Top Obsessions of 2007

After reading the post The Item of the Year Award at Flying Saucer, I started to think about all my most favourite things from 2007. After a little bit of thought, I realised that there is no one item of clothing that I favoured above all others last year and so I decided instead to share my Top Obsessions of 2007!

Frequent motifs
These are the images and shapes that delighted me throughout the year. They were: stripes, crowns and hearts and there is no overall winner for this category, because all these motifs were combined most excellently in my Christmas present to myself, the necklace on the left. If you are charmed by this necklace, the creator has three similar designs available in her Etsy shop.

Best newcomers to my style
These are the things I tried out for the first time this year. First came skinny jeans. I am not entirely sure I'm satisfied with them. The pair I've got keep falling down my arse, which is not the look I really want to achieve. They also draw a lot of attention to my large feet, and I am not sure whether I like that. I love my feet but I'd rather have people look at my head. I do love them, but I think I might love them more on skinny indie boys than on me.

The colour red was another obsession. The roots of this took hold in 2006, when I performed in The Vagina Monologues for the first time and discovered the joys of red lipstick, and the fact that some shades of red do actually suit me. After I wrote the blog post My Rainbow: Red, I soon became obsessed with obtaining a red coat for the winter, inspired by Clare Devine, the red-coat-wearing femme fatale of cheesy soapdom. I stopped watching Hollyoaks shortly after she made her final exit, because the plotlines got too bad and there wasn't her incredibly cute style to admire as compensation. Seriously, evil has never looked so good.

After reading Gala Darling's article about cat's eye make-up, and Merriam at Miss Vintage's instructions for Audrey Hepburn-esque eyeliner, I decided to investigate the possibilities of liquid eyeliner for myself. I prefer it with quite a thin line, but a long tail that curls up long enough to end just below the end of my eyebrow and at an angle. I don't wear it quite that long everyday, and I am still experimenting. I usually press dark green or dark purple eyeshadow (I prefer Bourjois' Little Round Pots in ' Noir Emeraude 07' and 'Noir Précieux 04') over the top of the eyeliner to give it a softer, more interesting look.

I conclude that the colour red has been the most exciting and best addition to my style in 2007. It makes me feel grown-up and glamourous, and it actually looks surprisingly good with purple. I really need to take some pictures of my red coat to share with you!

Most adored make-up item...

This presents me with the above dilemma all over again. It is really between liquid eyeliner and red lipstick, although glitter has also been much used and loved last year. But I think red lipstick was more of an item of 2006, whilst the eyeliner was worn more regularly this year, so 2007's crown must go to liquid eyeliner! It has transformed my look no end!

What did you love the most in 2007? Did you manage to work skinny jeans or are you going to be glad to see the back of them when they go out of style? I'm not too bothered about them vanishing for myself, I wear skirts more often than jeans anyway, but I think it will be a shame when they are no longer sported by all the artboys in London!


Earrings For The Unpierced: Part One

I haven't got any piercings. I used to want my ears pierced when I was younger and I sometimes entertain fantasies of getting my right eyebrow (I can lift it very slightly on it's own thanks to a few months practice), the top of my left ear (so that the piercings are evenly distributed), and/or my nose pierced. I also have a tattoo design in mind for my right shoulderblade, but it is even less likely that I will get that done. I'm not too keen on needles. I remember that when I had my second-to-last vaccination, the nurse kept having a go at me because I was too tense and she couldn't find where to put the needle in.

Sometimes, people I've known for years have been looking at me one day when they exclaim, mid-conversation: "Your ears aren't pierced!". I usually respond: "Yeah, I know." It's almost as strange as being told that I am tall, or skinny, which happens even more frequently. I have eyes, a mirror, and self-awareness, funnily enough!

So to be unpierced is pretty unusual. At least jewellery designers think so, because there are very few earrings being produced today for unpierced ears. In fact, I would say that finding new earrings that don't require piercings is even harder than finding shoes for big feet!

Options for the Unpierced

Clip-on Earrings

Pro: They have been around for longer than any other kind of non-pierced earring, so you are likely to find the oldest vintage earrings if you are looking for clips.

Con: High ouch factor. They squeeze tightly, so they can't be worn for long periods of time unless you are good at resisting pain. I have tried some that have been padded with some sort of plastic foamy cushion, but it often isn't attached securely to the earring, falls off, and to be honest it doesn't make much of a difference to begin with.

Ear Cuffs

Pro: A different look to clip-ons and screw-ons.

Cons: Can have a ouch factor, as they pinch the ear. Also quite difficult to find, although you can make your own out of bendable plastic-coated wire.

Magnetic Earrings

Pros: Look like studs for pierced ears, take longer to cause pain than clips.

Cons: Can't hold any weight, fall off really easily (hair often causes the pieces to move), and I find that the pain from these lasts the longest.

Stick-on Earrings

Pros: Don't hurt, can look like studs

Cons: They have a cheap, novelty look, and you could be allergic to the adhesive, which also tends to be quite crap - try using eyelash glue to get them to stay on for longer.

Spring Hoop Earrings

Pro: Look almost the same as "real" hoop earrings.

Con: Oww...

Ear Hook/Hoop Earrings (hooks/hoops over the ear)

Pro: Not painful

Cons: Looks like you just hung something over your whole ear. Unimpressive unless you make a lot of effort to hang lots of pretty things from it. Some have an irritating habit of falling off when you tilt your head to the side and move.

Screw-on Earrings

Pros: Quite a lot of vintage earrings around. Can be worn for a long time because they can be adjusted to stay on the ear without pinching tightly.

Con: They loop under the ear and depending on the decoration, this can show and look too much like you're "showing the mechanism", distracting from the prettiness.

Do you have unpierced ears? Or have you worn earrings that don't require piercings before? Which is your favourite kind?

Freeze your debit/credit card, I've got a whole bunch of discoveries to share in Part Two.


The Glove Guide

It's getting colder, and my poor hands are already starting to suffer. Despite the copious amounts of moisturiser that I apply every night, they are adversely affected by the weather, even on days when I do not leave my house. So, I have reached into the pink case where I store out of season accessories that do not fit into my wardrobe, and brought out all my gloves.

Keeping Hands Warm

I only have three pairs that are really suitable for cold weather. A short, black, chenille pair from Dorothy Perkins that I have had for a few years, and a long "touch of cashmere" purple pair that my sister got me from Topshop last Christmas.

Gentle reader, if there is ever one thing you must resist buying from the High Street, let it be gloves. The black pair have been unravelling at the fingertips ever since I got them. I actually had to return a first pair of these after a few days because a hole appeared so quickly.

The purple pair are lovely and soft. The colour is fantastic. I didn't wear them for a couple of months after I got them, which was a stupid mistake. When I did wear them that same day there appeared a massive hole to the left of the thumb and below the index finger on the left hand glove. I had to sew it up, and did so pretty well, but it feels awkward to wear and spoils the comfort of the cashmere.

For now I will continue to wear my often-mended pairs, because I haven't acquired the skills necessary to knit myself a pair of both style and quality. If you have such skills, why not try the urban rustic gloves, or the Broad Street Mittens, the latter of which are designed to be convertible from fingerless gloves into mittens. If you don't and are looking for mittens, these felted double-cuff mittens sound like they would be really warm.

