Sew simple, sew cozy

7 Nov

It’s chilly today.

To compensate, I’m wearing a wool scarf I assembled earlier this year.

I went to Dressew for their hugely overwhelming 50 per-cent off sale back in February, and I bought several of the more-expensive things I would typically leave on the shelves. Now my sewing box is home to things like tassels, fancy buttons, sequined elastic, folksy ribbon, and meteres upon metres of lovely fabric. Silk and wool to boot!

I almost had a heart attack in there…

So I channeled my excitement into sewing this delightful blue and yellow plaid scarf adorned with strips of black ball fringe.

It keeps me very warm. And stylish, too! Perfect for November weather.

You like?


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Clothing Swap Etiquette — we are human beings first, sexy ladies second

25 Oct

CIS-20-Wardrobe-Hacks-Colour-Your-Life

Attending a clothing swap can feel a lot like a girls’ night out with somebody else’s credit card. You get to hang wit yo gurls, chat about clothes (food, flicks, men, women), get rid of stuff you don’t want, and you get NEW! FREE! STUFF! It’s awesome. Several of my most treasured clothing items have come from swaps.

I really, really love swaps. They’re good for the environment, good for breathing new life into your closet, and great for building community.

Because afterward, when someone compliments you on your new outfit, you can shoot them a giant grin and say, “Yeah, I got it at a swap. My friend didn’t want it. Can you believe that??”  And then you can compliment your friend for having such great taste, and you will thereby spread the positive vibes. And the ethos of clothing swaps.

Preparation ~

There are a couple of ways to know for sure the items you’re getting rid of won’t be missed. One way is to turn all the hooks on the hangers in your closet backwards on the rod. When you wear something, hook it back forwards. Then you’ll know exactly what you never wear.

Or, if you’re not sure you like something anymore, put it aside in a tupperware bin. Try to go through the bin once a week to see if there’s anything you want to wear in there. If something stands out, wear it again to see if you really do or do not like it. This way you’re giving the items one last try.

Organization ~

There are several ways to organize your clothing swap. Here are a few of the nearest and dearest:

  • Each attendee can draw a number and the choosing of clothes can follow in an organized, democratic fashion.
  • Or each attendee can do a little “show and tell” and whoever wants the item can shout out for it.
  • Or the group can do a big, old-fashioned free-for-all. (Think: giant pile of clothes and scantily clad ladies running around excitedly.) This one’s my favourite… titillating.

However you choose to structure your swap, it helps to organize the clothing into categories so everyone can be sure to have their best chance at finding something they want. Just remember: you’re there to have fun and you shouldn’t take the swap, or yourself, too seriously.

It’s not just about the clothes — it’s about the people. Putting the excitement aside for a moment, I would like to address a  few common etiquette blunders I’ve seen over the years. (I am guilty of several. 🙂 )

Clothing swap DON’Ts ~

1.) DON’T: Bring your old, stained, smelly, holey clothing. If you wouldn’t touch it at the Sally Ann, nobody wants it at a clothing swap. Your garbage belongs in the bin.

2.) DON’T: Take more than your fair share. If you brought two things to swap, don’t take twelve home — you’ll look like an ass (unless it’s at the end of the swap and nobody wants what’s left).

3.) DON’T: Take things just for the sake of taking things. It’s easy to get excited, but don’t be greedy. Ask yourself:

  • “Do I really like this item?”
  • “Do I already own something similar?”
  • “Does it fit right?”
  • “Does somebody else want it more?”

4.) DON’T: Whine. “Aww, I never find annnnything! Nothing looks riiiight on me. Youuuu have so many nice things. Wah wah wah.” You have to accept that you might give a lot and not get as much back. It’s pretty random after all.

5.) DON’T: Be sneaky and hide things. I’ve seen it happen. Not cool. Even when you think nobody is watching, somebody is probably watching.

Clothing swap DOs ~

1.) DO: Bring your swapping items in the best condition possible. I know it might be a drag to wash things you’re going to give away, but it’s a nice gesture. Everybody likes clean things. It sucks when you get a great top that smells like somebody else’s BO.

