Tuesday, April 30, 2013
Hello there! Sorry for the long radio silence, I've been enjoying being on the road in Turkey and have felt reluctant to break from the rhythm of the trip to fiddle around with setting up a new blog. However, MMM is right around the corner, so I took that as a signal to get on with it. Here goes:
I, Jessica, sign up as a participant of Me-Made-May 2013. I will be traveling quite a bit this month, so I pledge to wear at least one handmade garment each day of the month. There will be many repeats, but they will be well-loved repeats, to be sure!
I'll likely do one or two roundups, since there will be a lot of repeats. You can find my new site here.
Saturday, March 30, 2013
Hello there! Thank you so much for your comments on my last post, they were incredibly sweet and supportive. I've decided to relaunch this blog elsewhere - new space, new me, that sort of thing - and refocus towards the topics that are more relevant to where I'm at right now. Writing, creativity, food, short vignettes from my life, adventures large and small, musings. I'm much more of a "stories" kind of blogger than I am a "hey, lookit this cool thing I just made!" kinda blogger. The latter feels awkward to me, and I don't possess great technical skills nor do I get adventurous with the latest patterns (the exact opposite, in fact, I am slower than slow to hop on bandwagons). Trying to force this blog into that mold has left me feeling stymied. Whereas I love telling stories and thinking about life, so that's where I'm taking things. I still sew and knit and I still plan to blog about those projects now and then because they are still a large part of my creative life, they just won't be all that I blog about ... which is what I've felt like I'm "supposed" to do with a blog with the word "craft" in its title!
Anyhow, I've been a bit snowed under by other obligations, and I'm still trying to figure out which blog hosting service to use (probably Wordpress? Gotta love the price tag on free!). I am also taking a month long trip to Turkey and giving my mother a heart attack because I'm leaving in less than 2 weeks and haven't much of a clue of where I'm going or what I'll be doing. I've got 6 nights in Istanbul booked for when I land, and beyond that? Not sure. Jodi was kind enough to provide some suggestions, but if anybody has been to the area, I'd love any and all recommendations! But I will try to relaunch before then and to bring my camera uploader with me, so that I can post up some photos as I go.
In the meantime, I leave you with socks, because they have become my latest knitting obsession. I spotted this great ball of Zauerball at a LYS a couple months ago and fell in love instantly. It was one of those impulse, stash enhancing purchases, but after a tough week at work, I figured "treat yourself!" was in order. The instant I finished the first pair and put them on, I was overcome with this intense desire to wear nothing but handknit socks to sleep.
Our house is cold in winter, so cold, in fact, that I finally sewed up some simple heat packs which I would pop into the microwave every evening, right before bed, and then slip them between the sheets to warm the bed as I brushed my teeth, just like they used to do back in the frontier days. I would also layer a couple quilts upon my bed, and, on the nights when that failed to warm me up, I would pull a pillow beneath the blankets and squarely over my stomach, because when I was in college I found this was the single most effective way to get warm enough to be able to fall asleep. The heat packs got me through January and February, and so did socks.
It sounds so melodramatic, but insomnia has rendered me a finicky sleeper. Anyhow. Socks are small, portable and fast, plus I love wearing them. And to keep the project on the level of "autopilot," I picked one sock pattern and just kept making it, with little tweaks here and there. I think I've got it memorized. My second pair has cables, as you can tell. They're not hard to shoehorn into the pattern, just take out two 3x1 repeats for each cable and put in a 6-stitch cable, with 1 purl on each side. For now, I think this is as crazy as the socks will get. I don't like monkeying around with cable needles and slipping stitches front and back, especially not on socks, where the repeats come up way too often (as opposed to, say, a sweater, where you've got miles of stockinette before you have to contend with the fiddly bits).
