28 December 2011

Knitsewknitsewknitsewknitsew... and then the sci-fi party of my dreams?

This has been my little corner of the world lately--three days and an embarrassing number of X-Files episodes since Christmas and I am well on my way to finishing my winter projects! I've set myself up in the living room at my parents' house (my sister especially loves my complete inability to share the coffee table), working alternately on my New Years dress and C's pillbox hat. I also took over the dining room table:

So that's two whole rooms...I need to consolidate, haha.

The dress is going okay! I decided to use the sleeve from Colette Patterns' Oolong in the end, and a bias band at the neckline instead of a facing (I was worried it'd be too bulky, since I'm also lining the dress). I think it's going to be nice.

As for the hat: things are a little touch and go! I used heavy-duty interfacing (like the kind for purse sides) for stability, and am working on the embellishments, but I need to finish drafting a pattern for 'em.

And I finished the first of my dad's (extremely tardy) Christmas socks, and started on the second! It's unblocked and kind of wonky, but he tried it on and it fits nicely, so...that's what matters:

They are, yes, very plain. He wanted plain. Part of the present was the sacrifice for me of making something so plain because he wanted them so. I'm secretly looking a little forward to starting my mom's pair, which will be patterned and at least have some color to them.

Plans for New Year have also solidified: I am going to a Dr. Who party! That is, the Facebook event is called "there's a party in my tardis and everyone's invited." The entire event description is "RUN." I am really excited. And I spoke to C and she was independently planning on wearing a dress that matches her soon-to-be hat! PERFECT LUCK.

Now I'm back off to craft-and-UFO-land: Kaylee from Firefly has just been abducted by a madman and walled up in a cabin, Scully and Mulder are hot on her captor's trail, and I have some sewing to do.

25 December 2011

Acting on My NY Resolutions Early?

HEY MERRY CHRISTMAS FOLKS. If yer not a Christmaphile, happy holidays?

Things have been crazy, tumultuous, etc. the past couple months (I know, I know, I always say that). Salient details:

-moving back to Boston middle of next month!
-knitting all the freaking time again!
-learning millinery!
-computer is still broken!

At the moment, my biggest concerns are clearing and organizing my junk for the move, knitting the socks I "gave" my parents for Christmas without having finished making (thanks to aforementioned tumult), and working on two sewing projects: a New Years' dress for, well, New Years' Eve, and a hat for C (a NYE/belated birthday and Christmas gift, as I missed both of her giftingdays in December). I am excited about both (though have tragically left my camera in my apartment while parentvisiting for the week and am therefore incapable of photographing either in progress). And apparently I love parentheses now?

The dress is going to be made in this great cotton novelty print I found in the clearance pile at Fabricville, with green and gold champagne bottles/flutes and New Year confetti in red and blue. I got nice unstaticky red lining (LOVE lining things in bright lipstick red) and am Frankenpatterning up a storm: the Butterick 5032 bodice, which I've made before and which fit like a dream; the skirt half of the Burdastyle bustier dress with the draped/sarong skirt (only without that weird ruffly thing! I'm thinking a really big brooch or some other embellishment over the gathering seam there); and a short sleeve, though I'm not sure which pattern's sleeve's I'm going to mess around with yet. Possibly just the cap sleeves from Butterick 5316, maybe something more legit, we'll see how much time I have to mess around.

The hat is MUCH more sorted out and I am super excited about it. I've got a dark teal-ish turquoise-ish shade of linen for the shell and a leopard print for the lining, and I'mma make a pillbox hat! With three removable/interchangeable embellishments, all on pins for easy switching! One of these was purchased (a feather-and-jewel pin), but the other two will be handmade. YES. I am amped...

AND HAVE SO MUCH TO DO IN THE NEXT FEW DAYS. And on my mama's machine, too, as Edith is back in Montreal. Eek! Time to bake a pie, and then get back to these socks I'm knitting, so uh, Merry Christmas and I'll be a good blogger some other time?

29 October 2011

Pressure's On

Nine hours. Five fake birds to finish sewing. A dress to alter and a costume to assemble! CAN I DO IT?

27 October 2011

"Who are you? What are you? Where did you come from! I think you're evil. EVIL!"

Halloween weekend approaches! As in it starts tomorrow, and my level of excitement is rising faster and faster! This is one of my favorite holidays, because of the dressing up of course (and also the carte blanche to eat kiddie candy). Costume assembly is proceeding apace--I finally made up my mind what to be:

I am dressing as a Birds victim! Whether or not I am Tippi Hedren herself depends on whether I feel like bleaching my head tonight:

I was planning at first to make a green dress and jacket, but then realised that a) that was way too much to do before the weekend and b) I had a really beautiful sheathy/wiggly dress that I'd been meaning to dye to cover up a massive yellowy iron-mark (it was pale blue, the dress! The scorch mark was absurdly visible), so one pack of Dylon Amazon Green, 30 minutes, and two Maggie Hamilton Wicked-Witch tinted hands later,

we have a winner!

Goodwill graciously provided a cropped jacket light enough to wear indoors at a crowded party, and I also sniped a couple yards of green wool in a slightly darker shade,

which'll become a purse and pillbox hat (using this tutorial)! I know, Tippi is hatless, but it seems like a nice touch if I'm not trying to be perfect-clone-girl (I'm not) and also a good place to perch a bird!

The birds are the one thing I haven't thoroughly figured out yet. I have a bunch of dark grey craft felt and some polyfill batting and was going to just cut out bird silhouettes and stuff 'em; M has pointed out that this will make them look cute, not creepy and ominous, and he's right. He has a theory about wire-hanger wingframes that sounds promising.

Any ideas, O internet? I need this to work!

In closing, my favorite Tippi Hedren picture:

Aaaaand Melanie-Daniels Barbie(!):

24 October 2011

Hitcha With Some Youtube

Something old:

Something new:

Something borrowed*:

Something blue*:


I'm seeing the Slackers on Saturday! I am excited beyond belief but am afraid my first K-less Slackers show will be tough. How do I go about finding a new partner in boogiecrime?

15 October 2011

SKAAAA ska ska...Jamaican SKA

OKAY I KNOW it's been another 97 years since my last post blah blah but this PALES IN IMPORTANCE compared to the AWESOMENESS of my yesterday evening:

K and I went to the Montreal Ska Fest and SAW THE SKATALITES!

