Wednesday, 28 March 2012

More Pretty Things

This is the second half of yesterday's epic post, with more of a sewing-y theme to it, but it's mostly just "Look at the pretty things!".
I seem to have had a week of fevered acquisition, mostly blog-inspired. Let's look at the evidence:

I first saw this dress on Alex and immediately opened up People Tree's website, I love bunnies. The dress is a really cute style too, fitted in the bodice with a flarey skirt and tapered shoulder straps with little bows at the front.
I was very happy to spot it in the sale section at £26 (down from £60) and made the snap decision to purchase it. It's good quality, I reasoned, and a very pretty thing from a good brand, so if it doesn't fit I can always put it on eBay. It was only available in one size, and the longer version going out of stock while I was browsing made up my mind about which to get. This version is navy and a decent length (no bending over though) and luckily the 14 fits me perfectly (take that, H&M!).
Oh, did I mention it's got BUNNIES on. Happy, frolicking bunnies! I wore it to frolic happily on my birthday, which mostly involved chasing the cat around the garden and trying to take his photo. The boy took some pictures of me but I'm pulling awful faces and wearing Mum's crocs so I'll refrain from posting them...

I spotted this on a sewing blog and in a fit of self-indulgence almost immediately bought it off eBay. Views C & D look a lot like two of my favourite and most worn dresses so I think this pattern will be a winner. It also says EASY so hopefully it will be...

What's this? A GLORIOUS old duvet cover. This reminds me of my Grandma's house (it's a wonderful time capsule of patterned wallpaper and strange ornaments). This beauty was going free from a table on the street around the corner from the Students' Union. There was a second one in a different pattern but I thought I'd spread the joy by leaving it for someone else to find.
What will it be? Perhaps a (wearable?) muslin for M6503? View A I think. I might end up looking like a sixties housewife but I won't care.

I blame Karen for this. She's trimmed her latest Sorbetto with the black version of this cute polka dot bias binding, and spurred me into buying some for my future strawbetto. I can't decide if it'll look nice or be a bit too strong for the strawberry fabric (which I bought on a sewists' expedition in Birmingham). I'll have to try pinning it on once I've actually got around to making the things. After exams. When I am a "real person" (eek!).
I actually got around to applying for a job yesterday, the process isn't my favourite thing in the world. Covering letters make me feel like a smarmy idiot. Hopefully the kind of companies I'm applying for will want to judge me on my CV and actually meeting me. Hum.
The job I applied for is in Cambridge (as are several others I'm looking at), and that's most definitely Not Bristol. I do love Bristol and want to stay here but Cambridge is also a lovely place and I'm not committing to staying away for ever. Plenty of time to move around yet, I am but twenty-two.

Written to the sound of: The Well-dressed Son To His Sweetheart by Devon Sproule

Tuesday, 27 March 2012

ALL The Crochet

Hello! I've just come back from a relaxing birthday weekend in deepest, darkest Somerset with the boy and my family. We did a lot of walking, a fair amount of eating, and took heaps of photos. I might post some of those if I ever get to wading through them all!
I managed to finish off something I started during the week on the train down - a wiggly scarf!

And I turned it into a mobius loop.
This was my first foray into exciting crochet patterns. I'd had vague thoughts about looking up some more interesting stitches (I can do single, double, half-treble and treble) but stumbled across Hyacinth Girl's rather lovely monochromatic Afghan via Katie at Little Red Squirrel and decided that this would be a good next step.
I used this video tutorial and pattern from Crochet Geek to teach myself to wiggle. It was incredibly easy! I'd definitely recommend learning crochet by video, actually seeing hands crocheting makes things a lot easier than having to decipher a jumble of abbreviations.
I made this from yarn (not wool, acrylic!) leftover from a birthday snood for my housemate and had no idea how much scarf I'd be making when I started out. I ended up with a scarf that was on the short side and decided to join the ends up. I twisted it so that I had a mobius loop and I think that gives it a little bit of extra volume when it's round my neck. It's nice and warm and snuggly anyway.
If anyone's interested it's Robin DK and I used a crochet hook which says 6.0/US J on it  - I haven't yet figured out how crochet hook sizes work, I just have a variety and pick whatever I feel comfortable with for a particular project!

