Belle

Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about the culture I consume. I’ve been for example asking myself why I like watching costume and period dramas so much and the problematic aspect of watching them as a black woman. There’s this interesting article by Monique Jones where she explains the many things she finds difficult watching what she calls problematic faves. I can really relate to her dilemma. Every time I’m watching shows like The Crown or Victoria, I start thinking about colonialism and all the horrible things that came with it. Do I stop watching them? No. Am I conflicted about it? Very much so.

When I was growing up and watching these costume and period dramas I wasn’t thinking so much about it. These rich white families from centuries ago felt so far removed from my own reality that I watched them with the same fascination as with sci-fi or fantasy movies. But over the years I’ve become more self conscious about it and started analysing them in a different way. Lately though I’ve become even more critical. There are plenty of these dramas being made every year and they often only feature white actors. The few roles there are for people of any other race is often slave or servant. Now some of you will say, well that’s how society looked back then but these depictions are being made in our time. I sometimes feel this is a part of the entertainment industry that can comfortably exclude people of colour without much effort because they can just cite historical accuracy as the reason. Am I saying that the Brits (’cause the make the best ones) should stop making costume dramas? No, this is far too complex but I think we need a wider variety of stories and creators in this genre.

This is why films like Belle are so important. The story about Belle, a daughter of a Royal Navy Admiral. She’s biracial and in his absence she is raised by his aristocratic family. I saw this movie a few years ago and almost started crying because I couldn’t remember the last time I’ve seen a movie like this where a person of colour was the lead but not as a slave or a servant. I’ve seen it a couple times since and I’m still captivated by Gugu Mbatha-Raw’s performance. The fact that this movie is directed by Ama Asante, a black woman gives me hope that things might be changing. What’s also great about this move is that it’s so beautifully shot that  you can watch it just for the costumes (something I do quite often). There’s a few of Asante’s film I haven’t seen yet but I’m really looking forward to see what stories she chooses to tell in the future.



Winter is coming – So I made a Beanie

Ok, so winter is kind of here already but I’ve got Game of Thrones on my mind.

I’ve been doing serious closet cleanup sessions lately, taking out all those garment and accessories that no longer work for me for different reasons. That has also included letting go of pieces made from animal fibres. While layering is an alternative for wool, I’ve struggled to find replacements for some of my beanies. It seems that everything on the market is either wool or acrylic. The few beanies that are made from cotton are made for people with much smaller heads than mine. I’ve been reluctant to crochet a beanie since the last time I did it, I ended up with a heavy and weird shaped beanie that I rarely used. Tired of googling ethically produced cotton beanies I decided to give a crocheted version another go. This time I would try to find a pattern and make sure I got the fit right.

Thank goodness for Pinterest because it didn’t take long before I found this simple way of crocheting a beanie, that even beginners can do. You don’t have to worry about decreasing stitches, only how big of a fold (or is it a brim on beanies too?) you want or how loose you want the beanie to be. You basically crochet a rectangle that you then stitch or crochet the sides to make a tube and then you gather and stitch together one opening of that tube and you have a beanie! I made mine very big because I want to be able to wear it even when I have box braids. So the top of the beanie is maybe not the prettiest but I can always cover it with a pom pom or something else.

Because I was going to use cotton and not wool, I figured it would be good to use a thicker yarn. I was glad to finally have a use for the knitted tube yarn that I got from a friend a while back. I ran out of yarn half way through so I had to order more to finish the beanie.

I’m so happy with this beanie, that I’m probably going to crochet another one. I would like to try one with a different rib stitch and maybe with a heathered yarn.

 


Read This Book!

I had a class earlier this year where we had to read a chapter from Tansy E. Hoskins book Stitched Up: The Anti-Capitalist Book of Fashion. Unlike many of the other readings we had to do for the course, I read the chapter really fast and immediately decided that I had to read the entire book.

I was already aware of many of the things Hoskins examines in this book but I had never had them all compiled on one plate and served to me with such razor sharp straightforwardness. This book has forced me to look long and hard at my own consumer habits and all the industry myths I buy into. After reading this book I can’t justify buying fast fashion anymore, even if I’m only buying those very basic staple garments that I know I will wear until they falls apart.

What’s so great about this book you ask? Chapter by chapter Hoskins examines the very many ways the fashion industry exploits and destroys people and nature. She debunks myths about high end fashion and exposes how most of the industry is ruled by a few conglomerates. At the same time she describes how all of it affects society, from status to body image.

Another great thing about the book is that Hoskins doesn’t just serve up depressing facts about the fashion industry but offers suggestions where to start changing the systems that enable all the exploitation. She encourages the reader to envision a future where we’ve torn down the current system and replaced it with something better.

I really encourage you all to read this book, whether you’re into fashion or not. I would go as far and say it should be recommended reading for all 8th graders.

Have you read Stitched Up? What was your take on it?


Another reason why I love crochet

I learned to crochet when I was a kid but to this day I still find new things about the technique to get excited about. There are so many styles of crochet and you can make such a wide range of things. Good thing for me ’cause I love learning new things.

A good friend of mine gifted me with a Molla Mills calendar that got me interested in tapestry crochet. It’s something that’s been on my list of techniques to learn but have struggled to find time for. Having the calendar on my wall has been a good reminder of that list but for some reason I really wasn’t into crocheting some swatches as I usually do when testing new stitches. Then I made a stupid mistake and put my lucky cat purse in the washing machine. It went in intact and dirty but came out clean with a bunch of holes. So I thought a new pouch/purse for my phone would be a good size product to test tapestry crochet. I choose this graphic pattern for November from the calendar and improvised my way through it. There were some rows where I  counted the stitches wrong but otherwise it wasn’t that hard once I understood how you switch between yarns. I used this tutorial as a guide for the yarn switch but when I was putting the calendar on the wall I realised that there was instructions illustrated on the back.

Now that tapestry crochet isn’t a mystery to me anymore, I want to try more advanced patterns and maybe something with more than two colours. I’m even playing with the idea of designing my own patterns. Would that be something you guys would be interested in?


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