Keeping Hands Warm Whilst You Work

What would I do without fingerless gloves? Earlier this year the pair I have (see above: purple, Marks and Spencer, no unravelling as yet, but they are not very soft) saved my hands from many aches and pains as I sat in cold rooms and lecture theatres at university, trying to take notes. In fact last year as I walked to uni, I would wear my fingerless gloves and then normal gloves on top! It was seriously cold!

Fingerless gloves are apparently easier to knit than the full-fingered variety, and the fantastically cool Knucks are very inspiring. However, Etsy is full of wonderful, original ready-made fingerless gloves. My favourites are these spiral gloves, the design is super-stylish and is the creator's best-seller. I think they would be a talking point because they are such an original design. I am also quite enamoured of these purple and lavender arm warmers (I wonder why?), I think they are the funkiest thing ever. Please people, let's bring back the word "funky". I miss it. Erm...these bobbly little "glovelettes" are cute and cool, but if you prefer a vintage look, these lace cuff fingerless mitts are 100% cashmere and very decorative. If you need something a bit longer, these snuggly warm merino armwarmers are plain but luxurious, and very well priced - by which I mean cheap - 100% merino, handmade, for only $35! The shop has several colours available. Definitely belonging on the dark side are these lovely merino striped fingerless gloves...drool.

Glamourous Hands!

Not all gloves are practical, some are just beautiful. These are the type of gloves that you wear in autumn (a time that seems sadly to have passed in Britain), spring, or to evening events when you will be going directly from carriage to venue. These are slightly harder to track down. Meet my frivolous gloves! To the left you will see a green stripy little one. This was passed down from my grandmother. I recently rescued this pair from a pile of scarves that my sister had stuffed in a carrier back. I think they are so sweet and am looking forward to getting more wear out of them next Spring!

Below you will see a long pink evening glove. I love these gloves! They were from a stall at last year's Clothes Show Live, and are supposedly vintage, but even if they are not they are still so much awesome. In real life they are a darker version of the colour you get if you write "magenta" as the font colour in HTML. I am such a nerd. I often describe aqua blue similarly. "OMG! It's aqua! Like the font colour!"

To assist you in finding yourself some glamourous gloves, I recommend Ebay. They are harder to find on Etsy, although I did find a few gems. These soft scarlet baby kid yarn gloves, for instance, and some silver grey sheer evening gloves, with delicate embroidery. You can also make your own pretty pair, if you have the skill, I think that Carpathia is too fine and delicate a design perhaps to keep your hands warm, but it would look very pretty.

Of course, one does not require a special event to get one's fancy gloves on. One can be posh and utterly faaabulous when doing one's washing up too! Aggie MacKenzie is a inspiration to us all, really, darlings, but please don't follow glove etiquette to the letter, it can transform one into an awful bore. Wearing giant rings on top of one's gloves is perfectly stylish, if you ask me...


Bling On Your Fingers

Purple ring from Disney World, i am a feminist ring made from an old adjustable ring and a badge from MYMY.

I am a massive fan of big, colourful rings but they are not a particularly popular piece of jewellery. I think that this is for several reasons. Rings are quite a bit of hassle, they get in the way if they are too big, and in hot weather they can get tight on your fingers. Cheap rings also tend to fall apart quite quickly, because most people use their hands a lot. I have a ring which was an adjustable band with a butterfly on it. It was really pretty and I adored it but unfortunately the butterfly bit broke off when it got hit by the plastic flap on the ticket machine at a station. Yes. The plastic flap. Fortunately there were two of these rings at the charity shop that I bought it from, so I am going to return and see if I can get the other one. Then I will only wear it for special occasions, which makes me quite sad because what is the point of a lovely ring if it isn't seen by as many people as possible?

The solution to the problem of rings has three parts.

1. Take them off to write, eat and do anything involving electricity.

There is no law that states that rings have to be practical enough to be worn at all times, or that one cannot line up one's rings by one's dinner plate.

2. Buy adjustable rings.

They can fit your finger whatever size it is that day, and they are far easier to get off - you can just pull them apart if you have to.

3. Buy rings you could fix yourself, or sturdier, more expensive rings.

I'm sure I don't have to explain why.

An example of both a fairly sturdy ring and one that you could fix yourself is this Cloisonne Ring, and another is this Copper and Emerald one. Copper wire is really easy to find but it looks like enough was used to make it quite a strong ring that won't squash easily. The advantage of copper is that it is quite flexible, the disadvantage is that it can stain your fingers green! This is easily solved by making sure you give it a good coat of clear nail varnish.

If this Elven Forest inspired ring were to break in two, it would probably be possible to use some wire to secure it together again. It's made to order so it might be possible to request an adjustable fitting.

Rings that feature a flat disc attached to a ring base, like this vintage style flapper girl ring , or the Leaf Me Be Ring are often easy to repair with a drop of glue. I have one similar ring that I repaired once with a square of double-sided tape - it lasted for years, but I think that using the strongest glue possible is the best idea in that situation.

More expensive, more sturdy and hardwearing rings do not only include the dull, small variety that you can find at the jewellers. Tarina Tarantino, queen of ostentatious, colourful-to-the-point-of-being-horrendous-on-occasion accessories, has a selection of rings. To be honest I am appalled by the mere thought of a Hello Kitty or Barbie ring but I really like the cameo, tea-party and cocktail rings. They are big, bright and shiny. In terms of materials, sterling silver is a good bet as well as brass. Plastic and thin copper are less likely to last.

The no-longer-intact Butterfly ring, another Disney World ring - this time in green, and a carnelian ring.


Halloween-eve-in' It

Yay! It is now officially socially acceptable for me to dress the way I do!

Unfortunately, the odd looks will resume on Thursday. 'Til then, I am trying to make the most of it by going to two Halloween events. Tonight I am planning to go to the Students' Union...and tomorrow I am intending to do the same!

My wings are coming along alright, they're better than I expected them to be knowing my clumsy craft skills, but not as good as I imagined they should be. I've basically chopped up a purple feather boa and added a few more feathers in red and black and pink so that it's not all purple. But it is mostly purple.

If you haven't already got a party to go to tomorrow, I have a few suggestions for you!

1. If you're in London, go to Swap-a-rama Razzmatazz's Halloween Swap Or Die (discovered via Daily Candy). It's a clothes-swap party themed to the occasion and I imagine some quite monstrous outfits will result from the proceedings!

2. If you are not in London you just might be in a country where you can actually buy Pocky locally, in which case you can make ordinarily-delicious desserts spooky a la Not Martha at design*sponge. I think it's a much more sensible idea than buying themed cakes and biscuits from the supermarket, which are invariably rank.

3. Now that the Buffy Sing-Along tour has been cancelled (Woe! I was so hoping for it to arrive on these shores soon!), the only option left for Buffy fans is to invite all our friends over, turn up the volume, and annoy the neighbours. I think October 31st is the perfect time to hold such an event, and if I was not otherwise occupied, I would run out, buy the DVD and do it! My parents are getting a new TV tomorrow (for free! Yay for winning raffles!) as well, so the temptation is definitely there! The team behind the event have produced a DIY kit to help your mini sing-along go with a bang (literaly - there are party poppers in the kit), but most of the items can be bought from any party shop, if you fear postage from the US!