I love this third pair. Props to my friend Rita for finding the pattern and suggesting a knit-along. As I was knitting it up, I thought, "Wow, this is fugly." And then I knit some more rows and thought, "Wow, this is getting fuglier by the row." And then I knit some more rows and realized, "Holy crap, this is the awesomest sock I've ever knit!" That fine line between fabulous and hideous, I do love it so much.
Sunday, March 03, 2013
Hello, hello! I'm not sure why it took me so long to get on the stripey bandwagon, but the bug has bit me in a big way recently, and in the spirit of the spontaneity that I hope will characterize the rest of this year, I sat me down at the sewing machine and whipped up a couple makes.
Pattern: Sewaholic's Renfrew, scoop neck with cap sleeves (no cuff), lengthened to dress length (no cuff), patch pockets attached (finished dimensions: 4.5"x6")
Fabric: 1 yard, striped cotton/lycra/rayon blend
So totally get all the Renfrew love that's gone around the blogosphere forever and a half already. (I know, I'm so late). Inspired by the Boden aesthetic, I was originally going for a tunic, but like it as a short dress instead. I think it'll work well with flats and leggings in spring, with chunky jewelry and sandals in summer, and with a cardigan, tights and boots in fall. My kinda Cake! Next time around, I'd move the pockets up 2".
Blouse #12 :: Refashion #34 // Airelle (Wearable Muslim)
Pattern: Deer & Doe's Airelle, size 34 with heavy mods
Fabric: XXL Mens button down blouse, quilting cotton scraps
Credit for this blouse goes to Roo, who every time she makes something, inspires great bouts of covetousness combined with envy that seems to land me in the "monkey see, monkey do" camp of unabashedly copying her. I took a page from Paunnet, too. My workaround for the C cup drafting was to cut a smaller size in the bust - and somehow between the measuring and the adding and then the subtracting out darts I seem to have lost 4" or so, because this blouse is clearly too small in the bust and shoulders, yet somehow my math indicated I'd have a good 2" of ease. Hm. So I let lots of seams out and lowered darts and everything, and this was the best I could come up with. I think it's going in the Goodwill pile, unless anybody out there who is a 33" bust or so would like a package in the mail :-).
(I've been bitten hard by the sock bug of late)
So here's my question for you. Of late, I feel as though I've lost my blogging voice, and I'm curious what you like best about this blog? What do you like to come here and see, and what leaves you feeling kinda 'meh'? I thought about quitting this blog entirely, but I knew I'd miss you all, and I do like writing ... so I thought I'd see what you all thought! If you've got a moment, please help me out and give me a little something to chew on :-).
Sunday, February 10, 2013
First finished sweater (and handknit) of the new year:
Fiber #58 :: Andi
Yarn: Cascade 220, a shade my mom calls "more brown than yellow" in response to the "Asians shouldn't wear yellow!" that I keep throwing around. I need more mustard in my life like I need more handknits, but hey, it's a gorgeous pattern and I love it. (Color on the right is more true to life)
Mods: added an extra cable twist, lengthened pattern to hit at high hip, used 2*2 ribbing instead.
I took a hard look at my handknit sweaters and realized the ones I wear most often are long sleeved, unfussy pullovers, and in colors that match everything else in my wardrobe. So I decided those were the types of sweaters I'd knit more of.
And a skirt to go with it.
Pattern: Simplicity 2451, again
Fabric: Liberty twill Mirabelle, plus leftover red piping
Mods: shortened at hip and skimmed some of the curve out of the hipline, added a Rayon bemberg lining. This skirt was meant to be piped!
Also, for those of you dying for your Ali fix, rest assured, she's still alive and kicking. Late in 2012 I asked if she would be willing to do a swap, a handknit hat in exchange for a couple Renfrews. I think I came out ahead, check out the stripey beauty she made me! (Erg, the hat is awaiting a second skein, via Ravelry, to be completed). Ali and I wear roughly the same size, and sometimes when we grow out of enamorment with our own handmades, we'll do a swap. We had a stripey exchange, one might say!
