Monday, February 20, 2012


Well. I had hoped to photograph some FOs this weekend to show off to you, but found myself flattened by the stomach flu. Friday night on the way home from work, I not only threw up multiple times on the bus (luckily I was carrying my knitting around in this holey plastic bag and just had enough time to yank the knitting out of the bag before it began), I also had to stumble off my train halfway home to throw up multiple times on the platform, and then another upheaval after I got off at my trainstop at home. My roommate found my under the blankets in fetal position. He kindly bought me Gatorade, ginger ale, and bananas. Man, Gatorade never tasted so good (it has since reverted to being disgusting) I spent Saturday limp in bed, listening to Harry Potter audiobooks on YouTube, with just enough energy to rouse myself every 10 minutes to hit "next." But last night I found myself craving CHICKEN (after a steady diet of saltines and Ginger Ale) and took that as a good sign.

So instead, here are some knitting UFOs I've been chipping away at, off and on these past 2 days, when I've had the energy:

I did have grand plans to finish up my dress this weekend, but life gets in the way sometimes. I tend to ask a lot of myself, forgetting to celebrate what I've accomplished in the rush towards getting on with the next thing, forgetting that sometimes what I've done already is a lot in itself. Recently, since August really, I've been asking myself to be more forgiving of myself, to not pack it all in so tightly.

It may sound silly, but sometimes I felt like I was letting down the people who follow my blog if I didn't produce "enough" - would they find it boring? Would they not like me anymore? Maybe I "needed" to make this and then that and fill this quota (1-2 garments per month? But that sounds so slow!) I think that's what I found so disturbing about Tilly's post way back when. Not only did it feel very personal - here's the reasons I don't follow your blog anymore, and the reasons your blog doesn't measure up - but it didn't give much room for people to evolve and their blogs to evolve with them. Because for me, part of being nicer to myself means not pressuring myself to make more things just for the sake of having something new and shiny to showcase. One small step backwards for ayenforcraft, one giant step forwards for Jessica.

Tied in to all of this is the realization that I need to actually carve out dedicated relaxation time for myself. Maybe this comes intuitively to most people; to me, it does not. It was actually something of a revelation. But after not one but three massage therapists, over the course of 6 months, told me that I have a very, very tight back "and should really come in here more often!" (my wallet protested that it would prefer to spend my small self-pampering budget on yarn or fabric, never mind that bending over crafts projects may very well contribute to knotted shoulders, sh!), I skipped on over to Amazon to look for some self-massagers (teach a man to fish ...) and found this intriguing little Accupressure mat which I've been using almost nightly since it arrived, and sometimes in the middle of the night if I've woken up and can't get back to sleep.

See those plastic spikes up there? Yeah, ouch! That was my first reaction. But wow. The description tells you that it may take a couple minutes to get used to the poking sensation, but gradually it will shift into a warm tingling sensation as blood begins flowing into your back (it's supposed to improve circulation; increased circulation = increased healing and decreased stiffness)

The interesting thing is that some nights, as I'm lying there, I find myself tensing up in reaction to the pricking of the plastic points. It's almost a reflexive self-protective stance against the initial discomfort. Yet it is precisely those nights that I do tense up that it takes the longest for the "warm tingling sensation" to kick in. When something in life is hard, our first instinct is to tense up and face down the challenge. But it's not healthy to continually wind ourselves up more and more tightly, and sometimes we have to let pain into our lives in order to get through one period and on to the next phase of our lives. Repression is not resolution, and often the fastest way to get past a situation is to go straight through it.

Does anybody else ever wonder if making clothes will just be yet another phase in their lives vs. a hobby that will stick for the long run? Lately I've wondered that more and more. I think it has filled a really strong creative need in my life for a number of years now, and I have no doubt that I will probably always tinker with my clothes in some capacity. I also know it has shifted my personal style in distinct but also subtle ways, but I don't know that I will always feel the need to fill my wardrobe with items that I made from scratch.

