This week one of our designers went out on a date with our friend and fellow blogger, Marty Wombacher. Marty’s embarked on a tour of 365 New York bars, visiting one a night, sampling a few beers, and writing up an enjoyable review. It seemed Marty could use some company on one of his excursions, so our designer, deserving a break from all the hard work of being on Project Runway, met Marty at his place with butterflies in her stomach, before heading off to one of the hottest date bars in New York, “The White Rabbit”. As you can see, he was a gentleman and most attentive host….

Marty has a book out called, “99 Beers”. It’s about an earlier bar crawl where he visited 99 bars on his 2 week vacation from his night job and lived to tell the (often hilarious) tale. To ask Marty about his books and follow his exploits, you can visit his blog: http://www.aguywalksinto365bars.com/ Thanks, Marty, for a lovely evening!

Here’s the cover of The New York Times Magazine for Mar 28th. Someone seems to be missing. Who’s not there?… Ah, it’s Tiger…. Perhaps he’s also out on a date with a doll…. He’s thinking of coming back for the Waste Management Tour, and while golfers miss him, I’m not sure everyone in America is ready for him to come out of the Woods just yet. We may all be holding our breath….

Here we have a New York Times Travel Style Magazine too, something definitely worth a flip through.

Ohhhh, Alice’s caterpillar!

Some gorgeous foliage….

Mmmmmm, paper doll collage! Now we’re talkin’!

And look at this lovely fluttery dress made of vintage silk Balmain scarves by the Paris-based label E2. It’s charming, unique, reused…

and best of all?… It fits!!!

I think it’s time for all the caterpillars to become butterflies….

“Designer, that lava butterfly dress is HOT.”

“I think the proper term is, ‘Smokin”!”

“Yes, and it has a nice flow to it….”

“It looks expensive too, with the diamond broach and shoes and the contrasting combination of fabrics. It doesn’t look like you only spent $6 at Food.”

“I agree and I’m also liking the Tiger butterfly outfit with the Nike hat.

“Well, thank you everyone!”

“Good work, Designer, you’re IN. You can leave the runway.”

Wow! Check out this house, featured in The New York Times Magazine, for March 21st. It was built by a couple who found an unlikely spot (an old sandstone quarry in Festus, Missouri) and moved in, accessorized it, and made it their own. Next time I’m in the market for a cave I’ll be sure to check eBay!!

I wonder what the building inspector had to say, let alone Planning and Zoning.

I’m going to do something similar this week with the cover of the magazine: move into it and customize it to my liking….


“Yes, Tim?”

“We have a surprise for you today.”


“Uh-oh is right. We’ve decided to have you make a second outfit from the same cover this week, with no extra time or budget.”


“Whoa indeed, AND we’d like you to pick one page from inside the magazine to make a third look as well. Two of the outfits will be for your model and one of the cover looks will be for you.”

“Wow, I’d better work fast, I don’t have much time!”

“Ok Designer, but work thoughtfully, you only have one chance at this. Ok?”

“Ok, Tim.”

“Ok… work, work, work. I’ll see you on the runway.”

“Wow, Designer, you’ve really hit it out of the park today. This is great!”

“What’s the story with those sort of sneakers?”

“Those are newfangled, modernist, bunny high-tops.”

“Very cool. These looks are fabulous. You seem to have a way with menswear and the accessories are to die for!!”

“Thanks, I feel good about the looks I’ve created today.”

“Well you should, Designer. You should be very proud of yourself. Well done. In fact, you are the WINNER today! You’re IN. You can leave the runway.”

“Whoopee! Thanks!”

Everything I need for inspiration this week is in The New York Times Men’s Style Magazine.

Now here’s a guy who looks like he’d rather be wearing something fun!

How about these looks by Dries Van Noten and Thom Browne for example? You’ve got yellow edged with black, some diamond and plaid patterning….

I happen to notice both these fellows are wearing socks. A lot of the models in the magazine don’t seem to have any and I know a lot of sock knitters who’d probably be more than happy to help them out.

Here’s the cover from The New York Times Magazine from March 14th.

Hmmmm, yellow and black. I don’t know about you, but I’m beginning to see a bit of a thread here.

I’m finding it difficult to find words to to express my passion for this suit from Alexander McQueen’s fall 2010 collection. It’s wonderful that he invented such beauty. I wish he could have continued to lead a creative life. I love the way he married a large scale print with the clean lines of this slim suit. His stunning confection is thoughtfully paired here by Suzy Menkes with William Morris’s Acanthus wallpaper from 1875.
I think it’s relating to this braided wheat and dandelion “Nouveau” pattern by Jennifer Sampou, as well, which I happen to have in these two related colorways. While I’ve loved these fabrics for years, I found them difficult to wear, but see now they can definitely be used to magnificent effect.

