Daphne

“Daphne” by Sir Hubert Von Herkomer 1899

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The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina

Never has witchcraft looked so unappealing, and it’s fantastic.

The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina is arguably one of the most anticipated shows Netflix has released, thanks to the success of the CWs Riverdale, perhaps of the same universe. The executive producers of Riverdale originally intended Sabrina to air with Riverdale on the CW, but thankfully Netflix got hold of it. It’s safe to say much of the content wouldn’t have made it in the show were it not for being written for an alternative Netflix audience.

It was clear that the show would be a darker version than the popular “Sabrina the Teenage Witch” thanks to it’s inspiration from the new comic book series. Both Sabrina and Riverdale are based on these darker tales. I read the first few issues when it came out but was largely going into the series without much expectation, but much anticipation. Witches are IN right now, a symbol of feminine power during what often seems like a hopelessly patriarchal society, many from all walks of life are seeking the type of control and rebellion that witchcraft in it’s most general definition, can offer.

I do wonder however, how appealing it seems to some after watching CAOS. Not too far into the show I found Witchcraft to be about as appealing as Catholicism.

The organized religion aspect in CAOS might look obvious from the get go for anyone raised in a western faith, but it took me a bit. The self-righteous Aunt who puts the higher power above all, pushing you to dedicate yourself fully. The women who worship blindly, and question nothing. The men who are leaders in the faith but have darker secrets lying dormant. And the teenager who is questioning everything, tearing that world apart.

A faith that is today viewed in a passing glance as a female-centric, independent practice, is turned into just another organized religion, in service to a male power but followed largely by women of lesser power. Sabrina’s constant questioning is not just mirroring the common case of the American teen questioning the faith they’re raised in, but also a stand against a misogynistic community.

The women in the faith have powers, but are still subjected to the same horrors that us non-witches have endured (or know someone who has). A spell doesn’t seem to save you if your predator knows one too. Even Sabrina’s mortal peers make up a familiar cast of characters, teens who are grappling with not just being part of a new world, but shaping it, through their own choices that pull away from their relatives and/or ancestors. Sabrina and her friends are generation Z, inheriting a mess of a world and having to not just mend it, but progress it. The boy who struggles with his family’s past, and is still trying to find where to fit in. The teen who was born female but doesn’t find identity there, and actually finds comfort in a long gone ancestor who was ahead of their time. The girl who is coming to terms with a genetic condition rapidly approaching and what that will mean for her adult life.

Where Riverdale is in a familiar looking world, it somehow seems more of a fantasy than CAOS. Even her witch peers who could’ve been appealing to most as one dimensional props of that world, show their lives are not so black and white. Her close friends aren’t just sidekicks, they have their own stories, both independent of Sabrina and intertwined. Yes Sabrina is the core of the series, but it’s hardly just about her.

I think that’s what makes this show interesting, and what will keep it going for seasons to come.

1905 mourning millinery

I picked up this little book at a very odd estate sale a few weeks ago. At one point in my life I was going to become a milliner (one of many careers that passed through my mind but never came to be) so I still have a soft spot for the craft. This gem is from 1905, when large wire framed hats were en Vogue for fashionable ladies, and morning was still practiced at the tail end of the Victorian era. During much of the 19th century morning was somewhat of a cultural obsession in the western world. So of course there’s a chapter in this booklet on mourning millinery, with what cords and veils to use, and which style is age appropriate. There’s even a paragraph on morning hat bands for men, with correct sizing and pleating.

I also included a few pages at the front of the book, much like today’s fashion magazines the advertisements are in the front, and these are works of art in their own right. Enjoy!

Jupiter Ascending

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My love for this movie knows no bounds. It’s kind of indescribable??? Amazingly this story is not based on a comic book, young adult novel, cartoon, or is a reboot of something that came out 20 years ago. It’s the brainchild of the Wachowski sisters and their worldbuidling talents, where family drama is taken to new heights and the fate of earth is treated like an estate inheritance.