4. Buy yourself a Halloween present, or make yourself a costume, just to wear around the house! I've been wearing costumes just to amuse myself for years. Once I wore wings everyday for what was probably at least a week, and my shoulders felt really strange when I'd taken them off, like they were still there in spirit!

Now I'm off to glue on some more feathers, and don my tiara. <3


Halloween Treats, Gifts, and Other Delights

Some people celebrate Christmas in their hearts all year round. I do my best to avoid them, since I celebrate Halloween in my heart, all year round. Despite my often aforementioned fear of looking like the holiday personified, I do really enjoy it, most of the time.

There have been some disappointing times recently, and I am determined to make up for them this year. I am currently suffering the dilemma of costume. Shall I be a witch, a black cat, or a dark faerie? These are the only three costumes I have ever worn. I live in the UK. Our costumes have to fit the theme - it's not just a general fancy-dress night like it seems to be in the USA. But I love witches, black cats and dark faeries, so it's okay.

Yesterday I was in a local charity shop where I saw an absolutely amazing dress. It looked like a ice skater's dress, and it was all black, with a glittery bodice and a puffy skirt with black lace netting underneath. I went to try it on and got really excited. It looked amazing, and I thought I had found the basis for this year's dark faerie costume. Then I turned around and saw that the zip wasn't done up all the way, and no matter how much I tried it would not be persuaded to close fully - my rib cage was just too big!

I had been mislead by the letter on the hanger ('M') into thinking it could fit. Since falling prey to this cruel trick I have been trying to console myself by looking at the many treats that online stores have served up to tempt us at this time of year.

I am most excited by Sock Dreams' collection of Halloween socks and accessories. I am considering buying my sister some socks for her upcoming birthday and if I do I will add these kitty cat socks to the order for myself, and possibly the spider sock garters - the purple-legged variety of course! Most of their Halloween items are cute and spooky but small, so that they can be worn on an ordinary occasions without the dreaded consquence of personifying Halloween! The Sock Journal blog itself says of the Halloween socks that they: "usually try to avoid novelty socks but these were too cute to pass up this time…" and I am so glad that was the case!

Etsy is celebrating too with a Halloween showcase, updated daily, and a costume contest, which will hopefully see the site flooded with many wonderful costumes! I told you they had a definite dark side! Today I spotted the bride of dr caligari, a black chain and cameo necklace and A Tangled Web We Do Sometimes Weave, a elegantly beautiful spider necklace. I recieved one of Girlontherocks' Stache-o-lantern badges in the October Sampler and they are cute and bound to attract many a puzzled and curious look! Make sure you check out all the seller's shops for other wonderfully spooky delights.

If you're low on cash, Gothic Martha Stewart can help you decorate and the real one can help you dress up, as can e_Diva at Mookychick as she presents Mooky Tips for a DIY Halloween.

I think I have recovered now from the disappointment of failing to fit the dress. I'm off to find my copy of Making Stuff and my purple and gold feather boa so that I can make myself some wings...how does a "dark angel" costume sound?


What Is Wrong With Darning One's Socks?

I have a confession to make.

I darn my socks.

I do not, as is more socially acceptable, throw them out when I get a new pair.

My mum doesn't understand why I bother. Neither does Camilla Morton. I can't remember exactly which book of hers I was flicking through in the bookshop a couple of weeks ago but it was either A Girl for All Seasons (please read the lone review on Amazon.co.uk and tell me whether it is a joke or serious, I am unable to tell) or How to Walk in High Heels. I turned to a section about repairing clothes. She explained how to replace a button, but under the heading for darning socks, wrote dismissively that no one darns socks any more.

At that point I closed the book and put it back on the shelf, rolling my eyes.

I darn my socks.

The fact that I can get five pairs of new socks for £3 at Marks and Spencer means nothing to me.

I like my socks. From the short socks in a multitude of shades of purple, to the knee high and beyond in various versions of stripes. I have a modest collection (I mostly wear tights) but one of which I am proud. I don't want to throw away my pale blue, cream, and silver metallic striped socks just because they get one tiny, pathetic, hole. No! I want to make that hole history with some thread in the right colour, and carry on wearing them.

I also like the planet. I don't want to waste resources just so I never have to dent my thumb on the eye of a needle. I haven't thrown away a sock for years. Some have gone through multiple darnings in different colours (in emergencies, any thread will do), and have joined the retirement collection of socks for emergencies when all others are in the wash. Will I ever throw them away?They can always be used for cleaning, like any scrap fabric, or I can send them off to be made into Stupid Creatures. Eventually I hope to knit my own socks, and those will never be entering a bin!

Why has it become such a social crime to darn one's socks? Surely in this age when it's oh-so-fashionable to be, or at least to pretend to be, environmentally conscious, the real faux-pas is failing to do so?

And who could ever throw socks as lovely as these away? Holes or no holes!


The Dark Side of Street Fashion

Unfortunately, Shoutfit has been missing for a couple of months. No one seems to know why, but it is a great shame. I had only just discovered it before it went down and as I wrote in friends, trends, and (thank the gods) some goths!, it looked like it would be heaps of fun and really inspiring for those of us who dress on the dark side. Fortunately, I am going to share with you the delights that I have found whilst trawling around other, less alternatively-inclined online street fashion communities in search of...

The Dark Side of Street Fashion!

This time I would like you to imagine a scene including pouring rain and the exterior of a almost-ruined castle. The giant oak door swings open and you see Dracula, except the vampire has abandoned his clich
éd capes and red velvet shirts and is now looking totally stylin' because he's spent all his time recently reading wardrobe_remix and StyleMob. In fact, it's a good thing that Shoutfit went MIA, because now he has some time left to go get himself something to drink. He was getting to be a bit too skinny, and would have been on a slippery slope to being really dead as opposed to undead.

I don't have a picture relevant to that scene to supplement your imagination so I will instead suggest you admire the one above. It is by
jek in the box, and I think it is amazing. I previously associated bright green and black striped tights with really badly dressed Mansonites but now I am seeing them differently. The cream coat and the green flower provide balance and elegance and I am now inspired to try wearing the similar purple and black striped tights that I have in my drawer. They were given to me by my sister who used to wear them when she was thirteen-fourteen years old (now being sixteen and "scene") and they languished in the drawer until I volunteered to take them off her hands. I didn't know what to do with them, but now I do: I will devise the most classy, elegant outfit ever, and then incorporate the tights! If I can make it look half as awesome as this, I will be extremely excited.

Also stunningly sophisticated is piksi_, a woman who I am quickly developing a style crush on. She was one of Painfully Hip's Thrift Stars of the Week, and has been featured in other blogs as well. Check out 'When it still was warm' and 'October 2nd' - I want that high waisted skirt so much I'm sure I think about it several times a week - and feel the jealousy. She even does purple and black, putting me to shame with her ridiculous amount of stylishness.

I am also jealous of ms. stephanie brown for looking like sex, mod_complex for the striped trousers, boots and waistcoat combination pictured on the right, cryptdang for owning this dress as well as for going to many burlesque shows (check out her photos, seriously), and Jaana-Mari for owning these boots and wearing them so well - I have wanted those in that colour since a link to the manufacturer's was posted on the Emilie Autumn fan forum ages ago. It still pains me that they seem to be no longer available to buy.

