Today our thirteen year old daughter enrolled at our local community college. We had a very pleasant orientation with her advisor, and then the family – the four of us – toured some new facilities, some really incredible facilities, that will be her home this quarter. Phee stayed at the school with her dad for the rest of the day, while Nels and I came home to our own undertakings: some football and tailoring work, resp.

College matriculation for my daughter came up rather abruptly, as it happened. So my mind is still trying to put pieces together. Unhelpfully, I am breaking new ground and at a loss for mentors. I am also once again in a tiny bit of a spotlight: the moment I publicly announced our daughter’s acceptance to college, I was flooded with parents publicly and privately demanding I tell them how we accomplished this. I’ve also had a handful of well-intentioned (?) people ask me if she was ready – if we’d thought about This, or thought about That.

Well, sheesh. Yeah, we’ve thought about This, and we’ve thought about That. Ralph and I stay up nights talking about our children, our parenting, our family, our community. We talk about it when the kids are in earshot, and when they are not. Our children are the most important pieces of our lives. We’ve built our entire family structure on prioritizing them (and I’ve been writing about this, passionately, for over a decade) – parenting against the cultural standard every step of the way, I might add.

And now – it’s paying off. I mean, it’s paying off yet again, because it has been paying off since get-go. It’s just paying off today in a way that other parents tend to notice. Parents ask me “how [I] did it”? I say – we prioritize our kids’ health and authenticity over Every. Damn. Thing. Non-punitive parenting, and de-institutionalization (a fake word but a real Thing) is often too scary for many parents.

Adults – not just parents! – want kids to perform. To score academically! To read early! To be good at (culturally-recognized forms of) math! To win the tournament! To somehow be OK, because that will prove we are good parents and by inference, good people. To prove the cultural and familial hazing we endured was somehow necessary and should be continued.

So: yeah. When my kids suddenly stand out in some way, I get the queries. You know… the queries where people really want to know “how [I] did it”, but don’t seem to listen when I respond.

If I sound too irritable, well first: you are reading my personal blog which means you’re looking at my thoughts in their underpants, as it were.

Secondly: I will get past it. I’ve had a lot of changes in our lives recently and I’m a bit overwhelmed.

But here’s the thing. I am a human being. I need mentors, just like you. I need support, just like you. And I really need those things when I’m doing something new not only to me, but new in my community.

I’m coming to see that being a groundbreaking family in this way or that way means there are times I might not get the support I’d wish for. I can’t hold that against anyone. I get it.

But my priority will always be my family.

I’ll be working – especially with these recent changes in our lives – on supporting myself, my partner, and our children in this next leg of the journey. And when I figure things out – well I’ll be sure to share, –

as I always have!

And as always – readers? I’ve written thousands and thousands of words on parenting. I’m no expert on anything except perhaps my own life story (and there’s doubt about that!), but I do pass on what I’ve learned.

If you are new to parenting, or if you’re not new but willing to learn new things: come join us. I welcome your emails, your constructive comments. 

Let’s do this together!

so everyone is pretty much settled in

I can’t believe how many changes hit our family at once. A couple are too private to write about – at least, not at the moment, not until I can collect my thoughts. But – we bought a house, we moved, the kids came back home to homeschooling – and a job found me.

Yes – for the first time in thirteen years I am working day hours out of the home – and today was my first day. I guess these last couple weeks – and the next few – I’ll be taking it easy. Remembering to breathe.

Sometimes life comes at you fast!

supply list: jalie sew-along

Edit November 2015: the sew-along is finished! Below you can reach the different parts of the sew-along by clicking on an image. The tagset “jalie hoodie sew-along” contains any and all posts relating to the sew-along. Enjoy!

sal-m-1 sal-m-2
sal-m-3 sal-m-4 sal-m-5 sal-m-6
sal-m-7 sal-m-8

Save The Date: Jalie Hoodie Sew-Along
Are you ready?


Four our Jalie hoodie, the supply list is short and sweet. We need the following: your Jalie pattern, hoodie fabric, separating zipper, thread, and appropriate needle. Read on:

Jalie Hoodie Sew-Along: Supply List
From top to bottom: Jalie pattern, hoodie fabrics of sage velour and two cotton knits, separating zipper, thread, label, and jersey needles.

