Thursday, October 18, 2018

What I'm Wearing to Teach Today: Playing it Cool

Jacket: Schott
Dress: Sacai
Socks (just seen): Little River Sock Mill
Boots: Aquaitalia

Friday, September 28, 2018

Local: Something to Think About as Slow Fashion October Approaches

I've always thought of "local" being one of the qualities forefronted in slow fashion. Local implies knowing where an item was produced and with that, hopefully, assurances about worker and environmental safety.

Two recent things I've read have complicated my understanding of that, and I thought I'd share the links here.

Firstly, this disturbing piece from the New York Times about home workers (independent contractors)  in Italy. This is in sharp contrast to the way Alabama Chanin utilizes local artisans.

The other piece comes from Kate Davies's blog, and in many ways expands the way local can be understood.

Hope everyone has a great weekend. I'll be thinking about how I want to approach Slow Fashion October this year and what my goals will be.

Thursday, September 27, 2018

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Monday, May 14, 2018

An Instructive Week - Part 1

I had a tough week last week, but I didn't realize it until Saturday night when I tried working through my unhappiness with the ladyfriend. It was then that I realized the week had actually been about crushing disappointment. I know, it sounds serious, and in some ways it was. The theme started at a literary event on Sunday evening where I felt erased. As a writer, I hope to be introduced as such, especially in the company of other writers, as well as asked about my work, but that didn't happen. To make the whole thing complete, I got a rejection delivered to my email in the middle of the event. Huzzah!

Since I've been there before, I didn't think it would have a lasting impact. The rest of the week - Monday through Friday - was full of engagements, obligations, and appointments. It was pretty exhausting even if most of the events were fun.

So on Saturday, when I went to the studio to finish the Afghani Nomad Dress, I was ready to have a satisfying day of sewing. That is not how it went down.

I have two projects I tried to finish this week - the Anna vest and the Afghani Nomad Dress. I stitched the vest together, and that went fine. It was the buttonband, however, that defied my intentions. Instead of lying flat and evenly, it undulates a little and is uneven. I have to take the whole thing off (it goes all the way from the bottom left opening around the neck and down to the bottom right). I am not pleased.

The bodice of the Afghani Nomad Dress doesn't work for me so I tried to modify it; however, I didn't calculate the measurements correctly and have to redo it. Please note that I am doing French seams for this dress, which means every time I have to unpick a seam, I have to do it twice. By the time I checked in with the ladyfriend about a pick-up, I was pretty unhappy.

There were a couple of other contributing factors, but once I started talking about it, I realized that between the fantasy of finishing the projects and the undermining of my identity as a writer, there was more than enough disappointment to go around. These moments, taken in isolation, generally don't leave a mark, but when they're compounded by exhaustion and other factors, they combine to make a bit of a steamroller. I'm thankful for the clarity and understanding the week has given me. Hoping I can keep it all in mind as I move ahead.

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Me Made May So Far

Above are the outfits I wore on Friday, Saturday, Sunday, & Monday. For some reason I can't find the original images of Wednesday & Thursdays outfits. Anyway, I'm finding that I am putting things together that may not have been matched before. For example, the top left image features the Trapezoid Tee that I knit a few years ago with an old Dries Van Noten skirt (sans outer layer). The image on the bottom left features my recently finished dress shirt paired with a dress I made while we were in Berlin in 2013. I love the act of discovering new ways to wear things you already own.

The ladyfriend and I caught the Mitchell/Riopelle show at the AGO just before it closed. I've been a Joan Mitchell fan since I saw a show of hers at the Whitney in New York City in 2002. It was great to see her work in person again.

Included a close-up of this one as the layering of the paint was quite compelling.

Sure, there was a counterpart - Jean Paul Riopelle - but frankly, his work didn't speak to either of us except for one piece.
Avalanche by Jean Paul Riopelle
The way we saw it, Mitchell danced with the canvas while Riopelle boxed, or to put it another way, Mitchell collaborated with the canvas while Riopelle seemed to want to conquer it.

It's been great seeing art lately. The Kusama show in April was pretty cool although the whole ticket thing was out of control. We lucked out and got tickets in advance. If I remember to, I'll post some images from that as well. If you're in the area, the ladyfriend is on a panel at the AGH on Thursday and has an opening at b. contemporary on Friday.

