Saturday, 24 July 2010

The New Look

At the advanced age I have now reached, I have accepted that there are some things I am just not good at and nor will I ever be. One of them is lace knitting. Another of them is having a house that looks like the houses in Living Etc (one word: woodchip. Another word: pebbledash). And another is getting blogs to look the way I want them to, despite lots of effort and going cross-eyed over css and Gimp and worse. In fact put me in front of a blog template and I am paralysed by indecision. What colour do I want my fonts to be? What shall I do with my header? And I look at people with stylish blogs and think, hmm look at you with your coherent css, jealously. Oh, it is a painful process.

So, thank goodness for Susie Jefferson (link to etsy shop), who has made over my blog – thanks Susie, I think it’s great! Susie is very easy to work with, and extremely helpful (and I suspect she’s the same even with people who don’t have the same name as her ;-) ). I was worried I would be a nightmare to work with because I had that marvellous combination of not knowing what I wanted but being very definite about what I didn’t want, but no, it was an easy, pleasant process and I would definitely recommend Susie’s services. And although I don’t like to big up my own blog, I must say, I think the end result is rather cool. (OK. I love it!)

The only problem for me now, obviously, is that I may be paralysed with stage fright at the thought of posting on my posh new blog, and will have to start writing about sensible things instead of my usual ramblings. Luckily we will be away next week so I can adjust emotionally, and return in splendour next Sunday to bore you with my holiday photos. It is also possible I may be struck with new and innovative ideas for upcycling textiles in Cley next the Sea, and if I am I will certainly tell you about it. In fact le tout Cley may be wearing Junky Styling-esque getups and it may furnish enough inspiration to get me through to Christmas (eeek! The C word! And we’re not in August yet!)

Have a lovely week everyone, and I’ll see you when I get back! x

Friday, 23 July 2010

She that holds the diamond necklace dearer than the golden ring/ She that finds a winter sunset fairer than a morn of spring.

Why do I find a pile of scraps like this, that any sensible person would throw out
more inspiring than nice new fabric? I'm looking at this and wondering if there is any way I can patchwork them into a skirt. I admit it might be a challenge but I bet I can do it. In fact I bet I can do it quicker than I can thread the serger (I'm cautiously declaring that serger a success. Cautiously.) I'm also looking at these (note the careful laying out on the bed – you can tell this is not my bed. If it was my bed they would all be thrown in a heap on the middle)

and thinking what I can do with them. I found this blog recently which has some fascinating things people have used ties for, I love the ones incorporated into furniture. I'm thinking I will open them out, iron them, and go from there. We're going to go on holiday next week and I can see I'm going to drive Partner mad* combing the charity shops of North Norfolk looking for bits of unloved fabric that I can make into things. If anyone reading this has ever been to North Norfolk, isn't it lovely? You know how people on travel shows say everything is 'unspoilt' even when they're standing outside McDonalds next to a four lane bypass? North Norfolk really is unspoilt.

* Actually I'm doing Partner a disservice here as he loves poking round charity shops and has never misbehaved. However. Last year we were in Primark in Manchester (and you can guess my views on Primark but in my defence we were walking through to get to somewhere else) and there was a display of some actually rather attractive Balmain-esque military jackets. I heard the siren call of a convincing knock-off. I paused. I looked at the jackets. 'Look at these' I said, thoughtfully, to partner. I lifted one up from the rail to look at it more closely. Note: I lifted the first jacket from the rail to look at it. I did not look at the size. Partner did, however. 'Size 10?' he said, in a loud voice which carried through the shop as Partner is used to giving lectures and not used to talking in hushed tones in temples of consumerism. 'You'll never get in a size 10!' I was annoyed, obviously, although this was patently true and I hadn't been intending to. 'Actually I might' I hissed at him. 'Rubbish!' he said, even louder. 'You'd have no chance of getting in that. Look at the size of your chest.' Half of Manchester turned round to look at the size of my chest. Partner is now banned from clothes shopping but in Oxfam etc they have books and he can look at those. It is a win-win. Look out, charity shops of North Norfolk. We are coming.

Wednesday, 21 July 2010

Stuff. Stuff I've been doing. Stuff like that.

