A Favourite Cosy Outfit

cosy1Ah, Cardamome! Ah, Armande! I intended to blog about them separately because each deserves its own blog post, but I was wearing them both on a day I came home from work when it was still (sort of) daylight, so I jumped on the occasion to take some pictures, and a shared post will have to do.

cosy3The Cardamome dress is yet another Deer&Doe pattern (yes, I do intend on sewing them all ultimately!). It was my favourite one from the A/W 2015 collection and I immediately knew I wanted to make it in this starry cotton lawn I had in my stash. It took me a little bit more than a year to get to it, but I didn’t change my mind in the meantime. I also knew I wanted to highlight the curve of the bib with some piping of the same colour as the stars, which are not white but off-white/ecru. It turns out off-white piping is not that easy to find! I resorted to buying some extremely pale yellow piping and tea-dyeing it. It did not make it a perfect match, but quite close, and the difference is virtually unnoticeable when you look at the finished dress.

cosy4I think I’ve said before that I had recently realised that a lot of my clothes could benefit from either going up one or two sizes at the shoulders or making a wide shoulder adjustment. On this dress I tried simply cutting a size 40 at the shoulders blending to a 36 armhole-bust-waist-hips. I didn’t change the height of the shoulders, only the width, so I kept the 36 sleeves. They fit, so I guess this must have been the right choice. I didn’t bother cutting a larger size at the hips because the skirt seemed wide enough. The skirt is indeed wide enough, but barely. Close call there!

cosy5I didn’t make buttonholes for the buttons (vintage, from a yard sale last August) but used sew-on snaps on the front placket and simply sewed the buttons through all layers at the cuffs, thinking I’d add snaps later if it bothered me not to be able to open these. It has never bothered me.

This dress features my first collar on a stand and my first sleeve placket, and both went swimmingly thanks to the instructions for the sleeve placket and this well-known tutorial for the collar.

cosy10Note that I always wear the collar closed because I am a dork and I love it that way! When I see pictures of about everyone wearing it at least partially open, I do realise that I am kind of alone on this one, but this won’t stop me from wearing it closed all. the. time. In the same vein, why do some people want to get rid of the smocking at the waist? It’s one of the cutest details of the pattern, you guys! Plus, so comfortable!

cosy6Now about the cardigan. It’s Andi Satterlund’s Armande, a free pattern if you can believe it! Once again perfectly thought out (the seamless pocket method alone makes it worth your while!), this pattern was a pretty quick and definitely enjoyable knit. Especially in Drops Nepal, one of my favourite yarns, in this gorgeous blue (denim blue – uni colour 6314).

cosy7When I bought the yarn (more than two years ago according to Ravelry), I had this sweater in mind, but I thought I would make the smallest size as usual with Andi’s patterns, so I only bought 11 skeins. But when I started on the project, I realised that I wouldn’t want as much negative ease for this pattern as for my usual cropped sweaters, so I went up a size. I crossed my fingers and hoped for the best, but 11 skeins were definitely not enough unless I intended to wear my sweater with half a sleeve missing. Lucky for me Saki, who had knit a cardigan with the same yarn, was nice enough to pass on to me her remaining skeins. And double lucky for me, they were from the same dye lot since she had bought them at about the same time in the same shop!

cosy8So after a very short pause I could get back to knitting what was to become one of my favourite cardigans. It goes with much more of my wardrobe than I would have thought, and I simply love its colour, its buttons (from Tissus Passion), its shape, its collar, everything! Like most of my cardigans I very rarely wear it closed, but it does look nice both open and closed.

cosy9I wouldn’t have thought when making this cardigan and this dress that I would like them together so much, but I really do! They’re also the perfect outfit to keep you warm when you’re sick like I am at the moment: the high neckline of the dress protects the chest from drafts and the cardigan is just the right warmth. A thermal cami, two pairs of tights, socks and boots complete what I think is an elegant yet cosy get-up.

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Gonna Make You, Make You, Make You Notice

Combishort2Have you seen Biquette’s new (freeeee!) pattern, the Brass in Pocket playsuit? Can you believe how cute it is? Did I mention it’s free?

