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lamenting for thy hand, Belinda

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Re-creating an earlier costume and in part replicating the “lying on a funeral pyre” pose

I am not good at fancy-dress gigs. It’s historically verifiable that my Mum was very good at such things, even thrived on them. Occasionally, however, I don’t mind making the effort for a good cause. Themes are helpful but not always appealing. You might remember my long-ago agonising about what I could do that would be suitably jungly for a family birthday party!

This time, the theme was Queen for a Day. Many years ago, I shared the role of Dido in a production of Dido and Aeneas. The costume was not too extravagant, so I thought I could approximate it without too much effort. That’s what I did. I didn’t have any suitable old sheets, so I bought a length of cheap, narrow, cotton fabric. I folded it end to end, cut it, then sewed the selvages together, so that I had a piece of fabric about the right proportion to go around me twice and leave ends that could be tied at one shoulder. I didn’t hem anything, but I painted the edges of the resulting rectangle with a bronze fabric paint.

Tyrian purple being the name of the game for the real identifier, I bought a length of purple velvet (from the reduction table) and did nothing at all to it. When it came time to dress, I simply fastened the velvet to the front of the costume, and wrapped it around. I reckoned that later it would keep me warm (this proved to be a good plan). Although my original costume didn’t involve a crown of any sort, I decided that this costume would. I made a coronet from a metallic gold ribbon decorated with Phoenician-blue dots. Dr B insisted it needed a ruby. Of course, they’re the sorts of things I have lying around the house! I made do with a small stick-on red rosette.

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The idea’s the thing. Right?

Because I could – meaning that I still had them in my jewellery box – I wore the earrings that were part of my original Dido costume. The other Dido had slightly different earrings, which she described as hubcaps. Mine weren’t.

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More chandeliers than hubcaps, but they’ve survived remarkably well for cheap costume jewellery 🙂

May your long-ago bits and pieces now and then come in useful for theatrical purposes 🙂

 
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Posted by on November 25, 2019 in Family history, Sewing

 

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when you’re all a mob of crocks

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We recently tested the pergola, which doubles as our home gym. Even unfinished, it’s already a pleasant space for birthday celebrations.

So yesterday was Federal election day here in Australia. I tripped over at the polling booth and went sprawling. I smashed the glass in my watch, so you’d probably agree that it was a reasonably decent fall. Embarrassing, and because in front of so many people, no swearing allowed! The young couple who helped me up off the ground urged me to sit down and recover before I got going again, so there’s every chance I looked as rattled as I felt.

I’m happy to report that nothing was broken – other than the watch-glass, which has now been replaced – but I have a very swollen knee, lots of bruises and enough grazes to be messy. By the time we came home, I was hobbling so much (because of the swollen knee) that all I wanted to do was put my foot up on a chair with an ice pack that I could swap between my knee and various other aching bits of musculature.

Dr B has recently had some minor surgical procedures on both feet so, although he’s generally not too bad, by the end of the day he was also ready to sit down and put his feet up. Visiting cousins rocked up at the door, as they were going past anyway: she with both hands bandaged, he with one arm in a sling. We sat out under the pergola with a cuppa and admired Dr B’s handiwork – as you’d agree from what you can see in the photo, it’s a lovely space if a little chilly on a wintry day – all while commiserating each other on how much we hurt. 😀

I hope that you’re faring better, and that all your DIY projects produce such great results as Dr B’s most recent undertaking.

 

 
 

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catching up

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Dr B is making excellent progress with his creative task!

Isn’t it good when you share a meal with friends, and are able to catch up on everyone’s news? I don’t do it as often as I’d like. The Bs have far more of a cafe lifestyle than I do, mostly by virtue of their cycle outings (of whichever variety). Yesterday it was my turn with some old friends from my nursing days. One is still in the business, nowadays working as a midwife in a busy city hospital. The other has already retired. We met for our meal at a halfway-point eatery, and between swapping news of former colleagues and hearing about the exploits of children and grandchildren, a couple of hours passed swiftly and pleasantly.

The friend who is still in the business doesn’t live far from me, so we travelled together. She’s another who knits and sews, and would like to learn crochet but is time poor now. A particular joy of our homeward trip was our quick duck into a fabric store, one where we’re both VIP members. It’s not far from home for either of us, so barely even a detour. She was looking for something she could use to refresh the old, tired, three-panelled privacy screens in her hospital’s nursery. We bought some lovely animal-print curtaining (in both colourways, to be used alternately so that one side presents taupe, cream, taupe and the other side cream, taupe, cream). It should sew up beautifully and look a treat.

The style of curtaining uses stretch wires at top and bottom. I have recent experience with that, because I made a small, privacy curtain for YoungB, so that he wouldn’t be constantly disturbed by a neighbour’s sensor light going berserk. I used some old furnishing fabric and put a wire only at the top. That was mostly for haste, but also because YoungB’s cabin presents problems when you try to screw things into its walls. So, although my crochet projects might not be completed, I have had a small sewing success.

