Unsurprisingly, given how ubiquitous halloween has become here in the UK, last week’s OddBox contained a pumpkin.
I think this is my first experience of having a whole pumpkin in the house. I’ve carved one before but I normally substitute butternut squash or pumpkin in recipes.
I decided to try a new pancake recipe that Anna tagged me in on Instagram.
The batter is fantastically smooth and these are much more like traditional pancakes than the egg and banana ones I normally have. I wasn’t crazy about the flavour but I steamed enough pumpkin to try again. I’ll try adding more cinnamon and using more exciting toppings. Maybe a berry compote and some soured cream.
I actually hate pumpkin spice lattes so maybe I’m just not a fan of that flavour combination.
I was also invited to a Halloween party and in a bit of a quandary about what to do about wearing a costume. I’m generally quite lazy when it comes to fancy dress. I’ve never been able to see the point of buying things to wear only once so my costumes have tended be assembled from things I already own or can re-use. For example, a few years ago I dressed as Super Mario.
I can’t believe I used to post such terrible images on my blog! I bought the dungarees and top secondhand (on eBay, but still). The top and hat entered my regular wardrobe, the box was used to package a gift and I upcycled the dungarees into my Cateralls.
I have a pink wig, a shameful leftover from the year I dressed as Nicki Minaj and I had to buy a second wig because I’d accidentally ordered the first from China). I was quite keen to wear that but didn’t have much to go with it. I looked around a couple of local charity shops for inspiration and found this Wonder Woman costume for £6. It was a no-brainer.
After looking at some images of WW online, I was very tempted to buy a headband to finish the costume off. I’m pretty sure the costume had a horrible wig with it- thankfully the charity shop employee didn’t realise. It was much more fun and empowering to be a brown Wonder Woman with my own hair out.
Anyway, after nearly purchasing an official Marvel headband on Amazon I decided instead to get a metre of gold ribbon and make my own.
It’s funny to realise how I still feel drawn to buy things in order to make experiences ‘more fun’ or legitimate. Luckily I hadn’t had the idea sooner or I would have probably bought an expensive handmade head piece on Etsy and justified it by saying I’d ‘saved money’ on the costume so it’s okay to splurge on the accessories. Capitalism is so deeply engrained and pernicious.
In the end I was thrilled with my costume and thoroughly enjoyed wearing it. I’m so grateful to the person who donated this perfectly good item to be loved again rather than going to landfill.
A disadvantage of trying to reduce waste is becoming hyper-aware of how wasteful society is. Here I share things that have bothered or worried me.
I still haven’t found a way to compost my food waste. I’ve started saving some veg scraps in the freezer to make stock but this only works for a small proportion of vegetables. I’m researching community composting but it’s quite slow going. I’ve tried emailing some local parks with greenhouses. I’m on the verge of wild composting (aka collecting the scraps and dumping them in a park).
I just saw a video about Germans being legally obliged to compost and I really wish that our government would start taking the health of the planet more seriously. Instead, my taxes are wasted on Brexit nonsense. I’m at the point where I would pay to have my food waste composted but no one seems to be offering this service in London.
Last week I went to Wilderness festival. I have been mostly blissfully ignorant of the rubbish problem when I have attended festivals before. I’m sure I felt a little bothered by the bins full of disposable cups and plates, and the massive piles of perfectly good items that attendees leave behind. But now my eyes are much more open to the problem.
I armed myself with my vacuum flask, water bottle, keep cup, metal straw and cutlery. This was quite a lot of equipment to have with me at all times, but I brought my beloved yellow backpack along largely for the purpose of carrying these items. Aaaaand…. like the best laid plans of mice and men, it went completely out of the window.
I learnt that I actually find it very difficult to make a special request for myself when the infrastructure is not set up to deal with it. All of the plating was set up and I just felt bad asking the vendors to change it so that it would fit in my containers. Wilderness has a lot of ego-massaging placatory messages, such as the dishes being compostable, but of course there is a lot of upstream waste associated with making the disposable items.
Because I am extra af and dangerously addicted to espresso, I took my stovetop coffee maker and milk frother for my morning flat white. So I at least didn’t use any coffee cups during the weekend.
One thing that the zero waste mindset helped me with was with making purchases. Wilderness is a festival where people feel very free to dress outlandishly, which I am very much on board with. This year was one of my first festival experiences where I had some disposable income available. It would have been very easy to spend a lot of money on items that are just not wearable in any other context. I was very much enamoured of this pompom headdress.
In the end, I bought a vintage beaded jacket that was actually very restrained for the festival, but just about straddles the line between jazzy and useful in my real life.
I also bought some little sparkly jewels to wear on my forehead because I couldn’t resist getting a little something.
The festival did allow me to get out some much-loved but seldom-worn items. I wore my rocket Southport dress for just the second time and it was perfect for this event.
I brought the circuit sentiments kit I have had at home for years and used it to fashion my own light-up headdress using a flower crown I bought a few years ago on eBay. The LED kits are the kind of impulse craft purchase that I would like to stop making as much. I used a few of the items to make my Port Charlotte jumper light up when I was pretending it was a Christmas jumper.
