Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Holidays and Eclipses

This is a little late, for some. After all, Eid has long since passed and Hanukkah is nearly over. I have an excuse, though: I've been celebrating Hanukkah and... I must admit defeat here: I have no explanation for posting this so long after Eid. A very late, very happy Eid to everyone who celebrates it.

There are, however, a few holidays which have not passed quite yet. The Winter Solstice (also known as Yule), Christmas, and the Gregorian New Year (the one on January 1st) are still to come. Actually, now that I look at the calendar, I see the Islamic New Year, as well, plus what I call the "other" Eid. So, I haven't completely blown over those of you who celebrate Islamic holidays.

That's five holidays, plus the rest of Hanukkah. Five and one-third holidays.

Therefore, I hereby declare, "Happy holidays!"

Something else caught my eye, though. This is not a holiday, but it's still in December, it's still on the calendar, and hey, it even falls on the Winter Solstice.

The Moon, in a partial eclipse.

It's a lunar eclipse. Before you roll your eyes, however, I would like to say a few things about this particular eclipse.

First, it's total. That's not to say everyone in the world will be able to see the eclipse. For a lot of people, the eclipse will happen either when the moon has already set or when it's about to rise/set. I found a chart on the net showing where you can see the eclipse:

This chart shows where one can see the eclipse. It isn't frilly, but it does the job.

If you're anywhere in North America, you're in luck-- you will get a perfect view (unless some clouds come along). Most of South America will also be able to see all of it. If, however, you live in the Middle East, India, almost anywhere in Africa, parts of China, or anywhere else in the darkest area of the map, you will not be able to see it at all, I'm afraid. Japan, almost all of Europe, parts of South America, and the eastern Oceania are lighter greys. The darker the grey, the less you will be able to see if you live in that area.

Those of you in New Zealand, for instance, will see the moon rise in a partial eclipse, and if you're in northeastern Australia you'll be able to see... well, according to Ian Musgrave of Southern Sky Watch, "the Moon should appear dimmer than normal, and as it rises there should be a gradual brightening of the southern part of the Moon, more easily seen as the sky darkens." It will be that way for far eastern Indonesia, some of northern China, eastern Malaysia, and anywhere you see that is near the line labeled "U3" on the eastern side of the dark part.

My guess is that people in much of Europe, all of Uruguay, far eastern Brazil, and southeastern Argentina will have the same experience, but reversed: as the moon sets, it will get dimmer than normal, starting with the southern part of the moon. I think so, anyway.

If you would like to see the lunar eclipse on December 21, I would recommend looking at the map. If you will be able to see the eclipse in your area, you don't need a telescope to see it. (In my humble opinion, it looks better without a telescope than with one.)

Also, last but not least:

I could not resist the temptation to reference this book, which I have not read.
 So, happy holidays and happy watching the (lunar) eclipse!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010


There has been, as I'm sure those of you who read this blog have noticed, a hiatus, and an unexpected one at that. I'm sorry for keeping you waiting, and I plan to start the posting back up again. Many things happened, but I won't bore you with the details. The point is, I stopped posting, but I am now posting again. I will try my best to warn you if another hiatus is coming.

Let the posting begin!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Embroidery Techniques: The Stem Stitch

The pictures in this particular post belong to me.

One thing that can be associated with Lolitas is embroidery. It was, after all, quite popular in Victorian times. Embroidery is sometimes even considered a "trademark" of a lifestyle Loli. Many people don't know how to do this, however, and would like to learn how. So, I've decided to post instructions, which are my own, for the beginning embroiderer.

The first stitch I learned, and the first stitch I'm going to teach you, is called the stem stitch. It's simple, and gives a nice outline, I think. Also, there's a reason it's called the "stem" stitch: it's great for embroidering plants, especially when it comes to stems and leaves.

On to the stitch!

First things first, you will find with embroidery thread that there are multiple strands of thread in the thread, making it thicker. I believe the standard is 6 strands per thread, but you're only going to need 3. To get the strands, take the thread and look for mini-threads in it. (This may be harder for people who can't see as well.) Take three, and slowly pull the strands and the rest of the thread away from each other. Cut your thread before you do this.

Second, you'll need to thread your needle.

After that, make a knot at the end of your thread (the longer end). There are several ways to do this, but I suppose the easiest is to simply tie a simple knot (an overhand knot).

Now, to the part where we actually embroider.

First, pull the needle from the back of the fabric to the front.

