Monday, 17 February 2014

Red Dress Revisited....

"What is it with you and sparkly dresses?" he asks
"Sparkly dresses. You're always looking at them online. You even write about them."
"Ah, I see. Actually it's not just any sparkly dress. It's red sequinned ones."

So I told him.

Many, many, maaaany years ago a friend (I'll call her Looney Tunes - she knows why) and I went to visit a mutual friend (I'll call her Kate - hopefully she'll know why) in deepest darkest Europe. A bit of a do was taking place and Kate had invited us both for a long weekend. Friday was spent relaxing, reminiscing and recounting tales of college days.

On Saturday, once we had all recovered from our late night and the after effects of lack of sleep ( that's the story and I'm sticking to it!) Kate decided we had to go shopping. She wanted a new outfit suitable for the evening ahead, and while Looney Tunes was in the habit of attending similar functions and had brought a case full of appropriate apparel she didn't see any harm in having a look for something else. So in the spirit of camaraderie, although I had packed a very serviceable black number, I was more than happy to tag along on the trip.
A few stores, and a couple of coffees, later Kate still hadn't found anything that grabbed her. Eventually she led us to a small shop, an exclusive little boutique full of rich hues and sumptuous fabrics.

And that's where I saw It! 

A deep red sheath, strapless, floor length with a thigh high split, covered in transparent, iridescent, rectangular sequins. It was a glorious dress, the most glorious dress I'd ever seen. All three of us were immediately drawn to it. Unfortunately it was a size out for Looney Tunes. Kate tried it on but if memory serves she felt she was an inch or so too small to do it justice. As for me, well I resisted the temptation for as long as I could, after all there was no reason for me to try it on. I already had something to wear, something that had cost significantly less than this magnificent creation. However much cajoling ensued and eventually I capitulated, went in to the changing room and slipped in to the shimmering curves. In true Goldilocks fashion it fitted just right! 

I stepped out of the confined cubicle to have a look in the bigger mirror. I had a bit of Mr Ben moment then because the person in the stunning red sequinned dress staring back at me was someone I didn't know. This person was confident, courageous, daring. This person felt fabulous.

I looked to my friends for their opinion. A couple happened to be walking passed the window at that moment and they stopped for a moment, smiled, gave me the thumbs up then moved on. My friends reactions were almost the same, flattering, complimentary,  encouraging me to buy it.

I didn't.

I took one last look in the mirror, at that stranger, then changed back in to my own clothes and left the shop empty handed. To this day I still have the occasional dream about that dress, the odd regret and wonder whether I made the right decision. That's why I think about red sequinned dresses so much.

"Why didn't you buy it?" he asks 
"Why didn't you buy it. If it made you feel so good, so right, why didn't you buy it?"
"There were lot's of reasons."
"Like what?"
"Weeell. It was too expensive. There were better things to spend the money on, new shoes for the boys for instance. I'd never have an opportunity to wear it again. I already had a dress..."
"They all sound like excuses, not reasons. You only needed one reason to buy that dress and that was how it made you feel. You should have bought it"

I thought about that for a while. About whether my reasons were indeed just excuses. About how many other times when faced with doing something a bit courageous or daring I'd come up with perfectly valid reasons for not doing it. About how many opportunities, how many possibilities, how many red dress moments I'd passed up.   
If only I had bought that dress! So I did

The Red Dress of Possibilities

Well, not the actual dress but one that looks very like it, at least as like it as I can remember ( it was a very long time ago), and at a fraction of the cost I might add. 
I have no intention of wearing it (I don't have the right curves anymore) I don't see it as a dress anymore. It's a symbol, a permanent reminder.  A reminder that I can be confident, courageous and daring if I want to be. A reminder that it's important to seize every opportunity that comes my way, I don't know how many I'm going to be given.  A reminder that no matter how many reasons I can find for not doing something I really only need one to do it. 

Friday, 8 November 2013

Problem pants and A.T.C's

Have you ever found yourself agreeing to do something or help someone and then thinking 'Why did I just agree to that?'.

I do it all the time. In fact I don't just agree, sometimes I even offer. When I appear with that rather puzzled look on my face the man of the house knows I'm asking myself the question.

"You've been wearing your 'I can do that' pants again haven't you" he says. I shrug my shoulders and smile sheepishly.

