Saturday 24 November 2012

A little randomly...

My keyboard had been quite criminally dirty for some time. I always remembered to clean it when the computer was on: not a good time. Today, I finally took a rag, some earbuds and a bottle of ethanol and cleaned it thoroughly. My sister said it would be shining with whiteness. I pointed out to her it was grey. She then proceeded on to joke about it "throwing off grey sparkles".
It's not; but for a while there, I was too shy to touch it.

This photo proves there's still some dirt left on the keys; so much for the elevated feeling.

* * *

I made tinted lipbalm, with a lipstick I bought years ago for the purpose of painting on strangers. Well, fellow Grammar school students: there's a tradition in the Czech Republic of the so-called "Last Ringing" - the last day the graduation class goes to school, before the graduation exam, is pretty much a celebration. The students usually dress up as something, and bother everyone else. In short.
So, for that purpose, I bought a cheap lipstick that was not really my colour years ago. And the remnant was lingering around the house until I learned online that it could be used for making homemade tinted lip balm... I liked the idea, but I did not like the fact that the ingredients for homemade lip balm could only be bought in larger quantities than I needed for such an experiment, not exactly cheaply (for an experiment). So I bought a larger container of "Jelení lůj" lip balm instead. That's what could be called the most basic Czech lip balm: literally, it translates as "deer tallow", though it's not (at least the list of ingredients suggests it's not - I doubt there's coumarin in natural deer tallow).

I learned the hard way that pouring melted lip balm into a plastic container was a bad idea (should have realised that); so I used a glass candle holder, incidentally one that my sister has painted. So now I have tinted lip balm in a nautical-themed container. Not bad for an experiment that failed halfway.

* * *

I should be reading Language and Gender for school; instead, I'm reading Is It Fit to Be a Realist?, a collection of literature-oriented essays by Ferdinand Peroutka that father unearthed and I was drawn to by an essay on Chesterton. It's much more fun. *sigh*
(Peroutka's answer to that question: literature should always try to describe reality in some way; not necessarily in the "Realist" way, but a literature that does not tell the truth somehow, no matter how, is pointless.)
I can't help it; anything that contains the word "gender" seems to take itself too seriously. It's not that I would not agree with some of the ideas expressed; it's the way it's treated.
Peroutka is able to make fun of himself, like in an essay / piece of literary criticism in which he scolds a young poet (Nezval) for overusing metaphors and diffusing his meaning...

"It is however difficult to give advice to poets. But it is always possible to say this much, that they should, without trifling, try to come to grips with what they feel and think. A poet's aspiration should be essence, not curiosity. The books Nezval and most of his friends write these days are filled with fleeting interests of one or two years and they will be forgotten very soon. If we keep attending to the new things that have arisen and how we can emulate them, our work will only fill literary history's ditches and others will walk over us. A poet who has not lived twenty years in continuation but only in periods of two years is usually lost to posterity. Lest this seem like a mysterious sentence, I will say straightaway that it is a disputation against fashion slavery."

Peroutka was rather justified in his criticism; even though Nezval is a famous poet (I even own a book by him, and I'm not normally one to read much poetry), the book Peroutka criticises is one I have not heard of before. And Nezval was a bit of a fashion slave: he had always had leftist leanings, but after the Communists took over in 1948, he mostly became famous for writing awfully tendentious poems without much literary merit...
I find myself liking Peroutka for liking the same writers as I do; but he is also able to criticise them for shortcomings I usually find myself agreeing with after all, and writes about things I don't know much about. That's good, too.

Friday 23 November 2012

I ♥ Thursday ~ Giveaway at Kellie Falconer

Kellie is hosting a giveaway. And has a sale going on in her Etsy shop - so if you are looking, perhaps, for hair accessories... I love those felt roses! They're just the perfect size and colour.

And her lace collar tees...

This one's my favourite.

Not to mention the beautiful photos.

In other news, I love homemade yoghurt drink. That sounds fancy; there's nothing fancy about it, just some yoghurt mixed with milk and sugar. But it's a perfect refreshment. (Yoghurt can be homemade, though. :D)

Sunday 18 November 2012

The buttons my grandfather made

My grandfather is a dental technician. Don't freak out just yet; it means he had always had easy access to resins.
That means he could make these:

Resin and ink shank buttons he made for my mom years and years ago. I don't understand the details of working with resin, but it basically sounds like something very easy (if you know how to work with resin) with very impressive results.

They were originally not attached to this bright blue jacket. The buttons that came with it looked like this:

It looked worse in real life than it does on the photo. This very bright, very blue jacket was fitted with greenish-greyish blue buttons; a very wrong colour that made it look shabby, while it is actually so bright and shiny and cool.