A blanket for M, both soothing and bright :)
With my hand, for scale
The edge
How is one supposed to hide these bits?
On the grey scarf I've cut and knotted them and woven them in but it's fiddly and I don't trust my knots, and it might pull on my other stitches.  I don't cut it as I go along in case I do something horribly wrong and need to go back and fix it.
On my pink blanket of horrendous ugliness I went over along the edges with the same yarn which was a bit neater, but that requires being able to work out how much I need to cover it and having that left! Perhaps I should just suck it up and buy more of the pink and make pretty scalloped edging. I don't think mismatched dye lots will hurt too much here.

Rustic charm? Or just wonky...

My first attempt at a Granny square. This wool was a hand-me-up from my sister and was to hand when I found this Granny square tutorial. I don't think this is too bad for a first try.
I figured out as I was going along where I should be making the next stitch. It took me a while to convince myself that it was right to stitch all six of the corner crochets into the same loop, but it works! It really does! It just sorts itself out and goes square. No witchcraft involved.

Now what shall I turn my hand (or hook) to next? Any suggestions?
I have some lovely red bamboo yarn which I think would make a nice shawl, but I don't think I'm quite ready for the amazing complicated shawls one sees on Ravelry. Maybe I should actually join Ravelry? I do have a stash...

I should probably just stick with the pink/brown/beige blanket until it's finished, then start on my sister's Christmas blanket. Oh, and revise. I have been doing that, honest.

P.S. This was going to be a sewing post too but it got a bit long, I think I'll leave that for another day!

Monday, 19 March 2012

Balls Of String, Coiled Like Springs

Taking pleasure in nice little things is a lovely thing to do and Sarah Rooftops, who wrote this wonderful post the other day, seems to be rather good at it. Stopping to look at them seems like an excellent idea, so here are a few things that have made me smile recently:

Cards from lovely people in lovely places, cheering up my desk.

Having my skirts arranged by colour.

The effect this silly battery-powered hamster has on the boy.
His fits of giggly laughter make me feel all mushy and affectionate.

 Having a to do list that shows me what I've already done.
I'm *not* hopeless and useless after all.


 If I can't have a garden of my own I may just have to steal small bits of other peoples'.
I think this is probably cherry blossom? It's just incredibly lovely.

Post title from Just Like A Drummer by The Wave Pictures.

Sunday, 18 March 2012

Sizing: A Mini-rant

An annoyance. Yet again, it's about clothes sizing.
The other day I decided to take the plunge and get rid of a Primark dress I've had for a while but not worn much. It cost me £2 and is a sort of cotton shirtdress, blue with white polkadots. In theory something I'd like to wear. In practice too short, too small in the bust. No problem, it cost £2 and fits my flatmate fine.
On Friday I thought as part of my experiments in treating myself I'd go into town and buy the blue & white polkadot shirtdress I'd seen at H&M. I've got plenty of dresses from there and this seems like a winner, longer than the Primark one and hopefully in a better size. So I went in and tried it on. No good. A size 16 (top end of what I'd consider "my size range") was too tight around the bust and snug on the waist. So, find a bigger size? Nope. This is "Divided", the sort of younger persons' section, they don't go beyond a 16 (in fact it's rare to find bigger than 14). So... no dress for me.
Not too big a deal? Well actually I was quite pissed off. I know I'm a bit squidgey around the edges and have a bit of a bum on me, but I'm not *that* big. I'm average height with a modest 36D bust, and at age 21 well within the target market for this range. I'd say I'm probably average-sized, so it really grates that a big high street chain don't make clothes that fit me.
H&M are generally pretty cheap and cheerful and obviously have a lot of different suppliers (the discrepancy in sizing is a pretty good indicator) and I'm prepared to always have to try things on in there, but when they just do not make something big enough it's another matter altogether. Imagine how many sales they lose because an item simply doesn't come big enough. Imagine how many perfectly normal-sized women with less robust self-esteem than me can't face H&M again because they've effectively been told "you're too big to shop here". Ugh.
I had a similar experience a while ago, which I think I blogged about, with an Apricot dress. I tried on an L but found it a bit snug, could see only XS, S, M & L in the shop and decided to look online, whereupon I found that XL simply didn't exist, despite there being an XS at the other end of the scale. The feeling of irritation at the size not being available was turned into one of dismay and almost rejection by the size not existing. Ouch.

I'm obviously still bitter about my dress, otherwise this post wouldn't exist, but I did buy a rather nice cardigan while I was there.

Same spots, different item, the 14 fitted fine. (lucky since it wasn't in stock in a 16)
I thought availability of sizes was meant to be a pro of shopping on the high street vs. in charity and vintage shops? Let's just say I'm not in much of a hurry to go back to Broadmead.

