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Sunday, December 27, 2009

Saying Goodbye to 2009

I was so busy lately that I had no time for posting here. Many things are done now and I am taking a well-deserved break from my daytime job. It is the end of December and I wanted to say Happy Holidays to all of you. I also was thinking about the year 2009 that is coming to an end in a few days. It was a good year for me full of many interesting and exciting knitting and not knitting-related activities. I have made many good friends and have met some interesting people. Many projects are finished. Some of them are published and some will come out next year. I worked hard, but I had fun also.
I do not like to make any resolutions for the new year, but I plan to continue my many venues that I started this year.
So, let's all say goodbye to 2009 and hello to the new year 2010 with the hopes for peace, stable economy and personal happiness and health.
Talk to you next year!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

The Winner for It's In The Bag is...

There were 10 comments in two posts. Each person got one entry in the drawing. The rest is in this little video. I apologize for the quality of it. I am learning how to make videos and it is done at the beginner's level.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Online class

I am taking a terrific online class with Stefanie Japel. She is teaching us how to teach online. So far I am overwhelmed with the amount of work it involves. I love it very much, though. She is a great teacher and a great example of an online class teacher. I am taking notes and trying to be a very good student :) My fellow students are mostly designers and authors and they know so much, so I am learning from them as well. It is a lot of fun. I just wish I could devote all the time to it, but... I have to do many other things as well. We are going to learn how to use the media equipment for the online use, so I am going to post some more videos on my tutorial page here. It is all very exciting. I love to improve my knowledge in any direction. I will keep you guys posted on some new features added here.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

You still have time to win a book

I am going to wait one more week before the drawing of the name for a free book. Leave your comment after the post What's in the Bag for Kids and get your name in.

Monday, November 30, 2009

New Group on Ravelry

Yesterday I set up a new group on Ravelry for The Designer's Studio. As of now this group has almost 100 members and is growing fast. Designers and knitters are all together in that group. I am having so much fun with this project! All three interviews are a hit. There are many more people sending me their answers to my 15 questions. So, check in back here for new posts.

I have been very busy these days (besides what I already mentioned :)). Our Thanksgiving was very nice. As a devoted (or obsessed?) knitter I could not just sit and watch the movie with the family, so I made a hat from 100% angora that my friend Dawn gave me some time ago. What a luxurious yarn!! My daughter wanted a Dolce Slouch, so this is it.
I am almost done with the tunic, but the collar needs some changes, so a little more work is needed. I am taking an online class from Stefanie Japel right now. She is terrific! I will learn all kinds of things about videos, chats, online classes, and so on. I am very excited about it. You will hear about it more from me as we progress. It is a three-week class.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

What's In The Bag For Kids?

This is the last stop for a very fun blog tour that Kara Gott Warner has put together. Bravo, Kara! Good choice of blogs for a very interesting and well done book! This book is designed to provide you with some ideas for small projects which can be done while you are traveling, when you need a quick gift, or when you have a few big projects started and want to relax and get the satisfaction of a small finished one. As you were cruising from blog to blog during this tour, you have learned about many designs included in It's in the Bag. Since my design for this book was a Cozy Hooded Sleeping Sack for a baby, I wanted to take a look at the designs for kids only. My idea for this design came from the experience of using a similar sack when my son was a baby. I loved it. When I took him for a stroll in the baby carriage on a cold day, I was sure that he was warm in that little garment. As you see on this photo it is plenty of room for a baby to move and it is so much better than a blanket which you have to constantly watch since it is not going to stay in place. The front opening is long enough for you to put the baby in without any difficulty. It is a quick and simple knit-in-the-round project with the minimal seaming. You can do it while your baby is taking a nap or is busy with some toys. I hope you will consider making one.
So, let's take a look at more of the delightful designs for kids in this book. There are 11 designs for children, so I will have to skip some of them, sorry.
Bodacious Bobble Hat by Irina Poludnenko is a perfect little project if you want to use your stash. Simple and very playful hat adorned by unexpected bobble tassels that use the colors of the hat. Can you say NO to this?! Next time I am invited to a baby shower, you know what I am bringing:)

Laura Nelkin named her so very cute little girl's dress A-dorable A-line Ruffled Jumper. Need I say more? It just summed it up. This jumper can be worn as a summer dress or as a jumper over a short or long sleeved shirt under it for a colder weather. You can dress it up or dress it down. Just a perfect outfit to take on a trip for your little girl. Schaefer Yarns are wonderful and this one called Lola is no exception. Simply delicious.

