#PrayForPeace

It’s the day after the day before, and I’m still thinking about the awful events in Manchester. Sewing yesterday was the last thing on my mind, and today I had to force myself to sew a simple belt for my jumpsuit.  If you follow me on Instagram, you will know that I’m on a bit of a daisy and gingham vibe.  Well I was until 2 days ago. Daisies are one of my favourite flowers, and happens to symbolise innocence and youth. I, like many school children, had a gingham dress which my mum made for me. I adored that dress – not a lot of people can say they liked their school uniform, but I did, because Mummy made it. It was a lovely shade of yellow and reminded me of sunshine.

So surrounded by gingham fabric and masses of daisy trim upon hearing the absolute horror about Manchester – well it didn’t seem right somehow to sew something so symbolic.

 

Wednesday Thinking – Is there enough diversity in the world of arts and crafts?

Wednesday Thinking The Mid-week Editorialv

When I heard there was going to be a new shopping TV channel dedicated to all things sewing and quilting, it almost made my year.

Then I started watching.

Here are some of the main cast of presenters and designers on the new shopping channel, Sewing Quarter.

Group1Edited.jpg

Picture credit/source: Sewing Quarter/https://www.sewingquarter.com/the-sewing-quarter/about-us/

Only 1 male presenter, no male designers, as for ethnic diversity – well here’s the picture, need I say more?

A while ago, I published a piece about the lack of diversity in the music industry, referencing the issues regarding the dominance of a single artist in the UK charts.  Sadly those same themes appear to dominate the world of art and crafts as well.

As much as I enjoyed the Spring Knitting and Stitching Show, I was saddened that the range of crafts displayed didn’t reflect the wide diversity of the cratfters, producers and makers in the UK. During my 2 days at the show, I only saw 2 crafter/bloggers of colour at the event – Megan of Pigeon Wishes and Chinelo Bally. There also seemed to be very few male crafters live demonstrating at the show.

When I visit areas such as Goldhawk Road in West London, Walthamstow Fabric Market in East London and areas in-between such as Berwick Street and Portobello Road,  I see a united nations of crafters – beginner hobbyists to professionals, shoppers, shop owners, artists, young and the young at heart. So why is this not reflected in the main stream crafting media, fairs and TV shows?

I know there’s always YouTube, but I also know there is a strong appetite for new challenges, materials and techniques. Chinese jacquards, Indian silks, Nigerian Cottons, Japanese Embroidery, Italian Wools are all highly popular at the moment, but there are few places on the web to inform you how to use these wonderful fabric and techniques. When they are showcased, it is usually by people who are so far removed from the historical and social context of these crafts, the results becomes diluted. An recent example was highlighted during a quilting demonstration on Sewing Quarter where the cultural heritage of quilting was only briefly mentioned.

 

While personally I’m not a huge fan of Colette patterns for various reasons, at least they are attempting to reflect their diverse clientele, featuring models who are diverse in both shape and skin colour. It’s at least a small step the the right direction. Sadly, of all the independant pattern designers, Colette patterns is the only one I know of, who actively do so. None of the top 5 UK independent sewing pattern designers do, as far as I’m aware, which sends out subtle messages of exclusion.

It seems a great pity 2 genres; music and arts & crafts, ideal mediums for bringing people together, appear to be doing the opposite.

What you think? Please share your thoughts and comments below.

Thanks for reading.

 

 

Are Business Cards Old Hat?

Hello folks,

At the end of last year, aka the year we won’t mention, I finally took the plunge after weeks of procrastination, indecision and worry, to purchase some business cards. It took me another 3 weeks to research a suitable company, create what I thought was a good design, and get them made.  I erred on the side of caution, and economics, and had 100 cards made.

Arriving early February, I promptly stuffed my new business card holder with as many cards as possible and placed them in my bag.  I have been to several events since and so far have given out a grand total of … 4.

Why only 4?  Because of a little invention called the mobile phone. Naturally, the contemporary blogger, reaches for their mobile devices to swap contact details. It’s quick, simple and socially acceptable as being a modern way to do such things, whilst not looking like a 90s Wall Street Banker.

So I started to think, maybe I should ditch the whole business card thing. Attending the #YouCanSitWithUsLdn event last Sunday changed my mind.

Armed with a handful of business cards, I headed to the Camden Collective building on Hampstead Road, determined to off-load as many of my cards as possible.

I didn’t hand out any cards. Not 1.

Instead, I swapped contact details using my mobile, having taken advantage of the free wifi connection. My phone now full of new contacts, but my business card holder was also still bursting at the seams.

At the end of the event, I popped into the local supermarket in search of flowers for a photo shoot and milk, as you do. I left empty handed as the flowers looked a bit sad and thanks to Valentine’s Day, were over priced. All the 4 pint bottles had sold out, so that was a no-go too.

As I left, I spotted 2 fellow event attendees and waved hello.  We didn’t have a chance before to swap details, so we attempted to do so there and then. Of course away from the wifi service our mobiles were still adjusting. Then, I remembered my business cards.

I suppose this is a reminder that we should never be completely reliant on our tech devices, because lets face it, how many times have the batteries died, or the network service started playing up?  Then there’s the awkward scramble for the pen languishing at the bottom of our bag, and looking for a scrappy bit of paper … yikes.

