Pole Dancing Cats

Mlle Tialys the Elder has been pole dancing.  Apparently it is a legitimate form of exercise.  When she was doing a class earlier in the year, close to her University on the South Coast, she did it in shorts and trainers (I think).  Now, she is doing an internship in London and when she rang to ask for details about a local class they said  ‘some of the ladies like to wear high heels’.  Do they now!  I was a little worried because even though I flung myself about in spandex à la Jane Fonda back in the day, there was never a pole in sight.  Unless you count the one holding up the pub sign where I usually ended up after class to down a swift lager and lime.  Anyway, we have communicated by text this morning and she appears to have escaped being kidnapped by shady characters and was designated as being worthy of the  ‘intermediate’ class.  Perhaps it’s best if she doesn’t get too advanced.

Anyway, when she first started this pole dancing lark, she made me laugh by telling me about hanging upside down on the pole and having to lower herself slowly to the ground and her thighs were making a loud squeaking, creaking noise against the pole as she descended which resounded around the room and that reminded me of this -

Forget all those other famous lines from classic films,  ‘Feed me –  if you dare’ has got to be my favourite.  Plus, how gorgeous is Antonio Banderas’ voice?

Talking of cats – which we sort of were – on one of my rummages recently I spotted this poster for an art exhibition.  It just gets into the ‘vintage’ category (or the American one at least), being over 20 years’ old, so I bought it for my shop but I then made the mistake of hanging it on my wall and now I just might have to keep it.

Vintage French Poster

A bit on the creepy side, I know but just look at that cat’s face.  He reminds me of my own long suffering black cat Salem.  Every summer he gets eaten by some sort of insect and his face, eyes and ears go all scabby and sore looking.  I put cream on which helps a bit but it happens every summer and, round about this time of year, it clears up and you’d never know he’d ever been affected.  It’s so bad that, if he wasn’t mine and I saw him wandering around, I would think he was a poor neglected creature with no home to go to.  As it is, if I see him and I’m in company, I just pretend not to know him which saves any embarrassment and wards off threats to report me to whatever passes for the R.S.P.C.A. around here.

Scabby CatSalem’s Summer Look -note the missing fur round eye, scabby nose and nibbled ear.

Of course, I also have a cat that looks like Shrek’s Puss in Boots

Who has also let himself go and is not ashamed to show it.

(He is alive in this photo by the way)

Back to sewing, knitting, crafting news next time but a change is as good as a rest to a blind horse as somebody who likes to mix up their proverbs might say and, anyway, I have too many projects on the go and nothing ready or worth photographing yet.

Yes, I know I should really have called this post ‘Pole Dancing And  Cats’ but that wouldn’t have sounded quite so intriguing so I sort of cheated.

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Hem, Hem…

I haven’t got a cough, I really want to talk about hems.  Or at least let somebody else talk about them .

Colette Patterns Hawthorn Dress

Colette Patterns Hawthorn Dress

 

You know that moment when you’ve made something and you can’t wait to wear it (or give it away or throw it in the bin depending on how the project has gone for you *bitter experience talking*) and then you remember you have to hem the thing.  What a faff.

Anyway, the lovely people at Colette Patterns have been doing a ‘Sept – hem -ber’  (enough with these puns!) on their blog and showing you multiple ways of finishing off your hems to a high standard.

They have kindly produced a free hemming guide as an E-book and you can download it for free here.  How generous!

Do you do anything fancy with your hems or do you just try and get it over with as quickly as possible?  Do you have one of those puffer things to mark the hem level? – seriously, I’m thinking of getting one and want to know if it would be worthwhile, bearing in mind I haven’t got a level floor in my whole house.

 

 

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Suddenly, There’s a Nip in the Air

I know I haven’t told all yet about the big braderie I went to in Lille a couple of weeks ago but, since then, my Mum has come to visit plus Mlle. Tialys the elder came back for a weekend of home comforts before starting a year’s internship so I’ve been a bit busy but, suffice it to say, it was big, it was expensive, it was crowded, it was an experience.  I will elaborate soon when I’ve worked out how to get the photos off my phone – I could’t spare the luggage space for my proper camera and I don’t usually use my phone to take pictures.

