Excerpted from New York Post article by Raquel Laneri, 11/21/19.
A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, the biopic about the iconic Fred Rogers, has just been released to critical acclaim, and I’m so looking forward to seeing it. Who else could have been cast as Mr. Rogers except Tom Hanks, another well-known nice guy? I never really thought about Mr. Rogers’ famous zip-up cardigans until this evening, when I read an article that popped up in my news feed, all about the knitter who was selected to make identical copies of them. One of his red ones is actually in the Smithsonian now. All of them were Christmas gifts handmade by his mother.
Anyhow, meet Yasmin Esmek, a talented tailor who helps create costumes for operas, Broadway shows, ballets, and other productions.
Ms. Esmek now lives in New Jersey, but grew up in Germany, where she learned to knit as a child. She studied knitwear design at NYC’s Fashion Institute of Technology. She also had her own line of knitwear featured at Barneys. When she agreed to recreate some of Mr. Rogers’ sweaters, she first researched his work in children’s TV and thoroughly familiarized herself with his signature look. Her first task was to locate some appropriate yarn, making a trek to my absolute favorite yarn store, Webs of Northampton, MA. After making up swatches from the many yarns she considered, she and the costume designers chose a cotton, and determined which particular sweaters to replicate. Ms Esmek would knit 6 cardigans, 2 in red and 1 each in mustard yellow, purple, teal, and green. She made them all over the course of nine weeks in 2018. Two were made on a machine, to represent those that Rogers bought after his mother had died.
Can’t wait to see A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, as much to check out those cardigans as to watch some evocative acting performances! Thanks to the Post and writer Laneri for their fascinating story.
I’ve been aware of yarn bombing for quite a while now, the art of decorating hard urban spaces with soft sculpture, created by knitting, crochet, and other fiber arts. Until this afternoon, however, I had no idea that now there’s an official international Yarn Bombing Day, annually held on June 11. Also didn’t know that many individuals who’ve been involved one way or another with bomb-created violence object to the use of the word in this peaceful activity. “Yarn Graffiti” is one of the alternatives that has been suggested, but it still remarkable no to be seen if a change will be adopted. It would take time for everyone to adapt, one would think.
Anyway, I spent several hours surfing the net to check out the art installed in many of the locations around the world, and found a range of designs encompassing the simple to the original and complex. Lots of quirkiness and fun. Below I’ve posted my favorite creation, a small herd of lacy kangaroos, created by Nini &Wink. You can check them out over at Facebook, where they present their specialty, creating needlework covers for all sorts of objects.
These extraordinary cakes have been created by cake artist Leslie Vigil. Somehow she figured out how to mimic intricate embroidery stitches and designs using the medium of icing. As someone who is challenged by the mundane task of frosting a plain cake, I am truly in awe of this woman’s talent and ingenuity. To gain a true appreciation of the exacting detail in these patterns, enlarge the photos above.
Leslie enjoys “harmonizing textile traditions from different cultures” , in this case, Mexico and Russia. For more stunning examples of her work, refer to this brief article , which contains many more photos.
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This novel piqued my interest following the two recent royal weddings in England, which must have required prodigious feats of planning and organizing. Queen Elizabeth II’s own wedding took place seven decades ago, when she was still a princess and her country was grappling with the myriad deprivations caused by WWII. Discovering that the story was told from the points of view of the embroiderers of the wedding dress clinched the deal, and I raced through this fascinating book, enthralled by the details of the experiences of the ordinary women who created this most important gown. The narrative unfolds in two far apart years and places, London during 1947 and Toronto in 2016.
Norman Hartnell functioned as couturier to the royal family during the 40’s and 50’s, and he and his army of seamstresses and embroiderers would create Elizabeth’s top secret wedding dress, with much stress and drama along the way. One of these skilled embroiderers was a real life French refugee named Miriam Dassin, who later in the century would become world renowned as a talented textile artist. Miriam, who features prominently in the book’s historical narrative, will also play a role in the 2016 segments. The second is the fictional Ann Hughes, who takes her in as flatmate. Through their eyes, the reader experiences the making of one of the world’s iconic textile creations, the struggles of commoners during this prolonged era of deprivation, and the contrast between their lives and those of the aristocrats that cross their paths.
The modern narrative focuses upon a bequest made to Heather Mackenzie by her grandmother, a parcel of exquisite embroidered and beaded flowers. Her Nan had emigrated to Toronto from London in 1947, but since she had never mentioned embroidery to Heather, what was the purpose of the bequest? Her attempts to solve this mystery lead her to England and France, where she will serendipitously encounter Miriam Dassin, who had worked alongside Heather’s grandmother at Hartnell for a brief time.
Friendship, family, romance, struggle, betrayal, and glamour all coexist in the pages of The Gown, which is well worth reading by those with an interest in textiles, history, WWII, and the endless ways in which humans can make lemonade when life hands them a lemon.
Back in 2011, the now defunct Caron Connections website posted a brand new, truly original design for a crocheted throw with matching pillows. Don’t remember ever seeing this spiral pattern used to such good effect. Truly impressive! The very talented designer is Lisa Gentry. 8(US) hook, using worsted weight yarn.
Thanks to reader Sabrina, who brought the broken link to my attention. After a search of the internet, I was actually able to track down this great pattern, which is now available HERE.