correspondance, commerce, & creeps

This morning after meeting a friend at Pure Clothing here in HQX (I love the owner J. and think we are so lucky to have such a great shop; today I found a pair of hot-ass Silver jeans in my size as well as a pair of my tried-and-true Levi 501s – have I mentioned how much I love jeans yet hate stretch jeans, which are almost all you find if you’re over about a US size 10, and remind me sometime to tell you my friend Jasmine’s dire and graphic warnings on such stretchy-fare) I stopped at Jackson Street Books and chatted with the owner Tammy (who really. REALLY. knows her books). While talking my eye fell on about ten books I wanted for myself or as gifts. I finally settled on two for Phoenix: Bunnicula by James Howe and The Sea of Monsters by Rick Riordan (the second book in the very popular Percy Jackson and the Olympians series; she simply devoured the first one about half a year ago). I thought both were excellent Halloween choices. When I got home I surprised Phoenix with the books and she smiled bigger than you can imagine and put aside the “younger” (and shorter) Bunnicula to dive into the YA/General fare of Percy. I felt a bit sad as it seems her babyhood vanished far before I could treasure it; however I know she will pick up the story of the vampiric lupine (a favorite of mine as a kid) – at some point.

So I spent my grocery money on jeans and books but we made due with pantry provisions for dinner and I really think the purchases, especially the books for my girl, entirely worth it.

Today a friend asked me if I’d sew her up a dress (based on the striped hooded version recently modeled by Phoenix) to which I said Yes. I am ready and willing to take on full-grown ladies (and gentlemen), especially plus-size women as they are so underserved in the fashion industry. All of this has to be done within my own work schedule of course (I am currently two pair of monster booties behind) – which I’m trying desperately not to get backed up on as:

the gag order has been lifted and I am now able to publicly blog I am testing for an upcoming book project of Karen and Shelly’s (of Patterns by Figgys) as published by Wiley. While I’m not able to post pictures of the garments I’m testing (yet), I can say they are all fabulous and fun to sew and scratch my technical-writing nrrd-skills.  I’m saving up pictures in Flickr (as private) and hoping to make them public some day. There are a lot of things I really love about these two ladies, their designs, and their ethos (including generous voluntary copyright clauses for cottage-industry or home sewists). It is pure joy to be able to help such an enterprise.

And:

I recently received a Thank You email (very specific and edifying and including details of my reader’s life – which I love!) and a Paypal donation by reader E.; the day after a handwritten letter arrived, penned from New Zealand blogger Elly – and full of NZ and AU currency and some history/geography to boot! As far as feedback and commentary from readers it’s been a great week. Well actually it seems to get better all the time, although to be clear IMs and DMs and tweets and email and snailmail has never been much more than a steady trickle (I am no Celebrity). For this I am grateful as I sometimes fear I let correspondance slip through the cracks. Frowny-face.

In other news, sketchy Flickrite Alejandro seems to like the ladies. And the little girls. Like my 8 year old daughter. (Just not anyone over 22 or so, or fat or “ugly” – ew!) But don’t worry, I’m sure the fellow’s legit. See how he has no profile information and has posted no photo except one of a Siamese cat.

Cute cat.

angel in blue

My daughter loves this ensemble but personally I think it’s a tiny bit too matchy-matchy. For my taste, anyway. One won’t deny the teal is a lovely color for this time of year.

Friendly

Funny: as soon as I finished it (handsewing at the soccer practice last night) I knew my daughter would love the dress but be less enamored of the pinafore: and I was right!

Hood

Both she and I love the hood more than anything (the pattern for both pieces is Olivia from Farbenmix).

Grimms' Fairy Tales

The dress is a 100% cotton Michael Miller; the pinafore is made from one of my favorite current fabrics to work with, a linen/rayon blend.

Skirt

The linen/rayon looks better and better with age, too.

“It’s the pleats.”

Button, Flowers

Handsewn flowers via a tutorial by my lady Karen.

Laugh

Phoenix laughs, watching her dad play hackysack.

