The Tortoise is also a Hare!

Life is a path, a course we follow, with a beginning and an end. How we live our lives, what we do and accomplish is unique... a result of factors only some of which are in our control.  

In my life work, I am often likened to the tortoise. I tend to persist with an objective-perhaps not being the fastest about accomplishing, but steadfast, as linear as possible in spite of obstacles Some of my objectives are noble i.e. community changers, some are admirable personal growth goals and some are just getting necessary and unnecessary stuff done like icing the damn fruitcake that has been sitting in my laundry room soaking in rum for several months... still not done....

I am always plugging away at my laundry list of objectives.  Thankfully, if I am like a tortoise, I am also long lived, this is good, because it takes me years..OMG... yeeeeeearrrrrssss to realize some objectives because while I am a tortoise, I am also a bit of the hare.  I hop around, get distracted, fall in love with new interests. Projects multiply like bunnies, you get the picture. Ok, so how does it relate to my post today? 

I completed three unnecessary but beloved projects. Yay! Nothing monumental, nothing earth shattering, but it feels like a victory to me :-)! 

Project One is the oldest of the objectives I am posting about today and its story is thus:  

 Dragonfly Sashiko Sampler, made into Diva Frame Wallet

Dragonfly Sashiko Sampler, made into Diva Frame Wallet

I fell in love with Sashiko.  I read all about it, I bought the tools to teach myself how to do it. I completed several items, but one item, a dragonfly sampler, languished without purpose.  I knew I wanted to make a purse with it, but couldn't find the right pattern, couldn't pull the pieces together. So it sat. Sat for several years in a box waiting. Well, this week, my local quilt store Bunny Hop (coincidence) taught a class on the Diva Frame Wallet by Sewmanycreations.com. It was the perfect size and a useful practical design.  Shazam,  that puppy is off my laundry list. It is out of the box and DONE! 

 Diva Frame Wallet inside, using up Japanese fabric stash

Diva Frame Wallet inside, using up Japanese fabric stash

Project Two is a necessary objective only in that I made a committment to friends to finish, it just so happened that is was also a very good lesson for me in perseverance.  Here is it's story: 

Each year my knitting buddies and I attend Stitches West, a knitting convention held in Santa Clara, CA. The convention is lots of fun, there are classes, vendors, socializing and of course knitting inspiration. More about that in another post. One year, we got the great idea to do a project in common and finish it in time for the upcoming years convention. The first year we selected YOWSA That’s a Skein by Babs and knit the Hitchhiker scarf. Great pattern, easy peasy and we all brought and wore ours to the following years convention.  Well, recentlywe bought Louet Euroflax and each planned a project utilizing the fiber, for me, a poncho called the Kennedy Wrap.  The poncho had a lace edge, ONLY 20 rows of lace knitting of which every other row was purling.  The rest of the garment was stockinette.  You'd think it would be a quick knit.  Maybe for you,  maybe for you.  Needless to say, it didn't get done. 

I knit that damn lace over and over and over again.  I think I ripped it out 20 times. I tried placing markers, lifelines, my teacher helped me; I tried complete quiet, saying the pattern outloud as I knit it, changing needle types, checking each of the 15 repeats to assure each stitch was correct over 200 some stitches....long story short, ARGHHHHHH!.  I put it away.  I picked it back up last fall, hoping to get it done in time to take to convention. The swatch was beautiful, the drape, the color, I couldn't let this project go-it was the gauntlet thrown.  Finally, finally and inspite of life (daughters broken leg) and myself, after ripping it out several more times, I finished it. I blocked it just days before 2016 convention. It was worth the effort and humbling experience. It is a beautiful garment, I love it, other people loved it and are inspired to also knit the pattern.  

 The Kennedy Wrap- wrapped up, done!!!!

The Kennedy Wrap- wrapped up, done!!!!

 And Project Three...well, that's the rest of the story... I will save that for the another post! 

 

Coming Home

Children grow up become adults and they leave home. I am proud and happy for mine, launching, world their oyster, potential unlimited. Leaving is an imperative growth and developmental milestone for independence.  

 

I did cry the first day my children went to kindergarten, little ticket on a string around their neck designating the way home. I cried privately, after dropping them off in the classroom, usually in the car- I saw lots of other parents doing the same thing. I knew deep in my heart it was a process that would begin the hurtle across space and time eventually ending with them separate from our nucleus; building lives and homes of their own. The first day of school is such a poignant moment for most parents.  

 

My husband and I are happy empty nesters, we have looked forward to the time when we would just be the two of us again. We are not carefree but we are retired. We are playing, exploring and rediscovering who we are as a couple now that we are in our 60's and less distracted by work and child rearing responsibilities. We both always wanted to be parents, we feel blessed to have had our own family. We are soul mates and lovers who got to parent, we walked the line between maintaining intimacy as a couple and being earthly guardians of two incredible beings. Sometimes we did good, sometimes meh and sometimes yikes!..please forgive us our foibles! 