I start the Lander pant class tonight. I'm pretty excited to make these!

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Back at It in May!

Oh, the ambitions of April! My three goals had been to finish all three WIPs (Anna vest, Kate Davies cardigan, and the ladyfriend's sweater), sell the two bikes we have in the shed, and make a plan for all the things I want to make this year and particularly this summer.

Hmm, how did it go? Well, I finished this -

It's the Brae Cove tunic, which is a Squam KAL. There was some endless knitting, on size 4 needles no less, but I couldn't be happier with the result. The length is perfect; I can wear it as a dress or over something, and I used yarn from my stash to make it. It's the beginning of May, which means Me Made May, and this is how I chose to start it. This is also my second finished item from my Make Nine list.

Here are the updates on April's goals - sad but true:
I fixed the Anna vest issue and now have to stitch it together, so I didn't finish it.
The Kate Davies cardigan remains unfinished.
The ladyfriend's sweater is one sleeve shy of being sewn together. My new goal for that is to finish it before we go to Nova Scotia.

So while I finished one WIP, it wasn't on the list. I also started another sweater. What can I say? I'm incorrigable.

One of the bikes has been taken; the other still needs to go up on Kijiji.

My making plan? Well, I've been working on it, but not on paper, so let's do that here!

I'm already deep into my Afghani Nomad Dress. I'm hoping that will be done Wednesday or Thursday.

I'd originally wanted to make one of the three possible pants for Fringe Association's Summer of Basics challenge, but Needlework, my local fabric store, is running a class on the Lander pant this month so I decided to take that opportunity. I'll be making these in white canvans. Whoo-hoo!
June will be for the Liv cardigan; I'll be picking up the yarn in early June and starting it while at Squam, which is what I tried last year, but then I realized I didn't have enough yarn. Looking forward to adding this cardigan to my wardrobe. It is one of my Summer of Basics projects.

One of my issues with the Summer of Making is that I'll be in Nova Scotia for most of it. I have a sewing machine there, but not necessarily all my tools. That said, I think I will try to make Paxson. I actually bought fabric for it last year, but then they revised the pattern, and then well, I went onto other things.

And because the pieces made for the Summer of Basics are meant to fill a hole in one's wardrobe (I know, how could there be a hole in a wardrobe of my size?), I'm making the decision right here and now to make Pants No. 1 as well. Paxson and Pants No. 1 will be July/August projects.

That brings me up to 7 of my Make Nine. I'll work on Azami (8) over the summer; it feels like a good cottage knit, and then I'll make Erica (9) in the fall. Of course I have other things I plan to make as well, but this is the core.

So, what are my May goals?

1. Project to Finish (WIP): I need to finish a Frank Lloyd Wright cross stitch.

2. Fix/Remake/or Let Go: Time to revisit the floor lamp.

3. Get Started On: My veggie garden.

Hope the weather in your area is good; we're having some beautiful days right now.

Monday, April 16, 2018

Lessons Learned

I started this year with a post on challenges and opportunities, which came on the heels of a rather long and busy year.

April often signals the beginning of "challenge" season, as I like to call it now. I've also realized that April is the month that things are being finished up while other things are begun. It feels like the start of another part of the year, kind of like September does. The fact that my schedule is arranged around the academic year clearly influences this perception.

Nonetheless, April always brings the 30 Days of Biking challenge and the 30-Day Yoga Challenge, two things I've participated in in the past. But this year, I took a moment to remember what I'd written just a few months before and decided to let them proceed without me.

I have a much better idea of what April requires of me. Initially I'd be seduced by the fact that classes were over in the first week or so, which erroneously made me believe I had more time. The fact is, I have a lot of work to do to finish the school year. While I could probably handle the yoga challenge, it's not in my best interest right now.

The biking challenge didn't really tempt me much this year. The weather has been really crappy, and frankly, I don't feel like I have anything to prove - to myself or to the world - about my relationship with my bike. We're good, thank you very much. We'll be on the road soon enough.

In the meantime, I feel like the past few months have been quite productive. I'm getting all kinds of work done - writing, making, etc. - and the fact that I'm not participating in these two challenges has helped that continue.