The Skatalites are a ska band. They are, like, a big time, original status, founding-royalty ska band from the first wave of Jamaican ska. They also played with pretty much every ska artist on the island of Jamaica in the sixties--as Rolling Stone put it, they were "Jamaica's answer to the Motown house band and Booker T and the MGs combined." PJ Patterson, the former Prime Minister of Jamaica, managed them for a while in his youth!

They used to look like this:

Now they look like this:

Only one of the group's founding 1964-era members is still playing, the alto saxophonist Lester Sterling:

...but the band is still FREAKING AMAZING. The set was awesome, the show was great. Doreen Shaffer, also a legend in her own right, has been singing with them since the eighties and I want to be her when I grow up because as older ladies go she is pretty awesome:

Other highlights of the evening included:
-The Ska-Mones, a Ramones tribute ska band who we missed by arriving late(!);
-Eastern Standard Time* and Mr. T-Bone, otherwise known as All the Same Guys With Two Different Band Members Fronting/On Vocals, both of whose sets were absurdly awesome and all of whom were very dapper and sported pretty schmancy facial hair;
-Danny Rebel and the KGB, who are always a delight; and
-The Harmonauts, my favorite Torontonians, at the afterparty at L'Absynthe, which was excellent and along to whom K and I skanked up a storm, and after whose set we made new friends! From Edmonton! Exciting.

*The ladies on the Eastern Standard Time homepage are well dressed and generally awesome-looking!

AND APPARENTLY someone has already put video up from last night's show! Here we have: THE SKATALITES!

21 September 2011

Father's Little Helper?

So in the class for which I was so unprepared last post, we had the ever-fascinating library lecture...only it was ACTUALLY FASCINATING, because the History of Medicine librarian at McGill is my favorite human being, pretty much. After going through the how-to-database instructions and standard stuff (though that was great too! Because I learned how to use two new search functions...SUCH A HISTORY NERD), he reminded us of the existence of the Internet Archive, and of the Prelinger Archives collection therein.

There's all sorts of stuff there, amateur films, industrial short films, all those crazy health & hygiene and social behavior films. Because the class for which I was looking is in History of Psych, I made a beeline for the Medicine: Psychiatry tag--there's not much, but I did find this:

(Link here if you don't want to watch the tiny screen, though really it mostly just gets blurrier.)

It's a 1957 film advertising a tranquilizer called Atarax. According to the voice-over, "Ataraxia means peace of mind, and that, even more than money, is what most of us want to find."

Yes, most of the voice-over is in weird rhyming couplets. The whole thing is odd really. Some of the visual moments are great: the stressed husband reading the relaxation manual, his eyes lighting on his serene wife, who is paging through a novel called Wife Killer; the double newspapers--first headline bad news, peel back, second headline GREAT!--that indicate the husband's new positivity about life; the husband's crazy, contorting facial expressions and wife's COMPLETE IMPLACABILITY; and the money that is lowered down on a fishing hook to indicate that good things come to those who wait...and are relaxed in the meantime by taking tranquilizers? I guess? Overall, though, odd.

(The other thing I don't get is: in the end, the wife reads the husband to sleep. He only seems to be tranked in the office. Does he not need them after all? Is he taking them on the sly and then inflicting his bad mood on his wife in the evening regardless? What is going on here?)

There are serious issues here, about both the treatment of mental health issues in midcentury America and about the social behavior expected of men and women in that period. I was somewhat surprised when the video turned out the way it did; your typical tranquilizer story from suburbia focuses on the women rather than the men, y'know, "Mother's Little Helper" and whatnot, and so a Pfizer promotion called "The Relaxed Wife" seemed to me like it would be about, well, a wife needing to relax. It's something I want to look more into...I was going to go on a rant and then realized I didn't know enough to rant with authority.

We're going to be talking about this stuff in psych class, actually, in a couple weeks, after we read The Age of Anxiety (my prof's book! I am excited!) and I'm looking forward to it. But in the meantime...Atarax! After all, "of all the states throughout this nation, the happiest by far is the state of relaxation--there'll be fewer breakdowns and insomniacs, when more of us have learned to be relaxed..."

20 September 2011

Seriously What Am I Doing Online

Class in two hours! Thirty pages to have profound thoughts about! Not dressed yet! Clearly the BEST time to blog! So many exclamation points!

Room still a mess. Sewing machine set up on desk (alongside computer...will have to solve that conflict at some point). Took out winter clothes this weekend and remembered my rad brown tweed day dress, though unfortunately it's not cold enough. Ready for end of summer.

History of Psychiatry at one though, and then Sociology of Mental Disorder, and then home to cook dinner and NOT think about mental illness for a while. Last night made the pear-and-citrus pie posted over at Chronically Vintage a couple weeks ago, with Chicken Paprika and E made yummy buttered cauliflower...we didn't eat 'til like 11 but it was freaking delicious.

AND IN CONCLUSION, because this is funny/charming, and I have to go a) read about fifties mental institutions and b) pick clothing that looks less like a colorblind person's than what I wore yesterday:

Elvis played the title role in the 1962 film Kid Galahad, which I watched the other day and is hysterical. He is a boxer in upstate New York! But also a gentleman, and really just wants to make enough money to quit boxing and become a partner in the garage in town, and marry his gambling-debt-encumbered boxing coach's cute little sister (who, by the by, wears a great yellow dress in one scene):

I couldn't find a better picture of the dress that wasn't black and white. It's pretty simple but just looks really nice, and that's not the most intuitive clothing color, so I was pleased.

ALSO just found this gem on Google Image Search:

14 September 2011

Who Knew Leonard Bernstein Was a Fox?

I didn't, but check this out:

And this:

Maybe I should start falling in love with men who aren't famous and dead. And gay.

Had a really long conversation with M and E yesterday about Boy/Girl Stuff--consciousness of gender performance, cross-gender interactions, whatnot, and it bled over into a fashion discussion in some sort of interesting ways. E and I both remember dressing aggressively badly as teenagers to make ideological points--my ripped tights and ratty grandma cardigans in a way not only displayed but were my angry feminism. Now that we've both adopted a more...one might say "conventional," but in truth just more aesthetically and less politically motivated style of dress, what does that mean?

What, generally, does my gender behavior mean? God knows, and I certainly know that I roll my eyes usually when these conversations come around--I'm so conflicted about a lot of it that I can't really have the debate without twisting into crazy pretzels of self-contradiction--but it's a set of questions worth not just tossing aside.

