Monday, 9 June 2014

She wants to be flowers, but you make her owls

In Welsh mythology, there is a legend about Blodeuwedd, a woman created out of flowers.

I always think of this as my Blodeuwedd dress; I feel as though I am growing out of the ground.

Fanciful today, no?

I only know about this myth through one of my favourite children's books, The Owl Service, by Alan Garner. It's a sparsely-written, haunting book, published in 1967, seething with class prejudice, tensions between the Welsh and the English, a disturbing atmosphere, and a background of mythical sexual rivalry.

I'm not sure I got all that when I read it as a kid, but revisiting it as an adult was an eye-opener. 
(There's a great review here, if you are interested.)
Sadly, I have searched the house for my copy and cannot find it anywhere; now where on earth could it be?

Blodeuwedd is later turned into an owl as a punishment for betraying her husband...

 and look what we have here!
The owl on the right was a gorgeous handmade gift to Nina from our dear friend Kylie; Nina wanted to make one, so the one on the left is her version. She did most of the sewing herself (I helped with the buttons and stitching up the gap at the end.)

The Kylie owl is called Owlie. Hmm, I know; very poor.

I suggested Athena for the new owl, but Nina rejected that in favour of Archimedes. Guess who has reached the Ancient Greeks on the school curriculum?

So Archimedes he is.

More flowers, but cats instead of owls, and perhaps that's Mellors, come to call on Lady Chatterley.
This groovy 1970s tin tray was a charity shop find last week. The ladies in the hospice shop laughed at me for buying it, but I think it's beautiful. It cost 50p.

I'm easily pleased.
1970s maxi dress - Ebay (99p)
Bangles, sandals, belt, and sunglasses - charity shopped 
1960s bracelet - local vintage shop
1960-70s steel pendant - flea market

So what else have I been up to?

We watched Saving Private Ryan, since it was the 70th anniversary of the D-Day landings. I hadn't seen it before, and didn't realise it would be quite so harrowing. Poor Owen sobbed right from the start, but he made it through, and we have had some really interesting conversations about the reality of violence and war, and how it affects people afterwards. And with a bit of luck, it's put him off ever joining the army.

I took my big girl for her first bra fitting. She'll be mortified that I've told you, so keep it quiet, OK?
My mum never took me to be measured, she just guessed a size, and I didn't have a proper fitting till I was in my twenties. Needless to say, it was a revelation and I had been wearing the wrong size.

Don't worry, I'm not going to flash my cleavage again, I'm reining myself in.

But I will tease you with a sneaky peak at this;
such a quintessentially 1970s fabric could only ever be made into a pair of flares, right?

I'll show you the finished article next time, I just need some hooks and eyes for the waistband.
And such is my new-found sewist status that my friend Sue asked me to come and chat to her daughter, who wants to start making her own clothes. We pinned and cut out a pattern for a skirt on Friday night (thankfully before I drank too much wine...) 
We're all getting the sewing bug, isn't it exciting?
 And that's been my weekend.
I am woefully behind on commenting on your wonderful blogs, so I will rectify that as soon as possible. 

Hope everyone is well!



Lesley Extance said...

Oh Curtise ,I love love this dress on you !!! a fab post my dear best wishes xxx

Anonymous said...

I do love that tray! It's sometimes great to see the look on the faces of folk in charity shops when you buy your treasure, and they think it's junk. Fantastic dress, really suits you! Can't wait to see those flares!!

Anonymous said...

When my mother took me shopping for my first bra she told me "I'd grow in to it." I still haven't!

Love the tray too. It inspires tea and cookies.

Sheila said...

Lordy, I started off with a horrid little non-supportive bra, the brand was Dici and it was made for girls with nothing (I had a good something). I love that tin too - look at the lovely kitties!

Speaking of lovely: you! :)

Vix said...

That is a gorgeous floral confection of a frock, it looks wonderful on you. Liking the sound of the book, I've not heard of it before so I'll keep my eye out when I'm chazzing.
Nina's owl is fantastic and that fabric is going to make some excellent flares. I'm starting to feel very bad for not doing any sewing, you lot are putting me to shame.
Love that tea tray, how could anyone find fault with flowers, a bewhiskered gent and a cat? Loons!
I've never seen Saving Private Ryan 'cos I have an irrational hatred of Tom Hanks and he's in it, isn't he? I should get over it, I love a good war film.
Bra, what bra?

