Sunday, April 16, 2017

knitting lisboa

Retrosaria (Portuguese for haberdashery) began as an online shop in January 2008. By the end of 2009 the physical location was opened at Rua do Loreto, in the heart of Lisbon. Rosa Pomar teaches classes at Retrosaria continues her field research of Portuguese textiles. As a result of her field work Retrosaria's Portuguese yarns are hand spun and dyed by skilled artisans using traditional tools and methods.Wonderful hand woven wool textiles and felted wools are available as well as traditional calicos. The usual wools are also stocked such as Jamiesons, Debbie Bliss, etc.and more exotic yarns such as Obrador Xisqueta produced from Spanish sheep in Catalonia. ecomodista spent an hour pouring over the indigenous yarns and textiles, and after buying various skeins, was pleased to learn that orders are often shipped abroad, and furthermore when there is time, a private session may be obtained with Pomar to learn the unique one needle technique of Portuguese knitting. 

Larada is a bulky knitting yarn produced exclusively from the wool of Portuguese Merino sheep, an indigenous breed found in the south of Portugal, especially in the Alentejo. south-central and southern Portugal. Literally,  defined as "beyond" (alémTagus river (Tejo). One of the largest cities is Tomar, created by the Knights Templar in the late 12th century. The Merino breed originated in the Iberian Peninsula, possibly before Roman times, and has always been highly prized by its finesse and softness.For centuries this Iberian wool was traded all over Europe while Merino sheep were subject to strict laws that kept the breed exclusive to the peninsula. The Portuguese Merino Breeders Association ANCORME verifies the origin and quality of the fleece used to produce this yarn.

Buildings clad in traditional azulejos/ceramic tiles are similar to the calico printed cottons traditionally produced in Portugal
photograph: from the mountains of Serra da Estrela, this lace weight yarn was traditionally spun for weaving.
photograph: Larada yarn and knit sample

photograph: another yarn shop, Lãs Imperial in Lisboa, closed when ecomodista visited

ChiCoração a shop near the cathedral, produces wonderful designs from Portuguese wool

photograph: colours of Lisboa

Friday, March 24, 2017

portuguese designers

While on the trail of Portuguese yarn, ecomondista discovered a wonderful boutique, ComCor near Avenida da Liberdad, where jewellery from Valentim Quaresma, clothing from Ricardo Preto, and shoes from Susana Traça who now works out of Milano may be found. Another young Portuguese designer, Ana Romero now in NYC, produces chic leather goods and are available at ComCor. Founded 5 years ago by Francisca Maltez, an architect, to reflect her interests in contemporary design and culture ranging from mid century furniture to clothing and graffiti, ComCor is on Portuguese fashionistas' lists.
photograph: interior of ComCor belies Maltez's architectural background
 photograph: facade of ComCor 
 photograph: interior of ComCor
photogrph: azulejos on building facade near ComCor
 photograph: hand knit cable sweater with gold lamé yarn at Ámélie Au Théâtre, a fun twist on Channel
 photograph: Ámélie Au Théâtre display window

Monday, March 6, 2017

bairro alto/principe real, lisboa

Exploring Bairro Alto and Principe Real in Lisboa on Saturday proved perfect. Vendors of local produce, honey, wines, and condiments filled the square's Mercado Biológico do Principe Real attracting chic locals and the random tourist. In this neighbourhood one may browse small boutiques offering Portuguese designers. Embaixada at Praça do Principe Real 26 inhabiting a turn of the 20th century building that is as alluring as it's vendors who stock only Portuguese products, including beautiful hand knits at Ecola.

photograph: carla breeze; farmers market Principe Real
photograph: carla breeze; boutique across the street from the Museu Nacional de História Natural e da Ciência Rua Escola Politécnica
photograph: carla breeze; street scene Principe Real neighborhood
photograph: interior of Lux Park Hotel, ecomodista's favourite minimalist design hotel in Lisboa
photograph: exterior azulejos (ceramic tiles) in Principe Real neighborhood