As I’ve previously mentioned, Jalie is moving their catalog to .pdf option, which is fabulous. More and more pattern companies are offering .pdf versions in large-scale – for printing on a plotter. Jalie isn’t yet doing this size, so my partner takes the pdf pages and “pastes” them, then we send it to the copy shop. This can be done for most electronic patterns, although some are easier than others – and some sites, like sewingpatterns.com, have such stringent copyright protection it is too troublesome to try.

First, if you aren’t familiar with sewing with knits, or if you have had bad experiences, I recommend taking a deep breath, getting a cup of tea, and taking a couple minutes to read through my new-to-knits post, as well as – if you like – my other knit tutorials. Sewing with knit fabrics is not rocket science. But there are a few things to keep in mind – and trust me, the more experienced you get, the more you’ll love these fabrics!

The pattern recommends fabrics with 25% four-way stretch. This means the knit has to stretch at least 25% in both the lengthwise and crosswise grain. This is simple to determine: grip two points on the crossgrain of the fabric four inches apart, and stretch. The fabric will need to stretch to at least five inches comfortably.

The pattern also recommends lengthwise stretch at 25%. In my case, my fabric barely qualifies. But since the lengthwise stretch is far less important to comfort than crosswise for this garment (fitted tights and swimsuits, for instance, really do need to take lengthwise grain into consideration), I figure I’m good to go.

For fabric yardage, I highly recommend looking at the pattern back. Measure your intended client at the bust, waist, and hip. Determine their size. If they are between sizes, use the largest size measurement for yardage. For instance, my daughter is a size S at bust and waist and T at hip, so I elected to make a size T, and grade up to a size U at hip.

On the back of the pattern,  you will find the yardage of 59″ wide knit fabric you need to purchase for your size.

The back of the pattern also lists the size of separating zipper you need at the lower right in a table. You can buy a separating zipper at your craft or fabric shop, but keep in mind separating zipper selection is usually pretty small. I purchased mine from zipperstop (more in a moment about that).

I use a cotton-wrapped poly for most my apparel. I tend to favor Mettler, but I also buy whatever is available to me when I’m in a pinch. Bargain-basement or old thread is a no-no, but Coats & Clark is fine. I will be serge-finishing my seams (so I need thread for my serger); but zig-zag finishing or leaving them unfinished is probably fine, too. Test samples on your fabric and see what you think!

The correct needle depends on the fabric you are using. In general, a jersey or ballpoint needle is best for natural-based stretch fabrics (wool, cotton, linen, etc), while a stretch needle will work well for synthetic stretch fabrics.

You will need a few other supplies: a tracing medium, interfacing and stabilizer.

You can trace with almost anything, and we could debate the merits for quite some time. You can use Swedish Tracing Medium, tissue paper, project paper from the copy supply store, newsprint, or – my personal favorite – sew-in interfacing.

I will be interfacing the pocket welts (piece H) as well as 1″ along all pattern piece edges we install the zipper to (so: the collar [L], front [A], and waistband [N] pieces). This is a small amount of interfacing – purchase 1/4″ in case you mess up. As for types of interfacing, select either knit or lightweight weft varieties (for all my interfacings, I use Pat Erny’s fabulous products at Fashion Sewing Supply). You don’t need a stretch knit for these interfacings because the bits we are interfacing, don’t need to stretch.

I never sew knits without several kinds of washaway stabilizer. Washaway stabilizers are simply non-woven, non-knit products that stabilize either under or on top of the work, while we stitch, then are washed out with water and gentle agitation (or laundering). They make for better results on knits, and even the oldest, most antiquated zig zag sewing machine can sew knits easily using these methods. When it comes to washaway stabilizers, I always have a sticky and non-stick version on hand. I use Solvy’s Fabri Sticky Solvy (in a roll as well as printable sheets), and (for non-stick) Vilene plus. Bonus: the non-stick version can even be dissolved and painted on knit seam allowances to make for stable sewing – far cheaper than buying a stabilizing spray.

And now – OH MY GOSH. Let me tell you about a little sumthin’-sumthin’ I treated myself to: the YKK sample book, containing ALL the zipper fabric shades they make. It can be hard to perfectly-match a zipper, but it’s something I need to do! And now, I have that power IN MY VERY HANDS! muah-ha-ha-HA!