She asked me to be a tester and, even though my sewing time is usually way too precious to me to accept those kind of requests, this time I jumped on it right away. I had crushed hard on her black playsuit and was excited to be able to get a version for myself. This is the kind of sewing project I could see myself dreaming about for years and never actually making, so I took that testing as a great opportunity to sew it without delay.

Combishort6I chose a black twill from de Stoffenkamer, which I had already used in navy for a jacket for Monsieur (to be blogged soonish) and knew was great quality, if not for its propensity to attract every lint, hair, dust particle, you name it… Other than that, really, a great fabric: it presses beautifully yet doesn’t wrinkle too easily, a pleasure to sew and to wear!

The buttons are from my stash: they were rescued from an old jacket. They are plastic, but they don’t look it!

Combishort5Now for the pattern itself. Any problem I might have encountered making it has been changed in the final version, so I can only recommend it to you. The only real technical difficulty is the tailored collar. Mine is not exemplary: I failed to get a perfect angle where the two parts meet, but it isn’t obvious at all on the worn garment (especially in black). And I hear there might be a tailored collar tutorial coming to Biquette’s blog, so yours will probably look better…

Another mistake I made was at the centre front: the overlap of the two fronts is too short on my version compared with the pattern, which made it impossible to space the buttons as far away as per the pattern. This is also why I took off the top pair of buttons: it looked pretty weird in relation with the spacing of the other buttons.

Combishort3Size-wise, I blended a 38 bust, a 36 ½ waist and 42 hips, a very usual adjustment for me, and I’m happy with the fit. I could do with a tiny bit more length in the body: when I raise my arms up in the air, the whole playsuit comes up and it’s not the most comfortable at the crotch. It’s perfectly comfortable when I move around normally, even when I sit; the only problem is when I raise both arms all the way up. But if I were to sew the pattern again, I would add a centimetre or two at the waist seam. Do consider using a wider seam allowance than the 1 cm provided in the pattern in case you need to make the same adjustment.

Combishort4Before hemming the shorts, I was also afraid they were going to be too short once hemmed, but I was misevaluating how much length the 2 cm hem would take visually, and in the end I think the length is perfectly fine, at least with opaque tights as I intend to wear the playsuit.

If it is your style and you fit into the size range (which starts really low but unfortunately doesn’t go very high up — the highest size has a 100 cm bust), go have a look at the pattern: it’s free, but that doesn’t mean it’s amateurish. It has positively nothing to envy of professional patterns. Among other well thought-of details, you can choose to print only the size(s) you want, and you can also choose to print it with or without (1 cm) seam allowances!

Combishort1As you have probably understood by now, I love my little playsuit! I’m not sure how practical it’s going to be (I may have to cut back on my tea drinking! 😉 ), or whether I’m going to be able to wear it at work (the length of the shorts is what makes me hesitate), but I think it’s quite unique and definitely gorgeous! So I may not wear it daily like a lot of my clothing, but I know I’ll wear it nonetheless! Monsieur’s opinion is more reserved: “I don’t understand… You look all dressed up on top, and ready for camping on the bottom.”

Columbus Hat

Columbus1Why the name Columbus, you ask? Well, I was going for a 1940s hat, but when I tried it on for the first time, this is the image that came to mind! 😀

I started this wool felt hat at the end of October 2014, but then I sort of lost interest in millinery for more than a year. I kept reading about millinery and collecting images and documentation, yet couldn’t be bothered making a hat, or even finishing the one I had started for that matter.

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Velvet ribbon around the edge of the brim.

It’s only recently that I understood the reason for that loss of mojo, right when I also got said mojo back: my hair had simply become too long to play nice with the kind of hats I like… Lame but true! From the moment I decided to cut it short, my hands started itching to work again on the hat I had abandoned more than a year before! There wasn’t a lot left to do so I finished it before even getting an appointment at my hairdresser’s.

Columbus3You can’t really make out any details in the pictures of me wearing the hat, especially since the black felt blends in with my hair, but at least you get an idea of how I wear it pushed back.

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Petersham ribbon inside, at the base of the crown.

I moulded the crown of the hat on a simple hat block, then I flipped the brim upwards and hand sewed some millinery wire all around the edge (which you can see in this picture – it’s the white stuff around the brim) for it to keep its shape. This is where I took a more-than-one-year break.

