High-Style Hand Knit Woolens

Gaptastic infinity scarf hand knit by me!

I know, I know I wait until winter is on its last legs to share some wooly goodness with you. But rest assured, if you leave anywhere vaguely North the March winds are just as chilling as any other winter weather, so you still have a good few weeks to swaddle yourself in wool to keep warm. This year marks my return to knitting after a five year break. While my mother is a knitting expert, and I have an archive of one-of-a-kind sweaters she has made me since I was a little girl, I am a slow and imprecise knitter. I love making things, but I’ve never been able to retain knowledge about how to knit from one project to another.

However, for the second winter in a row I was seeing huge, soft, infinity scarves that engulfed their wearers in warmth and style and I wanted one. In December saw a grey, silky wool cowl at one of my favorite boutiques NOS in DUMBO, but when I inched in to look at the price I balked and declared, “I could make that!”

Another piece of wool I’ve been wanting to add to my collection is the perfect cable knit sweater. I reached out to my mother and asked if I might be able to commission such a sweater from her. In a beautiful marriage of technology and craft I put together a Pinterest board to share my cable knit ideas with her and she found a variety of patterns on Ravelry, a pattern sharing and social networking site for yarn crafters, for me to look at. Together we found the perfect pattern, which was in a book she ordered from Amazon! Ahh, the modern world.

Skeins of Bel Aire yarn for the scarf

While I was home for the holidays my Mom and I went yarn shopping and after considering various organic yarns for my sweater I wandered around the yarn shop, Grace Robinson in Freeport, Maine, and found the perfect yarn for the cowl of my dreams. It was thick and soft, like petting a cat or grabbing a handful of clouds, if clouds were warm. It was 100 percent Merino wool by Bel Aire and the color was poetically named “Philly Fog.” I bought 3 skeins. I admit I had the yarn before the pattern, but my mom found me the perfect pattern on Ravelry, the Gaptastic Cowl. As a note, the yarn I used was a big bigger than the yard suggested for the pattern, so my scarf is even chunkier than the one in this pattern.

Crackers the cat helped me wind the skeins into balls of yarn

I had to get a little help from LJ to remember how to cast on and encouragement from Sabine, but I actually remembered how to knit pretty easily and didn’t even need a lesson to remember how to pearl!

Knitting lesson from LJ at Cake Shop, New Years Day

Of course my mother, champion knitter that she is, finished an entire sweater before I finished my scarf, but by mid-February I have been able to wear my two new high-fashion, handmade woolens – my lovely cable knit, organic, Oatmeal colored sweater made by my mother, and my voluminous grey cowl, made by me!

My beautiful mom-made cable knit sweater with a thrifted, handmade shirt, Mavi jeans and Swedish Hasbeens boots

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Woodstock Chalet Weekend!

Relaxed chalet style: Built by Wendy jacket, cable knit sweater made by my mom, Mavi jeas, Swedish Hasbeens boots, vintage Coach purse (and unfortunately long hair!)

Imagine a place, not far from every day life, where you can let down your guard and truly be yourself. Imagine a place where you can dwell in a liminal space where you can give into your whims and be cocooned in warmth, friendship and peace. This place exists, on the map as well as in the imagination, in a tradition my friends and I have come to call “Chalet Weekend.”

View from my bedroom window

The place is a rental chalet that sleeps twelve in the storied town of Woodstock, New York. Woodstock has been a place of escape and a home to artists and counter cultural visionaries for over 100 years. The chalet on Happy Cat Lane is quirky in layout, with lots of impractical architectural details and exposed wood. Most importantly there is a fireplace and two huge, seductively soft couches, an open kitchen and comfortable beds. It’s on a quiet dirt road not far from the artist’s colony Byrdcliffe, which itself offers another kind of retreat from the world.

Wood fire, Bloody Mary, happiness

Hah hah.

Morgane makes cookies from locally made cookie dough, an easy dessert!

These pancakes I am making are somehow really funny (and I get to show off my Petit Bateau shirt, bien sur)

Two birthday girls means two birthday cakes (made by moi)! Tres leches with caramel whipped cream and coconut and lemon cake infused with Rosemary with Rosehip and Lavender frosting.