I wanted to show you what I've been doing. Oh, it's been a hive of activity chez useless beauty recently. I've got a couple of craft shows in the autumn and I want to up my stock levels, so I've been working on designs, and I've also been making some things for me. I'm still on a recycled fabric kick so these are all repurposed from other things. Well, mainly they're repurposed from mum's old tshirts. Oh, the number of times I've laughed at the number of tshirts she buys, I'm laughing on the other side of my face now. Hur hur hur (tortured other-side-of-face-laugh). First:
This is made from one of my dad's old shirts. You can see it looks a bit crumpled and that's because I've been wearing it. I'm a bit divided with this one: on the one hand I don't think it looks terribly attractive, on the other I somehow really like it. Also it's really comfy. I shall share with you what I learned. You can see I used part of the armholes to make pockets. Because I am dim, I didn't actually cut the pocket lining any bigger than the pocket itself (I know!) so they are false pockets. If you ever decide to make a similar skirt, take it from me, it would be greatly improved by having real pockets. Also, make sure you gather the pockets when you add the waistband (have the back of the pocket at the side seam, the rest towards the front) – on my first try I left the pockets ungathered and pleated the rest of the skirt and this was a Bad Idea. I'm not particularly wide-hipped, but it had a similar effect to someone following you about with a spotlight focused on your rear shouting 'Look at the size of this woman's hips! God! They're enormous!'

This was an experiment, but I like it. My first try was so unspeakable I actually felt depressed when I'd sewn it. I wish I'd taken a photograph. I can't explain how awful it was: I was trying to incorporate a kind of slightly longer godet for a bit of flair, and I ended up with a tight lycra mini skirt with a long stripey tail. Like a raccoon off for a night out dancing round its handbag and drinking Bacardi Breezers. I'm going to stay away from godets until I haven't got PMT any more. I honestly don't think my brain is working this week.

This is a wrap skirt I made as a prototype (from old tshirts) – I'm going to make lots to take to the craft fair. The photos aren't great, but it actually looks really good on, I'm pleased with this one. You can see I haven't trimmed it. I just hate trimming. I will do it at some point!

And these are a (very rough prototype of a) pair of knickers (on our ironing board, sorry). I'm going to size the pattern up and down and see if I can track down some stretch elastic or codge up some other kind of attractive trimming for the waist and legs. I'm thinking saturated colours with a contrast elastic. Turquoise and lime? If it works I'll be making some of these for me as well as some to sell, because I've just realised sitting here that I've had the knickers I'm wearing for 12 years. 12 years! Isn't that shameful? That's where long term relationships get you. Fur coat no knickers springs to mind. I have got a fur coat as well, actually, made from the pelt of the finest Acrylics, natch.

Hope everyone else is feeling reasonably productive (although really it's too hot to do anything except eat Magnums and complain.)

*** Edited to add, I've been googling stretch lace and I can't find where to buy it. Does anyone know?

Monday, 19 July 2010

You say tomato...

Quiz! Hooray! What is this?

  1. A happy place.
  2. The kind of place which Mary Queen of Shops would go faint on entering.
  3. A Local Yarn Shop.
  4. A wool shop.

And what might this be?

  1. An abomination. Please delete it from your blog. I have now unsubscribed, in a mute but telling protest.
  2. A magical substance, carefully spun from the combings of a friendly Muppet.
  3. An exploitative by-product of the petrochemical industry, directly responsible for the deaths of 3 endangered species that we know of.
  4. Wool.

And the answer in both cases is number 4.

O but wait! Let me explain! It isn’t doublethink. I am not mad. I am in the grip of a dilemma. Half of me knows that yarn is better being called yarn. After all, it can be made of lots of different things. It may be made of cotton. It may be made of bamboo. It may be made of silk, or cashmere, or acrylic, or the cut up tshirts which I am going to give up on and bin crochet a rug with one day. And all of these things (says she, putting on patient and slightly patronising face,) are equally valid. However. I am British and although we have learned to say yarn – it doesn’t feel natural. Well, it doesn’t feel natural to me. Because it isn’t yarn! A yarn is something fishermen with beards tell you while they are doing things with their nets and chewing on a whelk! It’s wool. Wool is the name for anything stringy you can wrap round a needle. 100% acrylic, squeaking and giving off static sparks? Wool. Warm, yielding Qiviut, spun from the pale underbelly of a virginal musk ox? Wool. Dishcloth cotton? Wool. Laceweight mohair? Wool. That weird jelly stuff? Wool.