Here’s one thing I bought.

Jockey Publicity (3)

Don’t ask me why – it just appealed.

What I have been doing though is companionably knitting with my mother and making some infinity scarves or cowls or whatever they are called at the moment, for my shop.  Mlle. Tialys the elder is usually a good model but she moaned a bit this time  – and it showed in her expression – so I used a vintage mannequin too.  These scarves appeal to the patchworker in me as I like coordinating the fabrics which can then be reversed and mixed to good effect as you puff up and arrange the scarf to your liking.

Cowl Infinity Scarf Hearts & Skulls

This one is almost a duplicate of one I’ve made for my resident goth (aka Mlle. Tialys the Younger)

CowlShadesofGreen (2)

A mélange of greens

CowlShadesofgreenModel

which you can reverse to this combination.

CowlShadesofPurpleModel (2)

Ooer! Looks like she’s thinking about those early mornings and getting on the London Underground in rush hour.

Back to the mannequin….

CowlShadesofPurple (2)

The title is to do with nothing much really except I’ve started making scarves and it’s autumn and there actually is ‘a bit of a nip in the air’ – suddenly.

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Another Day in the Life

It’s been a nice long summer.  I did a bit of dog agility – or  thought about it anyway – and jumped in the fish pond a lot even though the Missus had bought me my own paddling pool.

DogAgilityMarch2014 (4)

We had a few visitors – which gets me very excited – and I went to a bar and tried to get served by pretending to be a human.

Flo Posing as human

Then all of a sudden, things changed.  All the visitors have gone home.  My beloved Mr. T, who the Missus accuses of spoiling me, isn’t having much time off work and both the Madamoiselles have gone back to University and college.  The Missus says she needs to get back into a routine and I have to get used to being left for a couple of hours again.

This morning she went to her yoga class and even though I had Taz and Stan for company, I felt neglected and bored.  I can open doors.  I like to collect things.  I like to give them a little chew.

Phone chewed by dog!

When the Missus came home she said things in a loud voice that she doesn’t say very often.  Also she said that I had cost her about 100 euros as her contract has another year to run so she has to pay for a new phone.  I didn’t really want the black thing, I liked the chewy, colourful covering and the black thing just got in the way.  She said I was very lucky not to have hurt myself on that pink thing I found in the bathroom.

Which is strange as she then said she felt like killing me which I’m sure would hurt a lot.

Anyway, I felt a bit bad.

Guilty Dog

Apparently, next time the Missus goes out she is going to ‘confine me to the kitchen’ whatever that means.

Bye for now,

love Flo x

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A Very French Affair

Not that sort of affair – as if I’d tell – but one where I have made a dress from a French indie designer and will be wearing it – weather permitting – to the biggest flea market in the whole of France this weekend and eating copious amounts of moules frites.

Deer and Doe Reglisse Dress (2)

 Lille was only known to me before as a train station where one would change trains if travelling to Disneyland Paris from the U.K. on the Eurostar but it is also host, on the first weekend of September every year, to a huge, ginormous flea market which usually sees between 2 and 3 million visitors thronging the streets in search of interesting antiques,  retro home decor, vintage clothing and everything in between.  The streets are closed to traffic and there are all sorts of vendors there from people clearing out their houses to big antique dealers.  It is the largest in France and there will be around 10,000 stalls – should keep us busy.

Braderie Lille

I’ve fancied going there since I heard about it a few years ago and now I have a willing accomplice who is coming with me.  We are actually flying up as we are in the south of France and have already started panicking about the luggage allowance –  2kg in the hold and a 55x40x20cm cabin bag allowance – how will we manage when we just know we are going to want to bring back much more?  The alternative would have been to drive up but that would take around 10 hours and add another day on to either side of our trip so we abandoned that idea.  The hotels fill up really quickly but we found an apartment to stay in  which is right in the centre of the activity – – the owner is fleeing the place for the duration!

Mussel Mountain Lille

Apparently moules frites must be eaten and the restaurants have a competition to see who can build the biggest mussel shell mountain outside of their establishment.