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Curtain in a hurry, with some installation challenges unmet. However, YoungB loves it because it keeps out enough light that he can sleep. That’s all it needs to do.

When my friend drove me home, we checked the progress of the Bs’ building work: as the top photo illustrates, they’re going great guns (and they were both working on it yesterday). They did some catching up, too, in their case with a chippie friend who is our unofficial consultant (he has lots of good, sensible advice for safely working alone and will be getting a slab of his favourite tipple when the project is done). YoungB will shortly have a run of almost a week off, so he’ll be a great help with the roofing. They ought then to catch up sufficiently with the work that we might have a fully-roofed pergola by the end of next week. Bonus. And exciting-issimo.

As I implied, I’m not caught up on all my crochet WIPs. The green market bag needs handles, but I have to count stitches at least a little bit so that the handles are centrally located. I have, however, just about finished a knee-rug for work! Yet again, it’s made with some of that 8-ply (DK) synthetic green yarn gifted to me by a friend, and more of my variegated scraps, held double. So it really is thick and, this time, it really is quite small. I think my starting chain was about 60. It will work fine in the office, which is where I intend to use it. I will catch up with finishing all of the other small bits and pieces, but not while I’m watching TV. For me, because of my poor eyesight, that’s sometimes a little trickier than simply dealing with a piece of repeating-pattern crochet. I can manage, “One treble, one chain,” ad infinitum! The photo is somewhat dull, but I think you’ll get the idea: a quick and easy pattern that produces a lovely, squishy finish.

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Scrappy stashbusting stuff. And small, but enough to cover my knees so that I don’t get too cold at the office.

I hope you’re also catching up with your crafty projects, and old friends.

 

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then, before you can say Jack Robinson…

…or knife, or whatever your favourite similar expression might be, it’s February! OK, there are two days remaining in January, to be technical and pedantic. But they’ll be gone before – see above.

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This year already feels a bit as if that excavator has had a go at it! Photo taken late last century. Dr B on the left wearing that wondrous jumper I knitted for him 🙂

Life has been hectic and full of small and not-so-small sideswipes that seem hideously unfair in many instances but totally expected (in a bigger picture way) in others. Nonetheless, you can’t help muttering with a fair degree of frequency, “Things can only get better.”

You mutter that particularly frequently with regard to technology but, you know? So far, not so much. It’s nicknamed “Cayman Mal’s Fraudband” for good reason.

Yeah, it seems that 2018 is already shaping up to be another of those years.

That’s not to imply that we didn’t have an enjoyable festive break. It’s also not to imply that I’ve actually taken down the Christmas cards. We’ve had a hot week, then today is so cool that I’m reaching for a cardigan and thinking that summer is over. It’s not. We’ll have more hot weather, but the mornings are starting to draw in; something we’d notice even more were YoungB still rowing. We miss that for all sorts of reasons but the early mornings don’t feature among them!

I have a couple of sewing projects that I should be turning my mind to – that new summer nightie that I wrote about ages ago? Yeah, I never did get around to doing that! – and there are always rescue missions on old and well-loved garments. The trouble mostly is that they are, in fact, old. Then the question becomes, how many times can you mend a jacket? And even if you can, should you?

I have one RTW jacket that was in time-out towards the end of last year because I’d had enough of mending it. After 20-plus years of hard work, it owed me nothing. But it’s a good cut, the best in-between weight jacket I own, and I needed it for work. So I mended it. Again. Ideally, I should unpick it and use it as a template. I’m not sure I have the space for that, but it appeals to me as a good option for ending up with a jacket that I can wear for much of the year. And I could spice it up by lining it with guitar-playing skeletons, couldn’t I? (I have some fabric like that in my stash, honest.)

Then there’s the, “I feel a mitten-knitting orgy coming on” urge that often hits at this time of year (as ridiculous as that sounds when the mere thought of woollen yarn makes hands sweat). The attraction of the idea is that there’s still some daylight when I get home after work, so I’m much more likely to be able to see what I’m doing. That improves my chances of completing things, particularly darker items. So if I start now, whether on something new or one of the many WIPs, I might have something ready to go when those winter birthdays roll around.

Also, I need some crochet to work on while I’m watching TV. I don’t watch TV often but, when I do, I find it difficult to just sit there. I make too many mistakes if I try to knit at the same time but I can manage simple crochet. So I’m off to dig up another lot of stash yarn to do a knee rug to take to work. Oh, wait, didn’t I say that once before?! I promise to stop earlier with this one; or make separate granny squares so that it’s a better commuter project.

Whatever the status of your year, I hope it’s providing you with plenty of crafting opportunities.

 

 

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and how dangerous could it be to clean your sewing room?