I know I’m wrong. Even the man on Chesterfield market calls it yarn now:

And he once stuck my mother out that you can’t get aran weight cotton mixed with microfibre (Rowan All Seasons Cotton, man on Chesterfield Market!), and now they do not speak. So, where do we go from here? Do I need retraining like on A Clockwork Orange? Do I need to snap an elastic band on my wrist every time I think rebelliously, it isn’t yarn, it’s wool? It’s all very difficult. Does anyone else have this problem?

(Also while we’re at it, it’s scone to rhyme with moan. Just thought I’d clear that up.)

Sunday, 18 July 2010

Beauty products and preservatives (snappy title!)

I think there are some things that, once you have made them yourself or bought them handmade, you never go back. Bread is one of them. I am also a bit like that with handmade beauty products (soap!) so I have been experimenting this weekend with different ways of making body butter (in fact this is going to be a bit disjointed as I am going to have to keep going off and whisking my shea). OK, I am back now (it isn't working, I think I needed more oil.) Anyway, in my travels around the internet and other places, I have learned something interesting about handmade bath and body products, and I am going to pass it on to you here. Because this is my blog, and I can be boring if I want to be. And also otherwise soon people are going to not answer the phone if it is my number calling and will say to each other 'Oh God it's Susie, don't answer, she's going to tell us about parabens.' But first. A picture.
This is my Honey Healing Balm. I will not recommend it. Not only did I spend a Saturday night stirring it when really I ought to have done something more sociable and dynamic, it will not set, and honey is really sticky, so when you rub it on yourself you feel a bit like one of those cartoons where people get covered in honey and are chased by bees. I shall experiment further.

OK, so this is what I have learned. You can make two different types of moisturising-type things. One is anhydrous and one is not. This means one has water in it and one doesn't. Now, this is the exciting thing: you cannot make anything with water in without a preservative, unless you are going to keep it in the fridge and use it really quickly. Sorry got to go and whisk again. OK, here I am back and with a new appreciation of why people have Kitchen Aid mixers. If you don't use preservative, it will get mouldy quickly. An anhydrous moisturiser (like, to pluck an example out of entirely thin air, hmm, whipped shea body butter), will last for months without preservatives, but if you want that familiar shop-bought texture, or a lotion, or a cream, you need to use water, emulsifier, and preservative.

So this has made me start thinking about greenwash. I read an article in a newspaper today (I can't find a link), about a woman who was selling mineral makeup, who made a big fuss about her products being 'all natural' and not having 'fillers'. This woman sold liquid foundation. People: liquid foundation *must* contain the following: 'fillers' in the form of lotion (otherwise it would just be powdered pigment), emulsifier, preservative. Now, I am not saying that this is necessarily wrong – I think you just accept that if you're going to use something like this it needs preservative in it – but implying things that are just not true about something you're charging £40 a tube for is pretty rich. Eco friendliness: not just a marketing gimmick. So, this is my counter recommendation. The best foundation to use, bar none, is powdered mineral foundation, which you can buy from lots of sellers on etsy. You apply it with a brush, it lasts forever, and it even makes my skin tone look attractive, and this is quite an achievement. Also I suspect you could buy quite a lot of mineral foundation from etsy for £40. I think you might have enough left over to buy the brush! (and a hot pie!).

You see how a little knowledge is a dangerous thing. I'm going to spare you my rant (this time. I will certainly do it later, be very afraid) about how commercially produced soap is not proper soap, because I have got to go and obsess over my Shea Butter. The whole house smells of patchouli. I am hoping Partner does not rebel.

