Thursday, April 21, 2011

These are a few of my favorite things

Silk stockings. Yes, silk. Still made today (for a king's ransom) but I wear vintage. Deadstock, if I'm lucky.

Rayon stockings. Cotton stockings (with silk clocks, even better).

I've been lucky this year, after a long run of not being so lucky. Old stockings are still around, but they're not always easy to find. This year and the second half of last year I've found 20s and 30s stockings.

About ten years ago I found a box of three pairs of 40s stockings. They were marked "service weight", which I think means that they were to spec for wearing while in uniform. I could be wrong, but in any case, they are amazing. It's been ten years and I still have all three. There are a few pulls or snags, but not a single run! Amazing.

Now, I don't wear stockings every day by any means, as some vintage enthusiasts do, but they still get a workout for special occasions. They're the right thing to wear, after all, with vintage dresses. And stockings are far more comfortable than panty hose--believe me!

It's not always a foregone conclusion that the stockings you buy, even if deadstock, will be wearable. Silk in particular is prone to drying out so badly that a run zings down the leg as you're oh-so-carefully easing on the first one (this usually happens, of course, when you're on vacation and don't have a lot of spares on hand).

Real stockings, like good socks, come in sizes. Your stocking size is not the same as your shoe size. It's closer to a rough measurement (in inches) of the length of your foot. They came in long and short and regular. Some had reinforced toes, fancy clocks, even hand-painted designs on the sides. Until the 1960s, they all had seams.

Stockings can be held up by a girdle, garter belt, or plain old elastic garters (if you're in a 20s mood, feel free to slide jazz garters on under the roll created by rolling the stocking top around the elastic garter).

They're correct, sexy, make your legs look better, and can make an outfit.

Just the same, there are days when I leave them off, like Gertrude Lawrence did (in the 30s, it was considered positively outrageous).

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Not Knitting

The golf socks have stalled out for now. I started a "cat blankie" last night; just a simple lace pattern in charcoal worsted. It'll probably be as much a shawl (albeit rectangular) as cat blanket.

In other 20s-style hand-made crafts, see above. I made the headpiece over a two-week period. It's based on a French design from the 1920s, but is considerably more complicated...because I couldn't find enough pearl beads of one size to make it as shown in the illustration I had!

The base is black figured velvet, with some shaping. I made a paper pattern first, and backed it with interfacing. All of the bead work is done by hand (no glue, or pre-made sections). The pearls are glass bead pearls, and the finished piece is heavy!

I haven't given into temptation and weighed it yet, but I probably will one of these days.

It's the first one I've constructed entirely from scratch and I'm pretty well pleased with it. I've kept the paper pattern for other, similar headpieces.

(The photo is courtesy of Providence Pin-Up, and it was taken at a Chifferobe event this past weekend.)

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Still working on it..., because I am still on Golf Stocking #1. But the toe will be coming up soon, and then we go all over again. Luckily, I know that my husband will really appreciate these, so it's certainly worthwhile.

I am also working on a beaded headband for an upcoming event for Providence's Cocktail Week: the Chifferobe evening, this coming Saturday. It's got a way to go, even though I am using larger beads than usual. I hope it comes out well.

The next knitting project is something I haven't decided on just yet. A 30s suit might be nice, but I'll have to see if I have enough of any one yarn to make one. (A friend gifted me with a lovely Bakelite cape fastener, and it would look good on a knitted piece.)

It's spring, though. And for some reason, I want to knit lace in the springtime. There are a couple of beautiful patterns on the new Knitty issue, and I can always dig through stitch treasuries or old pattern books.

What do you like to knit in the spring? Any suggestions?

Monday, April 11, 2011

Newsflash: Spring! FINALLY here. Or so it would seem.

Saturday, April 09, 2011

Review: The Manual of Detection, by Jedediah Berry

This is a modern book: 2009. I beg your pardon. I mean, this book was written recently, but it will be around for a long while. If you're another who loves old books and classic literature, don't worry; I think you're going to enjoy this a lot.

Its roots are deep, and they reach into more than one place. In the acknowledgments the author says, "This book is dedicated to my mother, Maureen Berry Bliss, who is always looking for a good mystery."

Yes, it's a mystery. An elegant, intricate, noir-infused puzzler. It also reaches into science fiction, and fantasy; urban faerie, in a way. When you read it, you will probably find categories of your own. You'll probably find them because its author didn't limit himself to the painstaking categories that Charles Unwin (good name; you'll like it more once you're reading) once found completely necessary to a correct life.

Mr. Unwin is a clerk in an unnamed city. This city has echoes of Manhattan, New England, even, to my mind, San Francisco and upstate New York. It's a real city where the scent of the subway rises to your nostrils and the people who populate it go about their various businesses carefully ignoring the bustle--or quiet--surrounding them.

Charles's job has been his life for years, until he sees the woman in the plaid coat.

Then it begins...a whirlwind, inexplicable week or so of the impossible...or is it impossible?

The realities turn sideways, no one is the person he or she is supposed to be, and Charles finds the world upside down. In his efforts to right it and return to his safe, comfortable niche he finds more impossible things before next breakfast than Alice ever dreamed of finding out.

I'll leave it at that. I could not possibly explain it properly, even if I wanted to spoil it for you. Not only can Jed Berry weave a fascinating plot and strangely real people into an unreal but possible place, his writing is superb.

Treat yourself to a copy, mete it out carefully, in smallish doses, so it doesn't run out too quickly, and enjoy.