Tonal Triangles Kid's Pullover by Amy Marshall is using intarsia color pattern that is suitable for a boy (sizes 2-10), but girls might like it as well. If you never made a sweater, or never worked with this technique, this is a great project for " a first ever". There is no shaping for a sleeve cap or body , so your concentration will be on intarsia and finishing. Even if you are a pro at knitting, this one you will put on your "to make" list. I did.

The next one is the one I could not skip. Diane Zangl's Cable Sampler Baby Blocks. Can you believe it? These are 6" cubes that are soft, squishy and fun. While any baby is going to love playing with them, any knitter will love making them. Never done any cables? Here is a project for you. Try it. You will learn plenty.

Since we are looking at the boy's patterns, here is one by Kara Gott Warner called Nautical Stripes Onesie & Sunhat. The raglan sleeved outfit worked from the top down and in the round. Simple stripe sequence is decorated by sewn little design that finishes the look to a very interesting and unique onesie.

This trio designed by Christine L. Walter named Cute as a Button Baby Set is hard to miss. A gentle, soft, and very baby-like set. It has that classic look which comes to mind when people say something about knitting for a baby. Don't you agree?

So, like I said, there are more designs for kids in this book, but you just have to believe me and take a look at the book yourself. Or... you can WIN A FREE COPY!!! Here is how: Just leave your comment below in the next two weeks with some tip for traveling with kids, knitting while traveling, about a gift for your baby that you appreciated most, or any tip that you just have to share with your fellow knitters. Your name will be entered in a drawing and the winner will have the book in the mail. If you left a comment on the previous post it counts also.

I already have my copy, so here is my tip:
When we traveled with kids, we always had prepared something to do for them. In our "bag" we had some games, books, their favorite toys, and a string for string figures. This is an interesting website with explanations on string games among many other useful tips. Enjoy!

And here is another exciting news. Kara has decided to extend the time for her game. Win a Molly Bag by going to her blog. Go here to learn what do you need to do.

I can't wait for your comments. Have fun winning and reading other posts on the tour, if this is your first stop.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Want a free book?

Do not miss my post tomorrow. It will be the last day of the blog tour for "It's in the Bag". Prepare some travel with kids and knitting on the go tips. You will have a chance to leave your comment at the end of my post and enter the drawing for a free copy of the book. I hope to hear from many of you. Till tomorrow! Poka! (Bye in Russian :))

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Wooo! Hooo! Mandarins!!

I confessed already a while ago that I love mandarins. Well, it is officially the season for them. You can see them in all stores and in the orchards. I do not have a mandarin tree in my yard, but my neighbor has it right next to our fence and told us long time ago that the branch of the tree that hangs over to our side is ours :):). So, here is what I have right now on that little branch. Isn't it awesome ? They are very sweet and wonderful! I will leave it for my children to pick for our Thanksgiving feast when they will be here.
The Fall is still fighting for its right to stay and the Winter is not really ready to take over or just lazy. So, during the day it is still warm enough to go outside without a warm jacket. At night the Winter is showing its power and it is cold. Most of the trees are loosing their leaves and many are still very beautiful dressed in red, yellow, brown of all shades. My birch tree is still fighting to have some leaves on it. For many years living here I saw snow in town only a few times and mostly just falling, not staying on the ground. If we drive about thirty minutes out of town, we will see the snow in small town called Paradise. Strange, hah? If we really want to see the snow and even ski cross country or down hill, we can drive an hour and a half to get to the Lassen park or two hours and a half to get to Boreal, or the Squaw Valley (the VIII Winter Olympic Games site in 1960). Or... we can stay here and eat mandarins.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Pre-Thanksgiving Salad

