Thursday, 30 December 2010

New Years Revolution

Yep, I know it is supposed to be resolution but I'm planning some big changes in 2011 (in addition to my keeping my nails resolution mentioned in my last post) and so revolution seemed more appropriate.  2010 was terrible though, so whatever happens it will be a huge improvement.  Roll on 2011!

Not all of this is vintage related, so I hope it isn't too dull for you.

1)  I am going to give up smoking:  I tried about 3 times this year and kept failing, however research (google haha!) says that most people succeed around their seventh attempt.  As such I'm going to keep trying.  Official quit date 2 January.

2) I am going to seriously curb my shopping habit:  I spend far too much on eBay on things I do not really need.  As such I am going to do a full review of my wardrobe, work out what I actually need (i.e. items to complete outfits) and then compile a needs and wants list.  I can only buy the needs, with the wants being limited to one every month.  Still sound excessive?  You have no idea what my shopping habits are like (this month 5 hats, a cocktail shaker set, a dress, a bag, a skirt, some books, some vintage glassware,12 pairs of vintage stockings, several knitting patterns, a dress and some pin-up art - I only needed the stockings...).  I am also going to do a full wardrobe audit and sell anything that doesn't fit, doesn't flatter or isn't right in some other way and will make this an annual thing to keep on top of things.

3)  I am going to lose the extra weight I've put on (damn you Depo Provera!) by improving my diet (less carbs, more veg, meat free days) and by walking home from work (once it stops being scary dark by 4pm).  I might even try cycling again...though that might be a bit ambitious.

4) I am going to improve my knitting skills by tackling fairisle, annoying tiny 4 ply wool, circular needles and cable knitting.  I am also going to try sewing again.  I already have the yarn and the fabric I need for the projects I have earmarked and as such I'll expand my wardrobe and save money at the same time.

5) I am going to master the pincurl.  I am going to work my way through all the roll and bang sets in all my vintage hair books and downloads.  Probably choosing one a fortnight or one a month.

6) I am going to start meditating.  I've realised I spend very little time away from stimulation (phnar) as I am always on the phone, on the internet, watching TV or reading.  I need time off and process stuff.  I'm hoping this will help break my negative thought patterns.

7) I am going to decorate the flat.  My lounge needs the walls painting and some lampshades.  I have earmarked these reproduction bakelite shades.  Am tempted to change the switches too.

8) I am going to continue updating and growing this blog, hence the little poll in the side.  I'd like to know what you want to read about.  Please let me know what will keep you coming back for more.  I'd love to get to the stage where I have sponsors and stuff, I really would.

That's it for now - lots of things to think about.

What do you think of my list?  Are you making resolutions this year, vintage based or otherwise?

A finished knit - the three hour (12 hours with lots of breaks in between) sweater.


I have finally finished the three-hour sweater.  It isn't quite the disaster I had expected though it isn't great either.  In the tradition of a bad workman blaming their tools I have to say I REALLY don't like this yarn.  It is a worsted weight (i.e. pretty thick) but it is 85% acrylic and 15% wool which means it is very lightweight.  I am learning to really dislike acrylic, the texture is all wrong, it has no weight or flow to it and I think it looks cheap. 

I can see it being useful for childrens clothes, being easily washable without all that hand washing and reshaping when damp malarkey, it is also cheap and available in a wide range of lurid colours.  I just don't like to knit with it or wear it.

As such I didn't bother with the crochet round the neck, this will just be a basic work jumper.  I think it will look good with my gorgeous pale aqua Heyday! trousers - when I lose the weight to fit back into them *eats another Christmas chocolate*

The pattern was simple to follow and this is easily big enough for me, I knit it on 10mm needles as per the pattern and it easily fits a 38 inch bust.  I'd say it is quite a good beginner pattern but knitting on such big needles don't 'alf make your hands hurt.

My original blog post with links to the free pattern can be found here.