“Designer, how are you doing?”

“Pretty well, I think, Tim. I’ve got some great covers to work with this week.”

“Yes, I agree… striking color, some rich tonalities….”

“I’m thinking I want to cut my garments very carefully, to do some impeccable tailoring for this challenge if I have time.”

“Ok Designer, but don’t try to do too much. Simplicity and clarity are important factors too. I’ll let you be. Make it work!”

“Thanks, Tim, I will!”

“Designer, this is the oddest looking getup you’ve sent down the runway yet. What happened?”

“Well, I was thinking about the curved shapes in the print in Alexander McQueen’s beautiful suit. I looked at the cover I had to work with and thought I’d feature those nice curves in the golden T. I cut the bowl shape in half along the median to make two crescents, but they were different sizes, so I didn’t have the desired symmetry and ended up offsetting them. I made two shapes out of the top of the T also, again by cutting lengthwise along the midline, but they came out being pretty similar and I couldn’t get a mirror symmetry by rotating them, so my efforts to make matched opposing elements to work with came to naught.”

“Designer, you did all this thinking, but you didn’t think about covering the human form in a flattering way.”

“And her boobies don’t show!”

“Well, yes Nina and Heidi, you’re both right, but I did try to go for flow, in hopes it would suggest fabric.”

“Hmmmm, I see that, and we do like your yellow and black number, but we’re disappointed in your homage to Alexander McQueen.”

“I agree. I really think so highly of him and feel he’s greatly missed in the fashion world. I hate to do an injustice.”

“That’s all right Designer. You gave it your all. You’re IN, we’ll see you next week.”

“Thank you so much.”

While The New York Times Magazine for March 7th is hotly debating the merits of electronic books on Kindle (“Shelf Life” by Virginia Heffernan) vs. The New York Times Book Review’s “Library Science” which extols the virtues of books printed on paper, I’m finding myself (a dedicated paper book lover, married to a former Knopf designer) not so interested in the debate, and captivated instead by the new home of the BodyVox Dance Center which is located around the corner from our shop in Portland, Oregon.

The BodyVox Company, formed by Artistic Directors Jamey Hampton and Ashley Roland (formerly of Momix, ISO Dance and Pilobolus) has developed a form of movement that is wonderfully creative, lyrical, accessible, humorous and enjoyable for all. BodyVox offers outreach programs to schools in the community, and as a result, children familiar with their work take obvious delight in the playful choreography at BodyVox concerts. The center offers a dance camp for kids, boom box ballet and break-dance for teens, modern and classical ballet classes for adults, as well as Laure Redmond’s fabulous Stretch Appeal class, which looks something like this:

(This is the first time all 12 of my paper dolls have been together, since I just finished making them all. They’ll soon each be available in their own kits with creative papers for budding fashion designers to work with, but first they need to get a little exercise.)

I attended the recent BodyVox-2 performance and found the quality of these skilled younger dancers to be excellent and the choreography to be fun and endearing.

I can’t wait for the next BodyVox concert, March 26-April 10, where the whole company will perform Smoke Soup.

Watching the dancers rehearse has been truly inspiring,

and the costumes Ashley Roland is creating for the Smoke Soup concert are beautiful and inspired too.

Imagine, Ashley Roland is not only a Co-Founder and Co-Artistic Director of the company, but a choreographer, dancer and costume designer as well! My hat’s off to her!

To find out more visit:  www.bodyvox.com

This week’s New York Times Fashion Magazine came with one of two possible covers, a natural version of Julianne Moore or a more dramatic one. My February 28th copy of The New York Times had the drama cover and I found the clothes featured inside to be a nice mix of the two extremes.

On the natural side of things, many top designers are creating structures that are softened or distressed this season. Here are offerings from Donna Karan and Ralph Lauren.

These more dramatic pieces in terms of color, by Thakoon and Proenza Schouler, also sport piecing, layering and asymmetry. Harry Markopolos,  who blew the whistle on Bernie Madoff and has just written a book about it, used the term “redisorganizing” in reference to the newly fortified S.E.C., in this week’s New York Times Magazine. This amusing and enjoyable term (for a collage artist) might also have a use here….

And finally, a softly structured, detailed dress made of intertwined ribbons, alongside a more organic feeling one, are both layered in unique and striking ways by Calvin Klein. Note how even the blouse by Alberta Ferretti, shown with the ribbon dress, is asymmetrical.

