Steam train celebrations

Whilst dotting out and about enjoying what little sunshine we have we ended up at Pickering (again!) and went to look at the steam train that had just pulled into the station. The first couple of carriages had been suitably decked out for a private party, I assume a ruby wedding from the sign on the front. What a wonderful way to mark a special occasion! It is my parent’s golden wedding in four years time and they took on board (no pun intended!) the idea of booking a carriage or two to celebrate with friends. They’re not really loud party people so this would suit them down to the ground – and it would feel very posh having a whole carriage (or two) to oneself :-)

Yves Saint Laurent

My mum booked me a spot on her quilting group’s outing a while back. Ordinarily I wouldn’t really be over enthusiastic about that but it was a visit to the Yves Saint Laurent exhibition at the Bowes Museum, and  tickets are as rare as hen’s teeth so I was rather pleased. In with the ticket price was lunch, served in one of the museum’s sumptuous rooms rather than taking place in the cafe. It felt very grand even though we only had soup and sandwiches! The Bowes museum was built by John and Josephine Bowes, to store their amazing collections of pictures, ceramics, antiques and general stuff. Due to Josephine’s French origins it was built to resemble a French chateau, not what you expect right up Teesdale!


I’ve been going to the Bowes museum ever since I can remember, so I am familiar with a lot of the collections. They often have some very well known exhibitions and if I’m interested it is close enough to visit whenever is convenient. The gardens are wonderful, especially in the summer on a rare day of sunshine and when the fountain is playing.


After lunch we had time to look round the museum, as entrance to the exhibition was on a timed ticket system and our time was 3pm. I mooched round the collection of paintings, which I love, ending up in the gallery in plenty of time for the daily performance of the famous Silver Swan. This automaton was created in 1772 and still works! The only other automaton of the time is in the Hermitage in St. Petersburg. I have also seen that one, which is a peacock, but not seen it working. I did take a video of the swan in action but WordPress doesn’t seem to allow me to upload it, so here is a picture instead. The craftsmanship is wonderful, don’t you think?


Onto the exhibition. There wasn’t just clothes, there was a video of the clothes being modelled on a catwalk, so that you could see how they moved on a real person, there was another video of YSL and one of his working partners describing how the clothes went from idea to model, which was very interesting. As well as examples of outfits, there were the toiles that he used to finalise details, which were wonderful to see.


There was also examples of prep work for beading and embroidery.


There was a shawl made entirely of beadwork, which was stunning, although I’m not sure how wearable it would have been. Possibly I don’t mix in the right circles!


Mum is of the right age to remember these styles coming out, and how different they were, although she didn’t wear designer labels. One of her sisters in law did and Mum can remember her “swanning about in them” as she put it! She remembers how avant garde trouser suits were and how people weren’t allowed to wear them to work for a long time.


Being more of a dress girl I loved many of his dresses, although there is no way they would go over my left leg, let alone fit me!!

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Some of them seemed to be a bit over the top to be worn to any function, but I am sure that they must have been, especially in the 70’s and 80’s, when fashion did go a bit over the top, led by haute couture.

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Some of the outfits haven’t really dated, or they’re coming back into vogue now, I’m not sure which. Mum really liked the Mondriaan inspired dress and said that she used to wear dresses of that style when she was younger (i.e. pre-children!)


I thought this one looked like a 1920’s schoolgirl outfit, clearly YSL was inspired by school stories!


And a few more gratuitous photos of clothes.

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The exhibition runs until October and if you are given the chance to go, I would. There was an interesting mix of people there; many were of an age to remember the clothing styles first time around, they may even have worn them. Others were clearly fashion students; what a great opportunity to have! Others just amused me. They tottered their way around talking as if they knew all about the fashion world when it was clear that they didn’t, they just sounded silly. I found it wonderful to be able to see the design and the workmanship that had gone into each piece, some of them really were labours of love.

Although I have posted this on Instagram, I shall still blog about it for any readers that do not follow me on Instagram (or linked social media). The pattern is called “Made So Quickly” from Susan Crawford’s A Stitch In Time vol 1 and I used Louisa Harding’s  Ianthe (now discontinued). According to Ravelry it is called Fuchsia but it is more of a reddy pink, like watermelon sorbet. The buttons are made by me, using Liberty Tana Lawn in Winchester S. Coincidentally both pattern and fabric design are from the 1930s :-)

Made So Quickly

I feel as if I will get a  lot of wear out of this, and I am even contemplating knitting a long sleeved one in wool for the winter. We shall see, though. There are so many pretty patterns and not enough time to make them all. If only I had a rich husband or an independent income!!!