Of course, that said, I will be participating in Me-Made-May 2018. Hey, my grades will be in; taxes will be done; and I have some new me-mades to wear!

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

What I'm Wearing to Teach Today: Last Day of Class!

Dress: Yohji Yamamoto
Shirt: Ralph Lauren
Tights: Wolford
Boots: Aquaitalia

Monday, April 9, 2018

March Debrief; April Plans

When the weather finally warms up, we'll take the spring tree down.
Okay, so my three goals for March had been -
1. Finish my Kate Davies cardigan
2. Deal with the dress shirt
3. Get started on beer and the Schoolhouse Tunic.

I'm happy to say that the dress shirt is finished and a success, and I also finished the Schoolhouse Tunic. I still can't seem to get to beer making (need a three-hour window of time, and it's been busy). And then there's the Kate Davies cardigan.

On Saturday, I decided to just get on with it already, so I put in the lines of crochet reinforcement (following Kate Davies's lovely steeking tutorials) and threw caution to the wind.

Here are some things I learned -
a) use a grippier yarn for the crochet reinforcement
b) crochet it tightly

As you might guess, it did not end the way I'd hoped. There were moments of panic as the cut threads broke loose from their reinforcements. There was great frustration and gnashing of teeth. The issue has yet to be resolved, but I've decided to take the sweater to the studio on Sunday and sew those bad boys down. I'm trying to take it all in stride as a learning experience. I'm still hoping for this to ultimately be a success story.

I had another knitting disaster. I'd finished knitting the Anna vest and had really wanted to be wearing it when I had coffee with Karen Templer in Nashville (because I'm a keener), but I hadn't had time to finish it. Back at home, I decided I just needed to put my general disinterest in sewing together my knits aside and finish it already, and then I discovered this:
The best thing about this is that the two vest fronts match and the back has loads of straight-ahead knitting that will be relatively easily to cut and Kitchener back together. I've done it before; I can do it again. The questions is - why do I have to do this again? Oh well.

Oh, I seem to be in the knitting weeds. The Anna vest, the Kate Davies cardigan, and what feels like endless knitting on the Brae Cove tunic (the word tunic should be an indication of commitment required). Plus, I'm still working on the ladyfriend's Squall (trying to avoid being stuck on sleeve island). It feels like all of my projects at the moment are testing me.

So where does that put us for April goals (already a month in!)?
1.  Project to Finish (WIP): it's all about the unfinished projects this month - the Anna vest, the Kate Davies cardigan, and the ladyfriend's sweater. I need to clear the decks before I move onto other WIPs.
2. Fix/Remake/or Let Go: I'm selling two bikes this month - a six-speed cruiser, and a single-speed cruisers. We've been meaning to get rid of them for awhile. I'm believing that spring will actually come.
3. Get Started On: I'm going to work on my crafty plans for the summer, outlining when I should work on which project according to the various elements I pay attention to (e.g. the summer of basics, me-made-May, where I'll be, etc.). I like a good plan.

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

What I'm Wearing to Teach Today: Integrating the New Shirt

Shirt: sewn by me (unknown pattern)
Dress: Morgane le Fay
Tights: Falke
Boots: La Canadienne

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

The Dress Shirt - Project Finished!

Yep! Here it is - the finished dress shirt. I can't tell you how pleased I am that I was able to figure it out. Granted, it was pretty far along when I pulled it out of the drawer to which it had been relegated, but still.

Oh my goddess! It's a full on collar.

French cuffs with contrasting fabric!

Contrasting fabric underneath the collar!
I'm almost tempted to make another shirt right away in case my sewing mojo leaves, but I have some other projects that need my attention. I'm hoping that more sewing means more sewing mojo.

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Monday, March 19, 2018

Add & Subtract

I spent last Friday at the studio. My main focus was on finishing my Schoolhouse Tunic before the end date of the sew-along (today - March 19th). This also would be the first of my "make nine" goals for 2018.  I had a fortuitous sewing day, despite the fact that I had to start by replacing a broken needle on my serger.

Here I am in my tunic (the ladyfriend took this picture so I could send it to my mother).

Here's what the fabric looks like close-up.
I'm really pleased with the tunic and the fit; I also think I have a number of things to wear with it because, let's be honest, it's a) too short for me to wear on its own and b) the deep opening in the front requires something underneath as well.

