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Fall/winter sewing 2012

13 Sep

Bet you wondered if I was going to sew curtains forever!  I finished my last 2 sets this past weekend, and while there will be more later on, I want to stop and work on my wardrobe for a few weeks.  Pictures of the completed living room are coming this weekend – I am not exaggerating when I say that it’s like I live in a different house now – I love it!

Having said that, I’m not super excited with the fall patterns, though there were a few that I loved.  And my life has changed so much – I’m working outside the house again, which means I need more professional type pieces than before.  It’s easy for me to fall into the trap of wearing whatever I see first, but I’m really trying not to – I know that I feel better in general if I put in a little effort.  With that in mind, I’m trying to identify holes in my wardrobe and fill them.

I like to ask myself these questions when working on wardrobe planning:

1. What image do I want to project?

I firmly believe that the way you dress makes a difference in how you are perceived by the world.  I don’t want to get into whether that’s fair or not (hint: it’s not, especially as pertains to women).  Having said that, I find that as an introvert (thanks for the comments on my last post – I am feeling better!) that it helps me to imagine myself filling a role.  As a musician and actor, this sort of thinking comes naturally.  Right now my concerns are two-fold:  I want to appear confident and competent, but I also want to be approachable.

2. How do I want to feel?

It’s not just about the outside – clothes affect your mood.  I always want to be comfortable, but I don’t wish to feel messy or sloppy.  I’m not interested in being uncomfortable for fashion, because I think you can be fashionable without torturing yourself.

3.  What are the practical considerations?

I have to walk a fair bit, sometimes in cold weather.  I don’t like to wear anything that is tight around the ribcage (for breathing).  I prefer sleeves, and can’t understand why women’s clothing doesn’t seem to come with them anymore.  If I make something with short sleeves I have to wear a sweater all the time (or not wear the item at all.)  I don’t like to wear black because I have a long haired cat.

I find that these three questions help me to narrow my focus.  After that I go through my closet and donate anything that doesn’t make me feel that way (I always recommend doing this with a friend – I know I’m not objective about things that I’ve made!)  I have that planned for this weekend, and after that I’ll have a better idea of the state of my wardrobe.

Off to think about patterns…

 

Scattered thoughts

21 May

I cannot seem to settle down to do any one thing this week!  Now that graduation is over I seem to have acres of free time, but also tons of things to fill all my free time with.  So it’s time for another post of scattered thoughts – if I wait until I can come up with a single topic I know I won’t post for a week!

- I think I need to sew some tops.  It’s been challenging this month, in part because I have so few tops for warm weather.  I love knit tops, so I need to get up and make some!  I’m having some trouble deciding on what to make next.  Look for a post soon on my plans!

- My husband and I are traveling to Minneapolis/st. Paul in a few weeks for my Godson’s baptism.  We plan to travel through Chicago, Milwaulkee and probably Madison, so  any suggestions for fabric stores along that route are more than welcome – I’m definitely planning on dragging Marc there!   In addition, I might be interested in a meetup, but it depends on my schedule.  Graduation has caused me to be slow at planning!

- I have acquired new electronics again.  It’s funny, because my husband is the computer guy, but I’m the one who always wants all the gadgets!  My Mom bought me a Kindle touch for a graduation present and I love it.  I’ve become a little obsessed with it, to tell you the truth! I’ve downloaded a ton a free classic books to it.  Currently I’m reading “Three Men in a boat“.  How have I missed this book?  Highly recommended for fans of British humor.  I also got a PSP, because I am behind the times, but I figured it would be good for travel (besides the trip this summer I’m looking at a long choir tour in Europe (Austria, Germany, the Czech Republic and Slovakia) in the spring.)  I love to travel, and I’m grateful to have the opportunity.

