books on designers from the Industrial Age I’d  highly recommend: “A Woman’s Touch: Women in Design from 1860 to the Present Day”, by Isabelle Anscombe (Viking), “A Fashion for Extravagance: Art Deco Fabrics and Fashions”, by Sara Bowman (Dutton), “Sonia Delaunay: Art into Fashion” with intro and forward by Elizabeth Morano/Diana Vreeland, (George Braziller) (This one was designed by my husband…), and “Cubism and Fashion”, The Metropolitan Museum of Art (Abrams). I got my info and pictures from these great books.”

“We like your interpretations though the first dress is a little more Cubist than Constructivist. We don’t feel it’s very wearable but we see where you’re coming from. The rest are a little wild too but could work in a contemporary setting. Good job, Designer. We’ll see you next week.”

“Thank you.”

There are certain things in life one can never anticipate, not in a million years. Making couture out of a larger-than-life baby’s head, is definitely one of those things.

Here’s the cover of The New York Times Magazine from May 9th. As you can imagine, I took one look at it and thought, now what am I going to do with that?!

After a moment, I turned it upside-down, and I had my answer.

As promised, I’m featuring a couple more of my childhood paper dolls. Here are Jack and Jill. They were my first to have brads for moving appendages.

I also found my collection of doll paintings done when I was a little girl. I hope you enjoy.

See you all next week!

Hi everyone! I really hadn’t planned on this being a double post, but here it is.

This past weekend we set up at the Crafty Wonderland show here in Portland. We sold lots of our lasered goodies (pop-up cards, pop-up toys, optical toys and lamps) and some of my new lasered and ribboned jewels as well. I have these styles and more in mind, and will be putting them up on our etsy store over the next few days and weeks so check back often!

In the meanwhile I’ve gotten four fabulous New York Times Magazine covers and so am ready for a fashion show!

The Women’s Fashion Summer 2010 Style Magazine not only didn’t inspire (alas) but I found what I hope to be a disturbing typo. This image, reproduced in the magazine from Bettina Rheims’ 2007 book “Heroines” could perhaps more aptly be titled “Heroin’s”. If the title is not an error, I question the judgement of what we’re saying about women. This is as troubling as the fashion world glorifying a starving Kate Moss in the 1990’s. I remember someone going around New York putting little stickers on her posters that said, “Feed me”! My sentiments exactly.

This week’s Design and Living Style Magazine on the other hand is fabulous.

There are many wonderful images here to delight the eye and the imagination.

Miniaturists are always looking for ways to incorporate their collections into their full scale lives. This Fornasetti secretary desk brings a dollhouse to the living room in glorious high style.

There is a treasure trove of tantalizing textiles…

a couple of jazzily covered chairs…

and some designerly Swiss typography.

I didn’t have particular thoughts on what to do with the cover for The New York Times Magazine for April 23rd,

until I saw the perfect dress in this week’s Style section.

Here’s the terrific cover for May 2nd.

The aforementioned Swiss typography put me in mind of another typographic movement, Dadaism, which guided my thoughts as I collaged together this ensemble,

and other fashions from the other covers followed.

“Don’t tell me you’ve finished already and you’re still making more?”

“Yes, Tim. All these tasty fabrics were too tempting.”

“Designer, can I just say that this is looking dated to me. I would urge you to scrap it and just start over.”

“I know, I was starting to worry about it myself…”

“Oh, now this is fun. I like the typographic stockings. This is much better.”


“What is that you’re wearing?”

“Oh, just a little something I whipped up….”

“Well, that’s fun too, anything else?”

“Just one more….”

“Mmmmm nice… love those Turkish shoes… You know Designer, this is quite a collection you’ve made this week, but I think your evening gown is the real show stopper. It looks like it’s made of silk charmeuse. You’d never think you only had a budget of $6 at Food for the Sunday Seattle edition of The New York Times.”

“That’s part of the fun of it Tim, making that kind of transformation.”

“Well, I commend you on your efforts.”

“Thank you so much. That really means a lot.”

“Hi Designer, welcome back!”

“Hi Tim, it’s nice to be here.”

“Did you have a good show?”

“Yes, the Chicago International Miniature Show is fabulous! It’s amazing how all these people from all over the world come together year after year to share their passion for tiny details, and then disperse again back to their normal lives.”

“So much has happened since you’ve been gone. First of all, Seth Aaron Henderson won season 7 of Project Runway! As you know he’s from Vancouver, WA, just north of Portland, and I understand you have a friend who carries his line at a local boutique.”

“Yes, Anne Bocci has long been an appreciator of Seth Aaron’s work and has some of the actual one-of-a-kind pieces worn by his models at Bryant Park for sale in her beautiful shop!  Take a look, it’s very exciting: www.annebocciboutique.com.”

“Wow…. and what have you been up to design-wise?”

“Well, I got lots of my new paper dolls packaged and made up in their little beds with templates and creative papers, and brought them with me to Chicago where they were a big hit!”

“I bet they were!”