The relationships between us and our children have changed, their competence and confidence brings my husband and I in more of collegial, advisory or counsel role (when asked) with parental benefits- I am deeply enamored with the lovely people they have become and find their presence a breath of fresh air, my skin tingles with their energy and I get invigorated. When they are home with us at this time in our family life, it is deliciously familiar, but better because of the role change, better because they too are on their own. We love their partners, we love how our family has grown and will continue to grow.  

 

Over the past two weeks, we had the special and rare circumstance: both daughters came home at the same time, each without partner, alone, temporarily, for good reasons, happy reasons. Kind of a slumber party for my daughters who shared a room and talked til wee hours. It was fun to hear the murmur again, to pop in and see them tucked in together like they used to be.  I remember going home alone or with one or more of my sisters, every once in awhile to visit with my parents. I loved the way my parents made me feel so loved, the chance to be a "kid" for just a couple days (but without the parental/ boss component) it was a real time out for me from being on duty.  They both commented that they really enjoyed just spending time with each of us, it wasn't a comment on our children or husbands; they just were parents, enjoying their children in that unique familiar way.  

My husband said it well when he said it brought great comfort to have them home with us while they needed to be here.  I want to say out loud, thank you to them both, that this last couple weeks, the time we four were together, like we used to be, under one roof, was so very dear, so very special. I savored each moment, tried to be conscious while it was happening, knew it might not happen again. I think I only got grouchy once or twice...Isn't it glorious that our home is and always will be their home too? 

Spring Color...The Wardrobe Project Continues

 Spring Palatte--the swatches...swoon 

Spring Palatte--the swatches...swoon 

Starting the Wardrobe Capsule Project reminds me of many other endeavors from yore, I start with a vision and as time and resources are evaluated, subtle tweaks made, the vision becomes more and more dialed in until, finally, clarity and focus is achieved. Goals with measurable objectives outlined, my time lines still need to be set but I am off and running.  

My resources and time have been affected by access to fabric in particular the color and fiber selection I have in mind, a need to switch the order of sewing to take advantage of a color find more suitable to spring, an unfamiliar technique and by a now resolving family emergency. 

So here is where I am, one month into the first quarter. I have finalized and ordered my fabric choices and selected my patterns from my stash. My two easy's are skirts, one in a Monet like Liberty Art Fabric Tana Lawn called "Polly Genevieve B", the other in a curry colored RPL bottomweight stretch gabardine. I purchased my fabric from Emma One Sock. They have a great way of sorting fabric by color and fabric that color coordinates with it. They also happened to have the fabric I liked in stock so I could get going. Check out the sample swatch card they sent...swoon...their website has wonderful tutorials on working with different fabric types, suggested use of fabric and etc. I have linked websites discussed to key phrases below, you can access by clicking on the bold lettering. 

 Quarter One, sewing for Spring (January, February, March)

Quarter One, sewing for Spring (January, February, March)

My challenge and key piece is a very easy Vogue jacket made in delicious lilac pink wool viscose boucle utilizing a raw edge construction-- a new to me technique. Lilac pink is a perfect color for spring, is amazing with Navy my dark neutral and one of those colors that puts roses in my cheeks and makes my green eyes blue.  

The idea for using the wool viscose boucle is a fun story... I found the parka/anorak pattern through StyleArc, a sample of the anorak sewn by a customer was highlighted with a link to her blog where she shared and reviewed the process of sewing the pattern. I wrote her to ask her about a term called "bagging a lining" and she quickly responded. In the course of the conversation I told her what effect I was going for and she suggested the fabric as a perfect choice. Her nickname is Shams and her blog is "Communing with Fabric", she also suggested some fabric stores with fabric in the colorway I was hoping to find. That search led me to a kind and helpful Linda Lee of Sewing Workshop and the raw edge construction technique tutorial, and to Stone Mountain and Daughter Fabric store in Berkeley, CA a delightful and responsive Natalie Ebaugh who is their buyer and Director of Social Media.  

When I read about "bagging a lining" and talked to Shams, I felt I should postpone the Anorak until the next quarter to give me more time to review some videos and read more about the technique, especially since StyleArc pattern instructions are a list of tasks as opposed to instructive.  

I am so excited and raring to get started actually sewing. I am now in process of pulling out reading and doing the FBA to my patterns.  


It has been a blast so far and I encourage my friends to use the internet to enhance hobbies. I am enjoying interacting with like minded sewists, discovering new sewing resources and  expanding my skillsI can't believe how generous the individuals I've mentioned are by sharing their knowledge and time. A special thank you to Corinne in Sewtopia for volunteering to guide us through this wardrobe project process and for the intellectual stimulation her blog provides. 

