An outfit for the Armistice

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An outfit for the Armistice

2018 marks the 100 year anniversary of end of WWI and our friends with the Royal Sussex Regimental Society invited us to attend a WWI event they were participating in at Ringwood Manor in NJ.   I personally much prefer the slightly fuller silhouette that was in fashion in 1916-7 vs the slim skirts of 1918 so I went with the “I still have clothes from two years ago in my closet” theory.

Skirt


I was doing this on a short timeline with limited brain cells (SHOCKING I KNOW) and decided to phone it in and buy commercial patterns. BEST DECISION EVER. For the skirt I bought Past Patterns #9384 Ladies’ Three or Four-Piece Skirt

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This is one of those historical patterns that only comes in one size, not mine. I just figured out the number of inches I needed to add total, divided by the number of seams and spread that amount around to each seam. A skirt like this is fairly easy to scale up. I think I ended up adding 1/2″ to each piece edge.

The fabric was a cotton shirting from Fashion Fabrics Club, lets just say I wouldn’t order from them if you want your fabric within the month. It was a painfully slow shipping/customer service/getting here experience. I think they walked it from their warehouse to my doorstep. But it washed up beautifully and had just the right amount of body for this look.

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I believe I can fly…

I really enjoyed the silly “wings” the second tier on the skirt creates. I did not bother to put pocket slits in the funny hanging tabs. It just felt like why put in pockets that will hold at most a chapstick.

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Look pensive Robin..

My one note on this pattern isn’t negative, just be aware it is a very wide waistband and that will come up…high. I know who’d have guessed? But when you’re short waisted to begin with, be prepared to tuck your tatas into your waistband. Perhaps not my most flattering life choice.

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baby got back

Blouse


For the blouse I got white seersucker from fabric.com and the Wearing History Elsie blouse pattern. Lately I’ve seen a lot of people making this blouse, and I love how it seems to sit a little bit differently on everyone, so even though they’ve all been white they still all look different.

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I did sewn gathers vs a drawstring at the waist and I did sew down my facings as floppy loose facings make me batty. and lumpy.

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I made the blouse first so I tested how it looked with a skirt with my 1904 suffragette skirt (balls I never blogged that either did I? someone remind me…) And I think I like the look better with a skirt that doesn’t quite come up to my chin. My fitting assistant was very encouraging.

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It has four vintage buttons that came from my mom’s sewing box, they’re some kind of cut metal. I dunno they looked pretty and the mother of pearl buttons I ordered for the blouse were way too grey.

Finishing Touches


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The earrings are my very favorite grape clusters from Dames a la Mode and Adrienne nicely lent me the hat when I TRAGICALLY FORGOT MINE.

I had to do a little mini photo shoot to show off my hat. This time I dressed it as a suffragette outfit with my brand new Dames a la mode custom pin in suffragette colours! (yes they’re the British colours, yes I find those more attractive). This stunner of a hat was made by Amanda who makes all the best hats.

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Group Photo!

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The Scarlet Pimpernel

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The Scarlet Pimpernel
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They seek him here, they seek him there, Those Frenchies seek him everywhere

Wherein my husband is a very “good sport”

Or at least that’s what my mother persists in telling me constantly.  Jenny-Rose and her family (they’re all just as amazing and talented but I don’t think they have blogs…) decided to host a very swanky 18th century dinner party called The Pimpernel Dinner, and one cannot have a Pimpernel Dinner without well a Pimpernel. So who’s got a husband with great acting chops and will wear whatever he’s handed? *looks around the room*…*crickets*…shit I’m making menswear again aren’t I?

Now I’m really not a fan of menswear making for a few reasons.

  1. I don’t get to swan around in the results and look pretty.
  2. Men are strangely shaped with bits in places. BITS I SAY.
  3. Pants.

The Inspiration:

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And that sassy pose

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They seem to have suffered microcephaly a lot though.

