Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Fashion Feminista Rant

On Thursday, the CBC ran a brief story noting the fact that there are disproportionately few women in politics.  It quotes the NDP's failure to reach it's own policy of gender parity, as well as the Sask Party's low representation of female voice.  My first reaction to hearing this story referenced on the radio was like when you are sitting at a soccer game enjoying a salty bag of spitz, and then you bit into a bad one.  The nastiness permeates your mouth and sinuses instantly.  Then you just can't get rid of it.  And frankly, you are a little afraid of spitz, fearing you have broken that invisible barrier into the bad section of the bag.  I can only imagine one job I would like to have even less, and that would be accounting. (no offence) I am an extreem introvert, and a creative person not given to a structured life.  Not for me.  But someone should represent me.  I really don't like the idea of a bunch of men sitting around the table deciding what's best in my regard.  And I think of my sisters of the past who fought diligently to get the vote for women.  Now we have the vote, but we brush off the representation of those votes?  That doesn't seem right either.

So I have had a few days to mull this over.  Women in politics.  All the while my fingers are feverishly snipping, and stitching on a sleek and stunning suit of clothing for the Be Discovered Charity Event. (more details on that later) What kind of woman goes into politics?  Is there a kind?  Do we have a responsibility to do our share of this duty, or is it just for a chosen few?  I'm not sure.  One thing I am sure about is that politics is still serious business.  It is a careful, calculated, orchestrated flow of acts and efforts which few have the competence to accomplish.  Clearly, Mr. Stockwell Day has shown us that we as a nation are not ready for media stunts to highlight and bolster campaigns, like the sports hero's and rock star's pr teams can conjure.  It's strictly old school charity events, baby kissing, wine/cheese/hamburger events and the occasional name calling in the political game.  What's this got to do with women?  Lots. 

Ok, now I am going to jump ahead to Tuesday night at the Regina Fashion Collective.  The place is packed with people, just hanging about.  There is a bit of anxiety in the air, made palpable by the 2 or 3 people buzzing around getting information, directing, discussing, meeting.  It's a fashion moment in history, the first group fitting at the collective.  This is the fitting I have been dreading for weeks.

I know this part of the story doesn't seem to fit in, but please bear with me.  I am going to be very honest with you my dear faceless crowd of readers.  Just like politics, I constantly wonder if fashion is a business that you have to belong to.  I can design, I can make a good coat, but I don't belong.  Square peg.  I looked around that fitting room at all those lanky 6' something models and the funky designers with their wild colourful dresses and I thought of politics.  Damn, there is something wrong with my head!  I'm a different kind of women than these.  Is that ok?  Will I be able to sell that?  I have tried changing and it just doesn't work that way.

There is a lot in this world I would give up to have my 18 year old body back.  True.  But is that what it's all about?  Is that important in life?  Are you really serving your community, country, your culture by designing another dress that shows your ass when you bend over to pick something up.  Is that what being a woman is all about?  Be the best bar bait you can be?  When did it go out of fashion to be taken seriously?  On the weekend I watched the film Bridesmaids (which is right up my, ahem, alley, in the potty humour department.) one of the characters is the obligatory fat bridesmaid, Meagan, played by Melissa McCarthy.  This character made the movie.  She has what many women, (dare I say half her size) dream of having, total acceptance of herself, complete confidence and the drive to make a difference with everything she's got! 

Here's my point (finally) when you look at these loverly ladies lined up, ask yourself which one of them could end up being our Prime Minister?  Well, is it the beauties?  No.  Because we will all ask them if they are able to handle the load of numbers involved in running a country, or if they have a hidden agenda to shag some foreign minister.  If she get's married and settles down, then people will say she isn't a good mother/leader of the country.  Women continue to be measured by their sexuality, and that perception is used to judge all other areas of her life.  So sadly, the fat homely woman would win that competition because she is fully aware of herself and she has consciously shaped that persona therefore she possesses powerful and imposing confidence.  Is this sad because she is unshapely and unsexy?  No, it is sad because there are so few people like her.  She is a rare woman.  That is why there aren't more women in politics.  I want to live in a culture that values this quality in a woman more than how pouty her lips are, or how short she dares to wear her skirt. 

So back to fashion.  Be it resolved that women who have great things to say, and great advances to make in the vast nation of Canada, will find beautiful and inspiring clothing to wear that will support their message spoken as a powerful, eloquent, confident, influential, respected, whole and complete woman from Deanna Tanner Fashion Designer & Tailor.  In Meagan's words, "I got your back!"

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Considerations When Preparing for a Fashion Show

I have 2 styles on the runway in less than 2 weeks time for the Be Discovered final Red Carpet Charity Event.  It is the final competition for the selection of this years model search, and is a big deal event for the models, the event producers, the charity and last but not least the designers.

The Regina Fashion Collective is entering designs as a group, showing against some very established national retailers in Regina.  We have decided to each produce one or two styles/looks for the runway to try to showcase what we do best, or what our specialty is.  Easy peasy right ?  whack out a dress, a pantsuit and then hit the buffet.  Not that simple.  What I am finding is that it is very difficult to cull down your designs to only one garment that best represents what your design esthetic is like and demonstrates your workmanship.  It seems like to narrow of a selection, that the customer will get a clipped view of what your designs are like and what you can do.  So I increased to two looks.  Now how do you make them look different, but part of the same story, while demonstrating more skills, fabrics, and effects.

