Saturday, August 18, 2007

De colores.

I spent most of the day Friday working on this:

My niece, who is already involved in more extracurricular activities than I ever was in high school, and who hasn't even hit kindergarten yet, will be performing in her baile folklorico recital on Monday. Sadly, I leave tomorrow and won't be able to see her, but at least I managed to finish this skirt for her to wear!

If you've ever seen a Mexican baile folklorico performance, you'll recognize the skirt that the girls wear and that are very much a part of the dance as they twirl the hem edges around with their hands...OK, this is very poorly described, but you can watch a clip here.

My sister asked if I would make the skirt since the one she ordered via Abuelita Express wouldn't get here in time (granny's on a trip to Durango and was supposed to bring one back but has been delayed). Sure! I said. I'd been wanting to sew something for the kid but didn't know her measurements, so this would be the perfect opportunity.

The pattern's Simplicity 3863. Looking at the pattern instructions, which don't run longer than a page, I smugly said, oh, this'll take about two or three hours. Ha! Oh, the hubris. Can you see why that guess was very, very off?

The ruffle. Oh yeah...Satan's invention, that ruffle was. Applying the ribbons was pretty straightforward, albeit time-consuming. Gathering the ruffle and setting it in place? Not so much fun.

But otherwise! The skirt's as "easy" as they buttons, no zippers, just two ties on either side. All in all, it was worth it just so that she can twirl with the others on Monday.

My sister asked me what my must-do things were before leaving L.A. We came up with the following:

  • The Knit Cafe
  • Pedicure (so cheap here!)
  • Bionico

We headed over on Melrose Avenue until we finally found the Knit Cafe. I averted my eyes from the help wanted sign on the door (it said "knitting experience required"! I have that!) and walked in with my nieces, sister, and brother-in-law. They wandered around while I handled, in a very star-struck, googly-eyed fashion, the sample knits from the book (Kat Coyle's pink dress! The pom pom awning! The cashmere shawl!).

I finally settled on two pretty skeins of Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sock yarn in white and bright pink, which is actually quite fitting because when I visited Purl Soho last year I bought some LL in white and blue, which turned into some very pretty ribbed socks.

I was a little too self conscious to have my sister take a picture of me there, but I snapped one of my niece, who was only too happy to ham it up while my brother-in-law wondered where the coffee was (it's the Knit Cafe, after all! turns out the coffee maker's tucked away and i didn't see it until just before we left):

Afterwards, we went to the Grove shopping mall, which was fun but also scary in that kind of pseudo/simulated small-town aesthetic that seems to be popping up in sprawling cities where no one ever gets out of their car (Austin has the Domain). The Grove has a "town square" that looks like it came straight out of a Gilmore Girls episode. The farmer's market at the end, though, was really fantastic--almost anything you can think of to eat. I had the best glass of lemonade, which I slurped down eagerly in the 95 degree heat.

We stopped in East L.A. for the much-talked-about bionico. My friend V., a native Angeleno, told me to make sure to have one for her. When I found out what it was--apples, bananas, strawberries, melon, raisins, granola, and coconut doused in sweetened condensed milk--I was more than happy to oblige. The shop we went to (whose name my sister can't remember, even though she took me there specifically because they do bionicos best, in her opinion), also had a dizzying array of ice cream flavors:

I guess I'll have to plan another trip to L.A. so that I can try the pineapple flavor! We finally rounded out the day with the pedicures, and my sister got one too, which was a nice treat. We sat side by side as my niece bounced around us, testing the water in the foot spa with her finger and checking out the acrylic nails on the hand mannequins.

I'll be back in Austin for a day and then off to Chicago for a week to check in on my mom, who had to have some minor foot surgery. And then the semester starts! Where did the summer go?

P.S. Thanks to close quarters with a five year old, I am currently obsessed with Charlie and Lola. Please tell me I'm not the only one.


At 11:15 PM, Blogger la rebelde said...

the folklorico skirt turned out so cute! your niece must be so excited.
isn't the Grove crazy? i feel strange there too. have safe travels!

At 6:12 AM, Blogger Karen said...

I was just sewing ruffles on a Renaissance Faire costume last weekend, and no, it sure wasn't fun. Yours came out much better than mine. The skirt is adorable and I'm sure your niece was thrilled with it! Sounds like you had a wonderful visit. Hope you have a great trip to Chicago too.

At 7:15 AM, Blogger Elizabeth said...

Dude, your niece is so cute. And that skirt! Totally adorable. I know what you mean about ruffles - they're a PITA. So glad you had a nice visit in LA.

At 8:00 AM, Blogger Laura said...

What a lovely job with the skirt. And what a nice auntie you are! :)

I understand about Charlie and Lola. When I was little, I wanted a big brother SO BAD. And if Charlie and Lola had been around back then, I would have wanted my brother to be like Charlie.

At 9:44 AM, Blogger Ashley said...

Awww--who needs an abuelita when they've got a super-talented crafty tia? So cute--I bet your niece is adorable in it.

This bionico stuff sounds insane. I think I'll be recreating it in my own little gringa kitchen!

At 10:11 AM, Blogger PCR said...

The skirt is really cute! I haven't ruffled in a while, but I remember it being a PITA. I'm sure your niece will always cherish the beautiful skirt you made her.

At 9:43 AM, Blogger Jennifer said...

What a super cute skirt! She probably looks adorable in it.

At 11:40 AM, Blogger Christie said...

Looks like you had a great time! Knit Cafe is hiring? I might have to check into that!

At 12:10 PM, Blogger lo said...

I swear to god, the only reason I ever did folklorico was for the practice skirt (and the fancy shoes). The actual costumes were too heavy to be as much fun. Mine was golden yellow, with a black trim. Thinking back on it now, it must have taken hours for my mom to make, and I think that I had at least three of them in my years of "dancing." That is, in my years of twirling about in my awesome skirt, avoiding practicing, and trying not to fall down during performances.

At 12:06 PM, Blogger lo said...

ps. It will tie behind the back-- you tie the ties on the back across the tummy, and then tie the front ties behind the back like an apron. That's how *authentic* dancers (ie those I copied as a little kid) do it.

At 8:02 PM, Anonymous marycatharine said...

My love of Charlie and Lola is way to extreme for an adult with no children. I love the skirt, when I was little I did some folk dancing and adored my costumes.


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