One of the things I like about this period in menswear is how patently ridiculous it gets. You do see some matched three piece suits, but more often then not it’s a free for all. My friend Ginger nicely picked up some silks in the L.A. Garment district for his jacket and breeches and I found some fabric for the waistcoat online. What I didn’t have a lot of was time (we’ll leave out the part about the party being announced like a year in advance or that I committed to two major events two weeks apart and that was probably maybe my fault…I said we won’t discuss it).


Breeches:

I was trying to keep the budget for this monstrosity to within semi-reasonable levels. I splurged on the silk so one of the ways I save money was to re-use a pattern I had for breeches that was just slightly off period. a68ec9e4f1a67f1d7a0571bf977ae08c

Technically this pattern by Country Wives is for 1800-1825 but the narrow fall is close enough and I was working with what I had.

I shortened the legs, then tried him on the victim husband and took in the legs till we reached foppish-vacuum-sealed and added knee bands. My knee bands gaped just a tiny bit…so bows.

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Waistcoat:

I used the pattern I draped for his Mr. Darcy waistcoat and added to the length and front width. Re-drafted the collar. It’s really a beautifully embroidered waistcoat…too bad you can’t see it worth a damn. I should have just skipped it.

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after party shenanigans


Coat:

For the coat I did spring for a real pattern and bought Laughing Moon 124. A word to younger costumers, when you’re choosing where to invest and where to cut corners. Sometimes if you don’t have the right sleeve pattern it’s worth the money to pay someone else.

Lets take a moment to appreciate the absurdity of the collar. I meant to cut it down to be more proportionate to Rob’s average height, but 11pm Robin forgot. So absurdity it is! For next wearing I would like to properly finish it with all the called for buttons, shorten it about 2″ and shorten the sleeves an inch. But considering I did zero mock ups and just made it…I got away with highway robbery in terms of fit.

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how DARE YOU MADAM! With Modern Mantua Maker.

His stockings were borrowed from my closet, Amanda gave them to me for Christmas a few years ago so I can’t be sure, but knowing her shopping habits they’re from sockdreams. (regardless of these stockings another highly recommended shop). And the absurd pointy shoes were from target the night before. Yeah the costume gods smiled on me on that one.

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There was stiff battle required to save the champagne!

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With two of our three beautiful hosts

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I happily re-wore my copper open robe and feel beautiful

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Did I mention the location was stunning?

Wow you’re still reading? Colour me impressed. Thank you to Ginger for getting fabric in LA, thanks to Jenny-Rose for styling his delightful hair and thanks to my husband for always being a good sport.

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Pineapple stitch, or a stitch for all seasons

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Pineapple stitch, or a stitch for all seasons

What is a pineapple stitch?


I learned very basic knitting in college and then put it down for *mumblty* years because I got distracted by something shiny and wandered away, but a few years ago I started to get the historical knitting itch. Largely based on seeing the amazing projects Katherine was always making. Top on my list was a knitted pineapple reticule.

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The famous Kyoto knitted pineapple reticule

Popular starting around the turn of the 19th century up till the 1840s several extant pineapples exist as well as a few versions of the pattern. The most commonly used pattern is from Jane Gaugain’s The Lady’s Assistant for Executing Useful and Fancy Designs in Knitting, Netting and Crochet Work (1840).  “I could never knit one of those though right? that looks really complicated”

 

Incorrect! Once Katherine talked me into facing the pattern…why it’s actually quite simple! The same basic stitch makes both the leaves and the knobby, bumpy, whatsits. The body is knit inside out and you offset the rows. If you learn the one stitch you can knit the whole thing…and that’s when a new world opened as I realized…that stitch? It pops up everywhere in historical knitting. And why not? It’s easy, it’s versatile and if there’s one thing living history has taught me it’s that the crafty ladies who came before us? They were very ingenious at making things LOOK more complicated then they are.

When done flat pineapple stitch makes up as a chevron. The first rows are pulled into a zig-zag edge by the decreases. On the pineapple this makes the top edging. But on other projects this is used as the bottom to give trim a dagged edge.

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So without further ado I present to you the examples I’ve come across of what I’m calling “Pineapple stitch” stay tuned to the end for the simple instructions so you too can knit adorable lacy edges.