Today I went grocery shopping for our Thanksgiving dinner. Our dinner is very traditional. We inherited all of the recipes from our dear friends who always invited us to their home when we were still new to this holiday. The only variation my family tolerates is in the turkey dressing and in my apple pie that I make using a Russian recipe. Do not misunderstand me, please. I love that traditional dinner that my friends make. It's just I am the type of a cook that does not like to follow any recipes. I love to improvise and have fun with flavors. One minus in that is that I do not always remember what I did since I am not writing it down. This way my invention cannot be qualified as a traditional dish, I guess. It is only once a year and I can survive the pressure on my creativity :):) Other times I am having a ball though. Here is the example:
For tonight's dinner I made a link cod dish with the side of this salad that I improvised with what I had in my refrigerator. It turned out very nice, so I broke down and wrote the recipe.
Here it is:
- 2 big carrots
- 2 English cucumbers
- 1 Granny Smith apple
- 2 sticks of fennel
All of the above grate using Cuisinart
- 2 tsp dried blueberries
- 2-3 tsp pine nuts
- juice of 1 lemon
- 1/4 tsp sugar or sugar substitute
Mix well and enjoy!
It is very fresh, healthy, and infinitely delicious.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Blog Tour for "It's In The Bag"

bOn Monday there will be the first day of the tour for the book by Kara Gott Warner. Try to follow this tour as much as you can. We are expecting that it will be a big hit and some people will end up winning some stuff. This is where it all begins:
Day 1- 11/16: Holly Barcelo's blog- Hook and Needle Girl
Don't miss Holly's introduction to many of the exciting designs in the book. Holly will also chat with me about the editing process, and a behind-the-scenes look into how this book was created.

To see the whole schedule go to Kara's blog She Knits in The Loop.

I will be the final stop and there will be a surprise waiting for you. So, see you back here.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Long Weekend

Our college has decided that the Veteran's Day is today, so we worked when many people did not and we are off today. It is great to have a long weekend, especially when you have tons of things to do.
On the top of my list is the interview with Shannon Okey that will be posted tomorrow. You will hear from Shannon herself about her life as a designer.
Next, I am finishing sleeves for the tunic for Cascade Yarns made with their beautiful yarn called Soft Spun. This is what the tunic looks like sleeveless and collarless on my Monique. I am very happy so far with it. Maybe, just maybe, I will be done with both sleeves by Monday and start working on the collar. We will see. After that more swatching, writing two patterns and starting two new designs.I need a few weekends like this, don't you think?

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

My Favorite Month of the Year

Ever since my childhood in Russia I loved November. It was the time when you just knew that the winter is coming. Every day it was colder and sometimes snow was falling. Snowflakes were hitting the ground and melted almost right away.
It was almost like the nature was warning us :"The winter is almost here." There was a big change in what we were wearing and ate (it was a very seasonal food back then). For example, mandarins were sold only in November and December. In the evenings we spent more time at home with the family. I can't explain it, but it was very exciting time for me every year. I loved the change around me. Close to November 24th or right on that day snow would fall and stay on the ground. Very clean, new, fresh snow was falling quietly covering the ground...
This feeling never left me. Now, leaving in America for many years, I am looking forward to November with the expectations of comfort, cozy family evenings, lots of knitting time, and my favorite mandarins. We have the best of them growing right here locally. Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday that we gladly adapted. I love to cook and I make everything from scratch. Our family has a lot to be thankful for and we are. So, here is the parallel of my life in two different countries. It is amazingly similar in many ways.
And what about the snow, you would ask? It is not that far away in the mountains.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Elinka's Ruffled Hat

I made a gift for my dear friend's baby. Elinka baby dress and the booties, both knitted in pink, brown, and white, were a big hit. The colors were great and the size was right. My friend asked me if I could give her the leftover yarn, so she can make a little hat that goes with the set. Knowing how busy she is with the new baby, I made it myself. So, the trio is complete.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Free Download Offer

For a short time Martingale and Company offers a free download of my pattern Vintage Hat on their website. This is a great opportunity to get a taste of the book Casual, Elegant Knits. This hat is easy to make and a lot of fun to wear. The attached ties can be tied in many different ways. Three of them suggested in the pattern with detailed instructions. Do not miss the opportunity to get it for free.

Friday, October 30, 2009

How do you organize your craft tools?