Love you! xxxxxx

Lucy Nation said...

I love the dress and Blodeuwedd connection is the cherry on the cake. A bit of mythology slipped into one's everyday wardrobe is no bad thing. That book sounds absolutely fascinating. That tray is fabulous and I would have bought it in a second too. Archimides eh, I can't wait until my Miss starts Key Stage 2 and is doing proper history lessons so we have something other than Frozen to talk about! Btw, great owls too! xxx

Krista Gassib said...

More boobs:) Shhh her secret is safe with me. This dress make it look like you have just sprouted up from the ground in full bloom! The tin is just too sweet to leave behind. I have a few that I hung on the wall, they make great art! Can't wait to see what magic your hands create out of that fabric!

mondoagogo said...

You have to watch the TV adaptation (which was written by Garner as well), it's such a strange piece of telly but so good. Bonus: it stars Gillian Hills.

Re: the sewing bug, I've literally *just* put a zip into a skirt that my grandma made, which my mum also used to wear. It needs rehemming now though...

Patti said...

Cheers for the sewing bug that's going around. Love this dress, and you do blossom beautifully.

I am re-reading Hamilton's Mythology at the moment, and enjoying all the reward-and-punsihment themes. To be an owl wouldn't be so bad, would it? Hugs to your growing-up eldest daughter, things keep changing, yeah? xoxo

Emma Kate at Painted Style said...

Hey me too! I cleared all the kitchen doors off the dining table and made a dress for Connie! I can't wait to show everyone. There's something really satisfying when it all goes right.
Your daughters sewing efforts are fantastic. Mine isn't interested at all. Perhaps I should try her at carpentry.
Your hair's looking great!

PinkCheetahVintage said...

Gorgeous floral print maxi and I can't wait to see those flares--they're going to be amazing!

Mrs Bertimus said...

That dress....those beautiful owls....and the tray!
I remember with mortification my mum telling someone on the phone that I thought 'it' was much better than a vest....and she thought I didn't know that she was telling someone about my first bra purchase! So your secret is safe with me x

Mrs Bertimus said...

That dress....those beautiful owls....and the tray!
I remember with mortification my mum telling someone on the phone that I thought 'it' was much better than a vest....and she thought I didn't know that she was telling someone about my first bra purchase! So your secret is safe with me x

Asparagus Pea said...

Nice touch with the blodeuwedd - I sewed a hanging loop on a hand towel and bought a teapot with Scarborough written on it from the junk shop. You guys are having an effect on me!!! xxx

Laurie Duncan said...

I can't believe that beautiful dress was only 99p! Amazing!
And I love that 70s tray, it goes perfect with your dress! :)

Bobbi said...

That dress is perfect for a flower goddess! Your steel accessories are always grabbing my eye - so cool!
I have to take my baby for a fitting. She doesn't know it yet. I may have to bribe her with lunch.
Beautiful tray!
Can't wait to see those flares.

Megan said...

I love that book but my favourite Alan Garner is The Weirdstone of Brisingamen. There's a perfectly awful scene in it that makes me claustrophobic just reading, which makes it so very good.

Fiona said...

Oh rub it in why don't you, you are now onto flares and I can't even recognize when my machine is fucked! Can't wait to see you in trews, we don't often see it.
And you're giving sewing advice wonder Nina now has the bug, Archimedes is brilliant. Can't say I've heard of the book before but I wasn't well read as a child, if it wasn't Enid Blyton it didn't get a look in much to my Grandmother's disgust. I see you like a tin tray too, I can't resist a pretty one. Don't remember getting my first bra, although I know I was last in my class to get one... mum's the word. xxxxxxx

Natalia Lialina said...