I used to hate on upstate New York, but now I’ve completely fallen under the spell of its gauzy light and rural charm. After the hectic grind of city life it feels a little bit like cheating to escape to the quiet woods for a few days. For me there is nothing better to combat the winter blues than a fire, cooking huge meals, celebrating birthdays and getting so absorbed in my friends and the present moment everything else just falls away.

Where do you go to escape the daily grind?

Hudson River, by Saugerties

Saugerties Lighthouse

Kayaks at the Saugerties Lighthouse

For the practicalities: you can find plenty of amazing homes for rent upstate (or anywhere) on Home Away, Air BNB, or VRBO (which is connected to Home Away). The cheapest car rentals in New York City tend to be from All Car Rent-a- Car and there is also the affordable and convenient Adirondack Trailways bus. My three stops in Woodstock always are: Sunflower Natural Foods Market, Bread Alone bakery (amazing organic bagels, pastries, bread, sandwiches and coffee), and Woodstock Meats, a butcher shop with artisanal meats and cheeses and chalet essentials like firewood.

Chalet weekend crew! (sans K.)

My Charming Darling Winter Ellips

Ellips day

I can be a rather impulsive fashion buyer. Actually, instead of impulsive, let’s say efficient. When I see something that speaks to me that I know I can integrate into my wardrobe and if the price is okay (even if it’s a little too high, but the object is worth it) I try it on and if it works, boom! Mine!

Cables!

My new Ellips boots with a thrifted skirt, American Apparel tights (layered over black Calvin Klein tights), a blouse from Uniqlo with a new cable knit sweater made by my Mom!

However, their are some wardrobe additions that I stalk for months, waiting patiently until end of season sales so that they are within my price range. This was the case with the boots in this year’s fall/winter collection from the fabulous, French shoe designer Priscille Demanche and her label Ellips. The first morning of her winter sale I pounced on the pair I had been eying all fall. Low and behold, they were already sold out in my size! Someone had bought the last pair of my first choice at 12:01 am the day of the sale. Well. That kind of persistence deserves the shoes.

Fortunately, I had a second choice, which was really more like a tie, all picked out. Voila, here they are, my darling bottines bleuette. Like my other two pairs of Ellips shoes (lovely red and grey low heels and some strappy, color blocked sandals) they are incredibly comfortable and I can wear them all day, trotting all around the city with a flash of unique color and style. What I love about these lace up ankle boots is they go with practically everything – slim jeans, skirts, dresses, you name it.

Debut de bottines Ellips! Cc @mhcestmoi

What I love about Ellips is that they are beautifully handmade in Spain from all natural leather and are clever takes on classics. As such they will always look fashion forward and will never go out of style. Definitely a piece that is worth the wait. And investment.

Hi hi bottines Ellips! Today is a great day!

As a note for US readers: If you are unable to order from the Ellips site using the shopping cart function (it may be set up only to ship to France) just email Priscille – she will arrange for payment via PayPal and get your order to you right away!

Winter Weekend Getaway

Growing up in Maine I looked forward to winter. I couldn’t wait for the pond to freeze to skating, the first snow that was enough to go skiing, and days inside baking and drinking hot chocolate. While my enthusiasm for winter has faded a little, mostly because it just seems to drag on a few months too long, I’m not a winter hater. However, every year I feel like I have to come up with new strategies to make the winter enjoyable, and go a little faster. When M. suggested a group getaway with some research and advice from friends we found the perfect solution: a weekend rental chalet in Woodstock, New York complete with a hot tub. Sold.

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Walking up the snowy Overlook trail

After a month exchanging a flurry of emails a group of 14 of us had planned a menu and a spate of activities. The best part of going out of town in the winter is that you don’t have to do anything. And we didn’t. The Woodstock chalet was an invitation to step out of our daily routine immerse ourselves in the secret world of the weekend. A curated selection of bad movies opened the weekend, followed by boardΒ  and classic NES games, cooking, hot tub soaking, and a walk up a mountain that some took all the way and others just enough to soak in the snow, quiet, and wind in the trees.

Chalet

Chalet Interior

It’s been a little hard to come back, because the weekend seems to be its own world with its own rhythms. But I think a tradition has been started and I’m already looking forward to next winter! There’s more pictures on Flickr.

Stew, Bloody Mary, Banana Grams!

Chalet Life: Homemade stew, bloody mary, Banana Grams

Winter Footwear

Trial run of Vivienne Westwood Anglomania for Melissa spakly galoshes