We will arrive on the Friday and settle in ready for the onslaught on Saturday.  Apparently, making use of the streets being closed to traffic, a half marathon is run through the city on the Saturday morning – we won’t be participating in this needless to say as I haven’t got any room in my case for unnecessary things like running shoes and lycra shorts.  Shame, but there you are.    The market goes through the night and all through Sunday and I expect to be thoroughly exhausted by the time we arrive back on Monday afternoon not least because my friend who is coming with me is French and takes no prisoners with the speed of her speech so I will be suffering from French Language Overload a condition none the less real just because I’ve made it up.

Thinking ahead about treading the streets of a city shoulder to shoulder with a couple of million other people, I have chosen my armoury.

Comfy shoes – 3 pairs

I have heard much about these Swedish cloggy things and understand that they are very comfortable and made for people who are on their feet all day.  We will see.  I hope it is true as I’ve bought two  pairs – the other pair has higher heels and a completely wooden sole.  They are not my ‘go to’ style of choice if I’m honest but, on the day, comfort will be paramount.  I will also put my beat up pair of Birkenstocks in as they are very light and I can carry them around in case I need to change halfway through the day.

Lotta of Stockholm Soft Sole Clogs

Bag on Wheels 

Oh look it matches the shoes.  I hope this isn’t too far down the road towards an old lady bag in tartan with a rigid handle but it’s a cabin bag that I can also use as a flea market shopping bag.  It was designed specially to fit Ryanair’s cabin bag size restrictions and, although I’m not flying with them, it suits the other economy carriers too.  I like the way the manufacturers have printed the dimensions on the front of the bag as if to say  ‘so there!’ to the check-in staff.   The plan is to carry it around the market over my shoulder until I can bear the weight no longer and then wheel it.

DSC_0053

which brings me to

Portable Weighing Scales

To weigh any prospective purchase if it looks like it  might take up too much of my allowance, and to ensure my suitcase, which will be stuffed to the gills, doesn’t go over 20 kilos.

Bum Bag (or Fanny Bag *snigger, snigger* for those of you across the pond)

To keep the thieving buggers, who are bound to be there preying on the crowds, out of my cash.  This, after my mother had her shoulder bag split open from behind and her purse stolen whilst alone in a Spanish market – she’s 82, have they no shame?  (Just a mini rant there, sorry).

To save space in my case on the way out (it will be packed with bubble wrap), I will wear jeans and just take a couple of tops.  However, if we venture out for our banquet of Moules Frites in the evening, and it is warm, I will wear my new dress that I finished yesterday.

Deer and Doe Reglisse Dress 1

This is the Deer and Doe Reglisse dress.  Deer and Doe are a French indie design company so it was good to be able to buy ‘local’ and get free postage -a rare thing in France unless you first spend gazillions of euros.

As you know, I will do anything to avoid buttons, zips and other fiddling about but, in order to do so, I generally have to cut on the bias and buy multi metres of fabric – this dress takes around 3 metres – but I love the resulting swishy skirt.   I made the dress according to the pattern without any alterations.   I’d already made a blouse from the pattern using a hack from another blogger so I knew what size to make.  However, the pattern calls for cotton chambray or similar and I thought it would look good in a drapier fabric so, instead of putting bias binding round the hem I did a rolled hem on the overlocker to avoid it looking too ‘weighted down’.  Apart from that, no changes.

Deer and Doe Reglisse Dress 3

I think this is a dress I will get a lot of wear out of.  It’s comfortable and can be dressed up or down (usually down in my case!) and I think it will be ideal for taking this weekend as my one and only ‘frock’ as, if the sun doesn’t shine, it will look fine with a thin jacket or cardi over the top.

A bientôt .

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Taking Liberties with Coco

Liberty Coco Dress

Yes, it’s another Coco dress .  Sorry to be boring but these have no buttons, no zips, many variations, are comfortable and quick and fun to make so how can it be wrong?

This time I used some Liberty of London jersey that I had bought to make a little girl’s dress but was tempted by the way it went with the black ponte roma jersey and made an executive decision.