Then I hand sewed some velvet ribbon around the edge of the brim to cover the wire and some petersham ribbon inside the hat so that it hugs the head and doesn’t flop around.

Columbus2I wonder if someday it will stop feeling like magic to be able to make a hat that’s in my imagination come true?

Déjà Vu

DéjàVu2Here’s the last Ondée I hadn’t photographed yet, with a Hollyburn skirt I made back in May!

That Hollyburn is more of a summer skirt and I wouldn’t wear that outfit in real life since I don’t like such a light-coloured skirt with dark tights, but I don’t hate it either so I took the opportunity to blog those two garments at once, especially since I don’t have anything new to say about the Ondée sweater (same size as usual, same fabric as the blue version).

DéjàVu3I had already sewn a Hollyburn skirt, which was actually the first garment I ever posted on this blog. I love and have been wearing that winter version so much that I wanted another one for the warmer months. I bought the fabric with that exact project in mind at Gotex at least two years ago, but so many projects, you know how it goes…

DéjàVu4It’s always a bit of a disappointment when a project you have been thinking about for so long doesn’t turn out as perfect as in your head, which is the case with this one. I blame the fabric: although it looks like a sort of chambray, it’s in fact a polyester/cotton blend, and, just like the one I had used for my Centaurée, it has taken the worst of each component: while the cotton means it wrinkles easily, its polyester part won’t take a press! This was definitely my last time ever sewing such a material.

DéjàVu5I have been trying to lower my fabric stash (no pledge or anything, just trying to remain conscious of what I already have and stop overbuying like I used to – I have to say it’s been working pretty well!) and I didn’t want to keep the small remnant that was left after cutting the skirt, so I made the belt loop version and I sewed a matching bow belt to go with it. I used Tilly’s tutorial (in her book, but you can find it on her blog, too), and I added two snaps to make sure the ends stayed in place.

DéjàVu6Weirdly, despite my qualms about the fabric, a less than perfect zipper insertion and the fact that that skirt shape in a light colour probably isn’t the most flattering shape on me from behind, I still like the skirt a lot. I made it a little bit longer than my first version, which I have always thought was a tiny bit too short to my taste, and, I completely forgot to take a picture of that, but to finish the hem I used some light blue bias tape with white polka dots. Since it was destined to be a casual summer skirt, I didn’t line it, and I used my serger to finish the seams.

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Ouardia Blouse

Ouardia2I must have been 17 years old when I bought this vintage skirt at the flea market. It was the perfect hippie skirt, romantically grazing the floor with each step, and I adored its floral print, which reminded me of several Kabyle dresses my mother had passed on to me.

Flash forward a few years later, the skirt didn’t fit anymore, and I thought it would be nice to remake it into something else, such as a Kabyle dress, or more likely a blouse, depending on the amount of usable fabric. The only problem was, I was just a beginner sewer at the time and I didn’t feel up to the task yet, fearing to waste what felt like particularly precious fabric. So I unpicked the skirt, and I put the pieces at the bottom of my budding refashion pile.

Ouardia1When Thread&Needles announced a sewing contest around the theme of travel, I immediately thought of that old project of mine, thinking about my travel to Algeria when I was a little kid: I had gone with my brother to meet our family and discover the country, and I had been given the cutest little pink custom made Kabyle dress, which I had kept long after it had become too small, and later replaced with my mother’s floral print dresses.

I drafted my own pattern, i.e. I copied the dress that fits me best and just changed the underarm area a little bit so that I could wear the blouse without a tank underneath, and drafted a neckline facing instead of adding a self fabric yoke lining as in the dress I copied. I chose to make a blouse and not a dress both because I didn’t have enough fabric and because I liked the idea of a more casual version, worn with jeans or shorts in summer. I thought about adding the patch pockets because I had just enough fabric left that I didn’t want to waste, and I must say I think they look quite nice and they are also pretty useful!

