Tag Archives: whining

Going around again

Because I wasn’t doing anything else with the next twenty years of my life, right?

Our family at present

At the end of February, I had a lapse in birth control. I needed to renew my prescription, I was sick, the weather was terrible, surely a few weeks off the pill wouldn’t come to anything. I’m thirty-eight. The time in life when people work for months if not years to get pregnant. (Yes, I can hear you laughing already)

A few weeks later, my breasts were sore and I couldn’t sleep. Then I was sick (exhausted and nauseous) for a week. I finally made it to the pharmacist for my birth control. It’s so nice that they can prescribe that now! As a precaution, I picked up a pregnancy test. Just in case.

My husband spotted it when I got home and had a little bit of a freak-out. “Take it now!”

“It’s just a precaution, babe.”

“Now now now!”

I went into the bathroom. The second line showed up basically instantly. It doesn’t necessarily count though. You have to wait one to three minutes.

I left the stick in the bathroom and set a timer. Syo (who will be sixteen shortly) got home from school.

The timer went off and we rushed into the bathroom. Two lines, definitely.

“Does that mean pregnant?”

“Yes, that means pregnant.”

“Syo!!!!!! Get in here!!!!”

So that was it. No discussion. No backing out, no second thoughts. Barring unforeseen complications, we’re having a baby. Sometime in November or early December.

A few weeks later I had seen a doctor and booked an ultrasound, and an assortment of other tests. Last time I was pregnant, I was blithely confident that complications were things that happened to other people. This time, I feel like one of the people complications happen to.

A few days ago I had an ultrasound. We’re hoping to improve my rather shaky dates. I’ve never had an early routine ultrasound before—it didn’t occur to me to get any prenatal care with Tyo, other than taking vitamins, until I was twenty weeks along. With Syo I wound up in the ER with heavy bleeding at nine weeks. The only thing I remember from that ultrasound was watching to see if there was still a heartbeat.

This routine ultrasound took a while. At one point the technician had to add a second squirt of goop. I found myself watching her face, wondering if I’d be able to tell if something was wrong. I’m not the best at reading people.

At last she said “ok, we’re ready to give you a look. Now, just so you’re prepared, do you have any history of twins in your family?”

And yes, then she showed me not one, but two little bodies in their little sacs.

In case you’re not quite up on the magnitude of this fuck up, my last baby will be turning sixteen this summer. My first baby will be nineteen, the age I was when she was born, when I give birth to her little siblings. Last time I was pregnant, I was twenty-two, and by twenty-nine I was thinking I wouldn’t want to put my body through that again.

We were always the young parents. That has its downsides—we were poor, unstable, very limited in our means. On the other hand, we were young, energetic, with vivid memories of our own childhood to draw on.

In many ways, our situation now is much better. Older, wiser, definitely more financially stable, if not exactly wealthy. I will have maternity leave from my grown up job—a year’s worth, and while my husband hasn’t been able to work outside the home for several years, he’ll be able to look after a small child or two when I go back to work. There are a lot of good things about us having a baby now, and while we’re no longer young, we’re not catastrophically old either.

If it weren’t for the part of my brain that keeps complaining that we were nearly done. The kids are nearly grown. I thought the next baby in my life would be a grand baby. WTF. I’m supposed to finally be experiencing adulthood that isn’t also parenthood, or at least, is the less-intensive (though maybe no less terrifying) tail off of parenting grown children. However, that’s only one part of my brain, and the other parts are pretty excited about another grand adventure. Those are not the logical bits, mind you.

The girls are happy. They’ve been campaigning for a younger sibling since they were old enough to articulate the concept. My husband is happy. Even my mom is happy. (My Dad, bless his heart, said essentially the same thing he did when I told him I was pregnant the first time: “Why?” Thanks, Dad.)

On the downside, exhaustion has sapped my sewjo big time. I have barely done anything except occasionally go down to the sewing room to putter. I still have to finish my quilt. I also have some class samples to do so I’m sure I’ll get to those. Right now I’m using Me Made May to take stock of what in my wardrobe will function for pregnancy (early and late) and nursing and there may be some desperation sewing later on if this bump keeps expanding at such a prodigious rate. I’d like to say I’ll be up for some cute baby sewing at some point… we’ll see. Especially since apparently now I’ll need two of everything?