Other honourable mentions include: moon monster's pretty monochrome outfit, StrawberryKitten for personifying cool, and persephassa's black velvet dress.

Over on StyleMob, where they have yet to come up with a widget that lets you actually show the images for looks (apparently it is in the works, though) on your blog, I managed to fight through the Indie Army images and discover such hidden gems of darkness as electric thomas' victorian mad scientist look. I think it is fantastic. The ruffles on the blouse, the brooches, the hair...She says that "I never not want to wear this", and I think if I was capable of creating such an extraordinarily awesome effect with clothing and hair I would probably work that look pretty much everyday.

Hannah Karina's
cat has a gorgeous tail and the girl herself looks seriously cute. I have recently started to wear a pair of diamond-patterned tights (dark purple) with dresses (usually purple, although I did wear them with black and beige once) myself and it's good to see someone else rocking the look.

Usually gothic lolita style doesn't make much of an impact on me. I was a big fan for a short period of time but I quickly got bored observing it. There are a lot of rules to the subculture and in a lot of online communities any attempt at experimenting with the look is squashed. But Youran is wearing the most fantastic pink tartan skirt ever. Ever. See, this is how you do it, Avril Lavigne. It even has a crown on it!

Finally, the prize for Most Best Look on StyleMob has to go to toire. Even the cat seems to be part of the overall look. I wish I could get a closer look at those sleeves, and the brooch, and the vest. The shorts are also in this picture - where you can see that in fact they are striped bloomers! Perfect.

Now I could go on for longer, but there is a limit to how much envy one woman can stand to build up in an evening's blogging, and I think one more photo of something gorgeous might send me over the edge! That shouldn't stop you, however, from sharing any examples of street fashion from the dark side in the comment box.

All photos used have this Creative Commons license, and make sure you check out the galleries of the people whose images I have shared for more delights.


How To Avoid Getting Bored With The Way You Dress

In Guilt Is So Not A Good Look I described my shopping habits and described my three-point plan for ethical shopping. The last point was the most important: Buy as little as possible. I am an advocate of slow fashion. I believe that we should strive towards a sense of personal style rather than attempting to keep up with trends. Unless you are rich, it is impossible to keep up with the fast-moving fashion world. Most people cannot afford to buy something from every current trend - even in our era of low-priced fashion on the high street. For example, leather dresses are extremely fashionable right now, but I have yet to see many of them in any normal, low-priced stores. Some trends are so extravagant that anyone with an average salary or lower is completely excluded from wearing them, and there are so many different ideas within the themes of a season that even the hardcore fashionistas only choose a few to adopt.

Trying to maintain an individual style can be difficult and at times rather dull. Sometimes it is tempting to take the easy way out and pop to Primark and H&M for quick-fix new looks, but I think that greater enjoyment and satisfaction comes from taking the time to think about what you wear, what you own but don't wear, and what new looks you can create from existing clothes.

I have several tips to share, all ideas that I use to keep myself dressing in interesting ways without having to go shopping every week.

Seek out classic icons who dress close to the way you do or aspire to, and look for normal people who dress in a similar style to you.

The chances are that if you admire them, you may already own some items that remind you of their style, or which can be adapted to new purposes. When looking at people who dress similarly to you, watch out for the little differences, their innovations within the style. It's good to have aspirations which are closer to home and which fit in with what you are naturally drawn to already. You shouldn't have to start from scratch in order to build your perfect wardrobe - basics may have already been accumulated without you paying much attention to the process.

Try to develop your own personal touches, your trademarks.

Small things are the best for this, I think. My grandmother loves earrings and has a massive, wonderfully eccentric collection. She has everything from crocodiles to strawberries, and from traffic lights to classic pearls. You could also have an burgeoning obsession with one particular image or group of images, for example, fruit.

Watch and re- fashion, and make your wardrobe follow you.

Don't follow fashion and change your clothes every season. Watch the trends with a critical eye, gather inspiration, and remember that a lot of clothes can be altered, or worked into and through changing trends. Things actually come around a lot faster than you think. Every couple of years, bright colours are in again, then the next season, black will be back. This is true for this year - it was all about the brights this summer, but apparently black is fashionable again for the winter. Sometimes you can alter clothes to reflect the current cuts, and conversely, if you have clothes that fit a trend that has passed, you can try altering them to make them more classic. When the big skinny jeans revival began, there were almost none actually available in shops, so the people who started it all turned straight leg jeans inside out and sewed on the inside of the leg seams to make them tighter. Some people have been doing this for years - they adore skinnies and have made them part of their personal style.

Go quirky, classic, or pretty.

Most people don't have much of a clue about fashion specifics, but will notice things that are quirky, classic, or really pretty. I have a pair of black formal sandals that always attract positive attention, which is hilarious because I got them to wear for my grandparents' millennium party. Yes. Millennium. The year 2000. I was twelve, they were from Clarks and there is nothing weird about them, or attention-grabbing - but they are simple, classic and comfortable.

Don't fall into habits.

Wearing one particular bag with one particular pair of shoes all the times, for example. It's a slipperly slope from there down to wearing the same outfits over and over and never imagining anything different. It is good to have a backup outfit or two for when you're hurried, uninspired or going incognito, but try not to rely on selections you've worn together before. Think outside the confines of the colour wheel - wear colours to highlight each other, not just to match. Vary the jewellery you wear everyday, I try to avoid putting on the same colour rings, bracelet and necklace but this is difficult, especially when it all gets tangled together. I advocate storing jewellery on a mug tree!

Do you have any related advice to share? Has any of the above worked for you? This is pretty much my personal style development plan, and I'd love to hear what yours is.


What I Wore Today 2/10/2007

Look! I have been experimenting with more colour combinations. I love the effect of putting green with other dark colours - it seems natural and dramatic. I wanted to dress like some kind of forest-dwelling princess today, with cats-eye makeup. Gala Darling posted today about Dressing With The Essence Of Fairytales, which is one of my favourite styles. I love crimped and wavy hair, floaty clothing, and you probably already know about my tiara obsession. The problem was that she had already posted yesterday about her latest Fashion Darling column for Cosmopolitan, in which the second secret of awesome eyeliner has finally been revealed (I've already written about the first secret).

I had to combine the two. I went for gold eyeshadow and black liquid eyeliner, but then pressed emerald green eyeshadow (Bourjois' Noir Emeralde) on top of the eyeliner whilst it was still wet. I think I did a pretty good job! You can't see it very well here, hopefully there will be better pictures for tomorrow! Of course I've got to try it again!

So this isn't a completely narcisstic post, here are my links of the day:

Katie Bair's Petting Zoo Wig Design: The most wonderful wigs I have ever seen. Some of them are in jawdroppingly amazing styles. I wonder how comfortable the most elaborate are to actually wear.

The Most "Me" Item of Real Jewellery Ever: Silver! Amethyst! A key! Want! Need! Love!


this obsession with bloomers

Photo by RandyThomas

That's right. Grammar takes priority over post naming convention, and I have finally decided to write about bloomers.

