Thursday, April 28, 2011

Visitors and pretty dresses

A bunny the size of my fist. And my hands are small.
We had a little Easter visitor here on Monday. It tried very hard to remain invisible there in the empty flowerbed just in front of our door. Smart, because we all kept an eye on it until its parents came back. Last summer they were not as lucky when they hid their baby in our garden, and my cat found it instead of me. The downside of evidently having a rabbit family in the garden is that now I have to worry about them every minute I'm outside with kitties.

Remember when I said I would be going away for the weekend? Well I did. Checked out Stockholm and two exhibitions there with my very good friend Malike: Voudou at the Ethnographic Museum and Lust and Vice at the National Museum. I especially loved the voudou exhibition; I've always said that voudou would be my religion of choice if I was a religious type. It's inclusiveness, lack of a black-and-white worldview, as well as shamanistic aspects appeal to me.

And don't forget really, really awesome paraphernalia.
Luckily for my wallet all the yarn shops of Stockholm were closed, but I did make some pretty spectacular finds at one of the local Beyond Retro stores. I went there looking for a dress to modify for a certain event later this year, and against all odds actually found one:

It's as if it was made for me, the fit is perfect, which means that I won't have to do any sewing alterations to it. It's from a California-based teen label, All That Jazz, and I would date it to the 90's. Meaning that I won't feel bad about putting a ton of sequins on it. It says dry-clean only, but I have this urge to just toss it in the washer. What's the worst that could happen? It's just nylon and rayon after all. Maybe just a gentle cold cycle. Would the lace suffer for it? Any suggestions?

The next item is the real treasure. I saw it, squealed a lot, looked at the price tag, squealed even more (still out of delight), put it on, squealing the whole time because it looked like it just might fit, had to call Malike over to button it up and then almost fainted because it was just so perfect.

It's hand-made, I'm thinking someone's wedding dress from the 50's judging by the length. You can't really see it from the pic but it's deliciously creamy and the hem is ragged and stained - hence the very generous pricing. The hem is exactly why I fell in love with it, it gives it an air of decaying romance which I find very hard to resist*. Apart from the hem it is in fabulous shape. It has 27 little buttons in the back.

Why yes, I do need someone to dress me!
The neckline is a lovely shape and has a lace edging. The bust has that 50's conical shape, but it's easily fixed. A couple of the buttons are a little bit loose, too, but that's really all I have to do with it. I'm considering letting the side seams out just a little bit to put less pressure on the buttons, but it depends on how easy that would be.

Apparently I am exactly the shape and size of 50's women because this is not the first time something roughly from that era fits me like a glove. If I was wearing a conical bra, that is.

It was very productive weekend trip, as you can see. I even finished the secret knitting project I mentioned, thus probably breaking some sort of a record. If you think there's no way you're the recipient and simply cannot wait for me to publicly post pictures, go here.

I went thrifting again yesterday (I may or may not have a problem with that) and, among other things for new, exciting projects, found this gorgeousness:

Pretty pretty pretty pretty!
A 50 gram skein of beautiful, shiny yarn in an intensive, bright, burnt orangey red. I'm guessing mercerized cotton, viscose or a blend, but it's hard to tell. And the weight? We're talking about sewing thread thin. It's crazy. I could make a shawl out of this thing. The thinnest, most delicate shawl ever. Or tons and tons of lace edging. Or socks.

* I blame the 1986 film Snow Queen, which I quite frankly think is one of the best and most visionary Finnish films ever. I had a massive crush on the robber princess, who in retrospect is definitely the weakest link in the whole damn film. But she was really cool when I was 4! You can actually watch the whole film on YouTube. It has influenced me immensely, aesthetically.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Thrifted treasures

It probably doesn't come as a surprise to anyone that I like thrift stores. I love looking for, and finding, treasure. Mostly treasure I can turn into something else. I've been obsessed with little porcelain cups and plates for a while, ever since I started my teacup collection. (What, I didn't tell you about my teacup collection yet? You can rest easy, that's a post for another day.) Teacup collection soon spread into a saucer collection, and then plate, teapot, sugar pot and creamer collections... you get my drift. All this has gained more purpose recently when I started picking up pretty candle holders, too.

Take a couple of pretty, similar but not matching plates and saucers, add a bit of epoxy (and fix other broken stuff while you're at it) and you have fancy-pants multi-layer cake plates:

Pretty, no? They're quite sturdy, too. Perfect for mad teaparties.

It's always fun to go thrifting with some actual goals in mind, but equally pleasing to see surprising potential in something frivolous and almost free. Like this for example:

It's a little plastic frame that looks like leather with pictures of what I can only surmise is some sort of a crime family lead by an evil naked baby. To hide the atrocity I went through a collection of old photographs and printed three out on photograph paper.

Now that's what I call improvement! It still needs a bit of cleaning up and perhaps a lace trim. We will see.

In knitting news I started an exciting new project and cast on Roxanne Mystery Shawl from Feministy. Two clues have been released, but there's plenty of time to catch up! I'm not going to spoil by posting pics until the whole thing is done, but if you're curious, you can see the result of the first clue on my Rav project page. Mystery knitting is always fun, I heartily recommend it! Even if you don't like the result you can always gift it to someone who will. I myself intend to like this one, because I lack a nice soft shawl I can wear next to skin, and purple is just my color.

The only downside is that you have to wait for the clues. Hence another project, because I'm going away for the weekend. And what is a weekend away without knitting? Nothing, I tell you, nothing! This one's going to be a present, though, so no links or pics for you! It's another shawl, that's all I'm going to say about that now.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Pushing buttons

I continue recovering, although it feels painfully slow. My main occupation is still being a snot factory and I get exhausted quickly, but every day sees improvement. The goal is to be able to dance and wrestle by the weekend and if that doesn't happen, then I'll complain.

