30/03/2008

Top Five Craft Podcasts

A note: thank you everyone who commented on the last post! At the moment there are six comments on the blog about it, and I got a couple of e-mails too. That's a new record for me and I'm really happy to get so much good feedback. People actually read my blog! Yay! It's especially nice as I am posting really sporadically at the moment thanks to the uni workload. I promise more posts, uni is winding down for me now so I should be back with a vengeance by the start of May. Whoo!

I like to listen to podcasts on the train. This involves never sitting by the window unless the carriage is really quiet - the sound from outside is really distracting, and risking blowing my own ears off when I walk into a quiet building and discover how loud I'd turned it up to make it audible over the noise of the train and the traffic. The podcasts I listen to can be divided into two categories: craft podcasts, and I Should Be Writing.


I have listened to a lot of craft podcasts over the last couple of years, at one point I think I was listening to every one that came out. However, the whole podcasting scene has since exploded and I can't keep up with all the new ones and have had to stop listening to some. So I've had to make podcast priorities, and out of the craft-related 'casts, these are the ones I'm still listening to and love. They are in reverse order, rated on how much I love them and how much I've got to catch up with them!

5. CraftSanity, by Jennifer Ackerman-Haywood

CraftSanity is basically an interview podcast. Each episode Jennifer interviews a crafter or artist about their work, life and feelings about art and craft in general. I love CraftSanity because the episodes are really long, and you really find out a lot about the crafter/artist in question. There are also projects posted for most of the episodes provided by the interviewee. My favourite episode is the interview with Violette Clark, it was so interesting and inspiring and quite funny.

I am pretty behind with CraftSanity, unfortunately, because each episode is so long and Jennifer is really productive!

4. CraftyPod, by Sister Diane

Episodes of Craftypod are either focused on one particular craft, or feature interviews. Sister Diane (of the Church of Craft, in case you're wondering), has covered loads of different crafts and featured masses of projects. I love CraftyPod, for the opposite reason to CraftSanity - the episodes are pretty short and sweet. I like to listen to all the episodes, even those about crafts I'm not interested in, just because they are interesting, but sometimes I listen to an episode relevant to a craft just before I'm about to start it to get me in the mood. I have done this at least twice with the ATC episode. This podcast is also really well edited - it's really smooth sounding and professional.

I am more up to date on CraftyPod than CraftSanity, I think I've got nine episodes to listen to before I'm all caught up.

3. Faery Knitting, by

I discovered this podcast yesterday. Seriously. I have listened to all nine episodes since Friday afternoon. This just gets into the number 3 spot for being about two things I am really really obsessed with: fairy tales and knitting. But Erin also talks about spinning and her goats and alpacas and cheese. It's not one for you if you're not interested in hearing about the podcaster's life, and I think Erin is still getting to grips with Audacity so you have to forgive her for not editing out all the umms and urrs and silences, but it's still a really interesting podcast and I love it. Erin is running a draw at the moment where you can win some yarn if you leave her a comment with feedback on the podcast (see the most recent podcast post) but you'd have to be quick to participate - it ends today and you'd have to actually listen to the podcasts.

2. CraftLit, by Heather Ordover

CraftLit is like having a really good English literature lesson. It is basically a little bit of craft, a lot of literature, and great commentary by Heather Ordover, who used to be an English teacher and now I think produces educational materials or something like that. I think I mentioned this before but I knitted my Wisp whilst listening to the Pride and Prejudice episodes, lying on my bed in my old student house. It was pretty much bliss except for whenever I made a mistake with the lace and had to stop the podcast and frog a few rows. That was not nice. Especially at four in the morning (I got really into this podcast!).

I am terribly behind with CraftLit. I have a lot to listen to, hopefully when all my university work is over I will catch up. It's harder to listen to on the train than the others, because I need quiet so that I can get into the story.

1. Cast-On, by Brenda Dayne

There is a podcasting god, her name is Brenda Dayne, she makes knitting sound like the most awesome thing on earth, Wales sound like the most awesome place on earth, and she is a spectacularly awesome person herself. If you're not interested in hearing about the podcaster's life you might be wary about checking this out because Brenda does talk about herself quite a bit but when you get into it you want to hear about her life because she is just amazing! I sound like a total fangirl but that's okay because I am.

Cast-On has been sponsored by the Arts Council Wales, the production is great and it's just generally fabulous. It's funny, it's serious, there is a special sound effect for whenever Addi Turbos (a brand of knitting needles) are mentioned. Loads of really cool people write essays and read them for this podcast too. I love it. Hearing the intro thrills me - I adore this podcast that much.

Brenda just, literally, just posted a new episode, ABOUT HATS. I am thrilled, although I am a few episodes behind. But only a few, because Cast-On is that good I can't help but keep up with it.

