Sisterhood of the World Bloggers Award – Part One

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Many, many thanks to Catherine, of Catherine the Teacher (her blog about living history, sewing and crafting is great – you must check it out) for nominating me for a Sisterhood of the World Bloggers Award. I know some people crinkle their nose a bit at these meme awards, but I appreciate knowing my writing means something to my audience and my schnoz is 100% crinkle-free.

As is the custom with these things, there are rules:

1. Thank the blogger who nominated you, linking back to their site. (√)
2. Put the Award logo on your blog. (√)
3. Answer the ten questions sent to you. (√)
4. Make up ten new questions for your nominees to answer. (√)
5. Nominate ten blogs. (√)

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The questions put to me are:

1. What type of music and/or movies do you like to have on while you work (work = sewing/creating art).

I love creating to the sound of rain and the smell of damp earth. I grew up in a very dry part of the US and rain is comforting for me. Even better is the that special silence that comes with snow…pure magic.

Otherwise it’s music, and my tastes are wide-ranging. Classical, zydeco, international music from just about anywhere (French chanson, bagpipes [yeah, I’m one of THEM]), gospel, blues, Gregorian chant, a capella (how I miss Anonymous Four)…just about anything other than hard core acid jazz, twangy/tight-throated/nasal Country Western (with apologies to fans of Ms. Tammy Wynette and her “D.I.V.O.R.C.E.“) or Tuvan Throat Singing (which I appreciate as an art form but just cannot get into).

For knitting, it’s television or movies all the way. Here again, my tastes are all over the map – from “Arsenic and Old Lace” to “History of the British Monarchy” to “Amelie” to “Who Killed Roger Rabbit?” and more. I tend to stick with British TV series, but like both British and American crime/mystery – as long as it contains a good dose of intelligent wit and humor amongst the nasty bits, like “Castle”, “Blue Monday”, “Vera”, “Waking the Dead”, “Miss Marple Mysteries” , “Poirot” and “The Miss Phryne Fisher Murder Mysteries” (which is Australian and just the thing when one needs a dose of the 1920’s).

2. What gives you the most satisfaction while working on a new project?

Tied for first place are the planning/research phase and taking the last stitch.

3. What inspires you the most when you are mulling over what to create next?

Pinterest boards, historic fashion plates and historical sewing blogs. I’m strongly visual, so being able to see the forms, colors and techniques is the way to go for me.

4. Does it bother you if your pet lays on your fabric, paper etc while you are trying to work? And what are your pet(s) names?

For a long time I had cats, and if one has cats one must abandon any fantasies about pristine projects and solitary pursuits. (Don’t be fooled, it’s not about sharing time together. They know they need to keep an eye on you).

I currently have a rescue dog, Sophie. She’s a miniature poodle/terrier mix: smart, learns fast, channels Sarah Bernhardt when begging for treats, and loves to run around outdoors (unless it’s raining, then she transforms into Miss Dainty Paws…hates wet grass). She’s pretty good about staying clear of hand sewing…mostly because I’m pretty good at channeling Sarah Bernhardt if she tried to jump into my lap when I’m holding a sharp needle. Knitting, however, is another thing. (I think she’s a closet “Cat’s Cradle” fanatic.)

5. How long ago did you get involved in your hobby?

Oh, if only there was just one. In general: I’ve been machine sewing since the age of eight, embroidering since about 10 or 11, started making my own clothes in earnest somewhere around age of 12, learned to knit (horribly) in high school. I helped myself through nursing school by sewing uniforms for the nurses during the white double-knit polyester years and got into needlepoint and petitpoint in my thirties. I’ve been fascinated by historical dress for as long as I can remember, truly, but only started learning how to make historically based clothing in 2010 (I think). And throw in a couple of decades of quilting, too.

6. What is the ultimate garment that you yearn to create?

I would love to make a Robe à la française in some seriously gorgeous silk and get it 100% spot on. I’ve only recently come to like the style, but now I’m completely enamored of it and them. The next decade’s lookin’ good, so maybe I’ll whip up a little something like these:

7. What has been the mistake that taught you the most?

Being so fired up with enthusiasm when I started this that I went out and bought a ton of fabric and patterns before I knew what I should be buying. A rank beginner has no business ordering 12 – count ’em, twelve – Ageless Patterns™.

8. If you have any advice for someone just starting out in the hobby, what would it be?

(See #7.)

9. Who has been the biggest inspiration and/or mentor when working on projects and/or keeping you motivated?

She doesn’t know it, or me for that matter, but my biggest inspiration comes from Merja in Finland, who has two blogs: Before the Automobile and The Aristocat (that’s not a typo). Her combination of research, historical accuracy, fashion sense, historically appropriate construction techniques and the ability to achieve perfect fit – A PERFECT FIT!! – is literally, for me at least, jaw-dropping. When I grow up I want to sew like she does. If only.

I’ve taken a number of classes from Jennifer Rosbrugh (historicalsewing.com) and they’ve transformed my sewing. She is a great teacher, has a wonderful personality, and is a fabulous coach. I will never neglect to flatline a Victorian-era skirt again.

The third piece of inspiration and mentor-ship comes from my readers. Really and truly. They usually know more than I do. I am comfortable asking the most ridiculous questions because they are kind. (Plus, I respond well to the threat of abject public humiliation, so they inspire me to not get sloppy or do things like using polyester for a Civil War Era ball gown because it’s cheap and machine washes easily…and using a zipper to boot.) They help keep me honest and that means a lot to me.

10. If you could attend any event (historical or otherwise) what would it be and why?

Oh, dear – this is a toughie.

For the present day, I’d give a kidney to participate in the annual Jane Austen bash in Bath, England. So many fellow enthusiasts and history buffs in historical costume – everyday dress, the promenade along The Crescent, the ball, the food and drink, even the proper accent! I think it would be a very fun pseudo-Regency-immersion experience. (“Pseudo” because, well, it’s now, not then.)

As for historical times and events, as long at I don’t 1) get the Plague, 2) get married off to some jerk as part of a doomed political alliance, 3) end up having 18 children (especially with the jerk from #2), 4) have to eek out an existence at the bottom of the economic and social ladder, 5) have the starring role in some human sacrifice ritual or 5) get burned as a witch – I’m pretty open to suggestions.

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Tomorrow: my ten nominees and the questions for them.

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