Over the holidays, my brother and I took a quick jaunt up to Portland for a couple days. The city is on both of our "maybe, someday" lists and we thought it would be fun to treat ourselves to a bit of a relaxation. We found a place to stay through Air BnB - which I highly recommend - and opted to use Portland's public transportation the entire trip - which I do not recommend, not in winter, at least. There was a lot of waiting for buses in the rain. However, if I had to do a lot of waiting for buses in the cold, cold rain, there is nobody I'd rather do it with!
We napped. We cooked. We spent a lot of time in cafes. I knit and read and wrote and dreamed and journaled and people watched. We stared off into space. We took a ridiculous number of "use iPhone to take pictures of self" photographs that we then had way too much fun hipster-izing with Michael's phone's editing tools.
Michael really likes the show It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia, and during the trip he told me about one episode where the characters decide to treat themselves for the entire day. I haven't seen the episode, but apparently it involves people running around in Batman costumes, increasingly ludicrous scenarios (as seems to be the show's mantra), and a whole lotta "TREAT YOURSELF." So, that was the motto of our trip, too.
Jessica (in fabric store): Hm, that's kind of a lot of fabric.
Michael: Jessica? TREAT YOURSELF.
Michael (reaches into wallet): Here, I'll treat you to this one. *Hands me bill, pats topmost bolt.*
Michael: Fake Moleskine? Real Moleskine? I came here to buy the fake one.
Jessica: TREAT YOURSELF.
Jessica: Should I get that flourless chocolate cookie the size of my head?
Jessica: You know what, I should really TREAT MYSELF.
So ... I treated myself this holiday season.
Some Liberty and Sewaholic patterns. Will 2013 be the year I finally tackle pants?
Some Cake and organic jersey. Trying not to go too crazy in the knits department, but it's so tempting ...
A yummy new pattern, and some stash yarn. My latest attempt to control the yarn stash is this rule: for every project I take on with new yarn, I have to complete a project using stash yarn. Now, some of the stash projects are hats, which is not as stash busting as, say, a sweater, but I will take all the help I can get. Perhaps I should extend this rule to fabric, too. Anyways, I used my Christmas money to splurge. Usually I use my Christmas money to buy boring things like groceries and pay for electricity and such, but this year I figured, it's been a long year honey. TREAT YOURSELF.
Since this is not exactly a sustainable trend (Christmas money comes but once a year!), I started thinking about the small ways I like to treat myself. I find it hard to walk that line between frugality and, well, misery. Sometimes I feel guilty that I am indulging too often in 'simple' pleasures of the non-free variety, but other times I remind myself that it's important to be nice to yourself. Maybe it's just a question of degree. Anyways, here are some of my little indulgences. I figure it's never a bad thing to have a list like this to turn back to from time to time.
Naps. Better still, two in one day!
A skein or two of tasty yarn.
Fresh berries in summer. A basket of fresh figs in fall. Heavenly!
Sunday afternoon meals that take 2-3 hours to prepare. Even better is when I clear my plate for the evening as well, so that I'm not rushing around but can linger in the kitchen.
Decaf lattes. Don't laugh, I know that defeats the purpose of the espresso in the latte! I can't do caffeine, but every once in awhile I will hop into a coffee shop and ask for a decaf. It always makes me feel ridiculously indulgent to do this, probably because I take the opportunity to linger in the cafe, do some people watching, or pull out some knitting, my journal, or a book. Ah, unstructured personal time, what bliss.
Filling a large glass half full with ice, topping it off with a fizzy drink, squeezing in half a lemon, and climbing into the tub for a good soak.
What about you? What are your small indulgences? I figure it never hurts to have more ideas for this type of thing!
Friday, January 04, 2013
About half a year ago, my coworker found me at lunch and said, "You have to go to the Crate and Barrel Outlet Store in Berkeley, they've got walls of Marimekko fabric marked 75% off." Hello, I was there. I'm not sure what it is about me that is drawn to prints that are clearly not intended for apparel and try to make them into clothing, and clothing I might try to sneak into a work wardrobe, no less.