Liberty CoCo Dress (2)

I changed the original pattern just slightly for this version by cutting the sleeves a little slimmer and the neck a little scoopier (new word) and actually traced the relevant bits of the Lady Skater Dress pattern to make those alterations.  Because I used my overlocker to sew the side seams, they were 3/8 inch instead of the  5/8 inch allowed in the pattern so, as it was a little spacious, I just overlocked the seams again,  with that clever machine just cutting off the excess as it went.

Liberty CoCo  Dress(3)

I used the twin needle to finish round the neck, the sleeves and the hem and, the only problem with colour blocking these dresses, this involved numerous changes of bobbins, two reels of thread, etc.  I did however, find it all too much of a chore to change the overlocker threads so I’m afraid, should you peek inside, you will only see dark grey.  Ask me if I care.

Liberty CoCo Dress (4)

I lengthened the hem by 3 inches as usual because the creator of this dress pattern  - Tilly and the Buttons – is about 100 years younger than me and can still reveal her knees with impunity.

This is now my 5th Coco dress.  I only count it as my 3rd however as one was made for  Mlle. Tialys the Younger and another was stolen  appropriated by the Mlle. T. the Elder.    I made this with 3/4 length sleeves as the summer – such as it was –  is drawing to a close and it might get a bit nippier soon.

I also have a Deer and Doe Reglisse dress on a hanger – just waiting for some elastic and some bias binding to finish it off but the only available shop was closed yesterday and today so I couldn’t finish it on time to post about it.

I don’t know how many more Cocos I will make – I really like the funnel neck one I did and will probably make another for this autumn/winter but I will soon run out of titles which play on the ‘Coco’ theme and that might be the time to stop or at least stop blogging about them.

Sorry for the uncharacteristic ‘photos of me’ heavy post – I was going to put the dress on a mannequin but I tried it on, saw the camera, hung it round my daughter’s neck and ‘voila’.  I was just in that sort of mood today.

LIberty Coco Dress Tialys

Even though it looks like I have my very own sword of Damocles dangling over my head it is, in fact, only a wind chime.

(must re-press that hem)

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No Prizes For Guessing But Please Do

Everybody loves a guessing game don’t they?  I hope so as I’m looking for some enlightenment today.

French PressSometimes I find old things and I only have the vaguest idea of what they are but I buy them because they are beautiful or interesting or intriguing or cheap or some or all of those things.

So it was with this object I found the other day (although it wasn’t particularly cheap) and I don’t know what it is.  Can anybody help?

I know it is some sort of press but I can’t think for what.

Mystery Vintage Press

 

I know it’s not a press for vintage soda siphons but it was the nearest thing on hand to prop the bar up with. The slider bar moves up and down the grooved interior and the screw can push the bar down to a maxium of   25cm or 10 inches leaving a final squishing space of 23cm or 9 inches.

The nearest thing to it I have found on the internet is a press for playing cards.  Apparently, it was used by dealers in casinos when the decks of cards got a bit scrunched and the press would be used to straighten them out.  However, it was much smaller than this one and there were dividers in between the bar and the end so each card could slot in individually.

This one measures 56cm or 21.5 inches in length and 18cm or 7 inches wide.  It is 5cm or 2 inches deep.  The interior width,  inside the grooves where the object(s) would need to sit, is 12.6cm or  5 inches.

It is very well made and was obviously well used.  Somebody has seen fit to repair or reinforce the top corners at one time with metal but this has also been done well.

Antique French Wooden Press

Any comments, ideas, suggestions or, even better, answers would be greatly appreciated.

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Refashioning, A Mini Knit and the Obligatory Baby Photo

Do you remember the knitted jacket I made recently which had the huge sailor collar or perhaps you shuddered and wiped it from your memory.  Here it is again for your delight.

Sailor Collar Jacket (1)It hasn’t moved off the mannequin since and not only because it is summer in the south of France and therefore too hot for a knitted garment of any sort even though this summer has not been up to much.  I knew, as soon as I sewed that collar on, I would never wear it.  Not even in the house which is where most of the things I knit get worn.  So, I needed my mannequin back and, even though that damn collar took me ages to knit in it’s blasted seed stitch or whatever it was, I decided if  it were to get any wear at all, it’d have to come off.  So it did.  Then I just picked up the stitches and knit a band to match the cuffs and waistband.

