Monday, 24 October 2011

Victorian ladies

A friend gave me this amazing book as a late birthday present - Victorian Fashions & Costumes From Harpers Bazar: 1867-1898. This has to be my absolute favourite era for historic fashion - the bustles, the corsets, the parasols, the trains - and towards the end of the century, giant leg o'mutton sleeves, and the slightest suggest of dawning emancipation in shoe-skimming skirts and the most delicately masculine jackets and collars.

I love how solemn these fashion plates are, the women as stiff as mannequins, draped into immobility. There is no joy here, apart from in the gorgeous descriptions: "this graceful evening dress with a small train is made of sea-foam green silk, trimmed with white lace and large clusters of roses of variegated colors-pink, cream and deep red"... "the visite [cloak] of heliotrope plush has bead and chenille ornaments"... "this graceful house dress is of supple wool of chamois ground with cherry-coloured silk stripes, trimmed with bright green velvet ribbon."

Heck, you may not be able to do more than pose in your finery, or perhaps lift a tea cup, but at least you could wear such delights as a "torsade of passmenterie" [braiding] or "sapphire blue velvet opening over pale pink faille" [ribbed silk]. Oh to wear heliotrope plush...

Thursday, 20 October 2011


Love this piece in the Sun today about the new knitting-themed room in Brighton's Hotel Pelirocco, although it does worry me that this is what my bedroom will probably look like in a few years' time.

Monday, 17 October 2011

London colours

Some days in London are just fizzing with colour. I was particularly excited to stumble across the bead stall on a street in Covent Garden, where I seemed to find myself handing over money for 10 lime-green heart-shaped plastic beads before I'd even thought about it.

I've since made myself an extremely tacky bracelet that gives me joy every time I look at it - and reminds me of my metaller days when I would wear at least 10 beaded bracelets, studded wristbands and glittery rubber bangles on each wrist. I miss those days - I wonder whether it's acceptable for a 28-year-old alleged grown-up to wear spiked belts and Hello Kitty backpacks?

Sunday, 9 October 2011

Classic cuts

This weekend I have been mostly making the "Classic Beret" from Jenny Lord's excellent Purls of Wisdom.

I had previously thought the book was too plain for my style (I love lots of luscious photos in a craft book) but everything is so clear and beautifully set out and easy to use. Saying that I had to ditch the DPNs and go back to circulars for this, as I just can't get the hang of them.

Talking about 'classic', I've recently cut off my 'classic' long hair for a rather impromptu Louise Brooks-ish bob. I'm still getting used to my hair ending abruptly on my neck instead of somewhere down my back... I think I like it... only I keep having dreams about my old hair, and the streets seem suddenly thronged with long-haired temptresses. Uber-long hair (a la Cheryl, now her replacement Tulisa on The X Factor) is of course very of the moment, which is probably why I decided to be contrary, but I can't help but feel less... feminine? Those 1920s flappers were brave...

Monday, 3 October 2011

October sun

 Every now and then I escape to the countryside for the weekend. I seemed to have picked a good one this time as it was hot enough to throw open the windows of my mum's (normally freezing) cottage and sit in the garden with books and wine (incidentally I practically inhaled All That I Am by Anna Funder, and dreamt of Nazis and fraught escapes across the border).

Now the sun is shrinking behind the houses and swallows are darting across the pale blue. The apple tree over my head is perilously dandling cooking apples the size of baseballs, some rusty-brown and pearled with mould. It is autumn- but not yet.