Tuesday, October 27, 2009

They say I gotta go to rehab

.... and I say, NO NO NO.

Let me explain. I'm here in Sydney for work this week. It's our busiest period of the year, and so I get to spend every waking hour working myself to the bone, and in exchange my employer puts me into a nice hotel for a few nights and lets me order room service and use the fat, fluffy towels.

It's true that travelling for work is not as glamorous as it sounds - while the hotel part is lovely, and the breakfasts certainly are lavish, you don't get to enjoy it that much. I work like the proverbial dog and usually at the end of the day, it's all I can do to fall into bed late at night and not so much "go to sleep" as "become unconscious with exhaustion".

My gym routine gets interrupted, I eat all sorts of irregular food (re lavish breakfasts etc), and of course, there's no sewing. No sewing! For an entire week!

Lordy, it's like being in rehab - or at least, what I imagine it would be like if there was a rehab for sewing.

What would that be like? Would you have to confess how you used to loiter around vintage sewing sites on the interweb, trying to score patterns at half-price? Would you have to admit you had no power over sewing, and that although you always tried to resist the fabric sale you always faltered at the last minute, and spent your week's salary - and more? I'd have to describe that heady feeling I get when I'm surrounded by the smell of polished cottons and dye; and how the feel of a raw silk slipping between my fingers makes me weak at the knees. Can you imagine the group therapy sessions? 

It's true. The thought of a week without sewing makes me go pale and trembly, and my skin starts to itch and my fingers start to twitch.

And even though on a rational level I know it's impractical to bring a sewing machine on the plane from Melbourne to Sydney to set up in my hotel room, I did actually consider this.

So I've brought an extra little something with me for this period of work - a little sack filled with the hoot fronts I put together in the days before I left. Tracing the outline, cutting the fabric, cutting beaks and eyes from felt and fleece, stitching them on with the sewing machine, and choosing the button eyes ..... II have a dozen of those critters in my suitcase so that at least I can spend the last ten minutes of my day, before unconsciousness sets in, sewing on some eyes.

Sewing. On. Eyes.

Ahem. My name is Flickettysplits, and I'm a sewingaholic.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Something just for me .....

Recently I've spent a lot of my time sewing up things for markets, and it's given me the grumps.

Ordinarily I love sewing for markets - I enjoy playing with a whole range of stuff that I would never otherwise put together, especially as I don't have children - but sometimes it starts to take over my life. I begin to worry about my product range (if you can call it that) and get a bit stressed, and then before you know it, the fun is gone because I'm thinking about it too much and everything else has fallen by the wayside. That's when my hobby starts to feel a bit too much like work..

The other day I realised it's been nearly three months since I actually made something just for the fun of it. Something just for me. Last time it was the Study Hall Skirt by Anna Maria Horner.... in August. August!

So last weekend I took advantage of the half-price pattern sale at Clegs and bought up big.  Two wit: lots of skirts, tops and dresses. Cute things I might wear. Techniques I'm keen to try.

And then I chose one randomly. From this Simplicity patten, that one up there on the right, I chose the white top in the middle - the one with a pleated neckline and trumpet sleeves.

And then I burrowed into my stash and found some material from Tina Givens' latest range, and then I made it. Ta da!

            I'm quite proud. I haven't done sleeves like that before (trumpet sleeves? bell sleeves?) - they're very gathered, a lot of volume, and they're lined as well. See the lining?

And gee it felt good to make something just for the fun of it.

I think next on the list is the skirt pattern, the one with the big pleat at the front .... perhaps in an Amy Butler Nigella material ...... or maybe a green and purple tartan I picked up recently .... ah, the options ......

Thursday, October 22, 2009

How to grow a stunning hero piece

First, find one fantastically retro 50's chair abandoned on the side of the road, quite randomly one day when walking home from the train station.

Look around covertly to see if there is anybody nearby who might reasonably claim to own the chair. Act casual. Make sure you don't see anyone.

Go over and inspect the item. Note its sturdy construction, its cute tapered 50s legs. Marvel at its gorgeously tiny height (it will come up to your knees). Observe that whatever fabric was originally used to upholster it, has been thoughtfully ripped off, leaving only the foam padding. How perfect!

Take the chair home. Leave it in your spare room for a few weeks while you think about random fabric combinations in your head.

After many false starts and changes of mind, finally decide on Pressed Flowers in Rose, from Anna Maria Horner's Drawing Room collection. Purchase loads of it on sale on Etsy (and maybe put some of it aside for a skirt while you're at it, aren't those colours amazing?).