I have the quirk of being more attracted to historial undergarments than overgarments. All those long, heavy dresses? Forget it. But petticoats, bloomers and corsets? Yay! They make modern clothing so much more exciting, and now we're not ashamed of our ankles and men have learned not to faint away at the sight of them, we can wear them as clothing in their own right, rather than as foundation garments.

I have petticoats, and I can't afford a corset - well, technically I have a plastic boned one from Marks and Spencer, but it doesn't do anything because it's my size rather than the one below. Bloomers are my next project. I don't want to buy a pair, because they are extremely difficult to find in shops of the bricks and mortar variety, and they seem pretty simple to make.

So, I have a dilemma.

Do I knit my bloomers, or sew them?

Knitted bloomers would be based on the Unmentionables pattern from Knitty Summer 2007. I would have to both shorten and tighten the pattern, but I find knitting more enjoyable than sewing. I think this has something to do with yarn.

Sewing would be faster, and allow me to use patterned fabric. Trying to knit a coloured pattern into my bloomers would probably drive me insane. Also, there are both tutorials for making bloomers from scratch - such as this one from Lara the Lacemaker and this pattern from Gifted Writer - and for recyling already existing clothing. There is a lot of bloomer-related discussion on the official Emilie Autumn fan forum (Autumn is a fan of bloomers herself), and this has yielded some useful advice. Miss Nemo made bloomers from a pair of old trousers (scroll down for tutorial), and The Lady of The Manners of Gothic Charm School has contributed her advice for doing the same (last post on page).

Whichever method of construction I choose, I have further decisions to make. What colour should they be? And how much lace should I use? I think I need to spend some time doing some research before I commit to making my first pair. Bloomers are not the easiest of garments to find online, but I have discovered some lovely pairs.

There are some cute bloomers in these Gothic & Lolita Bible scans: black and frilly, and um...black and frilly. In The Starlight have two varieties of bloomer availiable, in white, black, pink, blue, red and lilac, although they can also do custom work with your own fabric. There are several different and beautiful designs available in Vecona's store. I especially like the long brown striped pair. For shorter pairs I like reconstructionist's work, and to branch away from the dark side, Urban Prairie Girl has lovely bloomers in a bright green star pattern.

I am now wanting to design and create a pair in hot pink with black lace, strands of fake pearls and maybe a black cat applique! If you're looking to have some custom bloomers but lack the leet sewing skillz, Reveriebydesign on eBay makes custom pairs of bloomers for varying prices, and ifautumnends on Etsy does as well, for US $20.00. I am almost tempted by the latter - custom bloomers for about £10!


The Dark Side of Etsy

Colours are all very well when one is in the right mood, or for the right occasion, but what does one do when they want to celebrate the visual impression experienced in directions from which no visible light reaches the eye - also known as the colour black? Where does one turn one's impeccably lined eye?

Etsy - the home of many online stores filled with handmade products - looks all sweetness and light on the surface. Take a trip to the front page and you will be confronted with cheery shades of blue, green, yellow, pink and orange. But lurking in the depths, despite the predominance of glorious colour, buried underneath all the brightness, is something irresistable.

I will be your tour guide, to safely navigate your way to items of quality and drama! Hold on to your credit cards, as we explore:

The Dark Side of Etsy!

At this point I would like you to imagine a flash of lightning, rumble of thunder and a giant organ playing a fanfare-tastic tune. I have provided the lightning, thanks to longhorndave (check out the lightning shots tutorial - lightning looks awesome). Unfortunately my blog has no video or sound effects. I could have tried to create them but it would probably have turned out like a bad myspace profile. Consider yourselves lucky.

The Cute

I am not a fan of adorning one's possessions with spiders, bats, pumpkins, skeletons, skulls and other such images and animals that the babygoths at shopping malls everywhere seem to adore. I make an exception for black cats (I love the feline) but otherwise I avoid these kind of images. As I mentioned in My Rainbow: Orange and Yellow - I don't want to look like Halloween personified.

So anything that is adorned with that kind of thing has to be really cute and really well designed and made in order for me to tolerate it. I begin this select collection with the Arachnid Clock, by Carnivalia. I like the shape. I love that the numbers look as though they are caught on a web. I like the ornate hands of the clock, and it is made of wood. Lovely.

This Bat Necklace is simple and understated. It could look elegant with a simple dress. You could even wear it with colours. I think it sits at the perfect place in the neck to be worn with a shift dress with a straight neckline.

There are several different variations of the Gourds of Goth earrings, but these are my favourite: Lady Ghoulia. They're cute and funny enough to be worn anytime and I would certainly wear them if I had pierced ears. I'm saying that last part about a lot of earrings recently, maybe I should consider getting my ears pierced, finally!

Finally, skulls go elegant in this bracelet by PinkWaterFairy Punk. Read the description: "huge wickedly black glass faceted beads, spooky skulls, black glass AB beads, sinfully ornate silver work" - I'd want it even if I hadn't seen it.

The Elegant

I have wanted a dramatic choker for years. I have yet to own an evening dress I would wear one with. I keep buying halternecks or dresses that come up too high at the front to showcase the would-be sparklies properly. If I had worn a goth dress to my school leaver's ball like I had originally wanted to before I met the dress from Monsoon best described as "purple as fuck", I would have wanted to accessorise with something like this black Swarovski Victorian teardrop cascade choker necklace. Yes, it is a mouthful of a name! I am very tempted to get it when I get paid - it ships from the UK and is pretty inexpensive.

If I allowed myself to consider that purchase, I would have to, however, debate whether I wanted to buy a Shimmery Blue Rose Cameo pendant instead. I am currently developing a cameo obsession - I have seen so many on different websites and there are many fans of them on the Emilie Autumn forum. It's getting to me!

This Black Rose Felt Flower Brooch is hand-felted and looks stunning against the grey coat in the picture. I have recently started to develop an affection for all things grey (I blame the stitching up daises scarf) and this is a perfectly gorgeous accent accessory.

The Hats

Naturally, I have to have a special section just for hats! Beautiful in black and lace is Lena Horne, as well as the Gray and Black Lace Sinamay Mini Top Hat. Those who like their top hats full sized would appreciate this, described as Victorian Gothic with Peacock Feathers. And if you are blessed with large amounts of cash, the Mini Victorian Mourning Tricorn could be for you. With ostrich plumes and ribbons it is extravagant and fantastic.

The Others

I found some hair extensions in purple and black, and purple and white. The seller also has other colours, including striped extensions and does sets of dread falls, but I think purple and white make a fantastic contrast that I haven't considered for hair before.

Finally, this post would not be complete without mentioning yarn. Mystery - A Dark Yarn (love that name!) is varigated with purple, grey, black and white shades and would make a beautiful pair of socks.

Have you explored the darker side of Etsy recently? Purchased anything? I'm planning to do a series of "dark sides" of various sites, which I hope you will enjoy. I'm definitely enjoying them, although my debit card might start crying.


My Rainbow: Green

This is the third in a series of colour themed posts. It was going to be one article about the colours I wear and the colours I wish I wore, but I realised I had too much to write, so it became a series! Be sure to check out the rest of the series - My Rainbow!

I see green as a neutral colour, not linked to any particular emotion. I do vaguely associate it with luck – four leaved clovers are green. I actually found one of those once, but one of the other girls on the school trip tore off one of its leaves, so now I have no proof, only eyewitness accounts! It is also connected in my mind with nature, and wearing it does make me feel more earthy.