Now to the actual designs.  In this small town atmosphere, how avantguarde can you go?  Will people see it as art or a statement?  Or just complain that it looks weird and they wouldn't wear it?  I have decided to go middle of the road, staying with traditional silhouettes and forms, but adding in some subtle changes and an androgenous quality.  My shock will be the oulandish mix of plaid on plaid, and the mix of red and orange colours.  Pretty safe, but I feel like I am testing the waters to see what my clientelle really respond to in this kind of show.  Are they really looking to shop, or just to be inspired and entertained by a runway show.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Renovating a Modest Home

The original Fixer-Upper
I have been doing a little painting lately.  The kind where you make the wall all one colour, not the kind where you create an image on canvas.  Anyway, it has got me thinking in the renovating mindset again.  We bought a fixer-upper in 1993 to be our starter home, with the plan to move to a larger home when children came along.  Well, in the meantime we tore walls down, moved doors, tiled, replaced windows, built cabinets, painted, carpeted, renovated to our hearts content.  Then we had 2 kids.  Raising 2 kids in a 2 bedroom house certainly can be done.  I have met the people who were raised in this house in the 1960's and they had 5 kids, so I don't know what I am whining about.  But we were starting to feel cramped.

The kitchen was approx 11' x 11' including cabinets and eating area.  We had a three foot round table that sat in the middle of the floor and there was space for 2 chairs to push under it.  The high chair we kept in the living room and moved in for each meal.  When we had company we wedged everyone in on stacking stools and when it was time to take the pie out of the oven, someone had to move.  As did the person leaning against the fridge.  But hey, we were a close family and we lived indoors and it was ours and it was paid for.

The Not So Big House: A Blueprint for the Way We Really LiveOnce our second child was out of a high chair we decided it was time to look for a new house.  So we looked around at the listings, and realized that the market was such that for what we could afford to spend over and above our equity, we were going to be buying a 3 bedroom... fixer-upper.  sigh.  We didn't have the heart to start all over with several years of scrimping and work just to get another bedroom for our home.  So we went back to the drawing board.  I was inspired by a book by Sarah Susanka, "The Not So Big House", an architect who designs interesting, useful, and thoughtful homes, not necessarily monster huge mansions.  Don't be fooled, this kind of craftsmanship and design would likely cost more than just building a massive box and covering the walls in gold leaf, and the floors in marble.  But where would you like to live?

I put my design education and experience to work and did an analysis of time spent by each member of the family and discovered that a) the room we spent the most time in was the kitchen, and b) the area of the house that caused the most stress was the back entry.  I decided that instead of spending a lot of money having a large house (OK even an average house would be a step up for us!), we were going to spend a modest amount of money and add on another 50% of the square feet of our home just in kitchen and entry!

Drilling piles for the addition
Mommy!  They're digging up Choc-ate!
So seven years ago we added on a large addition to the back of our house.  This makes our kitchen/dining area 23'x12' with a walk in pantry, dishwasher and 40' of cabinets, including 17' of windows. There is a back door into a porch area that includes space for lockers for the kids sports equipment, cabinets for crafting materials, a homework desk built-in under a window and a large closet for coats and boots.  It has made a huge difference in our home!  I can't say that it was easy, we completed a lot of the work ourselves, and even the part we hired didn't go as quickly as we had hoped.  We lived for 12 weeks without a functioning kitchen.  You really get to know your neighbours when you "redneck it" by bar-b-qing on the front lawn and eating on the front step all summer!

The old covered deck
The new back of the house
We removed the super sized deck we had on the west side of the "old house" and replaced it with a small, enclosed sun porch.  Our lot slopes off slightly to the back, and with the addition there wasn't room for a large deck.  To be honest, I don't miss it.  I spend more time on my sun porch, like an instant trip to the lake!  We have a lot of trees in our neighbourhood and the filtered sunlight is beautiful in the mid-day.  The sun porch is comfortable when the outdoor temp is about 10 degrees C in the sun so it really extends the season.  We designed the staircase to be wider with a large landing knowing that this is likely where I would be toting groceries into the house.  I hate trying to struggle into a doorway with parcels.  The doorways are 36" which is a little wider than standard in residential construction.  The landing at the top of the stairs is large enough to house the bar-b-q so that we can cook outside year round without running the stairs.

The New House (first day of school the next year)
We added exterior lighting above the windows on the addition for a wall washing affect and used various colours of siding and trim to create depth and interest on the house.  The only splurge was the windows, as Wayne was working for a glass company at the time and got us an amazing deal on the windows!  The rest of the house was built using very ordinary materials, but in a thoughtful way.  I really think that good design doesn't have to cost more, but it gives you more value year after year.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Ebike Safety Tips

I have been meaning to get a photo of me on my ebike, but haven't gotten around to conscripting a photographer/family member to do it.  So I am going to go ahead with the post without the photo.  Here are some random ebike tips that I have learned that I want to pass along.
Veloteq eBikes
First things first!  Go to your local Driver and Vehicle Licence Issuer and pick up a handbook they have available for those wishing to test for their motorcycle licence.  For Saskatchewan, the motorcycle driver handbooks are online here.  Study this book and be prepared to follow the rules.
The following tips are really common sense and are included in the handbook, but these in particular have been items where I have noticed drivers around me have reacted to a slow moving ebike in a manner that reduces my safety and other drivers and pedestrians.
Here goes in no particular order:

- Fill the road if necessary.  When there is a parking lane that is currently empty, in courtesy to others who can drive a little faster I will lane change and drive in the parking lane.  Only if there are no parked cars.  My little rule is for at least 3/4 of a city block, which is time for traffic to pass me, without me having to slow, and come to a complete stop behind the parked car.  Once traffic has cleared, shoulder check, mirror check, signal, and move back into the main street lane.  Do NOT drive in the little space between the moving traffic lane, and parked cars.  You will get hurt.

If you are driving on the one and only moving traffic lane, there is no parking lane to move into, then you have 2 choices.  One, pull over and stop and wait for traffic to clear.  Always shoulder check, mirror check, signal and move.  Or secondly, you must own the width of the lane, sit tall and make sure that people know that you are watching traffic.  Sometimes you have to make a few cars slow down for a block until you find a safe place to lane change out of traffic.  Do NOT pull over a bit to make room for people to pass you!  You will eventually get cut off or driven over.

