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Sunday, 29 December 2013

Christmas Crafting: Knitted Scarf

I'm sad that I didn't get to make more presents for people this Christmas, but I did my best - I still made fudge, peppermint creams and a phone sock for Ben, but I hope to do better next year.

I did made a scarf over the holidays for my godfather - 10mm needles with Rowan Wool (extremely soft and squishy). The pattern is pretty simple for beginners, and grows like a weed.

As you can see here.

Knitting is something I've been doing for a while, but I wouldn't be able to stick it out for anything larger than a scarf or hat/gloves - jumpers, quite honestly, sound like a nightmare.


Friday, 27 December 2013

Outfit Post: Christmas Day and presents!

Phew, holidays are over! Love them I do, but they're tiring and I'm ready for a nap. Still, it was a good two days, and I did my best to get presents that people would like, and people certainly did the same in return! It's amazing how family and friends managed to read my mind and get things I hadn't thought to tell anyone about.

goth, jumper, spider, outfit, leather, mini skirt
Apologies for the bathroom pic; the light during winter is so weak that I can't get good photos in my room. :(

My parents got me this glorious jumper (from TK Maxx, I think), and my god it's so cozy. It also lines right up with my resolution to make dressing goth-like fit in with my lazy desire for comfort. The skirt is one from last Christmas, but the scarf and the necklace is new too. 

goth, art deco, jewellery, skulls
Scarf has skulls on it, and oh my I love my gaudy art deco necklace.
I love nothing better on Christmas Day than curling up by the fire and footering with all the presents I receive (everyone is incredibly generous, despite me being an official adult/recessions and what not). One of these was less a present and more a handing down, and explains the good quality photos in this post; my dad gave me his camera! I also got filters and a card reader for it (the port for the cable is broken), so you can expect better photos and hopefully more frequent outfit posts.

 This is only a smaller selection of my gifts - I got make up brushes, fancy earrings, records, an elephant tea pot, a gorgeous beaded top and - of course - a rubber duck light. ;)

Much love to all of you, and I'm hoping that your holidays are going as well as mine are.


Wednesday, 25 December 2013

Holly and Candles: Merry Christmas 2013!

Merry Christmas, everybody! Equally, Happy Hanukah/solstice/winter festivities/same old boring day to you. I'm taking a break from blogging over the holidays (I'll still have some posts, but they'll be queued and probably less regular) to take on some shifts at work and build up my blogging queue again. I'll be back full throttle again in the new year, of course!

Holly, christmas

I thought I would share these photos I took yesterday of my mum's real holly table and mantelpiece decorations which I did for her this year - it's normally my dad's job, but he hates it and passed the responsibility on to me this year. My finger tips are sore and swollen from being jabbed constantly, but it was lots of fun!

Anyway, I hope you're all with loved ones and enjoying yourselves - have a lovely time!


Tuesday, 24 December 2013

The Men That Will Not Be Blamed For Nothing: A Very Steampunk Christmas EP

Tired of generic sugar Christmas carols? Like dark humour, steampunk and snark? The Men That Will Not Be Blamed For Nothing's punky A Very Steampunk Christmas EP is right up your cobbled alleyway then, guv.

Though it was released in 2010, I finally got around to buying it and it didn't disappoint. Ebenezer's Carol should appeal to the cynics amongst you, and their rendition of Silent Night is anything but calm and bright. It can be found on iTunes, Soundcloud and Amazon.

I will warn you that it is very short (the EP is only four songs, one of which is thirty seconds), and if you're left wanting more I suggest you check out The Everyday Goth's Alternative Christmas Compilation here.

Have a great Christmas Eve, folks!


Saturday, 21 December 2013

My Dream Christmas Wishlist

Whilst I've already given a list of things I wouldn't half mind from Saint Nicolas (mostly boring things, like chai tea, rolling pins, earphones, new make up brushes, etc.), there's plenty of other things I'm dreaming of below the Christmas tree, no matter how expensive/improbable/unrealistic. Still, a girl can hope.