- I finished P90x – woo!  I gained a lot of strength through the program – I went from being able to do 4 pushups on my toes to 18, and now I can do full pull-ups.  I’d recommend the program to anyone looking for a solid strength program.  Be aware though that there are some limitations, as follows:

- I did all the weight workouts as proscribed (3x per week.)  There were a few weeks where I was feeling bad so I skipped the repeat of the exercises.  Most of the videos are structured so that it’s easy to do a half workout rotation just by skipping the repeats (or in the leg workout skipping the back sections, as there is another back video).

- Speaking of that legs video, you will do it every week, and that is a lot.  I got pretty tired of it at the end, but I do think it’s a decent workout.  There were a few weeks I subbed a barre workout instead.  It’s mostly unweighted (or light weights) so I feel that works.

- I only did the YogaX dvd once.  Instead I subbed other yoga (I joined “My yoga online” and really love it!)   It do think yoga helps, and I’m glad this got me started.  I try to do it twice a week now.

- I hardly did any cardio.  The weather has been nice, so I walk everywhere, and I call that good enough.  I didn’t notice any adverse effects from that, though I’m sure I should do more.

- Now that I’ve finished P90x I plan to start Cathe Friedrich’s STS (I have some of her step and strength dvds and love them.)  I probably won’t start until after our trip, as I’m too busy right now!

And… that’s all for tonight.  I haven’t had time to sew this week, but I hope to catch some time soon.  Things are generally slower for me in the summer, but I’m not sure that’s going to be the case this year.

MMM roundup week 2: Style Evolution

15 May

So far me-made May has been a tougher challenge than I expected.  I certainly have plenty of handmade clothes, but I find myself reluctant to wear some of them.  I have come to the realization that my personal style has changed quite a bit in the past few years!

When I started sewing I was mainly excited to have more dresses, and specifically pretty sundresses.  I made a ton of them, and while I think they are pretty in the abstract I don’t find myself reaching for them.

Fashion I am loving right now:

1. Graphic prints
2. Black/white/gray with a strong pop of color
3. Maxi dresses
4. Unstructured knit dresses and tunics
5. Skinny jeans and pants
6. Flats and wedges

What I’m not feeling:

1. Florals
2. Dresses/tops with back ties or sashes
3. Super fitted/structured garments
4. Sandals and heels

With those in mind, here are my outfits from the second week of me-made May along with commentary:

Me-made item: Simplicity 2219

Comments: This dress remains my favorite handmade item ever, and no I am not exaggerating!  I love the print, which is interesting without being overwhelming, and the style of the dress itself is very graceful.  In fact, why haven’t I made another of these?  I think I will have to put that on my list!

Pattern review: I loved this pattern, but after making it I do have one comment.  If you use a knit with lycra it will stretch over time.  I’ve taken it up at the shoulders twice, and I’m about to do the hem again.  I reinforced all my seams, but this is just a lot of fabric!

Me-made item: Colette patterns Beignet skirt

Comments: I’m surprised by how much I still love this skirt, and how well made it is (it was my third project.)  Colette patterns have super instructions!  I love this outfit – the stripes go well with the yellow.  I would rather have a different shirt, but I’m eternally low on solid colored tops.

Pattern comments: I would not make another skirt from cotton twill – this wrinkles are epic by the end of the day, and it does not stretch at all, leading to a slightly odd look when sitting.  The lining has shrunk slightly unevenly, and is now prone to sticking out of the bottom when I sit.  I’m thinking of removing it entirely, as it doesn’t help with wrinkling and I don’t wear this in the winter!

Me-made item: Simplicity 2443 (dress and jacket)

Comments: This outfit doesn’t really work for me.  The blue of the jacket doesn’t go with the dress, and both pieces work better with other items in my wardrobe.  I keep trying to wear these sandals, but I just don’t like them (or sandals in general for some reason – I own very few!)

Pattern comments: I’ve made it twice, so I must like it!  I actually wear the grey version of this dress more often, but I love the blue as well.  The jacket never fails to get compliments, but I don’t really like it with the dress in the pattern.  It’s too boxy with the gathered skirt.