And other drivers out there... I know you aren't reading this because you are on the site for hot rods, or super suv's or something... but please DO NOT pull into oncoming traffic to pass bike riders who are moving slowly.  Just be patient, maybe the rider is trying to turn left.  I had a driver pull up to me, yelling that I should only drive against the right sidewalk.  Hard to turn left safely from there.

- To be sure, use hand signals.  My ebike is equipped with fully functioning front and rear signal lights, but in rush hour traffic I have a feeling the other drivers are not paying enough attention to me.  A firm use of the hand signals with your hand held flat

Now For A Message From Our Sponser

Cathédrale Saint-Sauveur d'Aix
I watched the online feed from my Hubby's church this morning, and the strangest thing happened.  Part way through the sermon, they broke for a commercial.  I was so stunned I can't even remember what the product was, but it was a 30 second video advertising some product.  You couldn't click though it, you just had to put up with it.  It started me thinking about how church is considered the last bastion of purity where you would not dare to use commercial advertising.  The raising of money is done with good old-fashioned guilt tripping, and use of the phrase "tithes & offerings".  Well I guess, with the exception of TV church where anything goes, all the time.

I am a decided outsider in the Church community.  You wouldn't think so.  I look the part, female, heterosexual, married for 20+ years, 2 children, husband who volunteers and is a nice guy.  I look like the perfect church pew filler, but I am not.  Here's the low down on why I don't fit in.

First of all, I am an extreme introvert.  I don't like idle chit chat.  I can't stand pop psychology sermons and fluff "improve yourself by being nice" topics.  I am a meat and potatoes theologian.  It's got to be something I can use to make a difference in my neighborhood, my block, my yard, today.  The theoretical stuff I will debate for a little while, but if it starts to waste our real time.  I have a big problem with insincerity.  You know when people are nice to your face and then stab you in the back.  Or when you council people with serious needs using platitudes, or even worse, you choose to pray for them with trite and saccharin words.  I can't imagine that God is really happy with that.  Treating his people that way, rep-resenting Him that way.

There's another way I don't fit in.  I don't think that God is just male.  If we as human beings are created as a representation, an image of God, and we are created male and female, then God must be more than just one sex as well.  Maybe God is all sexes.  Maybe he (as a pronoun not indication of gender) is the only one who can truly understand all of us as we were created in our own individual gender, and sexuality?  Maybe homosexuality is not a sinful act of the will, but a biological evolution of the gender structure of the brain.  Uh oh, that one is gonna get me kicked out of middle aged women having coffee and gossiping while doing something charitable club (you know,  the MAWHC&GWDSC Club)

Yet another square peg for the round hole of tradition round hole of Christianity.  I am a Christian Evolutionist.  I don't believe that God created the universe in 6 days, not because She can't, but because She is a complex being, who delights in the development of secrets, and unfolding of mysteries.  Why the rush?  Was there a press deadline for the printing of Genesis?  Had the gold edged paper been purchased, was in transit and had no place to be stored, so the show must proceed as planned. 

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Well Hello Dolly!

Yesterday, I took my Mother-in-law on a road trip to the infamous town of Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, where Al Capone is rumoured to have hid from the US Marshals, and, incidentally, my home town. My Mum-in-law is a doll fashionista which is to say she enjoys creating clothing, specifically for 18" grown lady dolls.  She doesn't just play with them, she really seriously dresses them.  Some of her dolls have full wardrobes that Jackie Onassis would appreciate.  As well as a series of replica costumes from a production of Anne of Green Gables, and on the upcoming list, costumes from the Nutcracker Ballet.

We heard that someone in Moose Jaw had amassed a collection of 1800+ collectible, antique toys and dolls and that they were going on auction beginning today, Canada Day.  The previewing was yesterday.  Mum decided it was much better to just look than buy as she lives in a small seniors apartment and must exercise her extensive hobby mostly in her imagination, rather than in reality.  So we made the hour drive and bought tickets to go to the viewing.

I have 3 topics in regard to this show:

1.) The oldest dolls are the best. 
This is an Eaton's Catalogue Doll, probably 100ish years old.  Porcelain head, hands, and feet (at least) and maybe even real hair.  The hair was thin, you could see where the strands were poked into little holes in the porcelain.  But she is painted so beautifully!  Such delicate features and so lifelike it was a little eerie.  I think her eyes were like glass marbles.  I wish I knew more about these dolls.  This one would be a candidate for the Antiques Roadshow!
We didn't touch her hair to see if it was real because there were signs everywhere, EVERYWHERE, saying not to touch.  My Mum inadvertently touched a couple of things while trying to look at the item tags and she was immediately barked at by the "red hat" biddies who were guarding the event.  Seriously, people need to learn the words customer service and what they mean.  All they would have had to do is to have the old biddies wearing gloves (such as plastic, vinyl, or even purple velvet) and have them offer to pick up the item for you.  "May I help you with that.  It's helpful to be able to see the detail on some of these amazing items, so that you can make notes on your bidding sheets."  I was proud of Mum though, at one point she turned to one of the biddies and said, "are you going to follow me around the whole show?"  You do not want to go toe to toe with her!  I have had to pull her off shopkeepers before.  Not pretty.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

I've worked for Michael Scott

When I was watching the last episode of the season of The Office, I made a very astute observation.  The reason that I understand the genre of The Office is because I worked there, and I worked for someone just like Michael Scott.  Here's a review of my work history and the TV shows that have since been created to emulate my employment experience:

Random Sk Gov Insurance Company - Facilities = The Office but with building maintenance techs instead of Dwight, and I was the computer geek.  scary!

Sk Parks Department = Parks & Recreation I was the annoyed student who thought the whole thing was stupid

Jewelry Store = Are You Being Served, we had a clerk with a huge bouffant hairdo (this show preceded the job, incidentally.)

Sk Highways = Kinda like The Office but with Engineers instead of salespeople, there was several Dwights there, and a Pam, and well everyone. 