Monday, 27 December 2010

Beauty review - Rimmel 60 second nail polish in 320 Rapid Ruby

I've made a bit of a resolution (pre-New Years) to keep my nails in better condition.  I tend to apply polish and then just leave it till it all flakes off, not very attractive, and so in an effort to inspire myself I bought a few new polishes.  I've always found little difference between expensive brands and the cheaper equivalents and so went for good old Rimmel.

I picked up three from the 60 second range - Rapid Ruby, a grey and a turquoise.  The Rapid Ruby is a very dark wine red - perfect for a vintage look and the grey has a real 30's tone, at least to my eyes.

I prepped my nails by filing them into vintage points (grrrr!) and then applied a basecoat of clear varnish as this polish is highly pigmented.  I then applied two coats of the Rapid Ruby and topped with a topcoat of clear varnish.

My crappy pic (I've lost my camera again) and one stolen from a google search.  All the pictures on the Internet look a lot redder than it does on me - perhaps that is because I used two coats.  I'd certainly call it a wine though rather than a red.

This is a very quick drying polish, without the bottom and top coat it does dry in 60 seconds but adding these steps added at least another two minutes to the drying time, so if you don't mind stained nails it is possible to paint and go, which is great.

I do have a few reservations though.  Part of the reason it dries very quickly is that it is thicker than ordinary polishes, this coupled with the extra large "one stroke" brush does make the polish difficult to control and so this wouldn't be easy to use for half moon nails.  You certainly couldn't paint the half moons freehand with this.  Also, due to the thickness it can tend to bubble.

All in all it is a good cheap buy at £3.99 and a great colour but definitely not for your full vintage manicure. More of a paint and run emergency polish.

Old movie madness - The Seventh Victim (1943) - spoilers!

Another horror/noir, and another from the "Cat People" stable at RKO Radio Pictures.  This film even features a character from "Cat People" - Doctor Louis Judd - and some people consider this a prequel though sadly no cat people feature.

The film centres around Mary, a schoolgirl who is told by her headmistress (a formidable woman in a wonderful gathered dress) that her sister has not paid her school fees for the past six months and that she has been unable to contact her.  She generously lends Mary the money to travel to the city to hunt down her sister.

Mary starts looking at her sister Jacqueline's beauty salon but finds out her sister sold it to her stern Mrs Reed some 8 months ago.  At the salon Mary runs into one of Jacqueline's friends who says she saw her just the few weeks before at Dante's, an Italian restaurant, and so Mary heads straight there.

The owners recall an extraordinarily beautiful woman who did indeed come in some time ago, rented a room, changed the locks and left.  Convinced this must her sister she persuades to owners to break into the room (she is very persuasive this gal - everyone does everything she says) and once the door is opened all there is in the room is a noose hanging from the rafters with a chair underneath.

Mary reports her sister missing and while doing so is approached by a cliched noir Private Detective who offers to take her case for free (again, she gets whatever she wants).  Unfortunately in the course of their investigation the detective is killed.

Dr Judd appears, telling Mary that her sister is in his care and in hiding from a Satanic cult called the Palladists who she fears wish to kill her, she then discovers Jacqueline is married and estranged from her husband who has also been looking for her.  Mary and Jacqueline's husband team up and secretly fall in love.

Jacqueline does not go back to her husband and is soon kidnapped by the cult who try to persuade her to kill herself as anyone who talks about the cult must die.  She refuses to drink the poisoned wine and become the cults seventh victim and they reluctantly let her go.  She is followed by an assassin however and narrowly escapes.

On the stairs outside her building she meets the deathly ill and strangely compelling Mimi (Elizabeth Russell), who tells her that despite being close to death and scared she is determined to enjoy her last days.  Jacqueline responds that she is not scared of death and walks into the room with the noose.

The film closes with Mimi, glamorously dressed, descending the stairs and the sound of the chair in the room being kicked over.

The high points for me were the hair styling, there are some wonderful early 40's hair dos in this movie and some awe inspiring huge victory rolls.  The only bad hair is on the head of the mysterious Jacqueline, a character with absolutely no depth and a very poor Bettie Page wig.

I also adored the shower scene, this pre-Psycho image was very powerful and I really like the way the brim of the hat echoes devil horns.

