Friday, 24 April 2015

Crocheted gifts, current projects and gadding about

A short and sweet post this week, as I haven't any finished jumpers to show.

I'm on the second sleeve of 'Your Victory Jumper', so it might be near completion by next week.

I recently made my friend a clutch bag for her birthday.

I looked at lots of chevron patterns, tried them out, but none worked for me. I had a go at my own version, and I was pleased with how it turned out.

It is a pattern I would like to make available as it is relatively quick and easy. It uses chunky weight yarn and a 5 or 6mm hook. You have to be a bit partial to chevrons though.

We've been busy in the TGW household, the start of a new term for my boy, and out and about DJing in the Stow. Last Sunday we took Nashville-on-Thames to the Wild Card Brewery, for some Honky Tonkin' and Rompin' 'n Stompin'. It was an afternoon event, so we brought the little ones along. Our friend Andrew Mueller was there, as the other member of the 'family'. In fact, it was just he and my husband who first set up Nashville-on-Thames at The Lexington. I've just muscled in recently, to play what Andrew describes as 'pre-war horseshit'! Otherwise known as Western Swing, and damned good it is too. Bob Wills, Hank Penny, early Hank Williams, Tex Williams, Leon McAuliffe, Al Dexter, and the Modern Mountaineers to name just a handful. It was a success, but quite stressful 'wrangling the critters'.

He is quite a shy boy, but has shown an interest in being in the limelight recently. He took the microphone at his school disco at Christmas and thanked people for coming, which nearly floored me. (I think someone had spiked the punch).

Whereas Miss B is always forcing her way to the front of the crowd. That's my girl! Loves dancing and singing. And roaring like a monster.

We have another Mixtape coming up next Saturday, in conjunction with a Bank Holiday Hog Roast and Cider Festival at The Chequers. We have decided to theme ours as more of a luau though, when my husband found this image.

I'll be walking into the party like I'm walking onto a yacht. Think late 70s, early 80s sophistication.

Image from Prom Night,
 trying not to laugh

At the last one we had people dancing on the tables. I think it was Tori Amos' 'Professional Widow' that did it. How do you top that?

I'm looking forward to another gig this Sunday in the Stow again - BeBop Baby. This will be the youngest crowd I've played for, and I'm really excited about it.

Tomorrow night I'm going to The International Club again.

...a small back-street club in some European country, it doesn't matter exactly where, a place where they played hot jazz, dance bands and swing music interwoven with Latin-American rhythms, bal musette and other popular music of the day. A place where high-life rubbed shoulders with low-life... where the flotsam and jetsam gathered to try to forget the real world outside.

I'm meeting a like-minded vintage knitter for dinner first, who promises to wear a completely home made outfit, including a knitted jumper and coat. Hmm, the gauntlet has been thrown down...


Friday, 17 April 2015

The Shellac Sisters - a 78 rpm adventure in pictures

Jenny, Virginia, Jane and Theodora

The Shellac Sisters celebrated ten years of spinning 78s together at the end of 2014 with cocktails and dinner at The Gilbert Scott, part of the St Pancras Renaissance Hotel. I've been meaning to put up a blog post and a page about The Shellac Sisters for a long time, so here it is. 

The Shellac Sisters (with cocktails) at The Gilbert Scott Bar
Mine's a Corpse Reviver No.2.

The Shellac Sisters began DJing with gramophones in 2004, after a birthday picnic that summer when one of the sisters brought a gramophone and a handful of 78s along. It sounded great, and filled the picnic spot with sound loud enough to dance to. It didn't take long before we had all 'found' a gramophone (or two).

One should never dress down to a picnic.

It's been an amazing ten years, with gigs varied and exciting. Take a look at the page if you want to see more, but here are a few of my favourite pics from the past ten years.

On a platform in the middle of a man-made moat at
The V&A

This has to be one of my absolute favourite gigs of all time: A private party for a publishing company, which had the fantastic idea of hiring the V&A for a summer party. They flooded the outside area, and we had to jump on the platform before it got too high! We were then stranded there for the whole performance. Or, at least I thought so. Thankfully Jane had had the forethought to purchase some wellies in advance. Mine were leopard print.

Tate Britain 

I don't know who took this photo, but thank you whoever you are. My hubby doesn't dance much anymore, so this is a very precious picture. It was a Late at the Tate night, and we drew a huge crowd of Lindy Hoppers.

 I Knit Day 2007

I shouldn't have been at this gig, as it was on a Saturday when I work. It was for the wool shop I Knit in Waterloo. A whole day of knitting workshops, stalls and a talk by Jane Waller, whose 1972 book 'A Stitch In Time' I'd long coveted. It was a real turn of fate that got me here - one of those days when everything changed for me.