Calvin Klein and I have a bit of a history together, though we’ve never met. My first textile agent in NY was named Ken Cornet. I visited him when I was twelve or thirteen and he told me that Calvin Klein had come to see my colorful geometric patterns three times (I was so excited!) and had stared at them intently while no doubt grappling with his next move. That was 1969 or 1970. Calvin Klein’s next collection and much of his work in the early ’70’s was beige and mint as I remember it, mostly solids with an occasional simple stripe. I always felt I had a tiny bit to do with helping him formulate his plan, since in studying my work, he ended up running in the opposite direction!

Here’s a stunning look back to the early ’80’s. If this model photograph by the Australian photographer, Robyn Beeche doesn’t look like a paper doll, I don’t know what does!

And as additional inspiration for this week, here’s clothing that blends in with the furniture. The first naturally colored pair have woven strips in common, the second set share high drama, both have elements of asymmetry, and the others echo a bit of flare and some interesting angles….

I’ll do a natural outfit (who’d ever have thought I’d spend quality time with the young Republican who flipped both Massachusetts and the Senate)  (snip, snip…)…

and a more dramatic one….


“Yes, Tim?”

“We know you had a long illustrious career as a freelance textile designer in NY before you studied Graphic Design at Yale, and we know you still have passions for pattern and fabric.”

“Yes Tim, that’s very true.”

“Well, we have a surprise for you….”


“The February 21st issue of The New York Times Magazine is loaded with textile patterns and for this challenge in addition to making your usual cover look, you can shop the whole magazine for any prints and materials to work with that strike your fancy.”

“Wow, how exciting!”

“Spring is here and we want you to celebrate the explosion of flowers you’re starting to see in Portland with pattern and color and exuberance. We’ll take a ten minute shopping trip to Food where you’ll have a budget of $6.00 for the Seattle edition of The Sunday New York Times.”

“Ten minutes?”

“Ten minutes is plenty of time! Come, come everyone, we’ll have a fabulous shopping experience!”

“Designers, your ten minutes are coming to a close. Make sure you have everything you need.”

“All right Designers, time’s up. Bring your purchases to the register and check out with the lovely Ashley.”

“OK everyone, is everybody finished? It’s time to go back to the workroom. Thank you, Food.”

“Thank you. Thank you”

“All right, I see you have lots of materials to work with that you’ve gleaned from inside this week’s New York Times Magazine. Of course your cover look will be separate, but feel free to mix any of the other  patterns for your additional looks. I caution you as always to not let your work get too costumy, but I do want you to enjoy mixing up these elements.”

“OK Tim, thanks, I’m on it!”

“Designer, how’s it going?”

“Well, Tim, I think it’s going well.”

“With so much to work with, I think it’s important that you use your editing eye. This dandelion wallpaper is fabulous, but it’s out of focus so probably won’t be as useful as some of the other patterns.”

“I know, I’m having second thoughts about the leopard skin too. I thought I might use it for a cape or trim but even re-appropriated, it still sends a message, and I don’t want to condone working with fur when there are so many other terrific options.”

“All right Designer, I’m going to leave you to it. Good luck on the runway. I hope you end up with show stoppers and not train wrecks.”

“Thank you Tim, me too!”


“All right Designers. It’s time for the show. I’ll see you on the runway.”

“We think your cover look is lovely, but we hear you have more for us in store this week.”

“Yes, Michael. Here are the rest of them.”

“Designer, I see you’ve done one of your typical romps through fashion history, and you’ve been around the world a few times in your mind as you were working on these pieces.”

“Well yes, Heidi, that’s true.”

“This is a fun collection, Designer. I see a movie marque in there, Machu Picchu, some adorably tiny heels on the red booties in the Tim Burton number, along with a large scaled knitted shawl inspired by Twinkle or Teva Durham. Also, you made a couple of interesting hats to top things off…. You’re IN Designer. You can leave the runway.”

In the past week or so we’ve witnessed breathtaking Olympic athleticism, prowess pushed way beyond what seems humanly possible, and also have been saddened by the tragic loss of the designer, Alexander McQueen, who expanded our notion of what’s possible in the rhelms of fashion, comfort and style. Perhaps the greatest result of such steadfast dedication to pushing boundaries is that we as a people see by the examples of such superhuman abilities, that we can step a little farther out of our comfort zones, can expand our own visions a little more, can push our own ideas in ways we may not have thought of before.