I pronounce my grandfather's buttons a big improvement.

(Bright and shiny and cool against a very shabby backdrop.)

Saturday 17 November 2012

I've always wanted to take one of these


Yesterday, I found myself in Prague again (that's a good beginning). More importantly, I found a free Metro newspaper in the metro, with one of those elusive (so far, to me) fabric coupons for a certain fabric shop.

So I thought, if I have enough time let's go and see if I can find something that I actually need (that's the important part) and get it with a discount.

So I went, in the end; and could not find anything I needed. I wanted nice white lightweight cotton for the 1848 skirt. No luck there; I only found brown lightweight cotton, which was very nice, but not what I needed. I wanted cotton shirting, with the idea of maybe making my father a shirt for Christmas. No luck there at all.

So I thought, I don't have enough lining in my stash, let's take a look at the linings. While searching for linings (the shop was rather crowded, probably because more people have found their coupons in the Metro newspaper), I found a remnants rack with satins and the like; mostly the evil polyester stuff. I went through them, just in case. I noticed a burgundy red that could go as a lining with a fabric in my stash...

I touched it, and fell in love. I looked at the label. It was 100% silk.

Not very surprisingly, it went home with me.

Now, the question is, do I really turn it into a lining for that fabric? I'm not quite sure there's enough of the silk. And: It's not so apparent in the photo, but in real life, the colours are not quite the same. The fabric in my stash is a little bit more yellowish than the silk. And it's a mystery fabric (I got it from my friend's mother) and putting a luxurious silk lining into it feels somewhat incongruous with it; I haven't put it through the burn test yet, but my bet is it's not natural fibre.

I want to make a very classic blazer out of it; something like this:

(That's from Mrs Style Book 2006/11)

Silk lining would go well with that, admittedly.

But holding the silk fabric, I also became convinced that it had to become a gift for my mom. I had promised her a blouse... something like this, though worn sepearately:

(The same book. I suspect it's actually a pattern for a stretchy fabric, though.)

But I'm not quite sure if it's my mom's colour, either. The problem with gifts is, you can't check without telling them... I could, alternatelly, turn it into a camisole for her (she deserves a silk camisole; I already have one; it's featured among my "Remake the RTW" plans, though, and maybe I could squeeze two out of the fabric anyway), but then, isn't this fabric too beautiful to be restricted to underwear?

Oh, the troubles a lucky seamstress goes through! If I become convinced enough it's mom's colour, I'll go with the blouse. I promised, and it looks like the sort of style this fabric would shine as. Now, aren't I glad I found a shop that carries silk thread? Oh yes, I am.

Off to read about stylistics. That's a linguistic term, not a fashion one.

Friday 16 November 2012

I ♥ Thursday ~ November 16 (15)

These songs... guitar and singing. They very much remind me of all the campfire singing from my memories. (And sad is happy for deep people, as Whovians know. ;-)

Tuesday 13 November 2012

Vintage shoes, fabric shop and Lebanese and other music

This was meant to be another I love Thursday post, but it got delayed, so now it's an "I love on Tuesday what I fell in love with on Friday" post... and the linky is closed. Also, the length of the post title reflects the length of this post. I somehow need to cram everything that's been haunting my mind recently into one post.

Last time, it was vintage-style shoes perfection. This time, it's vintage shoe perfection.
I saw these in a thrift shop window:

Just by that look in the thrift shop window - a closer look I took - I knew these were special. Not many shoes carry on them the name of a local shoemaker! And they were obviously well-made, and in a vintage style.
So I went in and had an even closer look.

Definitely vintage. For one thing, due to our 40 years of communist rule, the times of local shoemakers in this country were probably somewhat limited. That, together with the style, places these somewhere in the 1930s or 1940s, I think.

Cuban heels.

Honest-to-goodness knock-on Cuban heels. I mean, these shoes are not the cheap plastic glued stuff you'd find today; they're honest-to-goodness leather and cobbled together, which in this case is a good thing.

They are waaaay too small for me. No chance I could wear these. No chance anyone in my family could wear these. No way I could afford a private collection of historical shoes. So at least I took photos, for myself, and for you.
(I was so excited about this shoe perfection that I would have just snapped pictures, wherever; thankfully, the lady at the cash desk - who joined me in praises of this treasure - was of sounder mind at the moment and suggested using the stool as a pedestal of sorts. I still had to use flash due to lack of light, and it's still got the somewhat shabby thrift shop background, but the photos are more civilised. :-)