As I went to hang it in my closet, however, something clicked. I looked at the rail and thought to myself, "I have too many clothes."

Now before those of you who know me or have followed me for awhile start laughing or chirping in, why don't you let me finish the story?

I have been working on my closet for years; not always actively, but it's frequently on my mind. When I went to hang up the tunic, I suddenly realized that there was too much noise/distraction in my closet. More clothes make it harder to get dressed despite conventional logic, yet I'm not a minimalist and have no interest in a "uniform." This meant a more thoughtful and decisive cull.

I've started on this project. I've already got a stack of clothes that I think I'm done with. I've edited down my "special occasions" wardrobe, and I've managed to let go of two black dresses, but there's still more in the closet. The goal here is to be able to see everything that's going on as well as have more pieces that work together yet don't duplicate functions.

I'll be selling things on eBay, giving clothes to specific people, potentially hosting a cocktail/"shop my closet" gathering, and exploring other avenues (consignment!). What I have to be careful of is overvaluing (either fiscally or sentimentally) the things in my closet. I need to let go. I'm not doing myself any favours otherwise.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

The Stars Shine!

I get regular horoscope emails from Chani Nicholas, and I often find them quite insightful and in line with the work that I'm trying to do. I found the one I got today to be especially so.

Horoscope for Scorpio and Scorpio Rising
My creativity heals me. Never refuses me. Knows how to move through me.
I honor its process.
Saturday’s new moon reminds me to get out of its way. Reminds me to study its ways. Cultivating a deeper relationships with it reminds me that there is no end to the chances I get to grow. Evolve. Change what isn’t working.
Transforming through each creative action I take is a given, but it is also a great leap of faith. Saturday’s new moon reminds me that trusting my creative energy requires that I trust my ability to face the challenges that come with it. Manifesting it in the world requires that I confront my inner doubts about myself. My talent. My competence. My creativity’s relevance. It’s all part of the process.
During this lunar cycle I encourage my determination to deepen. Come doubt, fear, or insecurity, I will do it anyway.
My daily life is densely packed with important projects, deadlines and decisions that define the shape of things. My job is to find a way to work through, around, and with each obstacle as best I can. I remember to keep some energy for myself, keep some reserves for future use, to keep the things that aren’t urgent at bay when and where I can.
The next month will require me to put my ideas out into the world. Strategically weaving my beliefs into my work. Placing them where they will have the biggest impact. I am willing to communicate what might be challenging, but ultimately energizing and solution-oriented.
Looking forward to the new moon on the 17th; have a good weekend!

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

What I'm Wearing to Teach Today: Take Your Carbeth to School Day

Sweater: Carbeth, knit by yours truly in Alafoss Lopi
Dress: Shack/J.Morgan Puett
Tights: Wolford
Shoes: Dansko (thrifted)

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

My Make Nine Challenge

I think I caught sight of this on Instagram, but it was Cal Patch's post that set the blaze to the spark. The fact that I've already planned on making most of these items this year anyway made it even easier to throw my hat into the ring (it's good that I own a lot of hats!). Also, I'll inevitably participate in the Summer of Basics (should there be one this year), which will account for three of my "make nine." Let me also acknowledge that there are a couple items about which I'm uncertain - not uncertain about whether I want to make them, but uncertain as to whether I can actually complete them within the year. Yeah, those kinds of projects.

But let's start with what's been settled.

1). Sew Liberated Schoolhouse Tunic
This pattern has been on my radar for years, but I kept second-guessing myself. A discount and an encouragement to post images of yours by March 19th (yikes! thought I had more time!) was enough for me to pull the trigger. I already have fabric for it.

2). The Brae Cove Tunic
I'm running the Squam KAL, but this one has its own KAL, in which I'm participating. Thankfully I'm almost done with my Squam knit, and the deadline for completion isn't until May 19th. As you may recall, I've found yarn during my yarnventory for this.

3). The Erica Dress
This is a pattern from Seamwork magazine, to which I subscribe. I like the idea of an easy and sophisticated wrap dress, and I found some matte midnight blue jersey from Mood fabrics. I'm not sure yet if I'm going to make any of the modifications. No deadline for this baby.