Reticules


This one is fairly logical. Of course someone said “oh I love a spiky bag with those funny knobby whatsits but I dislike pineapple colours what else can I do”

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A navy spiky reticule sold by Ruby Lane. This example has two beads on each whatsit.

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Another “spiky” pineapple stitch reticule from the V&A museum 1800-1829.

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Rainbow reticule 1800-1849 at the V&A museum. This one has no beads and unlike the pineapple reticule it’s not worked inside out for the section with the whatsits.

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Knitted reticule sold on Ruby Lane. I’m not 100% sure this is the same stitch as I can’t tell in the photo but I suspect it is. And I enjoy the jingle bell on the end.

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All yellow spiky reticule sold by Meg Andrews Auction.

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Reticule 1810-1825 from the MET. I shall call it the flying saucer reticule

Petticoats


I know this one seems a little farther afield but bear with me. The bottom rows of this Godey’s knitted petticoat pattern? The exact same stitch as the pineapple.

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Godey’s 1864 knitted under petticoat pattern

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Knitted petticoat from the Missouri Historical Society. Those five bottom pattern repeats? you guessed it. Pineapple stitch.

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knitted under-petticoat from the Wisconsin Historical Society.

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Sample book of stitches from the V&A Dated 1825-1840. Top left corner is the pineapple stitch. Also to the right of it is a swatch for what the Godey’s pattern uses for the next band of trim. I suspect this knitter had that issue.

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My example of the Godey’s Patten

Knitted Talma


Do you feel like doing a metric TON of pineapple stitch? Well for maximum impact may I suggest the giant knitted talma?

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Peterson’s 1859 Knitted Talma

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1860s tintype of a woman in a knitted talma very similar to the 1859 Peterson’s pattern

 

Sontag


What really inspired this post was the trim I made for a recent sontag based on this tintype. The lace is a border of pineapple stitch followed by two stripes of “plain knitting” or garter stitch.

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Mid-Victorian tintype, the lace edging is pineapple stitch

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This is four rows or burgundy, a section of pineapple (I forget how many rows), four rows of burgundy and four rows of white. Then I cast off and sewed it to the edge.

How To:


And now the moment you’ve all been waiting for:

k1, yo, k3-5 sl1-k2tog-psso, k3-5, yo repeat to the end. k1.

If knitting in the round then just continue the pattern, if you’re knitting flat purl all stitches on the wrong side.

Okay let me write that out for people who might need more instruction. I’ve seen patterns call for between 3 and five stitches for the width of the repeat. It doesn’t matter as long as you’re consistent and they mirror.  I will use 3 stitches in the below example but you can vary as long as it’s consistent.

Most variations start with one or two rows of plain knitting often in a contrasting color. If you don’t want to do that just do a cast on in number divisible by your repeat. In this example divisible by 10 + 1 as you need the end of the repeat to be a yarn over.

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The bottom most edge is the cast on edge. You’re working bottom to top. So four rows of plain knitting in burgundy is the start of this pattern.

Yarn over, knit one, yarn over, Knit 3 stitches, slip the next stitch, knit two stitches together, pass the slipped stitch over the two knitted together. You’re creating a triple decrease. knit 3 stitches. yarn over, knit one, yarn over. Start back with your 3 stitches and repeat the pattern to the end.

Summary


I hope this helps make a fun lace edging and very versatile stitch accessible for some people. I will continue to add examples if I find more….Anyone seen pineapple stitch anywhere else?

Also does anyone know it’s real name? I mean I call it pineapple stitch but I suspect it has a real name.

And I have to thank the amazing Katherine for all her help both in this post and supporting a new knitter!

You win some, you have to laugh at some

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You win some, you have to laugh at some

Have you ever wondered what it would look like if an 18th century petticoat and a caftan had a baby? Well look no further than the new Simplicity Pattern #8593. You too can sport the giant-baby-bib look. I bought the pattern as it was on sale at the J and I was planning to attend a 1940s airshow. It’s from their vintage collection, dated the 40s and sounds perfect right?…well…let’s start at the beginning…

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Always be suspicious if there’s only one sample

I ordered some very smart white seersucker from fabric.com, two thumbs up washed beautifully and lovely hand. For being a white on white stripe it’s not even that see through.  Will order again.

