I nipped over to the U.K. last weekend to accompany Mlle. Tialys the younger through the labyrinthine ways of Toulouse and Gatwick airports so that she could attend the Comic-Con event at London’s ExCel Centre with her sister.
Although I’m not really into it all myself, never having been a fan of comic books, video games, Nintendo DSs or any of that stuff, I did enjoy seeing some of the costumes. I didn’t actually go in to the event myself but I saw Jokers, Star Wars characters, variously masked men and women, Supermen and scantily clad young ladies on the underground stations as I beat a hasty retreat to the other side of London which, frankly, sufficed.
Now that it’s over there is a bit of a ‘lull’ in my life at the moment, so much of the last few months having been spent in preparation. Mostly because of the Princess Zelda costume Mlle. T. the elder was making. She also made the one for her friend. We had to buy 18 metres of white polyester satin for those skirts and capes and that was our main purchase from our trip to the Goldhawk Road when I went over in April. Her friend made the shoulder pads, tiaras and other gold accessories. (I must ask her for that staff if she’s finished with it, it would make such a cool broom.)
Not that I was directly involved until the day before when we were frantically sewing on ribbon around the scarily wide hems and hemming and gathering the capes but I was party to all the dressmaking dramas leading up to it.
I escaped to my Mum’s house before the rest of the Princess Zelda cast arrived, knowing that an evening spent surrounded by students, pizza boxes, spray on hair dye, body paint and beer would be a trauma too far.
Poor Mr. T’s flat was looking a bit worse for wear the last time I saw it as there was spray hair colour all over the towels, blue body paint (courtesy of the fairy holding the ‘hey listen’ sign), glitter, emptied tubes of superglue and discarded pieces of fabric. Another reason I beat a hasty retreat.
As a point of dressmaking interest, the tabards on the Princess Zelda costumes were made using scuba fabric. I suggested it because the edges wouldn’t need finishing (anything to save time!) and it would cling quite nicely to the body.
For those of you not au fait with the Legend of Zelda it is a high-fantasy, action-adventure video game series created by two Japanese game designers and that is definitely true because I Googled it. I had to do that despite forking out for numerous variations of the Zelda games for Christmasses and birthdays over the years.
It wasn’t just comic book and gaming characters though. There were costumes from fantasy t.v. series, books and films too. The scariest ones I saw were these two Weeping Angels from Dr. Who.
More body paint excesses.
Some people may think it strange that grown men and women want to dress up as fantasy characters and, I must admit, there are some that do seem a little ‘obsessed’ but, as a fun way to escape the realities of ‘real’ life for a couple of days and trash your Dad’s flat in the process, it can’t be topped.
Now I just need to erase the unnerving sight of my brunette, brown-eyed daughter as a blue-eyed blonde with elf ears from my freaked out memory and I’ll be fine.
The next one’s in October – I expect costume ideas may have already started formulating.
Now the weather has cheered up immeasurably, I followed my blogging friend Kate’s advice and took my grey looking duck egg blue blanket outside for another attempt at a photo where, voila, it is now showing its true colour. (have a look at my last post if you want to see the difference)
I’ve finished another hexagonal sewing box but not just any old sewing box because this one has been my model for the tutorial I’m thinking of producing.
I thought these lovely bright colours would show up well in the gazillions of photos I’ve taken of each cutty, sticky, teeny stitchy step.
I love those toadstools and, even though the interior check made my eyes go funny when I was working with it, the good matching cannot be denied.
I couldn’t resist a ‘nature’ shot.
I have stopped procrastinating – well, a bit anyway – and removed the two lengths of fabric I bought to make trousers for Mlle Tialys the younger from the carrier bags they have languished in since I returned from the U.K. and, whatsmore, I have actually washed them. I just need to decide now whether to use Sewaholic’s Thurlow pattern
or this vintage(ish) Burda pattern.
Which one do you think would be better for a ‘generous’ hip and thigh area?