  • Black Underbust Corset. Cyber in Glasgow does properly fitted ones (and charges over a hundred quid for the privilege), but I probably shouldn't pass up the opportunity to get a properly fitted underbust, especially if it's one I would plan on wearing lots.
  • Camera tripod.
  • Stompy boots. I love mine. But a goth can never have too many.
  • Gramophone.
  • A gothic club night in Dundee. It's lonely being a goth in Dundee - there's very little to draw us in our tiny numbers together, and most of the music nights here are metal orientated. Ah well.  
  • Juke box.
  • Deathhawk. Or any other, suitably inappropriate-for-medical-school hairstyle.
  • My own flat.
  • Candlestick telephone. (never mind that the only people who would call me are cold callers.)
  • Nail varnish that actually stays on longer than a day. IS THAT TOO MUCH TO ASK.

I totally think these are achievable goals for my Christmas haul. How about you, readers - anything ridiculous or unlikely you would love for Christmas? Lemme know in the comments!


Wednesday, 18 December 2013

Christmas Crafting: NES phone sock

It's always the case around Christmas that I make up for my lack of crafting during the rest of the year (I've got out of the habit with a heavy workload and poor health, unfortunately), and it's no different this year. Thankfully, I've got an accomplice in the gamer, who I've recently infected with the crafting bug - I can't stop him coming up with t shirt designs now.

I made this NES phone sock for his christmas present (we traded a present each early, so no worries about spoilering him). It was made with the use of basic hand stitching, my glue gun and a lot of curses and time. I hate stitching on felt and I'd have fixed things if I had more time (it took longer than anticipated), but he assured me that he loved it. We also made some Mario themed baubles together (and have plans for death star and pac-man ones), but I won't post that until we've completed the set.

Finally, I'm back to knitting - this time a scarf for my uncle. I love the pattern I'm using, and the wool is wonderfully cosy and soft. Photos when finished, though it's not quite as exciting as this phone case.

Anyway, that's the last of this quick post, so hoping all your crafts are going well too!


Monday, 16 December 2013

8 quick fixes for your blog

Although this isn't my first blog, I'm still improving how I write and what I can do with my blog as I go. Although content is the number one thing you should be focusing on, there's a lot of ways to make your blog more professional, better looking and above all more yours.

Most advice online focuses on how to draw more traffic and make money out of your writing ('use keywords! Try Adsense! Link to and comment on other people's posts!'), and there's little on all the wee things you can do to give your blog some TLC. So I decided to write my own list!

1. Edit your theme.

I'd hope that no one is still using the default blogger theme! Even doing small edits to your theme, such as changing the background, the sidebar alignment or even the text colour can make your blog feel far more like it's yours.



2. Evaluate your sidebars.

Specifically, what widgets you're using. Is it cluttered? What do you value when you visit someone else's page? I've been trying to stick by this advice and simplify my own one (it's not been easy - I hoard widgets), as it makes it look so much nicer. You might want to make a page for all the ways people can follow you to cut down on the different links on your sidebar.

3. Personalize your 404 error page

Amusing 404 pages are my catnip, and I have indeed edited mine (you can see it whenever my blog messes up). For blogger users, this can be done by going to 'settings' in your blogger dashboard, clicking on 'search preferences' and form there to 'Custom Page Not Found'. A html box will pop up, and you can put whatever you like in there.


4. Upload a favicon.

For those who haven't heard of favicons, these are the wee icons that appear next to a webpage in a tab. These can be made with any image using a Favicon Generator, pick one from pre-made ones or make your own.


5. Tidy up your tags.

I am the worst of the worst for using silly tags on tumblr. However, in blogger, readers do actually use tags to find similar posts on your blog, and thus they are pretty important. Try and cut down on your tags so that you don't have to wade through all the unnecessary tags you use to find the more common ones.


6. Make a header.

This is perhaps a little hypocritical, given I don't currently have one myself! Nonetheless, making a header for your blog can make it far more personal than a simple text header.

7. Have an 'About Me' page.

I love writing about me pages! Here, you can give your readers a wee insight into you and even what you post on the blog (I have a separate page for this now, but it depends on what you want), and allows you to have far more creative control than you do over the blogger account profile. 

8.  Decide how much time you want to devote to your blog.

Overall, blogging is a fun hobby for most of us, and if you're constantly forgetting to post or are stressed because it's taking up too much time in your life, the whole point of it is lost (also - it's obvious, but post on subjects you're interested in, or you won't enjoy it). Look at how often you get inspiration for a new post, how much time you can dedicate to the blog and where you want to take it and from there work out a posting schedule.

