Monday, August 29, 2011

I'm a Knitter.

My mom started knitting a couple weeks ago on a whim.  Her sewing machine is packed away, awaiting their move, but she still needed something to do with her hands so she booked a class and started knitting.  She's really gotten into it (though I've yet to see pictures of anything, much less a finished project) and I thought, well, I can do that!  Plus, everything on Purl Soho makes me want to die of happiness, so what the hell, I decided to go for it.

Hurricane Irene was set to blow through here over the weekend, so I made sure to stop at Barnes and Noble and the library for books and magazines.  I picked up Interweave Knits, Knit Scene (a bit strange to me, but maybe I just didn't get it?), Last Minute Knitted Gifts, a Christmas knitting book (never too early!) and the Ultimate Knitting Bible.  I read them all and realized I have no idea what's going on.  I know what needles are.  I know what yarn in.  Besides that, I may as well be blind.

After deciding I'd be confused forever, I went to my LYS yesterday to pick up yarn and needles in order to familiarize myself and perhaps make friends instead of feeling scared.  Little did I know I'd become a knitter an hour later.  Even though there was a party going on, the owner offered to teach me right then and there, and off I went, with some size 8 circulars and worsted wool.  I cast on about 30 stitches (is it cast or casted? It seems weird to say cast in the past tense), knit, purled, knit and purled.  And then I went home, after meeting all these fertile Jewish women and their talented fingers.  As soon as I got home, I messed up a row (exhaustion and excitement overload?) and then did better.  Though I'm sure there will be comments when I go back for my follow up lesson.

So now I'm trying to decide what I want to make.  Scarves and blankets most definitely.  Does anyone have any blog recommendations?  I'm a little over seeing people only sew for their children (so, so over that, actually) so any young, "hip" knitters who don't make dumb things would be great!

Here are some pictures:
Learning in the store

On the kitchen table

Our first hint of fall?  Taken last week - today it's only in the 70s

Northwest DC from Rosslyn

Monday, August 22, 2011


I read this article after finding it on the Fibre Space blog--okay, first thing's first, I'm probably going to take up knitting as soon as I can find a class near me.  I apparently don't have enough hobbies--and it kind of shocked me, but at the same time, made me sad for someone so close-minded.

The author, Peg Aoli, is basically saying that only women who ride motorcycles, come up with a sequel to "Rebel Grrl" and give their newborns tattoos are strong women.  We as a society are soft and meek, reverting to Mamie Eisenhower instead of Eleanor Roosevelt.  We make cupcakes not because they're hiding switchblades for our boyfriends in jail, but because we think someone would enjoy them.  And then we blog about it!  The horror!!

I read through the first page of comments and didn't see a single one in support.  Most women were knitters, bakers, mothers, volunteers, daughters of feminists, feminists themselves--they were certainly women who don't make money yelling at their girlfriends on Bravo original television.  They were real women with real lives, keeping it together everyday in this hell-in-a-handbasket world.  So that makes me think the author may not actually believe in what she's saying.  Maybe she wrote this to rally together the strong women--the real women--just to see what they're capable of.  I mean, come on, she says Sookie Stackhouse and the woman from Sons of Anarchy (my dad's favorite show--definitely not a feminist there!) should be our role models today.  No thank you.

If, in fact, the author does believe this, then I feel bad.  I don't necessarily think of myself as a badass or a strong, resilient woman--I tend to cry a lot and I've thrown the occasional pity party--but I'm making it, day to day, just like everyone else.  And I also happen to sew, bake, cook, clean, and maybe I'll be knitting soon.  Just like the generations before me--none of which rode a motorcycle or ate bonbons.

Why do we feel the need to categorize women?  Why aren't we saying anything about men who get manicures or shine their shoes?  Get over it!  It's 2011.  I think we all have bigger problems on our plates than whether or not we're cool enough for some HuffPo writer.

And that was Monday's rant, everyone.  I'm exhausted and would really like some bread.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

In Response to Girlfriends

Things have been heavy around here, at least to me.  What's up with that?  Wouldn't you all rather just read about fabric or something?

