Sunday, 29 April 2012

Old Lady Hobbies

So this week I have been as busy as a bee sewing up new designs and organising production (whats new!).  I also received a special little sparkly parcel - 50, 000 crystals to be precise - for a beautiful little something for the model Morgana.  You will get to see it very soon as she is doing the product shots for me on this special little number, but I spent the best part of 4 days sparklising it for her.  Now I know how all you Burly girls feel!  I can't wait for the images so I can show you all :-).  So now you are all up to date on Betty Blue's HQ news, on to the frivolous stuff!

I have many an old lady hobby as I have expressed on this blog before.  I think though, that knitting was my first old lady hobby.  I first learnt to knit when I was a little girl, I think I must have been taught it at school or something.  Then I completely forgot about the joys of knitting till two years ago.  On finishing my degree, I suddenly had time on my hands again and went about trying out new hobbies.  Knitting was one and when I was interning in London I did it on the commuter train to pass the time.

I am yet to complete a knitting project, but I am very enthusiastic.  When I learnt that my friend Ellen, of B Millinery, also loves knitting we decided we should have a meet up for a knit and a natter.  It might even help us to finish off some of our knitting projects.  So a date was set and a newbie knitter/crocheter joined in.

Our coooooool knitting bags ;-)
Miss Honey Bear joined us as she wants to learn how to knit and crochet, perfect as Ellen is the Queen of all things knitted.  Our venue was Drink, Shop, Do just around the corner from Kings Cross.

Of course much tea was needed, a vital morale booster, energy giver and thirst quencher.  And what do old ladies like most in the world?  A nice cup of tea!!!

Obviously cake was needed too.

Ellen and I brought some of our knitting patterns and books with us to show Kelly and just generally because we like to geek out over them.  The above book Ellen brought with her which I have not seen before but MUST HAVE.  I am assured they are available on ebay and the likes.  You can just see underneath it the baby blue of my first crocheting attempt.  I am crocheting a snood from a pattern in a book I have on the 1940's I have.

This picture is of Kelly trying to get to grips with crocheting.  I find knitting is a lot easier for beginners as it is more stable to hold and less fiddly, but Kelly is a sewing pro so she attempted crocheting for her first project.  She was going to make a pot stand/trivet, but it turned out a little wonky so she made it into a monsters head, teehee.

We had a great time knitting and crocheting and nattering away (mostly nattering teehee) and all agreed we should do it more often.  Like I said before I have yet to finish a knitting/crochet project so meeting up every once in a while is sure to help us finish off those pesky items.  I have very nearly finished my snood, though not quite, but I will be sure to show you all when I do :).

I think everyone should have a hobby like knitting.  It struck me that knitting a jumper or a cardigan would have been an affordable way for people in the past to get a new outfit.  And if they didn't like that jumper any more or it became an unfashionable shape; just unravel the yarn and start again!  Et voila a new jumper could be made.  Perfect for these ''recessional times''.

Until next time - why not take up a new old lady hobby and tell me about it :)
Betty xxxx

Sunday, 22 April 2012

The Crooked Book

Yesterday it was my Mummy's Birthday so whilst on a trip dpwn to Bournemouth to see my sister, we took her out for a lovely cup of tea and light bite to eat.  We took her to my new favourite place, The Crooked Book, in Boscombe.

I first went to The Crooked Book about two weeks ago.  I had heard that Boscombe/Pokesdown was the Vintage quater of Bournemouth so went there with my sister and a couple of her friends.  Them not being as cool as me and not really into Vintagy stuff, I couldn't really explore properly (they stood outside the shop looking all moody and irritable that I was taking so long whilst my sister and I had a nosey).  And I completely forgot to take pictures.  So this time I took pictures to show you all how cool this place is.

I forgot to take a pic of the outside of the shop so here is a picture of me instead, enjoying myself muchly.

