Tag Archives: Christmas

A Christmas Mess

Apparently I don’t get more done when I have more time. My husband picked up Final Fantasy XIV again right around when the store got closed and I was sucked right back in. After three years of working 55-60 hours a week I deserved some downtime, right? And it’s relationship-feeding. Or something. Anyway, my list of things I should’ve done but haven’t is as long as ever. 

Fabricland reopened the week before the week before Christmas, which was terribly exciting and lovely to see everyone and totally ate into what was supposed to be my last-minute-accomplishing-stuff time.

The socks above, made when I should’ve been sewing things for presents, are another pair of Dreamstress Rosalie stockings. I find them a fun, quick, although not overly practical, project. I usually omit the set of darts on the top of the foot (it doesn’t really make sense to have them there as far as I can tell) and add a band at the top—that helps keep them up.  They would be more practical except that I find the toes wear through quite quickly in the lightweight super-stretchy knits I’m most inclined to use. I wonder how bad it would look to add a double layer there. The white pair up above is made in French terry and hopefully will be a bit sturdier. I need to make a garter belt—I have findings ordered from Farthingales but haven’t actually put them together yet. 

Teenager drama continues apace. My kids are lovely, fun, and goofy, with their own unique constellations of interest that fascinate me, and it was great to just BE there a bit more while the store was closed. This still didn’t prevent the single worst parenting moment we’ve run into in sixteen and a half years, mind you. 

My kids are moody, angsty, and if they fail to generate their own personal drama they have plenty of friends with an abundant supply. We’re upset as parents that one never had friends over, and the other never seems to want to be home. (Which one is which varies somewhat.) Things  aren’t quite ok but I don’t think anyone’s going to die.

Well, let’s modify that. 

In early December, my grandmother died. The one who gave me the Rocketeer. I almost want to write that the old woman who used to be my grandmother died. She hasn’t known who any of us were in a few years. Her body was failing, and her mind lived in a fractured and sometimes frightening version of the past. I’m told it was peaceful, when she went. The funeral won’t take place for a while, maybe until spring. It’s hard to bury people up here in winter. Better to cremate and wait. Her grave had been ready for a long time, anyway, the other half of my grandfather’s gravestone engraved with everything but her death date, waiting patiently since 1986. I’m not sure if I’ve grieved already, or if I’m waiting for the memorial service. She was a strong woman, maybe a little hard for her own good, but she always had my back, unwavering and unconditional support. There’s a lot to be said for that.

I have, and will continue to, miss her. I really hope that some of those promising Alzheimer’s treatments I’ve been reading about pan out. I don’t want to be gone years before I actually die. I don’t want to lose my parents years before they actually die. 

My husband’s grandmother also isn’t well. After years of battling cancer, a few days in the hospital to help her manage her pain better somehow turned into palliative care. We spent most of my MIL’s Christmas Eve  dinner in a room at the hospital. Which is actually great for opening presents, but hard and terrible in every other way. It’s been ten years exactly since we last spent an Xmas in the hospital—that one was a doozie, too. 

So I guess it’s not true, when I said no one’s going to die. 

 Sorry, that sounds flippant. My reaction to death is bad humour. I want to start compiling a list of morbid jokes for when I die. If (when) I get terminally ill, I don’t want it to be this scary elephant in the corner that no one will talk about. I want it out in the open where we can make fun of it. 

Tyo and I made a Jalie 3244 onesie (no feet) for her cousin on Christmas Eve in under two hours. No photos as we were way under the gun. And I made some skinny little ElĆ©onores for my other niece, the waif, who is still a toothpick. The gifts have been given but no word on whether they fit, yet. 

And I’m working on another Norse hood for my step-sister, so that she and her husband won’t have to share the one I made last year. I enjoy the handwork, aside from the part where my brain yammers at me about how crude my workmanship is and what self-respecting Viking would sew with yarn?!? Stupid researcher brain. šŸ˜‰

They are happy, anyway, though my square gussets were a little smaller this time around resulting in smaller shoulders that seem to fit her better than her husband. Good to know. 