I also adored seeing Elizabeth Russell again, she appeared as the mysterious Serbian cat lady in "Cat People" and was dressed identically in this movie - budget constraint or link between the films?  Sigh - Elizabeth Russell has such powerful features I could just watch her for hours.

The low points (aside from the laughable Bettie Page wig) were all around how disjointed the story was - it just didn't make any sense.  If Jacqueline were alive then why didn't she keep paying her sisters school fees, why didn't she just leave town, why did an assassin follow her - was he linked to the cult who had let her go just seconds before, why had she never told her sister she had married?  I also felt a little creeped out by the sexualisation of Mary, who was first portrayed as a child (albeit 16/17) and then had two much older men interested in her.

It clearly is a low budget affair, but it is rather fun to pass the time with as it doesn't need much in the way of concentration. It is very silly but it is also definitely worth watching if you can just suspend your disbelief and go along for the ride.

Friday, 24 December 2010

Have yourselves a VERY merry Christmas.

Hey all - just a quick message to say Merry Christmas to everyone!

I have a little tree, my first tree since I was a child, and am actually feeling rather Christmassy despite this being my third Christmas alone.  I'm going to cook a duck with all the trimmings and watch lots of movies with the cats.  Oh, and drink some of my Christmas drink supply.


Thursday, 23 December 2010

Knitting - getting started is the hardest part

Hi chapettes.

I know a few people who read my blog are wanting to start knitting and feel daunted by the whole process and so I thought some posts from a fairly recent starter might be just the thing to get more people on the road to yarnsville.  All advice in here is my opinion, and, as I know knitters can be a finicky bunch, I’d like to state that I’m more than happy to be corrected (phnar) at any time.

So – why did I start?  Well, I’ve needed some kind of creative outlet for a while as my job can be very repetitive. I tried dressmaking and while I do enjoy it there are a lot of drawbacks that stop it being an ideal hobby for me:  
  • it requires a lot of space for laying out fabric
  • it needs fairly expensive equipment that can often go wrong
  • unless you have a dedicated sewing space (and if you do I’m green with envy) it needs preparation 
  • it isn’t portable.

As a result I decided that knitting and crochet would be my hobbies of note: portable, little equipment needed and very useful, given how tough it can be finding vintage knits in good condition, let alone in a wearable size.

I hadn’t used either of these crafts since school but was confident I could pick it back up again and so borrowed my flatmates old knitting needles and bought some yarn and gave it a try.

What a disaster!  I couldn’t even cast on, and after several attempts where the yarn either tangled or slipped off the needles I gave up, amid some hot, fat tears.

It took me another year to try again, and what prompted me to give it another try was stumbling across some YouTube videos.  Wow!  I never know YouTube was so full of useful stuff, I thought it was all teenagers whining about Britney, cats falling over and 80’s music videos.  

After watching a few knitting videos I decided to pay a visit to Loop, a local knitting shop based in Angel Islington, and treated myself to some bamboo needles and a gorgeous skein of worsted weight (i.e. pretty darn thick) yarn.

This time it finally seemed to click.  I’ll be honest, casting on is still a chore and possible my least favourite bit about the whole knitting process, but I can do it, and once I got the cast on down I found it fairly simple to pick up the two major stitches, knit and purl, as well as a basic increase and decrease.

To help cement my fledgling skills I also took a beginners knitting course at Fabrications (and their blog) a lovely little knitting shop near my home.  It was a great course, quite unstructured and more of a drop in session but I learned a lot.  Barley Massey, who runs the course, is an angel.  Barley - if you are reading this I owe you £1 for some seaming needles :)

Since then I’ve finished a scarf, a knitted snood, and a couple of sweaters.

If you want to start I'd advise getting hold of some bamboo needles (4 or 5mm, bamboo is best as it isn's slippy) and some DK or worsted weight yarn (I'd go cheap acrylic to start with) and just persevere and noodle about with cast on, knit, purl and cast off.  It will click.  If  I can do it, you can!

I'll share my favourite YouTube knitting videos and knitting sites in a future blog.

