Monday, March 24, 2014


Hello hello!  Spring is officially here, Portland flirts with sunny days betwixt sprinkles and showers, and life marches happily forward in this little corner of the universe.  Returned from an East Coast work/pleasure trip last night, and was struck by the remarkable change my life has undergone in the past year.  The changes I've sought out in the past year.

Meanwhile, I tiptoe towards the holy grail of sewing - for me, that's pants - by completing the runner up in that category of intimidating makes (at least for me).  Coats.  This one took me 3 months; I took it slow, it was my first foray back into sewing since moving, and I was feeling no rush.  A learning project for sure!  But I adore wearing it.  There really IS something to be said for making the cakiest of sewing cake, those utilitarian garments one wears constantly.

And how basic is a navy wool peacoat?  Swoon.  I had a brain fart and cut it with the nap going sideways, and the camel hair in my blend is thus already starting to pill, but honestly, I'm still pretty darn happy with this make.  I'd love to use the pattern again (V2873, OOP) perhaps in corduroy with contrast plaid lapels?  Because I am obnoxious like that :).  Hideous or fabulous, baby!  I've also got my eye on the Minoru.

But first, pants, because I've only got 2 pairs of jeans - one that's half a size too small and requires some minutes of wriggling dancing, post-wash, before I can comfortably sit in them, and one that's been darned in several places and needs several more patches.  Thurlows, I'm looking to you!

As you can see, I've also been knitting, rather unexpectedly, to a theme.

At a Baltimore museum with one of my best friends.  This place has the awesomest sense of color!  The exhibits were so much fun.  There was one that kept John and me laughing for a good 5 minutes, starting with the reindeer coming out of toilets, and right on through the nutcrackers with aliens emerging out of one side of the body.  The Nightmare Before Christmas on LSD.  Really, Baltimore gets such a bad rap, kind of like Oakland.  I personally have always loved my visits there.  A quirky, laidback city with down to earth folks.

Saying goodbye to another of my best friends from grad school.  Kristy's headed back to Taiwan, and Wei Jie is probably returning to Singapore ("Sing" as she calls it) next year.  Asia trip 2015 is all I can say!  Once I dry my tears, that is.

Oh, and I finally unearthed this quilt top that I started when I was 16, and finished piecing it, then sandwiched it and have begun hand quilting.  Wool batting, mmm, perfect for PDX winters.  So squishy and lofty and soft and warm.  Had been slightly tempted to leave it until I turned 32, as I could then call it the quilt that took half my life, but at the rate I've been going, it might not get done until then all the same!  Haha.  Besides which, I've really been digging the blue side of the spectrum for the past year or so, which, as you can see, were perennial favorites in early life, as well.  A return to my roots.  Which is really how I feel.  So much more like myself.  So it seemed fitting.

And how's writing?  Well, good!  Thank you for asking!  Right before my trip, I whisked myself away to a cottage situated on a 230 acre nature preserve, to read through my book draft in 1 go.  Between you and me, internets, I got about 60% in and then my brain rebelled, so I hope there was nothing important in those last 40K words!  LOL.

But it's good.  It gave me the chance to evaluate What are you, book, and what do you want to be?  And I think that I am finally, maybe, starting to see the contours of this story.

It usually takes me about 3 drafts to know what my story is about, another 2 to get all the pieces roughly in place, and then another 2 to refine and polish and fix things up.  Assuming no drastic changes, of course.  Most people raise their eyebrows when they hear this, and you can just see them thinking, though they are too polite to say it, Why, woman, would you put yourself through that???  Because it's a bit like what I imagine motherhood to be like - watching characters (or ideas) begin to define themselves, emerge, and blossom, in ways you both anticipate and cannot imagine.  But then you also have a hand in the process, in the artistry of the form of the story, even if the substance is not entirely in your hands.

And the beauty of writing memoir is that it asks you to revisit and reunderstand seminal moments in your past.  Which, given the deep bout of reflection and soul searching I've done in the past year, has really grounded me in myself.  The timing has been perfect.  Or perhaps this book has been a catalyst of sorts?  Likely these have been intertwined, cause and effect muddied.  Regardless, the result has been so, so worthwhile.

May you experience a beautiful spring!


Anonymous said...

Nice to hear from you again. What a lovely post, your voice shines through your words. You are able to convey vivid images with your writing and the sewing ain't too shabby either! Love the peacoat.

Crab and Bee said...

What a satisfying update on your life and projects! I've got to say that your wonderful peacoat looks way more complicated than pants. You may have to make more muslins to fit pants but they sew up very quickly. Your draft-reading retreat sounds like a wonderful treat.

Roobeedoo said...

Oh so much inspiring work! You've got the happy blues going on there :)
LOVE the coat - I think that would be much harder to make than trousers (you can't make me call them pants). Ooh and those two-colour mitts will have to be stalked on Rav! And I can't tell you how much in awe I am of anyone who can write a whole actual BOOK!
You go Glen Coco! ;)

Minnado said...

I love the pea coats are such a favourite of mine. It looks so wearable too. Trousers next? I think you ll manage just fine :)

Loved reading this catch up on your writing and your life, love to you xx

jessica said...

Thank you Anon, what a lovely comment!

Morgan - the retreat was great, I took some long walks along the preserve which was fantastic (mental break + inspiration!) And that's encouraging to hear that pants sew up quickly, I think the fly has me intimidated :-P. But maybe unnecessarily so!

Roo - YES, happy blues they are! I love that. The mitts are not on Ravelry yet (I've lagged on photographing my FOs), but they are the Perianth pattern from Twist Collective. Some people have even converted the pattern into a cardigan ... YUM ...

Debbie - Yeay for navy pea coats! They are such a staple. Hope things are going well for you :-).

Jodi Wade said...

The colours in your quilt are gorgeous!

Alessa said...

:) I love the colour palette of your socks and quilt! And a navy pea coat sounds perfect. :)
I'm so impressed how far you're getting with your book! I have a hell of a time keeping my attention on anything for such a long time. I'd love to read your work someday!
(Over here, we're close to getting out another collection of short stories from my literature circle, since we're having our 50th meeting shortly - we did manage to have the last one printed for Christmas. ;) But having a dayjob is totally crimping my time and inspiration for writing...)