Me-made item: Vogue 1179 (dress)

Comments: I like this outfit.  It’s comfortable for teaching but still professional, a difficult balance.  The shoes are keds with wedge heels – love them!  The cardigan is by Rachael Roy and is my favorite in the world.  I’m so glad the style has gone to long cardigans again!

Pattern comments: This pattern is awesome.  I’ve helped a few other people make one as well, and it looks great on everyone!  I want to make another in the future.

Me-made item: the obi belt (and I also altered the dress pretty heavily from its original state.)

Comments:  I wear this outfit pretty often – it’s one of my current favorites.  The dress is a knit, so it’s comfortable, and the belt makes it more interesting (it’s a bit dull on its own.)  I love the bateau neckline – why don’t I own more of them?

Pattern comments: I’ve made this belt twice.  This version gets worn more often, but I love them both.  I want to make one out of leather!

Me-made item: Vogue 8469 (dress)

Comments: This is an example of an outfit that doesn’t feel like me anymore.  This dress is only a year old, but I have to admit that even when I made it originally I had doubts.  I don’t like to use the phrase “too young,” as I pretty much think you should wear whatever makes you happy.  What I am thinking is: not sophisticated enough.  The print makes it cutesy, and the thick black band (and back tie, which you can’t see) make it seem a little cheap to me.  I love color and pattern, but this one doesn’t do it for me – it feels like wearing a costume.

Pattern comments: See the above paragraph.  I think this pattern has a tendency to look a little too home-ec for my taste, and I don’t recommend it.

Me-made item: Simplicity 2603 (cardigan)

Comments: I know, pants!  One thing I’ve been trying to do this year is incorporate more silhouettes into my style, and pants are a big one.  I like them, but I do have a hard time finding well fitted jeans.  These are from NY and Co, and I think they fit me because they are a petite (I am all torso.)  I like this outfit, even the pairing of the pink wrap with the brown top.

Pattern comments: Hasn’t everyone made one of these?  It’s a great pattern, but if I made another I would go for the shorter version.  This one can only be worn tied.

I’ve also used the gel-nail system I bought myself twice more since I posted.  I thought I would post them for anyone interested – feel free to ignore!  The first manicure lasted 2 weeks!  The second lasted only 4 days, but that’s my fault – if you use regular polish between the layers it must be completely dry before topcoating, and I got impatient.

This is a neon purple (by Massini, a brand I can only find at Meijer stores) topped with a Konad stamp in zebra print.  You can see I had trouble getting the black stamp excess off my cuticles, but that’s ok – it didn’t last that long anyway!

This is Misa “Hot People like you,” a sheer neon pink with a little shimmer.  I used two coats of that, then used 2 coats of a black/silver glitter, and finished with another coat of the pink.  I read about this on a nail blog – it’s called a jelly sandwich, with glitter in between.  I really like it!

Saying goodbye to a friend

3 May

This morning we had to make the impossible decision – to say goodbye to our cat Sarah Jane.  Yesterday she fell and broke her leg, and with her age, diabetes, and kidney problems, we felt that it was time to let her go rather than force her to endure surgery and a long re-cooperation.

A friend of ours found Sarah Jane five years ago, digging through trash in her neighborhood.  She had obviously been someone’s pet, now abandoned (she had no claws at all.)  She weighed only 5 pounds then, and she was mostly blind from untreated diabetes.   I thought we could give her a comfortable home for a few months, but she lived far beyond our expectations.

Along the way she became a valued member of our family, especially for my husband.  She slept on him every night and waited by the door for his appearance.  Last night he slept with her on the floor of the dining room, as she couldn’t go up stairs any longer, and I think that made her happy.  This is so hard on him that it breaks my heart – I loved her, but she was his special cat.  I know how hard it was for him to let her go, but we were with her to the end, which was peaceful.

She was cranky beyond all belief, and we loved her for it.  I’d like to encourage anyone with the resources to consider taking in a special needs or elderly cat.  It’s true that she wasn’t with us for that long, but I know how happy she was in those five years.  There are many abandoned animals who need homes, and I know someday we will open our hearts to another.  We are making a donation to the Shamrock Foundation in her name.  They are a local organization that does good work with abandoned, stray, and abused animals.

