This is not really sewing related…

… but I really had to share. Last night I went to see Beth Jeans Houghton and the Hooves of Destiny in Hoxton. In actual fact it was the same place that I saw Beth for the first time ever – about four or five years ago. She was on her own with just a guitar in a pair of dungarees (the Hooves weren’t around then) and she played Golden on her own – she was absolutely brilliant and I’ve seen her many times since in London and Glasto. But I digress.

Last night I won a prize for being the Greatest Funkiest Dancer at the gig. Don’t ask me how. I’m a 30-something shortie with no distinguishing features; I think it might have been my soulful choir-style clapping during their rendition of Like a Prayer and the fact that the men around me shrank away as I flailed, leaving me in full view of the stage. Anyway, I won a signed drum skin, doodled with Beth and the boys’ faces (think it was the drummer Dav who doodled it) and the words Greatest, Funkiest, Dancer 2012 emblazoned across it. I’ve not been this happy since since I got wed last year. Here’s a (terrible quality – sorry!) pic for your delectation.
I was congratulated by Beth herself as I left the venue. I gabbled something about seeing her before and then made her give me a high five. The shame. Although the husband says she was right up for it so I don’t feel too bad.
Here’s the woman herself in all her glory. I’m pretty sure it’s a vintage playsuit and it was a sort of glittery brocade. Very sweet. Oh look – that was a bit sewing related wasn’t it?!
Beth Jeans Houghton

Random acts of kindness

Happy Valentine’s everyone. Did you all get my card? No? Dammit Royal Mail has gone to the dawgs I tell you…

I’ve been gradually getting back into the swing of things after my trip. I’ve fallen asleep three nights in a row on the sofa though! How come it takes longer to adjust to your old time zone than it does to your holiday one?

Anyhoo, I was finally compos mentis enough to start opening my post yesterday. To my delight, one of the packages was from the wonderful Marie of A Sewing Odyssey; I won her marvellous pattern giveaway just before I jetted off. What a fabulous home-coming present it was too.

Marie's pattern giveaway

Don’t you just love the detail across the yoke on the McCalls? Is that pin tucking? I adore it. And the Vogue dress is so glamorous – these will both be PERFECT for summer. Thank you so much Marie for these and your lovely note!

Also yesterday I received a truly unexpected present – of two rather gorgeous fabrics, from Japan no less! They were donated by a friend who had earmarked them for table linen but had since decided to go down the minimalist all-white route. My luck was in! Two metres or so each of this beautiful cotton. Love the patterns. Cassy, I salute you!

Cassie's fabric donation

Of course I’m tempted to use both of these for the Violet but I must desist from making up this pattern AGAIN for the time being. I’m so, so hideously behind on the Minoru sewalong. I’ve only cut out my fabric so far – how bad is that? By the time I finish this coat we’ll be breaking out the BBQ!

There won’t be much sewing done this weekend either as my lovely sis and niece are popping over from Belfast. We’re going to scare ourselves witless at the Blood and Tears tour of London’s darkest, bloodiest history,  click our heels together at a Wizard of Oz matinee and have a pint of Guinness on the beach at Whitstable. Howzat for a weekend?

Ooh and this was my Valentine’s pressie – we usually don’t do presents but he knew I wanted it – and it’s on vinyl. Hooray! It’s Beth Jeans Houghton and the Hooves of Destiny: Yours Truly, Cellophane Nose. I heartily recommend a listen. I first saw this little lady about four or five years ago in Hoxton, on her own with just a guitar. Now she’s got a full band. She is unbelievably talented and I regularly lurk her, so look out for me at London gigs! Thanks husband xxx

Beth Jeans Houghton

It’s the sound… of sewing

The Walkmen at Glastonbury

One of my other great passions is music. I’m lucky enough to be married to someone who is obsessed with finding new bands and artists so we’re always listening to something new in our house and we try to go to gigs whenever we can, although that’s definitely decreased as we’ve got older. Gigs on a schoolnight? In my thirties? Nada.

I’m not a massive fan of festivals per se but I do like Glasto, even with the mud. This year I managed to catch Radiohead and Pulp doing ‘secret’ gigs at The Park stage. Very good indeed. But not as good as Janelle Monae – she was awesome. I caught up with my chum Simon (of the superlative music/running/geekery blog Minor 9th) and we danced our little socks off with our respective partners providing the attractive backing dancers on the Saturday night. Big Boi followed with a stomping set complete with overweight male dancers in matching green tracksuits. Fantastic.

Another band that blew me away was The Walkmen (pictured above). They’ve been going since the Strokes emerged onto the music scene and have often been compared to them, but there’s no comparison – they’re very different. The frontman Hamilton Leithauser (what a great name!) is a hugely passionate singer who often looks as if he’s about to beat you up or stalk off stage. Pitchfork describes them as ‘kings of dejection’ and I guess that’s mostly true, but there are some moments in their songs, especially off the latest album Lisbon, where they just transport you elsewhere. If you like listening to music where occasionally you have a tear in your eye and a lump in your throat, then listen to them. Recommended: The Rat and Angela Surf City.

Week after next we’re off to ATP’s I’ll Be Your Mirror at Ally Pally. Curated by Portishead it will feature PJ Harvey (which I’m very excited about), Liars, Caribou and Grinderman. Liars and Caribou will be particular highlights. Liars are punky little upstarts (recommended: The Overachievers) and Caribouhave taken up where LCD Soundsystem left off (recommended: Odessa). And it’s just around the corner from our house. Hooray!