I could have shown you a pup photo again today because I found two Husky dogs in my garden this morning but a friend recently mentioned my blog was getting a bit ‘doggy’. I know I talk about sewing and knitting and crafting and dogs (nearly said dogging! :o) and other more general things on my blog but, I don’t want to become too much of a ‘dog botherer’ so I’ll keep that story for another day and show you a picture of my old cockerel instead. I think he’s about 8 years old.
He is still staggering around, despite the fact that, when I thought he was on his last legs a couple of months ago I Googled ways of humanely euthanizing him. I was quite traumatized by the experience. I found various ways of dispatching him including the usual neck wringing, chopping off of head and snipping the throat stuff. In some methods guns were involved :o An ingenious one seemed to be standing him in a sealed container on a tray with bicarbonate of soda beneath whilst trickling vinegar in and lastly, and possibly the most interesting for any curious passers-by, putting him in another sort of container and taping it up to the exhaust pipe of the car.
Needless to say, he is still with us and I just hope that, when his time comes he will go peacefully in his sleep which is all anybody can really wish for. Now, I bet you wish I’d shown you the Huskies instead ;)
I know I’m English and we call pants ‘trousers’ but I do like a touch of alliteration and I have some readers from the States so, if you thought this was going to be about men’s knickers, sorry to disappoint. The reality is much less exciting I’m afraid, being more concerned with knitted stuff so there you have your heads up and can leave without anybody ever knowing you were here.
Here’s a very French village photo for you. It is my lonely stall set up outside the Mairie (town hall) a couple of weeks ago. It does look like I’m Billy No Mates but, inside there were lots of other stalls raising money for Dog Rescue Carcassonne. I chose to set up outside partly because it was a lovely sunny morning and partly because I had to leave early to take my Mum back to the airport so I sold a few dog collars and bandanas and said my goodbyes without creating havoc inside amongst the other stalls.
So, when my Mum visits, I knit to be more sociable and generally only use the computer or sew when she is catching some ‘Zs’ which is fairly often these days it has to be said.
This is my second completed humungus cable blanket. It is a subtle, flecked duck egg blue but I couldn’t, for the life of me, get that colour to come out properly in the photograph so it looks much more like a light grey, which it isn’t. I did try – I even turned off the ‘auto’ setting and dipped into the realms of manually setting the aperture and all that scary stuff . Any photography tips on how to tackle this sort of problem would be gratefully received.
It’s actually like this.
I love this blanket so much. I’ve already ordered enough yarn to make another two which is a bit mad because, now the summer is starting to kick in, I shall probably die of heat and suffocation under more than 2kg of wool.
This light and airy baby blanket, on the other hand, is made using the same size needles – 20mm – but with only one strand of yarn rather than six strands, as used in the humungus one, so it is more ‘summer friendly’. Having no babies any more, I had to use this bear as a model. I could have used one of my baby mannequins but they are far too creepy – the bear looks cuter, trust me.
To supplement my dog collars and bandanas range, I thought I’d have a go at knitting some dog coats. I know it is the wrong time of year but you know how quickly the year passes and soon it will be time for those who like or need to put a little jumper on their dog to do so again.
This is James C. Brett Marble Chunky and it is great to knit with and comes up with some lovely colour variations. The grey one at the top has been a little overshadowed by the lovely, rust and teal tones of the one beneath but it is still smart and for the less ‘showy’ dog about town. My problem is, I made these two versions in a ‘medium’ size and my own dogs are larger than that and nobody I know has ‘medium’ dogs – only large or small. I feel like taking one out and about with me and, when I see somebody with an appropriately sized dog, ask if I can put a little knitted coat on their pet and take a photo.
That way madness lies.
Anyway, Flo, having graciously tried on the grey coat but finding it a little snug, continued with her collar modelling and, although this photo was no good to show off the collar, as it wasn’t properly in focus, it’s such a gorgeous one of her I had to include it anyway.