If you have a pet, give them a hug for me.  I think it can be hard for some people to understand, but we don’t have (and likely won’t have) children, so our pets are really our family.  Regular me-made posts will resume soon, but today I’m taking time to be with my husband and other cats (Leon and Dionne).

Sarah Jane – 19?? – 2012.  Always cranky, always loved.

 

A wrinkle in my plans

24 Apr

I’m about to make a heretical confession, so listen up:

I don’t like sewing with cotton

*Pause for effect*

I know, I know… cotton is the most user friendly fiber that exists.  I love the prints (which are easier to find than my preferred rayons) and it is pretty easy to sew.  I always recommend starting with cotton for new sewers.  So what’s the problem?

Well, for me it’s an issue of upkeep.  Truth be told, no matter how good my intentions, I hate to iron.  And I know that anything I make from cotton will require ironing before every wear (and may still give the appearance of an unkempt hobo by midday).   I don’t know if I’m just prone to wrinkles, but nothing stays ironed on me for more than five minutes.

Then there is the issue of weight and drape.  I most often make dresses, and I order most fabric online due to the lack of local sources in my city.  And many sites are remarkably vague about their offerings, leaving off critical information such as “Fabric is sheer.  Must be lined or risk social suicide.” (Ann at Gorgeous fabrics always lists if something is sheer, and I love her for that!)  Not all voiles are equal – some are sheer, others just drape well.  Some sateens are lovely and soft, others stand away from your body like a suit of polka-dotted armor.

Which brings me to my current project.  Yes, I found my pattern, and now I’ve cut the fabric.  I’m in the midst of construction, but I’m having an issue.  This fabric (which is one the stiff side, thus why I chose it for this fitted pattern) wrinkles if I so much as think about it from another room.  It will wrinkle on its way from the ironing board to the machine.  Seriously, it is terrible.  I wasn’t planning on lining the dress, but I will if it would help with the wrinkling.   So what do you say?  Will lining help with my issues, or will I end up with an outfit that can only be worn while standing up?

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v69/jesdmill/newnew/Picture-2296.jpg

Please note that it has been carefully hanging over a railing, not crumpled up in a ball under the bed.  I’m also not thrilled with how those princess seams look – no matter how I clip, trim, and which way I press them, they always look wrinkly.  Of course, it will look different with a body inside, but I’m wondering… is it worth it?  I’m considering throwing in the towel on this one, but I need some advice.  I have a really hard time giving up on projects, and I have too many that I never wear!

What I’m working on, plus general updates

1 Apr

Thank you for your comments on my ruffled dress – I haven’t gotten to wear it out yet, but I’m planning to wear it for one of the Easter masses I’m doing this weekend.  It’s been super warm here, so I’ve started on a maxi dress (the first of several this year!)

I spent several hours last night constructing the bodice of Simplicity 1881.  I was watching Downton Abbey at the same time, so I was a bit slow.  This pattern uses a method of attaching elastic that I’ve never seen before – you use a piece of bias hem tape to create a casing on the back of the dress.  This is necessary because there are two pieces of elastic holding the dress up, so you need a double casing.  Ordinarily I would just use the seam allowance, but because of the extra elastic I’m trying it their way!  The fabric is kind of crazy, but I’m ok with that – I will be ready for my hypothetical tropical vacation that I’m not taking!

Speaking of maxi dresses, I’ve neglected to talk about the summer Simplicity patterns.  I was able to pick them up for 99 cents in the Joann sale yesterday, which was exciting! I especially love this one:

Simplicity 1804 calls for a knit and has lots of great options.  I plan to make the version photographed in the top right, and I’m considering the crossover halter as well.

Simplicity 1801 is a really cute dress by Cynthia Rowley.  I like the sleeves on the pictured version.  I think this could be cute in several different types of fabric, including  a knit (even though this is not listed in the types, I think a thick-ish stable-ish knit would work and have a nice drape.)

