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Over the years, I’ve created PowerPoints for many deeply unsavory reasons – to push pharmacological products using sketchy ‘data’ published by the parent company, as part of half-assed attempts on educators’ parts to get hip with technology and liven up rote classroom presentation (one of the few chunks of high school, along with forced learning to type without looking at our hands, that actually had real-world applications), to reinforce big business mentalities I did not believe in. Each of which falls under the standard use of PowerPoint, a program designed with the twofold goal of ‘snappy corporate presentations’ and ‘useability by the computer illiterate’.

In spite of, or rather because of the inherent weirdness at this intersection of Business and Flair, the program’s potential for pure art has been explored by several artists, most notably David Byrne’s E.E.E.I tour. I was going to say ‘accidental’ or ‘ironic’ art, but all that’s ever needed to turn something practical into art is to remove the practicality.

Which brings me to my recent, happier experiences with PowerPoint – created for a friend’s yearly salon of presentations on whatever we wanted, far from the boundaries of desks or logic, these slides were fun to create. No templates! The pure joy of random transitions! Finally using all the sound effects your supervisor expressly forbad! Unfortunately after the small gathering was over, the presentations languished on my computer. No more! I finally figured out how to time slides and export to a movie file, so that you, The Reader, may benefit from my research.

Admittedly quite a bit is lost in translation – no transitions, only one audio track and no sound effects, no me rambling on about a particular subject while accidentally skipping three slides ahead – but I’ve tried to make up for it with a dip into my recently acquired well of 50s instrumental tracks. Enjoy!

Mary Maxim: A Wearable (Mostly Canadian) History from Rarer Borealis on Vimeo.

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The wild reaction to Jeremy Scott’s Bart sweater set said less about enthusiasm for his aesthetic (which appears to be the brain of a 1995-era 13-year-old looking at a Delia’s catalogue, made real) and more about the still-rampant popularity of the Simpsons. The current ’90s’ obsession (and I say this in quotes as the younger set has somehow blinded themselves to the time’s prevalence of JNCOs and waffle knits)  and fondness for the Simpsons resulted in a perfect storm of want.

Bootlegs of the Jeremy Scott design likely hit the market seconds after its debut, and with Simpsons bootlegs themselves a time-honored tradition, it’s hard to begrudge their existence. Where formerly Simpsons bootlegs were 50/50 underrepresented groups using Bart as voice and icon/Chinese manufacturers seeking to capitalize any sudden burst of popularity with little understanding of the symbolism, today it’s a small sliver of all-too conscious designers carefully manipulating Bart’s odd combination of major corporate mascot and bad-boy outsider status to bolster their own credibility, and a LOT more of the Chinese-random-stuff-algorithm churning out goods in response to response.

A slight digression – it’s interesting to note the new wave of designers capitalizing on the Simpsons and what they’ve meant still hew mostly to Bart designs, with a few Homers and Milhouses thrown in. Homer’s too much of an adult for ‘the kids’ to appreciate his utter lack of responsibility to anything tied to being an adult (a later development in what Dead Homer Society refers to as ‘Jerkass Homer’). Milhouse makes sense as a newer development – he’s the outsider’s outsider even within the Simpsons world – second banana to Bart, too much of a nerd to be an underachiever, too much of a loser to join the other nerds. Still no focus on Lisa or Marge, as they represent the moral core of the show (pretty much the opposite of  beloved male irresponsibility fantasy stand-ins like Homer, Peter Griffin, Cartman, etc.), but I’m surprised there’s not more Maggie, as she would’ve been the age of many of the whippersnappers currently sporting this gear, was always somewhat of an enigma, and certainly in her Harpo way was another rebellious badass in the family.

Anyway. This is all a long-winded way of saying now that the Jeremy Scott sweater hype’s had a year or two to stew, the strange permutation bootlegs are finally coming up – copies of copies of copies made with no reference to the original, weird evolutions of imagery put out into the world. Behold:

Here’s a photo that I believe was used for reference, taken at an odd angle of the Bartman logo translated to knitwear…

Bart Sweater B


This photo from a magazine shows a bootleg of the bootleg, with jagged lettering and weird perspective…

bart sweater A

Note the wonkiness in the eyes…

Bart Sweater A


This same photo from earlier was used in ANOTHER sweater post, claiming THIS….

Bart Sweater B


…is the same sweater as THIS:

Bart Sweater C


Don’t get me wrong, this sweater certainly has its own weird charm, plus it looks like a drawing from Hyperbole and a Half. But it is DEFINITELY not a straight-up Bartman sweater. I can only wonder where the next mutation will go.

Bart Sweater C


Ned's New Master Bedroom

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As mentioned previously, due to thievery I’m no longer sharing patterns from my personal stash. Fortunately for all of us, we live in a magical world of instant availability, where entire archives mouldering in damp basements dying unmourned deaths now get to see the light of day! I can just picture these anthropomorphized little booklets, rubbing their wee squinted eyes at the blinding sunlight shining down upon them, a joyous smile breaking across their faces as a new day dawns and they can finally reveal their particular brand of weird to the world.