A quick post share

Quick - get thee over to Scathingly Brilliant's blog to see this marvellous footage of her Aunt Annie reminiscing about her dancing days.  This really cheered me after a hard day.

Scathingly Brilliant

Sorry not to write more but I'm supposed to be working from home.  At 8:15 pm.  On Christmas eve eve.


Wednesday, 22 December 2010

A little day trip - victory rolls and thrift shopping

Well, I have to say I am feeling much better already.  After yesterdays post I decided to force myself to set my hair.  I knew I was meeting a friend today and there is nothing like and occasion to get one in the mood to make the effort.

Inspired by the adorable Miss Amethyst I decided to give victory rolls a try, after all, it had to be something that would withstand the foul snowy damp weather we are having, and set my hair for the night in pink perm rods at the nape and upward facing pincurls at the side to help with rolling.

These are the tools:

After brushing out my curls in the morning I followed Miss Amethyst's instructions and backcombed my hair.  I usually shy away from teasing it as my mother who was a 60's hippy chick, always told me it was terribly damaging.  I realise now that this is a load of old rubbish however.  :-)

I then rolled the hair.  I am rubbish  to doing this with my hands though and relied upon my trusty old YSL metallic mascara tube for rolling the hair around.  I then pinned the rolls at each end and put the curls up into a snood (made by me) as I just knew my lovely curls would wilt in the damp air.

I smoothed any flyaways with my rat tail comb and some heavy duty hairspray and then I was good to go (well after putting my make upon...and some clothing.)

I was very pleased with the results - still not as perfect as as Miss Amethyst but then again she is a professional!  I cannot believe the difference the teasing made and am surprised more tutorials don't mention this step.

Here is my hair:

And my outfit - casual but warm:

Snood - crocheted by me
Jumper - knit by me
Jeans - 50's Freddies of Pinewood (the 40's ones trail on the floor and get wet in this weather)
Shoes - spectator / saddles from Anne Klein (eBay)

I then swaddled myself up in my warm coat (not the parka!) a big scarf, popped by knitting in my bag for the journey and headed to High Wycombe to meet my friend.

We has a lovely day.  I ate the world's greasiest panini and raided the local charity shops.  I brought home quite a haul:

Hobbs yellow, white and black sailor top £3.50:

70's apple design jug and 5 glasses £3.50:

Hardy Amies silk scarf £1 (have seen on the Internet for around £55-60 - booyah :-P), the cat was already here:

50's / 60's silk scarf £1:

Beatrix Potter knitting book - so cute £1.50:

 Hobbs almost ankle length red and black chevron tweed skirt £4.50:

All in all a fantastic day. It was so good to get out of London even for just a few hours.  Thank you Judith!

Tuesday, 21 December 2010

Old movie madness - Cat People

Another new thing I'm trying is movie reviews, however because my main reason for watching these old movies is aesthetics I'm afraid these will focus heavily on clothing and hairdos.  Hope thats OK!

Today I decided to watch Cat People (1942), a sort of horror-noir affair by Jacques Tourneur and starring the stunning Simone Simon.  Simon is the cat person in question, playing Irena Dubrowka (later Reed), a Serbian immigrant working as a fashion artist, who is strangely drawn to the big cats at the zoo.  There she meets Oliver Reed (the characters name - not the actor - far too early!), a geeky but warm hearted young artist who escorts her home to her lavish apartment.  There she charms im with her eccentric ways and dark tales of Serbian black magic and cat people, and they agree to meet the following day.  After a short and chaste courtship they wed, but still she will not share a bed with him for fear that she will transform into a cat and brutally kill the man she loves.

I won't ruin the film for you, but lets just say things don't bode well for the couple, with love triangles, hypnotherapy and a dead canary on the way...

The film is impeccably styled.  Simon is perfectly cast, her little cat face making her seem both exotically foreign and sexily feline.  Her outfits accentuate this look, all black astrakhan, velvet and satin with grand 40's shoulders and a tiny waist to show off her cat-like grace and echoing the pelt of the panther she so relates to.  Her movements are perfect to, from slinking elegance to kitten-like darting eyes.