Anyway, go here today and read about a woman in my predicament: no girlfriends.  I came across this entry in my Google Reader this morning and thought, "YES.  THIS."  Because we don't have any friends here and, while I've never been a girlfriend girl, it was always nice to have someone to shop with, someone who doesn't spend 45 minutes looking at beer glasses in Crate & Barrel.

I've never met the woman who writes that blog--can't even recall her name, honestly--and we're in very, very different places in our lives, but sometimes people just get you.  And it's nice to know I'm not the only one trying to figure out how to make friends in a grown-up world.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Wherein I Discover I'm Boring

I don't normally read New York-based magazines or newspapers (besides the Style section of the Times, and I read that online on Monday mornings), because I've never been there, I'm not familiar with the area, and I cannot lose the label "outsider" plastered on my forehead.  New York, to me, isn't like D.C.: besides the obvious, on a personal note, I would read the Washington Post daily because I knew the area.  I visited, I was a former resident, and it felt more like home than my physical address in Jacksonville.  I mean, things change (as we can all tell), but that's how it was for six years.

Just stick with me through this.  I'm trying to wade through a lot here, and if you give up now, you're gonna miss out.

Six years, you guys.  The better part of a decade, stretching from high school to post-college years.  All I wanted was to move back to D.C.  I would visit in the fall and spring and just want to smell the concrete and feel the wind whipping between the buildings.  I would step on the Metro and feel like I was a local, even though I was only in town for a weekend.  I thought, that's my answer!  That's what I need!  Everything will be better!

Why didn't I see that as my first mistake?

Sometimes my obsessions turn unhealthy, as this one did.  As soon as we crossed the Maryland state border, this fixation rotted in my palm.  Since moving here, I've had an endless string of drama, mostly internal but also concerning Nick: our flus, his unemployment, nonexistent college degrees, break-ins, two kidney infections, bank account overdrafts, armed robbery.  Not to mention the unreliable landlord (and even less reliable electricity and air conditioning) and our complete lack of friends or family close by, or even within short driving distance.  It's been eight months without sleep and with constant nausea.  Every week brings a new issue and a new breakdown.

After the armed robbery outside my apartment last week--the final straw in the recent outbreak of crime, we heard the woman screaming while making our dinner--I lost all sanity in regards to our living situation.  I had previously told my landlord we'd stay for 2012, as our lease ends on December 31.  I soon realized I couldn't live here, in a place that disregards safety to the point where I no longer am able to go to the grocery store by myself because two men with a shotgun are free to confront me at the car door.  I don't want to live like that.  We pay too much for me to resign myself to hermithood.

So we set out on the apartment hunt.  We have very specific requests: our budget is $1300 (and that's maximum--we currently pay $1250), we need at least 800 square feet, and we want free laundry on-site.  This is all what we currently have.  However, Washington, D.C's metro area had different ideas.  We've contacted five apartments since Saturday; all have come back as scams (if you Google "D.C. Craiglist scams," you'll see an example, though two of the apartments were also on Realtor and Zillow).  This is incredibly discouraging and disheartening.  I feel as if I'm not important enough to be safe in my neighborhood because I can't afford it.  Forget that we have good jobs and we pay taxes and we take care of ourselves; because we can't afford $2300 a month for a one-bedroom apartment, we deserve to be robbed as we carry in our groceries.

So naturally, my thoughts have drifted elsewhere.  But what if we moved here?  But what if we moved there? How much would it cost to go south about three hundred miles?  I've never been out west; why don't we see what's out there?  Nick is rooted and has trouble understanding why I ask "What if?" all the time.  It's in my blood to be discontent, to worry, to uproot at the soonest sign of a problem.  However, he also understands my very valid points: larger apartments or houses, half of what we're paying now, and we have the space for a dog (something he wants more than anything else in the world).  But until we can find him a job, we are stuck.  And we have no hope of finding our way out just yet.

