Wow…

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It’s the Mighty Offspring’s 10th birthday tomorrow, which means it’s about 10 years since I got back into crafting seriously!

I outlined my route back in this post back in 2007. It wasn’t quite where I’ve fetched up, designing hand-knitting patterns!

Instead, it was needs-must crafting for my suddenly-budget wedding after my research career went up in smoke. Strapped for cash, I crocheted wire and bead motifs into invitations and jewellery.

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I had no real intention of continuing – I’m not a jewellery wearer at the best of times – but I never did put the hooks away again. I kept on playing with the wire, buying bits and pieces, reading up on the subject on the internet.

Of course, even then, there was a lot more about yarn-related crochet (and knitting) on the internet than about wire crochet, so naturally I found myself looking at that too. I found, and was entranced by items like Rachel Seeley Merrill’s Daisy Crochet Skirt, Marnie MacLean’s Gothic Lace cardi∗, and 302 Calories (actually, that whole issue of Knitty should be required reading – go look). I discovered Garnstudio’s DROPS patterns, Knitting Daily (Sandi Wiseheart’s Bust Dart series probably taught me to design), and the Yarn Harlot.

Then, on some blog or other, I saw a mention of a new website called Ravelry – and down the rabbit hole I went…

TTFN

 

∗- still in my queue, still too fat – maybe for my 50th birthday??

I’m thinking of knitting a dress

Let me backtrack…

I have a wedding to go to next week back in Ireland – assuming I get there: the school has had my absence request since forever, but won’t give me a decision. Or rather, the deputy head, Mr Piggy McPigpig who doesn’t want me knitting on the school grounds, won’t give me a decision. At this stage, I might not be able to afford the flights (Rant over). This weekend is the only time when I can look for something to wear both for myself and Ickle Baby Cthulhu – thanks to recent family events, everyone has seen all my current dressy-uppies, and IBC’s growth demands new frillies for him.

Being of a somewhat Mediterranean physique, I was approaching the shopping trip with trepidation. Britain is not a good place to locate suitable clothes if you’re a busty long-waisted hour-glass type of gal, let me tell you. I’m three different sizes here – about 18/20 bust, 8-10 waist and 12/14 hips. In addition, to get tops that don’t look cropped, I need to go for Extra-Tall ranges, but I have to go to the Petites section to get skirts and trousers with a waistband in the region of my real waist instead of my nipples.

Needless to say, I have very few dresses.

And trying on clothes is so much fun. I have had to be extricated from clothes more than once by the shop staff. That smock thing I tried, with the zipped placket. I zipped it up – and halfway up it stuck. Crushingly tight. Pinky and Perky jammed flat, hardly able to breathe. Interestingly, I could have made another top out of the excess material round the waist – if I had any talent with a needle – even though I was about five months pregnant at the time. I struggled with the damned zip til I was sweating and panicky and scared I was going to rip it, before crawling out of the cubicle to ask for help from a snotty stick-insect (who nonetheless had a very fat waist for her size, snerk), giddy with embarrassment. And the trousers. Though that really wasn’t my fault – the zipper came off the zip when I was doing them up. But even so… Big old grey knickers of course.

I dropped in to the Bull Ring yarnshop as normal before commencing on the clothes shopping. Nothing too interesting – well, some Aran-weight cotton, but I restrained myself. However, I noticed a nice colour in the corner of my eye, a softish purple, similar to a wildflower that’s frankly a bit of nuisance back home – grows everywhere and hard to eradicate, but pretty. Mum would know the name. Some kind of willow-herb. The yarn is a 20% wool yarn that I’ve got before – not great quality but cheap. I immediately started thinking “dress”. I’d seen a knitted dress last week in Rackham’s sale which had taken my fancy, but I hadn’t bought it because it was a) Empire line – not so flattering if you’re top-heavy, b) knee-length – never a good look on me, though higher or lower hemlines are fine, and c) Khaki green. Nothing wrong with khaki green – I spent 8 years wearing it professionally, it matches my eyes, and lends me a certain exotic mystique that most women get from black. In fact khaki IS my black, my standby. Black is more like my everyday. When I don’t necessarily want people realising I’m gothick, I pull out the khaki. I even had a DPM ballgown, once upon a time. Yes, that’s right – my Little Black Dress was GREEN. Wonder what happened to it?

But I digress. I just didn’t want a green dress because I wanted something that I could wear to work later, and I have lots of green that I wear to work. Time to throw something else into the mix. So purple yarn. Lots of it, too: at least five 400g balls that I could see, surely enough for a dress. But again, I restrained myself. Seriously, 6 days isn’t enough time to knit a dress, especially when I’d have to come up with a pattern. I’ve seen a few on Ravelry, but I’m thinking more Stephanie Japel Fitted Knits extended down into about mid-calf. Though I suspect the precise thing I want is lurking in one of my vintage knitting books – I’m almost certain there’s a 1940’s fitted New Look style dress there somewhere.