July so far

At the end of June I received some excellent news; one of my oldest friends had safely delivered her first baby. It wasn’t the easiest birth but both were safe and well. I organised to go to London so that I could see the baby. I haven’t included a photo because I forgot to ask permission, although I don’t think I’d be allowed as New Mum isn’t a fan of social media. However I can report that he is very tiny, very cuddly and only cries when wet/hungry/cold/hot/uncomfortable. A perfectly placid child 👶

London is rather a long way to go for one day so I (and my bank balance) decided to spend most of two days travelling (I went by coach) and have two days. H, with whom I was staying, took the Friday off and we went to Canterbury and Whitstable. I’d never been to either place and I had a wonderful day. Canterbury had a lot of lovely little shops and I could have spent a fortune, an urge only repressed by the fact that I had to carry anything I bought onto the coach. Whitstable was a lovely place. We didn’t go into the town but to a place just outside. There we dined at the elegant Marine Hotel

After dinner we had another walk along the front, admiring all the beach huts. I was filled with beach-hut-envy!

H and I spent a wonderful time planning our fantasy beach huts! They would be at least twice the size of these beach huts and very luxurious.

Here are a few of my favourite ones…

I love the Art Deco look of this one, in particular the green and cream colourway.
There will always be blue skies here.

Blue and white was a popular combination for beach huts. It looks so fresh and summery.
This one made me smile because our local psychiatric unit was called St. Luke’s until fairly recently, although we decided that this hut belonged to the Scouts.
Beach huts from begin, showing the sea.
Walking along the front we saw some splendid houses but I only took a photo of one (remiss of me, I know). This house would have been perfect if Monsieur Poirot decided to holiday at Whitstable. It is so 1930s, not a curve in sight! One very modern house, we were somewhat horrified to notice, had a floor to ceiling window in the bathroom!!!!!

When I did my post holiday accounts I am very glad that I have no big financial plans for the rest of July. Instead I have a long list of books to read, crafting to finish and a rather late, much needed spring clean to complete.

I have wanted to make my own clothes for ages, indeed I dipped my toes into the water years ago and successfully made a 50’s circle skirted dress. Sadly with one thing and another I didn’t venture any further. A couple of weeks ago, however, I went on a dressmaking day course where I began on a pencil skirt. Unlike some day courses which I’ve attended it was very relaxed, everybody worked at their own speed, there was no feeling of being in “the dunce’s corner” and everybody was very supportive.

Life is a bit manic at the moment so it wasn’t until this past week that I had time to pick my project up again. It was a cold and rainy day so I set my machine up and got everything out. By the time it was time to put tea on to cook I had a complete skirt and I was very pleased with it

Now I know where there is an excellent dressmaking fabric stall (Darlington market, a bit of a trek but worth it) I am going to dig out the patterns that I have squirreled away over the years – mostly vintage repro ones – and have a try at some other garments.

Cyber space ate my original post so I shall try and remember what sparkling thoughts I came out with for another go.

Before Christmas I took advantage of Collectif’s 50% off everything code and bought myself a new skirt and jumper that I had admired a couple of months ago. Due to 700 people trying to buy clothes at the same time, plus Christmas and New Year holidays they only arrived today but they cheer up a grey winter day splendidly.

Beau Jumper:


Polly Noelle Skirt:


I do like the Scandinavian jumper they’ve teamed with the skirt but alas pre-Christmas funds ran out :-(

After Christmas I headed for the Boxing Day sales from the comfort of my own settee and bought two dresses from Lady V London. They were less than half price and I would have bought a dress in the summer anyway so it was nice to get two for the price of one.

Pretty summer birdies Hepburn:


Dark red with white polka dots and a pretty bow, style Isabella


These two beauties are why I didn’t go back and buy the Scandinavian jumper from Collectif!

As I was putting my exciting parcels away in the wardrobe I decided to have a clear out. I had quite a few things that simply don’t fit any more and, thanks to medication, losing weight to fit them would be fighting a losing battle. Instead I am going to (try to) keep to approximately the weight I am now and if any medical personnel moan that I need to lose weight I shall politely point out that at least I’m not putting it on! So as I write I have a slightly emptier wardrobe and a sack full of clothes for the Teesside Hospice.

Mulling things over in my mind I thought that in the future I will have to streamline my budget and so maybe I need to look at what clothes I have, what outfits can be made from them and what (if anything) I need to make a priority to buy over the next year. So that is my resolution. To do this by the end of January and keep copies of the list in my handbag and in my tablet case so that any sales/shopping urges that come up over the next few months will see me buying clothes that I really need, not just because they’re a bargain. That’s my only resolution this year. I don’t usually make any because I break them by 1st January, but this one is achievable.

Oh and my only other sale bargain was a much needed new hairdryer. My old one has been making funny noises for the last couple of months and really alarming noises since Christmas. As there was a hairdryer that is £35 in Boots going for £9.99 in the Argos sale I decided to replace it before it exploded and burnt all my hair off! That will be it for buying nice things for a while. We get paid early in December so having to make already paltry wages stretch another two weeks is a struggle. Calling work and saying I can’t afford to travel in because I’ve spent all my money on pretty dresses and make up wouldn’t go down very well 😜

Goodbye 2014

This past year has just been…….nothing special, nothing particularly bad has happened, thank goodness but nothing spectacularly good either. Just your everyday good things that make a day bearable.

2015 holds a lot of promise – more on which later. I hope that it all turns out for me, and I am working hard to make it so.

May 2015 hold many good things for you, my readers.



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