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Interstitial Blackwood

I’m in the throes of a Big Project (TM) that is eating my brain and possibly driving me crazy. Did I mention making a suit jacket for my uncle? Yes? I wish I hadn’t. Anyway, I’m not quite ready to dive into that pile of angst yet, but suffice it to say, I needed a break from it.

So today, when I found myself in the sewing room at 8 am on a Sunday morning, with no children in the house and a husband sleeping on the living room couch, I found myself puttering.

First, in a bit of a landmark move, I went through my two giant bins of scraps (plus accessory bags and piles), stuffing the smaller and uglier into my pouf.

Wait, I hadn’t mentioned my pouf! After Closet Case Patterns blogged about their scrap-stuffed pouf pattern, I made one. But I hadn’t really tried to stuff it yet.

Over the course of a couple of hours the pouf went from empty to maybe 3/4 full, and the scraps went from two bins, two grocery bags, and several other piles, to one (albeit rather full) bin.

Believe it or not, this is uncommonly tidy for my sewing room.

It’s a New Years miracle! Freeing up a bin allowed me to pack up some more of the ambient fabric, and actually reorganize the bins a bit, so I was able to get several more bins off the floor and into the wall of stacked bins.

I cut out and sewed up a quick pair of Watson bikinis, a remnant from a piece a friend in Atlanta sent me yoinks ago, which I made into some early loungewear that I’ve since dyed a rather muted purple grey. I’d kinda forgotten how neon the original colour was.

I fussed around a bit more with the jacket.

I swept the floor.

And then, after some pleasant digging through my freshly re-ordered bins, I whipped up a second Blackwood Cardigan. The first on I made, for my birthday, has been in heavy rotation ever since, only limited by the fact that a subset of my outfits don’t work with a burgundy cardigan.

Now I gotta say, the wool I used the first time was a FAR better fabric. This time I picked this pretty piece of knit jacquard, which came in as a factory remnant. The factory remnants Fabricland gets are generally pretty inexpensive, and I guess they’re a “sustainable” option since you’re using fabric that would otherwise go straight to a dump—but they can be pretty rank. They usually seem to be bits the factory has cut around because of staining or some other flaw.

This particular piece had large yellow hand-writing at one end (fortunately on the wrong side) and a linear flaw in the jacquard all down one side, not to mention being cut wildly off grain. The fabric itself is nothing special, either, highly synthetic and pretty much guaranteed to snag almost instantly. But, very pretty.

Underarm flaw—not noticeable.

I was just barely able to squeeze the main body pieces out of the patterned fabric—with only a bit of the flaw along the edge of the sleeve, where it’s very hard to notice.

Wobbly pocket is wobbly. We are going to love it anyway.

I was lucky enough to find a bit of black sweaterknit of a similar weight and quality to make the bands and pockets. They’re both very soft and squishy fabrics, so getting the pocket square, even with steam-a-seam to fuse it in place, was kinda a lost cause. But I’d rather have wobbly pockets than no pockets.

I’m sad (but not surprised) to report that, while very pretty and comfy, it’s definitely not as warm as my wool version. But it was simple and reliable and quick, which is everything the ongoing project is not, and sometimes a dose of simple is exactly what you need.

Happy Sunday!

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Cogitation

‘Tis the season for introspection and reflection and looking back on the year. Not really my forte, but I have a wee bit more time on my hands than previous year-ends, and maybe this will distract me enough to slow down my rampant Christmas chocolate binging.

A lot changed this year, and not much. We live in the same house (our first full year as homeowners. My husband has not left me over it. Yet.) with the same kids and the same cats. Tyo graduated high school and got her driver’s license and a job. Syo struggled through grade 9, had a summer of epic highs and lows, but dove into grade 10 with a determination and involvement that makes me feel like she’s figuring things out. Teenagers are wonderful but also exhausting.