This set me on my way. Debenham in the Bull Ring had a 70% off sale on, and lo I found TWO knitted dresses, one cerise and short-sleeved, and one mock pinafore in black with a white ‘under’ blouse. The cerise looked hideous on – my biceps are too butch for short sleeves (thank you, IBC) and the colour was too bluey. So that left the pinafore. A nyim over knee-length. I also found a John Rocha boiled merino jacket in a nice muted cranberry which will look nice over it – something like this, but with 3 huge buttons and no stitch detail at all. Almost got a JR lace wrap too, but restrained myself. I am getting SOOO good at this! The fact that it was described as crocheted when it was clearly knitted helped. As was a JR scarf – well it was obviously crocheted but said knitted on one label, and crocheted on the price tag. Really John Rocha! You work in IRELAND for pity’s sake! You should KNOW this stuff. Grannies on the bus should have beaten it into you by now.

Total cost 35 pounds. T’was only on getting it home that I realised it was a maternity dress… Oh well. That would be funny if we hadn’t been ttc for the last 18 months.

Still, it will look hawt with my Pirate Argyle stockings, if I ever get round to casting on. Especially since I scored a pair of Demonia Bat coffin heels (PU version) for only 25 pounds to go with it!!!!

T’ra
K

No knitting or crochet of consequence occured recently. I have put in a little work on Cillian’s Trellis cardi and Libby’s unicorn, have almost finished a crocheted knitting needle holder (OH! the irony), and crocheted a couple of hair scrunchies from fancy fur and eyelash yarns. In khaki.

Troublingly, I actually paid cash money recently for Sirdar Bigga MULTIHawaii AND Etna… I have to go and lie down every time I think about this…

Beginnings…

I thought I’d mention what got me back into a crafty mode, after what is uncomfortably close to 20 years.

In 2003, my last academic research contract came to an end. Having been in the game for 10 years, I decided to focus my job-seeking on the lecturing market. I got lucky on one of my first applications, a junior lectureship at a former FE college turned uni. I started the induction process, which had to be done beforean official offer of employment was made (yes, I know it’s daft, but the college had been run by the council, council rules apply).

Then, everything went quiet – no response to my emails or phonecalls. Three months later, I was still waiting for the official offer. By which time I was on the dole, and Tiny Husband had been forced to propose marriage. Finally, I threw a hissy fit over the phone, demanding to talk to the Head of Personnel. Complained loud and long until she promised to look into it.

And two weeks later – after another few phone calls – I got a standard letter of rejection in the post. The type of letter sent to applicants who aren’t even getting an interview, not to someone who’s gone through almost nine months’ worth of interviews, shortlisting, visits AND an induction process, to work in a department that’s already badly short-staffed. No explanations, no apologies.

And a wedding to pay for in less than 2 months*.

Now, I should have chased it up, but I didn’t. 9 months – more, if we go back to the application closing date. Paying for travel to the 2 interviews, tour of facilities and 2 or was it 3 induction meetings. A substantial phone bill from ringing and emailing (I was still on dial-up back then). ARRANGING MY WEDDING IN P**SING APRIL TO SUIT THEM!!!! It had all been too much and I was sick of it. **A pox on all their courses**. So I decided to forget it. They never re-advertised, so I assume the uni refused to release funds to cover my first year’s salary – it happens. The experience did coalesce my feelings about research as a career – less secure than acting, less pay than a binman… So now I’m in school-teaching. Better pay, better prospects, better pension, more security, better hols. Or should I say holidays, full stop – never took any as an academic.

So… paying for a wedding. I looked at my finances and reckoned I could squeeze another £2,000 out of the equity on the house without crippling us. I’d already – foolishly – ordered the wedding dress (that’s it in the side bar pic), at a head-spinning cost of £650. Though for a one-off designer made-to-measure, that’s not too bad. My sis offered to cater and pay for the food, a friend offered to make the cake, another did the photography, I cashed in my Airmiles for the honeymoon – the total cost to us of the wedding, including honeymoon and a new digital camcorder for the ceremony, was around £1,300. And I could have done it for £6-800 less, if I’d gone for a cheap dress and borrowed a camcorder.

A major saving was on invitations. I didn’t see any I liked, and they were all ridiculously expensive, so I thought I’d try making them. I got gold-coloured cards and envelopes, printed off the inserts, and made bows for the front. They didn’t look ‘special’ enough, so I got some gold wire and gold and red beads, and crocheted daisy-like flowers to stick on the front. Fooled everyone – no one believed they were home-made!

Having a few left over after the invitations were sent out, I hit on the idea of making my own jewellery. I made a necklace and earrings using the daisies, with ‘springs’ and hand-wound metal beads – they’re just visible in the userpic on the side. I also made some hairpins which aren’t visible in the userpic, using spring-bound beads to attach the daisies to bamboo chopsticks – red and gold for me, plum and gold for my bridesmaids. Tip for bridesmaids – give them the material and let them make up an outfit that they know they’ll wear again. One of mine, who’s Asian, made up hers as a traditional embroidered salwar kameez; the uber-goth bridesmaid did a goth thang with hers; and my sis made a loose jacket and skirt, which she’s worn to work dos and weddings since. Unlike most BMs, they all looked fantastic, because they’d all chosen designs that suited them, rather than me forcing them into something I wanted – luckily the colour worked for all of them!

So there you have it – how I got back into crafting. I’m currently making wire crochet flowers for a friend to put on a bag she’s felting – they’re silver, and more chrysanth-y than these. Wish I could do more jewellery but Ickle Baby Cthulhu is too interested in all the sharp little tools… He barely leaves my knitting alone as it is!

Tra fn
K

* – Yes, the bride’s father is supposed to pay for the wedding. However, while my father was possessed of many fine qualities, they did not include fiscal generosity.