Brother Sewing Machine BOBBINS | eBay

Just bobbin’ along – but not suitable for my machine

You might recall I mentioned having made some inroads with tidying my sewing room? I’ve made no further progress with that, but I can at least get to the machine now. So I sat down to finish a spot of sewing the other day, There was white thread in the bobbin and I was working on some dark blue fabric. I always have spare bobbins. Always. I couldn’t find any for the Janome (but a dozen or so Singer bobbins precisely where they should have been; and, sadly, not  interchangeable). I searched high and low, looked in all the likely and unlikely places I might have put bobbins. Nothing. Well, heck.

Today I went off to buy some! And the truly dangerous thing about that? It wasn’t the having to get down on my hands and knees to read the label on the packaging, or even having to brave the industrial aircon at full revs. No. It was that bit of fabric that someone else was buying at a reduction of nearly 70%. I wouldn’t normally be tempted by it at full price. But we have a wedding coming up in a few weeks, and I would like to have something a little bit dressy and decent for the occasion (for once, there’s nothing truly suitable in my wardrobe). So a couple of metres came home with me, as well as the new bobbins.

However, I DID return the fabric I’d picked up to make myself a new summer nightie. I’d thought it was out at sale price, but that proved not to be the case. I couldn’t justify that sort of expense for something I’m going to treat like a rag, though I’ll wear it for years. Of course you’re right to suggest that, balanced out across the number of years – or even only one year – it wouldn’t be an extravagance at all. But I’m sure I can find some suitable leftovers in my stash. Perhaps the fabric won’t be as soft, but that doesn’t matter. I wouldn’t worry about making a new nightie except that the previous one I made is wearing out. I whizzed it up in a hurry five or six years ago. The seams are still neat, the neckline reinforcing is still doing a wonderful job, and the hems are holding up remarkably well. But it’s badly sweat-stained and the fabric has holes in it! It’s truly the baggiest, shaggiest nightie I’ve ever had but it’s been fantastic during hot, summer nights. We get quite a few of those in this part of the world.

So I reckon that’s me sorted for a few weeks. What have you been up to lately that’s proved more dangerous than it seemed at first blush?!

 

 
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Posted by on January 21, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

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it wasn’t pretty but I did it

That would be the Bloody Long Walk. I wasn’t well and probably should have called it quits before I even started. But, as I often say, that’s why we have pharmaceuticals. Right? That’s YoungB holding me up at the finish line, though you’d swear he was simply giving me a congratulatory hug. Five minutes later I missed the edge of a chair and fell over. I could only laugh hysterically. I couldn’t get up, though I eventually managed it with YoungB’s assistance.That was about when Dr B decided we needed to go home. There was no argument at all from me, so that’s what we did. I went straight to bed the minute we got in the door 🙂

That stripey, cooling neck bandanna that’s half-on and half-off? I didn’t need it. But I made it specially the day before, just in case. I even half-charged it at one of the checkpoints, when it looked as if there might be some warmth in the sunshine. There wasn’t, or not much.

If you’ve recently managed a 35-Km walk or extreme activity of any sort – knitting, sewing, something physically challenging – well done. I’m going back to bed 🙂

 
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Posted by on August 22, 2016 in Health, Sewing

 

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soon it will be winter and I’ll have to knit

I can see it now. But what will I be knitting?

I can see it now. But what will I be knitting? And, no, I don’t actually have a cat.

You remember this was going to be a busy year with birthdays? It has been, and there’s another zero-ending one in the offing. Then we can breathe for a while before the usual slew of “not zero or anything particularly special” birthdays continues unabated. I think I’m off the hook for scanning photos with regard to any of the forthcoming numbers but there’s always something unexpected in store.

It’s frightening to think that it’s already March, nearly April and my creative efforts this year have so far been almost minus. When Dr B and YoungB were working in the backyard in 40-degree heat and I was concerned about their dehydrating, I fished out the sewing machine to make another of those cooling neck collars. Yeah, right. Something I don’t like about the Janome, as fabulous as it is in terms of variety of stitches and as good as it was for sailing over the loose-weave hessian, is that it’s a pig of a thing to thread. I had to re-thread it several times because apparently I was doing it wrongly. I sat there with the book in front of me, carefully following the diagrams. I redid the bobbin a few times, in case that was causing the difficulty. Nothing worked. I ended up putting it away and uttering a few impolite suggestions around behavioural change. And didn’t make the cooling neck collars. The Bs simply wore wet bandanas, instead.

It’s getting to the time of year where my fingers are itching to have knitting in them, so I’ve just revisited my Ravelry projects to see what’s awaiting completion that I could reasonably pick up in the expectation of finishing it without too much drama. There’s nothing. What isn’t finished is in the middle of serious tinking. To wrap my head around what’s necessary means being back in the knitting groove. And I’m not. So what do you reckon? is the only answer to start something new??

 
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Posted by on March 26, 2016 in Knitting, Sewing

 

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