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Stop terrorizing the playground, make your own indoor swing

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Step 1
An upcycle mission

You may have seen these colours on the high-street, lining the windows in technicolour lattice of one much-adored brand of the people… Uniqlo! (Although I’d have taken McDonalds for an answer too – McCheese-strings can totally be a thing.) Celebrating their 100% Extra-fine Merino Wool collection, Uniqlo had their windows bedecked in an installation that involved meters and meters of elastic strings – seven boxes of which ended up in my cave of a flat early last week for a rather exciting upcycling collaboration.

Now, don’t let the breezy number ‘seven’ fool you, because the boxes held over four hundred rolls in 65 different shades, which is naturally 64 more than my hamster brain can compute. Mind-boggled, I called Gyu (a CSM knitwear graduate, who, for long-time followers should be familiar from previous posts) for advice. ‘Oh jeez we can build an Oompa Loompa village with all this‘ was her greeting when she stepped into my apartment blanketed with a layer of awkward-shaped rolls of rainbow strings… We flirted with ideas like tents, trampolines and canopies, and tested the strings with various tension swatches (double-crochet, knitting, weaving, braiding…). Finally deciding on building a hammock, she left me after a few lessons on macramé techniques (promptly forgotten the moment she was out the door…)

Turns out one needs a company of veteran knitters to accomplish anything as big as your body. Well, I should’ve known, I have troubles applying body lotion.

So that’s the story of the swing.

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Gyu testing single-crochet in a swatch

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Step 2
What you’ll need

Extra-strength yarn (I used three colours – 1 skein of the main colour and a bit of the other two) · knitting needles (appropriate for the choice of yarn, I used 6mm) · crochet hook or yarn needle · 7 meters sturdy rope (before purchasing, make sure to determine length by measuring height to ceiling) · 2 x stripwood (cut to 25cm long. Make sure they’re wide enough to fit the rope with enough room around) · 2 x D-rings · Optional and depending on method: Sandpaper · drill · 2 x ceiling hooks.

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Now, I really do recommend testing elastic tension for the swing seat by knitting up a square swatch before starting the project, and putting your entire weight on it. You might find that your yarn, or even knitting tension calls for some mini problem-solving/improvisation. Alternatively, this project can be done with cotton fabric, which can easily be sewn around the stripwood.

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Start by knitting the swing seat – cast on 30 stitches and knit in moss stitch (Mine shows garter stitch) until work measures the width of ONE thigh – the seat will expand when sat on. Cast off. (If adventurous, try the herringbone stitch and knit until work measures about 30cm)

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1. Drill two holes big enough for the ropes at each end of the stripwood, leaving at least 1.5cm space around the hole. 2. Bind the knitted work to the stripwood using the Crocet hook or knitting needle. 3. Insert one end of the rope through the hole, and make a knot. 4. Loop the rope into the D-ring and hang onto ceiling, then repeat step 3 once the length is determined. Repeat on the other side.

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Step 4
Swing & tips

The best way to determine how high the swing should hang is to measure it about an arm’s length higher than your normal dining-room chair. That way, the swing seat will extend to a natural hanging-length. Adjust the rope knots for length if too long. Depending on the type of rope, you will need to secure the edge with duct-tape or seal with a flame. For mine, I wrapped a bit of yarn in a different colour over the duct tape for visual effect. Consider adding tassels or wooden beads to your swing if that’s how you roll.

I personally live in a flat with a mezzanine so I hooked the D-rings to the upstairs bars and let it hang it that way, but do purchase a strong ceiling hook if you wish to hang on the ceiling. Alternatively, skip the D-rings and simply loop the rope around the hook or bar.

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In collaboration with Uniqlo; Photography – Park & Cube aka tripod

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Blazer – Vintage Tommy Hilfiger. T-shirt – SuperTrash. Bracelet – SuperTrash. Jeans – James Jeans. Heels – Christian Louboutin Pigalle. Bag – Tommy Hilfiger BHI Bag. Watch – Sekonda. Ponyskin-effect belt – Next.

I know I constantly joke about my boobs and oddly seem to have embraced the fact that I can jog without the fear of getting punched by ‘fast moving parts’, and that my second and third blouse buttons have never had to work very hard except on the rare chicken-fillet days. And let’s just say I wear a bra to keep warm. Shamefully at times I don’t realise, that this something I often joke about, is a heart-ache and grief to some others. My own tiger mother has been fighting cancer (thyroid) in the past few years, and while I don’t wish to reveal too much personal detail, there was a definite impact – not only for the diagnosed, but one that rippled through and shook the core of everyone she mattered to, and whom mattered most to her. So I’m happy to collaborate with Tommy Hilfiger, who have joined forces with Breast Health International and released a beautiful, practical bag to make some beautiful, practical changes to those diagnosed with Breast Cancer. A little jump makes a big difference, and get this, your jump can be in the form of a new, limited-edition bag. Usually I’d ask do you reeeally need a new bag, but this time I think you need a new bag for work because that one in the corner there is looking very tattered right now. Yes, that one. Tell me there’s a better excuse to support a great cause. A whopping £100 of every sale (of £299.90 retail price) will go directly to Breast Health International’s “Fund For Living”, and I know for some of my readers this might be quite a high price for a bag, but can I suggest your ‘little jump’ to be a cheeky little re-tweet or a share? OR do what I like to do and wail in a supermarket aisle until your mother surrenders and buys you that Ferrero Rocher-studded bear toy – something like this. Works every time.