Ouardia4The rickrack was sewn entirely by hand (I love how the pink stitches look against the black inside the blouse!). I wanted each zigzag to lay as smoothly as possible, which I didn’t think would be the case if I stitched only along the centre by machine. At first I intended to sew two parallel lines of rickrack, the pink one you see and a green one, but in the end I decided it would make the blouse too busy and chose to keep it subtler (as subtle as a floral blouse with butterfly sleeves and pink rickrack can be). I won’t lie to you, I was relieved to hand sew a little under six metres of rickrack instead of close to twelve…

Ouardia3I was afraid the blouse would be too short (due to fabric restraints), so I was also relieved when I tried it on and saw that it looked exactly how I had pictured it. Dare I say, even better, with the addition of the cute little patch pockets!

Doppelgangers

Chardon1The vermilion Chardon skirt I made two years ago is one of those garments I reach for constantly, both in summer and winter. So when I found this vibrant green cotton at Les Tissus du Chien Vert earlier this year, I thought it would make a perfect new glaring Chardon that I knew would get a lot of wear.

Chardon2I made this skirt in early May, so I can already tell you that it did indeed get a lot of wear, as did the t-shirt I’m wearing in the pictures, sewn a few days before. The t-shirt is also my second time using a pattern (and it’s also the same t-shirt I’m wearing in the pictures of the post about my first Chardon!), a two-piece tee (one front piece, one back piece) from this Ottobre magazine.

Chardon6I finished the t-shirt differently from the first time, by substituting a narrow neckline/sleeve band to the neckline/sleeve binding. Other than that, it’s the same as the first one, but serged instead of sewn by machine (except for the top stitching, made with a double needle). It’s also exactly the same kind of slinky rayon knit as the purple one, but two years of experience made it way easier to cut than the first time around.

As for the skirt, I decided to bind all of the seams with bias tape, and I have to say I was pretty proud of the result! I was afraid it was going to be too bulky at the pockets, but it isn’t, so I’ll definitely use this method again in the future.

Chardon3I did screw up somewhere in sewing the pleats, though, which are a little wider (and less deep) than they should be. At first I made them the correct size, but when I tried on the skirt before attaching the zipper, I felt like it was going to be too snug. So I let out each pleat by a few millimetres to gain a couple centimetres. And of course, when I tried on the skirt a second time, this time with the zipper, it was way too big at the waist! I unpicked the zipper, and since I couldn’t be bothered to unpick and redo the pleats for the second time, I simply cut off the excess at the centre back seam and re-inserted the zipper.

Chardon4Despite this silly mistake, I’ve been wearing these two garments a lot, both together and separately. The outfit I’m wearing in the pictures is the exact outfit I had been wearing all day at work, hence the wrinkled skirt.

I’m really happy with the finishing of both garments, especially of the inside of the skirt. It’s so pretty it almost feels like a waste to keep it hidden. It’s such a shame that I can’t wear it inside out… Or could I?

Chardon5

The Black Zinnia

BlackZinnia5I’m not one to read those magazine articles that assume that every woman needs certain items of clothing in her wardrobe, such as a little black dress and other nonsense (I’m not one to read any of those magazines, period. Not anymore. You wouldn’t believe how much my self-esteem has improved since I’ve restricted my magazine buying to Burda and other craft related periodicals). It’s kind of ironic that I’m saying that when my last blog post featured what could obviously be described as a [shudder] LBD, but seriously, I lived without a LBD for most of my life and I didn’t feel the need for one like, ever!

BlackZinnia1Anyway, rant over I guess. What I wanted to tell you was that a black cardigan was one of the rare garments I felt I needed. I used to own a store-bought one that you can see here (I don’t know why I’m bothering linking to that picture: everybody knows what a black cardigan looks like, don’t they?), but it died and I’d been missing it sorely ever since.

BlackZinnia3There were a few pieces in my wardrobe, such as the dress you see in the picture I absurdly linked to a few rows above, that I always wanted to wear with a black cardigan. But it’s also so much more appealing to knit colourful yarn that boring black yarn, isn’t it? So each time I started a new knitting project, it didn’t even cross my mind that I could make that black cardigan.

BlackZinnia4

Smiling is for the weak.

Enter Zinnia. I don’t know why, but when I was perusing my favourite yarn shop (no link because it recently closed doors and I’ll be sad about it forever 😦 ) to choose some yarn for that project, for once I was drawn to grey and black. The various greys that were available in the shop didn’t really appeal to me, so I chose black.