When I am asking designers about their studios, I really mean the place where they keep their yarn, needles, all the gadgets, and if they are lucky and have a separate room for all this. Some of them even have enough room to work there. Either you are a designer or a knitter who is serious about the craft, you keep your stash and tools in a certain place. So, what is it? A room, a closet, a desk, a sofa?
Let me share about my lucky situation. I have a room that I call my studio. I have my stash, all the tools, my steamer, the yarn winder, a drafting table and another bigger table that has two purposes: a blocking table and a working table. I also have my Monique in the corner. Oh, yes, and I have two knitting machines there. Now, if you think that my room is big, you are mistaken. It is a small room. Only one person can maneuver around there. I have to be very organized, otherwise no luck finding anything there. So I will share with you how I keep the order there. All my yarns are in these see-through plastic boxes that you can get in the craft store. They are intended for scrapbooking. I love them. Not only I use them to store yarn, I use one box for each project where all yarn, tools, sketches, etc for this project goes. This way I am not loosing anything. I take this box with me to my knitting circle and anywhere else.
My double-pointed needles are living in this art supply tool for brushes and my circular needles rest on the back of my door in the case I made. Once in a while it gets messy anyway, but it helps me a lot to have it organized. I always (well, almost always) know where my tools are which helps me to speed the project.
By the way, if you are interested where I got my "heads", I will tell you. My hairstylist is teaching new fresh from beauty school graduates. They start with long hair cuts, go to medium hair and end with a short haircut. When they are done with a "head", it goes to the garbage, or in my case :)... to me.
So, tell me about your place.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009


I have been working on a new and exciting project for this blog. It is time to unveil it and invite you to my new page called The Designer's Studio. Since the designers are very creative and interesting people and known for their generous sharing of their professional secrets with all people interested in their craft, I had no problem asking many of them to participate in this project. I have to tell you that I am honored and overwhelmed with the response I received. Every person I have asked, agreed to give me an interview. This is just another confirmation that the designer's community is an incredibly warm and supportive group of people.

The first interview is going to be posted in a day or two. Keep an eye on my blog.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

U-tube videos

Lately, I started to check what is available on U-tube that relates to knitting. Do you know that there are 36, 800 videos that have something to do with knitting? Of course, there are some that you want to choose over others. I always check who made the video. If it is Cat Bordhi, for example. you know that you will get a very good lesson on how to do a certain technique. Here is one of her videos. Another video I like is showing Brioche rib stitch. If you are interested in learning about the Continental style of knitting, this video is good. Magic Cast-on (provisional) presented by Cat Bordhi again. Here is how to join the new ball of yarn by Russian Join. This next video is showing one of the ways knitting with different colors called Fair Isle knitting.
There are too many to mention them all, but I think if you are up to exploring this venue, you can find the ones that become your favorite and keep referring to them as needed. Have fun!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Claudia Hand Painted Yarns

I am swatching with multicolored linen from Claudia Hand Painted Yarns color John B. It has 540 yards in one skein!! and machine washable. The colors are so great for the beginning of fall. That is what I see right now on some trees. It is also nice for summer or spring. This is one of the yarns that do not require much in terms of a stitch pattern. Something simple that shows the yarn well. So, for my design of a garment I am going with this swatch and I am paying more attention to the construction of the garment. I think I got it but have to wait till I can share with everybody. I might even change something from my current plan as I start working on it. At this point colors and the feel of the yarn, that will be even softer as I wash it, inspire me and make me happy.
The tunic with cables that I showed two posts before is progressing well and I will be finalizing my decision on sleeves. Options are: saddle sleeves or set-in sleeves. Both look good in this design, but when I see the real thing in real proportions, I can make a better decision then. Back to that project.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Dolce Slouch is in Vogue

If you open the new issue of Vogue Knitting Holiday 2009 on page 12, you will see my hat Dolce Slouch under the heading "Nifty Gifts". It does not have my name mentioned, but the link is given to the free download on the website of Cascade Yarns with my name on it. There are only five patterns chosen and other patterns are by Noni, Susan Anderson, Norah Gaughan, and Nashua Handknits. Needless to say, I am honored. Overall it is a nice issue. Tikru (Mari Muinonen) has a beautiful fingerless gloves on p. 73. I love her designs. Shiri Mor has two very interesting designs, and I fell in love with Jenn Jarvis's cardigan. There are some very nice color-work sweaters and some articles. So, I need to get off the computer and start reading.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Big Storm