The thing is, it would be so much easier if I did indeed own a pair of pants that, when worn, prompted me to help people out. I'd keep them safely tucked in my underwear drawer and only wear them when there weren't a truck load of other things going on in my life. 
Unfortunately there isn't. At least, there isn't only one. It would seem the office can be passed from one pair to the next, without any need for election and with alarming regularity, so I never know which ones they are. Subsequently whenever anyone asks 'Can you......?' my reply is in all probability going to be 'Sure, I can do that.'

Which is why, at the beginning of September, when one of the local worthies (a woman without whose efforts Moffat would surely come to a standstill) asked if I would take part in this year's Christmas Craft Fair my response was 'Of course, I'd love to'.

When I got home the panic set in. What on earth had I been thinking? I had no stock! I hadn't made anything in months (Why? Probably my abundance of apathy and absence of ability!). What if my muses had packed their bags for good? How could I create without any creativity? What if ... *sharp intake of breath*... I couldn't 'make' anymore?

Fortunately, before I went too far on my self indulgent downward spiral, I checked in on some Blogs and was thrown a lifeline. The lovely Ali at Very Berry Handmade was hosting a textile ATC swap. Aha, the very thing! A small project to get me crafting again before launching myself into Christmas chaos. I signed up as quickly as I could, obviously still under the influence of those damn pants.

The theme Autumn was decided upon and I gathered a selection of fabrics, flosses, buttons, beads and bits'n'bobs. I discarded over half and settled on this little bundle.

In choosing them I was only thinking of the theme and what colours it immediately brought to mind. I had no idea what I was going to do with them now that I'd narrowed them down. I also wasn't sure whether my fingers were going to behave themselves and allow me to do some sewing. 
So for the next few weeks I played with a few designs in my head and folded a lot of origami cranes (I'd read somewhere it's very good for maintaining manual dexterity and hoped it would work for regaining it too). Searching for inspiration I found a small stamp of a bare tree I'd bought a number of years ago and used in an art project. I know it wasn't a very original take on Autumn but I decided to go with it. I also decided to hand sew the entire ATC ( for a penny and all that). 

Here's what I came up with and as this was posting week it's now on it's merry way to my swap recipient Jude of 'Petite Joujou' 

I hadn't actually intended adding the buttons but I think I may have been a bit optimistic with the whole hand sewing thing and felt the mitred corners didn't hold up to much scrutiny (just between you and me my embellishments often hide a multitude of sins). I've been looking at the other ATC's being swapped and can't help but be impressed by the sheer amount of creativity out there.
My swap arrived this morning, sent from Catherine, a very talented lady. 

How lucky am I? Isn't it delightful? A mini masterpiece in textiles. It rather reminds me of Van Gogh's Sunflowers. Thanks so much Catherine, it truly is a little treasure. 
And thanks for organising it all Ali. It's been great fun and definitely put me back on the crafting track. To paraphrase Gloria Swanson ( but hopefully less crazily )
"Alright bonny Moffat, I'm ready for my craft fair"

Thursday, 5 September 2013

A paler shade of white

Two and a half weeks back at school and I'm afraid it can be avoided no longer. The time has come. No more walking by at an accelerated rate. No more averting my eyes at the crucial moment.  After a cessation of almost 8 weeks, hostilities have been resumed. Once more I have to engage with  ...... (imagine the strings from 'Psycho' here) .....  the school shirts!!!!

This is a war that has been waging from the moment the boys started school. In the beginning I had the upper hand. Admittedly that was down to the fact that I cheated slightly. I mean honestly, what mother in her right mind is going to stick with white polo shirts (White. On small boys. Seriously?), if after a little minor rule bending she can go with sky blue? (It looked better with the navy uniform too if you ask me.)

My complacency was short lived. Lines were redrawn the moment we moved from polo shirts to shirts and ties ( well that and the fact I can only flout rules for so long before guilt plays havoc with my conscience) 

Since then it has been a constant battle between my desire to keep shirts white, and the shirts desire to revert to what I can only assume is their natural state - a shade most definitely not white. 

Sifting through the washing pile I'm reminded of an advert in the 1980's when Dulux were launching a new range of paints 'White with a hint of...'(here it is just in case you have no idea what I'm talking about
Only this particular palette consists of white with a hint of Biro, white with a hint of grass, white with a hint of yogurt, white with a hint of - actually, I'd rather not know what that's a hint of.

So how do I beat the grime? Having opted for easy iron poly-cotton and as I'm trying to do my bit for the environment the good old fashioned boil wash is out of the question. Fortunately I have reservists on hand. 