14/03/2008

How To Wear Striped Tights Or Stockings (Without Looking Like A Mall-Rat Baby Bat)

Some Don'ts:
  • Don't wear them with black Converse All-Stars
  • Don't wear them with a tutu
  • Don't wear them with a hoodie
  • Don't wear them with eyeliner on the inner rim of your eye
  • Don't wear them if they are laddered or have holes in them
  • Don't buy them from the supermarket or cheap accessories store at Halloween, get a pair from a decent brand
  • Don't wear a pair that have orange, purple or green stripes with any clothes in the other colours (e.g. if you're wearing purple and black striped tights do not wear orange or green as well) unless you want to look like the embodiment of Halloween.
At this point I must confess that I have in the past worn my black and purple striped tights with black Converse All-Stars, with eyeliner on the inner rim of my eye, and that they have a mini-ladder by the right toes and were bought from a cheap accessories store by my sister, the original owner.

The first two sins were committed on Halloween 2005, which was before I really learnt how to dress myself, the third is covered by shoes, and the fourth can't be helped now. They are slightly see through so I sometimes wear them with black tights underneath for best results. However, they are slightly too big width ways and I have to keep pulling them up so the stripes stay even.

I am actually currently wearing them with a skirt that has a layer of netting underneath the top layer of black cotton. However, since I am otherwise perfectly neat, tidy, and hopefully elegant, it looks okay.

I also slightly spoiled my all-purple-and-black outfit when I went out today by taking along a carrier bag with orange on it. I suddenly realised I was channelling Halloween and was not happy to say the least!

Now for the Dos!

  • If your striped tights or stockings are black and one other colour, do wear (cute) shoes that match perfectly the colour that is not black. If they are stripes without black, match them to one of the colours.
An example is on the right. In reality, the purple of the shoes is the exact same shade as that of the tights. I'm just a bad photographer.
  • Do wear them with more dressy/formal clothes. This will prevent you from being mistaken under any circumstances for a teenager.
  • Do wear them with cats-eye eyeliner, it looks elegant and again will prevent you from being mistaken for a teenager.
  • Do wear them with co-ordinating colours. Again, it will make you look grown-up.
Here are a couple of outfits I created on Polyvore based around striped tights or stockings. Unfortunately, Polyvore is extremely lacking in decent pictures of striped tights or stockings, so I could only do black and white stripes and black and red stripes, and no purple outfits! There are quite a few pictures of one leg in stripes, which is odd and pretty useless when trying to give a good idea of what it will really look like! Seriously, WTF?



In this I aimed to make the look softer and gently colourful. I love this outfit. I wish I had it! It would be perfect for so many occasions.



I love red and blue worn together and I decided to see what they would look like with some little black dresses. This is an example of me putting the "Dos" from above into serious practice! Ohhh, I wish I had these clothes...

02/03/2008

Book Review: Green Is The New Black

If you've followed this blog for a while, or dipped into the archives, you'll know that I am really interested in ethical fashion. When the book Green Is the New Black came out, I was excited to read it. The blurb suggests that it will "show you how to salve your desire and your conscience, enjoy the good life in style, and look eco-fabulous in high heels (and hemp knickers)", and I think it pretty much does what that says.

I would describe it as mostly a shopping guide, although there are chapters on DIY, entertaining (yourself & others) and travel. I read a comment on its Amazon forum which complained that it didn't acknowledge the part that over-consumption plays in the environmental crisis, but I would disagree. It does accept that people need to stop being so wasteful and emphasise that it is always best to thrift, mend or DIY, but it also accepts that it is hard to change old habits and that there are some things that people will need or want to buy. Clothes, accessories and make-up do wear or run out so it is impossible to stop shopping completely, and this book is a non-preachy, useful guide to what to do when you do need a new bra or pair of shoes, for example.

I did find the information on cosmetics to be somewhat lacking. It doesn't explain what to avoid and what to look out for when buying make-up, hair or skin care products, and I could have made a few more suggestions of recommended brands myself. Perhaps that's because I am a makeup nerd. Compared to every other section, the cosmetics one was the worst.

This book is pretty gentle. It will not make you feel bad for all the unethical shopping you have done in the past, or shock you into developing a conscience you didn't have before. It doesn't talk about why you should be concerned about ethical fashion , it assumes that you are already. Some people may consider this a weakness, but I actually think it is a strength. Global warming is a controversial subject, and there are still many people who don't believe it exists and so are not concerned about the environment. This seriously annoys me! There are many other reasons why we should be concerned about the environment, besides global warming. Amongst other things, fossil fuels are running out, the natural habitats of many species are being destroyed, and industrial waste is damaging to our health. It would irritate me and alienate some people if the book were to only talk about global warming, the issue du jour. Green Is The New Black also takes social ethics (fair trading, et cetera) into consideration and it would be a much longer book if it were to deal with all these things. I'm happy it skips that bit and gets on to the fashion, I find that more respectful of my intelligence and awareness of current affairs, however, the book does include a list of "Green Reads" for anyone who wants to know more about the science and issues, and provides letter templates to encourage readers to write to clothing companies and demand they be more responsible.

The writer has obviously done a lot of research and tested a lot of products. However, this book is intended primarily for readers in the UK, and people in other countries would probably be doing more harm than good if they were to get products shipped from the companies Blanchard recommends! As I said before, it is very gentle in its approach, so if you are already a hardcore paragon of ethical consumption, this book would probably not be very interesting for you, but for everybody else it is an inspiring read and I would recommend it.

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