Next, push part of the needle into the fabric‒but not all of it.

Push the needle so that it's backtracked about halfway back to the starting point. Slide the whole needle through so that you have a stitch with the needle sticking up in the middle. (Sorry that I don't have a picture of that.)

Pull the needle up, and repeat!

Here's what the stitch looks like with huge stitches:

And with smaller, more normal-sized stitches (close-up):

So, that's the stem stitch! With it, you can make beautiful outlines, especially with plants. I hope you enjoyed this tutorial.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Poetry: "First Days of Spring" and "Spring!"

Here is some spring poetry that I found on the Internet, which I found quite lovely, for anybody here who lives in the Southern Hemisphere (in other words, for anybody for whom spring has just come). I have already posted selections for fall in the post directly below this one.

This first poem is by a famous Japanese poet named Ryōkan.

 First Days of Spring
by Ryōkan

First days of spring.....blue sky, bright sun.
Everything is gradually becoming fresh and green.
Carrying my bowl, I walk slowly to the village.
The children, surprised to see me,
Joyfully crowd about, bringing
my begging trip to an end by the temple gate.
I place my bowl on top of a white rock and
Hang my sack from the branch of a tree.
Here we play with the wild grasses and throw a ball.
For a time, I play catch while the children sing;
Then it's my turn.
Playing like this, here and there, I have forgotten
the time.
Passers-by point and laugh at me, asking,
"What is the reason for such foolishness?"
No answer I give, only a deep bow;
Even if I replied, they would not understand.
Look around! There is nothing besides this.

This second one is by Emily Matthews.
Each Spring is a brand new beginning
with so much to see and to do.
With new opportunities waiting
to make all our wishes come true.
It's such a good time to plan changes,
to make the fresh start we might need.
To try something different and daring,
to reach for the stars and succeed.

Each Spring is a brand new beginning,
a precious new chance sent our way.
To follow our dreams and fulfill them
with joy in our hearts every day.

Poetry: "Autumn Colours" and "Autumn"

These are a couple of poems about autumn that I found off of the Internet.
One of them has a rather neutral perspective on autumn, and is haiku...

Autumn Colours
by Rebecca Lovatt

Leaves falling slowly
From green to red and yellow
In the autumn wi

...and the other is rather pessimistic about it, and is from the Victorian era.

by Thomas Hood

The Autumn skies are flushed with gold,
 And fair and bright the rivers run;
 These are but streams of winter cold,
 And painted mists that quench the sun.

 In secret boughs no sweet birds sing,
 In secret boughs no bird can shroud;
 These are but leaves that take to wing,
 And wintry winds that pipe so loud.

 'Tis not trees' shade, but cloudy glooms
 That on the cheerless valleys fall,
 The flowers are in their grassy tombs,
 And tears of dew are on them all.

I'm also searching for spring-themed poems, for those of you who are in the Southern Hemisphere.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010


Dolly in the store Grimoire, in Japan

Dolly-Kei is a new style that's just emerging in Japan. It seems to be a cross between Lolita and Mori fashions, taking Lolita's doll idea and running with it, while also drawing from Mori's forest-girl, fairy tale look. However, it has a twist: instead of drawing from western European styles, it draws from eastern European styles. Dolly also goes for the Middle Ages look, as opposed to the Victorian styles which are the base for Lolita.

Although Dolly-Kei is a pretty new style (only a couple of years old, compared to Lolita, which is decades old), I was able to compose a list of Dolly clothing "rules" (but remember, the rules aren't set in stone yet):

1. Vintage, vintage, vintage! As far as I've seen, Dolly is all about vintage. Even Dolly-themed stores, like Grimoire, have said themselves that they get most, if not all, of their products from vintage stores and flea markets in the West.

2. When the going gets tough, go handmade.

3. Antique floral and paisley are the way to go.

4. Many Lolita items, especially Classic, can be Dolliable. (Did I just coin a new word?)

5. Furs are fine and lovely. (Bonus points if it's faux fur.)

6. Shoes: No sneakers, but both vintage and Mary Janes seem to be fine.

7. Tights, stockings, knee-highs, or shin-highs. Any color, as long as it looks good.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

October: Month of the Pink

October is the month when things either
a) start to cool down,
b) start to warm up,
depending on where you are on Earth. In some places, Halloween is just around the corner; in others, Christmas is on the way. (Well, holidays like Christmas are on the way in the north, too, but there's Halloween first.) Instead of talking about those, however, I'd like to bring up something that's going on all month, all over the world: Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Some people may back away/run and hide this month for fear of being bombarded with requests from various charities, but perhaps it's time to break out the pink skirts, jumper skirts, and (in the northern hemisphere) coats. A pink ribbon or bow would finish the look, I think.