And that's all, folks! Hope you enjoyed the more offbeat post. :)


Tuesday, 10 December 2013

Charity and Second hand Shopping - as good as it sounds?

Image source.
Hi guys! I'm here to warble again!

This post was prompted by a comment from a friend when we went to go see Pacific Rim during the summer (very good film, with big ass robots and even bigger monsters) - I had just recommended the Spin Doctor clothing label to him (an offshoot of popsoda - the company which also runs Hellbunny - who have a very dark steampunk aesthetic), and whilst he said he might consider it, he joked that he was of the 'old snobby goth clique and [thought] that everything should be purchased in charity shops'.

This stuck me as odd - not because I don't believe in charity shops, or because he wouldn't be able to get anything in them (quite the contrary; it's fantastically difficult for him to get things in high street shops, which is the main reason he shops in charity shops rather than a moral objection), but for the dismissal by some in the subculture of anything other than The One True Goth Way.

Now, although we often criticize goth brands for churning out low quality, easily DIYed products and homogenizing the subculture - and let's not mention the 'insta-goth kits' - the Spin Doctor brand seem to make an effort to converse with their customers and keep them updated of new developments, and the three items I own from them (all gifts for formal occasions) are very good quality. But that's not the point; the point is about how the purchase of second hand clothing can often turn into an example of elitism in our subculture.

At its heart, charity shopping is a good thing. You are reusing clothes that may otherwise have gone to landfill, which is good for the environment and ethically means you aren't funding unfair labour by buying non-fairtrade items and clothing. It's usually cheaper, which is always worthwhile, and you can find unique clothing that you might never find in the shops. You're also giving to a good cause - I've heard of people donating items to charity shops only to purchase them later, just so that the shop can have the proceeds. Additionally, there's a certain fun in hunting through the rails and shelves to find that one perfect shirt you've been looking for for years, and a pride when you look through your purchases.

But, equally, there are problems with the process, particularly associated with the gothic subculture. These tend to manifest in a snobbish elitism that suggests you aren't a real goth if you don't buy all your clothes at oxfam. This ultimatum tends to ignore the realities of second hand for some of us; clothes are difficult to find for plus sized shoppers, and unless you live in a very diverse and alt-friendly area it's difficult to find big names such as new rocks or items for very specific fashion styles such as bustle skirts or fluffy leg warmers. And what about your basics, such as tights or tank tops?

Moving away from the goth specific aspects, second hand shopping can be difficult for those who don't live in an area where there are charity shops, or have other restrictions as to where they shop. On top of this, it's not necessarily always cheaper; the charity shops of Glasgow's west end, for example, are just as expensive as anything on the high street, and vintage can be incredibly pricy.

So, what's my conclusion? I do believe in supporting charity shops and small businesses selling pre-owned clothing, but I don't believe that it's the only way. Yes, the original trad goths and post punkers may have purchased most of their clothing second hand. But just because that's the way it used to be, doesn't mean it always has to be that way. For many, it's  simply a case of being unable to get the kind of clothes that they like or can wear, and they shouldn't be made to feel guilty about that. I feel that, by attempting to be ethical in our shopping in high street shops as well as supporting independent crafters and good goth brand names, there is nothing wrong with not being able to shop second hand.

What's your opinions on charity shopping? Do you feel that it's a viable option for getting all your wardrobe from? Tell me in the comments! :)


Thursday, 5 December 2013

Outfit Post: Dark Steampunk

Well, steampunk inspired, anyway. Whilst I'd love to get involved in steampunk (no clutches in Dundee, regrettably) I can't say that I am a well versed expert on it, and thus I don't really have the experience to judge what is and isn't steampunk.

Have a more smiley photo, seeing as I was looking very serious above. The camera makes my conturing look far too heavy.
Certainly, this outfit does have a lot of hallmarks of steampunk; a cthulhu/octopus necklace (sadly not the octopus necklace of Regretsy fame), a neo-Victorian faux bustle skirt and anachronistic military boots. The necklace is one I have blogged about previously here, and was purchased at Dundee Comic Con from some lovely independent crafters.

I don't often wear Victoriana clothing as it's a bit of a faff and isn't really practical for everyday stuff, but it's quite nice to bundle up in during the winter (plus this skirt was a Christmas present last year, so it feels very wintery). And who can resist corset lacing like this?

