Mic Check

Hi! I mean, assuming anyone is still out there reading this. ๐Ÿ˜‰

I started this draft back in January; in the meantime a lot has happened. The world has exploded into something out of a pandemic movie, minus zombies and widespread looting (except for corporations and the rich, that is. #zing). COVID-19 has affected everyday life for us, just like pretty much everyone else in the US. We’re both working from home (at once both relieved to have income/health insurance and bemused at the strange determination of our companies to focus on business right now) and making the best of it; frankly this isn’t hard, apart from my superhuman need for solitude and the constant occupation of our living space by both humans in this family making true solitude utterly impossible. But I can still pick up takeout, and have largely been able to get everything we’ve needed at the grocery thus far, so we’re doing quite well. *shrug* To up the shenanigans ante, in mid-March I accidentally ate cauliflower, which I am allergic to (not because I am fool enough to eat it, but because a pizza place used the wrong crust and I had no idea what I was eating until it was too late), and promptly followed that up with a kidney infection. (Spoiler alert: I am not old, young, or pregnant enough to be socially forgiven for pissing myself, so thank fuck I was already working from home when that happened.)

All of the above was surpassed–at least in terms of my own personal bubble and emotions–by the death of my dad on March 30. This was both expected (he was old and had been dealing with a health issue for a few years) and totally shocking (we didn’t know how bad his condition really was because of him refusing treatment and our parents being unreliable narrators, plus he went downhill very rapidly–over the course of one day, really). On top of all this, I couldn’t travel to Texas to be with my family: my preexisting lung condition means flying during this particular pandemic would be incredibly fucking stupid, and at any rate the hospital was not allowing any non-patients in anyway. I said goodbye to him over a telephone, held to his comatose ear by a (very kind and sympathetic) nurse, which even for a dysfunctional family like ours is hardly closure. I’m not close with my parents; I won’t go into that so much here, aside from saying that complicated relationships make for complicated grief, and while I anticipated this I could not have prepared for the reality. My own struggle is compounded by the expectation that I should help manage my remaining parent’s emotions; not to air too much dirty laundry, but knowing what I know about their toxic “relationship” (if it may be so called) and having had difficult relationships with both of them makes this expectation really, really, unpalatable. At the same time, I want to help my siblings and do what they ask because they’re important to me. Rock, meet hard place.

TL;DR version: aside from getting pizza, it’s been shit, y’all.ย 

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Tycho side-eyeing his vet *and* this entire year so far.

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Your palate cleanser: my dog eating an apple.

Below is the draft as it was before the Ides n’ Ends of March whooped my boney ass. I still want to put it out there (I have serious regret over not just hitting “Publish” in February!) and hopefully re-engage here more regularly soon. Thanks for reading. โค


Maybe others are noticing this also, but blogs seem to be in decline these days. I get it: Instagram makes it easy to immediately connect and interact. Even I use IG much more regularly than I blog (albeit at what I suspect is a lower-than-average frequency) so I’m part of that trend myself. But speaking only for myself, I still love blogs! Maybe it’s a temperament thing (I like reading long-form things AND writing long-form things) but I do enjoy reading posts on blogs I follow when I have the time and energy. Perhaps I’m just in the minority there, and am a dinosaur. ๐Ÿ™‚

Obviously my own blog has suffered from neglect in recent months. I’ve been in a dark mental space for the past couple of years and am still struggling to emerge from that; between personal things, seemingly the entire world reverting to the baser human instincts of cruelty, hatred, and selfishness in the name of perpetuating white supremacy and late-stage capitalism, and my work life taking a demoralizing turn (plus having to write the company blog), I just haven’t had the mental energy to keep this space up the way I’d like to. Even my sewing and knitting practices have suffered: I made fewer things last year than in previous years, and so many stitches felt like work rather than a hobby I engage in for fun. This year isn’t exactly off to a running start either, which is sad; on one hand, I need an outlet to help me feel better, but on the other I struggle to participate in my hobbies when I’m feeling low–it’s a lose-lose situation. I don’t really have a point here, just trying to put into words why this blog has fallen by the wayside. ๐Ÿ˜‰

There’s so much I didn’t share on the blog last year that I wanted to: home remodeling projects from 2018! Shit I made for our vacation! Our vacation!! A truly hilarious FAIL of a project from Halloween! The outfit I made–for Tom–for my office holiday party! There’s more I’m forgetting.