Worked for architects like ALL the architects on tv and movies.  Differences are that it is rarely, or never as artsy fartsy as you think it is.  If anyone is going to wear a knit tie, it will be an architect.  (meaning, it might have been preppy in the late 70's but now it's weird.  You hold out though, it will come back in style!)  It's like a typing pool with a cad system, boring thankless job with a really expensive computer. 

Anyway, that's why I love The Office, why it is so outrageous and makes me laugh every time.  Most people think it is ridiculous, but the funny thing is that this stuff really does happen.  These places really do have party planning committees which fight over streamers and managers who don't manage anything or anyone.  I've seen it because I've worked there!

Well, got to get back to work.  Fashion show, fashion show, fashion show at Lunch!

Friday, June 24, 2011

American Furrier Technical Stuff

This is pt 3 of You've Come A Long Way Baby, but in a way it's only loosely related to the first 2.  The first 2 were more about social commentary.  This one is going to look at the articles in the magazine that deal with the technical aspects of fur garment construction.  So forward this to all the sewing geeks you know and share the blog love.
First of all, I have done a little more research on the fur industry and find some things that are really interesting from the perspective as a designer, and from a farming background.  Can you guess my bias?  I will post more on this later.
Sorry, I digress.  Back to the articles.  First one I want to show you is the photo above of Style No. 66-819  (notice the use of numbers instead of words in style numbering?  Wonder why?  Then you need to go and buy a book by Kathleen Fasanella it should come with every sewing machine it's that good!)  There's a plug for Kathleen, so now I hope than she will wander in an answer a couple of questions for me later on.  In each of these magazines there is one Pattern Diagram for one of the Styles shown.  This one is shown in SIZE: 14, Measurements are: B 36, H 33, and Paper length 39 3/4.  (That's sweet, they even tell you how much paper you need!)

The drafting is extraordinarily simple.  Start with point "A" in the top left hand corner and straight lines on the x and y axis simply plot points measuring down from the x axis, and over to the right from the y axis.  Join the points with straight lines, extrapolate curves where you know curves should be and you are in bizniz!  From there to a fur coat is a couple of more complex steps.

Sadly, I forgot to take a photo of this style to show you, but it is kind of a boring knee length coat with inseam pockets.  The only design element is goofy little bows at the end of the skirt pleat shown on the pattern front.  Very 1960 little girly.  I am going to draft this one out, grade it up to female linebacker size and see if it works for a little raincoat number sans the bows of course.

Here is my technical question for the seamstresses and seamsters out there.  On this diagram I have (crudely) demonstrated a small difference in terms.  The dart at the elbow we are quite used to, and in fact in this case they have split the dart into three separate ones, each spaced roughly three inches apart which would really give the sleeve a round shape.  Like if you cut an tire inner tube in half and used each half for a sleeve. (Can you see it in your mind?)

The part that piqued my interest was the KYLE.  Have you ever heard of that term before?  Any references in school/books/study?  A dart like shape, but intended to be a section added in to increase the length of the seam edge.  In this case, the sleeve facing is folded up and the kyle will do 2 things, I think: 

1.) allow sufficient length on the hem for the  sleeve side seams to fold back onto themselves, rather than folding off to the side like a check mark shape, and

2.) and more importantly, allowing the facing which is cut on the same plane as the sleeve, to sit inside the 3D shape of the inner tube shape of the sleeve.  It give 3d shaping to the facing, just like the darts do for the sleeve.

I haven't seen that word Kyle used before, but I have seen the technique.  I had previously called it, "on a firm underlining slashing the fabric and spreading by inserting a backing material and pad stitching to desired shape and then molding the shell fabric to fit hoping that it contains mostly wool because if it's polyester then you are hooped." 

Exact replica of Armani Pattern drafted in Paint
I had the privilege of restyling a couple of Armani jackets from the deep 80's this spring.  They were collarless, one button, hip length jackets in sufficiently interesting fabric to justify tearing them down to restyle.  The shoulders were huge.  I mean HUGE.   They looked simply made, and used machine techniques, fusibles etc.  But once the ripping commenced, I was impressed.  They really had gone the extra mile.  Anyway, the interesting part was the use of the, ahem, kyle, on the shoulder.  In order to make the jacket hug the shoulder line which angles slightly downward toward the elbow, lets say.  And extend the shoulder out by a whopping couple of inches on a tiny frame woman, a kyle was used to change direction of the shoulder line.
Using the word Kyle seems slightly more professional now and I may adopt that convention full time.  Does everyone remember the word of the day?

Thursday, June 23, 2011

You've Come a Long Way Baby - pt 2

In yesterday's post, I showed you some of the photos from the American Furrier magazines that I was pleased to save from certain death in a paper shredder.   Today I am going to share the controversial part(s) starting with this photo and the copy that goes with it.

"Aunt Ingrid is pretty.
Aunt Ingrid is pretty smart.
She set out to seek her
fortune in a little red
fleecy lamb jacket with a
cute little hood on it.  Today
she came back in this bog
scrumptious Saga mink
(the kind that comes from
Scandinavia), with a 
Ben Kahn label in it (the
kind that comes from New
York).  I know, because when Mamma sent me out of the room, I sneaked into the closet and into the mink, and took a good look around.  It was delicious.  Anyway, being out of the room just then, I never did hear the middle of Aunt Ingrid's adventure.  Except that somewhere between the lamb and the mink, I believe she met up with a Mr. Wolf.  And that's no fairy story.  That's a Saga"

SAGA - The more sumptuous mink from Denmark, Finland, Norway

It is a full page ad on the inside back cover, and it caught my eye because "Ingrid" seems like quite a young woman to be wearing such a large fur coat.  In my mind set, large fur coats were for the 55+ age group, but maybe they bought them when they were 20 and just wore them that long.  I doubt it.

This ad makes me recoil for a number of reasons beginning with the little girl's admiration of her auntie because she is able to shag snag a mink buying husband.  I guess those were the times?  A young woman seeking her fortune was required to gussy up in the best fur she could afford to attract a man who could afford to keep her.  That's woman smarts according to this ad. sad.  