I wished for cool weather for a long time now. Well, it is our fist storm in this area with rain and very strong wind. It is definitely a knitting weather... I plan to knit as soon as I get home, but I cannot say I am very happy about the weather yet. I need to drive in this storm from work and do my chores before I get home. When I get home I will be happy. Meanwhile I was admiring this blog by a person from Estonia. I cannot read Estonian, but you can admire the photos of a beautiful lace. There is another blog that is fantastic and very useful for knitting techniques called Techknitting. So much information and very well illustrated. Enjoy.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Working on a new design

I am knitting a tunic for Cascade Yarns using their beautiful yarn called Soft Spun. It is barely ply twisted and looks very rich. My design involves many different cables and the yarn is showing them just the right way. I always loved cables and do not mind doing them; although I have to tell you that if feels like this tunic has 1000 of them... But it's o.k. I really do not mind. I am planning on knitting this weekend, so I might get the bodice done. I am so anxious to see it done since the cables are all over the place and they are not simple looking (not difficult to knit at all) and not easy to comprehend how they fit in the shape. I guess I am a very visual person and I need to see it to appreciate.
Going off the topic of knitting, I took some pictures of three Russian lacquer boxes which are done with tempera paints on varnished objects made of paper-mache. These are the gifts brought from Russia by friends and relatives. Aren't they gorgeous? My aunt was a painter in one of the art factories where these boxes are produced. The place where she worked was in Fedoskino, village near Moscow. When we were leaving Russia, she gave one box to me, so it will remind me of her. It had a portrait of a beautiful young lady in a light-blue dress on a lid of the box which was red inside. I loved how it smelled just like two boxes she gave to my mom when I was little. At the border the Russian custom officer took it away from me and said that it is not allowed to be taken out of country. I was lucky that our relatives were there saying goodbye to us and I gave it to them. Otherwise, the same officer would take it for himself. Now I have these beauties.

They do not have the same sentimental value, but it is as close as I can get to the real thing. These boxes and pins are made
in Palekh and Mstera, not Fedoskino. Each of these villages have their own choice of colors, so if you know about these boxes, you can tell right away where they are from. Fedoskino used silver as a background and highlight color and Palekh used gold. In my house they are just decorations since I do not want to disturb the paint, but my mother was using her boxes for jewelry and kept some stuff that was small and really not of any value, but it was a treasure hunt for me when I looked in there. I hope you admire these boxes as much as I do. I am not always that sentimental, but the loss of my mother-in-law made me think about my life in Russia. I do live in America longer than there, but that was the first part of my life. I do not have any nostalgia and do not miss much from that life, but I love Russian culture, literature, and art.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

In Memory of an Avid Knitter

Two weeks ago we had a funeral for my mother-in-law... Besides remembering her as a loving mother to my husband and a grandmother to my children, I will always remember her as a person with whom I had many interests in common and from whom I learned many tips and tricks in cooking and knitting.

Her name was Olya and she had many talents. Throughout her life Olya very successfully moved from one craft to another. She made hats, did some lace work, loved cooking and was great at it. Later in life she learned how to knit and it became her obsession. Olya could knit many hours in a row perfecting every stitch, every seam. Her knitted project had a very even gauge and looked like she bought it in some boutique. Many times she inspired me with her projects and contagious love for new techniques and color combinations. It was great to have her around. Every knitter knows how important it is to be able to show your finished project to a person who understands all that goes into making of it. Olya always encouraged me to try new things.

Unfortunately, Olya did not take pictures of her projects, so we have just a few photos with her work. Most of them are not showing the garments well. This sweater she made for my husband when he was 14 or 15 years old.This is the only picture that was done as a showcase of the sweater. We can conclude that she was very proud of her work on this garment. My son had his own sweater and my daughter had hers. All three sweaters are knit from bottom up in brioche stitch. Sleeves are raglan style. You can see the nice work on raglan lines. She first knit color stripes and later (still on separate pieces) she used a duplicate stitch to imitate the fair isle work. Very clever technique. Olya gave us these three garments and I still have them, so I could take pictures myself. This little cardigan is knit in kimono style from top down as one piece and ,when it was finished, it was cut in front (it is called sticking) and the button and the buttonhole bands were attached later. The skirt is knit in the round in the stitch pattern that makes knitted fabric to form pleats. I wish you could see more of her work. I know you would admire them all.