I’ve also made (though they aren’t completely finished) corsets for both my daughters. They both had expressed a desire for proper over bust ones, and Tyo had even picked out a fabric back around her birthday. 

They aren’t totally finished as I didn’t want everything closed up before I could fit them, but they are put together and mostly boned. And I ran out of time, as everything is a mess this year, including my time management. Trying to be kind to myself about that. We could all use a bit more kindness right now.

I hope that your holidays, whatever they entail, have been peaceful, and less stressful than mine. I’m looking forward to the next few days, hoping things will be a bit more relaxed and calm. 

Edit: more relaxed, yes. My body took the opportunity to get sick. Blerg! But I am almost done this shop project coat, at long last…



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Billions of (rice) baggies…

Today was one of those epic days. I was up at 5 AM to get Tyo off to a school ski trip, and really didn’t stop running until the kids got home from Hip Hop at 7:30. Then it was time to Make Presents For Teachers, since tomorrow is the kids’ last day of school pre-Xmas.

The best thing* about moving is that all the old ideas I’d used on previous teachers are new again—so it was the perfect opportunity to re-use the rice-bags-as-teacher-Christmas-presents. I love rice baggies. Throw it in the microwave for a minute, you’ve got a heat-pack. Keep one in the freezer for a cold pack. All the cozy of a hot water bottle without the mess. I’ve been told that using flax seeds is even better than rice as they don’t have that rice-smell, but on the other hand I don’t find the rice-smell unpleasant, flax might go rancid eventually, and, most importantly in this case, rice is something I generally have around the house. šŸ˜‰


Syo and the Waif were my main assistants tonight. Of course, as soon as the two for my kids’ teachers were made, the Waif and her sister, Fyon, began clamouring for their own bags. Since we’ve all had colds recently (actually, the Waif has a very lively variety of pneumonia), how could I refuse?


And once I’d made baggies for my nieces, well, obviously I had to make baggies for MY kids, since all ours are in boxes somewhere. (I should probably point out that Syo sewed her own baggie as well as the one for her teacher, and she and the Waif did the majority of the rice-filling, so really I was not doing this on my lonesome.)

And then, just as I was finishing up Tyo’s bag, Stylish** returned from putting the Waif and Fyon to bed with their heated baggies, and asked if maybe, just maybe, very sweetly, I could make up two more for her girls to give to their teachers tomorrow as well.

It’s possible I may be a sucker (especially when it comes to my nieces). But two more baggies were made, for an evening total of eight… so I guess it only felt like billions. We did use up just about all the rice in the house. And Syo did a very lovely job of wrapping them up with cards and bits of lace.

Now if I can only get through the rest of my Christmas sewing…

*OK, possibly not THE best thing. But a very nice thing indeed.

**Sister-in-Law, mother to the Waif and Fyon


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The Turn

A White Day

I live in Canada. Winter is cold, and there’s a lot of dark. Sometimes the days are brilliant—shining, blue skies, the cold white eye of the sun, and everything glitters like the inside of a diamond. Often these are the days when the cold steals your breath, making you cough, where itĀ knifes through your thighs as you walk, bores a hole between your eyes were even the warmest scarf can’t cover.

Then there are the white days, the prairies’ special trick, where the sky is white, the land is white, and the horizon becomes only a guess. Everything is a middling, dull-white shade. It does not glitter, just fades slowly into night.

Cold Coming In

The nights are long. You rise in darkness, running from blankets to robe to sweaters as quickly as possible. Often it’s dark again by the time you leave work. Entire work weeks can pass in darkness. Months pass without feeling the sun’s warmth on your cheeks.

Vogue tobacco?

