So this is a brief update*. Just had a very busy week and about to head into a very busy month.
This has involved getting costumes ready for a fancy dress party where the theme was Pride and PreJEDIs (Regency, Star Wars and a few zombies for good measure). I rediscovered dressmaking. My mum trained as a dressmaker, and my childhood was full of treading very carefully around an assortment of material, tissue patterns and pins. Oh yes, the pins. I don’t actually remember mum teaching me to sew but it happened at some point. And I own a sewing machine. It’s 12 years old now and, as my followers on Twitter can attest, has taken on a vindictive life of its own and is determined to give me a nervous breakdown at this stage. But more about that later.
I called up to Mum, chatted about the party and asked if she had a pattern for an empire line dress. The clue should have been when my Dad started laughing. Yes, she has patterns. Lots and lots of patterns. Also material. And before I knew it I was off to make myself a dress. Only to find that the newly-vengeful sewing machine will apparently only sew things when it feels like it, and not AT ALL when my husband was in the house. (I have NO idea why). And then I got talked into making two Jedi outfits (rather easy thanks to this post from DeGraeve.com – many thanks for that!) and a dress for dd as well. Dd, who knew very little about dressmaking, discovered the wonder of apparently Tardis-like fabric shops and pretty pretty fabrics. We had a bit of a bonding session on that adventure. So a lot of the stuff was sewn, resewn, handstitched, and even Wunda-webbed but we got it all done in the end. When I have a photo sorted I will post it.
In the week I got a serendipitous invitation to an exhibition at Sotheby’s in Dublin where they were exhibiting Jane Austen’s ring (Article from Irish Times here) and a first edition of Pride and Prejudice in 3 volumes (DROOL!). There were also a collection of letters from Jonathan Swift (including the awesome one where he angles to be given a rather prestigious job on the grounds that the previous encumbent has already been dead for 36 hours!) and a silver cigarette case given by Agatha Christie to one of the men who found her following her disappearance. I love going to see things like this, particularly when they are up for auction. If bought by private collectors, it might not be possible to see them again. Even if bought by a museum, it might be one I’m unlikely to get to. So it’s good to go and have that memory, to say “yes I saw it, and it was fabulous”. It certainly was. I’m really grateful for the invitation.
We also went to the Chester Beatty Library on Saturday with the kids for one of their excellent Silk Worms club workshops. This one was on manga, with the lovely and talented Inko. The kids had a wonderful time, got a tour to see the Bamboo Cutter scroll and draw their own manga. We got to have a lovely coffee and then also view the Bamboo Cutter scroll, which is newly restored and absolutely stunning, and also a quick look around my old favourite exhibition The Art of the Book (seriously, could spend HOURS there).
Then it was home again to get ready for the party which deserves a post all of its own. It was a super evening. The kids bonded with some others and ran around playing, possibly turning slightly feral in the grounds of beautiful Killashee house, while we swanned around in full costume. A great night was had by all. Our “we’ll stay for a couple of hours if we can” turned into “it’s after 11pm, we really ought to take them home now, if we can catch them”. And I think we were the early leavers. Thanks so much, Jane and Stephen. It was super.
So now I need to get back to some writing. I will reply to some emails (sorry!) and then… then… we prepare for the Romantic Novelists Association Conference in Penrith and the ROADTRIP to get there. (Yes, it has be in capital letters, trust me).
*I lied about the brief part, didn’t I? 😀