Mila Kunis plays an average young woman who is going through the motions of life and dreams too often of a better one. She’s thrown into an intergalactic royal sibling rivalry, where she’s not just in the middle of it, she’s the cause of it. A cast of characters guide her through the story, most notably a human/canine hybrid with space rollerblades played by Channing Tatum.

This sounds like a kind of fanfic fueled story my friends and I would have jotted down in a composition book in 6th grade, and that’s exactly why I’m obsessed with it. Our little clique spent slumber parties watching Lord of The Rings and Star Wars endlessly, neither of which catered to teenage girls, but we didn’t care or realize, it was all great fantasy. To have a sci-fi film that actually centered around a young woman would’ve been spectacular, and now more than ever I realize how important that is. After years of envying male heroes there’s finally one in a modern space odyssey that’s both real and spectacular.

Visually it’s a feast, with costume changes for dinner and the space DMV, and massive space ships against starry backdrops. There’s a few Sense8 actors as supporting characters, and even an Oscar winner as the primary villain.

So here are some of my favorite shots from Jupiter Ascending, my dream come true.

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1939 outerwear

1939 has long been my favorite year of fashion, I’ll save another post for the reasons for it, but I know many of you feel the same way so I thought I’d share these images. A friend of mine let me borrow her fall/winter 1939 Montgomery Ward’s catalog, and I’ve been pouring over the pages with envy, especially the outerwear! I took some snaps of the pages, of course they’re not as quality as a scan, but I just had to share. Enjoy!

Moth prevention in your vintage wardrobe

Last week I woke up to a potential nightmare: a moth fluttering about the room. After much chasing and finally catching (ok, I always catch and release crawlies in my house but this one had to be sacrificed for identification purposes), it turned out to be a totally harmless moth. Relax? Not so much. It was probably a good thing I found it, harmless as it was, because it really got me thinking about how much I’ve slipped on moth prevention lately. As a vintage clothing wearer something like that can be devastating. Years, even decades of wardrobe building gone just like that. So I spent the week getting back on track, making it much easier after this to keep up. Here’s what I practice (much more diligent from now on), and hopefully will answer some questions you have. Please add suggestions if you have them!

I need to brush up on my moth knowledge

There are two types that like to munch on your clothing: the webbing clothes moth, and the casemaking moth, both in the Teneidae Bisselliella family. These adult moths have no mouths, but they lay eggs in nourishing keratin rich fibers (wool, silk, fur), and their larvae use it to grow. As they grow they tunnel, feeding and excreting the very fibers they’re in, making it almost impossible to spot in this stage. They grow to full size (about half an inch) and emerge from the fibers as moths, starting the cycle over again.

What am I doing wrong?

Do you have a heavy winter coat that lives in the back of the closet? Do you hastily store away your woolens after months of wear at the first sign of spring? Do you regularly launder your clothing, but not give much thought to blankets, rugs, the occasional kilim pillow?

Unlike those often strikingly beautiful moths we see fluttering around outdoor lamps and neon signs, the clothes eating kind enjoy darkness. Stuffy closets in dark rooms, storage chests forgotten for a time, that’s prime moth real estate.

If you really want to attract them, add sweat, hair, and stains to the mix. Like moth to a flame? How about like moth to perspiration. This makes it even more challenging to spot, laying eggs under the arms or inside waistbands.

Thanks I’m paranoid now, what can I do???

Wash, brush, and air out. The most obvious is washing. I hand wash sweaters, some skirts, and take outerwear and structured dresses and blouses to the dry cleaner. There are loads of guides for hand washing woolens, so I won’t go into that here, but with vintage be sure to dip a bit into the water first to see if the color runs. If it does, dry clean it to be safe.

Many tightly woven wool blankets can be machine washed on the delicate cycle, in cold water, and draped out to dry. Haven’t had an issue yet, but if you’re unsure, dry cleaner is safest.

Don’t forget those small items: hats, gloves, scarves, and other members of the household that may have wool, silk, or fur garments.