As for me, I will miss her. I did inherit all of her knitting books and some tools, so her legacy as a knitter is alive with me.

Friday, September 18, 2009


One of my new designs for Claudia Hand Painted Yarns is finding its way to the shops that carry this yarn and to the online shops. These are the only venues where this pattern will be available. Check the online shops Knitty Noddy and Fine Points. I love Claudia's yarn. She has the most amazing colors. For this hat I used the yarn called Worsted and I loved to work with it. It is soft, beautiful and it holds the shape of the hat wonderfully. There is another project that I designed for this yarn company, but I have to wait a little bit to show it.
There are so many exciting things happening in the knitting world! I am looking forward to participate in some of the events. I also am working on a very special interview with a very special designer. It should be done soon. I am not telling anything now, but do check back to catch it.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Book signing at Knitique

It just happened that the last weekend was full of events for me. I was joining my husband for a banquet at the math conference at UC Davis. He wanted to be in Davis at 9 am, so he can go to the talks by famous mathematicians and I was supposed to hang around until 7pm (banquet time). So, I frantically started to search yarn shops in that area. After some search online, I have found the website for Knitique. When I looked there, the first thing I saw was a photo of a knitter wearing a Two-Way Beanie, which is one of my designs. I was very flattered and wrote to Danielle Bowen, the owner, that I will be in the area and would love to come over. I also offered her to bring all our projects from "Casual, Elegant Knits" for a one-day trunk show. Danielle thought that it is a great idea and, although it was a very short notice, advertised my book signing and a trunk show. I am so glad that I visited this shop. It is a cute yarn shop in Elk Grove, CA. Danielle and her staff are very friendly, knowledgeable, and excited about knitting.
On this photo you see left to right Beth, who came to show her wonderful cashmere Apr├Ęs Surf Hoodie, by Connie Chang Chinchio that she just finished, Susan who was so great in helping me to set everything up, and Danielle who is always with the big smile helping her customers.
There are so many things going on every day. Classes are taught, projects are made with supervision of Danielle who is knitting since she was a child, friendships are formed, finished garment are shown and praised, photos are taken for blog posting, cakes are served, stories are shared. I loved to see all that. This is Cora who is one of the regulars at the shop. She and other knitters were sitting at the table and were knitting away. Diane is on the left. She wants to make some of the projects from our book and you see her looking at them. I do not have a photo of Jeannie, but she came to see me and said that she loves my beanie pattern and made all kinds of changes to the pattern to come up with a different look of that hat. It sounded like she had a lot of fun with that pattern. I am so glad. Our book had a special spot. Susan and I worked hard to display the garments throughout the shop. Here are the pictures of the trunk show. You can see that it was all over the shop.I was in the company of people who love to knit and know about yarn and newly published books and patterns. Here are some pictures I took there. I had so much fun that it was hard for me to leave. I am sure I will keep in touch with Danielle. As a matter of fact, while we were talking, we understood that we did see each other before at TNNA last January. We were taking a class together from Stefanie Japel. The world is small…

I came back to Davis on time for a banquet and continued to have a good time with friends.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Baby Dress Elinka

I cannot tell you how much fun I had making this dress. I wanted to create something that is cute, soft, not too bright in color. I actually have a particular baby in mind who is going to wear it together with the little shoes I have made some time ago. Since it is a gift to my friend, I did not want to ask her if her little girl will model for me. I was asking everyone around me if they have someone with the baby girl about 12-18 months old. Finally, I was told that I have a model. I came to her house and she was so great. She loved to be photographed and just did her usual things and only once in a while looked at the camera. It was fast and enjoyable. I will be more specific about the yarns and sizes when I will make this pattern available. It should be done the next week or even earlier. So, here is Baby Dress Elinka. The model's name is different.