Because of its neutrality, I really enjoy wearing green, and I quite often do so. When I drafted this post I was wearing a pale green vest with my black skinny jeans, and a vintage silk floppy hat. Actually, I just put the hat on so I could mention it. It’s too hot to wear a hat without making my head on and my hair prematurely greasy. The hat is a middle range sort of green; it couldn’t be described as dark or forest green, because it is too bright. It has a big flower attached to it with a giant pin. I will photograph it for my upcoming hat post. Today I am wearing the same vest, with a black poofy skirt and maroon tights. I decided today as I got dressed that the green and maroon might look good together. It's a more unusual combination than I would usually go for. I was indirectly inspired by Ashe Mischief's post 'Rose Red and The Peacock Queen' on dramatis personae, which is about mixing red and blue, and her comment that I should not avoid wearing purple and yellow together. She's really helped me see that contrasting, "clashing" colours can look wonderful together.

Quite a lot of my favourite clothes are green. I have a long green tiered skirt from Summer 2005, when they were all in fashion. Mine has little pearlised beads on it, and it has a drawstring waist. I like to wear it with a plain black vest and a pink scarf. I also have a crinkly no-iron (= awesome) green top which I love and wear a lot as well. One of the ‘going out’ tops in my wardrobe is black lace with green mesh underneath. It was under £10 (£9.99, I think), from H&M, and is four years old. The elastic in the straps died the first time I wore it and had to be reinforced with ribbon. It looks a lot like underwear. Many people particularly appreciate this top; in fact I’m surprised it doesn’t have an official fan club. The amount of compliments I get whilst wearing it is ridiculous, I am guaranteed to get at least two every time, and I can’t think of a time it has failed.Such is the power of black and green. Use it wisely.

To the right you can see a slightly-blurry close up of the embroidery on a pair of green summer (lightweight) trousers. I got them before I grew my last couple of inches, so they swing around my ankles a bit. I love the embroidery too much to give them away. I think I am going to have to cut that section out and attach it to something else, or frame it and put it on the wall.

Green is my sister’s and grandmother’s favourite colour. The former has green eyes, of which I am very jealous. Once I had gotten over my early desire for long golden curls and blue eyes like an (scarily Aryan) fairytale princess, I decided that I wanted straight black hair, emerald green eyes, and a pierced nose. I was still in primary school and had just read The Illustrated Mum, in which the narrator’s sister Star gets her nose pierced towards the end of the book. I thought it sounded cool, and I knew I would never be allowed to get it done, which naturally made it even cooler in my mind. I assume that the green eyes and black hair part was a combination from my own imagination; I can’t remember where I would have gotten that idea from. At the time, my sister had blue eyes, but they were starting to change, and within a couple of years, they were green. Not emerald green, but close enough. One day I might try green contact lenses. I think green looks good with all colours and shades of skin - there are so many different kinds of green and it doesn’t fall into the categories of cool or warm.

I really like green carpets, they remind me of grass. When I was a kid I liked to pretend I was walking on grass when I was walking on green carpet, and vice versa. However, I don’t have many green things in my home. I’ve never particularly been a fan of green furnishings and of using a lot of the colour in interior design. Maybe I see green as an outside colour, and want to experiment with more “unnatural” colours inside. I’ve seen photographs of lime green interiors and objects, but although I like the colour, I've never felt drawn to have it in my own home. I can admire it from a safe distance!

My green obsessions:

Dark green hair – I would probably never dye my own hair dark green, but I’ve given a couple of fictional characters hair that colour. I can imagine it looking really nice with brown eyes. Really dark, almost black hair, that only shows green when it catches the light could look lovely on a real person.

A green beret – I have a confession. My name’s Lady Julianne and I have a beret obsession. I was only mildly interested in them, but then I knit myself a black and purple one, and it’s so cute I want more now. I’d really like a dark green beret, or maybe one in the same colour as the vintage silk hat (I really wish I could show you a photo, but I have no camera. I can edit it in at the weekend).

Some green artwork:

Chance Meeting, Daughters, and Spring Forest

Are you a fan of green? What colours do you wear it with? I am really getting into wearing contrasting colours, so I think I will wear it with less black in future. Do you know anyone who has dyed their hair dark green? I want to see!


The Shoe Show Mystery

I went to bed at two this morning, so I set my alarm for eleven o’clock to make sure I did not sleep for over eight hours as doing so makes me groggy. I did what I usually do, which is set the radio to turn on a minute after the buzzer, so I am woken up by the buzzer and then have the radio playing automatically as I get up. It saves me having to waste time putting it on.

This didn’t work today. I woke up at about 11:30, and the radio was playing. Resonance FM. One of the advantages of living where I do is that I can actually listen to Resonance over the air. It’s supposed to be broadcast to the whole of London but I could only occasionally catch the signal in the suburbs where my parents live. It’s a non-commercial station devoted to "radio art" and run by the London Musicians' Collective, with meagre funding, so I can forgive them for failing to reach my ears when I am in Bromley, and they do stream online. You should check it out.

Anyway, to my delight, there was a woman talking about her shoes, and sharing anecdotes about them. She described her pair of hardy New Rocks, which survived two Glastonbury Festivals, and talked about the time that she and a friend Tippexed the swooshes off Nike trainers in the cloakroom at school. It was called ‘The Shoe Show’. I had never heard it before, but I loved those last five minutes. At the end, the presenter announced that it was the last episode of this series.

Woe! If only I had known! But she then said that she would be back for a second series later in the year, and gave the address for The Shoe Show’s blog, where there would be pictures of all the shoes she’d talked about this series. I immediately got excited and wondered if there would be podcasts available or another way I could download the show. I also remembered that Resonance repeat their material late at night/early in the morning – I have listened to a lot at that time. They have a schedule - or supposedly they do, yet it's never availiable when I look - but I usually just tune in whenever I have nothing else more exciting to do. So I had high hopes of getting to hear this interesting show properly.

Then I went to the blog. It hasn't been updated since September 2006. After searching the Resonance FM website, I have concluded that there were no more episodes made. It's not available as a podcast. According to the website, Resonance are broadcasting repeats all this month because they are moving studio, but the schedule is a dead link so I can't see when anything is on. At least there is the blog, which has good pictures and archives although it was short lived - I recommend you take a look, but - Frustration! I discover something awesome, but only catch the last five minutes of the last episode!

Universe, what did I do to deserve this torment?


Oh Happy Day!

Finally, the Goddess of Craft has heard my prayers, and the God of Hats has bestowed his long-awaited gift upon the world.

Amy Karol has made a bonnet pattern available to buy online.

It comes in sizes for babies, children, and most importantly, adults. Can you not hear the chorus of angels singing in the background? I've wanted a bonnet pattern for so long, for knitting or sewing, I did not care, but all I could find were patterns for babies, vintage adult patterns too difficult to understand, or crochet patterns. I have nothing against crochet but my hands are just completely unable to manage the hooking technique, I have tried several times to no avail, but I can't work it out.

The Flickr group for Amy Karol's mailorder club has several lovely interpretations. I like this cordroy one, this blue one with a pink ribbon, and this one in butterfly fabric. When I get the pattern I want to make one in purple (obviously), with black lace and maybe some beadwork. Hurry up work, send me my moneys!