(Hi, big public Internet, how's it going)

Bought strange fabric on sale yesterday with champagne bottles and confetti printed on it. Have the best New Years' dress ever on the slate.

WHICH REMINDS ME that I only have a month and a half now to figure out Halloween and I am goddamned slow and indecisive about that costume business. Options so far include:

-Salome dancing, Seven Veils etc (papier mache John the Baptist head required, of course). I know I read this on the Internet somewhere but it's such a freaking good idea that I am totally okay with jacking it
-a Mondrian painting! 2d place idea from last year. Yves-St-Laurent-esque Mondrian dress, but then paint my body around it to complete the canvas
-Birds-esque Tippi Hedren with fake birds swooping in on the attack (wired to me I guess?)
-on the list I made in WordPad I've written "nancy/courtney" with no other commentary. I think that means Nancy Spungen and Courtney Love but I don't understand what my costume idea was.

Need to decide by Thanksgiving, I'd say--which'll give me three weeks exactly to sort out costume crafting. Good timeline? Good timeline. Good.

13 September 2011

Cover Story, redux

HAAAH another month plus absence! And returning with nothing to show but more YouTube links! Maybe I should just admit I'm not cut out for bloglife.


This song is not actually by the Beatles!

And this version by the Flying Lizards featured in Empire Records, an excellent movie everyone should see:


Maybe someday I'll be substantive.

07 August 2011

Not Just Youtube Links This Time!

Update update update! I will actually write words today and post them on the internet, instead of just linking to videos! I know, it's a shock, O imaginary audience.

Home for the weekend. Sitting in the living room smelling the steak Mom's cooking for dinner. Planning after the meal to watch some of the Thin Man sequels (we watched the original last night) and start mending the lining of my grey coat, which has been languishing in a ripped and crumpled pile since the spring of 2009. It's really beautiful dark grey wool, with black velvety collar and pocket flaps and nice satin lining that I completely destroyed with hard wearing. Got a new set of buttons on a Joann's trip this afternoon, as well.

Other Joann's victories: very cheap broadcloth, gaily printed cherry fabric, and funny Vintage Vogue hat patterns. Am going to make some sundresses and hats...which I will be able to photograph with the camera I got for my birthday! A whole new era is dawning in my blogging life.

It's been nice being home. I miss my folks when in Montreal, and I come back here so infrequently. And now I need to set the table, so in parting I am going to offer (yes) some more video:

03 August 2011

21 June 2011

Misdirected and...Saved?

According to S, this is what happens when you misspell my blog address (as I did in an email just now):


I checked and it's the whole blogpsot.com domain. Hilarious.

15 June 2011

05 June 2011

Nine Projects to Freaking Finish Already

So right now my blog reading list (or whatever that thing is called on the Blogger home page of all the blogs you follow...feed? reader? I am so, so not good at this) is composed of a couple dozen vintage style and sewing/craft blogs and then Up the Fuckin' Punx, which a friend recommended as a good music source, and the way it occasionally pops up aggressively and interrupts all the lace and old photos with pictures of EXTREMELY ANGRY COVER ART has been amusing me.

I have a craft list to make at the moment though! It is getting difficult, between a sense of apathy about keeping my space clean that derives from my imminent move (beginning of July) and the beautiful weather outside, to make myself actually complete anything! I did a big push on Thursday to get everyone's graduation presents done, and now that the gluegun burns have subsided I think it's time to try and get back in gear. So here we go:

Nine Unfinished/Planned Projects; or, Please Start Accomplishing Shit Again!

1. Batik print sheath: I cut out and started sewing up Butterick 5316:

in this beautiful multicolored batik that I found at the Goodwill:

 and resembles the fabric used in those crazy robe/dress ensembles worn by African women with the turbans that make them look like queens. I have no idea even what part of Africa those are from but one sees them in films and occasionally on black women in the city (there was someone in my metro car fully kitted out the other day and she looked so beautiful).

2. Purple shorts! These are from a mid-sixties Advance pattern--3555--which thinks one ought to wear them in a beach costume with a matching bra-top and a really goofy overdress:

I just want to wear them with blouses as my summer shorts. They're high-waisted with a zip in back, which is cool, and I found a nice lavender-purple light denim in the "mis-cuts" dollar bin at the notions store. Add a 25-cent Goodwill zipper, one of my button-bag buttons for the waist, and voila! (But I actually have to do all those things.)

3. K's Mets skirt. I have the baseball bedsheet and some nice blue lining material, I just need to dirndl it all together. This one I haven't even started, but it's been promised so it needs to occur.

4. All my dress editing! This includes the extra darts I need to add to my leopard dress, shortening the hem of my blue cocktail sheath, re-sewing the too-long straps on that Vivien of Holloway pink linen thing, and reshaping the neckline of my sundress with the sailor tattoos all over it. None of that should take long, so I should just sit down with the pile and get to it.

5. Giving the Colette Sorbetto top a whirl! I have such a need for summer tops right now that aren't old music festival tee shirts. I also really liked Casey's take on it and might give that a try.

6. Finishing up the blue version I knit of the Three Hour Sweater--I completed all the pieces, even picked a neck button, but I still haven't done the sewing up(!!!)

7. Two promised hats, now that we're on the knitting thing--one slouch hat for H and one crazy pillbox thing for C off a vintage pattern:

 Luckily, since I'm so, so late with them that  it's become summer in the meantime, I have until it's cold again to finish these? Though I should probably just get going, I don't have any other knitting on the go.

8. The rest of my mending! This I genuinely need to just get through.

9. The turquoise and red dresses I bought fabric for last month and then never got going on. Whoops?

04 June 2011

S'Been So Long

...but here I am again. It's been a crazy month, friends.

I have completed my pop music class. I have not completed my French course. I have babysat a ton. I have congratulated my friends on graduating university. I have not graduated university. I have mended a huge pile of clothing. I have sold a huge pile of clothing. I have not sold textbooks but will this coming week. I have found a beautiful dress, a few books, a pincushion shaped like a globe on a stand, and an old skirt-hemming measure gadget at the Goodwill. I have not found an apartment, at the Goodwill or anywhere else. I have had some epiphanies. I have not solved all my problems. I have danced, drank, sang, smiled, sewn, cooked, spoken with friends. I have basked in the sun. I have not been pleased with the periodic rain.