Friday, 16 March 2012


No completed blankets for friend or sister yet, but some progress on the former. I've been generally good and restricted crochet to times when I couldn't reasonably be doing something else or need a proper break, or am doing something else. Like being at the pub:

Rosy cheeks courtesy of Dawkins Ales' Sunshine
Another bonus of crochet as a hobby is being able to wrap yourself up in it as you go along.(please ignore my strange technique, I've not mastered the standard way of holding the hook!)
This is the one for my friend, I've gone with doing two rows of double crochet (single to Americans) in each colour. At the end I'll go over both sides to neaten it up, probably in brown.

I made this moustache for my friend's facial-hair-themed 21st birthday party. No itchy stick-on moustache for me. I used the little bit of plastic-covered wire that came with my earphones to attach it to my nose so it was easily removable too. Crafty, free, and practical.

We are not amused.
I made this snood before Christmas with some lovely "Katia Velvet" yarn I was given for my last birthday. It's really soft! The shape was an experiment and it came out wearable if a little awkward. The foldy bit at the front is big enough that it sticks out strangely, but too small to fold at all. I've found that the cufflinks the boy gave me (thinking they were brooches, poor dear) make good snood-tamers. They're bunny-shaped and I end up with little white china bunnies snuggling in the yarn. Cute :)

XN View finally made a non-wonky mosaic, hurrah!
Roses! Yarn bombing in the kitchen, an experimental one & a brooch.
 I made these on Tuesday and Wednesday after seeing them on Lauren aka Lladybird's blog*. I'm normally terrible at following patterns - I never know where to go next! -  but having a video and being able to see actual hands crocheting made it really easy. I used this one.
I made the bobbly blue one at Photosoc tea, while having a cheeky cocktail on the 2 for 1. Hic.

Bramble (with accidental extra Triple Sec)

* I want a Rooibos like hers, it's amazing.

Sunday, 11 March 2012

Self Worth & Shopping

One of the things that has come out of my going to counselling is my almost subconscious tendency to not buy myself nice things, or not to use them when I have them. There's something about self worth in there - I seem to have it drilled into me that what I want doesn't matter. There's something about perfectionism and not wanting to ruin or waste things by using them in the wrong way, making terrible inedible supper, or wasting fabric on a dress that turns out unwearable. Often I won't even start things because I'm too put off by the thought of it not being right or good enough.
Sometimes I don't buy things because I can't find an option that's as cheap as I've somehow got it into my head that it should be. This ends up with situations like having no waterproof shoes, an ancient phone, or no batteries for my bike lights. I'll hold out for a cheaper price or better deal and deny myself until I get it, possibly substituting cheap alternatives in the meanwhile, or opting for something I don't really want.
I do it in clothes shops, in the supermarket, in coffee shops, on the internet. Take me out for coffee and I'll get a filter or americano, and whatever strikes me as the cake with the best price/size ratio. Which is obviously stupid, having coffee and cake in the first place is being indulgent so I may as well pay another 40p and get a latte if I want one, or the flapjack with chocolate on. My reliance on my perception of value is reinforced by not *knowing* what I want,  and vice versa. As I'm not used to what I want being the deciding factor I stop listening to what I want and on it goes.
It's uncomfortable to think about how I deny myself and often make things more complicated by doing all this, but the outcome is very positive - my counsellor told me my homework was to buy myself nice things!
Now of course this isn't as easy as it sounds, otherwise I wouldn't have been told to do it. I have to fight my instincts to buy the cheaper option or the reductions (often the caveat when I have nice things), and just listen to what I want and BUY IT. It'll be more expensive, yes, but where do you draw the line? Rationally I know I need to treat myself because I don't not deserve it, now I need to believe that.

Fancy pie... reduced.
I went to the supermarket earlier feeling suitably empowered, and I did it. I bought a butternut squash just because, I felt like crumpets so I bought crumpets, I got the really nice tomatoes.
I did fall down on a few things - I wanted squash soup but bought tomato & basil because it was on offer, I prefer baked crisps but bought the "light" ones that were reduced. But it's a start, and I'm going to enjoy the nice things I've bought and not feel guilty if I end up "wasting" something in a stew that's less than delicious.
On the other hand I'll still use it all efficiently. I won't end up throwing away a whole bag of mouldy tomatoes but if one or two go bad I won't kick myself too hard. I'm not throwing away my attitude to food and shopping and going for the polar opposite, yet again it's all about balance.
Wish me luck?