Her hair is very cutesy with a large waved and rolled bang that I am dying to try and accessorised with a little scarf at all times.  There were many other great dos in the film.  I adore the big curly blonde do.

I also love Alice's swimming costume - so of its time.

And just look at the shoulders on this swing coat!

I thoroughly enjyed this movie - it was sad but a real romp at the same time.  I'm hoping to get hold of the sequel soon!

Vintage slump and an attempt to motivate myself!

Hello lovelies.

As my Facebook friends are aware I've been feeling very down lately, probably exacerbated by Christmas time, I'm not a fan of the festive season for various reasons.  As a result of this and some unexpected weight gain I've been feeling utterly unvintage and unable to do much else but sit on the sofa eating biscuits and watching films.  I know, I know, not helpful.

I've been trying to pull myself out of this for a while but haven't been able to do it alone and so am taking some affirmative action in the form of low dose anti-depressants and some counselling sessions.  Ugh.  Unfortunately things always get worse before they get better though and I'm currently so tired I can barely dress myself let alone set my hair and do my make up.  Most unlike me to be honest, seeing as I can usually get this stuff done through a depression or even a fierce hangover.  I almost feel bad about my smug posts about my 15 minute getting ready routine on The Fedora Lounge now!  Almost.  :-P

I have to admit this cold weather doesn't help with maintaining a vintage look and I've been spending most of my time in a hoodie and, when out, my "drug dealer look" parka.  I love my parka - it is warmer than any sleeping bag - but it is a label and style favoured by the Hackney miscreant and I do get some odd looks wearing it.

See my glamorous non vintage look here (the cats pulled down the curtains, again...):

Anyway - this isn't a post for sympathy, I don't really feel comfortable with that and I'm well on my way to feeling more alive, it is actually a post for motivation.  I need to get my vintage mojo back.

As such I am committing myself to writing a vintage / beauty based blog each week.  It is a way to get me into my vintage garb and to put my make up on and do my hair.  I know I'll feel better once I do.  I need some other motivators though, so please let me know your tips on getting out of a fug.  All suggestions welcome.

And to end - a pic of the chaps I adore who are taking care of me with lots of love and will be my company over the bleak festive season:

I bought a duck for Christmas dinner, so no doubt myself and the purrballs will be well fed!

Thursday, 16 December 2010

Blog of the month - Subversive Lesbian Anarchic Femme

OK - this a new thing for me - but I've decided to start a blog of the month piece to introduce you lovelies to the blogs I adore - some you will know and some you might not.

For December I have chosen the quite wonderful Subversive Lesbian Anarchic Femme

Why do I love this blog?  Well, for three major reasons:

1) it's a queer femme blog, and femme visibility is an important thing, read her great post on this here
2) its a knitting blog (with some embroidery and sewing for good measure)
3) its vintage knitting too, with free vintage knitting patterns, some unusual ones too!

Vintage + femme + knitting = Utter Bliss.

Oh, and I love the kitty picture!

Oh #2 and her pink hair is the colour I've always dreamed of.

 Take a visit and peruse the place for yourself!

And a thank you to the writer herself for brightening my internet life! x

Monday, 13 December 2010

Santa baby, been an awful good girl...

I really, really have! *ahem*

Sadly, not having family (or an admirer), I tend to find Christmas a little thin on presents, so this year I am going to buy myself a few treats.  I can't afford all of the things below so I have yet to make up my mind exactly what I'll be investing in...oh for a sugar Daddy! *wink*

Boston cocktail set:

I'd love this, it is the full set and it would make my cocktail bar complete. 

A Stitch in Time gift pack:

 The second in this wonderful knitting series, the pre-order pack comes with a load of exciting extras!

Vintage gifts to knit:

Another book from Susan Crawford

An electric blanket:

I know, not wildly exciting but without that sugar Daddy I'm awful cold at night.

A new dress form:

My vintage gal has given up the ghost and I need a push to get back into sewing.

and a bottle of perfume.  Dior Addict please.