(I mean, I could conceivably wear this outfit to work, right? Maybe?)
Self-piping. I really like that detail on a dress with a simple silhouette.
Dress #12 // Mari
Pattern: Sorbetto with those little cap/kimono sleeves like my Danburry, eliminated front pleat, extended to skirt length. Might need to take it out by an inch at the hips if I ever make another SorDressto.
Fabric: 2 yards of satin-finished cotton, Marimekko for Crate and Barrel, plus grey Bemberg lining so that it won't stick to tights.
I was paying enough attention to not have bursts of leaves emanating from, well, the girls, but forgot entirely about the potential for "Garden of Eden" jokes. That bright pink leaf you see at my bellybutton? It is extremely serendipitous that it does not fall 6" lower. Personally, I wish I had scooted the print horizontally about 6" so that it is a bit better distributed (and that bright pink bellybutton leaf was offset), but it'll do.
The greatest thing I got from this dress is the power of slapdash. A recovering perfectionist, I went really slapdash on this one ... which for me means I did things like sew without pinning. Gasp. I know, I know. I'm expecting you to fall down at that revelation, too. Things like - I set the back darts too wide - I thought about ripping out and fixing them, and then decided - "HONEY. It is a bright purple striped dresss with enormous leaves on it. How often you think you're wearin' this thing anyways?" That's right, I left the wonkiness in. For a recovering perfectionist, that's saying a lot.
But slapdash goes a lot faster, and without too much appreciable impact on the quality of the finished product. So, I think my sewing resolution for 2013 is to embrace the slapdash.
Monday, December 31, 2012
(2012: the year of involved knits)
2012. I think of this as "the year of going with it," in that I started off 2012 bound and determined to make some changes, and gradually realized I was in a place in life where fighting was counterproductive, and that when I started going with the flow, things started straightening out. I'm feeling the itch to tackle 2013 with a little more vim and gusto, and this reminds me of my experience reading The Alchemist, where the narrator talks about reading signs and that your heart already knows what it wants, if you will just listen. "Yes, but what am I supposed to listen FOR???" was my biggest question. I feel like my life has been one long list of red herrings, but maybe going through life involves learning to separate the wheat from the chaff, otherwise known as the acquisition of wisdom.
(2012: the year of yellow)
I do think that 2012 ended up in a good place. One of my colleagues at work says that 2012 is the year she got married, got a new job - "It's been a real dragon year!" (In the Zodiac, we are in the year of the dragon) Well, next year is the year of the snake, and I'm optimistic that it will be a good year for me. Truthfully, I'm more of a snake person than a dragon person. Most people, not surprisingly, have poor associations with the snake, but according to my dad the snake is just a less glorified version of the dragon. Think of him as the dragon's less flashy, more down to earth little brother. And you know what? I think that's me.
(2012: the year of handknit hats)
*Started a new job
*Presented at the American Public Health Association's Annual Conference
*Got my own IMDB page for the wardrobe/costuming work I did on a short film
*Visited Korea, China, Boston (twice), Portland, Mendocino, Baltimore
*Knit 8 hats, 4 sweaters (1 of my own design), 3 scarves, and crocheted 1 scarf (1 hat + multiple scarves unblogged)
*Sewed 1 skirt, 4 dresses, 1 tunic, 4 blouses, and a handful of home decor items (1 dress still unblogged though you can see a sneak preview of one of them at the very bottom of this post!)
(2012: the year of the Sorbetto)
I think of 2012 as a year that was more about internal change than external accomplishments. Professionally I did a lot, but at a price. Someone once said that when on their deathbed, most people value 1) learning to love others, 2) growing in wisdom. I feel like I spent a lot of my 20s alone, often because I was trying something new and therefore stepping into new environments in my quest for understanding, wisdom, and to satiate my intense curiosity. I do feel that I am very comfortable with solitude, that I know myself quite well, and that I am starting to satiate my curiosity about the world. And so, it is time to start focusing on #2. I'd like to spend my 30s on just that, and maybe I can even kickstart it in 2013, while I still have 1 year left in this decade, during the year of the snake, perhaps not my personal Zodiac year, but one which might just suit me better than the dragon, at least.