 

Simplicity 1803 and 1799 are both cute summer dress patterns.  Not breaking any new ground maybe, but they have potential (if you can ignore the awful shiny poly charmeuse on the right.)  I have a ton of fabrics that could work here – I have bought way too many summer prints over time!

Fitness update:

I completed Chalean Extreme (well, I stopped 2 weeks early… the last phase did not agree with my knees) and now I’m doing a modified version of P90x.  I know, I know… I feel silly telling people that, because it seems so macho in the commercials, but it’s not that macho in the dvds, and I’m really enjoying it!

Here are my modifications: basically, I’m doing all the strength training dvds (3 workouts a week) as prescribed in the plan.  Then the plan calls for two days of cardio (a plyometrics dvd and a kickboxing dvd.)  Sometimes I do the plyometrics (I like them) but mostly I’m doing whatever I want on those days.  Right now that’s taking walks, since the weather is so nice!  It’s too hot to do cardio on the 3rd floor.   I am not doing the ab workout, because that takes the workouts to over an hour, and that’s too long for me right now.  Besides, I feel like I get enough ab work in the other dvds and the yoga.  Speaking of…

But the biggest revelation to me has been the weekly yoga.  I’ve never liked yoga – I’ve always found it slow, and sometimes the new age talk is too much for me.  It turns out, what I wanted was a different type of yoga!  The yoga in P90x is Power yoga – it’s not slow and it’s not easy.  I enjoy it, but I went looking for other options and bought some dvds (I love my dvds!)

I watched clips and thought I would enjoy vinyasa flow yoga.  I bought Flow Yoga for beginners by Shiva Rea and really loved it – it’s long, but it’s all doable, and I even was able to enjoy the meditation!  I went back and got her Yoga Shakti, which allows you to design your own workout using a menu system.  Some of it is too advanced for me right now, but I can slowly work my way up to things.  I can’t explain why I suddenly like this sort of thing, but there you go.  The music is pretty, and her speaking voice is pleasant.  The yoga is constantly moving (I guess that’s the flow) and it’s tough.  I try to never say I wouldn’t try something, because I always end up eating my words.  Oh well!

Other random drabbles:

- It’s almost spring break – I plan to make it a sew-cation!  I’ll need the relief after 5 masses easter weekend (luckily that money comes at a good time to make up for the entire week I took off this past week because of my flu!)

- I had dinner off the salad bar at Whole Foods today, and now I must try making my own grilled tofu.  I would not have thought it would be good, but there you go!

- UofL and UK played each other in the Final 4 yesterday.  I’m not a sports fan even a little, and maybe it makes me a bad native, but I was hoping UofL would lose, because I was seriously worried about rioting if they won.  People who aren’t from here just don’t understand the depth of hatred involved in that rivalry.  (and yes, UK won, followed by rioting in Lexington.  The news article I read included the phrase “burning sofa.”  Stay classy, sports fans.)

- One more month before I graduate!  I have my cap and gown and everything.  After all this time it almost doesn’t feel real!

- My friend who I’m teaching to sew sent me a text this morning that consisted of a photo of her new sewing table.  I’m so happy that I’m no longer the only person I know who gets excited by things like that.

That’s all for now!

 

Lonely patterns

26 Feb

I’m not going to lie to you; I have a lot of sewing patterns.  I generally don’t feel bad about that – I like having a library that I can go to at any time and pull out the perfect pattern.  I usually buy the patterns I like from a new collection when they go on sale for the first time (I got the new Vogue and Simplicity patterns this week!)  Of course, this means I wind up with a few patterns that are duds – the sort of pattern that looks ok until someone , ie me, actually tries to make it (as in Vogue 1192, an Anne Klein pattern that has since garnered five “would not recommend” ratings on Patternreview.  I never got around to reviewing it, but I consider the public well warned by those ratings.)