“This Saturday I’ll bring them to Crafty Wonderland at the Convention Center in Portland along with our pop-up toys and cards and lamps and my new ribbon necklaces.”

“I hope you’re not too busy to pretend you’re on Project Runway.”

“Not at all! Now that I’m back I’ve had a look at The New York Times Magazine covers for April 12th and the 18th and I’m starting to think about what kind of clothing I’d like to make from them.”

“Great! I understand there was a Design magazine in there too.”

“Yes, my favorite!”

“Perhaps you should have a flip-through to see if you get any cool ideas.”

“Yes, I’d love to….. Here’s some yummy furniture from Milan.”

“I like this flower power…

and these pretty blue dishes…

and I totally LOVE these paper shoes by Emilie Roca and this Klimpt-like Munnu Gem Palace cuff.”

“These delicate mushroom layers are pretty inspirational too, I have to say…

and I’m amused by this fanciful bird-footed table by Meret Oppenheim.”

“Well Designer, it looks like you have a lot to think about.”

“Model, what were you doing while your designer was away?”

“I was practicing for a water ballet.”

“What? That’s a surprise! You are a woman of many talents!”

“Thank you Tim.”

“Why don’t you two go up on the roof where we’re having a little party this evening. You can have a chat about your looks for this week, and then I’ll see you on the runway.”

“Ok! Thanks Tim.”

“Wow, Designer, look at you!”

“I know, I didn’t want all this fabulous color to go to waste. My model wanted something clean and contemporary and I agreed that would be a nice foil for the other looks, but then I had all this leftover fabric and started thinking along the lines of something Manchurian.”

“Well, you certainly are showing a nice range.”

“Model, are you pleased with your outfit?”

“Yes, I like it and I like these slip-on sneakers with their rounded toes and flanged tongues.”

“Mmmmmm. They do look kind of snazzy.”

“I like how your water dress seems to float a bit and I like the reference to a swim cap.”

“Thank you, Nina.”

“Your lace dress is beautiful, very delicate. Does that gather into sort of cuffs at the ankles?”

“Yes Michael, I wanted it to be feminine but also encourage movement.”

“That’s unexpected, I like that you’ve controlled the layering so it’s feminine yet practical.”

“Good job, interesting work this time. We’ll see you next week.”

“Thank you Everyone!”

I have a longtime favorite author, Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni. She writes prose with a poetic voice, describes silken fabrics and golden threads with tactile elegance, and infuses her words with the pungent sweetspice aroma of Indian flavors. The first book I read of hers was a collection of short stories called, “The Unknown Errors of our Lives”, a poignant description of a myriad of missed connections between caring, well-meaning people. I have since read the works of other Indian authors: Jhumpa Lahiri’s short stories in “Interpreter of Maladies” were especially moving, and I loved the darkly layered, rich complexities of  Bharati Mukherjee’s “Desirable Daughters”. Even Rohinton Mistry’s “A Fine Balance”, a brutal portrayal of the seedy underbelly of Indian society, had hard won moments of transcendent clarity and beauty. One of Chitra Divakaruni’s longer explorations is a book following the lives of two young girls raised side-by-side as siblings, “Sister of My Heart” and its sequel, “The Vine of Desire”, which follows their relationship into adulthood. Today I want to write about my friend Danielle, a sister of my heart.

The New York Times Magazine for April 4th features an article on Norris Church Mailer, the former model and last wife of Norman Mailer. In it she talks about her new book describing her long relationship with Norman, about living with his children from his earlier marriages, and about living with her own art and with art by other family members in her home. There’s only one picture of Norris in the article and you can only see one of her paintings, but I thought I’d share a couple of the other works Norris has which were painted by my friend Danielle.

Both of these pieces are from Danielle’s “Good Daughter” series in which she cradles a book of her father’s and clearly reveals a tenderness in their relationship.

I used to love sitting with Danielle in her studio, knitting and painting, and I used to love our long walks in the forest sharing secrets. Now we live with our families on opposite sides of the country but still have our studio talks by phone and still keep each other close at heart.

Born a day apart, we both started out as child artists, she painting elaborate patterns on kid gloves which she sold at Henri Bendel’s in New York and me making intricately patterned textile designs which I also sold in New York, to the trade. We didn’t know each other then nor when we overlapped junior year at Smith (living in neighboring houses), but met years later as adults in our tiny town in Connecticut. In time we returned to New York for a show of our figurative works in a gallery on Lexington Avenue.

While gazing at the cover of The New York Times Magazine this week, I imagine I can find all the colors of Danielle’s rainbow.

I will be away next week for the Chicago International miniature show where I’ll be offering my paper dolls, miniature buttons & wooden shops, www.bishopshow.com, and so will write a double post the following week using today’s fabulous New York Times Magazine covers plus other surprise covers yet to come. In the meantime, please visit Danielle’s site, and enjoy! www.daniellemailer.com


And PS, about the gay bunnies and the 450+ other species of animals that have been known to exhibit homosexual behavior (according to today’s cover story)… well… I hope these findings will give the antigay movement a thing or two to contemplate.