Has this merely been a creative vehicle to help me through to the next stage? I do know I have many other creative interests, but I also know that I've always loved expressing my personal style. I guess this is what my dad calls "the fog of war" (in reference to the McNamara documentary/film of the same title) - patterns emerge only in hindsight, in the moment they are all hazy shades of gray, the merest hints of shapes and patterns. I have no regrets, of course, merely gratitude that I had a creative outlet not only allowed me to express myself and learn something new, but also let me write and find community with wonderful, likeminded folk.


Amy said...

First of all, I don't read your blog for the sewing or the finished projects, though I absolutely love seeing them! (Surprise!)

In fact, I find blogs that stick entirely and mechanically to one chosen theme...dead boring. If I wanted to read a magazine, I'd read a magazine--about sewing or anything else. But with a blog, I want to get to know the person behind that blog, and if they never talk about their lives, their families, their thoughts on the world, I'm out. And I don't think that's either good or bad--I think it just means that Tilly and I have vastly different criteria for blogs we love. I love your blog. I think *you're* just the bees knees, and I love your knitting and sewing and writing and the way you think and the things you have to say.

So you know, produce stuff, don't produce stuff--I've become a regular reader, and I won't go anywhere either way. (And I guarantee there are other folks besides me out there who are *your people*, and they won't disappear either!) I'm happy to stop by and read what's on your mind whenever a new post shows up in my reader--now or months from now.

(Oh, and I'm SO sorry to hear you were so sick! Glad you're feeling better, but that sounds like a dreadful way to start a weekend. xo)

Minnado said...

Stomach flu - yuk, I am glad you are feeling better now. I agree with Amy, I don't read your blog looking for finished projects all the time. I too like the mix of reading about bits fromother peoples' lives as well as their making.
I do think I will carry on making my own clothes but I amaware that currently sewing fills a gap left by my not painting, which is what I did my degree in. Somehow life is too overwhelmng and busy these days to paint but I can manage to sew and it does fulfill a creative urge. I wonder if maybe in the future I will be able to take up painting and then sewing will take a back burner.
I also agree with you about feeling that i should be producing stuff to show readers but I am managing to squash that thought! Don't think you have to make stuff to show us.
Oh and just to tell you, I was once so unrelaxed after a relaxation massage that the therapist insisted on knocking 25% off the bill!

Ally said...

Interesting you should say that. I started blogging 4 years ago when I moved away from my home to a new country and wanted to keep friends and family up to date on what's going on in my life.
And only half way through those 4 years did I start sewing and found sewing blogs like yours. And there was a moment when I thought "I should sew more often and post about more interesting things then maybe I'd get more people to read my blog" and then life got in the way and the thought of taking something that I enjoy (sewing) and turn it into a "duty" made my toenails curl and I still write as if only my family is reading.
And every now and then I'm surprised to see that other people are reading it, too.

What I'm trying to say in a very long winded way - you owe to yourself to be yourself and post about what you want when you want and you owe to others nothing (unless you owe money but that's a completely different story altogether...).

I have enjoyed reading your blog for quite some time and the reason for this is not because you "do a lot" but because I like the way you write and I identify with some of your thoughts and views.

You rock.

Roobeedoo said...

Oh dear! Hope you are better now!
Actually, I like the progress posts better than the big reveals - especially if I can tell the blogger has rushed to finish something "just for the blog", and at the expense of quality / fit / wearability. Like Amy, I read blogs written by "real people" who I think are a bit like me, with many and varied interests. I like to be surprised by their love of lemons or dancing! I don't just want to see a production line of garments - I could look at an online shop for that! As for myself, I often wonder if I will tire of sewing and knitting, but right now they fill a gap in my life - they give me new things to wear and something creative to do with my non-work hours. Otherwise I would get lost in books, which would be terribly isolating I think. Do your own thing and share what you want to share! We like you! ;)

Becky said...

I'm glad you're feeling better!

What I like about your blog is your sense of style. And I like progress posts-- I like seeing the creative process. I've been sewing long enough myself that I don't just crank things out so much anymore-- I take my time more and pay attention to details so I'm fully pleased with the final product. And that means I only have new things to show on a sporadic basis, and I think it's ok.

