Wednesday, September 29, 2010

First the ranting, then the sewing.

I kind of love-hate fashion/what-I’m-wearing blogs, but are there any where the blog’s purveyor is not a slim young woman with great legs? Not that there's anything wrong with that, but seriously, I’m asking. I’ve been feeling frumpsville for like 2 years and cannot get down with all the twee pigeon-toed ladies in Deschanel bangs, babydoll dresses, and platform sandals (with socks). They’re cute (except for the fucking socks), but it’s impossible for me to glean an ounce of inspiration from that look. Hacking off every (or any) dress to miniskirt length is not a viable option in my world. Nor are leggings. Nor are skinny jeans.

If you could find me a 35 (or 50, or 65) year old with an average build who
  • knows how to dress herself
  • shops thrift and handmade
  • alters her own clothes
  • builds her own clothes
  • doesn’t buy fast fashion
  • doesn’t get/wear promo gifts from major designers
  • makes low-heeled shoes seem super-awesome
  • looks generally bad-ass and
  • has an engaging writing style then
  • I’d be all over that.

Realistically aspirational, is what I'm saying. For those of us who want to make better, more interesting choices, and who don't have time to do sun-kissed photo shoots in a meadow afterward. I guess what I want is for someone exactly like me (except motivated and more put-together) to start a style/project blog. Anyone?

In related news, I altered two pairs of pants like a month ago, which was an eye-opening experience because I did it properly (I think), taking the waistband and buttcrack seam apart completely before putting them back together smallened. Presto (several hours later), pants that fit, except one pair is made of that spandex-impregnated fabric that only fits you when it's freshly washed and dried and is drooping off you by the end of the day. Oh well. I have learned.

I still don't really know how to sew properly, though I think I am on my way. It's on my life list (along with making a dress from a vintage pattern and stash fabric, of which I have mucho, despite being a non-sewer). I let out the sleeves on a dress with too-tight sleeves, and now the sleeves fit. Sleeves. Sleeves. Sleeves. One of the weirdest words we have. I wonder if the singular was ever "sleef"? I also have a few other projects going, which I will tell you about in bullet form:
  • Making wool cycling/hiking knickerbockers out of some tragic pleated men's suit pants. Have you ever investigated wool cycling knickers on the interweb? Them shits are expensive, especially if you strongly suspect that the standard sizes won't fit your impressive thighs. B.Spoke Tailor will custom make a pair for you for $200, which is a totally appropriate price for a custom wool item but too much of a commitment when I don't even know if I'll like them in person. So I crawled Goodwill for some old wool pants to slice up as an experiment, and I found some good ones. The fabric is excellent superfine merino gabardine and I have hacked and pinned it--just have to figure out how/whether to articulate the knees and how to finish off the cuffs and then sew it all up. And then I will look like a proper hipster tool. Especially since I still haven't replaced my old bike and can't stop vacillating about the type of bike I want. I want all the bikes, but can only buy one.
  • Remaking this dress so that it's less aggressively 80s:

    September 20, 2007.
    So far I've hemmed the skirt and the sleeeeeves (they buttoned at the cuffs and were always too short) and cut out the neckline. Hacked hem remnant (hemnant?) will be used for belting purposes.
  • Altering a fleece hoodie that I bought on super-sale at the natural foods co-op in Iowa earlier this year (so you know how it probably looks). The aim is not to look like a neo-folk earth-fairy when I wear it, so the long pointy hood has to go. I might make the point into a catnip toy, but Ace has shown total disregard for all cat toys except string.
That's it for now, but there are other projects in the works. Esp since I keep busting the hems on all my trousers and they need mending.

(expanded from a post at my weak-ass tumblr site.)

Monday, September 27, 2010

Scenes from a vaycaycay.

Pub light. Note the tips of my gorilla feet in the corner. I test-drove my Vibram FiveFingers in the Brit's hometown and in London.

I love old, wordy epitaphs.

My sister Emily called this my travel jedi outfit, though what you're supposed to be noticing is all the tiny, colorful, hundreds-of-years-old houses lining the street behind me. This is in the Brit's hometown.

His dad and stepmum's backyard and studio. Do you want to go to there? I do.

Portrait of a portrait. Painted by his dad.

In a Cambridge sidestreet.


In a Cambridge cafe, with lots of excellent bike-watching out the window.

We went up to the Lake District for 4 days and stayed in a lovely inn to which all corners of the Brit's family seem to have a connection. The weather was spotty but never miserable until the day we left, which was nice. It looked like this when we got there.

That's pretty much the view from our window in the inn. Naturally, there wasn't really time for a hike this day.