The February 7th issue of The New York Times Magazine features a beautiful photo essay by Ryan McGinley of Olympians on the move, dressed in clothing designed by Kate and Laura Mulleavy of Rodarte. Here’s the cover. Check out that fantastic fringe taking flight on Emily Cook’s sweater!

Oh man, Jeret (Speedy) Peterson as he’s never been seen before!

Rachel Flatt, Beautiful!!

An other worldly Hannah Kearney…

and the incomparable Johnny Weir…. It seems knitwear is definitely back!

This photo essay dovetails nicely with the Quicktake: Rodarte show, curated by Gregory Krum, at the Smithsonian Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum in Manhattan, February 11th through March 14th. You can see more beautiful pieces from the Rodarte collection at: http://blog.cooperhewitt.org/category/Rodarte/.

Alexander McQueen’s edgy work wasn’t loved by everyone. His designs weren’t always kind to women’s bodies (and sadly, he wasn’t kind to his own), but there’s no denying that he was incredibly creative and imaginative.

I’m loving the sea and butterfly influences of his recent collection. Here (as featured in The New York Times Style section from February 14th) he used digitized clown fish and butterfly wings to great effect in his patterning, and several weeks ago one of his lobster claw shoes was also pictured there.

Isn’t this what couture is all about, exquisite details and elaborate designs we probably wouldn’t wear for everyday dress but which flavor our daily outlooks on style and fashion?

For the Valentine’s Day issue of The New York Times Magazine, Amanda Hesser challenged a couple of creative chefs to put a modern spin on a chocolate caramel recipe from 1881. The result is what looks like a plate of oysters on the half shell, made of dates, walnuts and melted cheese(!), with a fascinating blow by blow of the transition from one dish to the other.

I’m ready for such a challenge myself! The February 14th cover of The New York Times Magazine features a photo montage by Carin Goldberg based on “George Washington Crossing the Delaware” by Emanuel Gottlieb Leutze, from 1851 (after an original painted in 1848).

I have the Olympics on my mind, so I will use this as a springboard to Johnny Weir, with his swirly sparkly spandex and his huge crown of celebratory red roses. The chefs used molasses as the underlying element tying their dessert to the earlier recipe. I’m keeping the flag for mine and I’ll slice the sword in half to make a couple of skate blades.

Perhaps my Grecian paper doll was one of the earliest Olympians.

Here’s Evan Lysacek, one of our new gold metalists, at the top of his game.

Well, I’m back and I had a wonderful time!

While you’re waiting for that double post, I thought I’d wish you all a Happy Chinese New Year Valentine’s Day. Valentine’s Day and the Chinese New Year both coincided this year on February 14th. We went out for Dim Sum to celebrate and I brought back a few papers from the restaurant to commemorate the event.

Here’s our special Valentine’s Chinese New Year card. By sliding the arrow you get a whole new view.

Stay tuned for more, later this week!

My friend, Abel Bazan, makes the most stunningly beautiful, full sized paper shoes. He is moving from Portland, Oregon today to work in Milan as a shoe designer for a couple of lucky companies there, a most exciting adventure!

While these particular lovelies are spoken for, he still has many other wonderfully stylish shoes available at a special sale price at the Beet Gallery in Portland (http://www.beetgallery.com/artists/a_bazan/a_bazan.html).

And I am heading up to the Madrona knitting retreat in Tacoma, Washington, to teach Jazzknitting this weekend (http://www.madronafiberarts.com). Look for a special double post next week when I get back!

Well, for a black and white cover, this one from the New York Times Magazine, from Jan. 31st, is pretty colorful.

I get it, really, a greenish black and white cover for a money article, a reddish one for a story about terrorism…. But still, as for nuance, I’m not exactly feeling it.

Actually, this is how I first saw this cover…

and the Oscar buzz gave me an idea. How about a red dress for the red carpet? Here’s an understated satin number….

Inside, I had another thought…. How about a wedding dress too?

The porcelain illustrations by Portland, Oregon ceramic artist, Kate MacDowell (http://www.beetgallery.com/artists/k_macdowell/k_macdowell.html), are for an article on the views of ecopsychologists, who believe damage to our psyches results from the damage we’ve caused our environment. The article stresses the importance of re-sensitizing ourselves to keeping balance in the natural world, and to take steps to protect it from further destruction.

This hand sculpture is lending itself to an elaborate back to the earth, ballet slippered bride… just in time for spring in Portland!

“Designer, this is just glorious!”

“Thank you Tim, I hope the judges appreciate everything that went into it, my work and the fabric designer’s too.”

“Good work Designer, you should both be very proud.”