Normally for my first post of the year, I’d be excitedly fucking around with pie charts in Excel to break down what I sewed, choosing favorites among my successes and flops alike, and thinking ahead to the next year of creating. This year I’m not doing any 2019 Top 5 posts at all. ๐Ÿ˜ฆ (It’s funny, but having no blog posts for a lot of the stuff I made last year makes it really fucking hard to remember and count up the stuff I made!) Not because I quit sewing or anything–no way!–but because I just can’t find the energy to do it. That doesn’t mean I’m not thinking about 2020 though!

This year, I am committed to lightweighting my stash and only sewing/knitting from what I have. People, I have so much stash–for knitting and sewing alike. It’s appalling. I am not a minimalist (if my entire wardrobe fit–by choice–on one ugly-ass, not-in-a-closet-where-it-belongs rack I would weep bitter tears) but I’ve reached a point where I am overwhelmed by what I own and am finally prepared to do something about it. I want to lessen my consumption because I believe it’s the right thing to do for myself, for my family, and for the planet. I want to look at my fabric (and yarn) and see limitless creative potential instead of a cringe-inducing hoard. To that end, I have unsubscribed from all fabric and yarn emails and have also unfollowed any shops I followed on Instagram. I have also started the tedious, shame-vomit-inducing process of going through my stash and purging things. Because the yarn world has Ravelry, I am listing yarn for destash over there. I still need to purge more yarn, but for now I’ve done the first wave and it felt awesome. As for fabric outcasts, I dropped the first wave of those off at Goodwill already, and still hope to get rid of more. (Yes, I know: Goodwill donations usually end up foisted on the developing world and/or in the trash. My mental health and the planet are at odds on this item, and if I wait for a perfect solution to come along I will still be here waiting when EarthDeath occurs; I won’t have my sanity anymore, but I’ll have tons of fabric I won’t sew. O_o A compromise must be made. Don’t @ me.) I’m hoping that removing this roadblock of STUFF will help me dream up future projects, and generally get more joy out of my hobbies.

Fingers crossed, but my 2020 is improving in terms of my hobbies. I need more socks so I plan to focus my 2020 knitting efforts on my sock drawer, but I do want to cast on another sweater very soon too. Sewing-wise I have made 4 pairs of bottoms AND 3 knit tops in 2020, plus I’m still making that ridiculous quilt every month. O_o On balance, that’s a commendable start! There’s also a pile of mending for me to do, which while not creatively fulfilling is at least helpful and counts as sewing! Tom and I are also committed to eliminating as much single-use plastic from our house as we can, so I will be making reusable produce bags and cloth napkins, plus knitting dishcloths at some point. (Let me point out that it’s not individual people but corporations and industry that are chiefly responsible for the appalling state of our planet, and that the onus is being wrongfully placed on consumers to change instead of the biggest contributors to climate destruction. However, we still want to do the best we can to limit our own household’s contribution to waste and pollution and are in a position–economically, medically, and otherwise–to take these steps. I fully appreciate that this is not the case for everyone and do not intend my personal declarations to apply universally. <3)

I did buy yarn earlier this year because mohair is having A Moment and I didn’t have any for the 2 patterns I wanted to make (because who stashes a random sweater quantity of mohair, anyway?!?), and of course it turns out I AM ALLERGIC TO MOHAIR. :’-( WHYYYYYY?!? So all the mohair I bought was gifted to a friend–I hope she can see past my appalling taste in colors! In my mourning period I bought 4 skeins of sock yarn but now I swear I’m done! I did buy some fabric also, but a very kind friend gave me a gift card to a fabric store local to them and that was my motivation. I only got 2 fabrics, so it was a very modest haul.


In closing, I hope anyone still reading this is safe and able to find ways to care for themselves mentally and physically during this completely surreal time.

Speaking of surreal, here’s a .gif from a music video my band made several years ago; maybe it will cheer someone out there up. ๐Ÿ˜€ (And yes, the song is about Easter Peeps.)

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Easter Peeps

2018 Top 5 – Hits, Misses, and Highlights

It is that magical time again: Top 5 season! I had hoped to have this post (and the next one) done before the end of the year, but you can see how well that worked out! #sorrynotsorry But better late than never!

