Tuesday, 25 January 2011

The Perfect Christmas Jumper - Just a Month Late!

At long last, I have finished My Perfect Christmas Jumper, only a month behind schedule!!!



" Today the lovely Vera is modeling the latest in period winter fashion, 'The Perfect Christmas Jumper." With its stylish box head sleeves, cinched in waist, jolly reindeer motifs, and festive colouring, it is bound to bring a spot of festive cheer to even scrooge himself."

Oh and it has been a real learning curve, I have never worked such a large amount in Fair Isle or Intarsia before and found it a little frustrating at times. mainly due to the balls of wool constantly getting in a big old tangle, in spite of my best efforts to be neat and tidy.



The reason it took so flipping long, was because of the sleeves. I wanted to make sure that they were going to be long enough, so I added a few extra inches. I always find that shop bought clothes have sleeves which are a bit too short for my freakishly long arms, there fine if I am sitting still but the second I move they ride up, this is one of the reasons I decided to start making my own clothes!



My only regret is the choice of yarn. I was a bit short of cash when I was buying the yarn, so due to the much, much lower cost, I opted for an acrylic 4ply by Robin rather than a wool mix that I would have preferred. This means the knitted fabric it has a bit of a crunchy feel to it, also it means that I am not able to block it, which would have perhaps evened up my wobbly knitting style and flattened out the puffy Fair Isle bits!
I wore it to work today to celebrate, the hair lasted 5 mins, oh well! 
Anyway all the trials and tribulations aside, the pattern was very straight forward to follow and well explained. I would definitely recommend it, though if you are as slow a knitter as I am then you might want to start now, to have it ready in time for next Christmas!

Wendy x

Saturday, 22 January 2011

The Modern Girl's Beauty Book 1938 - Preface

Whilst I was sitting at my dressing table last week, waiting for the bleach to work its wonders on my upper lip (the curse of being a brunette, it's all just glamour, glamour, glamour!), I got to thinking about my beauty regime or should I say lack of. Oh I'm not completely hopeless, I do pluck my eyebrows (I have no choice they are bushes) and bleach the aforementioned tash, but other than a splodge of E45 cream in the morning under my makeup before work and a dab of tea tree oil on the rogue pimple or two, I really don't look after my skin the way I should.

Whilst pondering this, I remembered a book that I got from ebay a few years ago, Titled 'The Modern Girl's Beauty Book' it was written by Beryl.M.Cross and published in London 1938, it is essentially a chapter by chapter guide to making the most of yourself (in the 1930's way of course) from exercise, diet to making your own cosmetics. This is what the Blurb on the dust jacket says:
"This is a new beauty book with snap and verve in every line, for the girl in the office, the shop, the factory or the home.  It is smart, provocative and amusing, the author, out of her experience of American and Parision Beauty salons, gives a wealth of advice and innumerable useful hints to those who seek the quality of desirability which every woman coverts... The joy of this book is that it sets out a simple plan for you, whatever special beauty problems happen to be - bringing out your best points, dispelling all cause for worry over others-so that you can make it your personal adviser in achieving loveliness, serenity of mind, poise, and glamour."
Wow what grand claims!

So I thought, being that it's January and those New Year resolutions are still fresh in our minds,  it would be a bit of fun to start a little series of posts, as I work my way through each of the various chapters, to hopefully come out on the other side, with " loveliness, serenity of mind, poise, and glamour." (hum, we'll see) and with a proper beauty regime. But if nothing else a whole new found respect for the sheer effort women of the 30s and 40s put into maintaining their appearance.

Ms Cross' style of writing is very typical of the era, it's a very, gung-ho, tell-it-like-it-is, approach which at times comes across as almost rude, so be warned! Though she does occasionally let her humour shine through. So brace yourself ladies, as we begin at the very beginning and establish "what it is we want to work on" with the preface....

                PREFACE
What is one of the most sought-after attributes in the history of the world? Beauty.
What does the poor girl ask for at once when the Fairy Godmother grants her three wishes? Beauty.
Yet the pursuit of beauty alone can be as tiresome as the pursuit of money, or power, or anything else that is made a sole and absorbing end.
       But to find a way to look here very best gives to the real daughter of Eve a new meaning to life.
Why be plain? There is no need to be plain. As the philosopher Bruy√®re said, “There are no ugly women; there are only women who do not know how to look pretty.” Any woman can bring out her best points, minimize her poor ones, and emphasize her personality.
        