I’m offering either/or/both pieces in my little shop; you can also view more detail photos in the Flickr tagset or read my pattern review.

the littlest giant

Today the children and I went off for a lunch date and then swimming as soon as I’d done the laundry and made all the beds blah blah blah. We got sandwiches together at Subway (all three of us eating for $11; can’t beat that) where I saw then introduced myself to one of the excitable soccer parents from last weekend.

The kids were a delight to have lunch with. They were very hungry (well, for them – the kids and I are all three kind of light eaters), splitting a ham sandwich on flatbread and judiciously divvying up a milk between them, followed by a cookie apiece. I can’t always know when they are hungry and I’m glad I took them out first because we ended up playing quite vigorously in the pool.

It felt wonderful to be back in the water again. Now that it’s school season we often have the pool to ourselves which is incredibly peaceful.

Phoenix and I played many games together. This was a welcome improvement from the last few months we’ve visited the pool. Phoenix loves to swim with me but often we have to stay close to Nels or risk being admonished by the capricious lifeguards and this limitation has frustrated us both in the past. Today she figured out a few new games we could engage in together: we performed a syncrho-swimming waterdance using hoops formed from those styrofoam noodles in the pool (she challenged herself to see how long she could stay under and quickly swim in back and forth in the hoops; she got up to three). Then she had me hold her straight out from my waist, her legs around my body, while I spun her like a fan blade through the water (now that was a workout for both of us!). I get dizzy easily now (ever since I had kids, and I’m not making that up) so I had to rest between goofy games like this. She helped Nels improve his kick. She tickled me and swam in and out around my legs with a grace and a lack of kicking-me-in-the-face which was delightfully new and appreciated.

My son has been a bit fragile today. It is truly a wonderful experience for me to be able to be available to them for their needs. Today from across the pool my son swam out from the little winding river and I saw the set in his shoulders and the sadness in his eyes. And I swam over to him and asked, “What is it baby?” He told me he had hiccups and they were hurting his body. He said, “But I feel better now you’re here,” and wrapped his arms and legs around me. And there’s probably nothing that smells and feels better to me than my children.  And sure enough a hiccup jerked through his little body, his frog-like limbs and tender little ribcage and his little belly. And I showed him how to hold his breath and tighten his eyes up and plug his nose and ears and he tried this many times, his little body convulsing now and then. The hiccups seemed too big for him!

Later at home he lay on top of me and we played “I Spy.” He made me laugh about eighteen times. For instance when he said, “I spy something BLUE… It’s outside.” I laughed and told him the whole point of the game is that you could SEE the thing from where you were. But I got it anyway (answer: the sky). A minute later it was my turn and I told him it was something that looked like a breast… he looked and looked and finally I had to tell him it was up high, at which point he saw the hemisphereical-with-nipple-fitting center light in our room and pointed triumphantly and then looked down at me and shook the hair out of his eyes and said knowingly, “Eas-y,” as if he hadn’t been guessing for minutes! I laughed and wrestled him and grabbed him up and we kissed and hugged times One Hundred.

I played a game with him, one he hadn’t remembered but I had. First I took my hand on his bare big toe (the right one) then pretended The Toe was sojourning on his body on its way to see The Head (I perform the role of The Toe by dancing my fingers along his body). So The Toe would stop and introduce herself to The Ankle, or whomever (as played by Nels) and they’d have a little talk, with The Ankle directing The Toe on further to her destination. Et cetera. We played this when the kids were little – I mean littler. It’s one of those simple but amazing games because it involves a lot of touch but a total respect by the grownup, since the child is in control of directions. We play similar games where the children will tell me where to kiss them, or stroke them or squeeze them, or (if they want to scare themselves) bite them or pinch them.

It really is an honor to be trusted and loved so much by my little ones.

