Aiming for healthy

I know my posting is a bit sparse right now, but I do hate to post without photos.  I also just found out that one of my very best friends has accepted a job in another state and will be moving away at the end of the month.  I’ve had two other very close friends leave for other cities in the past two years, and I’ve been feeling rather blue.  I don’t find it terribly easy to make friends – I’m both introverted and picky, a deadly combination I find!

When I quit my day job (two and a half years ago now) I was at a real low point.    Since that point, I’ve made a real effort to put myself out there, making new friends and taking control of my life.  It is important to allow myself to be who I am, rather than playing a role (something that is very easy for creative types I find, especially those of us who also act!)  As a result, I feel like I’m coping better with the bad news than I would have then, but I am still terribly sad that my friend will no longer be a part of my daily life.

So that’s what’s going on with me… sadness, but then life is full of change – my life now is so different from what I could have imagined five years ago, and I would not trade it for anything!

I would like to continue today on the issues I brought up a few weeks ago (in  sewing and body image.)  One thing that many commenters brought up was the concept of focusing on being healthy, rather than being thin.  I will confess that I was intrigued with the idea – could staying active really help me to feel better about myself?

A little background: I have always been terribly sports phobic.  I was never at all athletic, and I am absolutely the worst person to choose for a team – not only am I clumsy, but I also lack the competitive drive sports seems to bring out, and I really don’t care if I win or not.  I endured a lot of bullying in grade school, when we had to take gym nearly every day.  I remember one group of girls, in the 8th grade or so, who would regularly threaten me if I didn’t seem to be trying hard enough in that day’s sport.   Gym teachers would often call me out for being bad at things, including one memorable day in high school when the entire class got to do push-ups for an hour because I couldn’t do one properly.  Needless to say, the minute I graduated I stepped away from the gym and never went back.

I obviously have no interest in watching sports, though for some reason people will persist in trying to discuss them with me (this is much worse for my poor husband, who doesn’t care about them, but reads the scores anyway in order to have something to talk about to other men!)  So for me, the idea of exercise has always been tied up in all these issues.

When I read your lovely responses and stories, I started to consider the idea of exercise for myself.  Not competing, and not playing any actual sports, but getting out and being active (which is, after all, good for you!)  I live in a very walkable neighborhood (built before cars, there are double wide sidewalks for miles, and lots of other pedestrians… I do hate isolated walks.)  I decided that one day I would take a walk for no reason at all.  As it turned out, I really enjoyed that, so the next day I walked further, and read a bit online about how to safely pick up the pace.  I convinced my husband to join in on some evenings, and now I’m doing an hour a day, five days a week.  And you know what?  You were all right.  It does help me to feel better about myself, as I see that I can do these things!

I’ve even taken the step of visiting a few gyms, with the thought that once it gets cold I won’t be walking (I do not handle cold well!)  Some of them I didn’t like – they seemed full of the types who taunted me back in school, and had a very meat market sort of feel.   I found one that has people of a variety of ages and shapes, which seems focused on lifelong health rather than strictly losing weight or bulking up muscles (neither of which are my goal.)  I took a few of the dance oriented fitness classes, and those are really fun for me.  While I was never athletic, I have always loved to dance (I used to dance in musicals all the time!)  I mean, I’m not a super great dancer, but I can keep up.  I’m planning to join this gym in a few months, and I’m very excited about that.  Right now my goal is to just keep walking (I can’t jog, as I do have some joint issues.)

I think I’ve carried around those old fears and taunts for too long.  I don’t have to like watching sports to do this for myself!  It doesn’t make me part of the sports culture.  They are not one and the same.  I really wonder about the way that physical education is taught in the US.  It seems like there isn’t much focus on building healthy habits for life.  So many of my friends have similar stories, of taunting and exercise as punishment.  (As an aside, I also don’t recall getting much nutrition in health class either, as it was taught by the gym teachers in my school, and consisted mostly of scary videos.)