Thursday, 15 July 2010

Dramatically increased professionalism

I am sharing with you a pivotal moment. A step has been added to my design process. Normally I have an idea, get out all the fabric I own and throw it in the air and drink a lot of coffee, and then somehow at the end of it all something is produced. Today though I did this:
I had an idea for a skirt and I sketched it in a notebook! I’m a Designer! (Look, I never said I could draw. It makes sense to me. That's all that matters. ;-))

Wednesday, 14 July 2010

All the better to knit you with

Ha! Eat your heart out, whatever it is that produces Qiviut.
This is Milo the very friendly husky. Milo is currently moulting, and is being defluffed by my brother, his owner, in this photograph. I believe Milo produces quite a lot of fluff. I have just googled, and it appears you can spin husky fur, and now I feel I ought to learn to spin to make the most of this natural, sustainable resource. Would that be odd? (OK, well, I know it would be odd, but would it be odder than any of the other things I do?). Has anyone ever spun/ knitted with dog fur?

Accompanying Milo on his walkies is probably the closest I will ever get to going out with a celebrity. Milo is quite a cool dog. He is named after a DJ, and he is in a band. When he goes out, he is stopped every five minutes by people who want to cuddle him. What a pretty dog you are, they say, as Milo licks their faces affectionately and, I have to say, rather indiscriminately. Are you a wolf? Is he a wolf? Is he, though? Look, people, life lesson number 653: check whether something is a wolf or not before you cuddle it, not after.

Tuesday, 13 July 2010

Race for Life. We did it ;-)

OK, well, you know what it was last weekend.

And so I'm going to make you look at my photographs.

Here is my mother carefully pinning a race number on her sister. You will notice that she is managing to do this without exposing my aunt's underwear. When she pinned mine, however, it involved lifting my skirt above my head. I am not sure why but I think it came from the same impulse as spitting on a hanky and rubbing it on your child's face even though they are 43 and a barrister.

Here we (me, Aunty Kath, Aunty Maureen) are ready to set off with my mother taking the photo to keep her out of trouble.

People had notices on their backs about who they were running for and some of them were very touching. We didn't have this as we had been instructed very firmly by S who is married to my cousin R 'not to go writing anything depressing'. I have to say though, that although obviously cancer is intrinsically a bit depressing and you can't entirely get away from that, the walk wasn't depressing at all. We had a lot of fun.

Here we all are at the start. The runners set off before us. What was quite nice was that there were people along the walk cheering and encouraging us on. We needed the encouragement as we thought we had nearly finished at one point and we had only done 2K.

Tutus were very much in evidence. I may possibly make one for Aunty Kath next year. I think that would test the strength of our familial bond. I did the walk in my dress and Birkenstocks, and at one point during the race we were joined by the Mayoress of Chesterfield who expressed doubt that I would be able to complete it in my unsuitable footwear. But, not a single blister! If that isn't a ringing endorsement for Birkenstocks I don't know what is. This photograph was taken just before one of our number faced the terrible temptation of walking past Evans, where there was a sale on. But you'll be pleased to know that we kept her on track.

And here we are after the race. I'm pleased to tell you that not only did we not come last but we're going to do it again next year and (apparently) we are going to do the 10K. Manufacturers of pink trainers should take the opportunity to get their stocks up as I imagine my mother will be starting the search very soon.

Look Look Look!

AC from AC Engineered Knits has given me a blogger of substance award!
I am very excited, indeed I am so excited I have decided to spare you my usual tirade about how I never normally win anything, particularly as it then leads inevitably to the anecdote about the time I won a mixed grill (raw, in a tray, including black pudding) at Bingo, and this annoys my brother as he says it was actually his mixed grill and I am stealing his memories. Anyway, these are the rules of acceptance:

Thank the blogger who bestowed you with the award.
This one was not hard. Thank you, AC, it’s very kind of you! Actually not only am I pleased to have got the award, I’m pleased to have discovered your blog, I like it very much. Although I have got a confession for you: I only ever use two methods of casting on. And one of them is not really a proper method.

Sum up your blogging experience, philosophy and motivation in five (5) words.

This one was hard, because, well, do I strike you as a woman who is concise of expression? I thought not. OK. Here goes. Learning, enjoyment, connections, structure, exploration.