Secondly, the loving family knew enough to send the little girl out of the room when trampy Aunt Ingrid, who earlier had run off with a large amount of money and a small car from her responsible, and reliable older sister, announces she's gotten hitched and is now Mrs. Ingrid Wolf.  None the less they have instilled enough snobbishness in their offspring, that a designer label is impressive to a primary school-er.  Am I reading too much into it?

Wonder how the story turned out?  Still... I like the coat.

Yes it does say "Somali Leopard"
Now let's have a look at some more designs that thrilled the pretty and smart ladies of 1960's.

Here is a knee length swing coat that I think is a really versatile piece in a wardrobe.  It is long enough to be warm an full enough to fit over some of the fuller skirts that are popular for evening now.  Yet, just and chic over peg leg trousers, or with boots!  And the leopard print is a nice kick of style in a wardrobe that has a lot of black or khaki.  Wait.  No, that's,  oh, really, that is real leopard skin!  Sigh.
(Incidentally, I have pet a live leopard. 'Tis true.  At a mall where they had a petting zoo they had a leopard, the black on black kind.  I petted it and it was not the kind of fur you want to wear for a coat.   REALLY coarse.  Like a horses mane and tail.)

The model's expression is, "Endangered species?  Mr. Wolf, they say my coat is an endangered species.  But that can't be right, because I have several more of them at home!"
I have to admit that it was a bit of a shock thinking of an "animal print" originating from the actual hide of the animal.  Embarrassingly naive I know, but really, would you wear a fake leopard coat now that you know people were prancing about wearing the hides of several leopards on their backs.  
I am being a hypocrite because I have no problem with wearing rabbit, wolf, coyote, raccoon, fox, mink for that matter.  These are furs from closer to my neck of the woods.  And most, are cute only in small, manageable numbers, but given half the chance their population will balloon and then you are over-run with pests.  Coyotes eat your livestock, raccoon's eat your garbage, foxes aren't too bad because they hunt rodents,  but if they ever discover that you keep your dog food in the pail outside the garage you'll never keep them out of it.  Mink?  Can't say I've ever run into a mink in regular life.  Rabbit's eat the bark off the trees in winter when the snow is deep, and wolves really scare my darling, incredibly manly husband.
A quick bit of research indicates that leopards are in fact of Near Threatened status which is between ok and pretty good on the numeric scale. 
Arctic Seal - a Canadian classic
The last two are slightly less controversial because the hides they are made from come from animals which are harvested for meat.  One of them is really unusual so I am going to leave it for you to guess in the comments.
Guess The Fur! - Name it in the Comments
As the runways and magazines show us that we are beginning to embrace the comfort and romance of fur again.  I hope that we can be more responsible with the fashion of fur, realizing there is more than a fad at stake here.

Tomorrow, I am going to show the pattern diagrams and technical information inside these magazine gems!  Sewing geeks look alive!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

You've Come A Long Way Baby!

1978 Virginia Slims magazine ad. The image at the top is a photograph of a woman hanging laundry outside. The ad text reads: "Back then, every man gave his wife at least one day a week out of the house. You've come a long way, baby. Virginia Slims – Slimmer than the fat cigarettes men smoke."

I remember these ads from when I was a kid.  Though I never smoked, and never wanted to.  I always enjoyed the ads because in some cosmic way the woman on the top won, and got to be the woman in the pretty dress who apparently sent her laundry out.  Yesterday's post about Saudi Women's inability to legally drive a vehicle made me think of these ads.  There is still a ways to go, but you have to stop and look back now and again to see how far you have come.

I love looking at old publications.  Looking for the clues they give about life at that time.  Are they intentional clues, or is there a point there that the advertisers didn't even know they were making at the time?

A couple of years ago I found a stash of American Furrier publications at a rummage sale.  They are dated from 1961 - 1966 and they really appealed to me for the hand-drawn quality of the sketches.   For stating they are the "World's Oldest and Largest Fur Fashion Service", this was all I could find online.  If they are worth a lot, make me an offer, my kids are heading to university soon!

charcoal sketches reprinted on newsprint
The styles at first glance are typical, like these drawings, of what many women were buying at the time.  Judging from the number of these coats in coolers and basements all over North America.  I have restyled a couple of fur coats but don't enjoy it because it's like having a tickle fight with a large molting cat.  There is hair and dandruff everywhere, bad enough working with old clothing, but old fur coats are kinda gross.  Dean took a grey mink and made it into a giant sofa pillow with safari print fabric on the back.  Very luxurious looking.  I was glad it was done by my next day at work!

Back to the books.  More in depth study showed some differences not immediately apparent.  Such as, using furs in a more casual way such as this calfskin coat with the hair on.  And another one as an outdoorsy parka style.  Which at first I thought might be one for Poppy's retro skier collection, but on closer look I think that is a tent pole she is posing with.  I'm glad she took the time to put on her nice ear-rings when she went camping in her mink parka.  Inside the cover it says,

"Smart Mink ski jacket of lustrous Saga Mink featuring boat-neck collan and a spash of color created by braided V-front and cuffs"  

Glad Mr. Mountain Man is forward enough thinking to let Ms. Saga Mink set up camp while he sits back and enjoys his cup of tea.   Or is he St. Nick?

There is a wealth of information in these 36 pg magazines which are black and white except for the outside covers.  You know, pg 1&2, 35&36, yeah.  One article entitled, Smooth Selling, by George N. Kahn, encourages salesmen to develop new interests to add richness to your life and increase your sphere of influence.  And also states that "Nearly one in four American famililies now has an annual income of over $10,000 - compared with on in 16 in 1955 - according to a ten-year survey by Meinhard-Commercial Corporation."  So I poke around and find that the magazine is published monthly from March to December and the Yearly subscription price is $37.50 USD or ($43.50 in Canada).  Oh, and yes you may pay by personal cheque if you like.  Pricey if you are taking home less than a grand a month.  But this is obviously a to the trade publication.
I am going to continue this tomorrow because I have to find a way to thin out the photos.  They are taking more than 30 min each to upload and I don't think you need the 7megawhatsits to get the gist of these books.  I start a photo uploading and then go and sew for a while, and then check on the photo and then sew.