Take it to your friendly upholsterer, along with the cute chair.

Explain that you need this made up - not for yourself, nor for your children (of which you have none) - but for the pussins, who have decided the tiny chair is the perfect throne for them. Ideally sized. Beautifully rounded. Like it was made for them. Withstand the disbelieving gaze of the upholsterer. Request some piping around the edges.

Return a week later. Hey presto! You've grown a stunning hero piece.

And the pussins love it. That's the main thing.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

How many furs does a cat actually have?

There is cat fur everywhere at the moment. It is spring, and the pussins are moulting. Gah!

This morning I put on my lovely new Ojay black drop-waisted skirt with box pleats (it's very 80s, I feel like I'm back in school), made out of one of those new-generation materials that is more like some kind of industrial plastic than an actual fabric - it's meant to be super-duper-never-pick-up-lint-fantastic.

And it had cat fur on it.

I teamed it with a beautiful new blouse from Anna Thomas, made in washed cream silk printed with a rare yellow, grey, black and petrol Liberty print, as pictured in the slightly crooked photo at the top of this post - you'll have to forgive me, I took this surruptitiously in the kitchen at work, hoping that no one would notice I was taking a photo of myself, and from a distance I expect it would have looked, to the innocent observer, like I was trying to get a good shot of my own breasts.

I love this blouse, it has tiny little self-covered buttons all the way down the front, and blouson sleeves that are pintucked at the shoulder - and it used to have cuffs when I bought it but I chopped them off and gave it a gathered wrist instead, because they were slightly too long for me, like most sleeves are, and made me look like I was five years old and flapping around in my mummy's blouse.

And the best bit? It was priced at $398 which I would never have paid, and I lusted after it in the shop all through last season, and two weeks ago I went into the boutique in Little Collins St they were having a sale and they only had one left and it was in MY SIZE! Reader, you know I bought it.

(By the way, herewith a major plug for Anna Thomas, who is a great Australian designer specialising in classic, properly tailored office and casual wear for actual women who have an actual bosom and actual waists and actual hips and who want to make the most of their assets. She does not design for stick-figure teenagers who can throw on any old hessian sack and look avant-garde in it but who probably prefer to wear an old crappy jersey t-shirt made in China with bad seams and puckering. No, Anna Thomas uses beautiful silks and wools and tweeds and linens and whatnot, and I adore just about everything she makes. Even when, like today, it has cat fur on it. If you visit the boutique in Little Collins St you'll meet Laura, who I love because she is an honest woman and will tell you when something looks crap on you. Tell her I said hi.)

But I digress. The actual point of this post was to wonder just how many individual little furs are on a cat?

Because right now it feels like most of them are on my clothes, andI worry that people on the train will think I'm like the crazy cat lady on the Simpsons who babbles incoherently and swears and throws cats at people.

And the furs that aren't on my clothes are floating around in my house, stirring up little whirlywinds that blow around our feet whenever My One True Love or I walk past. Have you ever tried to keep a polished wooden floor free of cat fur in moulting season??  Don't even try.

Sigh. Soon spring will be over, and the pussins will have their glossy new coats, and I will spend the next four months de-furring the entire house.....

Rockin' Retro Hoot wins out

Thank you to everyone who contributed a name for the new Hoot! I loved reading your suggestions and seeing how you all "saw" him in different ways.

I had a hard time deciding, they were all so good - but I'm proud to say that Rockin'Retro Hoot won out in the end.

Hooray, and thank you to Rose and her five year old daughter for the suggestion! Rose, I would love it if you'd email me your address so that I can send you both a little thank you present. Drop me a line at flickettysplits@gmail.com , or leave me your details in the comments section .... and thanks again!

(oh, and I nearly forgot to add, this is my 195th post. And you know what that means, don't you .... it's not long now until my 202nd post ....and that means a giveaway!! Heh heh heh ......)

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Cute Hoot needs a name

Here's a lovely little fellow (somehow all of my Hoots are male, even the ones with girls' names).

Isn't he cute? He's made from a variety of fabrics I've picked up in Spotlight, online, and had in the stash. The polka dots are a Michael Miller, the reverse side is an Anna Maria Horner. I can't remember what the front is! His ears and feet are Michael Miller too...

But for some reason, I just can't think of a name for him. This is pretty unusual. Normally as I'm creating a softie, the name will pop into my head without too much trouble. Usually I get some inspiration from the fabrics, or the expression in the button eyes, or the overall look.