Midway through the year, I lost my Fabricland job when my store was closed down, which was a big personal and financial adjustment. While I’ve enjoyed having more time to devote to my health and my family and mainly to just existing, financially it’s been tricky, and I desperately miss many of the people I worked with. I was incredibly lucky to have been able to ramp up my teaching at Periwinkle Quilting once my evenings were no longer full of Fabricland—it’s much more fun than just selling fabric, and I THINK it’s exactly what I want to do in terms of my sewing “career”—but there are pretty firm limits to how much they can fit me in to their schedule, so it will never be the kind of second income Fabricland was. Which is okay, too. It’s been really nice having some time to just… be. I’ve been trying to let myself enjoy it.

As for my sewing this year… it wasn’t exactly exploring brave new frontiers, but there were some highlights.

The obvious one is Tyo’s grad dress, which I’m inordinately proud of. Because it fit her so well, and had all the features she wanted (including removable overskirt and pockets), and also because I made my own lace for the short skirt.

With my sewing no longer dominated by Fabricland projects, I got to dip my toes into sewing more indie patterns. Some for fun, like the York Pinafore above, others for teaching purposes, like the Merchant and Mills Trapeze Dress.

I struggle a bit with the teaching samples. The patterns I choose to teach are not necessarily things I really want to wear—many patterns are picked for simplicity or popularity, and while I try to stick with things that can be made from fabrics available at Periwinkle, it’s still a quilting store and the range of fabrics I’m interested in is just, um, smaller. Especially since I’m not the biggest prints person.

I made the third in a trilogy of progressively larger little coats for my best friend’s daughter. Everything about it felt pretty epic, from the mysterious vintage pattern to the quilted lining. I had a lot of fun with that.

And I have to go off about my print-matching on my Hallowe’en dress, because it was epic.

Even if you can’t actually see it in this picture.

Just before Christmas, in between annoying present sewing, I indulged in some serious velvet, making a slip and stockings and a few other quick and luxurious pieces. Velvet is on trend this year and I’m all over that.

The biggest fail of the year was these gorgeous black linen cargo pants I made for my husband.

I failed to fit them properly (standard changes for my husband I should’ve known to make but didn’t) and then compounded that by hemming them too short. The construction was awesome. I could attempt some alterations, but most of my topstitching was done with a triple stitch, and I haven’t been able to face the hours and hours of unpicking any alterations will require.

Looking toward the future, I’ll be making a blazer for my uncle, hopefully in time for Robbie Burns Day. I’m thinking I should make myself something similarly tailored in parallel, so I feel more excited about the project, because right now I’m dreading it.

I’m also tempted to make a walking skirt, a long wrap-skirt of coating to keep my legs warmer than my winter coat does. Yes, I’m still thinking winter sewing. I’ve got at least three months to go, though it hasn’t been a hard winter here so far.

I’m in a bit of a transition with my style and sewing, I think. Body changing (even as I’m hoping to reverse some of that with some more time for exercise next year) and the twilight of my 30s, plus my work being less outward-facing (except for teaching) has me thinking differently about both what’s flattering and what I want to project. I’m not feeling the silly, girly retro dresses as much as I was, nor the “sexy secretary ” stuff. I kind of hate to even admit that, because I love those styles.

On the other hand, I know even long before sewing I would wax and wane in my over-dressing, going through periods of wearing eveningwear to work, and other periods that were strictly jeans-and-T-shirts. And that’s ok too.

So bring it on, 2019—we’ll see what you got!

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Housed

Life isn't a straight road.

I don't know why I thought it should be—I'll blame my parents with their baby-boomer career-marriage-house-children white picket fence life example. Not that it suited either of them particularly, but that's a different story.

I did set out to follow that playbook, but it went quickly sideways. First with having my kids far too early (from the playbook's perspective, anyway), later with a combo of my own mental health and my husband's physical health issues that made us both end promising careers in Alberta and run home with tails between our legs.

Since then, it's been a process. First, of survival. Learning to trust myself again. Resiliency has never been my strong suit—I much preferred blazing excellence, and when I fell short of that, I had no coping skills. When I started working at Fabricland (almost five years ago), it was my first non-academic job, and I was terrified that I wasn't even capable of entry level retail work.

It turned out I was, though. Thank goodness.

It took a long time to rebuild that confidence in myself. Not to mention that minimum wage retail work doesn't exactly pay the bills when you're suddenly the sole breadwinner. It was hard to go back to grinding poverty from what had been almost a middle-class lifestyle. Hard to work two jobs when the two combined don't even earn you enough to make ends meet. Hard to learn how to be the person who works two jobs, and how to maintain any sanity. For a long time, years, I couldn't look beyond the day, maybe the next pay period. All those plans for our future were just gone.