4). The Liv Cardigan
I started this cardigan last year with wool reclaimed from another project; however, I discovered I didn't have enough yarn so it was tabled. I've ordered yarn for this (no judgements!), and this will be one of my Summer of Basics makes. Believe it or not, I'm knitting it in black. I think this will fill the black cardigan gap nicely.

5). The Afghani Nomad Dress
I was inspired (years ago already) by Alicia Paulson's version and have collected a variety of Liberty of London fabrics to make my own version.

6). Pants: here's one where I haven't settled on which ones I'm going to commit to, and they range from challenging to pretty easy. I think what will tip the scales is which pair will fill the greatest gap.

The contenders are -


 I'll make all of these at some point, but after I do a little homework (Seamwork's Design Your Wardrobe course), I hope to have a clearer picture of what I need. These will also be part of the Summer of Basics.

7). Azami
I've had this pattern and the yarn (the actual yarn it called for even) for awhile, and I feel like it's time to get 'er done. Mine will not be pink but a nice spring green.

Okay this is where things get vague -

I have the yarn and the pattern for Charley, but it's a lot of work. Like a lot, and I'm afraid I won't be able to finish it within the year.

I also have started on the Maggie dress from Alabama Chanin, but again, lots of work because of all the hand-stitching.
This is the tunic version; I'm making the dress version

And finally, I have two Merchant & Mills dresses in mind. The Trapeze, which I've made in two versions already, and The Rugby, which I haven't.
My Trapeze:

The Rugby:

There's the possibility of shifting commitments, but regardless of the list, there will be other makes as well. There always are. These, however, feel like they could be pivotal players in my wardrobe, and as such are deserving of special attention.

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

What I'm Wearing to Teach Today: Keeping It Under My Brim

Hat: Halston
Turtleneck: Akris
Dress: Lauren (Ralph Lauren)
Tights: Hue
Boots: La Canadienne

Monday, March 5, 2018

Showing Up

That's the theme from my Get to Work Book for March. It bears keeping in mind.

Today I continued some kitchen work - canning trotter gear and chicken stock, prepping pork fat for lardo, rendering the last of the lard and making some "cracklings" aka pork rinds or fried pork fat. Not a low calorie day, but a little goes a long way. This is all part of what I'm calling the "freezer reclamation" project. I don't know about you, but our freezers (we have a small chest freezer in the basement) are almost always full, and often we have no idea what's in there. It's good to get things out of the freezer and onto the shelves.

Things are starting to get back to routine after our week away. It's amazing how seven or eight days away can almost entirely erase the rhythms you had before, but I feel like mine are pretty well established now, which is quite satisfying. Even this blog post - Monday is my usual day to post. It just makes it easier.

Also, I'm pleased to announce that one of my stories was a finalist for the Breakwater Review Fiction Prize. You can read it here.

Showing up, and moving forward! Have a great week.

Friday, March 2, 2018

February Goals Into March Goals and Then Some

Okay, I know February only has 28 days (unless it's a leap year, of course), but this year February felt like it blew by.  I guess being away for 8 days made it feel even shorter. The nice thing is that the dates fall on the same day of the week (when February is 28 days long) so March feels like an extended dance-remix version, and I'm using it as such because I didn't quite manage to get everything I'd wanted to accomplished in February.

I did make kombucha and kimchi, but I didn't have the time to make beer.

I didn't finish my Kate Davies cardigan, but I did "bang out a Carbeth."

I did not deal with the dress shirt.

So March's 3 goals will look a little familiar:

1. Project to Finish (WIP): Yep, still Kate Davies's Bláithín cardigan. I may have to lower my grosgrain tape desires; I've found it hard to find some cute tape to back the button bands.

2. Fix/Remake/or Let Go: I'm going to deal with that dress shirt.
3. Get Started On:  I'm going to make some beer. Yes, I will. I'm also going to start sewing the Schoolhouse Tunic, a pattern I've long coveted but could never quite pull the trigger on until yesterday.
Photo from Sew Liberated
I have no issue acknowledging that the combination of a discount and a sew-along over the month of March encouraged me.

It's been a good year so far. I've had one story accepted for publication (although I have no idea when that publication will come out), and another story was a finalist for a fiction prize. I'll post links when they're published.

