Sunday, August 28, 2011

A haiku a day...

So softly, so sweetly,
surrendering so simply:
she slumbers tonight.

Wise words from Joni:
"Laughing and crying, you know
it's the same release"

I wander so close
to the edge sometimes. Why the
surprise when I fall?

Grizzly bear chase, teeth
all cracked and falling out. What
do dreams really mean?

The piles of paper
are multiplying, taking
over whilst we sleep

Younger me smiles out
in sepia, from a place
that exists no more

Escaping city
puddles, leaving grey skies soon,
Goodbye doom and gloom

(Hmmm.... my haikus this week are not very cheery. They're all a bit clumsy too. Oh well it's just been one of those weeks. Hooray for a long bank holiday away!)


Tuesday, August 23, 2011

happy little moments... the sky gone mad

This happy moment occured because I was just popping to the shop for a last minute cooking ingredient. It was getting chilly and I didn't really want to go outside. I hurried along the road and was so surprised when I looked up and saw this display of all my favourite colours: the sky was ridiculously colourful, all shades of a sunset cliché and mottled like marble paper. It intensified whilst I was in the shop and I took my time walking back, catching glimpses of it through the rooftops as I rounded the corner home. The sun's last rays hung on for a few more moments whilst I snapped this shot, and then as quickly as the moment had happened, they began to fade.
By the time my risotto was cooked 30 minutes later, it was completely dark outside.


Monday, August 22, 2011

The year in song so far...

I get obsessed with certain songs and bands and when I really like an album I tend to listen to nothing else for weeks on end. It becomes the soundtrack to my life, to so many tube and train journeys, runs along the nature trail, hours spent at my desk writing, and all the happy moments in between things when I have music playing in my ears.

Here are some of the songs that have accompanied me this year...
(N.B. The videos aren't all proper music videos - I've just included them so you can
hear the songs. You can click on the names of the singer/bands to be transported to their websites)

January: Kim Boekbinder, Anyone at all
Kim Boekbinder is the Impossible Girl. She self-funded an album with money donated by her fans. She has pink hair and sprinkles sequins as she whirls around the world. Her music is built out of gorgeous layers of guitar and random objects and held together with the sweetness of her voice. I listened to it lots at the start of the year when the country was covered in snow, on trains that sped past fields and sleeping trees. whose empty branches formed perfect black lace silhouettes against the fading pale pink sunset sky...

February: Amanda Palmer, In my mind
One half of the Dresden dolls and a force of nature, that's Amanda Palmer. This song comes from her album of songs about Australia and New Zealand. Normally I like her better when she's bashing out angry/epic ballads on the piano, but there's something rather special about the simplicity of this ukelele song. I listened to this as I walked up the steep hill to my local library in the cold months of February, longing for spring to come and bring some sort of enlightenment with it...

April/May: Alela Diane, Man of many colours
Alela Diane has one of the most wonderful voices of this generation. She sort of yodels in a beautiful way, and her earlier albums were just simply her and a guitar. This spring she released her new album with a full band and the new songs have a different sort of upbeat lively confidence that is refreshing. I love this song the most. My man is a man of many colours too :) I listened to this as the leaves emerged on the tree branches and on Welsh hillsides and as I walked past gardens suddenley flowering back into life and at home, tap-tap-tapping my toes...

June/July: Fleet Foxes, Helplessness Blues
I discovered Fleet Foxes somewhat late in the game. Their debut album has been out since 2008 and I didn't know about it until this Spring. Massive fail on my part. But that's ok because I have made up for it with abundance this spring/summer and I got the double whammy of two albums all at once. Their music is full of gorgeous harmonies, a wall of sound built up of so many ridiculous instruments and lyrical bliss. It's hard to pick a favourite song because I love them all and they really are an album band that require attention from start to finish - I just press 'play all' on my little mp3 player and then get whisked on a journey that takes me up and down through each and every song. But Helplessness Blues is probably one of my favourite songs. I have listened to this on every train ride I've been on since May, speeding through green fields, I danced to it the morning before I gave a conference paper in Ireland, twirling around my room with a happy carefree heart, I didn't hear this song at Glastonbury because they didn't play it but I sure did sing my heart out and dance like a fool to all the other ones, and then when I got home and unpacked all my muddy belongings I played this song loud to drown out my post-festival blues....