I think I have tried every stain remover ever marketed, even some  made from recipes found in books of household hints and tips , in a bid to be victorious  Yes, there have been a few casualties on the way. A handful of collars may have succumbed to an over zealous scrubbing (who knew necks could be so grubby?) and a number of small holes may have appeared when I left the paste on for too long (that recipe was never used again!) but most have come out of the skirmishes if not pristine at least intact. I would say at the moment the score is even.

So it is with a heavy heart I once more join the fray, armed with Ariel, a vanish bar and a packet of good old Dr Beckmann's Glo' White. Who, I wonder, will win this year?

'Once more into the bleach, dear friend once more
or dose the wash up with the vanish fluid '  

Tuesday, 25 June 2013

The vagaries of doors

'When one door closes another one opens.'

I've heard that phrase many times and having lived in both old and new houses that don't seem to have had one single well fitting door between them I'm willing to believe it on a purely literal basis. Some doors have indeed opened when one has closed, some have closed only to pop open again while others haven't closed at all. And of course there was that memorable occasion when one closed so adamantly that my exit from the room had to be made via the window ( since that involved dangling from the sill while my feet frantically scrabbled to reach stairs underneath it has to be said it was not the most dignified departure I've ever made!)

On a metaphorical basis however I'm not too sure. My good crafting buddy is a firm believer in the phenomena, that there is indeed a plan to life and that opportunities present themselves according to a pre-arranged schedule. I'm more inclined to think that as in my aforementioned window episode when life closes a door you simply look for another way out, ways that have always been there but up until that point might not have been considered an option. 
Coincidence, serendipity, providence, fate. Whatever school of thought sits most comfortably with you there is no denying that timing is the key, that you generally see that other door handle just when you need it most. 

Last year I decided to give craft fairs a bit of a break. Although I had a reserve of stock I hadn't been active in my workroom for months and didn't know when I'd get back to making so signing up for events didn't seem like the most sensible thing to do. There was nothing for it but to pack up my wee mindings and leave them to languish under my worktable until I got back on the craft fair circuit.
Weeks after making that decision a friend informed me that a new shop was opening in Moffat - a craft shop to be precise. A craft shop that was to sell craft supplies and...wait for it...goods made by local crafters! What were the chances?

Crazy Daisy Crafts opened it doors in April last year but it was another 2 months before I plucked up the courage to approach the owner and enquire about shelf rental. Turns out Ann, the owner, had been about to contact me having picked up my business card at an event the previous year. So I rented a shelf for a month and would pop in every now and again to see how things were going. 

Now I'm not quite sure about the next sequence of events but I have a sneaking suspicion I may have taken advantage of Ann when she was in a vulnerable position. Only weeks after taking on the shop with a business partner she was left to run the place on her own. Juggling a family while trying to run a full time business can't be easy and during one of my visits a conversation to that effect may have led to me suggesting I worked one day a week in return for shelf space. I'd like to say my offer was purely altruistic, wanting to help Ann out, but if I'm honest it was more as a lifeline for me. Fortunately she took me up on the offer.

So I go in every Monday, do the window display, move stuff around to keep Ann confused, offer help, advice and chit-chat (whichever is required) and generally revel in all things crafty. Crazy Daisy and its cosy kitchen table has become an oasis of calm and creativity. I'm not back to full blown crafting yet so it seems as if craft fairs are still on hold, a fact that isn't really bothering me. My crafting buddy says thats because everything happened according to plan, that I am where I'm meant to be. All I can say is I like the view through this door, and it beats being stuck in a hall! 

Thursday, 14 March 2013

Out of Hibernation

Soft sounds of movement come from deep within. Faint rustling while a body shifts and limbs extend. Muted rasps as the tingles of waking skin are relieved. A deep, sharp inhaled breath followed by a long, audible exhale. A stretch, a scratch, a yawn. Hibernation is over.

A lumbering form emerges from the opening , blinking in the vernal sun. Sniffing the air it steps into the light , shaking off any lingering languor. Definitely faster than a tortoise, hopefully less prickly than a hedgehog, probably not less hairy than a bear! (Okay that might be a bit of an exaggeration but surely I'm not the only one guilty of lapsing in the razor/waxing department during winter!)

Hello! I'm back. My self imposed ( but much needed ) hibernation is at an end. Since all other dormant species in my garden are making a comeback I figured it was time I made a move too. Green shoots are appearing everywhere and since, regardless of the snow and sub zero temperatures, the frogs have returned to the pond I consider it to officially be Spring ( even if I'm still wearing 3 layers of wool in attempt to keep warm). The lethargy of the winter months is slowly dissipating and I'm looking forward to creating. Yay!