BlackZinnia6And I am so happy I did! Not only was the black yarn not boring at all to knit (annoying maybe; it was a cat hair magnet! – not so much since I completed it, weirdly!), but I finished this knit two weeks ago and I’ve already worn it so often: it seems like a black cardigan does go with everything. I also like the way the textured stitch looks in black. I was afraid the dark colour would hide it, but it doesn’t and I think it looks great. The yarn is Drops Karisma, a superwash yarn which I’ll definitely use again in the future.

BlackZinnia7I really enjoyed knitting this pattern: the textured stitch kept things interesting yet it was very straightforward to follow. The lace diamonds, too, were a pleasure to knit: I placed markers between each repeat, which I always do when I’m knitting lace, and it made things easy as pie. You can find my Ravelry notes here.

BlackZinnia8When in-between sizes as is often the case with Andi’s patterns, I usually choose knitting a size smaller, which is best with all those close-fitting cropped sweaters I love knitting/wearing, but for this one I preferred going a size bigger since it was supposed to be looser-fitting. And I’m glad with the result: I can comfortably layer one or two long-sleeved tees under it, yet it doesn’t look too loose-fitting either when I’m only wearing one layer of short or 3/4 sleeves.

BlackZinnia9I should be back in not too long with another knit, and then with that skirt I started two months ago. Both are finished and just need to be photographed, alas we all know “just” photographing our sewing projects is even less of a small feat in winter than during the rest of the year!BlackZinnia2

Christmas Eve Outfit

Réveillon4It’s been a long time since I posted a finished garment, and here I am with some of the crappiest pictures I’ve ever posted on this blog, but they will have to do or I’ll never show you any of the last pieces I made, what with winter and its crazy lack of daylight…

I took these coming back from work yesterday around 3 p.m. (lucky me finishing so early! 🙂 ) and I barely had enough light long enough to take them.

Réveillon1So, this is the outfit I made to wear on Christmas Eve. Last year I made the dumbest choice by wearing this skirt which, although very comfortable for daily wear, became an instrument of torture after I had ingurgitated Christmas dinner. Which is why this year I decided I needed the most ample dress possible in order to eat as much as I wanted and not feel like my clothing was trying to kill me.

Réveillon2Enter my beloved modified babydoll Renfrew dress that could hold triplets and a whole turkey! I sewed the waist gathers the same way as for this one (this gathering method makes for a very loose-fitting waist), the sleeves are 3/4 like on this one, but I used a different method for the neckline: for once I didn’t use a band but simply turned under the neckline edge twice. I felt it was dressier.

Réveillon3The sleeves are wide enough for me to layer a 3/4-sleeved T-shirt under the dress for maximum Christmas (and cold weather in general) cosiness. I did not add pockets for lack of time, but I’ll probably add some in the near future because I keep reaching for them when I wear the dress, and of course I don’t know where to put my tissues.

Réveillon5The cropped sweater started its life as a whole nother project. I wanted a cosy sweater dress made from this glittery sweater knit I had recently bought, but when I tried it on I realised it looked positively awful on me! I have no problem wearing things that don’t make me look as thin as possible, or that make me look pregnant for that matter (I guess the outfit I’m showing you today kind of proves my point! 😀 ), but I do wearing things that make me appear deformed! I put the dress aside, feeling there might still be a way to rescue it, and when I started thinking about my Christmas outfit, I immediately thought simply cropping it might make it the perfect companion to the little black babydoll dress I had in mind. And indeed it did!

Réveillon6

I must have been Captain Harlock in a previous life!

I also cropped the sleeves, which were about as unflattering as the rest of the dress when they were full-length. Since my fabric has mediocre stretch recovery, I put some wide elastic in the cuffs to prevent them from getting distorted over time. It does feel pretty stiff, which was weird at first, but it doesn’t bother me anymore.

The original collar of the dress also stood very weirdly and/or didn’t suit me at all, so I simply turned it under and topstitched it in place. I was surprised by how good it looked after this simple transformation!