Thanks (as always!) for your lovely comments – as you can see, I do read them and take them to heart!  I’ll be back soon with crafting content – I’ve been knitting on Kirra, which has the widest back piece (at 54″, including sleeves) that I’ve ever knit – it’s quite  a lot of ribbing!

crafts · knitting · Life · Sewing

Progress, projects, and pictures

I have had a crazy week!  I spent most of the weekend up in Cincinnati.  A church there had hired me for two large weddings on Friday and Saturday, and we got to go to this:

Ah yes… the Goetta Festival in Covington, KY (across the river from Cincinnati.)   In case you aren’t familiar with it, Goetta is a mixture of ground meat, spices, and steel cut oats, usually fried up and served for breakfast.  It’s better than it sounds (my husband, being a native Cincinnatian, is obsessed – look how pleased he is above, after eating his Goetta corndog and Goetta chili!)  I can take it or leave it, and I chose to leave it in this case and just eat a plain corndog for lunch.

While we were in the area, we visited Knit-on in Newport, where I picked up a copy of Norah Gaughan vol 8 (and Marc got to pet the adorably tubby store cat, Tanner.)  I’ve already cast on for Nespelem:

I decided to use Rowan Cashsoft DK.  I bought this yarn years ago, and I love the pretty silver color.  I thought about using cotton, as the pattern calls for, but I have trouble with my tension in plain cotton.  Plus, this will be much lighter weight – this yarn has 142 yds/50 grams vs the 115 per 50 grams in Berroco pure pima.  The yarn is quite nice, but I will say that it tends to split and is a bit artificial feeling (it has almost as much microfiber as it does wool, and a tiny bit of cashmere.)

My other sweater (Anais) is nearly done.  Right now I’m working on a tutorial for making machine buttonholes on a handknit sweater – I hope to have it up later this week!

Behold, my next sewing project:

I have been greatly inspired by the beignet skirts I’m seeing in Me-made June.  I made one a year and a half ago, but I don’t wear it much – I was not clear on the concept of ease, and while it looks super awesome standing up, it is not comfortable to sit in. This is the cotton chambray from the Joann’s Lisette fabric collection.  I do not plan to line this version – the lining is nice and all, but I love my slips (especially under a pencil skirt!)

I also want a fun sundress for the 4th.  Last year I made Burdastyle’s Tara.  This year I want to make this sundress:



The fabric is crazy, I know!  It’s also from Joann’s, one of their spring collections (long since sold out at my store… I’ve learned to buy the good prints early!)

My step-dad is in the hospital for planned open heart surgery.  He had the surgery this morning, and is doing well, but not great, so I expect that being with my Mom will take  up a lot of time for a bit.  Sorry if I owe you an email etc – life just happens all at once, doesn’t it?



Thank you!

I wanted to thank you all for the outpouring of comments on my post yesterday.  I have to admit, I had some trepidation after I hit the publish button – but once again, the crafting community suprised me!  I’ve been involved in many different internet communities, but never one that was as supportive and generally positive as ours.

I don’t find it easy to share things about myself.  I seem to always have other people sharing their troubles with me (not that I mind – I’m a good listener!) but I find it almost impossible to give the same treatment back.  But I can write it down and share it with the whole internet – go figure!  I think it’s the leftover bits of shyness I have.  I used to be so very shy… I used to have to talk myself into phone calls by writing out a script!  These days, I find conversation to be much easier, but I still only share things about with my close friends (and parties still make me nervous – some things never change!)

I especially thank those of you who shared your stories with me – both on the blog and in private emails.  I’m at a bit of a loss of words (unusual for me these days!) to express how touched I was, both by your support of my situation, and your willingness to share your own experiences.  I’m going to try to get back to everyone, but it’s going to take a few days, so I wanted to post a public thank you first.

I could not have imagined, when I started this blog, (now almost five years ago!) the impact it would have on my life.  I believe that I am a better person for it, and you have all been part of that journey – so again, thank you!




As of last night, we are back from Italy!  It was a wonderful trip and concert tour.  I did continue me-made-March throughout, and I will have those photos later (after I sort all 500 from the trip!)  In the meantime, I thought I would share some videos of our performances.  We performed in Maiori, Assisi, Monte Porzio Catone, and Naples.  We also performed at St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican, but those videos didn’t turn out as well.  Here is my chamber group (the Louisville Vocal Project) singing Thou Shalt Know him

I’m the highest soprano part (there is one other soprano.)  Here is another of our group, singing William Byrd’s Ave Verum Corpus

We were also traveling with the Bellarmine University Schola, the college choir that I do section leading for.  Here is the whole group, performing Missa Brevis composed (and conducted by) my friend and former professor Richard Burchard.