Sunday, March 5, 2017

50 shades of pink

Knitting is still hot, hot pink actually, as the pussy hat becomes entrenched after making the cover of Time Magazine and is scheduled to appear globally again on International Women's Day March 8. Appearing at demonstrations, town hall meetings (which are down dramatically this past congressional recess compared to when the Tea Party was setting the agenda instead of individuals terrified at losing their affordable health care and who are justifiably angry with conservative elected representatives who have health care paid by our taxes), or simply as personal political statement, the pussy hat is a  phenomenon. 

photograph: wayne decker, location: Marquês de Pombal Square, Lisboa, sweater stella mccartney vintage

The impact of an extensive sea of pink pussy hats at the Washington DC demonstration on January 21 to protest the "election" of a man known only as frump in ecomodista's household was instantaneous. The importance of this iconic knit hat was clearly established in images of  pink hats in DC, NYC, every state in the US and globally. Featured on the cover of New Yorker, and other media, the pussy hat represents not only feminism but humanitarian values.

Founded by Krista Suh & Jayna Zweiman of Los Angeles, the Pussy Hat Project see: provides instructions for knitting this hat, however flat which required seaming 3 sides. It became evident to ecomodista that variations were all about the ears, from crocheted hats to knit with shaped ears. Knitting in the round is most viable for the Continental method, so ecomodista quickly began experimenting, only to discover that the yarn was the critical element, that and using a smaller needle to give the textile firmer shape. The pattern provided below reflects these changes. The yarn was purchased in Münster, Germany at Violá, Ludgerstrasse 61 in the old city.  Known for their huge array of buttons Violá also stocks wonderful yarns produced regionally, and the yarn economodista purchased was quite chunky, a mohair, wool, and alpaca mixture for knitting with an American size 13 or 14 needle.

photograph: wayne decker, location: Parque Eduardo VII, Lisboa, sweater stella mccartney vintage (honestly I didn't run around all day posing in my hat)

On a size 10 circular needle cast on 52 stitches with chunky yarn usually knit with size 13 or 14 needle (60 stitches for medium and 68 for large), begin knitting in the round avoiding a mobius when connecting circle, ribbing k2 p2 for 10 rows, 12 rows for medium and 13 for large. Change to stockinette stitch for another 23 row, 25 for medium and 26 for large. Divide hat in half onto two needles, then turn inside out to knit with third needle the cast off, be certain stitches are sufficiently loose that one may use a needle in each corner when turning back to right side so that "ears" are sufficiently pointed.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

less is now more than ever: the Anthropocene Age 3

photograph: Lagerfeld for Channel

Katherine Martinko reports that Patagonia has commissioned a study to assess the impact of laundering fleece clothing. "Laundry is a surprising source of plastic pollution. Every time you wash synthetic clothes, such as fleeces, athletic wear, and leggings, minuscule plastic fibers are released into the wash water. These fibers are known as microplastics, since they fall into the category of tiny plastic pellets, fragments, and films that measure less than 1 millimetre across. These filaments are difficult to filter out in wastewater processing, ultimately infiltrating our oceans, to the detriment of marine life, and ultimately inside humans. A third of our food is considered to be contaminated by microfibers.

According to Chelsea Rochman, lead on a UC Davis study to understand how ingested plastic transfers chemicals to fish, "These fibbers are a bit longer, and they're loopy getting caught in the digestive tract" ultimately causing starvation even tangling around organs. see: 

Clearly microfibers are an even  greater danger than microbeads, causing The Guardian to refer to the issue as the greatest environmental hazard that you've never heard of when reporting ecologist Mark Browne's research. Major clothing retailers, who could specify fibers that do not have this issue, have largely ignored Browne's research. Interestingly, ecomodista had recently discovered polyester, a Marni skirt purchased on eBay, and was excited how rapidly it dried, but did of course wonder about the viability of such fibbers, aside from petrochemical production. see:

photograph: Fernanda Ly appears in Pringle designed by Fran Stringer
Patagonia, a major purveyor of fleece and mountain gear, is committing 100% of their Black Friday sales to the environment possibly the result of their research to assess shedding of fleece garments laundry. Their research found that jackets washed in top-loading machines lose five times more fibers than front loaders (reason enough to upgrade to a front loader, especially a Bosch or other super efficient machine). Additionally, older jackets shed more than newer ones (a conundrum for a company that asks customers to wear their clothing as long as possible); and that wastewater facilities filter out only 65 to 92 percent of micro fibers. Furthermore Patagonia states that there was no statistical difference between the amount of shedding from recycled and virgin polyesters. 

