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Archive for March, 2010

17th Century Love


While the 18th Century might be my favourite period in history, it does have a plucky young rival strutting about in crimson heels.

Ah, the 17th Century, had we but world enough and time

As a recent discussion on Isis’ Wardrobe’s Blog points out, it is a sorely neglected age, probably for various reasons (do go and read the post – yummy 17th C gowns and interesting comments on why this era seems so out of favour), but everyone’s favourite Duchess of the Americas has made a very good point indeed – why not create the interest and whip up our own blog buzz for us Early Modern Millies and Baroque belles?

So these are a few of my favourite (17th Century) things:

Masks as everyday wear, as blogged far more eloquently and informatively than I could manage by everyone’s favourite Nerdy History Girls.  This is one of my favourite mask images, in fact.

Earrings with stories, again, thanks to those Two Nerdy History Girls – really, go subscribe to their blog, right now.

Angelique, the indomitable heroine of over a dozen novels and wearer of some of the most glamourous 17th century gowns ever written.

Pretty damask patterns (need I say more?).

Stand and deliver!  Everyone’s favourite outlaws have strong associations with the era: highwaymen and pirates!  The word highwayman comes into use in the first quarter of the century and the golden age of piracy began in the 1650s.  Yarrr!

Literary loveliness – To His Coy Mistress is one of my favourite poems of all times; Moll Flanders, the queen of thieves; and the emergence of some distinguished female writers, such as Lady Mary Wroth and Aphra Behn, one of the first English women to earn her way by her pen.

Musketeers!  Nuff said.

Bucket-top boots – iconic and versatile, wear them high or folded down.

Poofy sleeves and bare shoulders – a prize-winning combo:

Big, swishy-skirted justaucorps – oh yes!  Perfect for the swaggering gent about town!

I could probably go on longer, but I fear I have rambled on too long.  Now, I throw the ball into your court, dear reader – whatever should I do with this fabric?

2.6m x 1.25m of cotton (perhaps a blend) damask

I want to make something 17th century with it, but now I have it (and it is so lovely), I’m at a bit of a loss, which isn’t helped by the fact that I’ve found it quite difficult to get hold of resources from this century, nevermind patterns.  I’m hoping that with your help, I can focus my search and get some fresh inspiration.

(And yes, I know I’ve been quite rubbish indeed – two weeks without a post?!  How lame!  I’ve been busy, though I don’t seem to have actually got anything done, I’ve had flu (which has left me quite exhausted – must get healthy and fit to avoid this happening again) and we do now finally have the internet at home.  I’m afraid I don’t have anything more exciting to report.  I’ve just been feeling mentally tired and uninspired – I haven’t even been reading my favourite blogs (until a mega catch up today) but hopefully my mood is on the up!  Thank you for bearing with me, my lovelies. x)
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Mrs B’s Needlework


My Mum went for a walk today and happened to pop into a little charity shop. They happened to have a certain needlework book I’ve blogged about before for a couple of pounds. Apparently it’s rather nice with all those pretty diagrams – I’ll have to have a looksee when she comes to visit next weekend.

I love little coincidences.

And happy Mothers’ Day for tomorrow to all you mothers, but especially mine!

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I’m Not Dead!


… just still internetless. The evil company has said that we should be connected tomorrow, but I’ll believe that when I see it.

In the meantime, I do have a new toy:

It might not be very 18th century or stitcheriffic, but it is pretty.

And, being the bit fat geek that I am, my favourite app so far is Stanza, the free ebook reader.  You can buy ebooks through the app, but you can also access hundreds (thousands?) of free legal ebooks, usually because they’re out of copyright – huzzah!  Being a bibliophile, I also particularly like the fact that you still have pictures of the covers for your enjoyment.

As well as reading, I’m listening to some great music in my lunch break – I fancied listening to something new to me, so I’ve put loads of the Boy’s music on it – it’s like I’ve just bought a hundred new CDs!  Today, I am mostly loving City and Colour (AKA Dallas Green – do you see what he did there?  My version would be County and Console … hmm – doesn’t quite have the same ring to it!)

Aaaanyway, sorry this is another filler post, but I hope to have something more interesting to post when I can get online from home and share some pretty pictures!

Until then, my dears:

Speaking of which, here’s one of my favourite women from history – she would definitely be invited to my fantasy dinner party:

Boudicca - sticking it to the Romans!

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These three things are inextricably interlinked for me.  When I am reading a story I love, I feel most inspired to write.  And, I like to think I’m aware enough that I don’t fall into that trap of writing like what I’m currently reading, which I hear/read so often from writers – ‘I don’t read anything while I’m writing a novel in case it subconsciously influences me’.  Which is fair enough, but I do think that reading is the best way to learn about writing, closely followed by writing (see below for my justification of this!).  And if you want to get published, then it’s even more vital that you know what is already out there, what is selling and what the conventions are, whether you intend to follow them or not.

Now, to qualify that off-hand comment about the best way to learn to write … This is, of course, just one woman’s opinion, but I think that reading extensively provides you with the basis for any learning you might do through writing itself.  Before I ever attempted to write myself and before I ever had any formal teaching on writing, I read.  As a child I lived in imagined worlds more than I lived in the ‘real world’ (and if I had my own way, I probably would now, too).  This meant that when I came to write and to learn about story I had an instinctive understanding of structure, character, dialogue and so on.  It wasn’t perfect, but it was a basis.  It meant that I could think of examples of the kind of scene or plot I was trying to write or that someone else was trying to teach me about.  It meant that somewhere in the back of my mind a voice said that you needed tension and climaxes and resolutions long, long before I ever read about those things in ‘how to write’ books.

Reading was the underpinning for the rest of my learning about writing.  I cannot stress the importance of it enough.  (Plus, if you want to write and be published, then buying and borrowing books from the library is a great way to support your industry.)

If you want some more writing tips, here’s an interesting article from The Guardian – Ten Rules for Writing Fiction.  (And yes, I need for work on number 5 – me and my addiction to exclamation marks!)  I got the link via the often funny, ever enlightening Nathan Bransford.  He does a fantastic post on the week’s happenings in publishing – if you want to be published or work in the industry, you’d be well-advised to read it!  In fact, just subcribe to his blog and read it all – you’ll find something useful, I promise!

And if you were wondering where the start of this post was going – it was further praise for Robin Hobb.  I am loving Ship of Magic like a great big obsessive weirdo.  I know I am loving it that much, because I find myself thinking about it when I’m doing other things and I am constantly looking forward to the next time I get a chance to read it.  And as it’s lunchtime, that’s now. 

What I bought at the weekend!

(Though, before I go to eat and read – if you have any recommendations along the lines of ‘if you like Robin Hobb, you’ll love …’ I’d love to hear them.  Indeed, any fantasy recommendations with good female protagonists always go down well with me!)

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