I hope you enjoy the videos – I love singing this type of music, especially with a small group. I will be back later with more photos and updates!

Life · Sewing

Weekend project

Thank you all so much for the help with my glasses.  At last count, that post had 74 comments – wow!  Finn came in first, with Colton second.  I’ve decided that I’m going to order them both!  I have a coupon they sent me to make up for the try-ons being delayed, and they aren’t expensive – so why not?  I think it will be good to have one small and one large pair.  Now I just have to decide if I want them both in black, or if I should order one in tortoiseshell (I like black frames, but it might be nice to have variety?)

Moving on, here is the project I’m working on this weekend:

Vogue 1225

Vogue 1225 is one of the new Spring patterns.  I liked my first Tracy Reese dress so much, that I decided to make up the second right away!  I would not say that the path to making this dress has gone quite as smoothly.  First of all, this dress has a 4 panel skirt, and six body panels.  That makes pattern matching impossible, but my fabric (the tie-dyed rayon knit above) doesn’t have a repeating pattern anyway.  I tried to match similar colors, which worked pretty well except for on the back – the center back has a mismatch, which made me so upset that I almost gave up entirely!  I got distracted from binning the pattern when my husband sliced through his thumbnail chopping garlic (one trip to the immediate care center, and one tetanus shot later, he’s ok!)  I’m glad I didn’t, because the dress is turning out to be really cute, and you can hardly notice that seamline.  I will try for a proper review tomorrow – I need to organize my thoughts, because this pattern had some strange inconsistencies!

crafts · Life · Sewing

2010: year in sewing


Above: a year’s worth of sewing projects (plus about a million views of that blue wall!)  I think the wall may be the true star of the blog – you would not believe how many requests I have gotten for the paint color (it’s Sapphire from Ellen Kennon paints, a semi-expensive line of full spectrum paints that are totally worth the money – look how different it appears in different lights!)

It’s fun to see what colors I gravitate towards – I like blue the most, followed by emerald green (there would be more green if I could find good green fabrics!)  I wear a lot of black, gray, and navy, but almost no brown at all… funny, since I used to own a ton of brown clothing!  I like to mix in a shot of red or magenta to brighten up the neutrals.  I find that my homemade closet coordinates together very well!

A year and a half ago I decided to take up sewing on a whim.  A year ago I made my first skirt (Collette patterns’ Beignet) and I haven’t stopped sewing since!  I am so grateful to have found sewing – my tendinitis will no longer allow me to knit or crochet very much, but I can sew with almost no problem.  I actually didn’t realize how bad my wrists were until I stopped – amazingly enough, I can now lean on my arm without pain, something I couldn’t do for years.  My endurance on the piano is also far greater.   I do miss knitting (and especially crochet for some reason) and would like to take up some projects… if I can force myself to not obsess about finishing things and take it slowly, something that isn’t easy for someone who could be called obsessive (I say focused, but obsessive is pretty close!)

2010 has been a great year – thank goodness, since the year before was… not so good.  I’m at a good place in my personal and professional life.  I finally feel as though (for the most part) the face I present to the world is who I really am.  As someone who has always suffered from chronic shyness and self-doubt, that’s a pretty big deal!  I’m not apologizing for who I am, and I find that (for the most part) other people seem to appreciate that.   I have made new friends, and reconnected with old ones.  I do not think I would like to go back to my 20s.  I have friends who are sad for being over 30, but it makes me sad that they cannot see how beautiful they are now!

My sewing skills have grown tremendously – I’ve even conquered sewing knits, which I was afraid of for quite awhile!  I combined my passion for thrifting with my passion for sewing to continue with my goal (and 2010 resolution) of finding my own personal style.  Last summer I started taking photos of what I’m wearing – not every day, but most weekdays.  After Self-stitched September (which was a trans-formative experience in itself!) I’ve kept it up – and in the process I’ve finally discovered what styles I like.  It’s an ongoing process, but posting the photos here and to great flickr communities like Wardrobe Remix has been fun!