Nominate 10 deserving bloggers
And this one was absolutely agonising. I read loads of blogs and I love them all. They’re like having a glimpse into other people’s lives and you learn so much. So, you know, if I’ve not tagged you below don’t think I’m not reading your blog like a stalker because I very likely am. You don’t escape that easily ;-)

Ok then,

Ialheg of I Spy With My Altered Eye
Unbought Delicacies
Resa of Discovering Asterisms
Mumma Troll of Chronicles of the Troll Family
Colour It Green
The Absinthe Fairy
A Sulky Cat
Silver of Quicksilver Crafter
Oh Miss West
Au Fil Des Laines

Consider yourselves nominated! ;-)

Thursday, 8 July 2010

Les Animaux

I am a furry grey Pussycat. I luxuriate in the coruscating intensity of my grey furriness on this unpromising-looking random Cambridge step. In my dreams I am charging through the African Savanna in pursuit of a Gazelle. In reality I shall trot off indoors shortly and 'encourage' someone to dish up the Gourmet Pearl.

But wait. A faint clicking: it has disturbed my dreams. The Gazelle: it flees, it flees. Might there be someone there with a camera? Go, person clicking their camera at me! You are Stealing my Soul.

I don't know how I forgot to say this (this is me again, not the grey cat) because I am excited. Colour It Green put my rainbow bag in an etsy treasury! Go look (there are some very nice rainbow things.) Colour it Green on etsy sells wool directly from sheep. I understand (from CIG's blog), that one of the sheep is called Sharona. If you can think of anything cooler than wool from a sheep called Sharona, then you have a better imagination than I do.

Wednesday, 7 July 2010

Making Jordan look like an Urban Minimalist

Well, it certainly dyed it pink.

I’ve put more about making this dress on Wardrobe Refashion (don’t feel pressured to go and read, I just don’t want anyone to have to read about it twice, so I won't say it all again!). I’ve trimmed the threads, and it’s ready to go. I can’t say I’m sold on the pink (although I wonder if a bit more of a red tinge to make it a true fuschia might have looked quite attractive), but I’ve got to admit, I do quite like the dress, and I might experiment with making some more and with different colours. If it was black I think I would actually wear this. Perhaps I’ll overdye it when the race is over?

I’m leaning towards some kind of makeup to go with it: something like this, maybe? I should go and dig through my makeup bag and see what I’ve got. I haven’t worn makeup in a year. What’s the worst that can happen if you use old eyeshadow? Botulism? Ha. Much better than spending £1.49 on a pot of eyeshadow from Collection 2000. (That’s a joke. Obviously good eyeshadow hygiene is always practiced meticulously in this household.)

Tuesday, 6 July 2010

Following my post yesterday...

My dress is in the washing machine being dyed fuschia. I am sitting biting my nails nervously. Will it come out in one piece? Will it all dye (roughly) the same colour? Will my washing machine dye all subsequent washing fuschia forever, or can I trust the Dylon packet which tells me very sternly that This Will Not Happen? Will I look like a more haggard, cynical and flatter chested version of Jordan when I wear my dress? These are questions that can only be answered by time.

Also, my mother says I can say on my blog that she too has had cancer (she is now recovered) and that lots of women in our family have also had either breast or ovarian cancer, so it is quite a big issue for us. This is true. And I can honestly say that my mother having cancer taught me many things. The main one is that arranging to have all the windows in your house replaced the day after you come out of hospital is perhaps not the best scheduling decision you could possibly make in the world. Another one is that you will be quite tired after your operation, so if, having had all your windows replaced, you decide to throw a big party a few days afterwards, you may wish to conserve your energy and not use it up on, for example, taking all the things out of the kitchen cupboards, dusting them, and then putting them back in again. Also that there are many fine exercises to keep your lymph glands in working order, but sitting in a pub and flapping your elbows up and down to look like a Funky Chicken is not one of them. You see, it was very instructive. I shall go now and reconstruct a shirt because sitting worrying about my washing machine is getting us nowhere: I have never yet been able to affect the wash cycle by the Power Of My Mind.

