Selfish Knitting: Wavy Peplum Sweater

This peplum sweater was truly a labour of love. The yarn started out in several other projects before I found the right pattern for it, and even then it underwent some unknitting. However, the final result is one of the most intricate pieces I’ve ever knit.

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Not going to lie, there were some problems within the pattern. I recommend reading this first. However, those corrections don’t even cover problems within the cable chart, which took a while to figure out. Luckily, the pattern is a 16-row repeat, and I was able to memorise it. If you want to take this project on, I definitely recommend patience and a stiff drink.

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I made a few changes to the pattern, namely making two fronts because I couldn’t understand the instructions for making a back with the zip down the middle. So I have now resigned myself to styling my hair after the jumper is on, as the neck is too tight to maintain a hairstyle. I made a Size Small, then blocked it quite severely. I wear a UK 8-10 (US 4-6) and it fits well. It was found in the Creative Cables book.

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I made this last year, as is evidenced by the heels I’m wearing. Lately, I’ve been styling it in the same way as my previous knitwear share (ie, black skirt with flat boots), but I dug out these photos for a bit of variety!

A little announcement: My coming series!

As I sit here at my sewing table (ie, my desk with a sewing machine on it), I am feeling rather excited about a new project I’m taking on. However, I feel as if it deserves a bit of backstory.

So, when I was a little girl, I had a Gene Marshall doll. My mom bought her for me, along with a couple outfits. At the time, I didn’t really understand the doll or her clothes. They were vintage-style, and my own leanings were decidedly modern at the time. However, I had a dream on Samhain night about this doll. The dream was vivid and weird, as they so often are. Since then, I’ve been planning to sew versions of her clothes for myself. I’ve sourced a few fabrics, selected a handful of patterns, and started on one outfit in earnest. I hope to have it completed this weekend.

Though this brings me great excitement, I am a bit nervous. It’s been years since I’ve sewn anything, and longer since I was happy with a project. Perhaps I cut too many corners in my 20s; perhaps I rushed things. But now, I’m determined to do things properly. Interfacing, lining, hand finishing.

In addition, I’ve also made some rules for myself. (Type A personality alert.) One is that I’m going to be operating on a one in, one out basis. This won’t necessarily mean that I’ll be getting rid of like-for-like items, but it will mean that, with the completion of each piece, I’ll be selling or donating something else.

I’ve also decided to shop my wardrobe where possible, find secondhand or true vintage items when able, and also to shop others’ stashes before buying new fabric. So, purchasing new fabric will be a last resort measure. Already, I’ve had some success with this on eBay, and I’ve found metres of vintage cashmere, silk, and wool which others are de-stashing. My reasoning for this is twofold. One, I don’t want to create additional waste or demand for production. Two, this article from The Guardian horrified me, and I’ve decided to stop buying new wool as a result.

These conditions may mean that the finished product is a slightly different colour or texture, but I think this is okay. Also, the fact that I am not a doll with a doll’s figure will mean that the clothing will naturally look slightly different. This will be for reasons of practicality as well as aesthetic. For instance, I will not be lifting the ban on wearing heels. Therefore, everything will need to be of a length that works with flat shoes. Nor will I be changing my hair colour or buying expensive accessories that are hard to store; I’m working with what I have.

My purpose for embarking on this creative endeavour is to add some beauty to my life. Gene’s clothes are often Dior-inspired, and the colours and shapes look like a joy to wear.  At present, I usually wear leggings with a big sweater around the house, and dog walking clothes outside of it. I am not overly glamorous, though I used to be. Not to mention that these days, I need something to hold my attention between writing and pet stuff, so that I don’t get too obsessed with the news. Getting caught up is easily done.

Thus, it is with glad tidings of great joy that I announce my new series: Becoming Gene Marshall. I hope that it helps me gain confidence in my sewing as well as revamping my wardrobe with things I love to wear.

 

Selfish Knitting: Bevin+Creative Cables

Ah, Mercury Retrograde! I may be in near constant disagreement with everyone around me, electronic things act strangely and I’ve been advised to never sign a contract. However, it is a good time to finish up all the lingering projects.