The designs and cuts below come from that awkward period in the late teens – not yet a flapper, but no longer wasp-waisted. The overall shape has moved away from the Gibson Girl’s poofiness and fluff towards the tubular androgyny soon to be everywhere, yet retains the length and excessive decor of the previous years. These patterns could work well in a modern wardrobe if done in the spirit of androgyny coming from a number of Japanese designers (like Arts and Science) or by going extra-bright and bold with color for a Finnish style (a la Marimekko).


dangly sides


These three patterns, along with many others, can be found in the Utopia Yarn Book, available free online.

…and then there’s this hat. The kid’s expression speaks for itself, but should you find your wardrobe missing some crocheted Dutch elf bonnet flair, you can always turn to the Columbia Book of Yarns.
that hat

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Of late I’ve become enamored of chunky knits. Ridiculously chunky knits. Knits so chunky they become hindering, wearable sculptures.

via the V&A Museum via via

Nah.                                    Getting warmer….                            YEP, that’s the stuff.

The problem is, how to create a super-bulky garment without an excess of weight? Two out of three of the above use what looks like roving – open, light, fluffy wool not spun or wound around other bits like most yarns. The downside is, being nearly raw wool, roving tends to pill, stretch, and shed more than other yarns. The last appears to be some form of fabric, which when rolled upon itself would have the structural strength to hold shape without stretching, but which very quickly becomes a stiff, heavy garment (try knitting with yarn made from t-shirts some time – it’s more suitable for floor mats and baskets than clothing. Little drape, heavy on the skin).

Examining a young lady’s giant knit rugs, her ‘raw material’ looked like giant, soft rope - rope made from roving. Of course! A slight felting of the roving, especially wound into ‘yarn’, would give structural stability without losing the fluffiness that gives roving bulkiness without bulk! Looking into methods of felting roving, I came across this:

Whaaaaaa….what is this magical device? Where can I get a giant version?!!? Why can’t I stop watching these videos? Aside from being a neat little tool, I found the videos’ aesthetic hypnotizing.

The well-manicured but bare hands!
japanese felting- poking

The bubble lettering backed by pastel!
japanese felting - braider rolling

The soothing background music, reminiscent of Lionel Richie played on MIDI keyboard! (You’ll…have to watch the video.)

The COLORS! (Well, pink isn’t my thing but imagine this in different shades of blue or green!)
japanese felting - braider

japanese felting - braider CU


In this tutorial, you’re shown how to make a tiny decorative cake.

Picture 3

japanese felting - tiny cake

Why you would need a tiny felt cake is beyond me, but the information’s there if you need it. After falling down the rabbit hole of  Japanese felt crafting YouTube videos, I found….THIS:

japanese felting - creepy unfinished face

While this looks like a kawaii version of the cover of ‘Pet Sematary’, it’s from a full video tutorial of someone making their own cat in felt form. Unintentional freakiness ensues.

japanese felting - cat stick japanese felting - cat stick embarassed

I couldn’t decide which of the wire body shots cracked me up more, so here’s both.

japanese felting - headless cat

Headless cat on a table.

japanese felting - cat butt

Is that…..

japanese felting - cat butt

Yes, that is a needle-felted cat anus. There’s a sentence I never thought I’d type. Perhaps someone who reads kanji characters can explain why there’s a music note at the end?

I also couldn’t decide which side-by-side comparison shot was my favorite, so again, here’s both:
japanese felting - cat expressions

See, on the one hand, this one has a completely disembodied cat head and a shared expression of confused fear.
japanese felting - cat expressions

On the other hand, this one has wall-eyed staring in super-close-up.
japanese felting - cat staaaaare


The company that makes the neat little rope device has many adorable video tutorials, including this more stereotypic one wherein a squeaky cartoon cat walks you through the steps:

japanese felting - cat bands?

Their main website also has patterns for these lil’ charmers (Full title: “The Twin Hamanaka wool felt that it is mew about time when it”.)

kawaii kitties



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My casual Ebay search for vintage patterns came to a screeching halt when I came across Mary Maxim’s Junior Casuals (Vol. 28). Oh sure, laugh at me for exaggerating the sheer freakiness of this particular volume, but you too will know the horror.

“Oh, is the little baby afraid of a widdle book of knittOH MY GOD HE’S STARING INTO MY SOUL!”


Crimson the Clown’s dragging that little girl straight to the sewer drains.

As if a creepy clown grasping a child’s hand with an all-too-knowing glance plastered right there on the cover weren’t warning enough, further terrors are found within:

“Gee this one looks ok…oh dear Lord. What…what is that behind them? Did I just see it move?!” You may have, but I bet they never did.



This manages to out-creep the rabbit TV show from David Lynch’s ‘Inland Empire’.





What dusty storeroom was this 1930s black cat costume dragged from? Who thought this would be a ‘charming’ character for children to display sweaters next to instead of seeing the void in the crouching figure’s eyeholes?



It’s saying something when a child leaning on an extremely intense extra from ‘Born to Boogie’ is the least scary image in the batch.



Even Pedro the Donkey screams in mute horror!


What’s interesting is, terrifying costume and prop choices aside, these are vibrant, charming photos. The saturated pastels, extreme foreground framing, composition, and acres of shiny blonde hair make every image look like a living illustration from the era.







All images via Ebay user tundi151.

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