2.) DO: Ask others if anyone else wants the item you found. Typically, if two people want the same item, it helps to have both try it on to see if it works. If both look great, and both want it, then the person with fewer items should get it (imho).

3.) DO: Try to present the clothing you’re donating in a positive light. I’m super guilty of not doing this. I love to tell stories like, “This one time someone asked me if that top was made by the designer of Seinfeld’s puffy shirt! LOL!” Just remember: what’s not right for you might be just right for someone else.

4.) DO: Compliment others on the items they’ve found. We all love compliments, particularly when they’re about something new. Spread the love!

5.) DO: Spread the word that clothing swaps are awesome. In a world where hyper-consumerism is running rampant and more than a few of us own 20+ pairs of shoes, clothing swaps can temper the desire to consume without spending a dime. And they create space in your closet for new, better things that you’ll wear more often.

Swapping really is the best kind of recycling!

There’s nothing quite like getting something for nothing. Though many of us love bringing home a bag of new things, I must reiterate: it’s not just about the clothes — it’s about the people. Laugh, share stories and tell your friends they look hot. At the end of the day, the best thing you will take home is a smile.

It’s also a good idea to bring a bottle of vino to share as you keep the dance tracks pumpin’.

Also, as the lovely, organized and socially conscious peeps at Swap Positive do over in Portland, please donate any unwanted clothing to those less fortunate.

Photos courtesy of: storesumaro.atspace.co.uk (Clothes on rack at D-Structure clothing boutique, 520 Haight Street, San Fran), mystyle.com, stylebakery.com.

Read this fantastic  blog post about clothing swaps and community-building on The Daily Gumboot.

Learn how to recession-proof your wardrobe on Style Bakery.

Album covers come aliiiive!

25 Oct

This. Is awesome.

NEW MUSIC RIGHT NOW: Turning up the heat

27 Jul

I can’t stop listening to R&B.

Or music that is R&B-inspired.

This way, I can pretend I’m hot and sweaty when really it’s 12 degrees at the end of July. The weather is so damn crappy this month I’ve been resembling the leather-jacket-clad Nicki Minaj a la her most recent visit to Vancouver back in April, when I’d rather look like this Nicki:

I love the ruffled booty shorts and matching jacket by Jean Paul Gaultier. That outfit makes me wanna leave the shower on to increase the humidity in my living space. If you need some steamy inspirations, check out these awesome mixtapes for free download:

NGUZUNGUZU – The Perfect Lullaby

The Weeknd – House of Balloons

And these too:

Jai Paul – BTSTU

How to Dress Well – Just Once EP

PLEASE WATCH:

How to Dress Well on Pitchfork TV

I can’t figure out how to embed this video in WordPress so you’ll have to click. Amazing performance with live strings and percussion.

Love,

your leather jacket Nicki

First four photos courtesy of fashionfame.com; last photo courtesy of glamourvixen.net.

TWO DAYS AFTER A RIOT: The Mountain Goats gave me love (love love)

23 Jul

North Carolina’s poetic indie-rock outfit The Mountain Goats makes music like bittersweet breakup letters. Like heartache put to 4/4 time.

I love this band and have only seen them once before at Sasquatch 2010. They were great, but admittedly, they’re not a band you can appreciate at a big music festival. Their show at The Biltmore Cabaret on June 17, 2011 was far more intimate, and way more memorable.

And John Darnielle is a great frontman — one of the best I’ve seen, in fact.

He is so intelligent, well spoken, gracious… and funny! He chatted with the audience between every song, speaking about his artistic influences, his personal life, anecdotes from the band and current events. His trademark, witty musings were simultaneously dark and light-hearted — just like his music — and my three friends who were not familiar with the band had no trouble forging a connection.

Darnielle even apologized about the riots that happened in our city two nights before, eloquently lamenting the negative impact of such a pointless event. Having been there for the start of the riots, I was surprised at how emotional I felt as my friend and I fled the downtown core. Everyone we met during the exodus was surprised and angry; opinions were infinite; any feelings of civic pride were dashed.

