Sunday, January 26, 2014

Spam relief

Dearest Readers, I have changed the comment setting to Registered Users including Open ID in an attempt to mitigate the now hundreds of spam messages I am receiving daily but still avoiding using the horrible Captcha.
I hope it doesn't inconvenience anyone and I will keep trying to work out a way of dealing with it.

Monday, January 20, 2014

The Meandering Vineyard Lunch - a Busman's Holiday

Isn't that an enticing name for an event - The Meandering Vineyard Lunch. But it is an accurate one. It happens every year on the Saturday of Wellington Anniversary Weekend, which gifts us all down here an extra Monday off.
Four buses of fifty people each travel around four vineyards, having a delicious entree-sized lunch course and the wines of said vineyard at each stop. Starting off at 10.30am, arriving back at 5.30pm. As each busload leaves, we strip the tables down, then reset them for the next busload. We then serve wine, fill water jugs, ferry plates of food to the tables, flirt and laugh and joke with the guests, and clean up afterwards. For all four visits!
MrC and I are friends with Kathryn and John who own Te Hera, and have volunteered the odd year to go over and skivvy for a couple of bottles of exquisite vino, plus the experience of doing something completely unlike anything else on offer for a day.
This is the Vineyard building at Te Hera -usually full of vats, they have been turfed out for the day in favour of tables, chairs and people! Just to the right you can see a sliver of the tent.
The "Kitchen" tent. There's no room inside for prepping food so it all happens out here. Gives the whole thing the feel of a circus!
Inside the tent - this is what around 50 servings of smoked breast of duck with tabbouleh looks like. And oh me oh my it tasted fantastic too! The guests thought so too - many reported that our course was the best they had had. There is a lot of friendly competition among the vineyards in regard to the food and entertainment offered.

One of the jobs for which I volunteer is washing up. It is not a very arduous task really, as it's all plates and cutlery. This is my station, behind the tent. A vat stand with a pallet on top! hehe. Lovely doing dishes out in the sunshine of a glorious day. Luckily the hire firm wash them again, it's just about getting them cleanish.
Meanwhile back in the winery, John is entertaining the guests with his funny banter while they taste test the Riesling and two Pinots Noirs he produces. MrC and other helpers listen and wait to jump in with a bottle.
The last busload of the day participating in a quiz. John the winemaker is in the foreground.
Hostess Kathryn, dishing out the vino. She thinks it is hilarious that we thank her for letting us slave away all day at the lunch, but it is so much fun!
Meet John Harter. John entertained us all with a great range of classic hits. He is as lovely a man as you would ever want to meet too, as well as being an AWESOME musician. While we were setting up for the first bus, John was mucking about playing blues riffs, and being me I started singing along, making up words about working at the lunch. He thought I have a great voice and challenged me to sing to the guests. So, I did. I did a wee set of 2-3 songs near the end of each sitting. I got some great feedback too. And I tried some scat singing, that was fun!
For those of you who have known me a looong time, you might be thinking Harter, now there's a name I remember and yes, John is Charlie's little brother. And that is only one of many, many examples of the two degrees of separation we noted over the weekend!
And finally around 5.15pm, the last sitting piled back into their bus and departed.
We did the final clean up, then headed back to The Straw Bale House  which is a great place to relax!
We spent two nights away, catching up with other friends, reading, sipping lovely wines and enjoying the fabulous weather.
And now we're home again, watching Sherlock and relaxing. I hope you all had a lovely weekend too!

Friday, January 10, 2014

The Watercolour Grecian Maxi Dress

I wanted to show you my newest make - from what I now call my Grecian Maxi Dress pattern, because it seems that patterns need names these days. and I can totally go with that! :)
I bought this fabric a couple of seasons ago at Arthur Toyes, which is sadly closing down soon. It is a soft, drapey cotton/rayon mix and it is a dream to wear. I lined it with cotton voile from Global-That-Was (must start calling it the Fabric Store) which was a hefty $16m. I did gasp, but Brooke the manager pointed out it is really good quality and you know what? She is SOOO right. Not all voiles are created equal at all, and this stuff is delicious. I can see it wearing really well, not pilling or getting out of shape, and helping my impossibly buttery rayon hold some shape too. But because it was pricey, I only lined it to the calf length and added a really wide lace trim to the bottom from my stash. Best decision ever as the fabric itself is so lovely against the legs...:) Funny though as the watercolour fabric was 50% off so it cost a lot less than the lining.
I am calling it my watercolour dress, even though it is about as watercoloury as the previous one, as used to illustrate the envelope I made for the pattern:
Left: Grecian Maxi pattern envelope, with original "As seen on TV" watercolour dress, now worn so thin I am reluctant to wear it!
This pattern I draped/drafted ages ago, and I made three dresses. The first was a mess, and I am remaking the bodice - more on that later. The second was the original watercolour dress as shown above. The third I have been living in, and never photographed. I will rectify this soon.

I also have another two dresses cut out, one in each style.

Tell me, is this a weird thing I do, falling for a couple of styles and just making them over and over? I find it difficult to come up with styles that suit my shape and lifestyle, and maxi dresses are so perfect for summer here, and for me, but a couple of people have pointed out they can't tell them apart hehe. At least I will now have a BLUE dress, and another one coming up not in red or purple or green too. (and yes, another one in red and green, I confess. At least I know what I like ;-))

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Spam....a lot!

