The story of the $1300 Poncho

$1300-Poncho_3Snoop shopping is fantastic in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Long gone are the days of coyotes with bandanas! Designer labels and art-to-wear where abundant when my husband and I were there last Thanksgiving. At Santa Fe Dry Goods, I had great fun trying on Issey Miyake jackets. Then I discovered Sophi Hong who uses mud dyed silk for her luscious coats and jackets. I used a few of her little details on my recent black shirt like the stitches on the placket indicating snap locations.

My generous husband bought me a number of fabulous things at some of the other stores (I guess I’m not going on a ready-to-wear fast anytime soon). Then at one store I spotted a big pile of knitting on a lower shelf and pulled it out. It was a soft, squishy, lovely, yummy big armful of yarn that turned out to be a big poncho with a pouch pocket. I was in love, and slipped it on…more in love. Cashmere I asked? No, it was 50% alpaca and 50% merino and it was hand knit AND 1300 dollars! I eyed it up for a minute and folded it back up. I can make that I thought to myself.


How often we say that and don’t ever take the project on, but when I got home I started planning. I decided that Blue Sky Bulky Alpaca Naturals was the identical yarn. I bought one skein locally to swatch and plan the pattern. This yarn is a super bulky and I finally went with #17 needles and about 7 stitches for 4”.


After planning and swatching, I ordered 23 skeins just to be safe. It took 20 for the poncho I made, and took about 30 hours of knitting. Those stitches were pretty hard on my hands and I managed to knit about 5” per 2-hour movie.

I tell all of this because it is interesting to note that $1300 is not an inappropriate price. The wholesale price for a $1300 piece of clothing can be calculated to at least half of retail at $650. I received a bulk discount at, however the yarn still cost $217.50 (I’m sure a designer can get this yarn for even less). Then I knit for 30 hours. Even at $10.00 an hour that would be $300 and at $20 an hour we are way over the wholesale target. I’m not even including designer showroom and rep costs or shipping.


Wow, it’s no wonder hand knits are so expensive. I’m going to go hug my poncho…yummy!

Painted Shoes

Painted-Shoes_2I have been working on multiple projects this week, including these painted shoes. My BSF and another friend, artist Karen Ramsey, came over to my studio to paint fabric, aprons, and shoes. We had a fantastic time with lots of creative energy! The fabric is still a work in progress, but Karen is a wonderful artist and sketched with paint on an apron for me and a piece of fabric for Debra. I also have a piece of fabric in progress, that will show up at a later date.

Last fall I bought a pair of these relatively inexpensive Aerosoles from DSW. They were so comfortable, especially for a shoe with a bit of a wedge heel that I ordered two more pair to paint. That was at least 3 months ago, but with two friends to encourage me, I finally tackled the project.

We pulled out all I have of Jacquard Neopaque and Lumiere and started painting. I’m proud to say we were fearless! Painted-Shoes_4I wanted one pair to work with my favorite browns and oranges without completely eliminating the black (since I often wear black pants). Painted-Shoes_6The other pair I plan to wear with jeans and maybe a red sweater. I often buy red shoes, but they are usually with black without the denim blue accents. I think I will wear the earth tones constantly especially in March when we get to the transitional weather.

Ichi-on-PonchoNext week I’ll show you my $1300 Poncho (of course I didn’t spend that!) as soon as I can get my cat off of it.

Shirt of My Own Design! (almost)

Black-muslin_Front One of my goals for this year is to alter or make my patterns to suit what I really want. Last year I made a cotton shirt from McCalls 6436 that was fairly successful in appearance, but had some fit problems that were mildly annoying when moving or sitting. The body simply didn’t have the flow and ease I desired for a wearable shirt. I’ll be honest, I could just wear knits every day, but there are so many incredible woven textiles in the market that I wanted to solve this problem.

I recently saw a photo of back of the Zelida blouse by Lafayette148 ($398 for a white blouse?!) and fell in love with the flow of the back pleats and yoke. The McCalls blouse didn’t have a yoke, but that seemed easy enough and off I went into alteration mode. This blouse took several weeks to make since in the end I made significant changes to every single pattern piece! I can honestly (and legally) call this my own design.

I added the yoke and pleats to the back and changed the hem profile. It’s now longer in the front and curved in the back. The front and back pieces also required shape modifications resulting from the added pleats and hem.Black-muslin_Back

I changed the collar to a one piece with a different shape so it could sit up at the neck.Black muslin_Neck embroidery

I changed all of the darts to better fit my body and reduced the shoulder width for fit.

I removed the traditional front placket and designed an interfacing instead so I could inset a trim detail. The red boxes are the stitches to hold the snaps.Black muslin_Detail

I removed the cuff and redesigned the sleeve hem.Black-muslin_5

I added besom pockets to the front to hold my phone and glasses.Black-muslin_Pocket

It should have just been a muslin with all of these changes. However the lovely stretch cotton fabric was very forgivable and the shirt began to shape up. Since it was wearable I decided to experiment with some added details like the grosgrain ribbon trim and a small appliqué embroidery element on the collar.

Black muslin_Neck embroideryI can think of several changes that would be fun additions, but for now I think I have a new TNT!

Sunsets and the Lake Placid Sweater

My first blog of the New Year! It took me a number of days into this year to start writing, but not because I haven’t been creating. I received a new camera for Christmas and it took me quite a few days to get used to the new features. The High Dynamic Range shooting feature is fantastic! It takes three photos at different settings and combines it into one photo with near perfect settings. Here is an example taken from the backyard looking toward the Rocky Mountains.web- It was a spectacular sunset, but my eyes saw purple, pink and orange in the sky and reflective snow in the foreground. Just like this:Backyard-0115

I use photography for documentation rather than as an art form, however I will be taking a class at Anderson Ranch this summer, so I hope to get a little more involved with my camera.

I did finish my Lake Placid sweater I showed in progress in December. Yes, I did name the sweater after the movie with the mega-gigantic alligator. The actual name of the pattern is Flet which was designed for the new yarn Woolfolk Far.Lake-Placid-1 It’s a chainette type yarn so I was hoping that the pilling would be less, however those little balls are unfortunately showing up everywhere. Despite that issue this is very soft yummy yarn that feels almost like cashmere (its high quality merino) and is a beautiful color. I think the chained rib details add a beautiful touch to fairly simple raglan pullover pattern. Lake Placid Sweater DetailIf I made this again it would be about 2” longer, and maybe an inch shorter in the sleeves. While I have become better at picking knitting patterns that fit, I think it’s time to start comparing measurements of sweaters I love and altering the new patterns before I knit them.Lake-Placid-Sweater-2My next knit is a poncho made from a super bulky yarn. I couldn’t resist trying on a very expensive hand knit poncho ($1300!!) in Santa Fe over Thanksgiving. WOW, it was sumptuous! I couldn’t get it out of my mind, so I’m recreating my version from memory and I can’t wait to show you!