Anyway, back to New York.  I came across this article on Jenna Lyons on Twitter.  I worked at J. Crew right after Mickey Drexel become the CEO, while the brand was shifting (we still had the flannel-lined chinos, but we were also carrying sequined cardigans and strapless tuxedo dresses).  I look back on that time with mixed feelings, because, while I had a lot of inner turmoil, I seriously have never dressed better in my entire life.  Forget that I was three sizes smaller and was also receiving some items at 80% off (not an exaggeration)--I looked awesome.  I'm starting to shop at J. Crew again, after years of avoiding it due to the bad management and bad personalities infiltrating the Jacksonville store, and I wonder just how a clothing company can make you feel like a better person.  I think, if I had the money (read: if I wasn't living here), I could buy that outfit  and that lipstick  and feel like the woman I'm supposed to be.  I should be confident and happy and optimistic.  And these clothes would do that, right?  They'd make me interesting, they'd give me friends, they'd pay my bills without ever taking money out of my teensy account.

Of course, this is a destructive way of thinking, but as I already said, I look to tangible items to make my happy: a new apartment, a new city, a new look.  And this article, with all its mentions of Jenna Lyons and her beautiful office with its expansive inspiration board (along with Anthropologie, Matchbook Magazine, Kate Spade ads and the women I pass on my way to work), makes me feel like an "if only" version of myself.  I'm not writing this to make myself feel better or to look for therapy, but I'm just wondering where it ends.  If we move and I have a charming little Cape Cod with enough space for those new J. Crew wool trousers (in fuschia, please), will I finally chill out?  Or will I scream at the dog when his muddy paws brush against them after running outside in the rain?  You know the answer as well as I do.

I don't think of myself as an interesting person; in fact, most of my personality lies in my hair, and that's a complete coincidence, because I surely didn't ask for it.  I don't go out on weekends and I don't ever have the time (or money, for that matter) to take a vacation.  So maybe that's why I rely on what's within reach to make me more interesting.  That sequined dress makes up for the fact that I have nightmares every night.  And that extra-wide baseboard?  Well, that's there to conceal all the dirty dishes waiting for me to take care of after we eat the dinner I cooked.

I'm within a month of my twenty-fourth birthday and life is not as I imagined.  First off, when I was a kid, I thought 24 was the perfect age to have a baby, so that's been a big change of plans--for the better, though, no complaints.  And I never thought I'd be living with someone and talking about marriage, or living in the suburbs, or just trying to make it through each day without wanting to throw my head against my desk repeatedly.  I thought that 24 would bring me charisma, talent, a big paycheck and a studio apartment.  I thought it would make me interesting, to repeat what I've already said.

However, I've come to find out I'm boring, and I don't know what to do about it.  If only I could afford that wool coat...

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Colette Violet Blouse, or, a Productive Weekend

It's been forever since I last sewed anything. Was the Monique dress the last project? Geez! Remember when I was spitting them out two a day? Okay, me either, but still.

I bought the Violet blouse last March or April and have been terrified of it. Its a beginner pattern and I already have all the skills, but the fit was bothering me: it's loose, deliberately not fitted, and I didn't know how to translate this to my body. I have a short torso, narrow shoulders and big boobs. Loose fitting is normally an unwanted side effect, not an intentional "look."

But earlier this week I decided, to hell with it, and cut it out of some really old Erin Michael for Moda fabric. I bought this in 2007. I actually bought a ton of that collection back then: the paint-by-number birds were turned into the Anna tunic last March, and I had made a Swing bag in July 2007 from the chrysanthemums, hexagons and small floral print. What I wouldn't do to get my hands on that line now.

After we ran errands yesterday (I was in the weird mood to go to the mall. I am never in the mood to go to the mall), I decided I may as well do it to it and started sewing. Let me tell you guys, this blouse went together like a dream. I took my time and really worked hard on it, even though it is a beginner pattern and not necessarily difficult. I just wanted it to turn out well, because I want to be able to wear it and not feel like it overtly says, "Hey! I'm Suzy Homemaker!"