Oh yes, it is fanciful! And gorgeous. And I can't believe that you paid 99 pennies for it. Everything in my whole house seems overpriced compared to this dress! Except foe one little oil painting which cost me the whole 16 cents. :)

Gorgeous jewelry and collages, as always. Lovely tray and so unusual, isn't it? I have a week spot for trays and always notice them at old stuff stores... Interesting literary association too. :)

Nina's owl is cuuute! And I like the colors - I wondered to myself if that's what she chose or it was with your help.

Your posts always leave me with such a warm feeling inside. Thank you for sharing your life, Curtise! It's precious to me. xxx

Miss Magpie said...

I loved The Owl Service too, I'm struggling to remember the story now, poor old addled old brain!

Your tray is fab I especially like the very sly and secret black cat.

Jan Graham-McMillen said...

Such a great post, Curtise, as usual! You are very Blodeuwedd-like, mythic in stature and beauty! Or a very tall garden sprite, one or the other.
Charming Archimedes (Disney-Sword-in-the-Stone character?) and Owlie. If I ever had an owl, it would absolutely be Athena! You want to watch the study of the ancients ... history makes pagans of some of us! Ha.
Sewing ... so right! Interferes with my blogging, other writing and other creative efforts, though. I've got a third skirt to be whipped up, but I'm not good enough to whip. I'd like some lessons, but not much around. The Internets are great for info, and that's been a big help!
I'm so happy you keep us posted with all the stuff you kids do!

The Style Crone said...

You do look like flowers growing out of the ground. A lovely image as I scroll through your post.

Your children are growing up before our eyes and becoming accomplished along the way. Thanks for sharing your family with us!

Goody said...

Owlie is a fine name (we have three-Owlie the first, Owlie the second, and third). Just don't drop your little owl in the sink or you'll have a moist owlette. Owl be getting my hat now.

Thank goodness you gave us a warning about the flares, I won't put myself into a groovy-pants coma from excitement when next I visit. I am pretty excited. I should have a drink to calm myself.

My sister had to take me for the first bra as my mother couldn't be bothered. That worked out to my advantage as she skipped the whole training bra thing-and went straight for the loud floral sets the teenaged girls were wearing circa 1976.

Connie said...

So much to love here, Curtise. My mother collected owl figurines. For her birthday we would search shops for a new owl for her so I've always had a soft spot for owls. Gosh there were so many "find yourself" novels for young people in the sixties. I don't know whether they helped or hurt me. Too much introspection mixed with raging adolescent hormones is not necessarily such a good thing. You are most definitely a gift of the earth and I love that myth. Bloom away!

Gracey the Giant said...

You look gorgeous. And I have to say that you wear maxi dresses better than anyone I know; they are perfect on you.

Suzanne Carillo Style Files said...

Those owls are so cute!

And you are blooming radiantly here.

I would just DIE if anyone had said boo about my first bra fitting! LOL How times have changed.


ArgentGal said...

The owls are darling! It's so much fun doing projects like that with the kidlets. I agree with everyone else, the tray is wonderful.

Angels have Red Hair said...

I love this little meander through your weekend.
Yay for sewing ... you can start a seamstress revolution.

thorne garnet said...

Sewing? What's that?
I've been sewing so much I have a hole in my finger ( i can't stand using a thimble)

Nina's owl can out really well. Way to go!

Shawna McComber said...

LOL @ Sheila. I remember the Dici bra and even the very lame jingle for the tv add. It was the bra all the cool girls wore and I was not a cool girl so I didn't have one. One of the cool girls even marched over to me to inspect the label in my bra while we were in the change room for PE.

Curtise-gorgeous dress! Owls and flowers and fowls, cats, Greek Gods and your sweet tin tray-ALL are wonderful. I am quite curious about that book. I've never heard of it but now I must find it and investigate!

Kylie said...

Yay Nina! You're in the sewing club too! The three of us (you, your lovely Mum and me) are utterly brilliant, amazing, stupendous stitchers (!!!) aren't we?!
We are so talented it's just not funny!!!

p.s. I like your Owlie MUCH more than the one I made xxx

Helga said...