So, last night, as I gleefully joined yet another KAL (this time for the Brae Cove tunic, for which I plan to dye some yarn from my stash), I suddenly wondered if I were getting ahead of myself. Was I taking on too much? I'm leading another KAL (for Squam), for which I also have the yarn but have a generous deadline of June, and I have some writing and other creative projects simmering.

Then I realized what was going on. I'm in the second half of the term, which is generally less work for me as they're working on larger projects, and I'd just finished grading a major mid-term project for one class. So there's a sense of having some time. But what's really at play here is that I don't have any overwhelming art deadlines right now, and that's of our own making. 2018 was dubbed Project: Life, where we weren't going to try to make new art (working on showing what we've made) and instead would focus on taking care of the other projects in our lives. Holy cow! It was a revelation!

It's not as though my life was always like 2017, but last year really took us to the mat and kind of made us forget how we lived before. In the future, I'm striving for a more sane balance among the many projects I undertake. Right now, however, I feel like I'm on fire, and I'm going with it! Why not?

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

What I'm Wearing to Teach Today: Why Yes, Those are Trousers I'm Wearing

Jacket: Comme des Garcons
T-Shirt (not visible): Three Dots
Pants: Velocity
Socks: Calvin Klein
Shoes: Robert Clergerie

Monday, February 12, 2018

Projects Update & Defending the Stash

I ended up with a snow day last Wednesday, so there was no What I'm Wearing to Teach Today post. I actually did get dressed to go to work, but upon the advice of the administrative assistant for the department, I stayed home.

In the meantime, I've been working on a couple of KALs - the Bang Out a Carbeth and #fringeandfriendslogalong. I had to order a couple of skeins of Alafoss Lopi yarn from The Art of Yarn because I wasn't interested in playing yarn chicken with the Carbeth. While the dye lot will undoubtedly be different (the ladyfriend brought me my original skeins from Iceland), I have a plan - the sleeves will be done with the new yarn. So right now, I'm up to the armpits and waiting to for my package to get here. Unfortunately, Canada Poste says it's scheduled for delivery on February 19th - blech.

In the meantime, I'm still knitting "logs" for what I hope will end up as a nice little lap blanket. I've let go of trying to plan it all out. I've got some basic measurements, a limited amount of yarn, and a few ideas, but that's about it.
The log pile
And I can't forget about the ladyfriend's special sweater; it, too, is moving along although I have no picture at the moment. After discovering that I'd somehow knit the back using two different sized needles, we decided to continue that for the front. If she's happy, I'm happy.

I've been trying to finish A Stash of One's Own since it's currently overdue at the library. The essays are fun and interesting and touching, and they've inspired me to see my stash more fully. It's also possessed me to do a yarnventory or stashventory, if you will. This is what it looked like before I opened all the bins, and actually, not all the bins are pictured here.

Rather than feeling overwhelmed by the amount of yarn I have, I'm actually happy that I haven't reached SABLE - Stash Acquisition Beyond Lifetime Expectancy. In fact, I'm finding the stash to be a treasure trove of awesome yarn...and some yarn I'll be getting rid of.

But back to the stash and feelings about it. It's easy for a nonknitter (and some knitters, but I take that differently) to laugh at or mock a knitter's stash. This actually happened the other day at the studio (where the stashventory is taking place). I was working with the door open (I was actually untangling a massive rat's nest of yarn that had decided to get together), and a friend who has a studio near us stopped by. He saw the yarn everywhere and started laughing. Now, this friend is also an artist, but I know he's a bit linear when it comes to ideas about making, and frankly, I think he's suspect of craft (this is just my sense).

I let him finish laughing.

He said, "This is like that Star Trek episode."

I replied, "The Trouble with Tribles?"

"Yes," he replied.

"No. It isn't," I responded.

At this point he clarified that it was the visual aspect that was the connection, but I wasn't going to be shamed by my stash. And no one should. Even now, it annoys me that a fellow artist would seemingly mock my supplies.

And so I say to you - revel in your stashes (whatever they may consist of). It's taken time, money, and thought (sometimes more, sometimes less) to acquire, and for me, many of the yarns trigger memories, which is invaluable.