You’re probably past caring by now but, just in case you were wondering about the title, I no longer have any excuse not to get started on a pair of trousers (pants!) for my daughter. I have the pattern, I have the fabric, I have the zip. It’s just that I’ve never made trousers before and my daughter is not a ‘standard’ size and I suspect I might be better at procrastination than pants making.
Back in the murky mists of time when I was about 13 or 14, my principle aim in life was to own a pair of Levis. There was a shop that sold Levi jeans, Sta-Prest, Ben Sherman shirts, two tone trevira suits and all that sort of stuff just up the road from where I did my Saturday job. I worked in a sort of early Superdrug type shop which was somehow able to employ schoolkids and pay them £1 a day. I did graduate to their ‘posher’ perfume and cosmetic shop in the Kings Road, Chelsea a couple of years later where I toiled under the management of an Austrian beauty and a Jackie Collins lookalike who tried to teach me about clothes and good cosmetics and, despite the fact that I still only earned a pittance for the day, staff discount meant I could dabble in the upmarket perfumes and skincare products other 15 year olds could only dream of. Anyway, I digress and wallow in a pit of nostalgia and lost youth and the whole point of this story is to tell you that I found, whilst searching for vintage French décor in a flea market, a pair of Levi 501s for the princely sum of 2 euros (around £1.50 or $2.25).
I have fond memories of sitting in a hot bath wearing my new Levis in order to shrink them to my size. I don’t really know why this was necessary because, by the time I bought my first pair, Levi Strauss had already introduced pre-shrunk jeans quite a few years before. Maybe they just hadn’t arrived in Streatham High Street. The ones I found in the flea market aren’t vintage or anything but practically unworn and a really good bargain so they came home with me and did good service on the way by being protectively wrapped around this statue I found.
I was so in love with my original pair of Levis that I kept the big printed label that came attached to them as a souvenir for ages. I should have kept the jeans too, they might be worth something now but, like many pairs at the time, I think they eventually ended up being cut down to shorts.
Have you got any fond memories of treasured items of clothing from when you were younger? Have you hung on to things – other than your wedding dress or your children’s baby clothes – which have sentimental value for you?
Tialys said I could be the guest blogger today because she says I am adorable, affectionate, calm, playful and gorgeous and can’t understand why, even though everybody who knows me loves me, I keep being overlooked when people come to the kennels to adopt a dog.
This is me. My name is Blacky.
When I was 5, there was great excitement at my house. A big van came and lots of things were put inside and there were lots of suitcases and so I thought the family must be going on their holidays. They didn’t normally take the sofa, the table and the beds though.
Soon, I was put in the car and driven somewhere a little far away. It didn’t look like the usual kennels I stay in for my holidays.
I put on my best smile as I find, when you are nice to them, you often get a few extra treats.
The family went on holiday for a much longer time than usual and one day
I realised they were never coming back.
Now I have been here for three years but, even though there are lots of kind people who come to take me out for walks now and again, it still doesn’t feel like home.
I don’t much like sharing my kennel with male dogs but I do love the ladies. The female dogs are usually adopted pretty quickly so I am often left alone again.
Last time this happened I had a bit of a cry and had to have a good cuddle to cheer me up.
Tialys’ friend Karen is my sponsor and she likes to dress me up in bright bandanas to help me attract attention to myself. She sometimes has a little cry too.
I have my own method of attracting attention which involves seeing how far I can put my tongue out.
Apart from the fact that I am a bit naughty around cats and prefer the ladies to the boys, I am a good dog – people here are always calling me that. I can offer affection, some nice cuddles and playtimes and a calm temperament and really, that’s all I ask for in return. Well, that and a comfy bed and a few treats now and then.
For now, thank you for reading my story.