That's enough of that particular brand of rambling though.

Favorite craft project: as a tribute to E's strep throat, a pouch depicting a (heavily gluegunned) patchwork picture of an opened and tonsilly mouth, with buttonmaker pins and a "Just Say NO! to Strep" placard. Didn't take a picture. Don't have a camera. Slightly regretful of that.

Best burgeoning new skill: putting on eyeshadow! K is teaching me. I've got a decent handle on, like, foundation and liner and lip stuff by now, but eye makeup beyond a swipe at edge of lid and a glop of mascara has remained beyond me.

Does anyone else ever feel as if they were home sick the day everyone else had girl lessons or something? I mean, I was there for all the cattiness and social position-jockeying, I was there when we did the preliminary hair-dyeing and everyone compared notes about holding hands with boys. But there were certain lectures I feel as if I slept through. Makeup day. Appropriately-dressed-for-the-situation day. The day when they taught  us how to put our hair up in those messy buns that everyone wore in grade five?

It's a beautiful day out right now. I'm going to go out in the world.

06 May 2011

Recent Exploits

Spent yesterday afternoon watching Rocky Horror and sewing Butterick 5032 in leopard print. Discovered two things:

a) Either that pattern has a crazy amount of ease or I am way skinnier than I was (though I'd love the latter I expect it's the former); and
b) there is a whole, like, extra 20 minutes of the Rocky Horror Picture Show after the floor show that I had completely forgotten about!

That's such a fun movie. Nothing in it makes any sense, but every moment is so goshdarn enjoyable. I also dyed my hair black, a decision I'm pleased with; the damaged ends are getting fairly ratty and the purple was only making it clearer (and grosser). The new color transcends the too-short cut a bit to make the Bettie Page I'm channelling a little more obvious, which is cool, and  it just generally looks a little saner. I haven't been a color found in nature for a while.

The main excitement in my life these days is my music class: I've spent the week getting course credit for listening to Ray Charles and Bessie Smith and Hank Williams and Bill Haley. The musical history, which I've never really put together the jigsaw pieces of despite my love for the music itself, is super fascinating, and I'm also learning a lot in terms of how to talk about music. My vocabulary for the actual structural underpinnings of music is shameful, and that's being addressed, but in addition the professor thinks it's really important to learn how to talk about subjective musical elements as well--how to describe someone's vocal style, for instance, beyond the mechanics (she's a soprano, she's singing melismatically*). It's an interesting education. I'm heading to school in half an hour or so; today we're doing Sun Records and Elvis through the Brill Building and girl groups.

*fun vocab fact of the day: melismatic singing is the term used to describe a singing style in which multiple pitches are ranged over one syllable, unlike syllabic singing in which changes in pitch are directly correlated to oncoming syllables. For instance, Celine Dion singing "Near, far, where-EV-er you are" would be syllabic, because each new note she hits is tied to a new syllable of the lyrics, but Whitney Houston wailing "And I-I-I-I-I will always love YOU-u-u-u-u-OOOO-u-u" would be melismatic because she really goes crazy on those pronouns.

In the spirit of today's lecture here's my favorite girl group, the Shangri-Las, singing not their biggest song, "Leader of the Pack," but their awesomest, "Great Big Kiss":

Check those outfits! And those girls at the end--"Jimmy O'Neill has boy appeal, he looks so cute in his mohair suit..."

And just for fun, Johnny Thunders singing it too: I love how he does both the lead AND backup dialogue in the spoken part. It's so endearing:

03 May 2011

Louis Jordan Is My New Favorite

Gosh it's been a while, hasn't it? No time for a big long post now but as a quick update: my music class has started and it's awesome. Here's a video from class today that I especially adored. Louis Jordan and His Tympany Five (yes, there are more than five of them, don't worry about it) play this song called "Caledonia":

Maybe I'll write up something on Louis Jordan later, we learned some cool stuff in class today, but right now must work!

19 April 2011

Freedom--So Close!

Exam tomorrow! So obviously I'm...taking a study break to write a post?

Full of plans for what I'll be doing with the rest of the week, month, summer. I need to swing into gear after tomorrow's exam on two things: 

-sewing the Easter dress, and
-prepping Easter dinner!

The dress is going according to schedule so far: I have everything cut out and hanging, awaiting my nimble fingers and quick needle. Or something. Might see whether C and K would agree to have craft night at mine tomorrow so I can start sewing in the eve. Hopefully the sewing process will go more smoothly than the pattern cutting did: that was absurd. 

It sounds, according to pattern reviews I've been reading online, that the cutting-out part of this pattern is the bitch. So it's still looking up.

Another thing I noticed, though, is that not too many people DO seem to have used the Oolong pattern, compared to the other Colette patterns. There are only a couple of photos on the site, etc. I wonder why that is? It's a really nice dress.

As far as Easter dinner: I have to start menuwise, grocery shop, and do all my cooking. I'm thinking lamb and trimmings, some funny Greek appetizers, tsoureki bread, and lots of desserts. But that'll be fun times after all this school stress.

14 April 2011

Insert Easter Parade Reference Here

...or just a picture:

Taking a break from the work thing for now...because I'm writing this before I leave to buy sewing supplies! I caved and am planning another project in my spare moments. It's justified, though, because I've got time limits here: I've decided to make my Easter dress.

Easter is a week from Sunday, and in addition to the Easter Vigil at midnight (and possibly the morning service, depending how swamped I am) I'll be having a (Big, Fat, Greek) meal and party for my friends and roommates and folks in the evening to celebrate. I planned to wear a certain shirtwaist dress I already had, but it seemed a little...plain for the party; then K gave me this crazy, superbright, sort of 70s-or-80s-does-swing-era dress, and it seemed like a winner 'til I realised that a) the bust darts only made it halfway (K is both shorter and narrower than I) and b) it was a little too fluorescent for church, and didn't really justify the "editing" it would have required to fit. That one's been put back on the shelf for the time being while I figure out what to do about the bodice.

So I'm making my own! The decision feels right: new clothes are a traditional part of Easter, after all. Besides, I've made a pledge with myself to make more stuff in general this spring, so why not kick that off with the most important spring holiday? Easter also marks the start of my summer freedom, so this'll be sort of a kickoff project in that way as well.