I have so much to show you such as the Pattern Diagrams, and Fur Fitting Articles, and lots more photos.  Please comment if you are interested!  I haven't even got to the Controversial Stuff yet!!  (meniacal laugh) 

This is the Saga of Aunt Ingrid
One more photo as a teaser for tomorrow.  Here is an ad, I will give you the caption.  Anyone want to take a stab at what the gist of the ad copy is about?  Other than selling fur coats?

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Being a Sailor - And other Pipe Dreams - pt 2

The America

Yesterday, I waxed eloquent, and elegant about the HMS Surprise and my delight in finding a really satisfying series of books by Patrick O'Brian, on which the movie, "Master and Commander" is based.  Today, I am going to tell you about the winning ship at the Maritime Museum of San Diego.

Before going to San Diego I did a couple quick searches for things to do as a family, what would be of particular interest to each family member.  My thing, that I really wanted to do was to go on a whale watching cruise.  So I booked one online, paid for with plastic.  Bob's yer uncle.  It wasn't until we were a couple of days into our vacation that we realized how amazing this thing was.

First of all, the day after we arrived in the city I had always known as Three's Companyland, our little girl started showing little spots all over her pearly white, Canadian in December, belly.  By that night, my sister-in-law and I diagnosed it as chickenpox.  Shoot, what do you do when you saved up, spent all this money on the big family vacation to California with the extended family? (don't be deluded, they paid their own way! haha)  Well, we reviewed the detailed schedule of event tickets for the week, what can we delay, who is going where, who can stay home, etc.  Everything is flexible except for the whale watching, so my wonderful husband calls the tour company and explains the situation.  Could we go on a sailing a few days later?  Even though the website, tickets everything said NO Changes, the tour staff of the America were very kind and accommodating.

Gray Whale In The Pacific
The America is a replica of a racing schooner, and made me think of the Canadian icons, the Bluenose, and Bluenose II.  What's the big deal about going whale watching in a schooner?  Well it's not what you see, it's what you hear.  Silence.  Then you start to hear the sea.  And then you hear the whales, you hear their massive bodies push up to the surface, and you hear them exhale, blowing a spray of water metres into the air.  You can hear the rhythm of the wind and waves, and the filling of the sails.  Why can you hear this?  Because there is no vrrrrmmm vrrmm vrrmm of motor boats, and seadoos, and other noise polluters.

That's a Fluke!  Our language is full of seafaring speak and I don't mean the 4 letter kind.  Yesterday I referred to "3 sheets to the wind" which means staggering drunk, not laundry day.

 Our tour guide, Cap'n Al, is a retired sailor who now educates about sea life, and plays the odd extra role in films such as, you guessed it, Master and Commander.
Here he's teaching my boy some rope work on the standing rigging (black, OK to grab if you are falling).  Running rigging is white, and if you are falling don't grab anything white it will just make it worse, like losing a hand or hanging yourself or something, says Cap'n Al.

He was a wealth of information for us land lubbers, and he had the leathery tan, and swarthy accent to go with-it.

After testing the knot work, they moved on to proper treatment of the American flag, which kinda made me feel weird.  But being Canadian I was very tolerant, and nearly said something.  Cap'n Al asked us if we knew why the US flag was folded into a triangle?  "It's because the British don't do it that way."  He said.  Apparently, many US naval traditions are based simply on the fact that the British don't like it.  hmmm

I do have a couple of regrets.  1.)  I let Wayne pick the accoutrement including the champagne and glasses.  Now I am not above enjoying a lovely box of wine, but...  Wayne gets a little too much joy out of being frugal cheap, and the apartment we had rented was across the street from Trader Joe's.  So Wayne discovered you could get champagne for $1.99.  (refer to my earlier post about liquor stores in Sask) I say champagne with a small "c" because I am quite sure nothing about this beverage is even aware that there is a place called Champagne where really good sparking wine comes from. 

2.) I didn't take any photos of the cabins below deck.  Amazing!  The sailing yacht is family owned and operated.  They offer various tours year round and then for a couple of weeks each year they all get together and sail up the coast for a family holiday.  Yeah!  That's nice. 

I was so blinded by jealousy I can't even remember all the details of how many people it sleeps etc.  I remember it's 139' long which makes it bigger than my YARD here in REGINA, the ahem, best city in the best prov, in the best ahem country in the world.  What can I say?  I have issues!  OK?

San Diego Maritime Museum at night(Dark Masts are the Surprise)

the very tired crew

Supper at The Big Kahuna

me with me maple leaf on me head
I was completely unprepared for how awe inspiring it would be to sail.  It literally lulls your senses into a zen state.  Granted, the weather was very good and so we didn't even think of seasickness.  But I have to say I loved it.  
Wayne got me sailing lessons for my birthday, but I chickened out.  For now anyway.  In my imagination the weather is always perfect.  I'm not sure I'm ready to break that perfection with reality yet. 

More Girls Livin' Indie Slow Lane

When I was a kid, my Mom worked full time, farmed, volunteered, did everything.  She was a very busy lady.  Mornings were a little hectic, and my brother and I knew better than to slow her down.  When she headed for the car, we had be in tow or we would likely be walking, or worse, we'd have to ask for a ride from my Dad, using various improv/dramatic techniques.

I remember the first time I saw bobsledding on the Olympics and I thought, "Hey, I could do that!  It's just like getting in the car going to school.  Hang onto the door, start running, throw your lunch-bag in, jump in, and slam the door.  Only Mom doesn't give us that little back and forth part."  Bobsledder's have it easy.