Jalie Hoodie Sew-Along: Supply List
Jalie Hoodie Sew-Along: Supply List
Jalie Hoodie Sew-Along: Supply List
So – yeah. Pretty cool, huh?

Our sew-along starts October 1st. In the meantime, if you have any questions you can email, @kellyhogaboom on Twitter, or comment here. If you like, add a badge to your blog, or subscribe to the sew-a-long updates via RSS!

Sew-A-Long ONLY rss feed | “jalie hoodie sew-along” ONLY rss feed


put your hands on the wheel / let the golden age begin

Our lifestyle has changed, and abruptly. Shuddered and jerked into a grinding openness – a carnival ride taking us – where? It is easy to feel unmoored – but writing, and caring for the children, and sewing, has anchored me through larger upheavals and, I trust, will carry me through this.

It’s not just that the new home is a lot nicer than the old. Although this change itself is a little odd as it wasn’t entirely planned. In fact it is dawning on my husband and I each day how much an improvement this home is over our previous rentals. The kids, I think, somehow saw this right away – no one is more thrilled than our eleven year old son, who has given many tours and is so very proud of his new homestead.

I am still getting used to: having a large workspace for my sewing room, that includes a utility sink, its own bathroom, and a washer and dryer. I am still getting used to: having a dishwasher, a garage door with automatic opener, air conditioning, and a sink disposal unit. (I was terrified of two of those – I’ll let you guess which ones!). I am still getting used to: having a separate dining area that isn’t doubling for something else.  I am still getting used to: rooms with a lot of natural light. Even as we put together our situation – our living room is not yet finished, curtains need to be hung throughout the main level, and my kitchen lacks a table – it is clear this home will suit very well.

It is also completely odd to be thrown into a dwelling we can immediately make improvements to – without asking a landlord, or worrying if they’ll say Yes or No, or wondering if they’ll care for the home we live in. We get to care for our home! It is completely strange to live in rooms without a bunch of chipped cheap paint and wonky floor. It is strange to watch my husband – who has always been such a hard worker – complete projects one right after the other, the only limitation being the funds I allocate and whether or not I will cook dinner and care for children while he works.

If this weren’t change enough, I am discovering the pace of unschooling life, now that both kids are eschewing the school life. Today we traveled out of town for furnishings and lunch. We sang aloud, tried new foods together, and shopped for a few extras for the kids. We are sleeping better, eating well, and enjoying our rhythm together. It is a vast improvement over the schedule of last year.

And – I start a job on Monday. A job! This job was phoned TO me, delivered on my doorstep as it were. It has been over a dozen years since I’ve worked for someone besides the family, or myself.

A lot of changes. I don’t at all feel over-excited. But – it is a lot. I have to take it one day, one bit of work, at a time.

“no more lovely, friendly and charming relationship, communion or company – than a good marriage”

14th Anniversary

Today marked our fourteenth wedding anniversary. And it was a beautiful, lush day, as September often is here.  It’s also a busy time of year – and busier than typical, for us.

I had wondered – as it became obvious our house-buy and move would be right on top of both “the first day of school” (irrelevant, as homeschoolers) and our anniversary – if our day would get swallowed up. Would we be too tired, or angry with one another, or embroiled in detail, to spend a few hours in appreciation? (No.) Would we make time to gift one another (Yes!) Would we have a lovely evening together (Yes!).

Dinner was lovely – but the drive, and the beach view, were sublime. I am fortunate to live in an absolutely beautiful, remote, idyllic corner of the world. I don’t regret it, not for a moment.

And here’s hoping for many, many more years together as a couple.

14th Anniversary

the day I became an Aberdonian

The day before the move: packed up, and (mostly) ready to go:

The Move
Annnd… we are homeowners!

The Move
A friend asked for a ride on our big day. And like – of course! So she got to share in my little photoblog:

The Move

So… is anything more heartrending than recycling pounds and pounds of paperwork – lovely drawings, journals, and the like? I try to enjoy those moments because – whether you cram all this stuff in a drawer or closet for someone else to deal with, or not – we can’t take any of it with us.

