Film Review – Berlin Syndrome

Berlin Syndrome is the story of Clare, an Australian back-packer visiting Berlin, whose romantic encounter with Andi very quickly turns into a nightmare.

A lot of the criticism for this film has centred on the opinion that the female protagonist’s actions are unbelievable. ‘Women travelling alone are supposed to follow certain rules,’ runs the first line of one review. I take issue with this argument on two grounds: firstly, it’s fiction and if the protagonist did nothing then there wouldn’t be a story. Besides, one look at Max Riemelt and, wouldn’t we all go? But, more importantly, isn’t it disturbing that society has such a strict, moral conduct code for women?

On Wednesday evening I went to a talk at UNSW: ‘What’s Feminism got to do with it?’ and sat for an hour entranced by Roxane Gay, fantastic writer and self-styled ‘bad feminist’. Never has there been another movement more self-criticising than feminism, she pointed out. She said a lot of great things, but I was particularly struck by her comments on sexual abuse. If a woman comes forward seeking justice, she is barraged by questions, mostly about what she did and what she should have done.

Berlin Syndrome has echoes of Bluebeard. From the male protagonist’s point of view, the woman does something wrong, she ‘takes the bait’, and must be punished for it. We can watch this film (or read this book) and understand that this is not normal behaviour. But, what makes this story so captivating, is the possibility that Clare is just as messed up as Andi. It’s a disturbing thought, and it’s not for everybody. Which is why three people walked out of the cinema in the first thirty minutes.

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Went into Topshop yesterday. The denim and sweats were a riot of colour – everything was embroidered with flowers. I bought a new pair of black jeans and, when I got them home, I thought I’d jazz them up a bit.

Mollie Makes has a fantastic library of embroidery stitches:

I spent a bit of time practising, then went to work on my jeans.

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Customising Knitwear

I got this idea from Wool and the Gang (first picture) to decorate one of the many jumpers I knitted this year. I used a crochet hook to make some woolen chains and spelled out my message of choice.

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Upsizing Jeans

I’ve put on weight. I blame it on all the avocados I’ve eaten since moving to Sydney. I’m still on the skinny side, so that extra inch around my middle is going to see me through the winter, but I didn’t take it into consideration when I bought a new pair of jeans.

I’m still buying my clothes from UK stores online and when the jeans arrived I realised I should have gone up a size. I didn’t want to go through the bother of organising an exchange, so I did the next best thing: an alteration.


The stripe came from a pair of leggings. I have four pairs of black leggings and haven’t worn any of them since moving to Australia, so cutting them up wasn’t all that painful. I snipped up the seams of the jeans and sewed the stripes in. I had to cut through the waistband, which was nerve-wracking, but I folded the striped over at the top to match the rest of the waistband, and at the bottom of the jeans to continue the hemline.

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Dressing for Success

image001Happy International Women’s Day!

To celebrate, I’ve packed up a few items for the clothing drive at UNSW ‘Dress for Success’. The charity provides work-appropriate attire ‘to improve the employability of women’.

I think this is a great idea because a good first impression can make all the difference. And a great outfit is a real confidence-booster for any interviewee.

My tips for dressing for job interviews:

  • Think about the type of job you are applying for and dress accordingly. A suit is not always necessary, sometimes smart-casual is enough.
  • Wear clothes that fit properly, that are comfortable and that make you feel great. Poorly-fitting clothes will change the way you walk and sit, and will be a distraction without you even realising it.
  • Wear something that’s memorable. I included a pair of bright blue trousers in my bag for ‘Dress for Success’ and I really hope somebody picks them out! A flash of colour amongst all those black-suited candidates will be hard for any interviewer to forget.
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A year’s worth of knitting

I’ve knitted ten jumpers over the last 12 months – 7 adult-sized, shown here, and a few baby things. True to the phrase ‘practice makes perfect’ I now have a good idea of how patterns will turn out, and I’m able to spot mistakes much earlier on. I still find that I need to make adjustments to each garment once I’ve knitted all the pieces, but the alterations are becoming less drastic. The pink jumper only needed a few rows taking off the sleeves, but I knitted 5 different jumpers with the green wool before I was satisfied!

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Boxy Shirt

It’s still pretty hot in Sydney and a light cotton shirt is the best way to keep off the sun. I love the width of the stripes on this shirt, but I shortened it to give it a more boxy look.

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Looking glamorous on wash-day

It’s too hot for jeans and all my shorts are in the wash so I’m wearing these trousers which I made years ago. I got the Dutch wax print fabric from Dalston.

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Nettle Jumper

There is a wonderful fairytale about seven brother who get turned in swans. Their sister must knit them all jumpers out of nettles and not speak until the work is done. She doesn’t manage to finish the second sleeve on the last jumper in time, so the youngest brother keeps one swan wing when he is transformed back into himself.

Usually I knit both sleeves at the same time – it’s a trick my grandmother taught me to ensure you don’t make mistakes. But I’m sort of making this pattern up as I go along, so I thought it would be best to fit one sleeve first.

I’m using the ‘Double Trouble Jumper’ knitting pattern by Wool and the Gang, but I’m using wool bought from We Are Knitters. They make the softest cotton imaginable, and their colours are great. But this means that the tension is all wrong, so I’m adding stitches and rows to the pattern, and improvising as I go along. It’s a fantastic soother, and I probably do my best writing whilst knitting and staring into space.


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Sound of Music Dress

I had some fabric left over from the curtains I made for my study, so I made a dress. It’s bordering on madness to be dressed the same as your workroom – I know – but the fabric was too beautiful to waste. Call me Maria.

The fabric was quite hefty – think stiff linen – so I top-stitched the neckline, armholes and hemline after ironing to keep them in place. I also managed to sew my zip in using the sewing machine without having to make any adjustments, which is a first for me. The trick is to sew the zip in first, then join the two sides of the fabric and sew them together afterwards.

The label comes from an ink-stamping session, which I went to at the Royal Festival Hall in London. I’d taken along a pair of cut-off jeans and stamped my message inside one of the pockets. It’s from a song I love. Sadly, those jeans are now too small and have gone to the charity shop, but I couldn’t resist snipping out the pocket first.

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