Though it was sad for me to realize the bands I love will probably talk about the riots before gigs in VanCity for a while to come, it was really nice to belong to a loving, respectful crowd on this night. Truly, this is the Vancouver I am proud to be a part of.

The Mountain Goats played an energetic hour-and-a-half-long set, switching effortlessly between crooning love songs, bitter ballads and upbeat indie dance tracks. Darnielle, with Jon Wurster on drums, Peter Hughes on bass, and touring keyboardist Yuvol Semo, had no shortage of energy as they all wailed on their instruments in the most sincere fashion. This band is known for their sincerity, and their stage presence confirmed it as they all looked like geeky college professors breaking loose from grading papers.

Speaking of stage presence, Darnielle’s is excellent. He is truly a seasoned performer. He had no trouble interacting with the crowd, and at one point pressed his face against the steel enclosure along the side of the stage and crooned through it. After that, he hung himself off the side of the stage and caressed people’s faces as he leaned in for a few intimate moments with fans.

Oh, and he wasn’t wearing any shoes.

Did I mention I love this band?!

Anyway, given that it was an early show with a 10:30 pm curfew, The Mountain Goats played a rich set that included 18 songs (I was too busy swaying to count — thank you Setlist.fm). They started with“Liza Forever Minnelli,” a new, slower track, and worked on building an infectious energy that carried us through “Broom People,” “Damn These Vampires,” and “This Year.” And the energy didn’t peak for a moment. From this secretly emo heart, I was particularly excited to hear “Broom People.” The songwriting makes me feel mushy every time:

’36 Hudson in the garage
All sorts of junk in the unattached spare room.
Dishes in the kitchen sink
New straw for the old broom.
Friends who don’t have a clue
Well meaning teachers
But down in your arms, in your arms
I am a wild creature.

Floor two foot high with newspapers
White carpet thick with cat hair
Half eaten gallons of ice cream in the freezer
Fresh fuel for the sodium flares
I write down good reasons to freeze to death
In my spiral-ring notebook
But in the long tresses of your hair
I am a babbling brook

God I love those lyrics! It was very cathartic live.

After this, it was just Darnielle, mic and guitar. When the bare-bones love song “It Froze Me” began, the crowd fell silent, entranced by his wavery vocals and expressive guitar plucking. This song goes all the way back to ’96, and it was amazing to hear Darnielle’s poetry come alive much like it would have on his early demos. Watching him perform this song felt like experiencing a first kiss with someone you really like: soft, electric and infinitely uplifting. I’m a big fan of this band, but I’d never heard this song before and the title described my reaction exactly.

What a beautiful song, and such a pleasure to experience live:

Later in the set, the band played a special song only performed live called “You Were Cool.” Darnielle told the crowd he first performed it in Victoria, B.C., and that it was “really special” to be able to play it for a Vancouver audience. Aw!

To close the set before the encore, the band played the ever-popular “This Year,” which had everybody shouting out:

“I am gonna make it, through this year, if it kills me.”

In a city that is still reverberating from the deep wounds of senseless, violent rioting over nothing, where young people are wearing the blame and everyone is searching their souls to find a way to understand, this felt very apropos.

When the first few chords of “No Children” rang out and I shrieked with glee. This is one of my absolute favourite songs EVER! I quickly discovered I wasn’t alone in my enthusiasm: nearly everyone around me was shouting or muttering along with every word, which was awesome, because for this band the words are many.

The words are what it’s all about:

I hope I cut myself shaving tomorrow
I hope it bleeds all day long
Our friends say it’s darkest before the sun rises
We’re pretty sure they’re all wrong
I hope it stays dark forever
I hope the worst isn’t over

And I hope you blink before I do
Yeah I hope I never get sober
And I hope when you think of me years down the line
You can’t find one good thing to say
And I’d hope that if I found the strength to walk out
You’d stay the hell out of my way

I am drowning
There is no sign of land
You are coming down with me
Hand in unlovable hand
And I hope you die
I hope we both die

All in all, it was the ideal end to a very un-ideal week in Vancouver. I’m so glad I was there. While falling asleep that night, I thought about how The Mountain Goats are the perfect symbol for how to behave with dignity in the face of negative emotions.