One thing this pattern has going for it is speed. I chucked my fabric in the wash on Saturday at 1pm and with a dinner break, and internet farting around still managed to have a fully finished garment at 10:45. With the speed I sew that was fairly impressive.

So what’s unique about this weirdo blouse/poncho/Chippendale’s sized apron? It doesn’t have side seams. The idea is that you tie the back around the front and the front over the back. The sides over lap leaving a gap for your hamhocks erm arms to stick out. Lets say this does not work exactly as planned.

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Would you like to see all the way through to my nipple or shall I angle myself so you just get tasteful side boobage? I wore a camisole as I would with any girdled outfit (sophisticated ladies don’t believe in chaffing)…but one small breeze and the world could tell you if I’d remembered to wear my bra right side out.

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Gonna go out on a limb and say this was NOT my most flattering shirt to date

I made version D with a peplum because what I lack in hips I make up for in abdominal girth and thought it might be slimming. I think the tucked in version MIGHT have gaped less, but any time you moved it opened amounts varying from “tasteful side boob” to “why am I feeling a massive breeze.” Whole thing felt very disconcerting to wear because of said breeze. Like that nightmare you have where you’re in high school and somehow forgot the side half of your shirt.

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Hey baby, like my target camisole? I’m so period correct

I thought it might be more flattering if I tried it without the peplum? tucked in maybe? Perhaps the weight of the skirt waistband would hold the sides together more firmly and I’d feel less of a cross breeze?

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I’m too embarrassed by what I’m wearing to look at you in the eyes…hiding my shame

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I swear all I drank was tea.

That would be a big ‘ole NOPE on the more flattering.

 

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Pro tip, cardigans hide a multitude of sins. like errant side camisole.

A few final thoughts: Do I regret making this weirdly aerated crumb catcher? Of course not! Firstly it was hilarious to wear, secondly it was more of a “what on earth would that thing that looks good on paper actually DO in real life” sometimes you just get so curious. I could probably put some buttons in the side higher up and limit the gappage. But honestly I look enough like a linebacker without 4″ of shoulder sticking out after me. And in case you were wondering if fit was part of the issue I did try it on my friend Alice who is smaller than me to see if more over lap front to back would lesson the wind tunnel effect. Nope. Still a girl in a giant art smock ready for a messy lunch who’s very concerned with getting proper ventilation to her pits. In summary: I’d probably skip this pattern, unless you get really really hot in the side rib 28672562588_35ab77dc77_ocage and require extra breezes.

 

Copper 1790s Open Robe

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Copper 1790s Open Robe

Every year the Dallas Ft. Worth Costumers Guild hosts a stunning Georgian Picnic, and every year us on the east coast wish we were as cool. So this year Amanda and I decided we should have a knock off version here.  Think of it as the bag you buy on the street that’s by “Coach” but they spelled it with a K.


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We set a really wide date range as “Georgian” can go 1714-1830 if you really push it, so anyone who wanted to come could find an outfit. The location we picked was Historic Strawberry Mansion in Fairmount Park, Philadelphia (mostly on a random internet search and let me tell you it was perfection and they are SO NICE). As Strawberry Mansion was heavy remodeled in the Federal Style I decided I wanted something at the turn of the century.

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A well dressed man, the best of accessories

Years ago Amanda gave me this gorgeous copper silk that told me it wanted to be an open robe, then I just hadn’t had an event to make said open robe FOR and it languished…no longer!

Looking around I was heavily inspired by robes with elaborate pleated backs. What can I say I’m incapable of picking the easy thing.

I started with my basic regency bodice, which is a heavily bastardized version of the Simplicity regency pattern. Did two more mock ups than I would like to discuss and cut out the lining from plain cotton broadcloth. Then I cut a width of silk  a few inches longer than my center back length to allow for wiggle room.