In the meanwhile I've been finding pleasure where I can. When my mother came by to bring me supplies over the weekend she brought me the greatest thing a sick person could ever wish for: a bag full of buttons. No, not that kind of buttons.

These kind of buttons.
I know! Amazing, right? There must have been over a kilogram of them. It effectively doubled my button collection. Oh... didn't I tell you about my button collection? Well you're in luck! You can just let go of the reins because those horses are gone.

Some years ago, when started seriously obsessing over crafting in 2007 or so, I realized that whenever I needed buttons for something I had to go out and buy some. And as most of you probably know, buttons are damn expensive, and it's hard to find the perfect ones. So I decided that any self-respecting crafter should have a button collection and started systematically picking up nice ones from craft wholesales, trips and thrift stores. (Of course this thinking spread and now I have pretty extensive supplies of pretty much everything). Then my mother (love you mom!) found this amazing old sewing box full of knitting needles and lace and buttons and everything sort of got out of hand.

That right side? The one that doesn't shut anymore? Yeah... that's my button drawer.
So I have been sorting the buttons little by little. I have a system you see: First I separate the ones there are two or more of and tie them together using sewing thread. If there are perfectly identical ones in different colors or sizes I sometimes tie them all together. Then I assort the rest according to color and store them in ziplock bags. It's like building a jigsaw puzzle. Especially the hundreds of nearly identical little white buttons closely resembled the sky parts of certain 1500 piece puzzles.

This is about half of the bag.
And every now and then I would run into something fabulous and go "OMG MUST BLOG ABOUT THIS BUTTON!" I would blame the fever, but let's just face it: I get really pumped up about buttons. So do you want to see the Best Of? Of course you do! Why else would you be there if not for morbid curiosity or desperate procrastination and I know that at this point, anything goes!

Item number one: Occultists have uniforms? Who knew!
If you really want to avoid doing something right now, find out what that is. Is it a khamsa, protection from the evil eye? Some freaky Danish coat of arms (it's made in Copenhagen)? What ever it is, it's pretty cool. Too bad there's just one.

A measuring tape for your convenience and amazement.
Next, tell me these aren't the most precious thing you've ever seen. They are mother of pearl and about 6mm in diameter. They are tiny and absolutely gorgeous and wouldn't seem out of place in a dollhouse. Here are some other favorites:

Glass flowers! Pretty as ice.

Tiny blue stripes!

That on the bottom right? IT'S A LITTLE HAT!



Probably some berries, but they really remind me of cells and blood vessels.
I'll admit that most of my more eccentric buttons are going to be hard to use because personally I tend to favor simple, basic forms, like these steel ones I searched high and low and paid way too much money for, on my dropkick cardi:

Autumn photoshoots: I need more of them.

Or these on my first and favorite cardigan (click for better picks on Raverly): simple but the colors slide from bright yellow to deep red (picked up from Edinburgh, actually):

Also featured: droll colors and my squid dress.
So far I have always chosen buttons for a project, but with my current selection I think I should start designing projects for buttons. These, for instance, would look very pretty on a between-seasons wool coat:

Brains or roses? You choose!
And these really want to be on a pretty gray cardigan - there can never be too many cardigans:

They have deer on them! And stars! And speaking of deer:

I haz them.
There is something about metal buttons with pretty pictures on them, I'm telling you. By the way, here's another question for you curious types: that flower button on the bottom there really, really reminds me of something but I cannot for the life of me think what. Something by Gallen-Kallela or Simberg, maybe? Perhaps it's just this, perhaps it's something else, all I know is it strikes a chord and I love it.

This was only a small glimpse, but I feel sorry for you now (the feeling is mutual, I'm sure) and shall finish on another note entirely. After all these weeks I finally blocked my Geodesic cardigan and now there are only a couple of yarn ends to weave in! Ironically, there will be no buttons on it.

That needle cushion sure is an attention whore.
Oh, by the way, look down! I added voting buttons so you can feel rewarded for your reading experience and make your mark, if you wish. Suggestions for better options are accepted in the comments!

Monday, April 11, 2011

Back from the dead.

Wow. Good thing I never actually wrote it down that I was going to update once a week because that would have been embarrassing. I have a lot of excuses though; not only was I busy with clothes for Riazan but I also got myself a translation gig, the deadline of which I managed to push to Monday after the game. The fever set in on Monday night and oh boy have I had a fun week since! I'll spare you the details but I'm slowly recovering and today I'm even able to form entire thoughts and sentences, as you can see for yourselves, and even better, lift and move my hands enough to type them down in a satisfactorily accurate manner.

So, where were we? Riazan, right. As it turned out I didn't have time to take my sewing machine to be serviced and my housemate's Pretty Woman at the very least needs its bobbin screw, which I couldn't find, tightened so I ended up sewing all the visible stitches by hand. As a direct result I didn't finish the green coat at all and went with just the apron and lots of layers. Luckily it was warm, but I wouldn't be surprised if first sweating indoors and then wearing no actual outer garments and getting my boots and socks wet twice in the forest had something to do with the flu that followed. The curse of Koschei indeed.

I did iron it, before the game.
Here are some pictures from before the game, the only ones that have been linked so far. Some of the costumes were insanely gorgeous and I felt very plain, but that was appropriate for my character whose clothes were, after all, the ones that had been buried under the floor of the house of her Chinese husband (who thought she was a crane maiden) for years before she managed to find her way home. With a fake plait I think I looked very much like the inspiration for my character, though instead of Beautiful or Wise I reckon she had earned the name Wily. I had heaps of fun, in case you can't tell.

I think I've had enough exercise for now. Time to pass out for a while, but I'll hopefully get back to updating before the week is out. To compensate, you know.