August: Bon Iver, Calgary
I loved Bon Iver two years ago when their debut album For Emma, forever ago came out. Songs like Skinny Love remind me of twirling round and round, dancing by myself in the hazy light on early summer days, feeling full of hope in that way that only seems possible in early summer when the world is about to burst back into life. That whole album was written about a breakup and is therefore chockablock full of nostalgia and beautiful sadness. So they had a lot to live up to with their second album and to be honest I wasn't really that bothered about hearing it, fearing I'd be letdown. But I've been listening to it on repeat in the background as I work on the latest chapter of my thesis: that is not really listening but letting the unknown melodies hum along as I try and write something profound (ha!). I can't listen to things I know all the words of when I write because it's too distracting, so this new album has been perfect. Initially I wasn't too keen on a lot of it, as it has some weird synthy noises going on, but every time this song comes round I pause for a few moments and listen to it. And then the other day it suddenly started pouring with rain after a sticky humid morning that was weighing down on me and I got up and opened the window and held out my hand to catch raindrops as this song started up and it was perfect... the Bon Iver happy/sad nostalgia fix of old. I might even have twirled...

August onwards: Laura Marling, Sophia
I'm really excited about Laura Marling's new album. It's coming out in a few weeks time and this is the first new single from it. I've been blasting this out a fair amount over the last few weeks getting excited about seeing her in concert in October :) She is really amazing live - even bringing a tear to my eye when I saw her at Glastonbury. I love the way this one builds from something so small and quiet into such a powerful song. I don't have a particular memory associated to this song yet, but I'm quite excited to watch the leaves change colour and drift to the floor (where I can kick them into a colourful flurry) and see my breath puff out in the cold morning air, and wear warm cardigans and sip warm vegetable soup all the while listening to this song....

What songs have been the soundtrack to your life lately? Share a gem with me if you will...

Sunday, August 21, 2011

In bloom...

"People from a planet without flowers would think we must be mad with joy the whole time to have such things about us."
~Iris Murdoch, A Fairly Honourable Defeat

Just some pretties that I've captured lately, some wild, some shop bought, all transformed into polaroid style photos with the 'Poladroid' application I have on my computer.

I'm glad this isn't a planet without flowers. Now go and be mad with joy :)


Saturday, August 20, 2011

A haiku a day...

part v in my ongoing haiku a day project... (i ii iii iv)

Waiting, wondering,
Wanting to know: in suspense,
do we stay or go?

The moon shines bright, here,
tonight, we wander old paths
in its ghostly light.

This twilight train, it
carries me, 'neath lilac skies,
Homeward bound at last

Disconnected, I
am, lost a little, I am,
not yet defeated

Your gammy elbow's
swollen like a tennis ball -
I hope it shrinks back!

Woken from a dream
so vivid and familiar:
A parallel life.

Repotting plants: stretch
your roots and get comfy in
your new compost bed!


Friday, August 19, 2011

Ce qui m'inspire en ce moment... embroidery!

Just lately I've been admiring beautiful embroidery everywhere feeling very inspired...

Case in point: the lovely embroidered detail on mexican dress like
this one...

from this ebay seller

and this one...
I actually bought a giant one like the one above a few months ago and did some sewing magic with it on my machine to make it fit and look less like a giant embroidered sack and more like a pretty dress. I love it because it has a big bird on the front and it's so colourful :)

I must admit that I'm really rather get one in another colour :S but that seems a little silly.

I also love love love these gorgeous vintage embroidered pictures spotted on some of my favourite blogs. If I lived in America and could go 'thrifting' you can bet I would be searching for one of these...
(Here's looking at me kid and The dainty squid for the first picture, Smile and Wave for the second)
aren't they so so pretty!

You may have noticed my blog design features some embroidery. It's from a throw I got in Camden Market. I also have a lovely blue one. Every time I go there I always wander around the same sparkle filled grotto stall wanting moooooooooooore. One day my house will be decorated wall to ceiling in rainbows of crochet and sparkly embroidered throws like this (that is, if it's not taken over by spider plants, first, hehe). Here's a close up of what you can see in the background...

photo by me!

Further inspiration comes from the lovely present I was given at the weekend: 2 vintage French magazines which are chock-a-block with amazing adverts, patterns for dress-making and knitting, and strange romance/erotica (??!?) short stories. One of them feature instructions for embroidering gloves with this amazing design. I think I may have some gloves that will need jazzing up this winter, yes I do.

This picture also makes me wish I could pull of red lipstick. But I can't. I just look like a clown

Anyway, what to do with all this inspiration. Rather than let it go to waste or waiting until winter or just buying another dress, I think it's high time for me to trot off to my local haberdashery (which is run by about 3/4 old ladies who always pounce on me whenever I go in and offer lots of very welcome wool-related advice. I've had some very wonderfully strange conversations with one of them in particular. ahhh haberdasheries) and stock up on embroidery thread.

I need me some of this!! (image via

I have a denim dress that I got for Christmas which I've never worn because despite being a lovely fit and style it's just a bit
plain for me. I think I will embroider some nice sunset colours around the neckline and arms and maybe on the pockets.
I have a somewhat limited knowledge of embroidery (chain stitch being probably my limit - although it's a great stitch for edging appliqué and writing out things on dresses, case in point the words on my anteater dress, pictured here). Luckily, I have this book on loan from G's grandma...