Réveillon7I have been wearing this exact same outfit a lot since Christmas, but I haven’t worn the two pieces separately yet, which is weird since a black dress and a neutral sweater (gold and silver are neutrals to me – I’m not even kidding!) shouldn’t be too hard to combine with the rest of my wardrobe. I guess I just like them so much together!

After the Before

Refashion1Finally, after a lot of work (and a few tears) here’s the outcome of the refashion I posted about! I’m beyond happy with the result, but, at the risk of sounding like a broken record, the work in progress almost ended up in the trash…

With a week off of work, I thought I had plenty enough time before me to make it in time for the contest, but I had forgotten that my boyfriend and I had planned to spend a few days at the North Sea. This led to me spending hours on end sewing on my free days, hoping to finish before I left last Wednesday, which I didn’t. I came back Saturday evening and spent my whole Sunday sewing. I was pretty sure the dress would be finished by Sunday evening, and it would have been if I hadn’t made the most stupid mistake. I carefully gathered the skirt and attached it to the bodice, finished the waist seam with the overlock stitch of my sewing machine, trimmed said seam to 5mm… only to realise that the left side seam of the skirt, instead of corresponding to the left side seam of the bodice, was corresponding to the left front princess seam of the bodice! It looked awful, made even worse by the fact that I had added side seam pockets on the skirt: hello, kangaroo pocket!

Refashion2I had to restrain myself from cutting the dress into a billion little pieces out of rage and, following the wise advice of my boyfriend, I took a small break, ate something and, when I came back with a calmer mind, decided to unpick and redo the waist seam. It made me lose a lot of time, which meant that I couldn’t finish the dress on Sunday and had to do it on Monday evening, after coming back from my millinery course at 10pm… But I did finish it, and I was able to take pictures on Tuesday despite the gloomy weather, so everything’s well that ends well! To think the deadline for the contest was originally Sunday evening… It sure was lucky that they moved it to Tuesday! 😀

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Pockets!

Now, enough dwelling on the negative, let’s talk about the dress itself. Doesn’t it look nicer than the original? 😀 I cut the whole original dress apart and used the pieces as fabric for a recently acquired pattern. The pattern is from this adorable Belgian sewing book I recently purchased. Here’s the original design as pictured in the book:

Februari

Click on the picture for the source

I changed the asymmetrically pleated skirt for a simple longer gathered skirt that used less fabric and, as I mentioned above, added side seam pockets. I also replaced the lining with bias binding at the armholes and neckline (and it was a real pain to sew that bias binding properly: next time I’ll use the lining and avoid a lot of drama) and I used the same bias binding to sew the hem (I used the same method – and the same binding but in black – as for my Chardon skirt). Contrary to the neckline and armholes, the hem was easy to finish that way, and the stiff binding makes the skirt stand out as if I was wearing a light petticoat, yay!

Refashion4I found the pattern a touch difficult to trace (I had trouble figuring out which lines belonged to which pieces), but I don’t really know whether to blame the pattern sheet or the lack of light when I traced it, and everything ended up fine in the end, so no real complaint here.

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My invisible zip isn’t really invisible, ah well!

And can you believe how cute that pattern is? I mean, did you notice? Not one, not two, but THREE peter pan collars, I die! And the fit is simply wonderful. I didn’t take the time to make a muslin (oops, here’s that broken record again), but I first basted the whole bodice together to check for any fitting issues beforehand. And, I couldn’t believe my luck, it fit almost perfectly!

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The two top collars are made from some cotton remnants I had in my stash.

I used French seams everywhere except on the waist seam: I don’t know who is responsible for the misconception that you can’t French seam curved seams, (probably the same person who spread the belief that sewing knits is difficult!) but it worked perfectly on the princess seams… and on the side seams with pockets! I used this tutorial for French seaming the side seams with pockets and it was a revelation. To think of all the times I thought I had to choose between side seam pockets and French seams…

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The polka dot bias binding.

Despite the drama, I now have a dress I LOVE. I don’t know whether I’ll be able to wear it to work, but I know I’ll be wearing it a lot outside of work. And it’s so cute and comfortable, I’m pretty sure I’ll sew another version in a less crazy fabric, one that I can wear at work without the risk of mesmerizing my students with colourful tulips mixed with what, come to think of it, kind of looks like marijuana leaves…