Monday, 5 July 2010

Race for Life

My grandmother – Nana Bessie – died when I was about 14, of ovarian cancer. At the funeral, the vicar, who I don't think had ever met her, concluded the service with the throwaway line, apropos of nothing at all, 'And Bessie enjoyed sewing and knitting.' I think it might have been in his arsenal of things to say at old lady funerals, and he probably rotated it with 'and x enjoyed going to Bingo' and 'and x was very fond of her grandchildren/ dog/ neighbours'. However. Nana Bessie was not just a person who enjoyed sewing and knitting. She was hardcore. She was an upcycler before there was upcycling. She was a person who brought up three children on I suspect not much a week, made all her own bread and meals, and made clothes for her, my grandad (who was very confused when she died to discover that knitting socks was not a common skill and he would have to buy them from shops) and any passing grandchildren. The only ready meal I ever saw her buy was fish and chips when we went on holiday (she famously sulked for the entire evening in a caravan in Skegness when Grandad brought back haddock instead of cod) and a Sally Lunn loaf once a week for Saturday teatime. She also made quilts, which were put into instant use, and used for years. This is one:

It's made from leftovers from all the clothes she made for herself and my aunts. It contains fabric that any quilt book you read tells you shouldn't be mixed with cotton – slippy dress fabrics and lace. She pegged rugs from the leftover loops of sanitary towels which my aunt's friend, who worked in the sanitary towel factory, used to sneak out for her in a carrier bag. Whenever you went to visit she always had something cooking: bread, pie, boiled beetroot, tripe. She worried I was too fat, so she used to tell me I needed to diet and hand me a chocolate bar at the same time. She was quite a woman. Whenever people call things 'not your grandma's craft/ knitting/ sewing whatever' I think, what a load of nonsense. I'd give my eye teeth to be as good at thrift, sewing and recycling as Nana was.

Anyway, yes, ovarian cancer. So, because of this and various brushes our family has had with cancer, this year I am doing Race for Life this Sunday in Chesterfield. If anyone would like to sponsor me I have a button at the top right, there, you can see it (I have set up the page so it doesn't show amounts pledged, so if you only want to sponsor me 2p you can do and I will be excessively grateful!). I am not running. I am walking with my mother and my Aunty Kath, and I don't fancy our joint chances of getting round quickly (indeed I strongly suspect my mother thinks she can pop into Marks and Spencers in the middle). So I thought, given that I am not running, what shall I do that is a bit of an effort and special to give people something to sponsor. I know, I thought, I will make a costume (!). So here we are, I have made a start. This is very much a work in progress, you can see I have not moved it anywhere attractive to take the photo and there are threads dangling everywhere:

It's made from 4 of my mother's old tshirts, and it's been lots of fun to make (and easy – when it's finished I'll tell you how I made it just in case anyone else wants a mad dress.) I couldn't face rethreading my serger (I know, I'm a bad person) so it's mostly zig zag stitched, but look, I'm not going to be wearing it afterwards, it only has to hold together for a day. Tomorrow I'm going out to buy some pink dye and I'm going to dye it, and perhaps embellish it a bit with lace. If I had the first clue about how to make fairy wings I'd be making some too. I'm wondering if I should get some sparkly makeup. I think I've still got some green glitter eyeshadow but the last time I wore it it didn't come off for a week and green glitter eyeshadow is not a good look the morning after.

Anyway, if anyone has any bright ideas for a costume/ embellishing this dress, don't be backward in coming forward - I'd love suggestions! The race is on Sunday, so I've got until then.

Sunday, 4 July 2010

Open Studios Reprise

Yesterday we did Cambridge Open Studios, which I have mentioned before. And do you know what?

It was great, we had a really nice time. All the artists we met were really friendly and nice, and it was really inspiring seeing things that other people make. I did discover that my mother has one speed, and it is not marching-around-Cambridge speed, it is ambling-round-Meadowhall-looking-for-a-bargain speed: but, after she pulled herself together with an effort of will and managed not to collapse on the corner of Stretten Avenue, which would have been awkward, we managed fine.

Houses that are taking part in Open Studios have signs like this outside. This is so you don't inadvertently wander in on someone who isn't an artist and surprise them while they are sitting munching their croissant and reading the Saturday Guardian. And then when you get inside you see things like these:

This man made lovely glass hangings and engraved plates and things. I love glass and sometimes I contemplate lampworking, but I don't think I can entirely be trusted with a heat source.