The Dog Rescue Carcassonne is a group consisting mainly of expats and some French nationals that raises funds for the S.P.A. Carcassonne (la Société Protectrice des Animaux) and this sometimes makes it possible for volunteers to transport dogs to their new homes within France and occasionally elsewhere in Europe.
In case you were wondering, I haven’t suffocated under a pile of dogs and cats but have been over to the U.K. for a workshop, some long overdue visits, some successful and not so successful fabric shopping and some fish and chips by the sea. My Mum came back with me for a week so I have been spending some ‘quality’ time with her and have not back into my usual routine – such as it is.
Just to check in, I thought I’d show you those finished sewing boxes I was making even though you will see that I ignored all your advice about which fabric to match with which and stuck with my original plan but at least I asked!
and the birds and sheet music
with the teeny scissors
Did I do wrong??
This lovely toadstool fabric will be the exterior of the my next sewing box as you can see by the progress pic below.
I am photographing all the stages as I complete them because I am thinking of turning it into a photo tutorial along the lines of the tute I have already produced for the small boxes I make.
If I ever get it done, I will be looking for a couple of testers to make sure my instructions make sense. Just let me know in the comments if you like messing with cardboard, glue, fabric and can manage teensy stitches and would like to be considered.
Selling online, as I do occasionally, I always try to be polite and charming when dealing with customers even when they do not return the favour.
Since moving to France, I have found that the customer is not always right but assumed to be at fault or in error until evidence to the contrary is obtained and, even then, must be offered not an apology but a roll of the eyes and a gallic shrug. However, I stubbornly cling to this basic rule of commerce in my own dealings.
It seems as if not everybody is of the same mind though. I was doing a little online shopping yesterday and, as usual, I checked out the feedback of the seller before committing myself to a purchase. They had quite a few positive comments, a few neutrals and some negatives in a proportion that wouldn’t normally put me off buying but, it was their responses to the negative comments that I found to be an interesting way of dealing with customers. I list a few of the exchanges below but have altered certain details in order to protect both the innocent and the guilty.
1. Buyer Feedback: It came 5 days late, was stained and was the wrong colour.
Seller Response: John Smith is scum. No communication.
2. Buyer Feedback: Shocking ebayer, terrible communications, can’t recommend.
Seller Response: Anne is a scum. She is a liar.
3. Buyer Feedback: Great item, shame about the customer service
Seller Response: He was sent a replacement but still moaning – be careful of this one.
4. Buyer Feedback: Upsetting experience. Four items sent were not those ordered and only received a partial refund. The seller calls buyers ‘scum’.
Seller Response: D. Cooper is a true scummer.
5. Buyer Feedback: Never received the item. Seller very unhelpful. Can’t recommend.
Seller Response: Jane Doe is scum. Made a false claim and conned us for the postage.
and my favourite
6. Buyer Feedback: Disappointed with item, nothing like the photograph.
Seller’s Response: Hayley has an eyesight as well as a mental problem.
(well, at least she wasn’t ‘scum’ I suppose).
I didn’t buy anything.
Anybody remember H.R.PufnStuff? A sort of weird, psychadelic, Saturday morning cartoon from 1969/1970 with a young Jack Wild.
This is the wonderful Witchipoo and she’s wearing what appear to be my last pair of socks.
I’ll spare you a YouTube link because you will have the theme tune in your head for ever more – as I do, along with the one from the Banana Splits.
This is my latest finished pair of socks – they are on sock blockers in case you were wondering whether I’d been run over by a steamroller.
I’ve written before about ‘second sock syndrome’ – where you finish one sock and can’t be arsed to make the next one – which is why I always make two at the same time but now I appear to be suffering from ‘Witchipoo sock syndrome’. Will the pointy hat be next?
These are my bright and lovely sock blockers from this Etsy shop. Now that I have them I must make more socks but perhaps my next ones will be plain – I’m going to be singing that song for at least a week now.
Have you got any songs from the T.V. programmes of your youth that you can still remember all the words to?