Their music illustrates how anger, when met with intelligence, can inspire beauty.

All of Darnielle’s lyrics are poetry. I could spend hours flipping through the band’s massive catalogue of tracks.

Buy music by The Mountain Goats on iTunes and check out the setlist from the Biltmore show.

Also, check out this sweet poster I bought!

Top photo courtesy of Brooklynvegan.com. Second photo courtesy of Stereogum.com.

AMAZING PHOTOS: Celebrities hangin’ with their vinyl

29 Jun

I stumbled upon a blog post entitled “Famous people hanging out with their vinyl” on Boing Boing and I just had to share its awesomeness with you all.

Here’s a selection of my favourites, but you should click the links above to see all of the photos.

Each one is brilliant.

Audrey Hepburn

Adorable. I want to be this picture.

Bjork

My lady love. Lovelovelove. And Jazzmatazz!

Sophia Loren

Stunning.

Marilyn Monroe

God that’s sexy.

John Lennon

I love John Lennon and everything he left behind.

Marlon Brando

Great photo. AND he was born on my birthday!

Jack Nicholson

What a perv! Not that I expected anything less.

Erykah Badu

Epically cool.

Madlib

Massive chaos; a true artist’s lair.

Chewbacca

Rofl!

LCat

I know, I know, I’m not a celebrity, but I couldn’t resist. Also, ’twas a good opportunity to promote The Black Keys’ latest album Brothers. It is an excellent, excellent album. Buy it — for the love of music!

All photos courtesy of www.dangerousminds.net, except the last photo by me.

DIY TILL YOU DIE: Vancouver Mini Maker Faire

24 Jun

I love performance and technology, particularly when they intersect with fashion and design.

Luckily, I’m not alone…

Because Vancouver’s first Mini Maker Faire is happening this weekend!

From 10 am to 5 pm on June 25 and 26, Great Northern Way Campus will be turned into a veritable feast for the eyes, ears and hands of novelty-hungry Vancouverites. For the first time ever in our fair city, we will be able to interact with a community of local crafters, builders, tinkerers, engineers and hobbyists who will gather to show off their skills and enthusiasm under the umbrella term of “Maker.”

Vancouver Mini Maker Faire (VMMF) is a two-day celebration of making and creating. It’s an all-ages family festival promoting the ethos of DIY on a large scale. Some of the features include pyrotechnics, kinetic sculptures, interactive musical installations, and 3d printers that can print themselves.

Interactive booths stationed throughout will both educate and entertain: teaching people how to complete a circuit, spin wool, or even smoke bacon!

Awesome.

Something really cute and creative that’s been garnering a lot of attention in on blogs and such these past few weeks is yarnbombing (aka yarnstorming or yarngraffiting), whereby a group of knit-savvy crafters gather together to shroud a public space in cozy, knitted coverings.

One such group, led by VMMF organizer Emily Smith, yarnbombed the Dunsmuir bike lanes the weekend of June 11 to promote the faire, and the results couldn’t have been more charming.

I love it!

Check out the VMMF blog for more info.

Something else I plan to take in is a talk by Vincent van Haaff, who will be discussing what music, video/installation art, hackspaces, and the maker movement all have in common. Van Haaff will explore the parallels between connecting software libraries and hardware, and connecting people and communities, taking into account how these points can benefit and accelerate every piece involved.

Originally from Southern California, van Haaff went from a record label co-founder and audio hacker in Los Angeles, to a rock climbing/chard-growing hippie in Santa Barbara, before moving to Vancouver to become a video game software developer and media artist. His expertise spans from data and music visualization to computer vision and user-centred design.

Definitely someone I want to learn more about.

Read more about Vancouver Mini Maker Faire in the Vancouver Courier and the Georgia Straight, and listen in on CBC Radio.

To pique your interest even more, I’ll leave you with one of my favourite music vids by Bjork, which I think really captures the Maker mindset:

See you all at the Faire!

First photo courtesy of xyberlog.com. Yarnbombing photos courtesy the VMMF blog.