A Good Book

  A Head for Trouble by Julie Tujrjoman..knit patterns for gorgeous hats styled after mystery sleuths from the 20's

 A Head for Trouble by Julie Tujrjoman..knit patterns for gorgeous hats styled after mystery sleuths from the 20's

To preface today's topic, I need to relate it has been a busy couple weeks. Watching a puppy is very similar to having toddlers around. The amount of time for projects diminishes into 30-40 minute bursts of time when combined with other required activities like food prep and housework. Gone is my ability to blog, to sew, to knit, to visit friends...I know my nieces can relate, I feel you Les and Stacie!  All that pent up creativity, boxed up for the fleeting times when you have complete quiet for several hours and the energy, let's not forget energyI do remember raising our girls, but I realize I have glossed over just how full my hands are with toddler, house, and fitting time in with my sweetieBy evening, after a day of puppy sitting, I am too tired to feel like sewing, I know I would make too many mistakes, so, instead I turn to a good book.  

So, speaking of good books, I want to share some fun things about finding and borrowing books these days.   

One traditional source of books has been the library. The hours of operation can be a challenge, some days they are closed, some days only open from noon to five and etc-- this irregularity can be even more difficult to manage if you work. Like many Boomers, I have very fond memories of going to the library regularly with my mother and sisters. The library has a certain smell and sound, both of which I love, it is a wonderful place, full of possibility, adventure and knowledge. To borrow books for several weeks, just long enough to peruse or read and then turning in for new ones, suits the current philosophy of recycling, is efficient, space saving, affordable and I can change interests quickly and satisfy the hunger accordingly. But as I mentioned, getting there isn't always easy, returning books late racks up late fees.  Kindle, used bookstores and borrowing from friends used to fill a void for me, but I missed the library. Did you know...the library now comes to us electronically? I certainly didn't!  

Several years ago at book club, friends described being able to borrow books and read electronically through several applications or reserve books and pick up at a library I designated. I stored the memory away, as all things computer take some quiet time and focus to master.  Finally, last year, I came back to it, and now borrowing online is a regular resource I use. Do the younger people already know this, do my friends? Not only do they have books, but they have electronic books on tape and e magazines.  

To find this resource, go to your county website for the public library. Look for electronic books or e-books in the menu. BE SURE to have your library card number. It is a matter of setting up an account and downloading an application. The log in is the library you use and your card number becomes the password. Read the how-to narrative which includes a link to download the application described, for our library it is called Overdrive, and then, go to the section where they list the books and audio tapes and have at it. When I select a book, it gives me the choice to download into Overdrive or onto my Kindle. If you go to Overdrive, you read it on the browser, e.g. you click the book icon in the library account and it directs you to Overdrive where the book opens to the first page or the place you last read.  

Our library allows you to borrow 4 e-books at a time. If someone else is using, they have an option for you to place a hold, and they notify you by email once the book is available to read. If you have Kindle, you can also download the book into your Kindle book or onto the Kindle app using your Amazon account if you use Kindle application on a regular computer, iPad, or iPhone as I do. You don't have to have a Kindle book to use Kindle application.  The library lets you keep the e-book for a couple weeks, then it goes back. No late fees. You can often renew if someone else is not waiting for it.

I have found e-books especially handy for "best sellers" or quick reads that are hard to recycle to used bookstoresI traditionally buy hardbound reference books, favorite reads and children's books for my home library. I carry some of my hardbound reference books electronically on my iPad as well, such as Claire Schaeffer's Fabric Sewing Guide or Lonely Planet travel guides as they are too hefty to carry otherwise and I often need to look up particulars when I am in a store or traveling. Some hardbound books such as Little Red in the City by Ysolda Teague come with access to e-book automatically, allowing me to download patterns as I use them. These type of books provide errata and other electronic updates, internet response to requests for help with a project question. How do you find books? What do you think about e-books and the e-library?  

I find good books through my book club, the library ebook newsletter which has information on new books as well as I use their sorting mechanism to narrow down genres. I also have taken the time to make a Goodreads account, (another free online application), by providing the account with books I have read, it is able to offer suggestions of other books I might enjoy. Goodreads also has a newsletter. I can find my more literary girlfriends on Goodreads and follow them and others that select books I like to get more ideas on books to read. Amazon has lists of books such as New York Times best sellers and Edgar Awards, as well as lists made up by followers. Just last week, Colette, a favorite sewist blog started a monthly book club (the book was the Forgotten Seamstress, a great quick read that was available electronically).  

 Have fun, explore, write or call me if you need help doing this and you too will find a whole new love for the library! If you have a toddler, remember, audio books while driving or caretaking or stash a book in the only private sanctuary...the bathroom.