Mic Check

Hi! I mean, assuming anyone is still out there reading this. 😉

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. 

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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. ❤


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. 🙂

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. 😉

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. 😦 (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. 😀 (And yes, the song is about Easter Peeps.)

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Easter Peeps

Top Fives, Part 1: Hits, Misses, and Highlights!

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It’s Top 5 time again! Thanks to Gillian for hosting once again, and to everyone out there who has shared their own thoughts and data under the prompts–I look forward to reading these posts every year!

Since I always enjoy reading other people’s recaps this time of year, I figured I would share my own! I will do two separate Top 5 posts this year: one for hits, misses, and non-sewing highlights, and another for goals and reflections. I’m not a prolific enough sewer (YET.) to justify separating out those first few things, LOL! So without further ado, here we go!

Top 5 Hits

This is a tough one, because I had almost all successful projects this year. For the sake of expediency, all my Sharking is ineligible for the rankings. 😉

  1. Buffalo Check Archer – This shirt has gotten so much wear in its first few months of life! I am also a big fan of the snaps.
  2. Dude Jeans – Bragging rights + workmanship = Definite Top 5 project. I am still really proud of these jeans!
  3. Holiday Outfit – I worked with lace for the first time and powered through some mojo-busting creative challenges to get this project finished. I am very happy with the dress and know it will be worn again!
  4. Penny Raglan Trio – I’m counting these as a cluster; the rose gold and green striped versions get worn the most, but I am really glad to have all three of these tops in my wardrobe.
  5. Moss Mini Skirt – Again, this got worn quite a lot when the weather was warmer. It’s not getting worn as much now because it turns out I don’t have tights that go with navy. :-/
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Archer, Dude Jeans, Holiday Dress, Penny Trio, and Inside-Out Moss

Top Misses

As with last year, I don’t really have 5 misses in my 2016 catalog. But here are things that had issues:

  1. Penny Raglan Take 1 – Utterly unwearable; below is the only known photo of it, actually. The fabric was just too heavy for the pattern IMO and the colors were not a good look for me. I also hate the original neckline: it looks sloppy on me. Recycled.
  2. Dirty Bird Pot Holders – These are here because of Clover’s Chaco Liners, which stained the finished product and resulted in them having to be washed before I could gift them; because the fronts are paper pieced (so grainline doesn’t really matter), they warped out of their painstakingly-squared-up shapes. Fuck you, Clover Chaco Liners.
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Sad Penny, Dirty (Chalk) Bird

That leaves us with the in-between things; these things are liked (or loved!) but got overshadowed by more versatile things.

No Man’s Land

  1. Jungle January Dress – Full disclosure: I love this dress and have worn it a handful of times. It just doesn’t get “go-to dress” status because, you know, Zebra + Electric Cobalt Blue. Although I do have lipstick to match it now… 😀
  2. Kielodoscope – Love. I made it right as the warm weather started to wane though, so it didn’t get more than 2 outings this year.
  3. Sleeveless Striped Archer – Again, I love this one. It’s just highly seasonal until I can knit some baggy sweaters to wear over it in the colder weather!
  4. Dude Sweatpants, Takes 3 and 4 – Total successes, but sweatpants are not that exciting–especially when they’re a repeat! I didn’t even blog them (I did share a pic of one pair in an unrelated post, though).
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Jungle, Kielo, Archer, Sweatpants

I made 19 things this year, including 6 sharks (3 big ones, 1 medium one, and 2 miniature ones). Not bad, although the sharks certainly artificially inflate my count! The shark-adjusted sewing count stands at 13; that accounts for finished items only, and does not include anything that got pitched after completion. Not bad!

In 2015, I made 14 things; 13 of them were garments. So by that metric, I am only 1 garment short of last year’s figure (my 14th thing in 2015 was a shark; my 13th thing this year was the set of potholders). I had certainly hoped to do better than that this year, but things happen!

Speaking of things happening, that brings me to my last thing for this post: Non-Sewing Highlights!