The outside of the shop/cafe, providing the weather is good, has vintage chairs and all sorts so it sort of advertises the delights within and also helps you spot it whilst you walk along the street.  It is a short distance down the road from Boscombe's main high street, but totally worth the walk (even if in your heels).

As you walk in you are met by the wondrous sight of vintage furniture and all sorts of crockery and nick nacs.  Oh there was also a sign on the door saying "Dogs Welcome" which makes me very happy and a poster saying "Knit and Natter on a Tuesday" which tickled me and I may nick that saying (I am meeting up with some friends to knit and have a gossip so will now adopt this saying ;-)).

When I grow up, and have my own house, I will furnish it with items from this shop!  I particularly like the 1940's Oak Cabinet in the first picture, the pink sofa in the above second photo and both Kitchen cabinets in the below photo (one in the background you can just see and tall skinny one on the right hand side)

What struck me is how good the prices are in this shop.  For example the two seater pink sofa was £95 and the large Kitchen Dresser was £140 I think or thereabouts.  If this shop/cafe was in London you could add a 1 in front of the £95 at least for the sofa and the Kitchen Dresser I hate to think how much it would be.  There were also lots of 1930's/1940's style mirrors from as little as £12 so if you have a root around you can get some bargains!!

I particularly liked this mock croc 1950's redy brown handbag.  A snip at £18.  But alas I was in sensible mode (and my mother was with me so I felt compelled not to spend any money) so I didn't buy it, something I may regret later!

Down the back of the shop, past the cafe, is the book shop part of the establishment.  Don't you just love the piano!!  I would also buy this for my house should I ever own one.  (Yes I can play it, basics, not just for it to look pretty in my house!).  This is a dream for any book lovers, they have books both old and new on pretty much anything.  My Mum even found a couple of old Patchwork Quilting books which made her day!  The book part doesn't really interest me, and there were some very serious arty book worm types in the cafe which adds to the atmosphere (if not a little intimidating for a book novice like me).  I image the arty types from The Arts Institute at Bournemouth frequent this place, which I incidentally attended when I did my Art Foundation year.  I really wish this place had existed back then as I would have been a regular!

All in all I had a fabulous afternoon there with a nice cup of tea and a bowl of homemade Chickpea and Lemon Soup with a crusty roll.  I just sat there and looked around as there was so much cool stuff to take in.  Now I just need a house so I can buy all the cool stuff and stare at them some more.

The day wasn't entirely a frivolous one spend perusing vintage assortments, I did make a trip to pick up a photo shoot prop I bought on Ebay.

I have been looking for a little Boudoir Chair/Slipper Chair/Tub Chair for a while on Ebay, and when I saw this one it was like fate.  It was the right price and in the right place for collection, the very same town my sister lives in only a few roads away!  So this will be used in an upcoming photo shoot that I have planned.  The lady who sold it to me was very excited that it was going to be used for something exciting like a photo shoot and said her daughters had been practising posing on it a la Banbury Cross, after viewing my website :-).  Even better this will fit nicely in a corner of my bedroom after I have used it in a photo shoot ;-).

Lastly, in other Betty Blue's news, I made a trip to my factory last week to get the ball rolling for production of the (Bestseller!) Nell Robe Black version.  Here is a sneaky peek of the sample.

The Nell Robe in Red sold out very quickly in size Small and I have very limited stock in Medium and Large.  So if you don't want to miss out on the black version, click here to preorder!!!

Lots of Love
Betty xxx

Monday, 9 April 2012

Swiss Handkerchiefs

There isn't much news at Betty Blue's HQ at the moment.  I am busy organising production on the Nell Robe in Black and designing new lovelies for you all, so I don't have much to report to you at the moment.  So to keep this ol' blog going I have found some items that I thought I would show you.