I'm using Colette Patterns' Oolong dress:

...which I ordered earlier this winter in a fit of wishful thinking, and a big $4 chunk of mystery fabric from the Goodwill (le Chainon, actually) on St. Laurent. It's quite cool: white with polkadots that look like blotches of watercolor in pink, green and orange. A burn test suggested it was something in the acetate family, but it feels lovely and smooth and I think it'll take well to the bias cut.

I'm also thinking of altering the sleeves to make flutter sleeves instead of the tight ones on the pattern, which seem so...plain to me. It's time I used the "alter any sewing pattern" section of my grandmother's needlecraft book again.

It's too sheer to self-line though (the polkadots show through awkwardly) so I'mma head out and pick up a couple yards of something (hopefully cheap!) to use as a lining. And pinking shears, since apparently K and I do not have a pair between us...

12 April 2011

Bell Canada Thinks I'm Ontarian

I'm not. But every time I try to pay them on the internet I have to reset the geographical settings on the web site.

I've hit another procrastination wall, I'm afraid. I'm meant to be working on school assignments pretty much nonstop this coming week (and have been meant to the past week or so as well) and I have been dutifully avoiding beginning any new projects, have come to a temporary rather than a permanent solution to my room-clutter problems, and am pushing off all similar endeavours until after my exams are all in. However, instead of doing the work required for them I find I am just planning ahead for that time: I've spent the morning so far looking at pretty dress patterns, checking apartment listings on Craigslist, and listening to Andrew Jackson Jihad instead of editing the one essay or beginning the others.

I need to get things together! Shee-it.

Okay, off the computer to make (and then STICK TO!) a more serious study regimen, but as a parting shot:

My grandmother's wedding announcement, which I stumbled upon while doing some procrastinatory genealogical Google searching a while back. I love the descriptions of not just the bridal gown but the bridesmaids' dresses and even the bride's travelling costume: "a black and white tweed suit with black alpaca lining, cloche hat of black velour, and black kid accessories." I'm sure almost half of the words in the announcement are descriptions of clothing or bouquets.

Whoa, so I just looked at this uploaded and it's a bit illegible. Am going to transcribe the text because I'm a cool kid (and so I can avoid work a little longer):

Miss Elizabeth Broback, Donald H. Bagger Married Saturday in Presbyterian Church

Miss Elizabeth Claire Broback, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Juel Irvin Broback of 420 Wychwood road, became the bride of Donald Hartvig Bagger, son of Mr. and Mrs. William Rambusch Bagger of 636 Hyslip avenue, Saturday evening at an eight o'clock candlelight ceremony in the Presbyterian church. The minister, Rev. Dr. Robert M. Skinner, officiated. The church was decorated with ferns and white floral arrangements. Following the ceremony, there was a reception at The Monday Afternoon Club, Plainfield.

Escorted and given in marriage by her father, the bride wore a gown of ivory slipper satin with a portrait neckline trimmed in French Alencon lace, basque bodice, long pointed tightly fitting sleeves, and bouffant skirt falling into a flowing cathedral train. her long fingertip imported illusion veil was draped froma  half hat of matching sating and Alencon lace. She carried a prayer book with a marker of baby orchids and stephanotis. 

Miss Barbara Ann Broback of Westfield, sister of the bride, was maid of honor. Bridesmaids were Miss Martha Ellen Brumback of Toledo, Ohio; Mrs. James Alden Marsh of Danvers, Mass.; Mrs. James Painter MacEntosh of Westfield; and Mrs. Arthur Wellington Pinkham Jr. of Lee, Mass. All the attendants wore strapless gowns with bodices of purple velvet, coachman's style, and bouffant skirts of orchid nylon net with matching stoles. They carried semi-crescent bouquets of blush pink snapdragons, pink sweetheart roses, and small purple asters with matching floral headpieces. 

Norman Bruce Bagger of Westfield was best man for his brother. Serving as ushers were James Alden marsh of Danvers, Mass.; Kenneth Molling Schubert of Brooklyn, N.Y.; Emile Werly Grewell of Dunellen; and Harry George Donhauser of Springfield. 

For travelling the bride wore a black and white tweed suit with black alpaca lining, cloche hat of black velour, and black kid accessories. After a southern wedding trip, the couple will reside in Westfield.

Mrs. Bagger attended the University of Mexico, Mexico City, and was graduated from Wellesley College, class of 1950. Mr. Bagger is a graduate of Harvard College, class of 1947, where he was a member of Hasty Pudding Institute of 1770 club and Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity. A Navy veteran of World War II, Mr. Bagger is secretary of the Newark Chamber of Commerce and since 1950 has been a councilman in Westfield.

09 April 2011

An Entry in Five Parts

I'm currently living in the bottom of an academic pit of despair, so I've disappeared for a bit and will for a little longer following this post--but I'm feeling procrastinatory right now and it's Saturday morning, so what the hell, posting time. The library can wait while I deliver a few snippets of what's been going on in my life:

1) Knit the Three-Hour Sweater this past week during craft time and on the bus/metro; still waiting to sew it up and wear it. Used some wool from a yarn store trip to my old neighborhood a couple weeks ago, a light-dark blue color combination. Will let y'all know how it turned out when it's actually a garment instead of pieces in the workbasket!

2) Am currently (as in, at this very moment) watching/listening to a documentary on 2-Tone music a friend found in the process of researching a paper on Madness (she is taking the pop music class I'll be in this summer). So far (part 4 of 10) it's mostly concert footage with some voiceover action at the start setting the scene:

"All over Britain, signs like this flash their nightly invitation, and in response, over half a million people go dancing every week all the year round..."

3) On another ska-tastic note: I went to an amazing show last Saturday! The Fundamentals, who are pretty much the definition of awesomeness, and would be even if I didn't know some of them, played with some Torontonians called the Harmonauts, and it was one of those shows where everything is just really, really good from start to end: K and I danced from moment one, we made a couple of concert buddies, both bands played great sets, and even when, back at K's, I thought I'd lost my phone, it turned out to be safe behind the bar at L'Absynthe. A-plus evening.

IF YOU ARE CANADIAN: the Fundamentals are on tour this summer! You should go see them, they really are excellent if you like ska even a tiny, tiny bit.

IF YOU AREN'T: you should still go listen to them on the internet.

4) Oooh, section 6 of the documentary has a bunch of fifties-sixties news footage about the rise of the teenager and different dance crazes!