This is the Reader's Digest Complete Guide to Embroidery, edited by Eiran Short (London; New York: Reader's Digest Association, 1981). I just scanned in the cover to show off how awesome it is. If you ever see it in a second-hand book shop and you like anything thread related you should snap it up!

I know its bad to judge a book by its cover, but really, this book is just as awesome as its crazy cover makes out -it's an absolutely amazing source of knowledge for all my favourite crafty pursuits. It's where I learnt to do the bobble stitch which I'm currently crocheting and has so many pages dedicated to all things embroidery...

I will keep you updated with my embroidery progress on the dress once I've been and got my threads! x

Thursday, August 18, 2011

on my hook...

My current crochet work in progress involves these lovely lumps and bumps...

They don't half devour my wool!
More soon!


Friday, August 12, 2011

A haiku a day...

It's my fourth week of writing a haiku everyday and I'm still really enjoying the challenge of squeezing some thoughts or reflections about what's going on in my world into three little lines of words. It's a nice way of capturing a moment of my day. Sometimes they end up being more cryptic or profound than other times, sometimes I'm stuck with what to write - but even that can end up inspiring me (see Sunday's offering!). Anyway, here they are in their 5-7-5 syllable bundles, one a day every day...

Friday (On being an early bird. A triple-rhyming haiku!)
So much excitement
early each morn. Later
on I feel folorn.

So much potential
early each day. Later on
it fades away.

So many ideas
in the morning light. Later
on they take to flight.

Looping the wool through
With my little hook, I watch
my cardigan grow.

The words are playing
Hide and seek- Come out! Come out!
Wherever you are!

A giant jigsaw
a puzzle made of words: it's
overwhelming me

Sitting, watching and
wondering why the world's gone
mad. It makes me sad.

Walking round the block
with you, a moment of calm
Before the night falls

Drenched through to my bones -
SPLASH! It sure is fun to run
in the pouring rain.

Why a haiku a day? See here. And to read some more, click here and here.


Thursday, August 11, 2011

Things to make with Granny squares!

I wrote a bit about granny squares in my earlier 'learning to crochet' post, and I thought that today I would share some inspiration for some fun wearable projects that you can make quite easily once you've mastered the basic square...


They make my feet happy!

I got the instructions for these from
The Purl Bee (Click on the link to be magically transported there!!). I've made a fair few pairs of these in different colour combinations for me and my friends. They're really easy and fairly quick to put together once you get going :)


This is my favourite crochet item that I've made yet. It 'goes' with all my clothes because it has all the colours in it :) It was a labour of love, but it's so comfy and colourful and almost like walking around being snuggled in a blanket.

Here it is hanging up so you can see the front.... and the back...

I got the inspiration and the instructions from my favourite French crochet blog, L'atelier de Marie. Click here to be transported to her original post and see the coat that inspired mine - it's beautiful. Marie provides some instructions about how to piece it together (reading it meant learning a few new French words for me - hooray for becoming bilingual in crochet!) as well as a diagram for any non-French speakers.


Ah yes, I know I know, I 've already told you about this one! See my post here....

Here's another more simple purse I made without sewing that can be used to just carry a few bits and bobs (nothing too heavy). I made the main part of it out of a square of crochet done with sturdy half-double crochet stitches and the flap is basically just a granny square with 5 rounds and then extra crochet on the sides to make it rectangular. The strap is just a long thick plait of wool...

Hop on over to MeMe Rose to see the wonderful scarf that she made, inspired by this amazing picture! It's a scarf made up of lots of granny squares all joined together, much like a blanket only scarf shaped.... perfect for this autumn, yes?
House of Holland via MeME Rose

I think I might have to rustle up something similar in the next few months....

One day soon I will show you what happens if you make a granny square with 6 corners! I'll give you a clue- it sounds a lot like one of the Welsh counties....
Do you have any favourite wearable granny square projects to share?


Wednesday, August 10, 2011

happy little moments... green woodpecker

A happy little moment was had a few days ago watching this fellow in the park whilst I was sat having a picnic in the sunshine. We feasted on Brie, tasty sourdough bread, a nice bottle of Bordeaux and strawberries whilst he was pecking away at the grass just metres away for a good half an hour....

i hope you have some happy moments to enjoy too - i think we could all do with some after all the crazyness that's going on at the moment...

Monday, August 08, 2011

From frumpy mess to funky dress!