Shirt: Marks and Spencers
Necklace: Dundee Comic Con
Skirt: Spin Doctor (gift)
Tights: Claire's
Boots: Office

Hair stuff -

 Whilst I can't usually be arsed doing anything with my hair, I don't usually like it down unless it's been backcombed to high hell, so when I'm in a rush going to lectures in the mornings I usually do my hair as above. It's really simple to do, so it surprised me when I got asked how I did it one time. Would anyone be interested in a really easy tutorial for it?

Until then, stay safe!


Monday, 2 December 2013

Wardrobe Feature: Ghost (of Christmas Past) Jumper

Now that it's genuinely the winter season, I feel like I should be posting something more appropriate for the weather that Scotland's been having (i.e. cold and rainy with frostbite imminent).

It seems every goth and their dog bought this at Halloween whilst it was in stock at Newlook, and to be honest I don't blame them - it's adorable and incredibly cosy. I'm passing this off as my Christmas jumper of the year because ghosts are totally Christmas.

Derp photo for the lulz.

When I was going through a depressive slump in late October/early November, one of the first things that went was the effort that I put into how I looked. I stopped wearing make up, and I gradually couldn't be arsed with making the effort to look goth every day. And whilst that was a symptom of my increasing anhedonia, it actually is a good thing in many ways; I was spending too much time worrying about what to wear and putting on make up, and my appearance was in many ways impractical for my lifestyle. Currently, I'm sticking more to wardrobe staples, with outfits based on jeans, vest tops and shorts featuring prominently, which is more practical and gives more structure to my wardrobe (and avoids the fretting over what to wear in the morning that was becoming my life). There's no reason for that not to look gothy, however, and spooky jumpers fit right in there. And how could I say no to a woolly ghost that feels like being wrapped in a hug?


How does your mood and your lifestyle affect your fashion? Do you prioritise when it comes to comfort versus appearance, or do you think that a healthy balance can be struck? Let me know in the comments!


Thursday, 28 November 2013

November Blog Round Up

Hello, all - it's time for the monthly blog round up! I missed this last month because of how busy the end of the month was, but I'm up and ready for this one.

  • A Thrifty Mrs wrote about how to set a Christmas budget - ever more important in the current recession (and especially for students like me) - and points out things most people wouldn't even consider including in their budget.
  • Sary Walrus at The Walrus Room collated useful advice for goths from comments (including one from myself), which is useful to both new and old goths.
  • My favourite blogger Halloween costume was probably Coffin Kitsch's Steampunk Punk - it reminds me a little of that punk Victorian Sherlock Holmes adaptation (fyi: coolest thing ever).
  •  On a more fashion academic point, the application of the uncanny valley hypothesis was used in dissecting alternative fashion and trends at The Mutant Stomp Friends. I find this really interesting, as it analyses the heart and theory of fashion in a way that we often don't consider.
  • Also from The Mutant Stomp Friends, 1666 x 30 also listed her favourite tumblrs - I usually hate inspiration posts and things like this, but I love some of the ones she's included; Polyvore Gore is an old favourite, but I'm still going through the archives of some of the others.

There were also lots of interesting fashion posts too, but I've been feeling the need to mix it up recently and try new blogs (still looking). Anyway, that's all for this month - see you when the tinsel is out and robins are wearing santa hats.


Tuesday, 26 November 2013

The Cooler: Jazz and Victory Rolls

As I've previously mentioned, I'm completely enamoured with the 1920s right now. They weren't the decade I was initially drawn to when I started experimenting with vintage fashion (more so the popular forties and fifties looks), but after seriously looking into them and giving them a go I really want more Jazz Age class in my life and wardrobe.

However, a return to later years was in order, as my university's union hosted its twice yearly big band jazz event, the Cooler. This was a lot less packed than the Great Gatsby night, with more of a focus of sitting and appreciating the live music, but as ever my swing society teamed up with Big Band to steal the floor and practice our dancing. And, of course, I didn't miss an opportunity to dress up.

I love this photo. I'm dressed as though I should be planning WI meetings, and my faux fringe is all over the place, but I was having the time of my life. I've been preferring blues dancing to swing recently for its simplicity, but when I actually manage to stop fretting about how crap I am and how few moves I know it's magic. Ben was wearing all red (because why not?), and his new cravat I got him for his birthday - in a day time knot, scandalously.