I just found this today, and I wish I would have know about it on June 17th so I could have made a big deal about it for all my Saudi Sista-Friends whom I haven't met yet!  It makes me really happy & sad at the same time.   Drive on Girlfriend!

And let's all be grateful that in this, the greatest country in all the world*, Canada, females are free to drive from the back seat or the driver's seat, or the most coveted seat in our van**, "shotgun" if they so desire.   

* blogger's opinion, and is shared most but yet to be discovered by many.
**as long as you call it, in advance, so that everyone can hear, while in view of the vehicle, before anyone else has touched the vehicle, and you did not sit in the shotgun seat last time.  And notwithstanding, heretowithforeafter, therefore that there shall be a licenced vehicle operator within the aforementioned driver's seat during all "car trips".

Monday, June 20, 2011

My Poem - A Grade 9 English Assignment

In the second week of February this year, Stirling's grade 9 English class was given the assignment to pen a love poem in the same style and metre as the poetry they had been studying recently.  Stirling won acclaim with his poem, and just today on the second last day of school, received his handwritten copy back from the teacher. 
I am pleased to share with you the following: A love poem by a 14 year old boy.

My Love Poem

I'd like to tell you about my fav-rite
I gaze in wonder at the steaming round
With a full flavor, my taste buds are hit
Start with a bushel of fruit in a mound
Then add lots of sugar to make it sweet
On top of a slice I add some ice cream
When eating it sideways it's not always neat
But when you get it right it's like a dream
My fav-rite is apple.  It makes me me smile
The smell of it baking weakens my soul
Just to get one I would run for a mile
When I was younger I would eat them whole
Eat to much and you will loosen your belt
But the flavour of it makes my heart melt.

Stirling Rempel
Feb. 2011

Being a Sailor - And other Pipe Dreams

I have always been fascinated with tall ships.  They just seemed to be such romantic marvels of engineering.  Ah, can you imagine hoisting 3 sheets to the wind and heading out into the wild flat Atlantic??

Remember the film, Master and Commander, Far Side of the World (2003) with Russel Crowe?  Kinda fell a little deeply in love with Cap'n Jack Aubrey of the Royal Navy, and the life of a sailor at sea.  Come on, how could you not?  He can command a ship, fight a fleet of French with half the guns, and play a Haydn menuetto on the violin!  Although, it was it was the pipe dream kind of love.  Not the fully aware, been through the trials, cleaned up the messes, still like it kind of love.  Because I am quite aware, historically, you could not just plunk a middle aged prairie woman on a 19th century 6th rate frigate and watch her enjoy any degree of bliss.  So for I have to make some artistic licence for this pipe dream.

But still I dream of the open waters.  First I said I wanted to see the ocean.  (Don't laugh, remember I live in Saskatchewan.  Can you get any farther inland than this?  Look it up)  Took till I was 30 and in Mexico.  Canadians will swim sans wet suit while Mexicans watch in horror from the beach wearing down filled jackets.  I walked down to the beach one night in Nice and rolled up my pant legs and waded into the Mediterranean.  (It's much warmer that the lakes we swim in here.) That's the first step to being a sailor.  I listen to"Barret's Privateers" which I think is apparently an unofficial Canadian Navy Anthem.  I need to make a significant step though, something that really makes a difference.  Time for research.
As with any good action movie with a plot, there is a book behind it.  I went looking for the book behind The Master and Commander and found not one, but a series of over 20!  The author, English born Patrick O'Brien,writes these stories like they could be his own memories of love and disappointment, military conquest and intrigue.  Battles that were a test of patience rather than simply might.  Oh and let's not forget the thrill of riches.  For spoils of war were split among crew members!  Maybe he made his fortune and got out of the danger and to a writing desk and inkwell.

No he was born in 1914 and lived until Jan 2, 2000.  (Ironically from Titanic to Y2K)  His books flow with beautiful, formal and descriptive language of an age past.  He describes the day to day workings of the ship matter of factly, with no CSI type explanations.

Says one coroner to another, "this body is showing some decomposition."  Replies the other, "That indicates the body is no longer alive and the tissues are starting to break down."  Viewer thinks, "Thank you for dumbing it down for me, I have only watched doctor/cop/hospital/murder mystery shows for about 30 years now."

When reading The Captain Jack Aubrey series, it will be necessary to keep a dictionary (and an old one at that) nearby in order to visualize what people are doing.  Then after a couple of books I began to be interested in the places they were visiting.  And found that people have mapped/charted these travels.  So you can follow along as you read.  The fictional points began blurring, these people are my friends.  I learn from them, enjoy life with them, see life with their perspective as well as my own.  Is this what happens to those Star Wars types? 

Captain Aubrey began his career in the navy at about the age of 8, learning the ropes aboard a Royal Navy ship.  He was a commoner and did not have a choice of careers, nor did he have a father or uncle to send him to boarding school and then buy him an officer's rank, so he was always grateful for the opportunity.  He describes the hours of study to learn the various navigational calculations.  If you didn't calculate perfectly, the lives of your crew were at stake.  Your dedication and discipline at 8 years old would mean souls saved later in life.  The time you got to sit down with a candle in front of a piece of slate and a book of calculations to memorize was the leisure afforded small children then.  Well, the lucky ones.

Later, when he is given command of his own ship a small, but agile, frigate, the HMS Surprise, he meets Dr. Maturin and asks him to travel with them and be their ship's physician.  Dr. Maturin is a Naturalist by passion which means he researches to identify all living things on the planet classifying them with a Latin name.  (modern use of language seems to confuse this term for one who discards clothing while outdoors, or coloratilis humani in the Latin form.)

The friendship between these two very different men aboard the HMS Surprise, grows amid arguments, music, adversity, debate, admiration, and becomes a contented mutual respect.  This makes the series more than just an entertaining read but a life lesson in friendship.  And just as Jane Austen is an author who portrays women in the light of the reality of the strict framework of the time and place, I think Patrick O'Brien develops the character's of his men in a similar way.  There is no pretense to hide their flaws from the reader, or to justify behaviour.  The good guys aren't necessarily good, nor the bad always bad.  Again, the lines blur.