5) Got two packages in the mail the other day: a box of typewriter ribbons and a bubble envelope full of folk punk CDs from Plan-It-X. I think that combination of purchases is a funny summary of me as a personality.

27 March 2011

Sunflowers? Really?

Watched Anchors Aweigh during insomniatimes last night and was struck by, but unable to decide how I felt about, Kathryn Grayson's date-night dress:

It has a matching shawl/cape thing as well:

The movie also includes this amazing scene:

24 March 2011

Elizabeth Taylor

"I remember, she's screaming on the street, and I mean loud. But she looked good. She had these great eyes, just like Liz Taylor's..." -- Goodfellas

My first real memory of Elizabeth Taylor is from watching her and Burton in The Taming of the Shrew, which my parents had us watch for a family film night when I was in middle school. We'd been doing the Kenneth Branaugh Shakespeare movies and had begun branching out after we ran through them all. I was bowled over.

I was also a huge 10 Things I Hate About You fan--still am--and part of what bowled me over was the obviously favorable comparison with Julia Stiles. Forget wanting to be an indie rock chick and woo Heath Ledger (actually, I'll keep Heath Ledger); this was so much more awesome. And I've felt that way about her ever since:

I suppose I must also have seen National Velvet at some point during youthtimes, but I can't really remember it--I wouldn't have watched it on my own, but my sister was a horse person and so Mom would have rented it for her for sure. Eiiiither way: that's hardly the point! The point is, from my preadolescent love of Katharina onward, Elizabeth Taylor has been one of the coolest in my mental logbooks. Now, unfortunately, she is no longer on the planet. But in my logbooks she stays!

I also wanted to share a clip of John Waters, who is also on my list of loves, talking about Liz Taylor and a movie she made with Burton in the Sixties called Boom!, which is a film version of a Tennessee Williams play called The Milk Train Doesn't Stop Here Anymore. Waters describes it as "the ultimate drag queen role" and his entire take on the play is amused and amusing, about how drunk everyone was and how over the top it is, but it's so, so clear that he is presenting it with love, that he loves her, and I feel the same way and enjoyed his take on things. This is not meant (by me or Waters) with any disrespect...I just, y'know, don't really have anything new to say about Butterfield 8 or Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, so why not clear that arena for the pros and go elsewhere?

He starts talking about Boom! around 1:30, if you don't feel like listening to the EGS professor talk about John Waters. There are three more videos of the ensuing discussion, but things sort of veer on and off of the topic of the film throughout it.

And here's the trailer for the film:

I had to make both videos tiny in order to fit them onto my page layout...with the Waters one that doesn't really matter, since you're just listening to him anyway, but if you want to just go to the Youtube page for the trailer it's here.

23 March 2011

Vintage Knitting Pattern!

So. I've been drooling over (and frequently downloading) the awesome vintage knitting patterns a number of folks have been scanning in and posting on the internet for quite some time now, particularly those from A Rarer Borealis (which is where I found that hat pattern from a couple posts ago). I brought a bunch of my knitting patterns (as well as some magazines and other junk) along with me on a trip to the school library scanners this morning, in the interest of giving a pattern or two back to the ether (though mine are really nowhere near as fabulous as some of the ones I've found elsewhere).

Also nobody actually reads this blog, much less anyone I know is interested in vintage knitting, or knitting in general. But if somebody does someday I guess they can find this baby in the archives?

My gift to vintage knitting society:

Not sure how old it is exactly, etc. So if anyone has thoughts on that matter it'd also be awesome? I totally dig the little collar and the mid-length sleeves (that's how I wear my sleeves on nearly everything)...as well as the sweet bangle the model is wearing.

The pattern is here (click on each image to enlarge it):

Well! I hope someone sees that and thinks it's awesome. I certainly do. Up next will be one of the following:
a) a long, ill-conceived, stream-of-consciousness ramble that represents my best attempt to coherently explain my term paper topic and thesis; or
b) the beginnings of my summer reading list.

21 March 2011

Top Ten Reasons I'm Excited For Summer

1) Learning to speak French much better than I do now! I'm taking an FSL course and was astonished during the placement testing last week to discover that I am at a "low intermediate" level, then yet more astonished to discover this skipped me ahead by two whole classes! This should be depressing for someone who took AP French, but I thought I'd lost yet more fluency than that.

2) Moving into my new apartment. I'm (sadly) leaving my current place, where I've lived for the past three years, and my current roommates, who I love--but for a happy reason: the Boy is moving to Montreal for the year and we are going to live together! I've been casually looking for apartments as a method of procrastination and went on a couple visits this weekend, but it's not really real to me yet. 

3) Picnics on the mountain. I practically live in the park during the summer, and Parc Mont-Royal is the big one here. On Sundays during the spring and summer the Tam-Tams, a big crazy hippie drum circle, takes place on the mountain's eastern edge, and along with that comes the LARPers: 

They battle a little bit further up the side of the mountain and are addictive as hell to watch. I like to bring a picnic; a blanket and deck of cards; some beer; and as much of the tribe as will come along, and spend the whole day there, switching off between LARP-watching, sportgames in the adjoining clearing, lazing around in the sun, letting A beat us all at card games, and doing some form of arts and crafts. Speaking of which:

4) Having the time and inclination to make stuff. In the winter I work (or pretend to work) constantly and when I do stop all I want to do is curl up in a blanket and watch Buffy, trying to convince myself with extra layers and hot drinks that it will be okay and someday in April or May my bones will stop being so cold. In the summer, I spend a lot of time lazing around outside but I work on projects while I do so, and even for the less portable stuff I've got more energy and patience when seasonal affective disorder isn't killing me slowly.

5) POP MUSIC CLASS! That is, MUAR 392, "Popular Music After 1945," which I'm taking in May in addition to my French course. I can't believe I'm going to be spending a month getting university credit for listening to Dylan and the Shangri-Las and...also it changed K's life?

6) The Summer Picnic Diet: fresh baguette, cheese, grapes or mixed fruit salad, bean salad with vinegar and cumin, cold water, red wine.

7) Getting to wear summer clothes. This excitement is twofold for me: I'm excited for sundresses and sandals and cute tank tops because anyone would be after months swathed in giant wool things and heavy layers to get through Montreal winter, but it's made even more exciting because I've never really dressed for summer before. Since I've spent the last five years working at an overnight camp, running around in the woods and swimming in a lake every day, I've tended to shamble around in Soffee shorts, bikinis and beaters, with hoodies added weather-appropriately and flip-flops on my feet. Summer fashion was reserved for 1-2 days off a week. I've never done a whole summer in "real clothes" before and I'm excited to amass some.

