February 9, 2014 The Art of Crochet

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The story of our hand crochet Mirabelle Dress begins in Peru, with four talented women.  It takes the four women five days to make just one dress, and countless hours of experience perfecting every tiny stitch.

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One of the women has been crocheting for as long as she can remember, learning from her mother and grandmother.  Today this woman runs the hand crochet business in Peru that supplies our Mirabelle Dress (and many others!).  She finds crochet to be calming, because she is able to do most of it “without thinking too much… her hands just do the work.”

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Today, she gets to enjoy doing what she loves and making sure this beautiful art form is carried on by future generations. She makes sure that the people she employees are educated in a wide variety of crochet stitches and techniques, so they too are able to make a living from doing it.  These wearable hand crochet pieces are more than fashion, they represent a cultural heritage, a lifelong passion, and a remarkable form of art.

 

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January 30, 2014 Anticipating the Sun with Light and Color

Paradoxically when we are in the depths of winter with the mercury plummeting outside, designers are thinking about clothing for sun-drenched days. Trying to evoke this mood when the snow is a foot deep and you are wrapped in several layers of clothing means creating inspiration boards to ignite the heat of warmer days ahead.

Inspired by the exquisite John Singer Sargent watercolor exhibit at the Museum of Fine Arts Boston offered a wonderful doorway through which to step to start the design process. The incredible skill with which he captured sunlight and color immediately transports us to another time and place far from the winter outside. The exhibition brings together the watercolors he selected to be shown in the United States in two exhibitions in 1909 and 1912, and displays his completely mastery of the technique. Sargent’s friend and biographer said that “to live with Sargent’s watercolors is to live with sunshine captured and held.”

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Color Inspiration from John Singer Sargent’s ‘Corfu Light and Shadows’, 1909, and detail.

Sargent’s skill in watercolor makes the paintings seem almost as realistic as photographs from a distance, but as you step closer, the individual colors that create the illusion are clear and brilliant. When viewed at very close quarters they are even more beautiful, and were the starting point using paint and mixes of colored thread and swatches to inspiring new blends of color and texture.

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Color inspiration from ‘The Cashmere Shawl’. Mixed thread inspirations from detail of shawl and pointelle lace swatch. The figure is silhouetted against an earth toned wall. We love a distressed plaster wall, and the soft mauve browns in the background are exquisite counterpoints to the pale neutrals in the drapery. Perfect hues for high summer.

Watercolor paintings, even when blown-up in scale, always seem to be completely harmonious. Mixing yarns in little pieces of crochet is a perfect way to decide on combinations.  The best results will each be worked into a garment where sometimes over 30 different colors are used – even seemingly “solid” colors may be plaited with a complimentary color to create intriguing new blends. The small circular motifs were the start of an idea for patterning on a cardigan.

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Inspiration from ‘Carrara: Lizzatori’, 1911. Crochet color swatches, yarns and illustration.

See the John Singer Sargent exhibit next at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, March 2 through May 26.

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January 18, 2014 Knockin’ Round the Southwest

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The bold graphics and carefree vibes of the Southwest were the perfect embodiment of our Spring 2014 collection, so we packed up and headed to Arizona!  The hot, sunny days in the desert were punctuated by glistening lakes (yes, believe it or not!), whimsical plants (more than a few of us experienced the attack of the “leaping cactus”), enticing legends of lost gold and mountains that seemed to pop up out of nowhere.

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Whether you’re the adventurous dive-right-in type or the relaxed observer, the Lost Dutchman’s State Park should not be overlooked.  You’ll feel like you’re in a Dr. Seuss tale as you wind through trails overlooking whispy, cartoonish cacti and shrubbery.  And then out of nowhere—bam!  The Superstition Mountains jet up from the desert terrain, looming closer than anything to the blazing sun.  Maybe you’ll even stumble upon the infamous Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine…or at least hear one of the many tales surrounding the lost gold.

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Just around the corner from the Park, you’ll discover a theatric ghost town—complete with real cowboys and all.  Have a gander at the 175 year old Saguaro cactus that stands in the center of the town, or wet your whistle at one of the old-timey saloons.  If you’re lucky, you might even catch sight of the train winding its way across the vast terrain.

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If you need a break from the constant dryness, you can drive a couple hours outside Phoenix to Lake Watson—a sparkling oasis of water right in the middle of the desert!

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Temperatures were magically lower near the lake (a welcome relief after a few days of roasting in the sun).  We battled fierce winds—and even lost one of our hats in the bottom of the lake—but that’s not typical.  The gorgeous glacial-looking rock formations and glistening water were well worth the journey!

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By night, we explored the historic, art-lined streets of Scottsdale, soaking up the culture with a burrito in one hand and a margarita in the other!  Our entire crew was wowed by The Herb Box, founded by a local chef-duo.  We couldn’t keep away!  They didn’t miss a beat—amazingly creative FRESH food (with fabulous vegetarian options!), inviting yet posh décor, breezy open-air patios and delicious, unique drinks developed by a local mixologist.  What else could you ask for? …How about a live band playing on the patio?  Yes please!

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January 8, 2014 PC’s Pants: a Small but Mighty Collection

Motorcycle Pants in the December issue of Women's Health.

Motorcycle Pants in the December issue of Women’s Health.

At Peruvian Connection, we currently only have a total of 11 pant options, but what we lack in quantity, we make up for in style! Our Motorcycle Pants, shown above in Women’s Health, are an especially flattering and versatile pair.  Here are a few of the recent comments about them:

OMG Incredible
“Style+++, fit is incredible and unbelievable comfort all in one hot pair of casual pants. They’re ‘Where did you get those pants!’ pants. They are slimming but forgiving. Definitely my go-to pants for going out. Please PC offer them again in more colors!!!”–jojazzy, PA

Best Fit ever for Pants!
“These pants hug all curves and can create curves that usually can’t be seen. I’ve got legs that aren’t too skinny & aren’t too muscular, but no rear. These pants looked wonderful and gave me a lift like no other pant I have tried. 5’5” 119. I usually wear 4 & I considered all the reviews written & I bought size 2 which was a perfect fit.”–Renee Michele

Our Paloma Skinny Pants are another pair winning lots of praise:

Indigo: Think CHOCOLATE!
“The description may say Indigo but that belies the true glory of this color palette. It’s actually chocolate brown, taupey tan, with a dusty blue webbing. Those colors, as combined, are absolutely divine and extremely versatile…
What more can I say? Oh, actually, I can say something more. As with everything from PC, the tailoring and construction of this garment is impeccable.”–StillFabulous, NV

The rest of the small group is getting plenty of 5-star reviews as well. The Spring collection will soon be here, with another crop of curvaceous jeans, printed pants, as well as some fabulous striped trousers…stay tuned.

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January 3, 2014 Weaving Lives, Engaging History

Handweaving a manta at CTTC in Cusco, Peru

Handweaving a manta at CTTC in Cusco, Peru

Join PC in exploring the vital traditions of weaving, spinning, dyeing, and knitting in Peru’s highland communities. Nilda Callañaupa of the Center for Traditional Textiles of Cusco, Peru (CTTC), along with Catherine Joslyn, author of “Children of the Inca”, will conduct a public lecture at 6:30 pm on Thursday, January 9 in the Atkins Auditorium of Kansas City’s Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art.

Mark your calendars for Friday, February 7,  for a unique Trunk Show of handwoven CTTC textiles, plus ‘El Mercado’, highlighting local artisans and various Latin American goods: Mattie Rhodes Center, 6-9 pm.

 
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