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This silver delight is a good example of this – I started on it in July (or maybe June), completed the sleeves and half the back and then stopped. I have no explanation for this. A couple weeks ago, I picked it up again and finished it off.

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This jumper is a combination of two patterns. One is the Bevin jumper, and the other (the cable pattern) is from Creative Cables. I started out making the Creative Cables pattern verbatim, as it were, but the sleeves were very long and the shape wasn’t overly flattering. So I unknitted and started over with the Bevin pattern as a sort of skeleton, as I’ve used it before and found it very flattering.

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This all went very well, and I essentially made two back pieces, with the front’s neckline castoff occurring about two inches lower. It looked like it would be a square neck until the ‘pick-up and knit’ portion. I used the Debbie Bliss Luxury Silk DK and am very pleased with the result!

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Millennialicious: Born this way (probably)

We’re young (aged 22-37). We were raised by the previous generation, and yet our habits appear to be completely alien to them. We millennials aren’t the biggest group of consumers, but our changing habits have alerted big businesses that times are changing. This list shows how and why. Of course, it is just based on my personal experience, my own consumption habits, and the need for a little giggle. So, let’s hop to it!

  1. Millennials smell. Okay, this one’s a bit weird, but it came up on the Mail a while ago. Sensationalist as the Mail is, I know I shower less than the rest of my family did when I was growing up. This is because our planet is running out of water, and having a full shower every day is nothing short of wasteful. Future decades will see water become the new petroleum; we’re just getting prepared. As for the lack of deodorant that the Mail seems intent on shaming us for, we’re just aware that these chemicals lead to cancer. Bring on the tea tree oil, and leave paraben-laden sticks to old people who don’t listen to us.
  2. Millennials are murdering chain restaurants. Seriously, die a good death. For the most part, we want to know where our food comes from. Particularly for those of us with allergies, chain restaurants with blasé staff are exactly the kinds of places we want to avoid. Why would we go to a mid-range restaurant to spend £60 and leave feeling as if something better could have been made at home?
  3. Millennials are killing the napkin industry. As someone who never considered buying napkins as an adult, I’m not surprised by this. Paper napkins are made from trees, and we grew up wanting to save the trees. So knowing that we avoid unnecessary paper products in a way that is noticeable makes me very glad. Or maybe we just eat more tidily.
  4. Millennials buy avocado toast but not houses. In the face of unrivalled student debt and high house prices, this is true. Avocado on toast is attainable when a starter home is not. It should not be assumed that we buy avocado toast instead of a house, though. That would be foolish.
  5. Millennials boycott diamonds. There are a few explanations for this. First, we know about blood diamonds and don’t want to support this industry. Also, fewer people are getting married. Even those who are getting married recognise the diamond engagement ring as a ploy by DeBeers. Lastly, Kate Middleton had a sapphire. Enough said.
  6. Millennials don’t wear bras. Or stilettos. Maybe we’re just not a sexy generation – at least not in the way that the Victoria’s Secret-idolising generation perceives sexy. We have Stoya, Kiera Knightly and Carey Mulligan; who needs pushup bras with them around? Or, maybe we’re just aware of our health. This study indicates that bras are not only bad for our breasts’ perkiness, but also their general health. While I haven’t burnt my bras, I did stop wearing them years ago. As for stilettos, our mothers had ingrown toenails, bunions and feet that curled inward. I’m not going to apologise for wanting to have healthy feet.
  7. Millennials eat less meat. I have a vegan+honey diet myself, so I do fit this bill. Again, we go back to the environment: the meat industry is one of the most water-hungry and polluting industries on our poor Earth. Even if we grew up eating meat, we know when the previous generation made a mistake.
  8. Millennials are killing golf. I don’t think I need to go over our debt again, so who wants to pay for clubs, house fees and then spend four hours walking very slowly in spiky shoes? You’ll probably stab an earthworm, you monster. Not to mention, courses destroy wildlife. Pesticides, overwatering, petrol used to cut the grass – for pretending to be in nature, it’s awfully managed. And there’s the association with a certain president who bullied Scottish residents until he got a course. Give us crossfit and nature walks.
  9. Millennials don’t eat marmalade. Okay, I have no excuse for this. Marmalade is delicious. Also, that Metro article is hilarious.
  10. Millennials don’t know how to defend their country. I read this opinion in the local paper when I went to visit my mom. (Unfortunately, I couldn’t find a link for it, so you’re just going to have to trust me.) Thus, it may not be a universal belief, but it hints at the general disdain heaped upon us. The reason we are so reluctant to be combative and thus so quick to ensure the protection of ‘safe spaces’ and inclusive speech is because we know that the next big conflict will be the last. With the creation of the hydrogen bomb and its presence in so many countries, taking the time to listen to each other is imperative. If we come off as thin-skinned and hypersensitive, so be it. But the old models of conflict must be rejected.