8) Time with the tribe. Most of us are sticking around (including C and K, despite the fact that they're graduating and peacing out of Montreal unlike the rest of us slackers), and it'll be good to have a nice long catch-up time with them all sans work stress and crazy hermitation during projects.

9) Getting up in the morning and having coffee out on the fire escape. This one really needs no elaboration.

10) My birthday! Which will a) be my first in many years not occurring in the woods, at work; b) hopefully also get to be my housewarming party for the new apartment, and will at that provide good motivation for me to unpack and get settled promptly; c) make me an age palindrome (hey, 22's boring, I'm trying). I have high hopes!

20 March 2011

The Livin' Ain't Easy...Yet

Big presentation tomorrow, on research topic and process for my term paper in British history--the culmination of a good month or so of work (or intended work). And all I'm thinking about right now is:

a) This pattern, which is supposed to produce this hat...

...and which I think I'm definitely going to start making soon, and

b) What I'm going to do over the summer, which is months away from being a pressing problem (my schoolyear job doesn't end 'til late June) and yet SO much more interesting to fret over than my current academic woes.

Summer in general is on my mind, and so the part of me that wants that absurd hat is being battled by the much larger part that is looking forward to wearing my flowered sundresses and buttonfront red shorts all the time. I re-Superglued the soles of my brogues and want to wear them more once the ground is clear enough to allow it.

Am also thinking maybe of using that ridiculous giant spool of lace trim I picked up at Goodwill to make some bobby sox. I really need socks with my tennis shoes to avoid Death of Stink Foot, and all my winter ones are either wool (many handknitted by grandmother) or giant and black. And how cute would it be to have little bobby sox and sneakers to wear instead of flip flops? The tribe spends a lot of summer in the park playing sportgames, after all (by which we mean chasing around after K's pink softball in very rudimentary games of catch, rather than anything serious) and I often tread on painful things after shucking sandals.

I've never spent a full summer in Montreal before. In fact, I haven't had a summer not spent out in the woods at Y camp since...well, ever, really. This whole summer's going to be a wild adventure for me--hopefully a fun, educational, French-speaking, financially solvent adventure at that! So since we all love lists, I think I'm going to make my next entry one, all about how I love summer. Catch you in a few minutes!

14 March 2011

New Toys

Two things I love (and I don't expect these choices to be too controversial): cool stuff, and awesome people. I got to enjoy both today.

I had a date this morning to go do a Craigslist purchase pickup out at Metro Radisson, which is waaay out east on the green line. The poster was selling two old movie cameras and a typewriter (though these are just representative photos I pulled off the internet):

1) A Kodak Brownie home movie camera.

It's a Model 2, and according to the Internet Model 2s were on the market from 1956 to 1959, so it's from somewhere in that time period. It's awesome: super compact, tiny little thing, still in the original box with the picturesque little home-movie frame on the front (though mine is a girl in a tennis outfit instead of a mother with a baby).

2) A Bolex Super 8 camera:

This one's from 1967. I mucked around with it a little, looking through the viewfinder and figuring out what the knobs were for and stuff, and it was also really cool. Apparently they both still work, though I'd just intended on picking them up as curios; I'm thinking I might try to use them if I can find film...why not, if they still function?

3) This sick typewriter:

All 26 letters and 10 digits work, unlike my last attempt, and--most exciting of all--it's its own case. There's a cover that snaps onto the edges and, it having a base of the appropriate material, it becomes a case right around the typewriter. Super cool! And also more space-saving than the alternative.

When I got to the address I'd been sent, however, not just fun technology but a truly delightful set of people were waiting for me. The seller and her husband were crazy hippies with a love of old stuff and were actually planning to leave the country, and trying to get their nice vintage/old belongings into friendly hands before they were forced to dumpster it in their building's trash service. As a result, I left with not just the things I'd come for but an entire rolling suitcase full of vintage clothes, camera and lighting equipment, shoes, costume jewelery, and so forth. They also gave me said suitcase, and were trying to pass on their floor lamp and some other pieces of awesome that I, alas, simply couldn't carry home on the bus with me.

All in all, they were super nice--he chatted about politics and photography (he's a photojournalist), and she gushed about vintage and handed over garment after garment that "I just can't take with me, and you'd appreciate it, right?", and their thirteen-year old son wandered in and out of the living room in bell bottoms with shoulder length hair.

I'm wearing one of the dresses I got right now--it's a seventies caftan/housedressy thing made of an almost terry-ish material with rainbow stripes going every which way--it feels like Joseph's coat of many colors (I in fact believe the Joseph costume we had in Sunday school was someone's mother's housedress of the same style and era!), and it's making me really happy at the moment.

Cool stuff is cool. Awesome people are awesome. A day that involves both is bliss, no matter HOW much homework I still have to do before bed...

07 March 2011

El Greco

Just finished up a short assignment doing a visual description of this painting for art history class:

It's El Greco's Christ Carrying the Cross and I think it's a really interesting painting. I love the simplicity of it: just big swathes of dark color, everything very simple, with the extremely detailed face (if you find a bigger copy of it somewhere on the internet, this is more obvious): it's clear where the focus is supposed to be. And how calm everything looks, with the really dark sedate colors, the super unemotional look on Jesus' face, even his grip on the cross: he doesn't have one. He's not carrying it over his shoulder so much as he's embracing it. Embracing the instrument of his own execution. Just stone calm, unafraid, looking up to heaven, embracing freaking death.

06 March 2011

Finally got some sewing time yesterday evening and today...though at the expense of not doing any real work at all! Yesterday evening made a dirndl skirt out of an old bedsheet I pulled out of the fabric pile, all the while curled up on the couch watching old movies. It's this black-and-white leopard print, and I lined the waistband (sort of) with this red binding tape I got in a grab bag at Value Village awhile back...I'm pretty satisfied with how it came out. It was especially fun sewing on a sheet while Scarlett O'Hara was prancing around onscreen in her dress made of curtains!