The Tommy Hilfiger BHI bag is available at Tommy.com from October 1 (today!).

Collaborative post with Tommy Hilfiger x BHI. Many thanks to Jin Oh for helping with these shots.

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Sweater – COS. Leather trousers – Topshop. Bag – Couronne. Watch – GUESS. Glasses – YesStyle. Star necklace – MyFlashTrash. Heels – Christian Louboutin. Thank you Niek for helping with the photos!

So, apparently a work-out bench is a very different thing than of a normal bench. For example, it is not possible to pass out on a work-out bench clutching a beer can and half-eaten kebab. I have tried this. A few weeks ago, just as our holiday in Sardinia was coming to a close, hubby and I happened to weigh ourselves on the hotel spa scale and both did a double take. We threw away the pizza crusts we smuggled into the pool, raced back to the room; he ordered a work-out bench off Amazon, I Googled female sumo-wrestler blogs, then ordered a yoga mat and some macaron-coloured dumbbells, finding none. We had a steak for dinner, telling each other it would be our last, and then the next day we had our ‘last ever’ steak again. That was weeks ago, and only this past weekend we managed to sit down and plan a exercise pattern, and put together the work-out bench that was already gathering dust. I spent three hours exercising my Polish swearwords volcabulary on 2kg (4.4lbs) weights, and hubby picked up from his pre-wedding fitness and pumped 25kgs (55lbs)… all the while grunting and advertising to our neighbours that we’re having a merry time as married couple. I don’t need no bikini body, but I’d really like my boyfriend jeans NOT to fit like skinny jeans. Losing 2kg I got as a Christmas gift + 3kg I brought home as souvenir from Italy would be a definite plus.

Bah, THE PAIN though! It feels like I’m turning into Pinocchio, and apparently I walk like Forrest Gump. Louboutins ain’t the shoes to wear for post-workout, that I know now.

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And chipmunk alert

 (Would you just look at that holding frame, DERP written all over) Wearing: Top – Marc Jacobs. Trousers – Iris & Ink at The Outnet. Shoes – Christian Louboutin

One other thing I generally suck at: speaking. Case in point, see above. And you’d think since it’s one thing you do everyday you get better at it, like walking – in fact, one sucks at walking too. IT’S JUST DIFFICULT OKAY. Scarily, my skills in public speech (or lack thereof) has always been a deal-breaker/maker of almost every junction in life, starting with my English IB orals in high school that single-handedly reduced mighty dreams of Modern History at Oxbridge to colouring at artschool (fun fact: CSM’s IB requirement is 26, which is basically the lowest ‘pass’ point in IB) (of course, one requires a killer portfolio and generally must appear mad-for-art to qualify). If I remember correctly there was a bit of Eminem’s Stan (ft. Dido) lyrics snuck into a Macbeth passage interpretation. Examiner clearly had no sense of humour, or swag, yo. Fast forward to late 2012, I take the exact same bag of skills to the Outnet shoot, fully expecting my character to be killed off in the pilot. What you’re seeing here is hours of painstaking editing, separating of the sane and insane moments, and sewing them seamlessly all together, all courtesy of the video wizards; and let’s not forget Ciara the lovely makeup artist, who eventually had to muster up a pot of peach-coloured acrylic paint to cover up a very scarlet face. So I do realize this is like admitting hey I’m kinda hot after someone’s photoshopped my head onto Jessica Alba’s body, but I quite like how it turned out! Plus, the shop edit they put together for me has rather awesome pieces that makes me look like I belong in Tommy Ton/Nam’s streetstyle snaps. It’s all good fantasizing fun.

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Forever classics

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Creamy cashmere staples from the White Company
Airbag for everyday cycling safety thanks to Chanel (Cocoon collection) of course.
Barely there – Chain ring by Iwona Ludyga, Green sapphire necklace by Laura Lee and mummy’s old gold rings
Second skin T by Alexander Wang (grey | black)
Superhero cape for any woman – black stilettos by Christian Louboutin (Corneille Kid)
The leather jacket (Shearling for colder seasons – Muubaa Aurora)

I had it all figured out – I built a machine (The Winchester) that would guarantee survival for myself and Emma Stone (and Jennifer Lawrence, if she’s up for that kind of relationship) when the first fiery meteor of the Apocalypse hits the world. We’d sit in it, have a pint and wait for it all to blow over, then we’d step out onto a charred earth and repopulate and generally live happily ever after. And these are a few things I’d have packed – timeless pieces so I don’t unnecessarily exchange food for the latest alien trend, but I understand old habits will die hard (i.e see me shell out kebabs for a pair of Charlotte Olympia kitty flats this season).

It takes a while to understand which pieces are Forever classics for you, and I believe we all have different sets, but for me it was seeing what I took into the shower every day, and the kind of clothes I wanted to slip into the minute I dried off. Not to forget of course, little accents like red lips or a pair of Louboutins (my first!) that help take on the day. I’d also add the Isabel Marant sneakers as a Forever classic, but I’ll save that for if & when I’m doing ‘What’s in the diaper bag’ post, as I’m convinced it’ll be the only thing I’ll wear from ‘fashion’ once a junior is born in the far future.