(2012: the year of dresses)
Monday, December 24, 2012
So I finally finished up those fluorescent UFOs. Who can stop at just one Toorie?
I call these ... Cotton Candy #1 and #2 (Fiber #56 and 57)
While there, I also saw my good friend John. The last hat I knit him was a bit itchy, so I used some of the fabulous Manos that Sigrid sent me to stitch him up a Fortnight hat (by Jared Flood). Soft, soft, soft.
I think the color's just the thing for a dreary Boston winter morning. Three hats for three of my best friends in Boston! (in the whole world, actually) It was a bit of a bittersweet visit, as this may be one of the last times that I can visit Boston and see so many of my best friends in the same location, as they all will be leaving in the next year or so. Grad school was tough, but it was a very special time and place in my life, and I owe these 3 greatly for getting me through some of the toughest times of my life. But the upside of that is, that we came away from the time with some of the deepest bonds imagineable. When I first went to Harvard, I had no idea that I'd find such incredible friends.
To friendship! To woolly warmth! To bright colors in winter!
Sunday, December 02, 2012
My new fall hat! From the little sneak peak in my last post.
Love it. Hadn't realized how this color would go with just about everything I own. Vacillated in the store for ages over whether or not to pick it up. "I'm not sure I'll really wear this," is how I tried to talk myself out of it. Thank goodness some inner part of me had more sense than that.
What sold me on the pattern was the detailing on both sides of the hat. I love these slipped stitches running down one side. And the gathers and pom poms on the other! Truly a clever design with very distinctive bits. You could swap out the pompoms for some ribbon or icord.
Fiber #55 :: Tory
Pattern: Toorie by Carina Spencer
Yarn: Madelinetosh DK, Dahlia, less than 1 skein
Mods: none! Knit up as is. Beautifully written pattern, very careful attention to detail.
Photos courtesy of my friend Nancy. We were out in downtown Los Altos, and the fall colors are still on the trees (though tumbling down quickly). Couldn't resist the opportunity for a photoshoot, and I have to say, Nancy, you're a natural! Usually I feel terribly awkward in front of the camera, but she totally kept me laughing and at ease the whole time. Photo-bombing helped, too.
Haha, oops. I reached up to grab a branch and all the leaves fell off. I felt terrible!
To fall! To independent designers and Ravelry! To beautiful, squishy yarn! And best of all, to friends!
Wednesday, November 28, 2012
Sunday, November 25, 2012
I suppose it is fitting to pen this over Thanksgiving weekend, a holiday which started out as one of gratitude (I won't go into a cynical historical take on it) and has, of late, morphed into a long weekend characterized by frenetic bargain hunting. It was one thing when they dubbed the Friday after Thanksgiving "Black Friday" and started encroaching on the holiday weekend with megasales at ungodly hours of the morning, it's another that they're creeping into the day itself. I mean, heaven knows we are a country filled with dysfunctional nuclear and extended families (mine is certainly not exempt), but could we at least take a stab at this whole "family" thing even once a year without hiding behind the football games running on multiple channels, the shopping, and the annual onslaught of new movies? I should talk, I ducked out on my extended family entirely this year. But! I did see plenty of my parents!
(I'm making quilt blocks for Sandy)
Lately I've been thinking about consumption. Not so much material consumption, though that's what I opened with, but about the media that our minds consume. I remember the summer after my junior year in college I subletted an apartment in Berkeley because I had an internship in Oakland, and though I spent my days locked to the computer to complete my internship tasks (and discovered, in my boredom, the joys and perils of eBay), by night I had no Internet access and spent the time reading on the couch, at my friend's around the corner, going for a long run and then cooking up a late dinner, or wandering in and out of book shops. I remember thinking that my brain felt different when I gave it a break from the Internet.