In other news I have the perfect Halloween costume idea (finally!). I do not have money to garner my supplies!  Very upsetting. I am hoping (against all hopes) to set up a little display and sell a few of my wares. This would be a miracle (by “miracle” I mean something kind of nice that no one could possibly give a shit about, and thusly deserves a less auspicious descriptor) as I do not have my items ready or a display ready and also, by the way, I’m being a total coward about the whole business. Halloween approaches and I have three semi-elaborate getups to assemble and I’ve made no headway and can’t even sell our last running car without a few repairs that I’m not even going to type about as one of them makes the vehicle un-street legal.

Flow & Commerce

Even in my days where nothing happens, or it feels like not much, I guess I’m rather busy. Busy doing things I love more than anything. The time flies by.

Today I got up to find a Freecycler had dropped off two sets of bamboo knitting needles in sizes I didn’t have previously: 11s and 13s (I’m looking forward to knitting either some chunky scarves or hats-in-the-flat). I brewed coffee and finished laundry and dishes and sat down and worked on a wee knitting project (which is truly STELLAR; I will be posting pictures soon!). While still in sleepwear with my pillow-hair (very tangly) another friend and Freecycler stopped by with a dress for Phoenix (a lovely little import number) and I gave her my bellydancing practice skirt for her daughter to use for Halloween. Just as this woman left my mother called and asked me out to breakfast. Entirely thrilled with this I made ready and as she got here the kids stumbled out of bed all lovely and sleepy. My mom is always happy to have them along and she coaxed accordingly; Nels came with us while my daughter stayed at home. We went out to breakfast (it was really lunch) and had a long talk while Nels played PvZ and then at the questions of our server did indeed elucidate on the game and strategies (people, do NOT ask Nels about his computer activities unless you really do want to hear his answers!). I paid for lunch which made me feel all awesome. Usually my mother pays.

After my mom dropped Nels and I off at home I asked my daughter along to my errands and to my glad heart she said Yes (I was hoping to have time alone with her). I have the inkling to set up a little display of my sewn pieces in a shop or caf̩ around here so locals know there is a custom / homesewn seamstress around these parts. I have a few ideas about where and how to do this, and I have a few people I want to talk to. On our way to our first stop we talked with the proprietress of the local indie book store Рopening on Saturday!, and by the way, will be the ONLY bookstore in Hoquiam/Aberdeen with a population of 25,000 or so! Рand chatted for a few minutes. Phoenix introduced herself clear as day, stepping forward with her hand extended, her eyes clear and freckles popping.

In our recycled clothing shop I turned in a pair of Old Navy jeans and earned consignment to buy a new (to me) purse. Phoenix selected a lovely fall-color poncho and was very pleased with this. I bought her a burger on the way to picking Ralph up from work; the three of us then headed to the bakery in Aberdeen and I picked up a consignment form, coffee, and a cream puff.

At Thrift City we shopped, primarily with the goal of finding clothes for Ralph (and P.S. good sir, your total aversion to pleats is seriously hampering your choices). He futzed around in the electronics section while I came away with five pair of pants and two longsleeved work shirts for The Man, two trick-or-treat buckets for the kids, a pair of shoes for Phoenix, a few LPs selected by Ralph, and a – yes, a sewing machine, a vintage Wizard heavier than you can imagine. All of this cost $25. Doing laundry later today I reflected I’ve developed quite the system for our clothing, not formally or by design but in ways that make absolute sense for quality and frugality. I wear mens’ jeans and recycled clothing for cheap/sturidiness along with my trusty doc martens (and yeah, a big part of my Plan is to mostly just look a bit shoddy). For the kids, most of their gear is stuff I’ve sewn augmented by the occasional hand-me down and thrift store purchase. Ralph’s digs come from Thrift City as the men’s clothing there is well-made, great brands and in good shape. His socks we buy at Ross, his boxers I sew, his sunglasses he’s always losing and then buying new cheap ones (like we do here in the PNw).

At home Ralph made dinner while I resumed knitting and visited with a friend who dropped by looking for discussion/advice on her children’s schooling. Her preteen daughter sat at our feet and we all caught up together. After they left and I stitched my last on the now-finished project, Ralph and I walked down to my mother’s in the lovely fall inky-black night where I picked up some more yarn from my mother’s stash.