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If you’ve been with me a while, you’ll know I look forward to this every year, as it’s a great opportunity to look back on my past year of sewing and see how my naive set-last-year goals materialized (or didn’t) and evaluate how valuable all my projects really were. And I love a good navel-gazing postmortem on my year, if I’m honest. ๐Ÿ˜‰ As per usual, I will do 2 posts instead of 5 for this, since I find they group together well this way. But first,ย SEWING STATS!

In 2017, I managed to sew a whopping (for me)ย 31 things. One of my goals for 2018 was to meet or surpass that; if I count every single garment I made, I did it! 2018’s grand total was 39–a 25% increase over last year. (It would be 40 if I counted my hand-knitted sweater, but I’m keeping this count sewing-only.)

2018 Sewing Projects

(Sorry the chart is tiny–it won’t get any bigger for some reason!)

Categories are:

Tops – Medium Blue (7)
Skirts – Orange (1)
Pants – Gray (6)
Dresses – Yellow (7)
Layers – Light Blue (5)
Costume – Green (2)
Friends & Family (F&F) – Dark Blue (11)

That’s a pretty good mix of things! Obviously the F&F category was by far my biggest single category last year, and I was a little surprised when I tallied that up. None of those 11 items have been blogged, though. 4 of those items were adaptive shirts for a friend I love as she dealt with treatment for and recovery from a serious illness, 1 was a Driftless cardigan for that same badass friend, and the other 6 are for my main squeeze-slash-personal paparazzi, Tom. His were all those baseball t-shirts that I’ve made him before–he knows what he likes! I don’t have photos of the specialized tops or gifted Driftless of course, so you’ll just have to take my word on those! Neither do I have photos of Tom’s finished t-shirts all together, but here are the photos I do have of them:

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#1 of 6, before thread trimming and a final pressing…

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These eventually became full-fledged t-shirts

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The very shitty but very helpful diagram I made to help me remember what pieces to cut from which colors…

I’m proud to report that, apart from periods of extreme temperatures, these t-shirts get worn all the time! (And are still complimented frequently by his friends and co-workers, which blows my mind.)

The category with the most growth over 2017 was Dresses, and Tops had the biggest decrease in count YOY. I did fail to blog a few tops, and one of those I still can’t show you because it was a pattern test and it is unreleased as of this writing. I CAN NOW POST THAT BLOG BECAUSE TODAY IS ACTUALLY RELEASE DAY!!! So look out for that!

You’ll note 2 more new categories for last year: Costume and Layers. Costume is exactly what it sounds like, and Layers are things like cardigans. You saw one costume piece in thisย recent post, and the other was something I made to sell so I have no photos of that one for you. Once again, I failed to blog 4 of my 5 Layers pieces, but here they are along with the aforementioned unblogged tops:

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4 Driftless Cardigans

Overall I was pleasantly surprised to see a mostly even distribution of my output in 2018 (sorry, skirts! I swear I love you). Now that we’ve done the stats, here are my Top 5 Hits:

Top 5 Hits

  1. Lander Pants
  2. Ariana Dresses
  3. Otari Hoodie
  4. Tamara Top
  5. Heather Dress

The Landers were far and away my biggest wardrobe Hit last year–I wore them so much!! I am planning a few more pairs for 2019 also. My Ariana dresses and Otari hoodie were straight-up staples also, and the Otari has the added bonus of being my first-ever pattern test. The Tamara is perfect for wearing with jeans on in-between days during Spring and Fall (and I feel very cute in it), and the Heather dress is perfect winter garb on days where I want toย look a little nicer but still be comfortable. I already made that pattern again (something about January makes me realize I need Heathers, apparently) and I’m probably not done with this pattern yet! โค

Now, unlike 2017, I don’t have any outright FAILS for last year–yay! But I will choose my least-successful projects and rank them, because why not?

Top 5 4 Misses

  1. Jailbird Hudson Pants (unblogged)
  2. Gray Driftless Cardigan (unblogged)
  3. Adaptive T-Shirt Mk. II (unblogged)
  4. Obnoxious Yellow & Navy Hemlock
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The aforementioned Hudson pants and Hemlock tee serving their purpose

First of all, let me just say that all of the above items were worn multiple times. The first two are failures of fabrication: the Hudson pants were made from a fabric with no vertical stretch, so they’re not the most comfortable things to wear; the gray fabric of the cardigan has NO recovery and I swear to The Almighty Bobs that it is not long for this world.