Another strategy for coping with microfibers is hand washing, since agitation causes the shedding of microfibers, but any one who wears fleece realises the improbability of such a task, although it's certainly viable for non fleece polyester clothing. Patagonia has long been a leader in mitigating environmental impact, and surely their scientists are working on this as we speak.

Monday, October 24, 2016

less is now more than ever: the Anthropocene Age 2

less less less while fashion at the moment is more more more
photograph: Chloe A/W 2017

Sadly, given the majority of human beings recognise our environment is unstable  due to our impact on it (resulting in the seasonless concept of fashion) and large corporate fashion conglomerates acknowledge the volatility, instability, complexity of our world, their response to this is to simply name new designers, who, most definitely have been formed by these conditions--Demna Gvasalia's work reflects these concerns conceptually, if subliminally, Chloe's Claire Waight Keller's love of knitwear which is often seasonless given extreme weather shifts. see Sarah Mower's interview with Gvasalia: 

ecomodista's ethos includes eschewing plastic bags (and has been shockingly inundated with paper bags in the Hamptons this autumn, when she forgets to bring one).  The small nylon shopping bags that fold/stuff are a great solution, but really there are so many wonderfully designed knit bags, it's inexcusable ecomodista has not yet made one. Louet has spun wonderful linen fibers, and although heavy, it is strong and of course hemp fibers are equally tough.

Plastic bags are a major environmental issue, even causing delays at Recology, an advanced recycling operation in San Francisco which has attracted global interest in mechanised sorting much finer than occurs at consumer level (a cost that should be borne by producers of consumer goods). In 2012, San Francisco banned plastic bags at retail stores, and Moore Recycling Associates estimates there are approximately 18,000 plastic-bag drop-off sites in the United States, many of them at supermarkets. ecomodista can not conceive of a better reason to knit at least one shopping tote or a handbag that has such dual function.


Another strategy for reducing consumption of fashion, electronics, etc. is repair. To repair a knit Tasha's blog, Turn Stale Bread into French Toast is an excellent guide. see: Patagonia has offered repair days for years, when consumers of their products may return with repairs or mends. What a lovely concept. Founder of Patagonia, Yvon Chouinard has long advocated  a business model and products that have environmental safeguards, using recycled materials, producing products made to last, and repair instead of replace.
Tom van Deijnen's mission is The Visible Mending Programme which is"to highlight that the art and craftsmanship of clothes repair is particularly relevant in a world where more and more people voice their dissatisfaction with fashion’s throwaway culture. By exploring the story behind garment and repair, the Programme reinforces the relationship between the wearer and garment,  leading to people wearing their existing clothes for longer, with the beautiful darn worn as a badge of honour. By writing this blog, running darning workshops and taking repair work commissions I provide mending inspiration, skills and services to people and hopefully persuade them that shop-bought clothes deserve care and attention too, just like a precious hand-knit. see:
photograph: recycled detailleur on ecomodista's recentlyacquired 1972 Puegot
The Swedish government is introducing tax breaks on repairs to everything from bicycles to washing machines so it will no longer make sense to throw out old or broken items and buy new ones. Sweden’s ruling Social Democrat and Green party coalition has proposals before parliament  to slash the VAT (Value Added Tax) rate on repairs to bicycles, clothes and shoes from 25% to 12%. It will also submit a proposal that would allow people to claim back from income tax half of the labour cost on repairs to appliances such as fridges, ovens, dishwashers and washing machines.“We believe that this could substantially lower the cost and so make it more rational economic behaviour to repair your goods,” said Per Bolund, Sweden’s minister for financial markets and consumer affairs and one of six Green party cabinet members. see: