Saturday, 31 January 2015

Retro Sew

A guest post here of two retro sewing patterns I bought. These are original patterns but sized up for the modern woman. One of my reasons for making my own clothes was because I love vintage, but they are often only in small sizes. I think these are both maybe late 50s/early 60s designs, an era I favour. The top is quite easy (great prints) but with an unusual French dart and the dress looks fiendish but irresistibly glamorous....

Thursday, 29 January 2015

Horror Sew

Todays post is a bit of a cheat, no picture but there is something I made myself....
I have a bit of a thing for old horror films, the Hammer ones with castles, vampires, sinister labs and Victorian outfits. So I couldn't resist this horror fabric. Who can name the four bad guys and actors who played them depicted here? 
Due to a saga of wrong cutting, I spliced the print in with green fabric which I think worked quite well, the back is all print.
Also working on pattern tweaks for large chest, large right arm, wide shoulders and leaning backwards. You don't realise how odd your body is until you start sewing. I was pleased with this though. Should I get some blood splatter fabric next?

Thursday, 22 January 2015

Women Travel

I was watching this fantastic programme on iplayer about Apalooosa horses. A lady horsebreeder from the USA travels all the way to Kzyrgistan after seeing an apaloosa horse on a programme about the country. This lady is sixty nine and she embarks on a horse trek through the mountains on the Chinese border to find a lost valley where the horses live. They live in yurts, struggle with altitude sickness, are blessed by a shaman and cross passes infested with wolves. Women travelling doesn't get much better than this. I won't spoil it by telling you if she finds the horses. 

Tuesday, 20 January 2015

Roman Reading

I don't seem to have my book picture on the ipad so sorry about that. So this may be a bit writey.

Progress on my reading projects of the Neolithic and the Romans. 

The Neolithic has stalled in that basically the people of the iron age had no written culture so very little is known about them. All they left is their monuments. The few things I have learned is that it is first the stone age, then the iron age and then the bronze age, triggered by better techology from Europe. Monument wise the early people built barrows to bury their dead. Later these fell out of favour and were replaced by stone circles and henges (some made of wood) and giant earthworks. These were partly about burial and partly for ceremonies based on the movements of the sun and moon and on fertility ( cue suggestively shaped rocks). Later hill forts became useful as Britain was invaded by various people.

The Romans, however, are fascinating. We know loads about them because of the many Roman authors. In some ways they seem exotically distant, fighting with obscure enemies like the Gauls and Eastern Kings of walled desert cities and with an array of gods and cults. In others, very modern with their cynical politics, comfortable lifestyles, bureaucracy and global reach. The excitement of charismatic, ruthless generals in huge wars, both noble and depraved emperors and great writers to record it all. I think maybe the Romans were the Americans of their day, worrying about barbarous Europe and endless wars in the middle east, in a society with both colossal wealth and desperate poverty, with advanced technology and world trade. Anyway, that's how I think of them, hopefully without offending anyone.
And who could fail to thrill to Caesar, Cleopatra, Vercingetorix and War Elephants! Not all at the same time, sadly.

Sunday, 18 January 2015

The Nutcracker

Yesterday we went to the theatre to see the Nutcracker ballet. We were in great seats in the balcony ( also known as the Gods, presumably because it is so high). The normal stair up ended and we were on a stone stair with peeling red paint going up and up through the old theatre. The seats had a fantastic, if vertiginous view of the stage but were unbelievably small and crammed. A real victorian experience. 

The ballet is one of my favourites which I have seen many times. This was a lovely traditional version by Scottish Ballet with magical sets and gorgeous costumes. Highlights included the Ratking and mice (pictured above, with creepy rubbery tails ) dance of the snowflakes ( snow fell on the stage as dancers spun in fluffy white and silver tutus) the Turkish dance and of course, the Sugar Plum Fairy. It was just beautiful. 

Tuesday, 13 January 2015

A Portrait Experiment

Inspired by my Stepdad who draws fantastic portraits from interesting faces in magazines and newspapers. This interestingly androgynous, futuristic woman was on the front of the FT magazine. I didn't like this until I put the watercolour on, somehow. This is with my fantastic new extra fat 8b pencil which is lovely for drawing. She could almost be a bloke from a boy band with her trendy quiffed hair. 

Saturday, 10 January 2015

Winter is Coming

Todays picture shows the windy, snowy front rolling in, as seen from our living room window. If the sky goes pink, the snow is coming. And yes, obligatory Game of Thrones quote.
At the moment, I am very inspired by the works of John Piper, who painted architecture in the 40s and 50s using watercolour, chalk and pen. His works are quite abstract, but I like his dramatic light and colours and free drawing style. 
I came across his paintings when I saw some stacked up in an empty room at Dunecht House (see earlier). I found a catalogue on him today at the Aberdeen Art Gallery closing sale.

Thursday, 8 January 2015

By the Seaside

Another Seen from the Road. This one is a bit further afield, on the coast road from Aberdeen to Dundee. This is the Arbroath Signal Tower Museum, in a Regency building designed by Robert Stevenson, to house the keepers of the famous Bell Rock lighthouse. I love the almost Mediterranean, Classical style of the building. 
Arbroath is a gritty, working town, with a scenic working harbour (where the arbroath smokie kipper is made) and a fantastic medieval cathedral. 
Pictures of these may follow. My rule for Seen from the Road is that I must include the actual view of the building or landscape that can be seen when zooming past, not, for instance the lovely view of this building from the seal

Saturday, 3 January 2015

Life advice from my other Alter Egos

Radicalgirl: she is interested in politics, economics and deep a newspaper regularly, an intelligent one, even if you don't agree with it (left winger reads FT). Use the bbc news website to see what is happening in lots of other countries. Give money to charities and have a clearout of your home and wardrobe for charity.

Boredgirl: she is always wanting to do new things and gets bored easily....try and do something new every week. Eat new foods, go to new places, go to the cinema or the theatre. Check out new tv and radio programmes. Meet up with friends and talk about stuff.

Gothicgirl: she likes anything reminiscent of Hammer Horror films or Victorian thrillers.....go to gloomy historical places such as castles, neolithic stone circles and tombs or historic graveyards. Revel in the gothick novel atmosphere. Buy something to wear that is glamorously sinister, in black lace or velvet. 

Thursday, 1 January 2015

Happy new year!

Picture of fresh flowers to welcome the new year. The house is clean, and the hall has a lovely illustration of cacti at Kew to cheer me.