Friday, March 5, 2010

Did some sewing

So one of the mamas at the homeschool playgroup I started a few months ago sews and offered to show me a few things.  To say that this mama totally opened up the door for me to begin seriously sewing is an understatement.  I was reminded of something:  the tools of the trade make the trade possible.  Honestly

I've sewn before.  I made a mei-tai (ABC) for Z1 and hemmed some things and made pillows and all that but it has always been a laborious, super time consuming task.  Such an undertaking.  Such a struggle.  Why?  I didn't have the right tools! 

So this mama showed me some basic things I needed and I will be well on my way.  I found a kit with everything required on Amazon:  a cutting mat, rotary cutter and acrylic quilting ruler.  This eliminates cutting fabric with scissors and using chalk to get a straight line.  Also, she taught me about a magnetic seam guide which helps you keep your work straight when pushing it through the machine.  I'm sure seasoned sewers are like, "Well, duh!"  But really, it's like the novice crocheter not knowing that the key to crocheting is the tension . . . you can crochet without it but . . . it ain't pretty. 

Anyway, I turned out a pillowcase in two hours!  The kids were wide awake and I had to stop every so often and still!  Unbelievable!!

And would you believe as I'm writing this post . . . the same mama calls and offers me . . . a wheatgrass juicer and everything needed to grow wheatgrass since they are moving back to Ireland in a week or so and can't take it.  No more expensive shots from the health food store! 

Oh, let me be a blessing to someone the way she has been a blessing to me!

The sewing session also brought up some sad feelings for me.  My mother sews and crochets but never taught me--I taught/am teaching myself/learning as an adult (and grateful for my teachers who are coming to me so easily).  It was actually a little disconcerting the feelings that came up because I struggle with not being wanted/being a disappointment.  Maybe I will work up the courage one day to ask why she never taught me these things.

And while I'm on the topic of craftiness, the crochet class I proposed to a local college over a year ago is a go if I can get one more student in the class.  Keep your fingers crossed!  This is as close as I've ever gotten! 

Photo Credit:  "Sewing Kit" by mrjoro on


by Elizabeth Gilbert . . . is one of those books you wish you never read just to have the pleasure of reading it for the first time over and over again.  It may actually change how you think and how you look at things.  Needless to say, I loved it!  The book was pretty long but well worth each and every page.  I don't toss around the word "gifted" all that easily but Gilbert is a rare gem.  I mean, her writing is captivating.  She's hilarious yet down to earth.  It's a wonderful balance a deep metaphorical truths and comedy.

The story is based all on her spiritual journey which translated into a physical journey.  For someone like me, who doesn't like to travel, all the traveling she does is mind-blowing but somehow reading this, I realized a dream of mine that I had long buried and that (surprise!!) involves traveling (albeit to one very specific place). 

It's wild that at the exact same time I was reading this book, the writer of one of the blogs I follow and love, quoted something from this very book.  I could hardly believe it.  But as I read on, I found myself actually pulling quotes from the book and writing them in my journal.  I mean, words to live by.  Gilbert is a seeker, like I am, so I felt a real kinship.  She knows a lot and takes a lot from different traditions (so it's not like the quotes she writes are generated by her).  Despite the varied sources of her wisdom, somehow everything comes together  for her at that end so cohesively and seamlessly that it's stunning.  She comes to different conclusions than I have (although, admittedly, I haven't come to any definitive conclusions) and makes different assumptions/holds different beliefs about God but her sincerity and strength of faith made me want to hear what she had to say, want to really understand the world through her eyes. 

I couldn't help but to notice (at times) the privilege that comes to Gilbert by virtue of being White, pretty and wealthy (she received a $200,000 advance for the book).  But she also seems to realize this, i.e. she seems self-reflective and seems totally aware of social dynamics and how she fit in (her privilege).  I couldn't fault her.

The single most powerful thing I pulled from the book?  Well, I know it's my mission in life to help people.  More specifically, to be a resource.  I often wonder how I will do that.  What I was reminded of in a powerful way is that the first step to doing that is to become fully happy, i.e. make sure santosha is fully established in my life.  When I "get out of the way," I free up the world just a bit which opens the door.  

I've been chanting nam-myoho-renge-kyo for over a year now.  After reading this book, my approach has been totally different.  It's all about mindfulness.  Single mindedness.  What was I doing before?  I've gone from struggling to do 5 minutes to feeling disappointed that I have to stop to attend to my babies or workout or go to work!   

And yoga?  I'm inspired to keep pushing, to keep deepening my practice.  It's worth it!

I almost didn't want to like this book.  Cliche and all that.  You know, Western fascination with all things Eastern and new age.  And Gilbert is very Western-minded and approaches her world from a Western vantage point.  And, I will willingly admit, it is very self-absorbed but I kind of think that was the point.  It's like my blog . . . you really should expect it to be focused on me.   But . .  . It is a really great book (which reads more like a really long article in that there's no serious "I'm writing a novel" undertone").   I'm keeping a serious eye out for a copy at the thrift store although eventually, I'll probably buy it. 

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Two FOs: Old Shale Scarf and Monkey Socks (Finally)

Old Shale Scarf (Ravelry Link)




This was a wonderful knit.  The pattern was so easy that I memorized it in minutes yet the results were beautiful.  I started February 3 and finished February 26 which means it took me less than a month to complete which is an achievement! I used Knit Picks Gloss Sock Yarn, which is a merino wool/silk blend, in the Dolphin colorway.  It took two skeins although I could have stopped whenever I wanted to.  I hope the recipient loves it as much as I loved making it.

Monkey Socks (Ravelry Link)





I'm trying very hard not too be too critical of the job I did on these socks.  After all, this is my first attempt at sock knitting.  Perhaps I should have selected a more straightforward sock to work on as my first but that's neither here nor there.  I do know that from here on out, it's my destiny to knit simple socks.  It was just a nervewracking experience especially since I was using 8" double pointed needles instead of 6" or 4" sock needles.  It was awkward to knit these--the needles were too long and I felt the yarn was too fine for even US 2/2.75mm needles.  Anyway, these socks took me a very long time to complete:  I started February 18, 2009, and finished yesterday--over a year to complete.  But, I'm happy to say, they are finally, FINALLY, done!!  Wahoo!!  These socks are incredibly warm.  I used Regia Silk with is a wool/silk blend.  I purchased 4 skeins but I only used up 3.  The colorway is 181 and I love the mix of colors.  Reminds me of the beach.  Which is great because it's cold as anything these days and I would give anything to be on a beach right now!

So there it is:  not one but two completed projects!  I'm not sure what to knit next but I think I want to do another hat.  I'm also thinking of frogging my Sideways Grand Cloche to use the yarn for something else.  It's just too big on my head and, frankly, I think I look silly in it!

I did realize one important thing while finishing up these two projects:  I am not a stash knitter/crocheter.  I have a whole bunch of odds and ends yarn in my yarn bin that I've collected at thrift stores, yard sales or that folks have just given to me.  Apparently, I'm not creative enough to figure out what to do with it.  It just sits there and collects dust setting off my allergies something awful when I'm looking through it trying to find inspiration for another project or trying to find something that would work for a pattern I like.  I realize that the way I like to go about things is to find the pattern I like and then find a yarn that I can work with (that usually means quality yarn that's still affordable which means I buy from KnitPicks a whole lot).  Of course, there will sometimes be leftovers from projects which I don't mind but I am not the kind of crafter who buys yarn in hopes of finding a project for it.  Nope, the project is what dictates the  yarn.  I hope I remember that!
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