The fact that the economic trends have been noticed is, in itself, great news. It means that voting with our money really works. It also means that businesses will need to adapt to our needs if they want to stay afloat. More transparency, fewer chemicals.

My main conclusion about us as a generation is that we are more focused on living naturally, with a sense of conscience regarding where our stuff comes from. While we appreciate doing things the old way (let’s not forget, knitting is on the rise), we’re also focused on understanding what cannot be sustained. Unlike those younger than us, we haven’t yet accepted that the climate change-based flood is definitely coming. Likewise, unlike those older than us, we know that it’s probably coming, and our own actions can make a difference. We can’t do what they did if we want to survive.

New Book: Shopaholic to Minimalist

Shameless plug time! I have a new book coming out. It’s out in e-book format today, and will be available in paperback next week, on the 26th. If shopping addiction (or shopping to impress) has ever been a problem for you, then my own experiences may provide a roadmap for getting you out the other end.

 

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Available here!

 

Shopaholic to Minimalist is the culmination of more than a year’s worth of research, learning and hard personal graft. Also more than a decade of shopping addiction.

This is my third book, but my first piece of nonfiction. I’ve read before that anything longer than 3,000 words makes you look at yourself with a microscope, and the writing process definitely did that for me. I hadn’t realised how entrenched some of the lies I told myself were, nor how pervasive they are. In a time when many of us feel the need to keep up with the rich kids of Instagram, getting out of the shopping addiction cycle is more important than ever – both for the planet and for our bank accounts.

Just to be clear, all available irony is not lost on me. The truth is that I am selling a book on shopping addiction, presumably to shopping addicts. Of course, I feel that my own experience is worth sharing, and that the words have value. However, the only real goal is to encourage others away from buying too much. Consider me the Pied Piper of the Mall. If you can do this on your own, then fab. If you are able to do this after reading my book, then I thank you for your support; it means so much.

XO, Lady Hamilton.

Now, without further ado, here’s the full description from the back cover:

In a world of consumerism, this book addresses the addiction to things which many of us have. Through its pages, we’ll work towards finding abundance in what we already own rather than always feeling that we need more stuff to make us happy, or take the edge off our anxiety. Most importantly, we’ll look at our beliefs surrounding stuff to see what is resonant and true, and learn to let go of our unnecessary purchases – both past and future.

To do this, we need to understand where our addiction to buying comes from so we can learn to avoid our triggers. We’ll also begin to disengage from the consumerist cycle so we can experience more freedom, greater financial independence and a sense of knowing our true self. This will clear the way for uncovering what is important to us at our core.

The ultimate goal is an internal self-reliance without the intrusion of commercial influences, and becoming in tune with the body and its own messages. Additionally, there is a section on clearing out in time with the moon. I hope that this book will help you feel satisfied with what you already have, to clear away the things you don’t need and provide you with the tools to make the right shopping decisions going forward.

Though supporting small businesses and buying less are gaining popularity, large fashion conglomerates and credit card companies are still making money from us. This book is for those who recognise their actions as destructive to themselves and wish to grow towards healthier habits when they can’t seem to quit. It is also for those who are recovering from shopping addiction and wish to change their lifestyle, as well as receive encouragement to let go of the relics that addiction has left behind.