I bought this dress at Glastonbury festival from a a sort of jumble-sale type stall. I really liked the colours and patterns of the fabric and screwed up on the table (and for the bargain price of £2.50) it seemed like a good deal. When I got it home, however, and tried it on I was not very impressed with my purchase.... Can you say frumpy and unflattering???

I'm not one to just give up on a piece of clothing that's not quite right, however as I love to sew! So after a few weeks of leaving the dress in a heap at the bottom of my wardrobe, I fished it out and decided to jazz it up with the help of my trusty sewing machine.

I purchased a few extra bits and pieces to help with the transformation...

(the white cotton is actually an old petticoat - hooray for being extra thrifty!)

My plan was to completely remove all the wierd and slightly tacky looking pink buttons that ran up the top half of the front of the dress and sew up the front. I wanted to sew in some darts to the bodice to make it more fitted and also to change the sleeves to make them shorter and less baggy. I also wanted to add a funky bib-type collar in a contrasting fabric to the front to change it a bit more dramatically.

So, first of all I snipped off the pesky buttons and sewed up the front of the dress...

Buttons be gone!

Here's the front all pinned together and some arrows to show where I sewed up the front of the bodice and down the sleeves to make it less baggy. I also put in some darts going up from the elasticated waist to make it a more flattering fit (not pictured). Tto measure where these went I put the dress inside out and pinned it to fit - it took a few goes to get them just right....

Here's the pattern piece I cut out for the 'bib' collar. I based it on the neckline of another dress and made sure the measurements fit the neckline of dress it was getting stitched to.

Then I pinned the pattern to the paisley fabric and cut out the collar. I also cut out the same shape in the white cotton...

And I made a small collar for the back of the neck in the same way...

Next I attached the paisley fabric to the white cotton (right sides together) and sewed them up, leaving one end open...

Then I turned the pieces so the right sides were facing out (and had lovely neat seams) and attached them to the dress...

I sewed the green ribbon around the bottom edges of the bib and the collar at the back.

Finally I cut the sleeves to the desired length and also sewed a bit of the paisley fabric around each arm-hole.....

Here it is, transformed into a funky and much more flattering dress!


I really enjoyed transforming the dress - and now I have something completely unique and perfectly fitted to wear :)

I hope you enjoyed this insight into my little tailoring project! May you be inspired to alter something that's not quite right in your wardrobe!

Sunday, August 07, 2011

happy little moments... ferny green seahorses

I had a happy little moment last weekend when I was walking on the moor near my parent's house in dartmoor. I was looking at all the ferns that are growing wild there and I noticed that as the leaves unfurl, they look like tiny little seahorses dangling down....

I wonder if they all carry on growing on the plant and eventually open out into big fern leaves or if some of take their chance to escape when a big gust of wind comes along. Maybe they break free and float on the breeze down the hill to the stream that runs through the valley. Perhaps there's a whole big flock of ferny green seahorses swimming in that stream having magical adventures with other tiny green ferny seahorses and whatever other creatures grow mysteriously on the hillside...

Blog love (part ii)

This week I bring you some links to my favourite style blogs. I know life isn't all about what clothes you wear, but it sure is fun to peek into other people wardrobes, especially when they are full of colour and crazy outfits.
  • Everyday Katie of What Katie Wore wears an explosion of quirky colour and looks fabulous. Then, her man, Joe writes some words to go with it, usually something hilarious or sweet (sort of like a non-sickening daily love letter to her/complaint about his horrendous hangover). Start reading this and you'll never want to dress in a boring outfit again...
Photo via What Katie Wore
  • Tavi's been recording her style and thoughts about all things feminist/popular culture for the last 3 years or so on The Style Rookie. She wears ridiculous-in-a-good-way layered creations and tiny strange hairclips like there's no tomorrow. Oh and she's still only 15.
  • I love The Dainty Squid. It's all about Kaylah's life as a creative cat-loving, multicoloured hair-having, collector of collections, treasure-finding, lady. This year she has started doing more style posts and her outfits are always colourful and fun (and often induce lots of jumping around in her lovely garden)
(Photo via The Dainty Squid)
  • One of my favourites is Here's Looking at me, Kid. Amanda's blog is so pretty and fun - it documents her vintage-inspired outfits with humour, elegance and imagination (creating what she calls 'an autobiography in photos'). Her photos are always tip-top, her apartment looks so cosy, her how-tos inspire me to create and her friendly tone and zest for life, love and friends is refreshing. To sum up, her blog is A+
  • And finally, a lovely british redhead by the name of Mags (?) shares her outfits and inspiration at Yours truly, x This one's quite new to me, but I'm enjoying finding out about her adventures to Brighton, her gorgeous style and the fun galore which she captures in her lovely bright photos. Find her here..
Photo via Yours Truly

May these lovely ladies inspire you to wear something exciting today!