My dress got a lot of compliments - people are so sweet! - and it was fabulous when I was spun (though not for Charleston - petticoats are never a good idea with Charleston, which certainly lines up with the flapper aesthetic), but other than victory rolls, which I hate doing, it was a very low effort outfit - which is actually the philosophy I want to apply to my wardrobe. Although it was fun dressing up and standing out, it was forgotten when the dancing started, and I want to come to a place where I can look good in what I'm wearing but also forget about it when I'm having fun. Maybe that's wanting to have my cake and eat it too, but whilst I love standing out, I've had times where I've overly fretful about fashion and overthink it, and end up not enjoying myself partly as a result of it. And cake is delicious, so I might as well eat it.


Sunday, 24 November 2013

Dundee Western Cemetery

One of my regrets about my first year about university was not living at the West Park halls. Not for any serious reason - I adore my flatmates, and in a lot of ways it was far easier living close to the city centre, but one thing always made me long for the off campus accommodation; the cemetery.

View from the back of the cemetery.

Yup, punching my goth card here - I adore cemeteries. I spent a good chunk of my childhood wandering around old graveyards, and it's a practice I continue to this day. Dundee Western Cemetery is right next to West Park Halls and Conference Centre on Perth Road, and I spent a fair amount of time this year wandering about it (indeed, I even studied in there). There's lots of other smaller cemeteries in my part of Dundee I visited once or twice - Balgay Cemetery is a probably larger cemetery also on my route back from Ninewells, but it mainly seems to be newer graves, and the older styles of the Western keep drawing me back.

The cemetery has a war graves section (from memory I think it's mainly Falklands deaths?), and - something I didn't know until I did some research - has two interesting historical figures; James Bowman Lindsay (1799-1862), one of the early experimenters with electricity - he pioneered a 'constant electric light' 40 years before Edison's light bulb! - and Preston Watson (1880-1915), who some claim to have made the first powered flight over the Carse of Gowrie before the Wright Brothers.

It was a glorious day when I first took these photos, and the cemetery is really stunning - makes me wonder, as full as my schedule is, if they're looking for volunteer groundskeeping.

This is just a few photos from my first visit - I plan on going around the grounds documenting the elaborate graves (I didn't take any photos of the large tombs for wealthy Dundonians, stupidly, as gorgeous as they were), and think I might actually visit all the cemeteries in Dundee properly; these were taken on my iPhone, which coped surprisingly well due to the good afternoon light.

Until then!


Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Review: Body Jewellery Shop

Today, readers, we have something new; the first review of this blog.

I was emailed during August asking if I would be interested in reviewing some products from Body Jewellery Shop, and after browsing their online store I was very keen. The range of products for different piercings is impressive, as is the range of materials and information on piercings - indeed, they have lots of guidance on what you should be considering when choosing a piercer, aftercare and even videos of some piercings being done. 

Disclaimer: I was contacted by a representative of body jewellery shop to carry out this review; I was given £20 worth of jewellery for free, but was not otherwise paid or reimbursed. All opinions are 100% my own, based on feedback given by my testers.  
Review after the jump!

Friday, 15 November 2013

Outfit Post: Welcome to Night Vale, with a bit of new/old Goth

Man, I have been wearing a lot of purple lipstick recently. I absolutely love the stuff I got from Model's Own; it's not very long wearing, but the colour. A bit of lip seal, and I'm ready to go.

Blargh, I hate flash. Apologies for the messy room - I was partway through cleaning out my craft supplies.
I really wanted to try it out with a fedora and my blazer, and paired it with my (equally new) spiked collar, docs, polka dot tights and my faithful black dress, which is now falling apart. The result came out looking like a mix of nu-goth with elements of eighties, and a friend described it as 'a gothed up Molly Ringwald'. Ideally, I'd have liked to have worn it with crimped hair, but I had neither the time nor the crimping irons necessary.

Logo by Rob Wilson. Source.