Of course that would be a lot easier if my workroom hadn't been commandeered by the man of the house in my absence. When it became apparent that I wouldn't be able to gain access to my worktable without scaling a mountain of Bass cases, amps and guitar stands or navigating my way through a forest of wood I decided a tactical retreat was in order. I grabbed a box of scraps and retired to my favourite chair in front of the fire (yes I know its Spring but remember those temperatures I mentioned earlier?) and began to cut and fold. 

And fold, and fold, and fold....

Each time I delved into the box I came up with another favourite fabric and possible colour combination. 

 I played around with different shapes.... 

...and sizes...

...and all in all got a bit carried away.

Ahh, it's soooo good to be back :o)

Now I just need to catch up on what everyone else has been doing. Blogland here I come!

Friday, 4 January 2013

A Cupboard Full of Yesterdays

'A cupboard full of yesterdays' was a phrase I heard used by Neil Oliver last year in a documentary about Scottish explorer Thomas Blake Glover. It was such an evocative expression it stuck in my head for days. When the writing group I was a part of met in February I put it forward as a prompt. Some wrote short stories, some poetry and there was even a one act play. It was quite intriguing to discover how differently everyone had interpreted the words.  

Because I alway find it quite difficult to post at this time of year ( I've said before I don't really 'do' resolutions so I can't write about that and as I wasn't particularly productive last year I can't put together any sort of crafty retrospective ) I thought I'd cheat slightly and use my offering to the group since it could be seen, if you screw up your eyes - tightly , as some sort of new seasons aim.   

Clearing my cupboard 

It's time.

Time to discard
the ratty, matted oversize jumpers of failed relationships
and missed opportunities,
to dispose
of the long heavy coat of regret.

Time to cast off
shapeless smocks of intended snubs 
and imagined slights,
to shed
the old shabby robe of self doubt.

It is time.

Time to get rid
of skin tight suits of expectation,
black bin bag
the track pants of low self esteem.

Time to let go
of the dull, drab tones of disappointment
and Parental dismay.


Time to make room

for Jessica Rabbits red sequined dress

Happy New Year to you :o) I hope its a good one.

Thursday, 20 December 2012

Return of the Make

It's back! 

My creative mojo finally returned, just in time for a Christmas crafting frenzy.  

Unfortunately its arrival was not accompanied by any great fanfare. There were no bells or whistles. No purple peacocks, white Persian monkeys or dancing elephants. Not even one single spurt of excess energy to herald its homecoming.

Rather it slunk in very much like an errant youth fully cognisant of the upset its absence had caused and the lecture it would receive on its return

"You left without saying goodbye. You didn't call, you didn't write, not even a post card! I had no idea when you'd be back"

So it was a rather sullen mojo I was faced with. One that was not prepared to face the tundra like conditions downstairs ( I swear there is some bizarre space/time rift going on down there and my workroom is actually a wormhole to the arctic), sit behind a sewing machine for hours on end or do more than was absolutely necessary to get by. 

Was I daunted? Heck no! I'm the mother of teenage boys and do battle with sullenness on an almost daily basis, and usually win.  No workroom? Fine, I just brought some bits and bobs in to the house. No sewing machine? Okay, I concentrated on smaller projects that could be done by hand. Just enough to get by? Oh that one was easy, it's exactly my philosophy on dusting. 

A small table by the fire became my temporary workspace (as did most of the surrounding area, I'm not the tidiest of crafters!), and the last couple of weeks has seen a flurry of festive fabric, felt, buttons, beads and ribbon( lots of ribbon, lots and lots and lots...). I made more of the ever popular angels, fairies and  pinecone pals  to sell in a local craft shop and some  silk flower pendants  as gifts ( sorry you're having to look at old pictures but I've misplaced the camera...again) Eventually, faced with my constructive response to it's state of pique my mojo began to be a bit more co-operative, even offering a few flashes of inspiration once in a while.

My take on the 'Tomte'. With unravelled wool hair, a needle felted nose and a jauntily angled hat he sits on a peg so you can clip him anywhere ( I eventually found the camera!) 

However time is marching on, or about to end if you are that way inclined, and in a bid to prepare for Christmas I have had to relinquish my spot by the fire. Crafting is once more put on hold, though hopefully not for as long this time. I'll take the opportunity now to wish you a very happy festive season.

Merry Craftmas

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