The Honourable Miss Dixie

Today, I would like to take a moment to celebrate my feline daughter, Dixie. Eight years ago today, the Laird Hamilton and I brought our little cat home from the RSPCA. On the car ride back, he lectured her on her future behaviour and the fact that he expected her to not die. Ever. It was a very good chat and I think the information would have been well-received if we hadn’t just adopted a deaf cat.IMG_0922

She was deaf from birth, and so her previous family gave her to the RSPCA to be rehomed. We were told that they lived on a busy road, and so they were worried about her getting hit by a passing car. I know I will probably never meet the people whose cat gave birth to mine, but I hope they know she’s well looked after. Or at least as well as she will allow, being of a fiercely independent nature.

At any rate, the adoption process wasn’t terribly easy, but it’s probably intended to put off those who aren’t completely serious. There was a waiting period as well as a house inspection from the RSPCA, then two checks at three and six months. It would seem we were considered safe pet parents. Prior to that, though, as soon as I opened her travelling box after our drive home, she was out and suddenly nestled in with my shoes. She stayed hidden for the first three days and didn’t want us near her.IMG_0371

Slowly, though, she grew to used to her surroundings. It took her about two years to be affectionate, though, and she still doesn’t enjoy being held. I suppose she’s just being a teenager – it’s probably very uncool for you parents to hold you. However, she will sleep next to me these days, and has been known – once or twice – to get on the sofa. As yet, laps are off limits. One of her favourite things at present is to chase around my pattern pieces as I cut out fabric. Most pieces are now held together with lots of tape.

Though it seems like just yesterday that we brought our cat home, I am rather taken aback to announce that today is my cat’s eighth birthday! Well, adoption day. I hope that introducing people to my lovely cat will encourage others to consider adoption when looking for a companion animal. Though some people seem to think that animals from such agencies are mangey or abused, I can assure you that this is not strictly the case. Most are well adjusted, and many are young, having been given up for adoption when their original family had an unexpected litter.

Since then, we have adopted two dogs from the same centre, and all get on very well. By which I mean that, if the dogs are unruly, the cat bops them on the head. Order is restored. IMG_1191

As I write this, Dixie is actually face-first in my vanity drawer, trying to get at a bottle of perfume. This is typical grown-up cat behaviour, and I hope that it never changes.

Art v. Dodgy Politics

My dilemma at present is a moral one: what can I, in good conscious, watch of an evening? Royalty pennies from my subscription filter back to films’ creators, each member presumably receiving a proportion based on their contract, if not their importance in the piece. And, of course, the more times a film is viewed, the higher it is ranked via algorithm and thus the more likely it is to be viewed by others. With this in mind, what can I choose?

This is not simply a question of taste and whim, mind you. My views and time are transmuted into financial gain for someone, and I want to make sure that the receiver is someone who I find worthy. The line between worthiness and unworthiness, however, is blurred.

None of us is completely clean. We’ve all committed venal – even mortal – sins. Laws are broken in passion and in evasion. Yet, we often learn from our mistakes, collect our guilt and move on, vowing to not return down that path. We can forgive ourselves if we learned a lesson that improves.

But what if a law was broken habitually – or, if in breaking a law even once, someone else’s life was ruined? If that outlaw was not ourself, would we choose to support that person? How do we deal with a much-loved film or a piece of literature if we learn that the creator/trix lived a life inflicting cruelty on others? What if our hard-earned money went to those who commit atrocities against the most vulnerable?

That’s them, of course. Now to us. Should we be made to forgo what are arguably cultural masterpieces in the face of unspent convictions like the still-at-large Roman Polanski? Is it too extreme to consider that we avoid a film all our friends discuss? Do we forgive them once they’re dead, like the abusive, womanising Hemingway? Or do we simply forgive them because they create art: that highest form of human expression?

While we cannot change our tastes, perhaps we can look for others who embody the same qualities we appreciate, even if their glimpses of genius are still granular, still uncultivated. Hopefully, with the same financial backing and nurturing that those toppled (or, indeed, still standing) paragons of poor virtue once received, the artists in less controversial standing will be able to take their place and create the art that we all need to heal.