My Rainbow: Orange and Yellow

This is the second of a series of colour themed posts. It was going to be one article about the colours I wear and the colours I wish I wore, but I realised I had too much to write, so it became a series! Make sure you check out the rest of My Rainbow!

is not a colour I wear, or have worn since I was a child, except perhaps as a minor part of a colourful print, or unless you count carrying an orange book as accessorising. I like the colour black, and its presence in my wardrobe is only second to purple, so at some point I put every colour I wear with black, and if I was to wear orange and black, I would look like Halloween incarnate. I always dress on the dark side, and I love pointed hats and black cats, but wearing black and orange would just make me feel like the costume shop or Marks and Spencer’s Halloween-sweet stand vomited on me. Also, my skin tone and orange do not look best together. I don’t have any problems with orange as a colour. I don’t recoil when I see it – it’s not acid green, or beige – but I don’t seek it out, and I’ve never loved it.

To the right you can see the only orange I really own - some old carrier bags from shops I may not have actually visited. Below you can see a piece of yellow paper that I have blu-tacked to the front of a shelf. The quote is by Peter Brook.

My attitude to yellow is similar, but nostalgia seeps in and influences my view. When I was a child my favourite colour was yellow. I had my bedroom decorated with yellow wallpaper (with a Forever Friends border, duvet cover, pillowcases, lightshade, and toy box) for years until I discovered the wonder that is purple and changed my colour allegiance. Purple suited my moody, difficult teenage years, but yellow was the colour of my bright, hopeful, childhood. It is a sunny, happy colour, and it made me feel warm. I remember when me and my sister would dress in shorts and t-shirts and lay blue fabric over part of my sandy-coloured carpet, and we would pretend we were at the beach, with the sun shining. We would paddle in the blue dresses and scarves and lay down on top of them to mime swimming. I liked to put my sunglasses on and lay back on the carpet, pretending I was sunbathing, whilst reading a book. If my room has been a duller colour, it wouldn't have been so effective and fun.

I don’t wear yellow; I can’t think of a single yellow item in my wardrobe, however, I do like pale yellow. I think that it would suit my skin tone, and would not look garish with black. I’d like a pale yellow dress, with frills or without, to wear with black lace-up boots and a shawl. I also think that yellow looks nice on home furnishings. I have a yellow sofa in my house, and I think the colour adds to its calming abilities. But I wouldn't want too much yellow - it clashes with purple, after all!

People who really like orange and whose thoughts on the colour are therefore less tainted with dislike:

Tricia of bits and bobbins

Jessica of How about orange?

A Yellow Song That Is Not ‘Yellow’ By Coldplay, the obvious choice:

Head Automatica – At The Speed Of A Yellow Bullet (I don’t think yellow is mentioned anywhere other than the title, but it’s energetic and fast and dance-y, which I think are very yellow properties.)

Sorry, no orange song, but any recommendations would be appreciated! 'Oranges and Lemons', as in the nursery rhyme, is quite catchy...

So what’s your relationship to the colours orange and yellow? Do you think that black and orange can be worn without making one look like Halloween personified? What colours did you wear once upon a time but have stopped wearing recently? I’m nosy, let me know!


My Rainbow: Red

This is the first of a series of colour themed posts. It was going to be one article about the colours I wear and the colours I wish I wore, but I realised I had too much to write, so it became a series! Be sure to check out the rest of the series - My Rainbow!

Red is a colour I have spent a lot of time shyly avoiding and only recently begun to embrace. It’s definitely not a colour for the timid - attention seeking, bold, and exciting. Associated with love, lust, strength and passion, it seems to me like a colour for women, rather than girls, and men, rather than boys. However, it can be dangerous - trashy and wild, as well as polished and sophisticated. In the Victorian era, red lipstick was seen as the mark of a harlot, the lady of the night, a “painted woman”. Today, we associate red lipstick with glamorous, sophisticated women. Burlesque dancers, fans of retro and vintage fashions, wearing it perfectly applied and matching scarlet fingernails and toenails. It says “I might consider playing with you, but I’ll never need you”.

I believe there is a red to suit everyone. I’ve performed in my College’s productions of The Vagina Monologues twice and I realised this the first time, when looking around at the cast, who all looked super-hawt in their red and black outfits. We had a truly diverse cast in terms of ethnicity, body shapes and sizes, and personal style, but everybody looked fabulous and really suited their shades of red.

So how much do I wear red? Not a lot, it’s difficult to find a red I actually like to wear – I don’t like orangey reds, and they don’t suit me. I need blue-reds and pink-reds to suit my cool skin tone, but I want as pure a red as possible, for the maximum impact.

I love wearing red and dark pinkish-red lipstick, but finding good red lipstick is difficult. It was big news a year or so ago, when Dita Von Teese and Christina Aguilera-in-pin-up-girl-mode were the icons everyone wanted to imitate, but now “natural colours” are fashionable again, or so L’Oreal claim in their adverts. I hate “natural colours” - firstly, they’re mostly for warm skin tones - my lips are pink, not brown. Secondly, what’s the point? If I want my lips to look natural I won’t wear lipstick!

Above you can see a photo of my first foray into red clothing. Okay, it’s a red-on-white print, which is an easy option, I know. They did have the same dress in Debenhams with the print in black, but it didn’t look as good so I decided to take a deep breath and go for the red. And I love it! The red is a little orange, but it doesn’t matter because it’s only a print.

My red obsessions:

Red lipsticks – I wear Rimmel’s Volume Lipstick in ‘Screamer’ (nice and classy name!), a pinky-red and Rich Moisture Lipstick in ‘Diva Red’, which is a true red, but I think they’ve been discontinued, and they’re not very good quality. I really only bought them because my local pharmacy was selling them for £1 each. I am really interested in the lip stains, glosses and lipsticks that B Never Too Busy To Be Beautiful produce, they have a lot of different reds, and I’ve heard their shop assistants are really helpful. When I use up the cheapo Rimmel ones and get some money (student loan, three weeks, can’t wait) I will go and pay them a visit. Tip: Always use lipliner and apply red lipstick with a brush. It looks best when it’s perfect. Oh, and don't put it on then run anywhere with your hair loose...

Red berets – So French, so awesome. I want to knit one, but red yarn isn’t the easiest to find (John Lewis tend to stick to having pastel colours in stock) and I don’t want to buy it without seeing what the colour looks like in real life. If you read my I GOT YARN post, and compare the photograph I took of the Kidsilk Spray with Rowan’s photograph of the same shade of yarn, you will see why.

Red shoes – Because of the story, of course. I think they would look really good with a red beret, or...

A red umbrella – How sophisticated is that? And this? I don't think it is possible to articulate my awe. Since my Snoopy umbrella (It was a gift! Stop snarking!) broke, I am holding off on buying a new one until I can find the perfect red or purple umbrella. I really want one in each colour. Purple for purple outfits, and red for all the others.

Red wine – Cheap red is so much more palatable (in my humble opinion, of course) than cheap white (eurgh), and I always feel so classy holding a glassful and a conversation. More likely to give you a hangover, but I think it’s worth it.

