First-rate Brit chic!

The title is from the cover of my much-loved issue of Burda that I was going on about last week, which also gave me BWOF 08/2006 #113:

I bought some beautifully soft mohair sweater knit from Classic Textiles last time I was at Goldhawk Road (1.5m at £8/m), but I wasn’t quite sure what to do with it until I went skimming through my magazine archive and saw this sweater. The mohair knit is a very open weave with an abstract star/flower pattern running through it, so I knew that whatever I’d make would have to either be lined or be worn with something else underneath (both to show the pattern and also to protect modesty). I chose the latter.

I had only one week’s notice to make something new to wear to my British citizenship ceremony, and I thought the pairing and the “British chic” pattern were too good to pass up! But I had a very busy week and weekend, so I only ended up finishing it the night before! Phew!

Here I am during and after my ceremony at Southwark Town Hall earlier today, pleased as punch!

(You might recognise the skirt and shoes from before!)

Overall, I really like this sweater. It’s really cosy to wear since the mohair is just so unbelievably soft, and the wrapped ties give it a really defined waist. I don’t usually go for such wide collars, but I’m actually really loving this one, even though I had to tack the collar in place at a few points to keep the seam from showing. The wrap ties are so long I can go around my waist twice with plenty of room to tie off, so if you’re planning on making this yourself and find you’re a tad short on fabric, feel free to sacrifice some length from the collar ties, especially if your fabric is really stretchy. I also read in other reviews that the sleeves are only 3/4 length, so I made these full length instead, as it seems like a bit of a winter top to me, and I’m cold enough as it is!

So why am I so excited about becoming a British citizen, anyway? Basically, as a US citizen it’s really, really difficult to immigrate nearly anywhere in the world. There’s no special considerations whatsoever (despite the “special relationship” the leaders might have!) so I’m in the same pile as people from, say, Mongolia, or Brazil, or Congo when it comes to UK immigration. It’s been 7 long years now of diligently following the rules, paying thousands of pounds in fees, and being a good worker and taxpayer, only to have the rules changed on me over and over again, just when I was about to reach the next level. So even though I’ve got Permanent Residency, I still don’t feel “safe”, as they can take that away from me if we should decide to live abroad a few years down the line and I’d have to start all over again, completely from scratch. And they’re already proposing some really evil changes that are in the House of Lords right now that would make immigrants pay even more (current fees for one bit of paperwork are around the £700-1000 mark already), making people leave if a marriage breaks down (even if they’ve already got permanent residency or even citizenship!) and endure enforced volunteering on top of already working and paying taxes.

Immigration is a hot topic here just as it is in the US, only the UK deals with so many EU migrants that some portions of the public and the tabloids scream and kick up a fuss, not seeing the difference between someone from Poland and someone from South Africa. Only the government can’t do anything whatsoever about EU migrants (Brussels controls that), or asylum seekers (human rights), or those who are married to citizens (also human rights), so they keep making the rules tighter and even more unfair for the only sector they CAN do anything about – skilled non-EU immigrants, like myself.

Getting citizenship means I finally will be free from all of these stresses and on top of that, I really, really WANT to be British. I’ve lived here for my entire post-university adult life and I’ve made friends and connections and met my fiance here and we’ve created a life together. I love the UK and I love London – it truly is my home and I’ve been striving towards this for an awfully long time. I feel more British than American, and it’s a big accomplishment for me personally, to also know that I made it to citizenship off my own hard work as an independent woman, too.

So there’s practical reasons, as well as emotional ones, but there really aren’t any downsides. I get to keep my US passport as well, and any children we might have will be American, British, AND Irish (through my James’s parents), and I think that’s such a great gift of opportunity.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to drink the €20 bottle of wine I bought from the vinyard in Tain l’Hermitage when I visited in 2002 (the bottle is a Nobles Rives from 2000, wine buffs). My sommelier friend has informed me he’d now sell it at $250-300 in his restaurant and serve it with squab (pigeon), so that’s what we’re going to do! Err, drink it with pigeon. Not sell it. But you knew that!

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