I simply (and admittedly uncharacteristically added to my coolness points) pulled out my card holder and handed out a couple of cards.  Quick, simple, no awkwardness, no fuss.

At the moment as you may know, my website is currently going through a transition phrase. So I didn’t want to do an ‘American Psycho‘, and order gold embossed cards with a fancy script font. I suppose the movie also helped put me off the idea of using business cards, as I’ve unintentionally linked them as being one step away from chainsaws, and who wants to be associated with that? If you haven’t watched the movie American Psycho, I warn you now, don’t watch at night or alone. Or with people who know how to use chainsaws.

But, neither did I want to leave it until my website is perfect, because that will take a while and it’s not worth the risk on losing out on positive opportunities.

Plus, it makes me feel, and I hope look, organised and prepared.  Even if my website is under a little scaffolding, it’s still open for business. If I can get this small detail right, just think what I can achieve when it comes to bigger projects?  Heck, I organised my first photography exhibition last year, I can do anything!

What do you think about business cards? Do you use them? Please comment below.

Thanks for reading, and if you haven’t already, please subscribe for more.

 

Wednesday thinking – editorial: Bees, butterflies and beige food

January 2017 Health and Wellbeing January 2017 Champagne Twist champagnetwist.wordpresss.com
Health and Wellbeing January 2017 Champagne Twist champagnetwist.wordpresss.com

We’ve reached the halfway point of the 2nd week of 2017 and so far from my perspective, it’s looking good.  But then again the UK is still in the EU and President Obama is still in the White House. With daily reminders of the impending doom and gloom in the socio-political sphere, I’m trying to keep my mind on more positive events. Hope the first few days of 2017 are treating you well.

The recent Vegan Life Live show is still foremost in my mind.  Examples include rethinking how I feel about bee conservation.

For years I have tried to do my part to save the little bumble bees. I have planted bee and butterfly friendly shrubs, provided safe watering stations, I have even thought about getting my own bee hive. But then I read this post on the Vegan Society website, and now I feel – well a little confused and very guilty.  I like honey, it’s one of my key ingredients in my home made cosmetics. I enjoy cooking and baking with honey, often as a ‘healthier’ substitute for sugar.  So how do I reconcile this with the negative aspects of the honey production industry? Answers on a post card please.

One of the substitutes recommended by the vegan society is golden syrup. Now I have an big issue with this, as I try to (but admit I don’t always succeed) avoid using or buying from any company that has or had historical dealings with the African slave trade.  So somewhere there is going to have to be a difficult trade off.

I shall research this issue further and will get back to you with my findings.

Beige food by any other colour would taste as sweet?

Another thing that got me thinking, was a comment made by London Afro Vegan on her Instagram feed.  She posted a photo of some beautiful food she made and shared with the audience during her cooking demo at Vegan Life Live. Esme, the lady behind London Afro Vegan wrote, “Please forgive … the fact that every gosh dam thing in the pictures looks beige”. It was a type of comment that we all say, that doesn’t have any deep, hidden meaning.

london_afro_vegan
Picture Source and Credit – london_afro_vegan (Instagram)

Oddly though, the comment stuck in the back of my mind. Why would anyone feel compelled to apologise for delicious looking and tasty food? Then it hit me in the middle of recipe developing a meal based on chestnut mushrooms and chestnut puree (recipe coming soon). You can’t get much more beige that this!

rice-mushrooms-chestnuts-recipe-idea

There are many misconceptions about vegetarian and vegan food being bland, boring and beige. However, there are many beige or brown foods in many a meat eaters recipe book – soups, cakes, stews, curries, pies, etc. Yet few seem to complain that these foods are bland, boring or beige.  In most cases, it’s the vegetables, herbs, spices and fruits that gives these popular recipes any notion of colour and flavour.  So why, still, do so many people believe that vegan and vegetarian food is beige, tasteless and boring?  And what is wrong with beige anyway?  If beige was removed from any form of diet, we would all soon be in trouble.  Our daily bread would literally be snatched from our mouths. If I turned around and said to my family, you can’t eat bread anymore because it’s beige, you know I think they would cry. Can you imagine a world without cashew nuts, almonds or pistachios? I think I might start crying too.

Maybe it’s just basic respect, I could never understand why someone would actively disrespect another’s diet. I would rather enjoy a conversation about food, especially if there’s a chance to swap recipes and gain knowledge of another cuisine and ideology.

As much as I adore Instagram, it concerns me that society as a whole have pre-described notions of what is good and what is bad colour-wise.  We spend so much time and effort on decoration and image, at the expense of how food tastes, or how it was produced in the first place. Yes, the more colourful a picture is, the more noticeable it becomes. However, we are also transferring this idea towards notions of what is good food. There is already a proven correlation between beauty and race in terms of colour, should we travel down this negative path with food too?

So please London Afro Vegan, don’t apologise for your beautiful food and your kind, generous nature. Thank you for your lovely ‘beige’ food and sharing your knowledge and wisdom.  Anyone who shares their food with friends and strangers is in my book, the owner of a beautiful soul. And the world can do with more people like you.

And to everyone else, I hope you don’t mind, but I’m going to continue enjoying my meals, whatever colour they happen to be. Anyone for seconds?