Through the years I've struggled to give myself this same sort of structured "off" time for my brain. Especially when the Internet is right at our fingertips, and we use it for so many things - communicating with farflung friends, looking up a recipe, hunting down photo instructions for the kitchener stitch because we are too lazy to remember it ourselves (ahem), or just noodling about in search of artistic inspiration. Or, dare I say it aloud, in search of a way to pass the time. I've gone so far as to swear I will regularly designate a couple weeknights "computer free" only to fall flat after a month or so. I've even tried foregoing Internet in my home, but that's always turned out to be far more inconvenient than I've anticipated, and it too falls flat within weeks.
(These all need a dark border, I might try to add them all at once?)
In my whole recent bout of lethargy, one silver lining that has emerged is an increased awareness of my body and my mind. There are days where I come home and I am so mentally exhausted from work that, physically, there's not much I want to do except climb into bed at 7:30 and shut down for the night. Gradually, though, I realized it wasn't that I was tired from work persay, rather I was tired from processing all the inputs my mind had received from the day. This included the music I listened to on the way home, the business show my parents like to watch after dinner, even the newspaper I skim in the mornings. And if I consciously blocked those out by driving to and from work in silence, eating breakfast without a newspaper, or disappearing into a different corner of the house when my parents tuned in to the latest doings on Wall Street, my brain started hating me less. And yes, this includes blog reading, which I have now attempted to limit to a weekly occurrence. That, I've noticed, makes a big difference, and I apologize if I've been commenting less frequently on your blog but at least you know the reason now!
What interests me is that when I limit the inputs to my brain, I find more space for creativity, as though our mind has limited capacity for both consumption and creativity, and thus doing more of one decreases what's available for the other. Or mabye it is that consumption and creativity lie on opposite ends of the spectrum, and a shift in one direction decreases our orientation towards the other. I'm sure it is not a perfectly diametrical relationship, as much of creative inspiration can come about by consuming the ideas and works of others. But it seems that, as with many good things in life, moderation may be key.
If forced to choose, I prefer the way my brain feels on this diet of decreased consumption and increased creativity, to my brain overwhelmed by sensory and data inputs. I recognize this is not an ideal way to live, as smartphones and the Internet have brought a lot of time- and monetary- savings, not to mention new economic and even political opportunities, to millions. And I still find consumption addictive, as it is so much easier to sit in traffic and listen to music, than to check in with my body and realize that I crave silence right now, and then turn off all inputs and sit in - how boring! - complete silence. Often, I do a round of channel switching to gauge my options (often lousy), before succumbing to the silence. Sometimes, I confess, I just keep the radio on. It is still a balm of sorts, after all.
But will the world let me? There's Facebook and Twitter (which I have sworn off), there's hundred of news aggregation sites and CNN running 24/7 and more and more of us sharing more and more of our lives online for others to read, and even shopping has a similar effect on me (so many choices to process, sensory overload). This year, half of Americans have a smartphone, which makes me wonder how much longer I can hold out. Because if the car radio has taught me anything, it is how imperfectly I withstand the everpresent temptation.
I seem to have hit my personal limit already. For others, who knows? It took me going on a pretty strong 'activity diet' to cultivate this awareness (half a year ago, I spent a series of weekends doing nothing and seeing nobody, and by now I have 'improved' to the point where I can safely schedule myself for 1-2 events each weekend without any adverse health consequences, but not much more than that). And I'm sure we all have different thresholds, ones that vary not just by personal preference but also by personal circumstance. This is a worldwide shift, and possibly I am just reacting to change just as generations before me have done, arguments whose terrain has been documented in history books as the rise and fall of the tide to the pull of the moon. Learning to mediate the rift between societal change and personal preference, though, is a lesson I have yet to find in my school books.