Sirdar Crofter DK Cardigan Rehas

Better?  I think so.  I might even wear it up the hill to walk the dogs when the mornings get a bit nippier.

As I mentioned before, I do love knitting but rarely wear anything I knit so perhaps I should stick to miniature things in the form of baby clothes.  Not necessarily easier but certainly quicker and cuter.

Baby Jacket Drops Big Delight

Here it is on my creepy baby mannequin – although I have spared you and removed the head and replaced it with a finial from my slightly less creepy toddler mannequin.

Knitted Baby Jacket

My eldest turned 21 last week.  I am certainly old enough to have a 21 year old but it still came as a bit of a shock  that so many years can go by so quickly and a tiny baby can become a full grown woman in the time it seems to have taken me to learn how to conjugate a few French verbs, put an invisible zip in and finish reading The Lord of the Rings.   So it was inevitable  that  I would trot out those same old lines that everybody does

 ‘where did the time go?’

 ‘I remember your first pair of shoes’

‘you were such a good baby’

‘why don’t you call home more often’

etc. etc.

Anyway, the fact remains that Mlle. Tialys the Elder is now 21 and has the key of the door and everything else that she probably got when she turned 18 but, no matter.    So, for the obligatory baby photo, here is one where she looks so happy I could cry.

Baby Mlle. Tialys

As you can see, I was no slave to dressing only boys in blue which, considering she didn’t have much hair until she was around two years old, might have led to some confusion.  Her hilarity was because, or in spite of the fact, that our big german shepherd cross used to barge through the doorway as if  there was not a baby hanging there in a bouncer,  which would set off a new bout of  bobbing up and down and swinging about.

Aaaaah, where did that time go?

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Sugar Plum Flo and Other Dogs

We have masses and masses of plums on our trees at the moment and two of my dogs spend hours foraging for them, eating them and leaving me to clean up after them which, after a diet rich in fruit, is quite time consuming as you can imagine.   Why can’t I have a dog that hunts for truffles making lots of money for me in the process?

Dog Searching for PlumsNote the lushness of the grass in August – normally it is brown and dead – an indication of how pants the weather has been this summer.   I think we might have to move somewhere with a better climate like the U.K.  ;)

Dog Eating PlumsTwo plums spotted.  Note the gleam in her eye.

Talking of Flo, I have mentioned before that we got her from the dog rescue at Carcassonne or the S.P.A.  My friend Karen hosts what has become an annual event at her home whereby people buy a ticket, come and eat some good food, buy drinks for a euro, fork out for some raffle tickets (hopefully) then strut their stuff at the ‘disco’ afterwards  and in the process we raise money for the dogs and cats in the kennels.

S.P.A. Carcassonne Fund RaiserSomebody made this cake and bought it along.  I’m not sure what sort of dog that is but it’s chocolate which is all you really need to know.

S.P.A. Fundraiser July 2014Lovely company, beautiful French scenery (the sunflowers were in full bloom in the local fields, thank you Monsieur Farmer) and, after some rumbles of thunder, it was a beautiful evening.

S.P.A. DogsLots of photographs of dogs available for adoption to make people go ‘aaaah’ and, hopefully adopt or volunteer to sponsor or go and walk the dogs from time to time.

Thanks to everybody’s generosity we made over 1500 euros for the S.P.A.. which should pay for some food, flea collars and veterinary care.

I did my bit too.  I made a non-alcoholic punch for the drivers (like me)  and teetotallers (not like me) , called a ‘Luscious Slush Punch’  because you freeze part of it and then add lemonade when you’re ready, resulting in a chilled,  slushy, fruity punch drink.  However, in my mad rush to get there on time, I  mistakenly grabbed a tub of chicken stock from the freezer instead of one of the three  frozen punch mixtures I had prepared in advance.  Luckily, Mr. T. was one of the barmen and, after looking at the suspicious colour,  realised what had happened and refrained from serving it to anybody.  The resident dogs were pleased with it.  At least it made people laugh although they might not have done if it had got as far as their glass.