I know that for me, sewing is a lifetime hobby. But I've definitely cycled through on other things. So if it's something you're moving away from, you need to do what's best for you. Though I do hope you continue blogging wherever the creative road leads you next!

sigrid said...

I'm amazed that you can think so clearly about this as you are in the actual fog (and recovering from a nasty flu bug). It's true that posts that debut a new design may get the most comments, but I'm not sure that they are what keep readers connected to bloggers. I am most interested to writers that seem like real people with a life happening behind the projects. . . so keep on keeping it real.

I have the same doubts about production and find it sometimes affects what I end up doing with my life and that ain't right! I think that's why I too was so upset by the Tilly post. I think that what I want to get out of interacting with a bunch of bloggers is a sense of community based on shared interests and values. So when someone who you felt was part of your group sets guidelines for inclusion, it feels pretty strange. Whatever the case, I always love to read what you have to write. You really are a thoughtful person and a brave writer!

Mommy en France said...

First of all, I hope you are feeling better! Chez nous, the tummy bug (aka a "gastro" over here) and colds and flu hit us this month, and gosh, it's rotten, isn't it?

Second, thank you for yet another thoughtful and beautiful post. I have been reading your blog for a while now, ever since I discovered it via Refashion Co-op, and I have to say, I'm not just coming for the sewing & knitting, I really appreciate posts like these too, as well as plenty of other stuff. For example, posts about food? I'm there!

I get so much out of reading a variety of blogs, most of them "about", in some way or another, sewing/knitting/crafty goodness/parenthood/thrifting/life in France. But none of the ones I read the most are entirely about one thing, any more than a human being can be just one thing.

As blogger, I am still trying to work out what my blog means to me, why I'm doing it and how to be sure it's always something I'm doing mindfully and for pleasure, not in a rush or as a duty. It's a challenge, but one I'm glad to have for now.

Do you know the blog "Sew and Sow Life"? If not, you should visit it, I think you would enjoy Karen't sensibility. And her photos are beautiful.

Mommy en France said...

PS. I meant to also say, I hear you about tenseness. (And thank you for the mat tip, I will look for one!) I once had a physical therapist, an osteopath AND a shiastu masseuse all tell me in the same month that I was the tensest person they'd ever worked on/with. Eeek!

Violet said...

when I started blogging I had lots of time to blog but nothing interesting to blog about. Now I have lots more to blog about but I'm too busy doing those things to actually blog about them.
I have a tendency to move from one creative pursuit to another - I started with wanting to write better, went on to sewing and now knit. Maybe later I will crochet toys or make bags.

Alessa said...

Gah, I hate stomach flu! And it must have been really bad for *Gatorade* to actually taste good! Glad you're feeling better. :)

I know what you mean. If I think about it, I may have unconsciously started to blog more about finished objects and less about life and my thoughts in general since reading Tilly's post. Which really is silly, because my favorite blogs are those which let me get to know the people. Actually, I think the blogs I read regularly could be put in two categories (which are, of course, entirely subjective). There are the ones I read because of the fab garments, the inspiration, the tutorials. Those bloggers feel a bit like celebrities to me. And then there are those, who talk about sewing/knitting/crafting but also about their life, their thoughts, feelings, experiences... They kinda feel like friends, even though I've never met them. Funny how you can start to care about someone you've never met, and don't even know you'd get along with, in real life.

I have had quite a few other creative hobbies before I started to sew. They seem to come and go, I still dabble in sketching and photography now and then, although I haven't painted in ages. I think I will stick with sewing for a while to come. I love that it doesn't produce "stuff" (as in, clutter) but something useful, that can even be donated and worn by others if I should happen to not like it anymore at some point. (I hoard enough clutter as it is...) I've also started to dabble in creative writing (if it fits onto my hard drive, it's not clutter) but actually working with my hands feels a lot more fulfilling to me.

But I'll be glad to follow you into any new creative endeavor. We all grow. :)

And as it happens, you have inspired me to buy an acupressure mat. Incredible, how tense my back can feel after 8h of mostly standing around. It should arrive any day now. :D