I always check for reviews.  I think reviews are the best thing about the internet sewing community – it must have been much harder to decide if the patterns were decent in the pre internet age!  Occasionally though, I end up with a pattern that no one ever seems to make.  The longer they go without any reviews, the more I become convinced the pattern is cursed!  Sometimes there will be a few reviews, but the pattern is so altered, or the purpose is so different that I can’t tell.   Most are discontinued, which makes sense when you consider that I am clearly the only person on earth to have bought a copy. I’ve been weeding through my pattern collection this week, and I thought I’d ask – can anyone vouch for these patterns?  Should I make them, or is it a lost cause?  Let’s get to the sad contestants:

Vogue 8231:

This was discontinued when I bought it.  I literally can’t find anyone who has made this online.  I was disappointed when I got it to realize that it’s actually 2 pieces, rather than a dress with peplum.    Still, I rather like the cap sleeved version.   Maybe it was just too early for the peplum trend?  I think this could be really cute in a fun suiting.

Vogue 8595:

I love a tunic and the pockets are cute.  For that matter, so it the version with full sleeves and no collar.  Image it in a cotton voile!  I found one of these completed on a blog, but as she made it to be a beach coverup I still can’t tell.  I think the Very Easy Vogue patterns suffer a bit from their drawings.  Lord knows I’m not opposed to illustrations – I have bought many a vintage pattern because of adorable drawings.  These just seem to oddly proportioned – they always look so broad shouldered.

Vogue 8612:

This has been on my list forever.  I found one completed, but no reviews.  Actually, I doubt I would make this one, as I’ve learned over time that patterns without waist seams do not always suit me.  It’s also one of those patterns that calls for knits or stretch wovens.  And it’s lined, which again is not an advantage for me.

Vogue 8610

Honestly, I think I just have 80s nostalgia sometimes.  Again, one review, which is mixed.  I don’t know if I’ll ever make it, because I’m just not sure about how flattering that silhouette is for people without 7 foot long legs.  And yet I keep pulling it out, wondering if it might be cute in a sweatshirt knit.

Vogue 8768

This pattern isn’t all that old, but I’m surprised I haven’t seen one yet – usually the vintage patterns are popular!  If I made this I would have to shorten the skirt, but I can’t tell if that would work or not.    This is pictured on the website in shiny, stiff dupioni, several sizes too large for the model – Vogue seemed to make every vintage dress in dupioni for awhile there.  I don’t like dupioni much at all – it reminds me of curtains, and doesn’t drape well.  Someone should make this so that I can decide if I like it or not!

New Look 6092

Again, not that old, but I don’t feel like I can judge it if I can’t see one.  I think I like it, but maybe the sleeves will be strange, or the dress will fit oddly due to the lack of a waist.  Also, I applaud the idea of bringing in Project Runway designers to design for Simplicity and New look, but Suede?  Couldn’t stand him on the show, and I don’t really love his patterns, with the possible exception of this one.  On the other hand, Simplicity has some designs from Leanne (season 3 or 4 winner I think?) which I love, and have already purchased.  I can’t make this dress without more feedback!

Is it spring yet?

16 Feb

It hardly seems fair for me to be pining for spring; after all, we’ve barely had any winter weather!  But Valentine’s day is here (we stayed in, and I made chocolate espresso waffles with raspberries for dinner… I love breakfast for dinner!)  Valentine’s day is usually when I make the end of winter sewing.  I had grand plans to sew this past week, but instead I took the time to build a new website for my chamber ensemble.  And write a term paper.

I know – it’s bizarre.  I’ve been out of school so long that I didn’t even remember what the professor was talking about when he told us to bring blue books to our midterm next week!  While being in class with students 10 years my junior is a bit odd, I do find that I had forgotten how much I enjoy a good debate.  I guess this isn’t shocking if you read my blog, but I got so interested in my analysis of  Wilfred Owen‘s  poetry that I went out to the library and got a copy of The Great War and Modern Memory by Paul Fussell.  It’s highly recommended if you are interested in World War I (and in particular what we can learn about it from the literature of the time.)  I don’t know about any other Americans, but I know that I never learned much about that war in my history classes (and if you are interested in learning why history in the US is taught in this haphazard way, I highly recommend Lies my teacher told me by James Loewen… it’s an eyeopener.  I read it several years ago, and it completely changed the way I think about history.)