Red hair – It looks beautiful with bright blue or purple clothes. I am slowly henna-ing my hair thanks to Lush’s Reincarnate, which seems to be working, but I am tempted to henna it properly. I know it won’t ever look too extreme because my hair’s too dark - it laughs in the face of temporary dye - so I might go for it.

Red Songs (I searched "red" in my Winamp...):

Emilie Autumn – Rose Red (ridiculously catchy, and passionate)
Cold War Kids - Red Wine, Success (I am obsessed with red wine, what more can I say? This song wins just for the title)

How do you feel about red? What colours do you wear it with? I've only ever worn it with white and black, so I’d like to know if you do anything more interesting.


this ravelry obsession

I got my Ravelry invite.

Oh my god. This site is amazing. Better than I imagined and than I could communicate to you now. If you knit or crochet and you haven't signed up for an invite yet, DO IT.

You can list your yarns, projects, patterns and books, then see what other people are doing with all of them. Bought one skein too many for a project and unable to return it? Problem solved! Just look up the yarn and you can see what others have done with it. Want to substitute the yarn for a particular project? You can see what other people are using at the click of a button!

There are groups too, based around a wide range of topics, from feminism to goth, and Joss Whedon to Brenda Dayne. Anyone can start one up and my immediate favourite is lolravelers - devoted to cat macros with yarn and knitting in them.

No, seriously.


stitching up daisies

I know I told you I couldn't wait to get started on the Wisp in I GOT YARN, but when I arrived back at my house after that trip to the shops, my eyes landed upon my only unfinished object: this grey scarf that I had begun.

Shortly after I started knitting (or restarted, I should say, having originally learnt to do it as a child), my mum gave me this big bag of abandoned yarn. There were many different types, including several balls of this grey yarn and several of the same texture in blue, without any labels. It's quite rough (in comparison with merino wool, at least), so I decided that it was only suitable for scarves or bags. I preferred blue for a bag and grey for a scarf, so I looked through my books for a stitch pattern, having estimated the yarn's weight and looked up the appropriate needle size in Stitch N' Bitch. I chose daisy stitch, as seen in The Knitter's Handbook.

(< Scarf et moi, close up of pattern is below)

The scarf is 33 stitches wide and I knit through about four balls of yarn, so it's quite long. It is pretty thin, so it's best suited, like most of my scarves, to autumn and the warmer winter months. At the coldest times, only my chunky merino wool scarf will do. That was knit using a kit from Rowan, which included a How 2 Knit Big with Big Wool booklet and two balls of Big Wool. I recommend this kit to anyone who wants to learn to knit and produce something quickly. I love the warmth and texture of Rowan Big Wool, my only caveat is that it pills ridiculously and I find myself winding straggly bits back into the scarf.

Whilst knitting the last ball of the daisy stitch scarf - which I did over several evenings, lying down on my bed - I listened to the CraftLit podcast, which is brilliant! Heather Ordover is an English teacher and tells you what to listen out for in each chapter and story, so it's like a really good English class where you're allowed to knit. She also has a great voice. I have listened to almost all of the Pride and Prejudice podcasts, in fact I have only one left to listen to. I've gotten so far on the Wisp now that hopefully I will finish whilst listening to that. For the hours I spend listening and knitting, I am in heaven. Literature and craft - could life get any better?

On a related note, I am really excited because only 366 people are ahead of me in line for a Ravelry invite! It's a social networking site for knitters and crocheters and loads (yes, okay, if you've read my blog before, you know what I mean by "loads" - THREE) of people who are members already have been talking about it and it sounds brilliant. I can't wait to be allowed in. It's sad but I've been taking photos of my yarn already! *tearful giggle*


Guilt Is So Not A Good Look

I write about my current obsessions but one thing should be clear. They don’t pass. They fade. I may not be obsessed with an item I have acquired anymore, but I still like it, and I always like it enough to not get rid of it and just move on to someone else. I only ever buy things I like enough to wear for a long time. I’m not a “disposable-fashionista” in the slightest.

I don’t high-street shop a lot. I went shopping three times in a fortnight not long ago, and that was pretty much my shopping done for the whole year. I probably won’t hit the high street until Christmas at the earliest, and even then I doubt I will buy much. I don’t really like the physical, beyond-my-desk-chair kind of shopping. It’s tiring, drains my bank balance considerably, and can be stressful if I'm looking for shoes. Also, it tends to make me feel guilty.

I’m an educated, socially and politically aware person. I have no excuses. I know about sweatshops. I know about organically grown cotton. I know that Primark and Topshop have been featured in the news for continuing to use factories with poor working conditions. I haven’t shopped at either for years, but to be honest, until recently my main reason for avoiding them is that I actively hate almost every item of clothing that they produce each season. I’ve never been into Urban Outfitters, because I know people (from the craft forums I frequent) whose designs have been ripped off by them. I've learnt that you can't just trust the high street. Every store you ask will deny being involved in sweatshop production at the very least. Even if one avoids the less ethically-conscious manufacturers and stores, they can still be, when buying new clothes, be engaging in “fast fashion”, which damages the environment and wastes resources. I was much better at this last year. I signed up to a Buy Nothing New campaign, inspired by The Compact, that was running in one of my favourite forums, and joined Wardrobe Refashion for six months. But I’ve fallen behind. Shiny and new is distracting, but like I said before, I have no excuses for allowing that distraction. Back on the wagon I go! It's a simple, three-point plan.

Shop ethically, and treasure our purchases.

Ethically means organic and Fairtrade. It is harder to find items that fit into both these categories – so I will also look for handmade and organic.

By treasure our purchases, I mean to say that we should look after them properly, check for repairs that need doing and do them. Darn our socks, sew up our hems that have fallen loose, mend the holes in our jeans and get our shoes re-soled. This is far cheaper in the long run than buying new items. Learn how to do it, it’s not difficult or time consuming. I recommend mending clothes as soon as you discover they need repair, otherwise you will put them back in the wardrobe, forget, and then either find yourself unable to wear them the next time or will go out, with, for example, a hole in the crotch of your jeans. Classy. No, I've never done that, but people I know have! If we no longer want items, we should pass them along to a friend or relative who will use them, or to a charity. Which brings me perfectly to my next point:

Shop second-hand, and donate unwanted items.

This means vintage and charity shopping (or "chazzing")! This is better for the environment than buying new, even organic items. They have already done all the damage they can do, and buying from charities actually helps the world. Purists would argue that this does not include vintage which has travelled between continents to fetch a higher price, because it has acquired yet another carbon footprint in the journey. But at least it's avoided the landfill. Find your nearest second-hand or charity shop here. My parents' town has seven charity shops just on the high street, it's brilliant. I love to tour them all, the staff are lovely and the Oxfam specialises in books so it entertains my literature-loving side as well. The best thing to do, however, is:

Buy as little as possible.

To just not go shopping unless we have to. To make do with what we've got and to create and reconstruct our own clothing. Okay, this isn't possible for everything. For example, I can't knit tights, can't create my own shoes, and I lack the millinery skills to make hats. But I can alter the t-shirts I'm bored with, turn dresses into skirts, and decorate anything too plain for me to enjoy wearing. I can knit, I can sew, I can change buttons and I can bead. I just need to do it more often, and shop less.

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