  1. Learning to knit – Life-changing achievement, you guys. I am hooked. So far I still only make socks, but I have plans to move on to cowls and sweaters very soon! ^____^ I am very grateful to my friend Betsy for taking the time to teach me–life (and my stash) will never be the same again!
  2. Bathroom remodel – This is also a big deal, for both time and $$ reasons. Our house is 106 years old and still had the original claw-foot tub in the upstairs bath; those are nice (and highly coveted by some folks), but it just wasn’t right for us. We now have a very modern, very functional (and up-to-code!), very beautiful bathroom upstairs and it was worth every penny, every frustration, and every minute of work. I’ll share a post about it soon! (And don’t worry, the bathtub went to a good home–I would never trash such an iconic piece of our home’s history unless I had absolutely no other choice! I’m pretty sure they could take away my History degree for something like that!! 🙂 )
  3. New lappy – This blog is now brought to you on a new laptop as of May 2016! Mine was from 2006 and had survived moving from England to the US (I bought it in the UK out of necessity during my semester abroad–that currency exchange HURT, man), functioning as my sole source of television and movie entertainment for 2 years, and a metric shit-ton of pet hair/kitty stampedes/wanton dog paws and various other abuses. It even survived a hard drive wipe after being infected with a virus that attacked the core of its Windows operating system! I was used to its quirks, like the British Pound currency symbol where the # sign is (I couldn’t be bothered to change it from its original UK English settings…), but it was time to retire it; while I do miss having Windows XP, it is nice to have a fully-functioning machine again!
  4. Family – Okay, this feels like kind of a cop-out because my family is always in my life regardless of what year it is. But this year lacked the health crises of 2015, and Tom and I are hours away from celebrating both our 8th wedding anniversary and the 10th anniversary of our first date. (Awwwwwwwww.) We’ve got all three of our babes with us, and it feels like we’re in a nice groove right now. Family-wise, it’s been a really good year. 🙂
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New socks, New Bathroom!

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Awwwwwwwwwwwww

So that’s it for this portion of my Top 5! I’ll be back with my Reflections and Goals in a separate post. 🙂 Thanks for reading!

Will you be sharing your 2016 round-up? Did your sewing live up to your expectations this year? What do you want to change–or keep up!–in 2017?

 

Miscellaneous “Mads”ness

Well hi!

I disappeared for over a month, and here’s what I have accomplished:

-My new machine is HOME and amazing and I am head-over-heels in love with it.

-I bought a serger. A Motherfucking Serger. Holy crap, you guys–who am I?!?!?

-I took a paper piecing class and finished the project, but haven’t done anything useful with it (like turned it into a pillowcase front like I plan to do)

-Bought patterns (duh)

-Bought fabric (even bigger DUH)

-Mostly made a pair of JEANS. JEANSSSSSSSSSSS. Out of real denim and everything. They’re just a fitting mock-up with no waistband, but I am pretty self-satisfied on account of this one.

-Broke my first needle sewing said jeans; having never used a zipper foot before (LOLOL I KNOW RIGHT?), I forgot to change the needle position and it smashed into the zipper foot, which escaped with a battle scar but no other damage. Luckily, no eyeballs or sewing machines were injured in order to bring you this moment of schadenfreude.

-Embarked on the 2015 Handmade Xmas Gift saga, which includes CRAFT ITEMS this year. (Lest you all think I have gone completely mad, the crafts are a stuffed shark for a friend’s child and some Sewaholic Stanley Trees for my siblings and parents, and not even out of xmas-themed fabric. And no, those aren’t their only gifts from yours truly.)

-Made about a thousand other plans for my sewing adventures to round out this year and begin the next, as one does…

-Decided to host Thanksgiving for friends, which requires the tearing down of most of my sewing area in addition to planning a meal for 5.

You may have noticed a distinct lack of progress on the sewing front up there^^^^. Things have been weird. Mostly, my lack of execution has been the result of a bit of very troublesome family news that came through a few weeks ago; I won’t go into detail out of respect for my family member(s), but suffice it to say that the lot of us are struggling to come to terms with what we’ve been told and figure things out as we try to keep plugging along and be supportive. I am trying to push myself past the motivational brick wall (not least of all because as stunned as we all are, things could have been much worse) and keep my mind busy by planning sewing projects, doing pattern work, or reading. It helps that I am committed to a once-a-week gathering with some friends for sewing and drafting stuff, and we’re all trying to psych each other up about jeans. So that’s mostly why I’ve disappeared since the last post; I’m not sorry, but I have missed blogging! I am sure that those of you who have had similarly difficult things going on can agree that it can be very hard to focus on anything else, and that’s about where I am at the moment. But I am trying.

I have nothing fun to share today, guys. I just wanted to check in–I haven’t been commenting around too much, but I’m here, reading your blogs and hoping I will have something good to post very soon. Fingers crossed! ❤