Moving along to sewing topics… I’ve been giving some thought to my spring wardrobe.  I feel a bit unsettled about it – did we ever actually have winter?  It doesn’t seem like it!  We have yet to have any snow that lasts for more than a few hours.  I think winter is a lost cause at this point.  Luckily, I do prefer warm weather sewing.  I’ve noticed that there have been some pattern company changes – namely that Kwik Sew is now with BMV, and Burda is now carried on Simplicity’s website.  Seeing them there made me realize that there are quite a few lines that I have never made a pattern from, including several great independent designers.  That changes now!  I’m picking a pattern from several new-to-me lines to work on this Spring!

Over the next few days I plan to get started… first comes the semi-annual closet purge, so that I can decide what I actually need.  I’m going to do some posts about it, as well as my planning process.  I seem to manage maybe 60% of my ideas making it through, which isn’t bad I think, especially with my general lack of time right now!

I hope you all had a great Valentine’s day!  I’m still here, and I’m going to try to get back to more regular posting.

 

A thank you

3 Feb

Simple words cannot express how touched I was by the outpouring of support on my last post.  All day long (and well into the next) I read your kind words about my blog, and your advice towards dealing with negativity and criticism.

Criticism is a difficult topic.  I deal with it on a daily basis – I am constantly critiqued in my own lessons, performances, and auditions, and it isn’t always easy.    I also believe that one of the most valuable lessons I can impart to my own music students is how to gracefully deal with constructive criticism.  I hesitated to even post the comment, because I didn’t want to be “that blogger.”  But… I also knew that I couldn’t ignore it, as I have ignored plenty of comments in the past.

You see… I’ve always been the quiet one.  Growing up, I learned that running away from anger was the best way to avoid being hurt.  And so I did.  I ran from criticism, from conflict, and even from difficult relationships.  None of that made me happy, and it never made me feel as though I had any power.  I spent a good portion of my 20s trapped in a bubble of silence, unable to state my real views and opinions, and unable to ask for what I really wanted out of life.    I know this is not an uncommon feeling for women, as many of my female friends have expressed this fear – we must always be nice, because there is no other alternative, lest we be called nasty names.

I reached a point where enough was enough.  If I wasn’t happy, it was because I wasn’t expecting enough out of life, and I wasn’t standing up for myself to get it.  I started stating my beliefs and allowing myself to present my true face to the world. To my surprise, rather than my life falling apart it began to blossom!   As it turns out, people respect genuineness, though they might not be able to give a name to their response.

When I saw the comment I felt sad, but mostly I felt powerless.  It reminded me that while I have come far, I am still the same 10 year old girl who came back from recess to an anonymous letter on my desk assuring me of how ugly my hair was.  I don’t like to feel that way, as it takes me back to an ugly place.  So I posted my frustration with the state of interactions online.

The internet has long been a place where civil discourse is lacking (as I found out in 1998, posting on X-files fansites  about my belief that Mulder and Scully should be together 4eva! which was apparently a controversial subject.)  Even so, I find that the crafting community is absolutely the most supportive I have ever been involved with.

This blog has meant so much more to me than I ever thought it would.  In 2006 I started a blog on a whim, shortly after I took up knitting.  It has seen me through many hobbies and obsessions, two jobs, starting my own business, getting married, and going back to school.  I have had many ups and downs, but I have never failed to be cheered by the support and comments of your all – those in the crafting community, and even those who don’t do either yet continue to read (I didn’t know there were any – and I’m glad to meet you all!)

So… nothing to see here, move along.  I had a great day today – I sewed on Simplicity 2406, taught 5 lessons, made a berry/jasmine green tea smoothie, went to an excellent rehearsal, and then went out for dessert with my friends.  I know that were it not for the support of you all I would still be upset about the comment (though I know I shouldn’t be!) and instead I can only think of how many wonderful friends I have.  Thank you all!