I can't pretend to you that I came away from Open Studios without acquiring anything at all, a couple of things did come home with me:

Aren't they pretty? The glass pendant is by the man above, and the ring is by this woman, who was making some lovely, very wearable things. I don't know if you can see properly from the photograph but the outside is textured, a little bit like tree bark. I once (very briefly) did a jewellery class, which involved making a ring from scratch. After that experience I have quite a lot of respect for anyone who makes rings, which is a feat of skill rather like putting a jelly in a test tube. I like my ring very much, and I am wearing it now.

And there were lots of artists (in the sense of people who made pictures). Here are some of the postcards I collected, from left to right:

These paintings were on handmade paper, and there was also one that was gold leaf on I think linen. I thought that was particularly nice.
These paintings were amazing. I love bold, I love portraits, and I love slightly surreal. If I still had a job (cue very small violin) I would have bought one, even though they were enormous, and worried about where to put it later.
Colour wash drawings of Cambridge and France. I liked these, even though one of the shops in one of the street scenes was the one that sacked me just after my postgrad. Never mind though, I don't bear grudges.
These were landscapes made of a kind of delicate felt, they were very clever, and it was an interesting use of the medium. I once tried making a felt bead, but it came out looking like buttocks and I was discouraged. Who wants a necklace made of beads like that? Possibly I should have tried something flat, although who knows what inappropriate body part that would have ended up resembling.
I really loved the colour combinations in these paintings.
These were lovely too, delicate watercolours, although I am afraid what impressed me most from this studio was a very inscrutable-looking cat which had wrapped itself around a woman's handbag and wouldn't let her have it back. In fact practically every house we went in had a cat prowling about, thinking, hmm, we have a lot of visitors today, I hope they are not after my Gourmet Pearl or in competition for the litter tray.

Well today, as you can imagine, I have been quite tired, so all I have done is try to make a fairy dress out of old tshirts. Why would a woman of 35 who has very mixed feelings about post-feminism be wanting to dress as a fairy, you may be thinking? I shall reveal all tomorrow, if I have a moment after I have tracked down some lace and fuschia dye (funnily enough they didn't sell either in Tesco. No fuschia dye, no Borax. Who on earth are they catering to?)

Friday, 2 July 2010

4 months of thrilling austerity and creativity

I have taken the pledge. Not the no alcohol one (can you still do this?) although I might was well do, because these days half a glass of shandy and I’m anybody’s at all. I have no tolerance. No, I have taken the Wardrobe Refashion pledge for 4 months.
4 month pledge

The Pledge

I, Susie, pledge that I shall abstain from the purchase of "new" manufactured items of clothing, for the period of 4 months. I pledge that i shall refashion, renovate, recycle preloved items for myself with my own hands in fabric, yarn or other medium for the term of my contract. I pledge that I will share the love and post a photo of my refashioned, renovoted, recycled, crafted or created item of clothing on the Wardrobe Refashion blog, so that others may share the joy that thy thriftiness brings! Signed, Susie.

(You see how I personalised it? I put my name in!)

I’ve tried to do this before (I’ve not tried to do it officially through Wardrobe Refashion, but I’ve tried not to buy new clothes for a set amount of time), but I’ve always failed. I remembered this and thought, God that doesn’t bode well, but on considering further I think this was because when I was in my job and working long hours, I didn’t have a lot of time or energy for creative pursuits: buying clothes and putting looks together was pretty much all I could manage. So, although not buying clothes doesn’t sound like a big thing, in reality it cut me off from the only creative act I was up to at that point. Since my job went to hell in a handcart in an impressively dramatic fashion, however, I’ve had lots of time to be as creative as I’ve wanted to be, and I haven’t felt the urge to buy clothes as much: in fact, I haven’t felt the urge to buy clothes at all. That’s because capitalism sells us back our own repressed creative urges so we can be kept in a state of wanting something undefined. Not to be political. Anyway, I have lots of ideas for upcycling things, we’ll see how many I’m able to get off my bum and do!