With the death of my Uncle and the subsequent clear out of his house, it has made me reflect rather a lot about my family history.  As my parents met and had children later in life, my Grandparents were that little bit older and so died when I was very young.  On clearing out a few things we found a great big bag of beautiful handkerchiefs.  My Dad's, Dad (my Grandpa) was a Handkerchief salesman when he was alive.  He imported beautiful Swiss handkerchiefs and sold them to various department stores all over the country.  When he died it seemed a shame to throw them all away as they were so beautiful so we kept them.  I have no idea what we are going to do with them all as there are hundreds but each one is so beautiful and intricate it seems a shame to throw them.  I might have a few framed so I can put them up on my office wall as inspiration as they truly are a sight to behold.  I have picked out a few that I particularly like.

This is what I would call a traditional white hankie.  100% cotton, it features a beautiful 'Deco-esque' embroidery on all four corners.  Oh I forgot to mention that I photographed these hankies on a dark background to try and highlight the decorative nature of them as they are mostly white patterns on white hankies so a little hard to photograph well.  They are also A LOT more stunning in person.  I also ironed all the hankies but after years of being folded the lines are somewhat impressed into the fabric.

Another white 100% cotton hankie, this time it has a beautiful lace surround.  I love how the main material of the hankie has been cut away from lace to make a pretty scalloped pattern - a little like my Nell Robe!  It is almost too beautiful to think that anyone would ever blow their nose on it!

This fine cotton hankie has a pretty little Valentines themed embroidery.  I like to think that a smart young gentleman would buy this to give to his Valentine.  That little gold splodge on it is just a little sticker saying that it is a Swiss hankie - original to the hankie of course :-).

I didn't know that hankies could be so cool!  I love the shape of this floral delight and it would go perfectly with a cute 50's summer dress.  Of my collection this is the only one that isn't the traditional square shaped hankie.

This hankie is absolutely stunning in real life.  It is completely covered in a tiny floral embroidery that shows machine embroidery off to its fullest.  I can't imagine anyone actually using these beautiful hankies, maybe ones like this were only used on special occasions like at a wedding.

Please excuse the flash in this photo.  Most of the hankies that I have are white with either a white motif or even a coloured embroidery, so this red hankie was a great find in the collection.  It is a bright red cotton with a beautiful heavy lace around the edges that reminds me of a Guipure lace.  I imagine it would have been more pricey than some of the other hankies.  I have some sets of 4 or 6 hankies pinned to a paper sleeve that still have the price tag on.  The price sticker has £1.45 on it, which I'm not sure if it meant £1.45 for the whole sleeve of hankies or £1.45 individually.  These would have been the price to the shop so they would then have added their margin.  Either way in 1940 these types of hankies would have been a fairly expensive item, and it is easy to see why with the beautiful and delicate embroideries, lace and motifs.

Seeing all these handkerchiefs made me think of lost industries.  As with clothes manufacturing in the UK becoming rarer and rarer, with the invention of disposable tissues a whole industry must have been lost.  These handkerchiefs were all made and embroidered in Switzerland so a whole industry in Switzerland must have all but disappeared.  It's a shame as they are exquisite and unlike tissues, last for years!!  I guess it just reinforces the fact that Betty Blue's Loungerie manufactures in the UK, is a really good thing!  The British garment manufacturing industry is beginning to grow as more and more UK designers make the decision to manufacture here.  Mary Portas would have us believe that she is single handedly bringing back UK manufacturing, but we know better.  Here is a list of awesome companies that make some, if not all of their clothing right here in the British Isles:

Betty Blue's Loungerie (of course!)
Kiss Me Deadly
Ayton Gasson
Made by Niki
Lascivious Lingerie
Lady K Loves
Boo Boo Kitty Couture
Tara Starlet
Miss Fortune

So don't let our garment industry go the way of the Swiss hankie industry!!!  Next time you are in Primarni PUT THE CHEAP TAT DOWN AND WALK AWAY ;-).  Like the pretty Swiss hankies; loungewear, lingerie and outerwear from the above companies will stand the test of time and last a lifetime.  Maybe in 60 or 70 years time your grandchildren will come across your collection of loungerie and find the items as captivating and beautiful as I find my Grandpa's handkerchiefs ;-).

Lots of Love
Betty xxx