Friday Five: Five great places to get a retro sewing/knitting fix

Subversive Lesbian Anarchic Knitterseriously, how can you not love a site with a name like that? And she has some utterly beautiful vintage knitting patterns available, for free, on her site.

Mrs Depew Vintage has patterns from a range of eras, all downloadable and print-at-homeable. While there are quite a few for ‘intermediate’ sewers, the styles are just beautiful, and a good way to learn some new skills. At least I think so.

If you want to go REALLY retro (or you have a thing for Steampunk), then Truly Victorian is the place for you. I’ve made several of their patterns- they take a LOT of fabric but the results are gorgeous. If you’re serious about the Victorian look (at least the womenswear) the bustle petticoat is a must. And if you have a thing for trim, Victorian is the era for you. Basically it’s Step One: add trims until you think there’s probably too much and too many, Step Two: add more trim, Step Three: Fabulousness. See how I give you an excuse to buy more trim? Or maybe to use a bunch of the trims you already have lying around- if you’re the sort of person who HAS trims lying around. I don’t assume- I read a craft magazine once that presented a project for “your stash of gorgeous vintage silk handkerchieves.” Who has a stash of vintage silk handkerchieves? (If you do, then yay for you. It’s nice to have a stash of something.)

For a little knitting snack, how about this gorgeous polka dot ascot and beret from ZilRedLoh? Haven’t you always, when someone asks “what are you knitting?” wanted to be able to answer “an ascot”? Of course, it’s also fun to be able to answer “a ball gag”. I know this from experience. But it’s not so retro-chic.

And finally, for an easy way to retro-ify your outfit (admittedly this won’t work if you’re wearing a onesie, or a tracksuit, but it would probably work on jeans and a striped top, for example), here’s a tutorial for making a retro turban out of an old t-shirt. Retro AND waste-not-want-not upcycly goodness. I’m planning on making one of these very soon, and accessorising with a fabulous brooch or maybe some feathers. Or both. Because why not get all Norma Desmond with it? Exactly.

Friday Five: Five ways to stay warm this winter (Southern hemisphere ftw!)

It’s freaking cold. I do not approve. I read a lot of blogs and content from you lucky Northern Hemisphere peeps about summer and stuff to do when it’s warm and getting outside. It’s great, and come November you’d better believe I’ll be putting those ideas into practice, but right now the idea of frolicking outside is, much of the time, for crazy people. It’s cold, it’s dark, I do not want to get out of bed in the morning because as soon as I put a part of a limb outside my duvet-and-all-the-blankets cocoon, I am reminded that the rest of the world is not as warm as my bed. At work, lots of people are bringing in hot water bottles and one woman even has an electric blanket draped over her chair (to be fair, it’s yet another bad thing at my work that the heating is currently buggered). So to stay positive, and to get a bit Southern Hemisphere Represent (yo) up in here, I give you five great things to do to stay warm.

Hot water bottle

An oldie, but a goodie- especially as it’s an excellent excuse to make yourself a funky hot water bottle cover. “No, that’s definitely MY hottie, look, it’s got up to look like a penguin. Or if waterfowl aren’t your thing, perhaps you’d prefer a Hot Water TARDIS? Or how about a simple beginner’s cozy?

Thermals!

From flanelette bed sheets to merino leggings, thermals are all kinds of awesome. I only discovered them after moving to New Zealand- winter sheets, in particular, were a revelation being used as I was to freezing in cotton sheets until they warmed up. Best of all, they allow me to continue to wear some of my favourite dresses throughout the year, meaning I can have a smaller wardrobe of clothes (very useful when you’re trying to declutter).

A muff

So toasty warm, so vintage, the muff- also known as a smitten- is a super-elegant way to keep your hands warm…and if you’re a giant sap you can also use it to hold hands with your beloved when you’re out and about. I have a purple faux fur one, and it always adds a little vintage super-spy strut to my step when I wear it. If you’re in Wellington and sew, I’d highly recommend the Dreamstress School of Sewing- and this winter the lovely Leimomi is running a Make a Muff class. Or you could always knit/crochet one like this Tiny Violet Hand Puff from Tiny Owl Knits (can you even? Gorgeous). Or you could just find one from Etsy. I mean, this winter wonderland one is rather over the top, but how about something like this 1940s/50s style one– wear it with a vintage dress and imagine you’re an extra in White Christmas. Of course, that pin-up style isn’t everyone’s thing, which brings me on to the other kind of muff (no, not that kind of muff):

Ear muffs!

A couple of years back, I was part of a team for the 48 hour film festival, taking on the role of props chinchilla (this is what happens when I mishear what someone says). While out grabbing things for the film, a friend and I stumbled upon sets of furry earmuffs. On a whim, we bought them. It turned out to be one of the best decisions we made that day. There was already a chill in the air, but after 3 or 4 hours outside in a nature reserve, we were seriously freezing- the earmuffs proved to be an absolute life saver. And there are so many different styles! From Nordic embroidered ones to Hayao Miyazaki-inspired soot sprite ear muffs,  to full on Katamari Damacy ones, there’s bound to be a pair out there to suit you. 

Snuggling

Well obviously. What can I say? The Best Beloved is visiting this weekend, and I plan to take full advantage of it (it helps that he runs hot). If you’re in a relationship (or even if you have a friend who is as cold this winter as you are), snuggles are the best and winter is an excellent excuse for them. Not that you need an excuse.

What about you? What are you favourite ways to stay warm?