There are blizzards, confections of wind and snow to make you stare in awe. Cars creep hesitantly along the roads, snowflakes whirling like unsteady stars, hiding everything: the road’s edge, the lane markings, the oncoming traffic. You stock your car: blankets, candles, chocolate bars. The danger is not so much going off the road. It’s going off the road, too far from help, where you’ll sit in your idling car until the fuel runs out and then the cold seeps in, and you either wait for it or walk for it. That’s when people die. Blizzards are the moments when you bow your head and admit defeat; allow nature her supremacy, and stay home, preferably with a fire and hot chocolate, and tell the story of the farmer who lost his way in a blizzard going from house to barn, and how long it was before they found his frozen body.


I don’t love the cold. I don’t love winter. I don’t love the prison our houses become, the prison our clothes become, layers piled on layers, constricting and restrictive. I don’t do many of the fun things that make winter worthwhile up here—I don’t skate, play hockey, ski or snowboard.

But I do love the holidays. I love taking a few moments, here at the blackest end of the year, to enjoy the people around me. I love the convergence of roads that lets me see my relatives in wild, energetic bouts, all at once, rather than one or two at a time. I love the food, the lights, the decorations.

I love turkey with cranberry sauce.

Shot with tree.

And I love knowing that, after today, no matter how cold the weather or how majestic the storms, the days will be getting longer, and sooner or later the ground will soften, the snow will melt, and spring will be here.

Happy Solstice, everyone! I hope your holidays are full of family, friends, and togetherness—and if not, then I hope they’re at least filled with other things that make you happy.

(photographs of an abandoned shack at my grandmother’s farm)


Filed under Sewing

All I want for Christmas is some sewing time…

Ghosts of Christmasses Past


I haven’t, in the past, felt a huge urge to make stuff for Christmas presents. Time is one reason. The necessity of finding out the person’s measurements and even fitting is another. The furthest I’ve gone is an occasional card extravaganza. This year of all years is not the year to start.

Predictably, this is why the list of presents I’d like to make this year keeps getting longer and longer.

I’d like to finish Mr. Isis’s Frock Coat (no modeled shots required). This is the one I’m most likely to actually do, I think. Although it feels a bit cheesy because he knows about it—but I asked him and he seemed to think it’d be an awesome Christmas present. I have a shirt cut out for him I could finish up, too. (Begun and then abandoned in my snit-fit when he declared he’d rather go without than have to model something I made him for the blog. So the real Christmas present is me forgiving him for that…)

Tyo's Too-Tight Shirt

I’d like to make Tyo a version of this shirt that actually fits. This would require actually paying for a Lekala pattern, but y’know, considering all the mooching off their freebies I’ve done, I shouldn’t begrudge them a couple of bucks. Of course what Tyo really wants is a kimono-style housecoat, with lotus applique, like, STAT. (This pattern is in stash; my MIL made it for a Hallowe’en costume for Mr. Isis c. 197) And a chemistry set. Do they still sell chemistry sets? Do I really want my 11-year-old blowing up the kitchen? (Or covering it with green goo…)

My Dad is coming up for Christmas again this year (bonus of being the only child in the country), and while he is perpetually the single. hardest. person. to. buy. for. EVER, it occurred to me that he wears dress shirts all the time, and I could totally make him one of those.

And THEN my brain went crazy. You can’t just make your father a plain dress shirt. No. He’s an archaeologist. He totally needs a Spoonflower fabric shirt, with an arrowhead or pottery or rock painting print. AND THEN I realized I need to trawl through his old publications to find some illustrations he’s published that I could use as the basis for a design… and…

Yes, it’s already almost a week into December. Odds of getting all this pulled together are, like, nil. Although maybe instead of fully printed fabric I could do a stencil or something…

But seriously, it’s the first, only, ever good idea I’ve had for a Christmas present for my Dad in my life.

Of course, I’d still need to find out his measurements…

And Tyo wants to make rice bagsĀ (you pop them in the microwave for a few minutes and they work like a heat-pad)Ā for everyone (and the definition of “everyone” gets longer every time I talk to her), and something for her cousins (which I should probably do, too) and and

And and and

You may all now officially tell me I’m insane.


Filed under Sewing