I'm familiar with that myth, and I love Alan Garner! It's been many years since I read one of his books. Must hunt some out. I remember doing a book report when I was a wee nipper on one of his books, but can't remember which one.
Love the floral frock, colourful floral on black is divoon, and yours is a fine example!
Ugh,I remember my first bra. It was mint green.I didn;t have anything to fill it, but Mama insisted I have one to wear with my also mint green end of year dance when I was 12. Two years later I was more than filling it out when puberty smacked me over!!!
O, man, war movies. I'm compelled to watch them, but more so documentaries these days. I sob and sob over such things. It's so incomprehensible, but we can never ever forget.I think it's great to supervise the kids watching these things. You are a bloody awesome Mum!

Helga said...

O, and PLEASE don't rein yourself in on my account.....!!!

Sue said...

What no more boob shots!! Nina did well with her owl making, so cool. Owls seem to be the in thing at the moment. Bra fittings, now that is a story in itself. Most of us wear the wrong size some time in our lives. I would be happy with a little less boob to tell the truth. Love your floral frock and perfect for in your garden in the sunshine. We have RAIN stinky old RAIN!!

beate grigutsch said...

where to start?
by the gorgeous dress which made you look like the flower fairy! i really like your arts&crafts-like silver/steel jewelry, timeless beautiful!
you had busy days - and a lot of sewing. i always think that the skill of sewing provided some kind of freedom, should write about it...
the owls are cute, archimedes really looks like a professor - daughter caught the sewing bug too :-)
(i´m fascinated by the lace makers in your family)

Beth Waltz said...

The owls are worthy of further inspection; the combination of floral pattern with the bright polka-dot shoes is worthy of admiration; and ah! the idea that young women wear bras...what can one say that would encourage mums and daughters here in the land of McDonalds and Walmarts to emulate your excellent example! (The louche look is not excused by youth or age.)

peaches mcginty said...

Bra time! the 3 of mine are in them, I'm not sure if Charlotte needs one but the other 2 have them and she hates feeling left out! seems to be bras everywhere here, still it's a real big-girl experience getting one (I wore mine with a vest over it, I was mortified by it all!) Your floral dress is gorgeous, and romantic too, I haven't heard of Blodeuwedd before, harsh ending for her though, Nina's owl is fab though! I'm looking forward to the flares already! x x x

Olga Rani said...

This is such a beautiful dress, all those flowers - wow! And just as all your dresses, this one too looks great on you. Love those owls, real cuties. The tray too is quite cute and lovely.

Ripple Dandelion said...

You are indeed full of fancy in this dress! What a treat it must be for those who encounter you in the course of a usual day; like a visitation from a more poetic dimension. But not too much so--never that.

Can. not. wait. to. see. those. flares.

Anonymous said...

Gorgeous frock and your description of it were my exact thoughts before reading the post, it really is lovely. Don't you just love those who laugh at the op shops buys that excite us. Your tin tray is lovely also. I was not aware your sons name is Owen, I brothers middle mame is Owen and it has always been one of my most favourite boys names.

Winter Moon said...

Such a beautiful dress, it looks great on you and I do love the story of Blodeuwedd <3 I hope you find your book soon.

Your daughter's owl is gorgeous, the girl clearly has her mother's talent for sewing.

I can't wait to see your flares :)

Have a perfect day xx

Delia Ryder said...

Your looking gorgeous as ever here lovely. Interesting book the owls are very cute. Bless your daughter I can imagine how she feels at least you didn't show her new bra on here tell her, now that would have been embarrassing :-) Lovely fabric sounds like you have been busy making loads and I have loads being out of blogland to. Nice to see you still here thought :-) dee xx

Delia Ryder said...

Your looking gorgeous as ever here lovely. Interesting book the owls are very cute. Bless your daughter I can imagine how she feels at least you didn't show her new bra on here tell her, now that would have been embarrassing :-) Lovely fabric sounds like you have been busy making loads and I have loads being out of blogland to. Nice to see you still here thought :-) dee xx

freckleface said...