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OBEY THE BOBS!!!

As for the adaptive t-shirt, there was one version that just did NOT want to get snaps installed in it–literal holes were torn in this knit top in the struggle with the snaps, and even then there were still pokey edges in a few places. I felt like a very lousy friend handing that one over (“Hey, sorry about your health crisis but maybe stabbing yourself with snap prongs will help you forget about it, urwelcomekthanxbai!”), but having only made 4 total tops I figured it was better to hand it over than not. ๐Ÿ˜ฆ Bless my friend, she wore it anyway and still speaks to me. #itsamiracle And the Hemlock, while perfectly wearable, is just not something I like wearing in public between the shape and the color; it has been demoted to sleepwear, which is a pretty good outcome actually.

With the business out of the way, let’s move on to Highlights!

Top 5 Highlights

  1. Personal Knitting Triumphs – In 2018, I tackled cables and made my first sweater! I also met my personal goal of completing at least 13 knitting projects last year, which is very exciting. I actually surpassed that goal also, getting to 15 finished projects. Spoiler: they were mostly socks. ๐Ÿ˜‰
  2. MOAR REMODELING!!!!! – This is barely less exciting for me than my knitting, people: we got so much work done! I am hoping to do a separate post to show you everything eventually but for now, here is a list of what we did: refinished the upstairs floors, replaced the front and rear entry doors, totally revamped the landscaping out front, replaced the porch roof, and replaced the kitchen ceiling. And as a small-but-mighty bonus, we also had our guest room painted (a mere 7 years after moving in…yikes). Whew! The floors are the most staggering achievement, simply because they offer the biggest transformation IMO. (The landscaping is a very close 2nd there.) Plus it’s a great feeling as a lover of old houses to be able to restore something to its former glory after decades of wear and abuse. I can’t wait to show you everything!!
  3. Abbey 1, Student Loans 0 – I PAID OFF MY STUDENT LOANS LAST YEARRRRRRR. For real, I don’t like parties but this made meย almost want to throw one. I was able to pay them off early (by like, 8 and 11 months respectively, but still) and it still feels weird not to have to pay them every month. Full disclosure: I was one of the lucky ones. I had very little student debt to begin with compared to my peers (being a nerd can literally pay), and was some-crazy-how able to land a good job right out of college at the start of The Great Recession and remain gainfully employed full-time in the years since. Having said that, I reserve the right to party my metaphorical n*ts off over this achievement!
  4. Tales From The Crypt Redux – I mentioned this in a previous post, but I was honored to take part in this event again, and not as an emergency understudy. ๐Ÿ˜‰ This time, my “character” was a talented 23-year-oldย  young lady who took part in Ziegfeld productions on Broadway during the Roaring 20s. It was a privilege to tell our guests about her (albeit a hard thing to do, since this is a mausoleum). I hope I did her some justice, if not in looks (she won many beauty contests…this is not my reality LOL!) then in showing her bubbly personality and love of her work and life. Eerily, this young lady very nearly got cast as Ramon Novarro’s leading lady in a movie (she was too tall for him!), and our production was mere days before the 50th anniversary ofย his death. Spooky!
  5. Family – I know, I hit this one every year! But last year was a big one: Tom and I celebrated our 10th wedding anniversary. โค We also still have all three fluffy kids, which with Tycho’s age and medical history is never a guarantee. (He’s crankier than ever ๐Ÿ˜‰ , and 2018 was also his 10th “Adoptiversary” and that was a wonderful milestone.) 2018 brought many challenges for us, from Tom’s job uncertainty to some private family issues that I won’t get into here; I’m glad that we’ve been there for each other and can laugh together, like andย love each other, play MarioKart, and talk shit about people who deserve it together! ๐Ÿ˜‰
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Big ugly sweater!!

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My first-ever cabled project on its very satisfied owner!

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That’s right: I made cowls for my sister’s bassets. I’mย that knitter, apparently.

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This isn’t even all the socks I knit last year–2 pairs aren’t photographed!! xD

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Remodeling sneaky-peek; this is definitely a “Before” photo!

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Fffffffffffuuuuuuuuuuuuccccccccckkkkkk YESSSSSSSSS

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Fancy lady

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Familyyyyyy

Well, that does it for my first Top 5 post for 2018! I’ll be back soon with my Reflections and Goals post, just as soon as I finish writing it. ๐Ÿ˜‰