Kintsugi: the cloth variation.

Kintsugi (金継ぎ) or  Kintsukuroi (金繕い) – the latter is probably more appropriate in this case but the former is more common – is the rather brilliant practice of repairing broken crockery with a glue containing gold, a practice for which like most things these days, one can purchase a kit. This is, as many people have pointed out, pretty cool. The idea behind it is that as well as preserving a useful item, you are also adding both literal value (the gold in the original resin was actual powdered gold) and metaphorical value (as the pattern of breaks and fixes are unique, making a mass-produced item into a one-of-a-kind artwork).

It has a great deal of potential.

As I tend to shy away from smashing my crockery on purpose and don’t really have beautiful bowls like the above anyway (my cupboards have been filled by a cunning combination of novelty-themed items given as presents and random rubbish salvaged from the Sally Ally shop at £1 for Several), it did occur to me that there is another way to bring this into my life: clothes.

I have a moth problem, because I live in a moth-friendly climate and like to wear natural fibres for some mad reason; while recent measures such as “washing absolutely everything in lavender oil every time I do laundry” have apparently driven away the vile pestilence of mothkind for the time being, previous moth incursions and general wear-and-tear have left their mark.

A Uniqlo hoodie, owned now by The Resident Australian, suffered the ravages of existing on a person, and has been previously patched up with gold Anchor embroidery silks:

hoodie sleeve

Recent moth-like holes have begun appearing and have been summarily dealt with:

hoodie pocket

This may seem like a lot of effort to save a hoodie, particularly an unassuming green one like this, and in truth it probably does smack as much of stubbornness as thrift or inventive, artistic problem-solving. Of course, there are also rather more expensive items that need saving:

Bolongaro Trevor and I have a horrible relationship where I throw them money and they make me clothes which are typically slightly too small for me to justify giving them money.
Bolongaro Trevor and I have a horrible relationship where I throw them money and they make me clothes which are typically slightly too small for me to justify giving them money.

My beloved and not-yet-worn-enough-to-justify-this Bolongaro Trevor jumper came down with a case of MASSIVE HOLES from being in the laundry basket where the EVIL MOTHS have taken to spawning, and, determined to wear it again without damaging the structural integrity of my knitwear or rocking the Joe Dick look, I took to the many holes with embroidery thread and the understanding that making my jumper look like it has been repeatedly wounded in battle will only improve it:

Scar tissue
A combination of red and gold thread together.

As scar tissue makes the body of a person more interesting and storied, so turning my jumper into a fabric recreation of the 27 wounds of Coriolanus should in theory make it a more noble, fascinating, and more of a WARRIOR GARMENT.

'Look, sir, my wounds!  I got them in my country's service, when  Some certain of your brethren roar'd and ran  From the noise of our own drums.'
‘Look, sir, my wounds!
I got them in my country’s service, when
Some certain of your brethren roar’d and ran
From the noise of our own drums.’

… Or I can at least claim no one else has one the same.

Gone, but not forgotten: embroidery & sewing

I have been busy like the proverbial black and yellow flying, buzzing, non-wasp insect of late, and one particular project has been eating up a lot of my free time and braincells. It has involved a lot of embroidery, a lot of wrestling with difficult fabric, a lot of tedious decision-making, cobbling together of several different patterns, and the prerequisite heavy swearing.

It is…

They are a little large on me but they're damned comfortable.
They are a little large on me but they’re damned comfortable.


Sorry, wrong photo. I did make those as well. Really, it was:

You can't see it, but I sewed those lace overlays on with holographic thread. Because I could, really.
You can’t see it, but I sewed those lace overlays on with holographic thread. Because I could, really.


Which took less than two hours from start to finish including pattern cutting, despite being a new pattern, so clearly it wasn’t actually that.

Hella Jacket

Oh yeah, it was this one.

Check out those cuffs. They're a pain in the ass to get into and out of. And yes, my face really does look like a white blur.
Check out those cuffs. They’re a pain in the ass to get into and out of. And yes, my face really does look like a white blur.

And this was the embroidery that took me such a hellishly long time:

I cannot begin to describe how fiddly and infuriating this was.
I cannot begin to describe how fiddly and infuriating this was.

Oh and that white thread glows in the dark. Naturally I can already see ALL THE THINGS that are wrong with it, but for the time being I am going to luxuriate in owning a jacket that no one else owns, unless possibly they are in the RSC or something.

Gone, but not forgotten: test writing.

Well, I’ve been absent, but not idle. In the one arena I’ve been enjoying this thing called “paid employment”, where people give me money in exchange for me coming and doing untaxing things for a few hours a day and taking the occasional break to write. In the other, I’ve been using those occasional breaks to generate some tests for a book I’m hoping to write (pending a large amount of frightening research, and me turning the plot from a series of vague handwaves and “key scenes” into “outlines for each day of writing”).

Test writing has always proven useful in the past, as a way of taking the characters for a spin in the world without being committed to the plot yet; it frees up the brain from the panicky sense that this absolutely must go somewhere and that all dialogue must further the plot or characterisation, leaving it free to explore character voices, imagery and idiom in the world, and the starting or finishing relationships between characters.

Writing about one to two thousand words a day for a week (it must be nearer two a day because after five days I have ten thousand words in disconnected set pieces), I’ve acquired a few locations in my head, settled some descriptions, picked up some additional cast members, and gained a better understanding of the character who is probably going to be my PoV for the book.

At first glance, through the lens of a camera, Buddy Peace was nerve-wrackingly attractive: he had a strong brow, a strong chin, huge brown eyes, black hair plastered into place with industrial quantities of hair cream, and the ability to turn a very affecting look of wounded innocence on at will. Deprived of the spotlight, he was a slender man in his middle twenties with slightly bandy legs and a little less height than leading men were expected to pull, extending his adolescence with the usual powders and grease to conceal some deepening eye circles and an apparently trenchant inability to shave thoroughly.

All the same, he was magnetic when he chose to be, and his teeth, though discoloured by heavy smoking, shone out like tiny stars in an arresting smile.

Joe said, “Miss Byrne told me you have free cigarettes.” He disliked asking for things on a profound level, preferring to make a statement and wait for his interlocutor to make the necessary connection. He thought that perhaps he had not always been so oblique, but the neediness of addiction shamed him into circumspection just now.

Buddy Peace cast a dark look at his supposed sweetheart. “Does she think I’m a fucking vending machine?” he asked without bitterness. He pointed a carton of Lucky Strike – the favoured brand of the GIs, Joe noticed without much interest – and jiggled it. “Take as many as you like.”

Joe took one.

Buddy brandished a box of matches, and made a show of lighting Joe’s smoke for him: badly. He shook the match out and shoved it back into the box, and said with a heavy sigh, “I gotta keep the matchsticks or Set get up in fucking arms. ‘Continuity’. Assholes. Who looks at the floor in movies unless someone’s lying on it?”

There’s many a slip between the test writing and the finished, edited, proof-read novel, but at this stage it’s usually possible to see some of the final form visible in areas like characterisation or scenery, and it definitely feels like a worthwhile point in the process. Happily, it’s also a stage that most people seem to gravitate to instinctively, which is probably why it doesn’t turn up much in “How to Write A Book” books (including mine).