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I started by folding the width in half. This silk was 40″ wide giving me 20″ of pleating on each side. But if you had wider fabric you could use deeper pleats or take them all the way to the edges. In the above photo you can see that the first time I pleated it up I went with more vertical parallel pleats and decided they weren’t as flattering as curving them.

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I promise it only LOOKS asymmetrical because I hadn’t trimmed it evenly…and got most of the way through and realized I had 10 pleats on one side and 11 on the other…I curse a lot then fixed it.

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From there it was a “simple” matter of carefully sewing down down the pleats. One at a time.

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After I sewed all the pleats down I laid the pattern back over the back and trued up the piece as it had skewed and stretched with sewing. I folded the side of the side backs down and top stitched them down so they would blend with the rest of the pleats. I hemmed the neckline, armscyes and sewed the two skirt panels together….then I was out of time.

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I had a 12 hour work day and then guests coming and the poor thing was going to be in the UFO bin forever…but did I mention how AMAZING my friends are? I walked in the door from work on Friday night and Carolyn and Taylor were hemming my skirt..and did I mention they’re hella faster than I am at hand sewing?

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TA-DAAAAAAA

Basically what I’m saying is I can claim like 50% of this dress. And I am enterally grateful to them because I felt SO FANTASTIC wearing it. My “turban” is just a strip of leftover silk. I’m wearing the Dames a la mode Jane Austen cross and new turquoise earrings.

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why is my mom always saying he’s such a “good sport”

 

 

I can heartily endorse everyone make an open robe as they are ridiculously fun to swan around in. We’ll just pretend that my hem didn’t get dragged around the lawn…

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And if you get the chance? VISIT STRAWBERRY MANSION

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and never take yourself too seriously

Thank you to Taylor, Carolyn, Adrienne and Amanda for photos!

Remember to shop small

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Remember to shop small

On this Small Business Saturday I wanted to take a moment to shout out to my favorite small costume businesses. This community of ours is rich and vibrant with many successful small businesses. When shopping for holiday gifts this year think about supporting some of these great (mostly woman run) companies.

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Want gorgeous jewelry? Taylor is the woman! Her collet necklaces are all handcrafted from gorgeous settings. Not only is she a true artist she’s one of the nicest people I’ve ever met. I wear her earrings to work on an almost daily basis. Cannot recommend her enough.

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Need a corset? or corset pattern? Redthreaded has you covered! My new 1860s corset is from her pattern and I LOVE it. Also one of the nicest people…sensing a theme here.

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I have a pair of their Connie shoes I wear with all of my 18th century stuff. I love the straight lasts and they have held up like iron for 10 years. 

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B&T have fabulous period correct fabric and their kerchiefs are my personal favorites

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Historic hair. All of it. The supports, the BANGS. love it. 

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Gloria makes lovely custom jewelry, another person who’s earrings feature in my work wardrobe regularly.

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Can’t have a historical small business list without AD. For all of your footwear needs!

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Okay so they’re not historical, but all of my favorite stockings are from them. 

So that’s my little reminder of suggestions. Do you have any favorite small businesses I should include on the list? Who did I forget?

Pineapple the third

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Pineapple the third

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Guys it’s possible I have a problem. But this time it isn’t my fault! I promised Jenny-Rose a pineapple last Christmas as a barter and thus ended up making my THIRD pineapple reticule. Which really is two more than most sane people make.

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I used the knitty magazine pattern which I really prefer of the two, but it’s the same thread as Amanda’s pineapple. I had a bunch left over. The gold beads are from Joann’s.

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This time instead of doing the bottom the same as the yellow fruit part I flipped it back around and knitted it as leaves. I added a bead to the decreases. I’m not sure that was the best place/method as they keep trying to pop to the inside. Clearly I didn’t get them in quite right.

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Overall I’m happy with this one. It’s a cute little purse. Holds a cell phone and a chapstick…you could probably fit a credit card in there too. I lined it with a scrap of cream silk, sadly I didn’t have yellow. I hadn’t bothered to line my other ones, and honestly it makes such a huge difference in the shape I went back and lined Amanda’s while at her house and will line mine before I use it again.