I do love a floral dress and that one's a corker. Haven't heard of this Welsh Woman with the unpronounceable name before, or this book. Sounds intriguing, that's for sure. Look at those owlies! How cute. Everyone's sewing, as you say! Bras: I longed for boobs, my whole skinny childhood and adolescence. Be careful what you wish for, eh?! Poor Owen. I know that feeling. I've seen it and it's a good film. I watched the Green Mile around the same time and developed a bit of a crush on Tom Hanks. Don't tell Vix! :) Right, let's see your pants! (That's American for trousers, but you interpret it how you like!) xxxxxx

Carina Rosenholm said...

Beatiful flower dress ! Great story , never heard of it before...

Annie said...

What a fabulous dress. You do look lovely and summery in it.

I had quite forgotten about The Owl Service. I read it at school too. I was a massive Alan Garner fan after reading The Weirdstone of Brisingamen and The Mood of Gomrath. Now you've reminded me, I did find The Owl Service a bit strange. I must re-read it!

The owls are lovely. Nina has done a cracking job on hers. Owlie would definitely be the name of choice in our house, ranking alongside Hammy the Hamster and Lobby the Lobster (a toy!)

I think your tray is beautiful, though the gardener looks a little bit too refined to be Mellors I reckon! :)

Can't wait to see the flares.

Speak soon xxx

Melanie said...

I am sooo far behind on commenting and it freaks me out. I try not to feel guilty but at the same time I have so much wanted to share my thanks for your great posts. You are just brilliant Curtise. This floral dress is beautiful on you. You've created a wonderful ambiance. I'm excited to see your pants, I mean trousers.

Kezzie said...

Wow, what an amazing dress- I like the inspiration. I like the sewing bug, it's great! I first bought an Alan Garner book as a child in a charity shop because I liked the name- because his name was essentially my surname- then I read the Weird stone series. I have the Owl service but not read it yet. My friend Kathy wrote an amazing composition inspired by it at UNi!x

Wee Wendy said...

Blummin' love that tray! What beautiful colours. Ah, the first bra fitting... I remember it well with my two girls, I really enjoyed it in a funny way, saw it as a coming of age thing. They were both mortified! So funny! x

Val S said...

Lovely dress, and what a lovely tin tray! I can't imagine why they would laugh at it.

The owl story sounds really interesting - isn't it funny how children's books can have such a different subtext for adults. Like watching Bugs Bunny and seeing the humor in a completely different way.

Vintage Bird Girl said...

The floral's like you were born to wear them. Must say I love the owls, & that tray in the most perfect colour combination. And that steel bracelet with the green is oh so beautiful. Xx

silvergirl said...

great dress
i love the gradient floral pattern

Forest City Fashionista said...

Oh God, I remember seeing Saving Private Ryan at the theatre when it came out, and like Owen, I sobbed through it all. I found the beginning to be absolutely harrowing.

Congrats to eldest on another milestone reached towards womanhood! Nina did a splendid job on Archimedes - what dear little owls.

I would have purchased that tray - pink and green together is such a happy combination. You look quite fetching in your flowers, and the Owl Service book sounds quite intriguing.

Pull Your Socks Up! said...

Nina's owl is amazing, what a lot of concentration and dedication it would have taken for the wee lass to make Archimedes. It's fantastic to hear that Sue's daughter wants to sew with you, I'd love to see how her skirt turns out - sewing is both brilliant and frustrating, but we always learn something new - always!! I adore your floral frock, you are a walking lady garden - I know what you're thinking ha!!! xoxoxoxxo

Trees said...

Oh I love the flowery maxi and the Welsh legend, its all so fascinating. Well to me at least ;) I LOVE those wee owls and I am pretty excited you have now officially caught the sewing bug - DIY 4 LYF!

Melanie said...

This is a very pretty dress indeed. Those shoes look interesting too, any chance of a better look?
I've never seen Saving Private Ryan, our D-Day film was The Longest Day which I swore Andy watched with me, but it seems I watched this epic war film alone so I watched it again with Andy, it has a superb cast.

Indigo Violet said...

I used to be an Alan Garner fan when I was a littl'un.
Your mention of hooks and eyes reminds me to tell you that I have finally learned how to use the automatic buttonholer on my machine. Very satisfying.
We had awful training bras which were useless scratchy stretch nylon.
I still haven't seen SPR as I detest Tom "four hanky" Hanks.