Here’s where to find the recipe should you wish to make the fruit version.  It’s American but I substituted jelly powder for the jello – when I wasn’t substituting chicken stock that is – and it seemed to work fine. ( Tip:  Do not add as much sugar as the recipe calls for – at least halve it!!)

I was going to do a bit of a knitting update but that might be a bit too much info in one post so I’ll do that tomorrow instead.

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Redeeming Myself With A Myrtle and Foraging on A Sunday Morning Recommences

Well, you can’t say you don’t know in advance what this post is about unless, of course, you are not a sewer (in the needle and thread sense of the word) and haven’t heard of a Myrtle.

The Myrtle is a new dress pattern by Colette which can be made in stretch fabric or woven and is very easy to make and comfortable to wear and, if my two (yes two!) sewing machines hadn’t thrown a wobbly about doing a zig zag stitch on the stretch fabric I used, it would have been finished in an afternoon.  All was going well until I got to the waistband and had to do a zigzag round the casing for the elastic and, for some reason, still not fathomed, my machine just wouldn’t do it.  I changed the needle, the tension, the thread, the swear words – nothing worked.  I changed machine – still no good.  In the end, I had to use a long straight stitch which I hope will hold.  As is becoming more and more predictable with me lately, it was a little big on the shoulders so I sort of pulled them to the front and did a top stitching doodah with my double stretch needle because I have these things in my armoury and I know how to use them.  So, just to prove I can make a dress that fits me, here it is

Colette Myrtle DressThis really is a quick and easy pattern and the result is very comfortable to wear.  The bodice is cut double on the fold so is self-lined (sounds complicated but isn’t) and, although the pattern stipulates 3 metres of fabric, I only used 2 by being really mean and stingy and folding and refolding the fabric like a miser.  Although I did leave out the pockets as, if I have pockets, I put my hands in them which seems to work for some people but just makes me look slovenly.

Anyway, after it peed down of rain again yesterday, this sunday morning dawned bright and sunny so I hauled myself out of bed and headed for the nearest vide grenier for some serious treasure hunting.  It has not been a good summer here in the South of France this year and, in fact, it has been so bad that I have been jealous of my Mum and Mlle. Tialys the elder who regularly tell me how hot it is in the U.K.  even though I know that us Brits have a fit of the vapours if the temperature goes over 20 degrees C, prompting lots of people to shed layers of clothing in inappropriate places and to labour under the illusion that sunshine makes everybody a little blind and therefore not able to notice the often unseemly flesh on public display all of a sudden.  But, I digress as usual and this morning was a bit of a strange one in that I ended up spending the most money on stuff I’m going to adorn my own house and garden with.

Found this gorgeous antique french comtoise clock which, after a bit of a wipe and a bit of tentative fiddling by Mr. T. looks like this

antique french comtoise clock

All the bits and pieces appear to be present and correct on the inside so I just need to get a pendulum, a winder thingy and two very heavy weights and we will wall mount it and then wonder why we didn’t think of a way to stop it chiming every hour and half hour.

We also bought, from the same flea market vendor, this cart.  It is, we are assured, a market florist vendor’s cart.  Whatever.  It is delightful and once we get the horrible brown paint off and oil the wood, it will be gorgeous.

Antique Florist Cart

A close up of a wheel, just because I took the photo and where else would I show it?

DSC_0012

Lovely spokes!

French Marriage Souvenir

Common in the last quarter of the 19th century and up until the First World War, these souvenirs of a marriage were placed under a glass globe and the bride’s tiara was usually pinned to it  with mirrors symbolizing the time the couple were together before marriage and, as time passed,  the number of children born together with other mementos of the union and of family life.  Must do something about the drips of paint  (how did that even happen?) but what a lovely souvenir.!

Anyway, off to sunnier climes for a few days (I shouldn’t really have to say that when I’m in the south of France) and taking a rest from the sewing machine, Etsy shops and the demands of certain humans, canines and felines alike.

 

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