Sunday, September 22, 2013

Lolita Hobbies: Stationary, Journals, & Fountain Pens

The last segment of my Lolita Hobbies list deals with something that everybody should do every day in some way: writing. We are moving into an electronic age where everything is starting to be done by either a computer or a cell phone and the physical act of writing is starting to be looked down on as an inferior method of communication. But this was not always the case. Proper writing and having good penmanship was viewed as being a necessary skill because it was the only method of communication that was viable at the time. There were no phones to text other people with and no computers to send Facebook messages to your friends with. If you wanted to get a message to someone, then you had to write them a letter and hope that they got it.

Even though the physical aspects of writing longhand may not be used anymore, it can be a very relaxing pastime to do. Learning (or re-learning) different styles of penmanship can make your everyday thoughts look very elegant; especially if you take the time to learn a very elaborate script like Spencarian or Gothic.

Of course, it isn't just about the process of writing that makes this skill a good hobby for a budding Lolita. It is all the paraphernalia that can come with it: pens, paper, envelopes, pencil cases, and journals.

Journals can come in a variety of different shapes and styles. They can be as common as simple college ruled notebooks or as luxurious as Clairefontaine notebooks. And if you can't find exactly what you want then you can always learn how to make your own journals. Or if you don't want to start from scratch, you can get a plain cover and decorate it yourself to suit any style. There is a ton of variation and a lot of brands, so it would take a while to get bored looking at different journals.

There are as many types of pens as there are types of journals. For the ultimate luxury there are fountain pens that use bottles of liquid ink. Then there are multi-colored gell pens that come in a variety of pastel colors, roller ball pens that combine the ease of use of a ballpoint pen and a fountain pen, and normal ballpoint pens. For those that don't want to use ink there are pencils (both colored and regular), markers, and even crayons. And don't forget calligraphy brush pens.

For those who feel uncomfortable with the idea of journaling, there is a more practical side of pens and paper: the humble letter. Everybody likes getting a letter in the mail and receiving a handwritten letter is even better. It shows the other person that you care about them enough to sit down and actually write to them. Of course, mailing a letter through the postal service will be a lot slower than e-mail, but you get the perk of the joy of writing and the pleasure of shopping for cute stationary.

Writing is an ideal hobby to get into for a Lolita. It can be as simple or as complex as you want it to be. Of all of the hobbies I have done so far, it is one of the most customizable hobbies out there. There will be nobody in the world with your exact handwriting except for you. It can give you endless hours of pleasure or it can just add a splash of elegance to your everyday life. Finally, it is simple to incorporate into your life. Next time you need to go to the grocery store, write down a list. If you are throwing a party, try sending out some invitations through the mail instead of over Facebook.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Lolita Hobbies: Spinning

There is nothing more luxurious than taking a bit of fiber, spinning it, and then making something out of the resulting yarn. It sounds boring and tedious, but it is strangely fulfilling to take the raw material and then end up with a scarf or hat or pair of fingerless mittens. Plus, when you spin your own yarn, you have complete control over what that yarn will look like and feel like.

Spinning isn't hard to do either. Anybody can do it as long as they have their hands, some sort of fiber, and a stick. You basically take some fluff, roll it between your fingers in one direction until you get a piece of string, pull it to get some more fluff, and see how long you can get that string to be. It is kinda like when you were a kid and were playing with playdough. You would take a ball and roll it out into a snake to see how long and how thin you could get it.

Of course, you can invest in better equipment to make spinning easier. Instead of a stick to wind your yarn you make with your fingers, you can get a spindle that helps you make that yarn faster and have someplace to store it. If you get really into it then you can invest in a wheel and then your yarn will start flying out as fast as you can pump the pedals.

Now, you might be thinking that this is all fine and dandy, but what does that have to do with the lolita fashion at all? It isn't like spinning is similar to embroidery or drinking copious amounts of tea. That is where you would be wrong. There are three reasons why spinning fit perfectly into a lolita lifestyle:

1. People who get seriously into lolita are all about the quality.

When you are able to control the process of making something all the way back to the raw material, then you are guaranteeing that you are making something that is high quality to your standards and specifications.

2. Spinning is luxurious and fits into a luxury hobby

There are so many different spinning fibers out there that it can be hard to choose. But if you want the biggest bang for your buck, you can get a ball of silk to spin into very fine yarn. What can be more luxurious than spinning silk? How about getting some baby alpaca, camel, bison, or cashmere? And for the extreme luxury, try saving up and getting some quivit. Ultra soft and ultra fine fiber that is harvested from the musk ox. Extreme luxury because of the extreme softness and rarity.

3. Spinning is elegant

Once you get the mechanics of spinning down, spinning is something that is seen as graceful, magical, and elegant. Especially if you opt for spinning with a light drop spindle. Spinning with a drop spindle without actually dropping it can be seen as graceful and you will amaze the non-spinners with your awesome hand-eye coordination.

My favorite learn how to spin book out there is one focused on drop spindle spinning. It is called Respect the Spindle by Abby Franquemont and she takes you from start to finish on a spindle. And once you get the hang of spinning, then you can make anything from big, bulky yarn that you can knit and crochet with to thread that you can embroider or tat with and everything in between.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Unexpected Hiatus and a Sweater

Lots of things have happened since I last blogged. Most things were good things and some things were not so good but are looking more optimistic by the day. Mostly, I have been dead tired with no inspiration or determination to blog.

Then something strangely curious happened: I started knitting. Not just talking about knitting but actually doing it on a fairly regular basis. It was soothing, comfortable, complex when necessary, and somehow I now have a body of a sweater.

Unfortunately, this baby soft sweater isn't for me. It is for my mom who picked up the cuddly alpaca yarn two years ago on an anniversary trip to Maine. Her hands have been acting up on her so she hasn't been able to knit in a long time and the actual knitting of the sweater has passed down to me. The pattern is from Interweave Knits Fall 2011 and is called the Flander's Bay Pullover. It is by Kate Gangon Osborn who is one of the authors of Vintage Modern Knits. So far, the pattern is just lovely and I am so glad to be knitting it!

There is a little bit of modification so far. I made the body longer because that is how mom wants it to fit on her, but it is fitting! We tried it on again last night after I did the three needle bind off on the top of the armholes. The stranded anchors are a little tight in some places, but I am hoping that the alpaca will relax when it is blocked and will stretch out just a little bit in those spots. I want to knit the sleeves first before I block the body so I can block the sleeve caps out at the same time and have an easier time sewing them in.