Ok, my rule of thumb is to get on topic by the 7th paragraph, so here we go.  I have lived in the prairies my whole life, can count the number of times I have been on a boat on one hand, but I am just fascinated with sail boats.  So when we decided to go with family to San Diego a couple of years ago, we made a point of finding a maritime museum.  Some cool things:
1.)  Huge aircraft carrier.  HUGE
2.) Russian Uboat.  Not a word of a lie, I think they hired Red Green to build it!  built with broken hockey sticks and glued together with vodka bottle labels.  I was scared just being in it at dock and it wasn't below sea level.  They literally had wire bunks above/between/below the diesel engines because there was NO space.  I can't imagine the noise, the heat and pollution of curling up to one of many LARGE diesel engines in a room about12' x 25' plus the noise heat and pollution of the 30 plus men who were actively working the shift around you.  No romance at that sea!  I can't imagine.
3.) There was a tie for the best ship of the day!  Today I'm telling you about the runner up which I loved!!!  Which will tell you how thrilled I was with the actual winner.
So the runner up was the HMS Surprise!  So it's not fiction?  It's a real story?  No, it is fiction, but it is now a real ship since the movie industry recommissioned an honest to goodness real-life, Royal Navy sailing frigate called the HMS Rose!  To be continued...

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Did something happen last night?

I had to go for a CT scan on my head yesterday, which I will post details about later, but the clinic was next door to a liquor store and it was packed.  I even saw three smartly dressed grey haired little ladies loading two cases of beer into the back of their car.  On a Wed. night?  Something's Up. Now at this point I have to stop and explain a couple of things about the place where I live.

First of all, some people think we are country bumpkin's or rednecks, but actually we live in the centre of the known universe for we are the only time zone that does not ever change.  That's right, we do not partake in that high falootin' daylight saving's time thang.  We are daylight burners not savers.  I don't know why it is that way, and personally I like it.  This time of year it gets dusky at about 9:30 and you have to wait until 10:30pm for darkness.  With daylight savings time you would have to wait until 11:30pm ish for a good dark bonfire hotdog roast.  We've got the right idea here in Saskatchewan.

Secondly, and this point is related to the topic of the post, we have government regulated liquor sales.  What this means in layman's terms is that the g-man sells the beer or says who, when, where, and what is sold. Products containing alchohol are only sold in government run Liqour Stores.  In a way prohibition had a tiny bit of stickiness here I guess?  I think it's just another way to collect more taxes.  When I was in France, I bought wine at a convenience store for 2.50 euros from the Chateauneuf du Pape region (that's about 4 bucks).  It was so good it was tempting to get a job waiting tables, sleep on the beach and live on wine and bagettes for the rest of my life.  I did come home.  Maybe the bitterness came when the clocks had to be changed.

Lastly, in Sask everyone picks sides for hockey.  Some choose a team based in Canada.  When #99 moved to LA it gave a lot of people around Western Canada permission to cheer for an American team.  Now there's the argument that many American teams have more Canadian players than the Canadian teams.  Some people I know cheer for both teams and then they can gloat no matter what the outcome.  I ment to watch the game last night, but I haven't watched a single playoff game this year and ... I forgot about it.  I was siding for the Canucks for sentimental reasons, because I have a lot of family members living in the area, and Wayne and Stirling went to the last Olympics so it's kind of a special place for our family.  So when I got on facebook last night and saw all the comments about riots, I kinda knew.  That's Van's way.  Get stoked, toke, then all the windows are broke.

So for all the broken, depressed, Canucks fans out there I offer this consolation from Bob Ducca.

Vancouver you have the ultimate FREEDOM!!!!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

How to Get to Work

I live about 5km from my workplace, and have the pleasure of working right in the very centre of Regina, one of the most beautiful cities in Canada.  It is a city of about 200,000 and has just begun to grow again after a roughly 50 year lull.  We are really in the midst of growing pains, but trying to learn from our big city cousin, Calgary, to nourish ourselves, get some sleep, and don't extend ourselves too much.  I hope it works.

Back to the commute.  Up till lately, every adult in the city has owned at least one gas powered vehicle, which they used to drive themselves to work.  If you got a job on the other side of the city you just drove there.  Only poor people took the bus.  Or people who lived right next to the bus stop.  Over the years I had taken the bus a few times, but it was a hassle, and often I could catch a ride to work with my husband which made me an ultra carpooler so hang the bus.  Then I started to travel big cities.  I visited Toronto, Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, Montreal, Ottawa, then on to Paris, Lyon, Marseille, Nice, Avignon, Milan, and a place called Como (where my friend George Clooney lives)...  Sorry, drifted off there for a second.  Anyway, I discovered what a dream it is to live in a place where a train or bus or tram or something come trundling along every 3 min and where people of all backgrounds, industries etc can all sit in peace and boredom together.  So when I get back home I start riding the bus.  All winter I ride the bus.

It's $2.50 per ride or $2 a ride if you buy them 10 at a time on a refillable electronic scan type card.  So min $4 a day for the commute.  Not bad.  Costs between $8-12 to park downtown in a parkade plus you still have to walk.  Not to mention gas prices and licence, and vehicle upkeep.   (Oh that's the other thing, I figured I get in 12 blocks of walking a day with the bus ride which sounds bad but I have found makes for nice looking legs)

Still $4 is 4 bucks.  So I talk my darling hubbing into buying me a beautiful black Velotec Challenger ebike, you know to save money.  It charges in a few hours, includes cruise control, alarm system, pedals in case you run out of charge, and 3 tiny cargo holds.  So far I have put 901km on it and I love it.  I am looking forwarding to sharing it with anyone who is interested!  Feel the Road!  Yeah!