The next day, the weather had turned. We visited family in the morning while it rained. In the afternoon, we tried to do a long ascent to a peak via a bog. Here I am, standing in it.

I left all the route-picking to the Brit because he gets such an enormous kick out of it, but I later found out that Wainwright called this one of the wettest paths in the Lake District (or maybe all of England). At least we tested the mettle of our hiking boots.

We made it all the way up past a big waterfall before we decided we would probably slip and perish if we kept trying to climb up. It was still fun, though a lot of the hike was fun in that "this sucks" way.

The next day started off better. All the mountaintops were inside clouds, but the going was clear for a long time.

I seem to have one of these every trip.

As you can see in the lower right, the path is more or less a stream. We ended up having to leap across deep rushing water several times. We hiked up to a little tarn where it was windy and moody and a neat pile of cremains stood on the shore. A good resting place for somebody.

And then the top was like this, except worse. We were huddling in this cairn/windbreak thing, enveloped in cloud and whipping wind, gnawing on bread and cheese, when this chipper young fellrunner came scooting up in running shorts and a windbreaker. "Bit of fresh air?" he called out, jogging in place. "It's wild, isn't it," he said, with relish. He took a compass reading and jogged off into the mist on impossibly long legs.

Then we wandered around in the mist looking for the path, wishing we actually knew how to use our compass properly. We did finally find a path and hike across the ridge to the next few peaks. It was a bit pointless to be up so high, since we couldn't see anything, but it was fun. Later, the clouds broke.

That little white spot you see on the other side of the lake is a house. We kept referring to it (and any other nice place we saw) as Sting's estate, since he evidently owns a place up there. Maybe you had to be there, but this trope was always funny.

By the time we got down the hill, it looked like this outside. Naturally. That mountain is Fleetwith Pike, which I called Fleetwood Mac. We hiked it the next day, my 36th birthday.

Meanwhile, the in-laws stuck to sea (lake) level. We met every morning and evening in the inn for our meals. Mornings were a full-on breakfast and would you believe? They had veggie sausages! Evenings we sat in the pub with all the guests, hikers, and crazy cyclists passing through.

On my birthday, we climbed up here (and then up some more, then over, then down, then up, then way down). It involved stream-fording, rock-climbing, sheep, a slate quarry, a little rain, plenty of sun and clouds, scenic peeing, and chocolate digestive biscuits. It was awesome.

This is what 36 looks like.

This climber's hut seemed to grow organically out of all the rockfall from the slate quarry.

Up on Haystacks.

Intrepid Brit.

We could have stayed for ages and actually want to go back there immediately. It felt really good to put in 17 or 18 hours of hiking over 3 days. Like I'm not as much of a candy ass as I thought.

I know this is already an enormous post, but we stopped in York on the way back to Essex and I want to show you some more pictures. The Brit's dad came up to York on the train and all five of us tooled around York Minster, marveling, and wandered the streets of York, and had tea and Fat Rascals (I made some yesterday, with this recipe. Curses, and now I want one, and there are none here), and more giant hotel breakfasts.



We climbed the 275 spiral steps up the central tower. After all the fellwalking, 275 steps didn't seem like a big deal.


The view at the top was spectacular, but the pictures I took up there don't really show you. So here are some of the inside:







More England pics here (disclaimer: lots of vacation documentation pics of limited interest to anyone who wasn't there).

In conclusion, I like vacation. We need to take more of them.

Friday, September 03, 2010

Buh bye.

So, um. We're leaving for England in 7 hours. I have been meaning to catch you up on my brother's beautiful outdoor wedding complete with bluegrass band and dance party (fab), meeting Cheap Trick (where was the camera and why were we so stupid as to leave it home?) and seeing them in concert (with Blondie, mind you), seeing Rush at the State Fair, finally and obsessively reading the Hunger Games books to the point of tense insomnia (I saved Mockingjay for the plane so shut up), and then last night reuniting with a bunch of women I used to sing in choir with in high school, among the many other interesting and important things that may have happened in the past few weeks. But now here we are about to leave and would you believe I still need to finish doing laundry and then pack? It's true.

Mostly right this minute I'm impressed with us for cleaning out the fridge so skillfully. I just made a rad warm potato salad with 3 potatoes, two ears of corn, the rest of the yogurt, the rest of the feta, some kalamata olives, and a big handful of chives, parsley, oregano, and basil from the garden. It's really good. If I could keep up with any blogging whatsoever, I'd give you the recipe.

Next up: hiking in the Lakes, visiting York, hanging out with the folks in Cambridge and Saffron Walden, and other flitting about and hopefully relaxing. Also, I'll be turning 36. I'll see you across the pond.