Here's a Polyvore set I created for it:

But "going pink" doesn't have to mean getting out every single pink item you have and wearing them all at the same time. Maybe a skirt, or even just a tiny pink badge, would do the trick nicely. It can be bright, dusty, any kind of pink. See if you can wear something pink every day this month, or, if you don't have so many pink things, every few days. I'm not asking anybody to donate or walk (although that would be great!), but see if you can show support for our sisters by wearing pink.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Book Review: Snow Flower and the Secret Fan

Title: Snow Flower and the Secret Fan

Author: Lisa See

Premise: In 19th-century rural Hunan, China, a girl named Lily is arranged to have a lifelong friendship with a girl who is exactly her age, named Snow Flower, by a matchmaker. The book, with many plot twists, follows Lily from ages five to eighty. (I don't want to give too much away, since the plot unfolds so nicely.)

My take on it: This book draws you in from the beginning, and doesn't let you go until the end. Even then, though, it makes you think back on it. That is the first thing you must know about this book: once you start, you're in it to the end.

Next, the characters are quite sympathetic-- even the cruelest characters have their reasons. There is no "bad guy" in this book;  there are the characters, all of whom cause each other grief (and sometimes despair), and all of whom have their reasons for doing so.

Third, the plot is beautiful, although I have a few warnings here. For one thing, this book is not for the emotionally unstable. If you suffer from, say, severe depression, this book will hurt you emotionally in some parts. Ah, who am I kidding, Snow Flower and the Secret Fan is sad, and, remember that Lily is eighty by the end of the book, most of the characters are dead by the end of the book, whether from old age or other causes.

For another thing, and I must warn you here just in case this bothers you, two of the main characters, including Lily, are lesbian. There is one love scene, which Lily, the narrator, denies is a love scene, and then there are small hints throughout the book. (The hints aren't obvious, though.)

Now, Snow Flower and the Secret Fan is a wonderful book, in my humble opinion, and I've been raving about it so far. So, I'm going to rave just a little more. Put simply, Lisa See's writing style is awesome. I don't know if she learned it or if it just comes to her naturally, but she can write.

Summary: Snow Flower and the Secret Fan is a masterpiece, with sympathetic characters, a beautifully unfolding plot, and amazing writing. Not terribly happy, though.

Welcome to The Velveteen Lolita!

Hello, all!

This is a Lolita-themed blog-- and by "Lolita" I mean the fashion. If you already know what Lolita fashion is, feel free to skip this next paragraph. Otherwise, read on.

Lolita is a Japanese fashion based on Victorian children's clothing. It involves poofy knee-length skirts and blouses, as well as frilly dresses, as the main articles of clothing. Also included are knee-high or over-the-knee socks, dressy shoes, and various head accessories, like bows and bonnets. Don't forget the lace! Lots of lace can be found in Lolita fashion, on just about any piece of clothing or accessory that you can think of.

About This Blog
This blog is about being a Lolita. It can be easy at times, and at other times... not-so-easy. Everywhere from the small town to the big city, there will be people who adore the style and people who hate it.

This blog will include articles (as well as shorter posts) about Lolitas, as well as book and fairy tale reviews, around-the-world Lolita fashion, and (possibly) some recipes.

I hope that ladies (and gents) find this blog to be informative, perhaps shedding a different light on Lolita and the subjects that matter to us.

About Me
So, I am a Lolita. I love to go out with a blouse, skirt, (or perhaps in a dress) and petticoat. There aren't many other Lolitas in the area, so I feel it's my duty to give a good impression to other people. This means I'm very careful to avoid being an Ita, or "Ouch" Loli. At the same time, I do wear sneakers. (They're nice sneakers, though.) I also sometimes wear kerchiefs in my hair.

I'm also a lifestyle Lolita, in a sense: I embroider, sew, play the piano, sing, and participate in other lifestyle-ish activities. However, there's a catch: I don't wear Lolita every day. I would if I had enough Lolita clothes to last a week, but I don't.

This blog is a Lolita blog. Whether that means dressing up in a skirt to you or embroidering a flower, hopefully you'll find what you're looking for here.
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