The Move

I wish I liked anything as much as Nels likes our new house. In fact, this morning he told me he thinks he likes it “too much”. Yeah. Yeah, I hear you kid!The Move
It was a beautiful day. Rain-drenched greenery.

The Move
Stacking random packages, teenagers:

The Move
The first residents: my plants. <3

The Move
Feeling left out: Queen Josie:

The Move
Phee texting. And being ethereally beautiful. I forgot to budget for curtains, and the house came with only Walmart bare-bones versions. Thinking these will be our “real” curtains a loonnnnng time!

The Move
We took the jars of coin we’ve saved in the old house, converted to cash, and will now be donating to a homeless project. I’ll keep you updated!

The Move
A simple dinner with the two men who helped us move. Some candelight. xxx ooo

The Move
Cats came over later. Pip was a little clingy. 

The Move
It’s been a great deal of work, but it has gone well so far. With some weirdness – I was charged for, and delivered, TWO king-size mattresses. AND I had a fraudulent charge – almost $600 – on our main checking card! I caught that, and corrected it, right away. But it has been a juggle outfitting the new home and keeping our financial picture afloat. 

We are having a great time. We are out of funds. I am almost out of energy, for a thousand and one reasons.

But we’re still laughing, and enjoying this time special together.


Tonight, to ground myself, I head to a Recovery meeting. A break from packing: dismantling my home, my workspace – my refuge. Cleaning out cabinets. Finding new homes for posessions that need to move on. Potting.

The meeting has only a handful of people: about seven in all. Incredibly, I am the “old timer” in the group – with almost five years’ clean and sober, I have seen everyone here come. Some have gone back out, then returned.

And then there are those that left, that I will never see again. There are these little patches of paint, little wall tributes in the hall I’m sitting in. As I rest, my eyes wander over names… five names. Four of them, friends who died in this last year. This sinks in – again. Just sitting there for a bit and not being needed – phone off, family on errands, as the words of the meeting chair wash over me – my heart hurts. It’s incredible I can lose so many dear friends and still be okay. I miss them so. I’m not the same without them.

The sun is washing the newly-painted walls in a beatific light. The woman chairing the meeting seems down, disgruntled. I feel at peace. Moving isn’t easy, and even with my practice of patience, my Buddhism, I am weary of this latest journey. I want a substantial meal. I want a hot bath. I want a day to myself.

It’s enough, today, to know I need these things. They will come. A little longer, meanwhile feeling a great deal of gratitude for the change we’re able to make.

Not Back To School, reason #1

Being Assholes
It’s that time of year – my social media stream is full of parents and teachers making jokes (?) at the expense of children. Teachers groan about having to return to their jobs. Parents are glad they get a break – finally! We’re all in agreement: caring for children is really exhausting and annoying and teachers should be sainted for having to put up with it!

Yeah. It’s kinda ugly.

Lest you think I’m a humorless scold (um… do you even read here?) let me acknowledge a few truths. First, I think very loving grownups can make jokes like this. Whether they should, well, let’s talk about this.

Second: I don’t deny, everyone needs to blow off some steam. As a parent for over thirteen years, I can attest there is a dark side to the hard work of being a parent. Sometimes we just need to vent. In fact, older entries of this very blog reveal that edge. Go ahead and look, if you like. It’s not pretty, although a lot of people seem to think it’s funny.

I am not writing this piece for those who’d read and feel offended, flustered. “How dare she pick on how I talk about my kids!” Or: “Well I don’t like kids. That’s just my preference.” (Not even touching this one, today!)

Yeah, yeah. I’m not trying to pick on you. I’m not even writing for you.

I’m writing for the children, teens, and adults, who see these “jokes”, and feel uneasy. If you do, please read on:

The problem with public venting is: children hear it. And it is damaging. There is no question about either of these things.

So then it becomes time for us truly to earn that title of GROWN UP. Because we are grown. We have rights, freedoms, protection under the law, and access to support – at least, far more than children as a class do.

So – are we going to act grown, or not? Is our right to vent more important than the collective self-esteem of our new generation? Does our right to vent trump our responsibility to weigh our words, while we steward this world and show, by example, how best to care for it? Are snark, memes, and barbed anecdotes – about our children or others’ – our only avenues to vent? Is it possible there are ways to get our needs met, that aren’t destructive to others?