It wouldn't have happened if I hadn't been scratched by a cat in my garden a couple of months before. I got a really bad infection in my hand that needed surgery (Cat Scratch Fever)! I couldn't work for about six weeks, so at the last minute my mum and hubby convinced me to go along to this gig, as it wouldn't be too strenuous. That was the day that I met Susan Crawford and Jane Waller. Jane was talking about the re-issue of 'A Stitch In Time', with Susan, and when she saw The Shellac Sisters she offhandedly asked us if we would model for the book. I immediately said 'Hell yeah!' I wore my knitted dress that day, which later came to be featured in the book.

I've thought about that day many times since, and what got me there. It sounds a bit trite, but out of something awful, really awesome things can happen. Well, they did for me on this occasion.

The V&A

Another V&A shot, with both of us beaming with happiness. A very gallant gentleman kindly waded out and supplied us with refreshments of the bubbly kind, which may help explain it.

This was shot in an alleyway next to The Rose & Crown pub in Walthamstow for a newspaper article. I honestly can't remember which newspaper, though I've got a copy somewhere. I nearly didn't go, even though it was only up the road from me. It's not that I'm lazy (though I am!), just that I was feeling a bit sorry for myself. I was five months pregnant and feeling sick all the time. In retrospect (and in spite of the look on my face), I'm glad that I went.

This is from a picnic, and one of V's photographer friends took a couple of shots of us for promotion as we really needed them in the early days. I don't know why the other ladies' faces are cut off though. It wasn't me, really!

 The National Theatre

A nautical themed party for the National Theatre. We were on the roof, the deck, with views over London and the river. It was summer, an English summer, so there was a torrential downpour. Like the hats? They are all made by Jane (in the red hat), who is a milliner.

Gotta love that moat!


Friday, 10 April 2015

Wartime magazine ads and a dangerous Ebay addiction

This week and last has been busy with children on Easter holidays, but I have still found time to do a spot of knitting, and crochet. I'm still working on Your Victory Jumper, which is going quite speedily for 3 ply wool.

I've been looking through some wartime magazines and found some very interesting material which I thought I would share.

Not a hint of coercion here - just a feeling that if you didn't do your darndest to look presentable, you would be scorned, or worse, accused of damaging the war effort. Women were expected to make an even greater effort in their appearance - 'beauty as duty'. I'd heard that phrase before, but was reminded of it by Jeni on her blog Yesterday Girl.

It is very apt now with the Fashion on the Ration exhibition on at the Imperial War Museum, which I still haven't managed to get to - yet. I'm going to try and take my mum, as she is the one who nurtured this interest in the war years in the first place. She has read so much on the period, she's practically an expert now. I went to an exhibition with her while I was still at school, and I can't for the life of me remember when it was. I think it was at the IWM . It was very influential. There was a projection on a big screen of the fashion show (in Technicolor) from the film 'The Women'. That film is now one of my favourites, for so many reasons.

I have yet to find a Tangee lipstick, but that is probably for the best, as I would no doubt wear it. Only to test the claim that it changes from orange to whatever colour will suit me. How could any woman resist that temptation? I really love the military rhetoric of the advertising of this time, it is pitched just right. I don't know how I would be capable of looking immaculate after nearly two months of night raids and no sleep though. It's an effort not to leave my slippers on to do the school run, never mind hair, makeup and a suit.

Ah, Lux. Or, rather, no Lux. The Lux company even published knitting books, I have one from 1940, with instructions on how to use it for washing woollens properly.

' is making play with vivid contrasts that look terribly dashing.' It was marvellous the way that scarcity fuelled creativity in fashion then, from fair isle knitwear to CC41 designs.

Thrifty knitting. I do have a box of scraps that I use to stuff buttons and knitted brooches. I've not quite stooped to going through bins for wool.

This has to be my favourite of the lot, and words to live by! This leads me on nicely to my not so nice problem with 'collecting'.

I have been on ebay again. I can't seem to check myself or limit my bidding - I become like a woman possessed when the clock is ticking down. Then if I do win, I seem fuelled with testosterone and punch the air, (and the ceiling) in victorious cheering. It's not nice. It brings out the thug in me. (So does driving - but that I can justify, as it is a battle of the sexes every time you get in the car. Ever seen an Audi driven by an older lady going under 30mph?)

I am going to have to cut myself off from ebay, as least for the forseeable future, or until I save up. I remember a radio programme discussing the psychology of collecting. It got me thinking about my own 'collections'. Knitting patterns and magazines, wool, vintage knitting needles, 78s, vinyl, vintage clothes, shoes, red lipstick...the list goes on. But am I a real collector? The programme defined it as someone who doesn't use the item they have bought, simply acquires it for the sole purpose of possessing it. I suppose it has to be a bit of both for me. I would like to think that I will use up the wool, and at least knit some of the patterns, but I know that it is a lot about owning something that is rare, scarce now, as it was even then, like that 1940s Stitchcraft above.

I find collecting, especially vintage items fascinating.

What do you collect, or are you just a shameless hoarder? And what do you collect?

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