       All through the ages women have sought beauty; in Egypt with baths of asses’ milk and with henna; in China with honey masks, in India with kohl made of fines mother-of-pearl. Yet it is not the milk baths, the fragrant skins, the lovely eyes that are the only things, which count – the real secret is making the most of the person you are . . . . Be an individual.
The first step to beauty is thinking beauty. If you go about thinking of ugliness, thinking ugly thoughts, seeing the world as a poor place, what happens? Your shoulders sag, your eyes are dull, down-drawn lines appear from nose to chin. Relax.
Everything is gong to be lovely. But you have to start by being lovely yourself. Those eyes take on a more luminous look at once, the lines are disappearing, the mouth is softer instead of hard and unhappy line… Now here is the making of a lovely woman.
       Your thoughts are revealed in your eyes, your walk, the lines on your face. Do you walk as though you are listening to invisible music, as though you saw life through rose-coloured glasses … or do you slink along as though you hoped to evade discovery?
       Pull back your shoulders, face up – smile!
       Now take stock of yourself. You may begin with your figure, or your face or just take a long good look all over yourself. Be Critical. Be your own best friend. What do you see?
       To make the most of yourself, to find out where you really stand, to start on a businesslike basis, you must use your brain. Beauty is not the haphazard business of buying a face-cream one week and a box of powered the next, and sighing and wishing. It can be achieved in the shortest space of time with a little thought, the sort of methodical planning you would give your housekeeping or office work or a hobby.


The Modern Girl's Beauty Book 1938 - Preface

       Have you some idea in your mind what you want to look like? Ask yourself “What do I want to look like?” Do you look that way? What is wrong? What is different? Have you a small but obvious paunch where you should have a straight or very faintly curved line? Is your hair stringy when you would like glossy curls? Do you put your hands hastily out of the way because they do not look like the long, white, tapering, rose-tipped hands you see photographed next to gardenias and not being put to shame? Do you think that you could be slimmer, perhaps; your eyes may not be taken care of; is your hairdressing right? Is the faintest line of down on your upper lip – or isn’t it?
       Take a piece of paper and a pencil, and jot down the things you notice about yourself that want altering.
       Now, we’ll take of the job methodically. To attempt too much at once is to get tired and discouraged and to give up. To go step by step is to build a firm foundation that needs just a few well-formed beauty habits to keep you walking in the way of beauty for good.
       You see, I want to make this business of beauty easy for you. For the more uncomplicated it is, the more you will follow it, and good habits - and beauty habits - are just as easily formed as bad ones.
       Think of yourself and what you want to look like, and compare the two. Now we’ll start. Are you ready? One, two, three go!
So I've got a paunch, stringy hair, more than the faintest line of 'down' on my upper lip and hands that have never even seen a Gardenia. Oh help me Ms Cross, help me...

Wendy x

Next up: Chapter 1 "The face That Launched A Thousand Ships"

Monday, 17 January 2011

Gifts Galore!!!

Well as I have left it so long to post about my Birthday presents, I thought I would post all the lovely gifts that I received for my birthday and Christmas together. Amongst the socks, smellies and a ton of chocolate there were lots of wonderful vintage inspired DVD's from my nearest and dearest.



From the boyfriend I received the complete box set of Foyles War, how lucky am I !? I missed most of the episodes when they were on TV, so I am really looking forward to going through each episode and droooooling over the clothes and sets, as well as the wonderful storylines of course!!


 From my parents I got The Mrs Bradley Mystery's a BBC series from the late 90s which I can honestly say I don't recall at all! It stars the marvellous Diana Rigg (my favourite Avenger ever!!) as the irrepressible Adella Bradley and Promises to be filled with 1920s opulent murder and mystery!!


The next is Stephen Poliakoffs Glorious 39. which is described as 'A tense psychological thriller set against the idyllic British countryside during the glorious summer of 1939, just before the outbreak of the Second World War'


This is another one that I really don't know much about, I must have been asleep when it was released in the cinema, as it's not that old! The reviews on amazon seem to be mainly in the, loved or hated it category. It contains a 'stellar ensemble' of some of the Leading British actors so I am sure even if the plot is not great, it will be well acted.

Lastly but possibly the one I am most looking forward to watching is The Open Road by Claude Friese-Green, filmed in 1924 it shows Britain from Lands end to John o'groats, filmed for the first time in Biocolour (a technique developed by Claude's Father). The DVD contains a compilation of highlights from the journey, which has been restored by the BFI National Archive. From the little bits I have seen on TV and youtube, it looks stunning, a wonderful piece of British history captured in colour.