For example, this weekend at the Shirt and Skirt Market I'll have a new "Miss Havisham" Hoot, a new "Orange Blossom" Hoot, "Tthere's A Butler In My Garden" Hoot, and "The Turquoise Terror".

But blow me down, I CANNOT think of a name for this one. And I don't know why.

Have you any suggestions? Let me know what you think, and you could have a Hoot named in your honour!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Right back atcha

It's Tuesday, and I can't wait for the guy in the UK who's been spamming me at work recently, to get the following email I just sent to him .... (names have been changed to protect the innocent) ...

"Dear John,

"Thank you for your email.  I must say you never fail to impress me with your upbeat, positive attitude with regard to the [blank blank blank blank blank blank blank], which is certainly a mouthful of a title if I ever heard one. This must be quite laborious to type out so regularly in your communications, not just to me, but to the many other people you must approach as well. Have you thought of perhaps using an acronym? You could call it Tetigeb for short - I feel it rolls off the tongue (or fingertips, as the case may be) very nicely as a little endearment for your publication. Why not consider this approach next time?

"The way you manage to inject such enthusiasm into your emails is a welcome relief from the usual turgid constructions I receive from companies endeavouring to attract advertising revenue for their publications, and my colleagues, who eagerly await every next instalment from you, deeply admire your persistence and commitment to the cause. The regular scattering of exclamation marks injects a particular excitement and energy into your writing of which I am very fond.

"I must also say that your optimism in continuing to send me emails offering advertisements of different types with this publication (either in its hard copy or online format) is such a joy to behold in times like these, a period in our history characterised by the grim realities of recession, rising unemployment, falling business confidence and ongoing talk of deep financial crisis; both here and overseas. Indeed, the spirits of commercial ghosts haunt us at every turn, do they not?

"Therefore I can only commend you for your unfailing efforts in offering me the regular opportunity to advertise with your publication, particularly in light of my failure to ever previously reply to your many invitations. And I feel so flattered, having been pursued by you so ardently over the course of the past six months - is it really that long?- that I hardly know which way to look. Without question, your attentions are the most regular that I receive, and your undented confidence in the face of my continuing rejection is an astonishment to behold. If there were a prize for personal resilience I would nominate you for it.

"But alas, this cannot continue. Much as I treasure your every communication it is with regret that I feel I must at last declare in writing that I have no desire, no wish and no intent to ever take you up on this offer. Clearly, the regret is all mine but I feel it would be unfair to allow you to continue to hope that you will eventually wear me so far down to the point of exhaustion that I will give in. It will not happen, and I am resolute on this.

"Circumstances conspire against us, dear John, and if things were different, who knows what might have been possible. Please be deeply assured that I value every singular effort you have put into your stream of emails, and that I shall miss the regular contact from you.

Yours sincerely ......"

Too much, do you think?

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Gone but not forgotten

Oh my god! Ive lost a follower! How did this happen? Was it something I said?

I feel as though Ive had an arrow stabbed through my heart. Come back, dear follower, come back!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Zen and the art of potato chips

Ah ... crinkle crinkle ..... mmm.... crackle crackle .....yum ..... snarkle chomple crunch.

What's that sound, you wonder? That, my friends, is the sound of Flickettysplits snarfling her way through the end of a packet of plain potato chips. And starting in on the salt and vinegar.

I have very little in the way of willpower these days, especially when it comes to food I like. And I don't often get the craving for potato chips (erm, it happens about once a month if you catch my drift), so when I get that urge I've learnt I love myself a lot more by giving myself permission to give in.

If I don't, you see, then all my available energy goes into trying to NOT think about potato chips. And it is virtually impossible for the human brain to conceive of a negative. Because you have to think of the thing first before you can not think of it, if you see what I mean. It's a classic media management technique - do not speak in negatives because your audience will hear the opposite of what you are saying. For example, saying "no comment" just makes an audience think you DO have something to say, and that therefore you're hiding it, and ergo you're dodgy.

It works in the case of potato chips too. In trying not to think about potato chips, I of course spend every waking moment thinking about potato chips. Iimagining potato chips, romanticising the crunchy crunch crunch of potato chips, salivating at the thought of potato chips, thinking about the different flavours I could buy - and then trying not to eat them, after all that. It's a torture. A living, waking torture.