It really was a perfect night for a walk.

And of course, in addition to all this there were emails and tweets and IMs and reading articles and scratching kitties and a few other friends I ran into and wrestling and snuggling with my children while a handful of other kids ran in and out (in the evening Phoenix’s good friend S. came over and my kids went for a walk with her to a neighborhood fort).

If I had to pick, I’d say my favorite moments (so far!) were on my walk with Ralph, or even the moment he invited me – or maybe the hugs I shared with my face in Nels’ warm sunny hair – or maybe the minutes alone with Phoenix in the car. She was heart-achingly “appropriate” in the store; my used jeans had earned me $7.50 and she judiciously looked for pieces that cost under that – no hinting on her part for more, and no need for me to state that requirement (which in this case, I didn’t have). I told her to get what she liked and the knit poncho ($9) was something she was very pleased with. She pulled her hair back into a ponytail and looked at her beauty in the sideview mirror of our car and my heart skipped a beat. I wish when she was younger I’d worried less and felt less stress as a mother. Here she’s practically raising herself and she’s doing an incredible job.

So see there’s usually nothing particularly sublime to my days, or maybe actually everything about most my days really is phenomenal. I don’t know. Days like today are typically the way I spend our time – nothing especially exalted, but exactly the kind of bliss I’m used to regularly experiencing.

I feel very fortunate. It seems like life used to be a lot more work for me a lot more of the time.

crafty like a FOX

Phoenix mentioned our anniversary many times last night. And this morning when I stepped out the shower she’d left me something with a little Post-It note handmade card: “Happy Anniversary”. A robo-dinosaur with “angry eyes” (shown here from its new vantage point in my sewing room):

Wonder of wonders, I mailed out my client’s clothing – to the Netherlands!  I am incredibly poor at getting things in the mail but in this case I was highly motivated as it was an exciting event for me. I was finished two days past my original due date, but I had a wonderful time making those clothes. I pictured the little girl I was sewing for and hoped I was making things she’d love. I truly hope she likes her new digs.

My sewing room all tidied up I began preparing a few fabrics. I know I am a true Stitcher at heart because I love almost every aspect of creation: today, serge-finishing and then washing and drying yardage. Holding long swaths of lovely cloth and imagining what I might make is a true pleasure. Feeling frustrated with a couple yards of two different wool flannels I felted them in the washer and dryer as well (the correct term really is “fulled”). The resultant fabric is wonderfully supple and soft and warm and entirely different. I look forward to working with it.

Serging(lusty organic cotton canvas; 100% wool flannel – yum!)

Tonight we had the honor of being hosted for dinner at our friends’ J. and D.’s place. Lovely conversation and a casual dinner I didn’t have to cook; the most tasty fresh tortillas and ripe avocado slices. Nels went home early but Phoenix stayed and drew and enjoyed herself with the two dogs there while we talked.

I’d had a good couple of days energy-wise but today I felt fatigued again. I’ve been dosing myself with a few supplements and vitamins; also red meat and fermented foods. Today I didn’t do any of this (yet – I plan to before I fall into bed) – perhaps that’s why I’m tired, perhaps it’s something else (I am recovering from yesterday’s run and I did go for an energetic bike ride this morning). There are just those days you know: the ones where you aren’t incredibly awesome and don’t have much to show for anything, but it’s still a day, breathe in, breathe out.

kitsch’n helpers

My Tag
A goal over the Thanksgiving trip was to finish three aprons for display (and sale) at the new Harbor Art Guild gallery (in the gift shop, lest anyone think I am aspiring to the air of calling myself “artist”).

"Pantry"
I did finish, and had a good time designing and sewing them.

Button
Lots of details: each apron had buttons I’d hand-picked over the years in thrift shops. Buttons are the only items I stash; that is, buy without a specific project in mind.

Pocket Detail
I used organic cottons and, in the above picture, a vintage polka dot that had sat unused for decades, in a friend’s cabin.

Vintage Hangers
Who knows how long they will grace the shop before they sell – if they sell – but I had a great time creating them.