And now there’s this…

31 Jan

You know… I get occasional trollish comments, and I just delete them and move on.  But this morning I got one that was so nasty that it actually made me cry, and that is just not on.

“Rochelle”

I used to really enjoy your blog, however i so dislike the direction it has taken.  Your journey of knitting and sewing was so awe inspiring!  Now it seems to be all about obsessive and compulsive work-outs and weight training, along with low-calorie smoothie recipes, and “clean-eating” tips.  If you decide to get off of this self-absorbed obsessiveness and back to sharing your sewing and knitting tips and skills, maybe I’ll return.  You had a great blog that has sadly gone down the toilet.  You might want to turn the focus off yourself for a change and look around for a more fulfilling focal point.

 

You know… I really do try to be honest on the blog.  If I have something going on I’m going to talk about it, usually good or bad.  After I got this message I scrolled back, wondering if I had morphed into a health and lifestyle blog without noticing?  Nope… three posts about non-sewing in the past 5 months, and 2 of them were about tea, a different topic to be sure but not one that should inspire such anger.  One recipe (which was, thank you, not low calorie, as the whole big smoothie, which I can assure you I drank, had about 350 calories.)  Were you concerned about the sweet n low?  Because if that bothers you, you wouldn’t want to see what I put in my coffee.

My workouts are not “obsessive.”  I workout 5 or 6 days a week for between 35 and 45 minutes.  If I have to miss one it does not ruin my life.  I’m proud of myself for being healthy, and creating new healthy habits.  I certainly don’t post every day about my workouts, except for an occasional mention (as in the year end post.)  About the clean eating thing… is there a clean eating diet?  Yes.  Am I on it?  No.  When I say that, what I mean is that I’m attempting to eat fewer overly processed foods (um… except the coffee with sweet n low, obviously)  as I think many of us are these days!  I do like the magazine, because the recipes are great.  I am trying to eat more often, but quite frankly that’s good for me, as I’ve always been of the “starve if it’s not a meal” philopsophy of eating, which isn’t super healthy.

And I can understand honest concern, because I have blogged before about my body issues.  That’s fair, and I would probably think the same thing.  I’ve said I have an obsessive personality, and I do.  But I think there is difference – when I say obsessive, what I really mean is that I tend to be driven to learn as much as possible about a given topic, whether that’s sewing, exercise, or even the culture of tea drinking.  I’m very knowledge driven – I want to know about things, and I will pursue a topic with great excitement.  But that doesn’t mean it takes over my life.  There  has to be a balance, and at this point in life I know where that is.

I am a real person, and I think it’s easy to forget that over the internet.  I likely have interests and things going on in my life that I don’t mention here. It’s easy to feel like you know someone because of their blog, but do you really?  Do you assume that because I mention sewing here that all I do all day is obsess about sewing?  That I have no friends because I sit sequestered with my machine, sewing until my fingers bleed?  I don’t do anything involving these interests for a living, and my blog is a place where I can talk about my interests.  Would you say something like this to a real person, someone you know in real life?  Because, quite frankly, if that’s the case then I can’t imagine you’re very pleasant to be around.  But you probably wouldn’t, because we all forget that on the other side of the internet is a real person.

Lord knows I haven’t given up sewing.  I haven’t had a lot of finished things lately, mostly because I’m back in school, working full time, and I have all my performing obligations as well.  And quite frankly, if you want to know what’s currently eating my sewing time, it’s my need to finally complete Final Fantasy X.  Is that weird and dorky?  Yes, but I wear that badge with pride!  The balance will swing around again, as it does in life.

It’s also worth noting that no one is anonymous on the internet.  Yes, I can see who you are.  I can even get an idea of where this anger comes from, but it really doesn’t make me feel much better as the target.

Dear internets:  I know this is asking a lot, but maybe we could all learn how to be a little bit less angry, and a little but more understanding.

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