It was also a little inspired by my summer obsession, Welcome to Night Vale - a bi-monthly podcast posing as a spoof radio show from a surreal and mysterious desert town in America, where strange hooded figures gather in the local dog park as PTA meetings open rifts in time and space, glow clouds telepathically control newsreaders and scientists have perfect hair. I started listening to it in July; it's completely hilarious and no trigger warnings apply, so I definitely recommend it to one and all. It can be found on iTunes, feedburner and podbay.


Friday, 8 November 2013

So I've been busy...

[This is more of an update for why I've been AWOL, rather than an in depth discussion of my situation, but for the sake of anyone who it may apply toTW: discussion of mental health.)

Sunday, 3 November 2013

Happy (belated) Halloween!

Happy Halloween, everyone! I'm a bit late on the Halloween blogging front, but it's been a very busy few days; along with Samhain itself, I had a party the night before, and preparations for Ben's birthday (speaking of which, happy birthday Ben!), and everything was very last minute because it's me. Anyway, on to the costumes -

It was a very sober night, not being a heavy drinker, though the awful cheap cider I'm holding would lead you to believe otherwise.

I ended up going as the Bride of Frankenstein, and despite having planned the costume out earlier on in the month I only made it on the Wednesday just before a party, and didn't even know if it would work. Derp.

Scars done with collodium and liquid eyeliner - streak done with white hairspray, though I would have preferred clip in pieces.
Still, it was an excellent costume, and I really want to dress up as the Bride again with more time now. And despite being late, it was a fun party.

I also made some excellent Halloween cakes with Fiona (a dear friend of mine - with the same name as me - who's a very good baker), which were both tasty and creepy as hell.

It's been a really busy few days, hence I've not really been keeping up with blogging; I've felt bad about that, but my work/life balance has been all out recently as there's been a lot of commitments to uphold. Halloween wasn't as well planned as I'd have liked it to have been, and I never did anything for the day of the dead either, so there's lots to improve for next year; I might even host something myself. Until then, I should hopefully get back into the swing of things for November.

Finally, it was my Gran's birthday on All Soul's Day, like a true witch child. Happy birthday, Grannie - I miss you.

Stay safe!


Tuesday, 22 October 2013

The old warm world: 1920s Great Gatsby Night

In which there is fashion, heartbreak and lots of dancing.
Bizarrely, despite studying Fitzgerald's novel for my higher English and retaining a fondness for the decade as a whole, I never really dabbled in the twenties fashion wise. It was partially a belief that it never suited me, having neither short hair nor a boyish physique, but also I just never thought to. When people think of vintage fashion the fifties and the forties tend to spring to mind, and the jazz age is neglected in favour of the current rockabilly craze.

However, I had to put these preconceptions behind me when my swing dance society announced that they were hosting a great Gatsby fundraising night - if twenties was the theme, then by god I was going to be a flapper for the night. Swing dance is something I've been doing since last term, but only started properly this year. I am not a natural dancer. I can barely walk in a straight line without finding something to trip over, have no sense of rhythm and struggle to keep in time. My PE teacher thought I had a motor problem in aerobics. Nonetheless, that's why I decided to take up swing, and it's been going okay so far; I'm not nearly confident yet to go to any proper events (this was mainly attended by those who have never swing danced before), but I'm getting there. And there's no dance I love more than a good Charleston.

It was a good evening; I don't mind normal club nights with friends, but there's something about an event where everyone makes an effort to dress up, there's good music and a opportunity to dance properly. I'm sad that I didn't get a chance to actually swing dance more, but more practice is in order anyway!

Photos courtesy of DUSA.

Make up was far easier than the rest of my outfit, which was pulled together from my staples - simple grey eye shadow and kohl, with red lipstick (in a cupid's bow shape, naturally) was fine, and it was all topped off with a pair of gloves (my attempt at a twenties manicure was disastrously bad), a string of beads and a scarf wrapped around my head. Apparently, despite all my fussing and worrying it was pretty effective, as I ended up winning best dressed! It capped off an all around excellent night.

Just after I won - pictured with the lovely Ben, who actually slicked back his mop and left the nerd t shirts at home for the night.

From a fashion point of view it really made me think about my style; it turns out I actually suit the twenties aesthetic a lot - in the words of the boy, I have an 'old-fashioned face' that suits vintage make up, and I love making the effort. Maybe a new section for my wardrobe is in order? In the words of Fitzgerald himself, "life starts all over again when it gets crisp in the fall."

Stay safe.