I cut out a couple bags this morning based on this pattern (it's reversible(!)--one with the same leopard print lined/reversed in red, and one with this cool green viney print cotton and this Curious George fabric(!) that I have from God knows where. Finished the leopard one, though it's not going to be reversible after all--I didn't quite figure out how the straps worked until it was too late and so they're sewn together in a not entirely smooth matteris. Haven't started putting the Curious George one together yet, but I'm thinking of adding a couple pockets--maybe a patch pocket onto one side and a zippered one set into the other? The pattern's so simple, it couldn't be too hard to adapt a little.

It was nice to spend some time on the machine, considering how long it's been since I've actually followed through and had the time to finish a project--the remains of the Kasia skirt off Burdastyle are still folded up in the corner of my craft table, regrettably--though I find myself, as always, regretting the time I didn't spend doing the million and one things I had to do: homework, research, prepping lesson plans for the kids I tutor, working in InDesign, doing the dishes...ah well, Sunday's always there for that.

28 February 2011

In a city that is generally referred to as London

So it's a nice cold Montreal evening and I've just gotten back home from the airport--I spent reading week in that hallowed capital of that British Empire that I spend so much of my time studying!

The visit was great; of course it was amazing to see the Boy, and I had so much other fun besides. I'm not sure I could give a full review of the week (especially as that would reveal exactly how much time we spent lying about eating candy and watching "Arrested Development" (which I had somehow never seen, and absolutely LOVE now. Uh-oh, double parentheses))--but here're some highlights:

-a lavish--in all senses--shopping trip to Vivien of Holloway, where I've been yearning to go for a while now. It's around the corner from the Boy's flat and he noticed it last fall and told me he thought I'd like it, but sadly when we were in London over the New Year it was shut for the holiday! This time I made it, however, and spent at least an hour and a half browsing through the delicious dresses and whatnot on display. Finally I settled on a pair of dresses--one big circle-skirted halterneck affair and one more simple pink thing that'll be a great sundress, when the sun finally comes out again--and a white bodice top with a cutesy red gingham halter strap. Pretty much wish I could have taken the whole store with me though!

-the best burrito I've ever had outside of the US. Not surprisingly, there is less Mexican food in Canada than in the States, and with Anna's, the Boston institution, always clear in my memory I'm never too impressed; but weirdly, England did it for me, as Benito's Hat was delicious! Also the restaurant--the one in Covent Garden--was cheery as all get-out, and had seats right in front of a big front window for excellent people-watching. Right beside us on the other side of the glass was a table with complimentary chips and salsa/guacamole, and watching who did or didn't take chips, who looked longingly at the table as they walked by (mostly children) or suspiciously at the various dips (mostly mothers), was fascinating (and hilarious) itself.

-not one, but TWO trips to Shake, Rattle and Bowl, the Saturday fifties/throwback night at All Star Lanes, a bowling alley/American-style diner and bar which is pretty fifties/throwbacky itself. Went the first weekend with a mob of the Boy's student friends and had a great, if whiskey-sodden and ridiculous, time; then returned a week later (wearing my new dress!) to do the whole dinner, drinks and dancing shebang. We drank mint juleps and I even got the Boy to dance for a while! Also the DJ took my picture, and the other DJ liked my dress, and I was generally euphoric by the end of the evening.

-an epic adventure to Camden, including some vintage shopping, some silly jewelery acquisition, waaay too much time spent in the bottom of the Stables Market, and the purchase of a three-track hip-hop CD from this random guy who found out I was from Montreal and started talking about all the French rappers he knew who went to Montreal all the time to rhyme, and how I shouldn't be afraid of his music because it wasn't about cars or guns or drinking Cristal. Which conversation was worth the two quid I spent on the CD, I'd say.

-fun times at the British Museum, where we checked out a special (though very small) exhibition on Eric Gill, an interesting exhibit on different cultural rituals of life and death, and a very interesting gallery all about historical watches and clocks. There was a piece in the clock gallery that, once used as a sort of elaborate dinner-bell for the 16th-century Emperor Rudolf II, was shaped like a huge medieval galleon, and when its timer went off would produce a drumroll and fanfare, trigger a set of shipboard automatons to ring inverted bells (the crows-nests on the galleon), rocket itself down the banquet table, and set off a series of miniature cannons also aboard the ship: here is the museum highlight page.

-sneaking onto the UCL campus to take a look at Jeremy Bentham's Auto-Icon, which is on display in the main building...but only, as it turns out, from 730-6 Monday-Friday. We snuck in Sunday afternoon, and disappointingly his cabinet was closed and locked--but I found a brochure advertising the Transcribe Bentham project, which is attempting to transcribe the complete writings and papers of Jeremy Bentham by turning the transcription process over to volunteers from the public. I'll definitely be looking into that as soon as school leaves me alone enough to provide some time.

Speaking of which: more later, must prepare for essay exam in...twelve hours? Uh-oh. Signing off.

15 February 2011

Things to Do (This Year?)

New blog, new look, so so may effective hours of pre-midterm procrastination. This started out as a New Years list in January of 2010, but I've been adding and subtracting on and off ever since.

1) Learn/develop some better bookbinding techniques. The cardboard cover with ducttape spinal reinforcement is getting old. I picked up a fifty-cent copy of some hippie book from the seventies about how to make recycled paper so that might be another angle on the "cooler notebooks" front.

2) Try a hand at sodamaking (root and ginger beer). The Boy and I found a kids' science book with a natural ginger beer recipe in it and I'd like to try to make some...right after we finish the aluminum and cardboard SOLAR  OVEN(!) further on in the book.

3) Get rid of a lot of the random art and craft junk I've accumulated. This includes but is not limited to the following:
-A million beer bottle caps. Honestly, at least a shoebox or two of them. Made a whole bunch of magnets but...ran out of magnets. I've seen people on the internet turn them into jewelery...maybe that's an option?
-Piiiles of junker cassette tapes. Painted a bunch with the aim of making a mobile out of them, and could potentially knit with the tape?
-About a bajillion yards each of red plaid-ish corduroy with assorted, very Seventies flowers scattered across it and of bright, almost oversaturated block-print batik.
-The remains of a broken typewriter I found on the curb last summer (along with a really nice hard case) on which  the letters A, S, Q, W, Z and F do not work.

4) Write more letters to friends. I used to be a correspondence champion -- what happened?

5) Learn to play the harmonica. The Boy and I have discussed, in jest, a ukelele-harmonica folk-punk power duo, and while that of course is a dubious proposition, I'd like to be able to play the instrument.