The street number on the label is not so well seen, but I think the shoemaker resided here. It's the same street where a large fabrics and haberdashery shop, Kalců, is situated nowadays, a bit further down that street. I visited for the first time that same Friday; their fabric selection is somewhat seasonal, something this slow seamstress is not exactly happy about, but they carry 100% wool fabrics - yay! I even saw a 100% cashmere. Of course, the fabrics are priced accordingly, which this student seamstress is not so happy about either; but then, it's good to know I can find quality fabrics when I want to. (And lovers of prints would go crazy over their selection of knits and rayons.)
Moreover, the staff is knowledgeable, something that sadly does not always occur these days. Now I know where to go when I'm not quite sure what I want. Or, alternately, when I'm 100% insistent on what I want...
I was particularly pleased with their selection of interfacing and brought home a piece of nude-coloured slightly one-way-stretch woven fusible that should be perfect for underwear, and invisible zippers for my sister's kathak costume, the one thing that was setting back its creation. And they carry silk thread. One more yay!

Speaking of yay...

I fell in love with two Lebanese pop songs some time ago. I don't understand a word, which is somehow refereshing. :-) I'm not sure what the video above is all about and must admit I do not like the clothes she wears very much, but I love the old lady makeover. :D This is, to me, a bit of a sister-bond song, seeing as I found this song thanks to her and she's the one I can vent my crush on Peter Wingfield and the like on; it's mutual. ;D

And I have no idea why this clip features Prague and Czech folk dancers. Prague is not normally so romantic; it's full of tourists in the tourist zones and the hustle and bustle of a capital city outside of them. The outskirts can be more romantic than the centre. But it's interesting to see it through the eyes of 1999 Lebanese pop. And I love. the. song. very. much.

But not more than I love Mark Knopfler's music. I keep coming back to it. I love Mark Knopfler's music so much that, listening to a song, I keep thinking "best song ever", and then the next song comes, and I'm thinking "best song ever"...

The best song ever is currently the mind-blowing "Planet of New Orleans". It actually makes me want to visit New Orleans. Well done, Geordie boy. :D

Thursday 1 November 2012

I ♥ Thursday ~ November 1

Yeah, yeah, yeah, I've already posted something today... but tomorrow won't be Thursday anymore.

I'm joining this event because it's the perfect opportunity to share these:

The 23Skidoo, new shoes by American Duchess. Why is she doing this to me? :D I can attest to this style being very comfortable. Not that I own these, what with them still being on pre-order (starting today, lasting till Nov 19) - but my favourite black pair is the same style.

Could someone buy me these for Christmas? Please?

Flowery details on the Day of the Dead

Or, as the official Czech name "Památka zesnulých" translates, "Rememberance of the Departed".
It's a bit silly, actually, because of the Czech practice of namedays - first names connected to days, which then people with that name celebrate, sometimes much the same way as birthdays (not in this family). There's no name attached to this day in the calendar, which makes people joke about someone named Památka zesnulých.
It is, usually, actually called Dušičky. That translates as "Little Souls". I'm not very fond of either of those names, though that may also have something to do with the fact that my family never visited the graves as others do. That has something to do with the fact my family's graves are all over the country except my hometown.
But I don't think I'd be fond of Dušičky even if we did that. It sounds stupid. It sounds, almost, derrogatory to those Departed.

Anyway. I got reminded of this by Steph's post that draws from the Mexican tradition. The Mexican tradition sounds like lots more fun. Though, admittedly, the 1st of November weather we have is somewhat more conductive to silent contemplation and the lighting of candles. It's 2 PM as I write this, I'm sitting next to the window, and I have trouble seeing the keyboard. I could use a candle.

Because the usual weather this time of the year is so gloomy, I wanted to light up my greyish-brown, brownish-grey winter jacket.
I got the idea from Poppy Day (which is not really held in the Czech Republic, though some people are trying) and my thought that people in the Czech Republic should start on the 28th of October already, because that's when the Czechoslovak independence was proclaimed.
But from there, it just evolved into something bright and fun to wear with my mostly dull autumn outerwear (I hate the dullness of autumn outerwear with a passion, yet find myself succumbing to it).
Felt flowers. Poppy in this case, at least till November 11, to honour where the idea came from, but I might make more, from what felt I have. Any TARDIS/cobalt blue flowers you can think of? :P

I'm quite happy with how my poppy came out, though the felt is low quality and behaves a bit unpredictably now. I think I'm going to share the pattern with a tutorial. It's relatively simple, and, if I say so, it looks  much more like a real poppy than the ones I had seen online before I decided just to wing my own. If you celebrate Poppy Day, there's still time to make one. :-)

Quite randomly, I looked over the hi-res scan of this old photo again, and noticed that the bodice decoration actually may be something corded. Cutwork, or cording? Either way, it's still lovely, and I still want to apply that principle to my own clothes one day.

Maybe it's one of the ways to revive something dying in the back of your wardrobe?