So I'll let you all decide how it looks.

I'm an awful poser. We've decided this before. Also, sorry about the apartment shot. We haven't really done any decorating since moving months ago.

My favorite flowers in the pattern are the orange and purple ones.

Details! Back gathering, Peter Pan collar, wood buttons (with pencil markings. I always have those).

This has nothing to do with anything but this dude has been hanging out at the front gate of our complex since yesterday. I'd imagine he's keeping us safe.

Oh yeah! Frozen custard with rainbow sprinkles. The stuff dreams are made of.

So now I'm sorta at a stop with sewing, because I don't feel like jumping into anything too involved. Actually, I'd like to start on Grace's birthday presents, but the fabric for two of the outfits isn't released until September and October (Aneela Hoey's Little Apples and Lizzy House's Outfoxed, respectively). Patience!

Have a great week, everyone. I'll see ya around. Hopefully more often!

Friday, August 5, 2011

Friday Already

...and, really, not a moment too soon.  I've had a week of training at work--which really means I've been setting up training everyday for a week for other people, but it's really involved and it means I work long(er) hours.  The week flew by, though, thankfully, and now it's a quiet Friday.

Some thoughts from this week (I know, I'm doing an awful job at posting regularly, but give me a break, summer is boring):

  • For a girl who is pretty sure she'd be a terrible mother, it's all I can think about lately.  We aren't sure if we want kids, but we have some ground rules if we do have them: no daycare (I'll stay home--not a huge sacrifice, honestly), no technology (books!), super healthy eating (no childhood obesity--we also don't really eat fast food besides the occasional trip to Chick-Fil-A so this isn't a big deal or change).  But I'm so on the fence about it because, while I know I'm young, I also know I'd want to have them in the next five years, and I also know that I will probably be the least compassionate or sympathetic person ever.  I just...I'm not a kid person.  When I was a kid, I hated kids, and wanted to be around the adults.  They're not all beautiful--there are some babies out there who look like an extra from Saw. And they're on Flickr.  So help us God.
  • I felt like I needed a new bullet here.  Anyway.  I'm reading Naomi Wolf's Misconceptions, about becoming a mother in America.  Holy shit.  I knew things were bad, but I didn't know they were this bad.  It has swayed me to seeing a midwife and having a homebirth without drugs, if I ever do get pregnant.  I absolutely hate going to the doctor and even seeing a needle makes me pass out (not an exaggeration), and this is completely my own opinion, but yeah.  No hospitals for this girl.
  • I have had no patience for sewing lately.  I've cut out three different projects and they're just hanging around in plastic bags because Eleanor gets to them before I do.  I think I'm just tired, but if I don't get a move on, summer will be over and I'll have to wait another year to wear this stuff.
  • Holy crap, guys.  It's August.  Doesn't that blow everyone's mind?  Okay, maybe not, but it does mine.
  • Tomatoes are a perfect after-work snack.
  • Why do some people feel the need to talk so loudly?  You're down the hall in an office--I shouldn't be able to hear your conversation.
  • How does one become a doula?  Not kidding, this could be a career-change.  If I even have a career. A career-start?  I'll get back to that.
  • I'm tired of reading about weddings.  I wasn't invited.  I don't care.  Please stop it.
  • I feel like, because I'm not religious, I really got gipped on the "friends" aspect of church.  I'm not going to compromise our beliefs by dragging Nick to some temple every Sunday, but I know that church is a huge place to meet people.  And I think it's a shame that we've lived in DC for over seven months and we don't have friends besides people we talk to at work.  That's sad.
  • I miss friends.
  • I am so tired.
So there you have it, I'm quite obviously a mess and everyone knows it.  I'm going to see myself as charming, though, and because I'm wearing a totally cute shirt (and jeans--which I haven't worn since May because it's been too damn hot/summer), I'm going to believe it.

Have a great weekend, everyone.  Go have fun for me!
Images by Freepik