Also, I was a bit naughty and on the run up to Christmas, I did treat myself to two books I have wanted for a little while now...

The first is 'Style Me Vintage' by Belinda Hay. I was first alerted to this book by Jenny over at Life and Times of a Vintage Obsessive, I am really eager to give some of the styles ago as my hair, tends to fall into the seriously neglected category! I am hoping that this year I will be able to have the perfect vintage coiffure!!


The Other book is 'The 1940s Look' by Mike Brown. I had been eyeing this one up on Amazon 
for over a year and finally to the plunge to buy it, and I am glad that I did, though I have only had a quick look through, it seems packed with, snippets from magazines from the 40s, which will make for interesting reading!

I am sure all these will keep me busy for an absolute age!!

Wendy x

Things To Make & Do - Christmas Crafting

This a quick round up of all the gifts I made for my friend's kiddies this Christmastime, I had planned to do this post whilst on my Christmas break but with being poorly I couldn't find the energy.
To be honest the only thing I really achieved was, to watch too many period crime dramas (Poirot, Marple, Sherlock Holmes), knit a few more inches on my Christmas jumper sleeves and eat my body weight in chocolate - couldn't taste it, didn't matter, I was sick, not dead!

So without further ado here are the products of many stressful sewing/knitting days in run up to Christmas.

First up are two more Teddy's,  for the baby's Lilly and Millie, made from my well or overused pattern.

I guess now that all the little ones have now had one these may be the last I make from this pattern for a while

For any of you who have downloaded the teddy bear pattern from this post last year, I have just noticed I missed off the arm paw pad! Oops, I will rectify this asap!! Sorry!


This year I started early by buying a copy of Sandra Polley's knitted toys this book is brilliant! It is packed full of well designed original toys,
I especially love the Reindeer pattern, (see left) which also can be turned into a dog, perhaps for next year!


The first thing knitted was for a works Secret Santa, the recipient in question, Adrian, spends most of his days, walking around the warehouse mimicking the Meerkat off of the
comparetheMeerkat.com adverts. Now if you don't know what they are click the link. It is hard to believe what a phenomenon has been caused just by saying "compare the market" in a faux Russian accent!. I guess that ad man got his Christmas bonus this year! As Adrian is also and avid Tottenham Hotspur Supporter, I gave him the scarf to macho it up a bit!


So for the three little girls Keira,Willow and Emily, aged 1, 2 and 4 respectively. This year I made them each a knitted dolly, these were a lot of fun to make - I especially loved the fact that they each had a pair of knickers, such proper ladies!!

I did have to deviate from the original pattern somewhat. Firstly I just could not seem to get the correct number of stitches at any point during knitting (me or the pattern I'd put my money on it being me!). Secondly, I ran out of time, I seriously underestimated just how long it takes me to knit up a fully clothed dolly! So their dresses are sleeveless and collarless, though I am sure the little girls won't mind!

Wendy x

Thursday, 6 January 2011

"Wish Me Luck As You Wave Me Goodbye"

Well, A Happy New Year to you all!!  I hope (if you celebrate it) that you had fabulous Christmases!
Mine was spent with the flu. It seems that everyone has had about of this at some point this winter, so I guess it was my turn!  Luckily it started on Christmas Eve so I had finished all my gift making by then, unluckily it made Christmas a bit of a feverish blur and having no appetite meant that all the lovely Christmas food was wasted on me Boo!!

Anyway on to the point of this post!

I am currently totally hooked on 'Wish Me Luck' an ITV TV drama currently showing on the digital channel Yesterday. (weeknights from 7-8pm)

Made in the late 80's it's inspired by the autobiography of secret agent Nancy Wake aka The White Mouse (one amazing woman!), and follows the story of Liz Grainger played by Kate Buffery and plucky factory girl Mathilde ‘Matty’ Firman played by Suzanna Hamilton, from their initial recruitment and training with the Special Operations Executive in England, through to the terrifying reality of their lives as agents in Occupied France.

I know I am a little late on posting about this, as now as showing episode 3 - I did try to schedule this post to upload on Tuesday but completely messed that up! but nevertheless, it's a really gripping series, packed full of suspense, which is beautifully acted and definitely worth catching of you can.

Wendy x