Let's do a little experiment just to prove what I'm on about. I'm going to tell you not to do something, and I want you to let me know how well you go. Here it is. Do NOT, under any circumstances, picture a blue-eyed polar bear when you read this sentence. Don't think of a blue-eyed polar bear.

Ah ha! You see?? It just doesn't work! Don't believe me? Think I'm pulling the wool over your blue-eyed polar bears' eyes? Let's try it again just to be sure.

This time, try REALLY HARD not to think of the Sydney Harbour Bridge. Definitely DO NOT think of the Opera House just next door either. And whatever you do, make sure you FAIL TO IMAGINE an igloo. With a tree growing out the top of it. And little shiny tap shoes with sequins on them scattered amongst the branches.

I rest my case.

And so it is for potato chips too. I have learnt, over many years, that it is easier to simply eat the potato chip than it is to try and be totally zen about not-imagining-and-then-eating-it-anyway. It doesn't always work, and I still sometimes feel guilty afterwards (years of conditioning are hard to undo, after all) - but mostly, I just enjoy the potato chip. And if I DO manage it, I feel much prouder of myself for not feeling guilty and not having to wage an inner war - against myself - just for the sake of a bloody potato chip.

They're just chips, after all. Should we really beat ourselves up as much as we do, just for eating a packet of potato chips? Or a chocolate? Or a vanilla slice? Or whatever your particular secret craving food is? Are they really worth all that?

Of course they're not. Enjoy your chips next time you have them. Remember that giving yourself permission is a much healthier business than killing yourself by trying to resist - and then failing.

And there's something very zen about that, after all.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Daylight savings? Daylight sleepings!


I'm so tired tonight, and its because of the damn daylight saving .... I woke up at twenty to six this morning as per usual, except of course that was really twenty to FIVE and so of course I am exhausted.  Even the cats weren't up yet, and that's saying something.

So I had a coffee this afternoon at 3pm to get me through to the end of the day, and naturally, that means now I'm tired but not sleepy.

I do actually love daylight savings. I love the extra hour at the end of the afternoon, because it means I can potter around in the garden, or sew in real light for a little longer, or go for a walk before dinner - but I really don't like the first week.

Next week it'll be grand, but until the body clock adjusts, I'll be yawning .... and yawning .... and yawning ....

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Reading between the lines

It's been a long time between proverbial drinks, my friends, hasn't it? And I expect you're wondering why.

I can finally disclose the reason. It's because I have finally decided - after much agonising - not to accept the glamorous job in Sydney, the one they've been wooing me for over the past month. I will not be packing up My One True Love and the furry babies and moving them to the uncertainties and displeasures of rental accommodation in Sydney. I will stop mentally spending the bags of money they were laying out seductively before me. I have resisted their efforts to trip headlong down the rabbit hole of temptation.

It was a tough call in the end. My One True Love and I spent weeks agonising over this. I went up to Sydney and back twice. Spent a day in the office, aced a written strategic assessment, blitzed the competition. He and I ran numbers and financial models based on different scenarios - sell the house, rent the house, etc etc - advanced arguments for and against (professional development, pollution), got excited about being closer to dear Sydney friends, reeled in horror at the price of rent even in suburbia - it quite exhausted me. I've done no sewing. I've missed two markets - two! I've had no energy to post. And I'm sorry for disappearing without a word about why.

And then at last we came to a decision. We'd go to Sydney. We'd cope with rent, and moving, and traffic, and public transport, and pollution. We'd leave Melbourne for three years, maybe five, and we'd enjoy the spoils on offer as well as the professional challenge it held for me. By jove, we'd do it!

But at the last hurdle, the very end of contract negotiations, the process broke down. They faltered, and I pulled the pin. It was a considered decision, and I knew it spelt both a missed opportunity and a lucky escape.

However, it's not all bad. I'm not staying in my current job either, the one that's been the source of such anxiety and stress and botheration for the past eight months or so. Oh no, that is finally behind me as well - at least, it will be in a month or so. And for that, I am eternally grateful. ETERNALLY. There's a light at the end of this long and very dark tunnel, and I can definitely assure you it's not the headlights of an oncoming train.

But don't let the details concern you. I'm staying in Melbourne, and life continues. I'm happy with my decision, for the most part, though of course there is a sliver of me that deeply regrets the missed opportunity that just slipped out of my fingers. Or more accurately, the one I deliberately released.

If nostalgia is the pain you feel on looking back through your past, what is the word that describes the pain you feel on losing an imagined future, never experienced?