But I did cope and I did survive, and I did start to trust in my own ability again. And I've worked. As hard as I did at grad school, as hard as being home with a small baby. Harder than I knew I could—which is how it works, I guess. Last fall I got an opportunity at my day job for a new position which has let me use a lot more of my grad-school (and artistic) skills than my first position, and that has been exciting.

I'm starting to see a future. It's beginning to feel like a career—maybe not as lucrative as a professorial job, but something I can build on.

What comes next has nothing to do with my own abilities, talent, or resiliency, though. One of the biggest resources that has helped us through rough times over the years has been family. This spring, my father decided to help us get a house.

It's the last thing on that checklist, that playbook, that road to a Normal North American Life (TM). I'm not sure why, after all these years, I'm still trying to follow it—but I do know that I wanted this badly.

I want to be able to create my own space, feel ownership for it, and to be able to work to improve it. I'm willing to take on the extra responsibility to have that freedom, even that pride. And I'm so insanely grateful to my father for making this possible, because with all the other side-steps and swerves in my life, I couldn't have done it on my own. Thank you, Dad.

Thank you.
Now if I can just find my sewing machine…

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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 Eléonores 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. 😉

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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I want to blog but I really should clean…

We’re in the midst of prep for the local comic con right now (which is in a couple of weeks). 

Tyo is going as Terry Bogard from Fatal Fury

Zera is the dark-haired girl on the right.


Syo is being Zera from Fairy Tail Zero. If you know what either of those are, good for you. Right now Tyo just needs some fingerless bike gloves and a red hat with a metal plate; Syo is getting another dress/top, and it’s in pieces in a corner of the kitchen. Where it’s been all week because I had to go out of town for work for a couple days. And my boss totally brought her sewing machine, and I was super jealous, but on the other hand I had two evenings of glorious time to myself reading, so I can’t be too sad. (Please note, this is my boss at my non-fabric-related job. :D)

Hotel room


And the kids have gone back to school, but only just barely and now it’s the long weekend already. And the house is a mess which is squicking my husband out so if I’m a good supportive spouse I will help do something about that. Especially since at least some of the mess is sewing related (see the part about the dress in the corner of the kitchen.) And the sewing room is so deeply buried it’s almost unusable, which is the point where even I get a little squirrelly.  

Which didn’t stop me from bringing home a September project, because I’m an idiot.  I’m thinking view C but with a hood. The coating isn’t very thick but I have some plain heavy flannel in stash I’ll use for interlining to make it a bit more warm, so maybe I’ll be able to wear it a bit when I get it back from the store in October. Fall slips quickly into winter here, though. 

At least I won’t be bored?

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So not cool.

img_3410So a crummy thing happened last Friday. Not a tragedy, exactly, but a bummer. And I’m not mentioning it to condemn humanity, or even as a plea for sympathy (though I’ll take it), but just because this is my record of things to do with my sewing and nothing like this has actually happened with any of my sewing before.

Remember this green dress, Burda 6686, made for a work project a couple of weeks ago? Well, like a good little employee I hung it up at Fabricland, nice and front and centre on one of the little plastic half-mannequins we have for such display, and boy did it look cute, if I do say so myself. (I think my Courtney Love reference was a bit lost, however—it just looked like a sweet little sundress.)

Well, during the busyness of last weekend’s half-price sale, somebody seized a moment when no one was looking, pulled the mannequin down, pulled the dress off it, and walked off with my dress. It was such a little thing it would have fit easily in a pocket…

img_3425So yeah. Kinda bummed. 😦 Which I already whined about thoroughly on Facebook, but anyway. One nice thing did happen since then—my management was approved to replace my materials, so I can make the dress again.

2016-03-23 22.09.10-1Plus they threw in a little bonus of comp goods of my choice as a partial comp for my time—so I was able to pick up some trims for my next Victorian costume. Because, y’know, priorities. 🙂

So really I should just buckle down and make the damn dress again, because the last thing I want is the fabric sitting there in stash mocking me. I really, really, really should…

img_3427

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