Oh my I am being spammified big time. It's doing wonders for my stats, but I'd rather have quality, thank you.
Amazingly however, not a single spam comment has made it past the spam filter of Blogger. Yes, I get email notifications that these comments are on x or y post, but they aren't. It is a wonderful service.
And so, no horrible Captcha for this blog. And I strongly urge anyone who has Captcha enabled to please turn it off? It is a horrible thing to use if your eyesight is not fab like mine, and/or you are using a netbook like me so the blurry writing is tiny!
I can promise you that trusty ol' Blogger won't let the hockers of sunglasses and whatever post comments on your lovely blog :)

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Cusp of the year reflections

I find this time of year a little outside of time itself. I forget what day it is, sleep in, stay up late, spend time with family, do nothing, sew, relax. This lack of routine I find a really refreshing interruption that puts a full stop on the previous year, and helps to energise me for the coming one.
All my favourite bloggers are writing wrap up posts about their sewing from 2013, but when I look at my sewing projects for 2013, I quickly realised that a. I'd not done much and b. it's not what I really want to take stock of.
For me these days, sewing is my life. Our shops are not just haberdashery stores - we cover a much wider range of crafts - but it's the sewing that I focus on and where I am growing the business. So, please excuse me stepping slightly into the grey area of where my professional life meets my personal person, but the truth is I live in that space most of the time anyway so it makes sense to me.

Things that didn't quite pan out:

Teaching at HandMade 2013: HandMade is a huge symposium held on Queens Birthday Weekend in Wellington, and I submitted ideas for at least five classes. At least I thought I had! It turns out I managed to stuff up the submission process and they never received any of them. This was terrible, but it turned out better than I could have imagined - refer next list as to how.
Being on Telly: At the end of 2012, I made four segments for a morning magazine style TV show called Brunch. Three of these are on YouTube here. While it was very demanding and a bit stressful, it was also tremendous fun, and I got it into my brain that I'd love to do it some more, especially given the tremendously positive feedback I have had. Unfortunately the show was not recommissioned for 2014 so that was the end of that. I spent most of the year avoiding writing a treatment for a TV show that is in my head. Making TV here is mostly about finding sponsors for it you see, and there are so few options in that regard, I just can't see how to make it happen. Perhaps this year I'll revisit the idea.
A publicity photo from Brunch

Sewlutions: Well, the mistress of the jar will be smiting me no doubt! I put down that I would get at least one of my frock coats made, but my selfish sewing achievements this year have been next to none.

Things that panned out!

 Lecturing at HandMade 2013: After the submission debarcle, I got offered a lecture spot and snapped it up, and then a week out I was asked to do a pecha kucha presentation too. These two events were the best fun ever and I got great feedback. I have successfully submitted a bunch of classes and lectures for next year, and hopefully some of them (not all of them!) will get the tick. (PS apologies for not properly finishing my series about fitting inspired by the lecture, I just got bogged down.)
Burlesque classes: I finally enrolled in a class myself after being a supporter to several friends who are interested, not to mention a bevy of burlesquy blingers who frequent the shop! It was a warm, self-affirming, confidence building experience. It got me realising how much I miss performing and that age is no barrier (I keep thinking at 48 I am too old to do such things, what piffle!).
Lampshades: I taught myself to make lampshades using the new supplies we had sourced to meet customer demand. Then because people got a panicked look in their eyes when I tried to explain how to make one, I opened a class. It filled up straight away. Now I teach it every six weeks at least, as well as private classes, and in 2014 I've scheduled 'graduate' classes building on the basic shape. It's an exciting way to use gorgeous fabrics that I am still very much enjoying!
My first two attempts!

Things still in the Crucible

Years don't stop and start completely cleanly, and several important aspects of life got put into the bubbling crucible of my mind last year that haven't quite popped out again!
Constance Craving:  Constance is yet to get a completed costume or sound track. But I am canvassing various options for a gig next year, and if I get one, there's nothing like a deadline to get things done! ;-)
Shirts: Plans are simmering away on our men's shirt line - we even have fabrics, and patterns, and orders! However the logistics of choosing a brand name, labels, a reliable CMT service etc were put on hold over December, when most of our energy goes into the shops. So, I suspect the lid will start rattling on this one in the next couple of months.
 From my pilot commission - Mike likes this one best!
Directing: I've been offered a directing spot for 2014, but I have to come up with a play. After a lot of pottering, I think I am onto two good leads and when the London agents come back from holiday, I hope to get a script. I'm still not sure I want to put myself through the enormous commitment of birthing a play, and it's been a few years, but if this script is as good as I've heard, I will find the time. Plus it is set in the turn of the 16th and 17th centuries so COSTUMES!!!!

And on to 2014

Well, will I be directing a play, performing on stage, teaching at HandMade, cranking out shirts to meet an increasing demand? Who knows. I don't know if I can bring myself to set goals. I have always found that a more evolving approach works well.
I do however resolve to let you know about it as it unfolds.And I am sure a few of these things will actually happen.
And I WILL be sewing, in fact I have completed the Boteh Dress and am well into the next make, as the Boteh just brings me back up to the same number of dresses, having been born of the ashes of the Anne Harvey. I should call it the Boteh Phoenix Dress really!!
 Phoenix Dress - MrC is not giving up his day job to become a photographer, and I am feeling the heat!
 Close up of the twist in the front bodice
 My pretend shirring in the back (I find shirring doesn't have enough torque) made by sewing channels in a sandwich of fabric and lining, and threading hat elastic into each channel.

Happy New Year everyone!