Children read this stuff. They see it. Children get the gist. Teenagers especially learn that: we think they’re silly, dramatic, stupid, and annoying. And look – here’s another article proving how “teenage brain” is totally different than – *cough cough inferior to* – the grownup brain. Ouch!

Is it possible for children to fully understand these memes and snark are “just jokes”? Studies say, not so much. Empirical evidence and anecdotes reveal: not so much.

Even as adults: we all have a person or two in our lives, who seems to pick on us, although we can’t absolutely prove it. How does that feel?

Yeah, not too great.

Children are human beings, and they deserve respect – as individuals, and as a class. Our pastors, close and trusted friends, counselors, and the supportive family members who can keep a confidence? These fine personages are who we should vent to.

And when we’ve had enough support from these professionals and loved ones, we can better clarify what, if anything, we need to change. We can speak to our children in a constructive manner. We can dance that special dance – of self-care, while discharging our responsibilities.

It’s never too early, or too late to start.

I’m looking forward to these “Not Back To School” months with my kids in my home. I can truthfully say: these ten plus years of immersion have been the experience of a lifetime. I am so glad I did it, and so glad we continue. I am so glad I took the plunge, even after so many told me it wasn’t possible. That only a certain class of (unambitious, unintelligent, lifeless, and financially-privileged) women could do it, and stay happy.

Nah, son. If you want to do it – you can. Prepare to learn a little – or a lot!

And – I’m here to help.

save the date: Jalie hoodie sew-along, October 1, 2015

Edit November 2015: the sew-along is finished! Below you can reach the different parts of the sew-along by clicking on an image. The tagset “jalie hoodie sew-along” contains any and all posts relating to the sew-along. Enjoy!

sal-m-1 sal-m-2
sal-m-3 sal-m-4 sal-m-5 sal-m-6
sal-m-7 sal-m-8

Save The Date: Jalie Hoodie Sew-Along
It’s time for another sew-along! Save the date for October 1st, and plan to finish your new hoodie by Halloween. My next posts will over the next week – supplies posts. If you’d like to join the sew-along and receive a fabric coupon (see below), please comment here!

October is a wild month, both in terms of weather here in the Pacific Northwest, and lovely Halloweeny fun! So to that end:

Save The Date: Jalie Hoodie Sew-Along

Cotton velours in Halloween colorways!

Those of you who join the sew-along, I have a 10% coupon for you to use from Nature’s Fabrics (with their blessing), should you want to buy one of their amazing fabrics. They have a wonderful selection and are very accommodating.

As to the pattern: after some queries to the sewing public at large, I selected Jalie 2795: a zip-up, raglan-sleeve, offering with gender-neutral detailing. Jalie’s drafting is perfect, and their size range is huge: 27 sizes (a size 2T to a 50″ bust). If you are new to sewing, you can get your feet wet by making a small-size hoodie for a child or a friend’s child (consider a freezer-paper motif!). The larger size range also means you can buy one pattern and sew for the family!

Best of all, perhaps: Jalie is converting more and more of their catalog to a PDF form: which means you can buy the pattern from where you sit, and print it from home.

Early September I’ll post a supply list, so we all have plenty of time to get what we need before adventuring forth. In the meantime, if you have any questions you can email, @kellyhogaboom on Twitter, or comment here.

Jalie 2795: Pattern Front
Jalie 2795: Pattern Back

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Sew-A-Long ONLY rss feed | “jalie hoodie sew-along” ONLY rss feed


verily i am unstoppable!

MONDAYS! (The Strange World of Planet X - 1957)

So today was really great, in about a half-dozen ways. Mostly I was tremendously focused on learning a few new things, which feels wonderful. The kids had friends over, then got up to their own projects – artwork. About halfway through this I forced them out on a walk with the dog so I could focus on some tailoring work: making a muslin and custom shoulder pads in a fabulous Harris tweed jacket for a delightful client. Then, while Ralph made dinner, cutting into the thick, scratchy high-end fabric and block fusing, the steam from the iron not feeling great in the summer heat, even with the A/C on.

Tomorrow is payday. I’m short about $500 this pay cycle. We’ll see!