Items that can’t be easily washed, such as rugs, pillows, and other decor, should be brushed regularly with a wire bristle brush, vacuumed, and kept free of dust. Air things out now and then, vacuum both sides of the rug, smaller pillow cases and rugs can even be hand soaked if you prefer. Brushing things regularly not only keeps things clean, but also disrupts potential larvae, and nice wire brushes can also be used to keep coats lint free, I highly recommend getting one, they’re very useful!

If you’re bringing a newly acquired vintage item into your wardrobe, and want to clean it to assure it’s free from any pests, it’s recommend that the minimum temperature for killing larvae be 60°. This is however too hot for many woolens, and result in shrinking or felting, so use the freezer method. Place the dry item in a Ziploc bag and keep undisturbed in the freezer for at least a week. Remove the item and let get to room temperature, then place back into the freezer for 24 hours. The shock in temperature change really does the trick. Then hand launder it cold water and lay it out to dry on a towel. It’s a long process, but worth the effort! Also a great way to treat non washables, such as felt hats, belts, etc. Just be sure a hat is stuffed with tissue paper to keep it’s shape and has ample room around it so it doesn’t get squished by a bag of frozen peas.

With vintage garments it’s not practical or even beneficial to wash every item after every wear. Natural body oils and perspiration can weaken decades old fibers, but so can detergents, so there’s a balance. If you tend to perspire frequently under the arms, look into non-adhesive dress shields, you simply pin them inside the underarms and can launder them after every wear instead of the entire frock. With any item, let it air out overnight before placing back in your closet. I hang things on the door of my wardrobe each evening and simply put them away in the morning. You can also have a dedicated hook on the wall for the purpose. Let your clothes breathe, it’ll keep them smelling fresh and help prevent the attraction of moths.

I’ve washed everything, what about mothballs?

There are many chemical moth deterrents out there, and they may work, but they also double as people deterrents. Vintage lovers know the particular stench of classic mothballs, often referred to as “crystals” in old publications. These are a pesticide that evaporate straight from a solid to a gas. Variations on the classic are still sold, but I wouldn’t recommend them, due to not only the imposing scent, but also the health concerns.

In the 18th and 19th century Hudson Bay fur trappers would repel pests from their valuable pelts by layering tobacco leaves between layers for the long journey from the wilds of the North American west to Great Britain. As well as using cedar products, I also make sachets out of unflavored loose tobacco leaves and lavender. I love the scent of tobacco, and it lingers sightly on clothing, so be sure you like the scent too before using that method.

What if I can’t wash something right away?

If you find a new garment, of wool, silk, or fur, even if it’s in great shape, take it to the dry cleaners straight away, or use the above mentioned freezer method. Otherwise place the garment in a plastic bag, in a plastic container, preventing any potential spread of pests, until it can be properly cleaned.

I need to store winter clothing for months, what’s the best method?

Clean garments before storage, not just animal fibers, but all clothing. Synthetics and plant fibers rarely have moth issues, though perspiration and general soil can attract them. If you’re storing in airtight containers or vacuum seal bags, first wrap garments in clean muslin cotton, this will prevent potential condensation. Add any preventatives you like, sachets, cedar, or other natural deterrents.

If you keep items in the back of your closet for long periods of time, air them out! Shake them, brush them, let them get a little breeze.

Clean your closet regularly, I do at least four times a year. Take everything out, dust the corners and gather any cobwebs, and check your clothing for damage.

What if it’s too late?

If you’ve found moths in your house or moth made holes that weren’t there before, there’s only one sure option: call an exterminator. All of the above is preventative, and once they get started, it’s likely you can’t stop them. Leave the big job to the professionals.

All images from a 1941 copy of “Clothes With Character” in my personal collection.

1941 Duveen Pullover

Here’s a perfect little pullover for you, direct from the 1941 Jack Frost pattern booklet, the open work looks much more complicated than it actually is! A fun one to knit, the stitch is interesting and a great introduction to lacework, very straightforward, and I love the little button detail on the shoulders. I used knitpicks palette yarn in Forest Heather for this one and it’s wearing well, and some old felted wool for slight shoulder pads. Enjoy!

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