I’ve wanted to take part in the series of sewing workshops to make the 1960s coat for ages, but the time was never right. At first, I was not an experienced enough sewist to undertake such a complex project. The workshop then became unavailable for an absolute age. So, when I saw that it was up and running again, I booked straightaway. I’ve been wearing some incarnation of a red coat for more than ten years now and my current version is really threadbare. I would have liked to replace it two seasons ago but red coats are not easy to come by. Now I’m going to try and make my own.
Photo taken from the Sew Over It website.
The course notes state that 3m each of fashion fabric and lining, so the first step was to go shopping. My job semi-regularly takes me near the Goldhawk Road and I hoped that this was where I would find the perfect red wool. I didn’t have a huge amount of time, so I just headed to my best-loved shops. I was tempted by a bolt-end of red crepe in Misan West- £50 for 5m was a bargain, but wool crepe isn’t really right for a winter coat. They also had some nice red wool with a sort of herringbone pattern (£35/m) that was my only other option.
Goldbrick Fabrics is my favourite shop on Goldhawk Road. They have a great selection, good customer service, which is very important to me, and they didn’t let me down. The woman who helped me pulled out a sample of a wool and cashmere mix that was utter heaven. A stunning shade of pillarbox red that felt as beautiful as it looked. I balked a little when I saw that it was nearly £80/m, but I had to have it. Yolo. The lady was willing to negotiate, so I thought it made sense to buy my lining there too. I am a huge fan of a jazzy lining, so I had to have this patterned purple viscose.
All in, I spent £220 on the fabric for this coat. The course was just over £160, which means that by the time I get buttons and interfacing, I will have dropped more than £400 on my new coat- double what I spent on my last (red wool and cashmere mix) coat from John Lewis.
I like to be clear about prices because people often don’t realise the cost- both financial and in terms of time- associated with being a maker. On the other hand, this is a wonderful opportunity. I will spend twelve hours in the company of an expert dressmaker learning how to make something that is literally tailored to my body and my style. It makes sense to invest in fabulous fabric when I have someone so experienced to guide me through the process of creating this garment.
I had to leave the workshop early (for very exciting reasons that I hope to be able to reveal soon) so only managed to alter the pattern.
I think my whole Sunday will be spent cutting and ironing!
A couple of years ago, I moved into my first house in London with a garden. Despite my terror of creepy-crawlies, I cleared it and planted some pumpkins that I’d grown from seed. Unfortunately the pumpkins succumbed to some kind of parasite or something after they flowered, so they never grew to full maturity.
I moved house again in September. Even though my new house also has a (nicer) small garden, gardening was pretty far down on the list of my priorities. However, I did buy some cute hedgehog-shaped herb planters from the shop at the Wellcome Collection.
All of these things convinced me to switch the focus of my limited amount of gardening time from outside to inside. I occasionally worry about the fact that I am dying a slow death due to to levels of air pollution in London. Someone once told me that going for a run outdoors causes more harm to your health than good due to the dodgy air. No idea if that is a fact fact or an alternative fact, but it stuck with me and I decided to buy some plants that claim to have air-purifying qualities; a peace lily and two varieties of aloe vera.
I also bought these from This Way to the Circus on Etsy.
* Cat with heart eyes emoji*
Soon after my plants arrived from the internet. (Garden centre, what??) I followed the directions as best I could to re-pot them.
I’ve got to say that I’m thrilled with how they’re looking so far. I am considering creating a spreadsheet for perceived levels of air cleanliness over time.
Before long, I was struck with the fear that I may not be able to keep my plant babies alive. I have killed many a plant in my time. Hopefully the investment I made in these plants will help encourage me to look after them properly. If I manage, I can see more greenery in my future.
I have had a crazy few weeks with very little time for craft. As things have calmed down, I have found myself being drawn to creative tasks again, which is a sign that I’m feeling better. Mostly I’ve been planning exciting projects for the summer and beyond, but I’ve also been doing a few rows of my League sweater here and there, and somehow I have nearly finished the boring knitting on the front, ready to start some intarsia.
I got quite a bit of work done on this while watching Serena winning her historic 22nd major title in tennis, which was so inspirational. Watching her eponymous documentary courtesy of the BBC was very emotional and it’s nice to know that those memories will be associated with this sweater.
I fancied doing another sewing workshop and these Carrie trousers caught my eye.
They look like they will be very useful for smart casual summer wear and travelling. I got time to go shopping on the Goldhawk Road to get some fabric. I love imagining the joyful projects made from fabrics like these.
I decided I needed to see in person how the minis looked next to different colours and textures of yarn so I made a pilgrimage to Knit With Attitude in Stoke Newington. It was strange to be back in Stokey, where I lived for three years in my early twenties. The staff in KWA were great but unfortunately nothing in their stock was quite right due to my pickiness. It was a very helpful trio though. I had envisioned using grey as my background colour but no greys really made the minis pop. This slightly muted blue was the best option.
I later popped into a second LYS, with which I have a chequered past, and found this stunning aubergine yarn.
I can’t wait for it to arrive so I can swatch.
It’s nice to have projects to look forward to.