So… happy new year to all my readers!  I am (as always) so very grateful that you read my ramblings.  In August I will have been blogging for five years, if you can believe it!  The blog has morphed along the way, and I thank those of you who have stuck with me, and welcome new readers.  As always… happy sewing, knitting, thrifting, or whatever makes you fulfilled in the new year!

crafts · Life · Sewing

A new dress for the holidays (Vogue 8685)


In the photo:

Dress: Vogue 8685 in Red Ponte knit

Scarf: Made by me, no pattern

Jacket: Ann Taylor, thrifted

Tights: H&M

Shoes: Impo

I find myself unable to resist the lure of red and green come Christmas time.  This year’s dress was made using Vogue 8685 and a red ponte knit from Mood.  I felt very festive!

The dress pattern was very well drafted – all the pieces fit together nicely, and the instructions were very clear.  Having said that, I have a few minor quibbles.  First of all, the pattern calls for sewing on the binding, then flipping it to the inside and sewing it down.  There’s no way on this knit – and this isn’t even a heavy ponte!  I left the neckline turned to the outside, and on the armholes I just whipstitched the edges to the finished bodice edges (it makes more sense if you can see the pattern.)

There was also an issue with the skirt – due to the shape of the yoke, it was necessary to trim over 2 inches on the sides.  Definitely let the skirt hang before hemming – you will have to fix that.  I think this is the first time I’ve ever had a skirt require real reshaping!  I used the hem marker on my dressform for the first time.

I do like this dress, but I have one comment about it – I’m really not convinced that the shape of the bottom yoke is all that flattering.  I picked the best photo for my vanity, but it has a tendency to emphasize any imbalance in your figure.  Great for hourglasses, but be careful if you have another shape.  I prefer a dress that flares out right away – this is almost a dropped waist.

The scarf was super easy – I made several for Christmas presents!  It’s basically just a length of fabric cut 22″ by 2yards, sewn into a tube, turned, and closed by hand.  Very easy, and well received this year.

I hope everyone who celebrates had a lovely holiday.  We spent Christmas in Cincinnati with my husband’s parents.  I cantored mass at a lovely old Catholic church (one of my best friends is the minister of music and worship there.)

My love of old things extends to old churches.  Last week my chamber choir gave their advent concert in a beautiful old downtown church in Louisville, and this week I got to sing in this one.  I always enjoy seeing all the detail in the old designs – churches now feel so sterile to me!

I have some fun year end posts planned.  I’ve also done some shopping at the year end fabric sales – I’m already starting to plan my spring sewing (this is normal for me – after Christmas I start to get very weary of winter.  Here’s hoping for an early spring!)

Season’s greetings to you all (photo of Marc and I, overlooking the Cincinnati skyline on Christmas eve after mass.)


crafts · food · Life · Sewing

Holiday parties

There has been a distinct lack of sewing and blogging here this week.  We threw a holiday party of sorts for my chamber group last night, so my week was consumed by planning and cleaning for that.  Hosting parties always makes me nervous – I usually spend the days leading up to the affair convincing myself that no one will come, and that I will end up having to consume an entire Crockpot of Swedish meatballs and a case of wine all by myself.  Luckily, the party was a success, and I actually didn’t get any meatballs because they were consumed so quickly!  The meatball recipe I use is always a hit, and it takes about 15 seconds to prepare (minus the crockpot time!)

2 lbs of frozen meatballs (the best ones are the swedish meatballs from Trader Joe’s, but any frozen meatballs will do.)

1 can of Campbells cream of mushroom soup

1 packet brown gravy mix

1 cup water

Combine all ingredients in a crockpot and mix.  Set the crockpot for 6 hours and go away.  I usually avoid anything having to do with cream of something soup, but I swear to you, these are the best meatballs ever.  People never believe they were frozen.  Lots of people make BBQ meatballs for parties, but I’ve never liked those.  I bring these instead!

Now that the party is over, I can finish my holiday dress!

This actually only took me one day of sewing.  It’s completed except for the hemline – the pattern says to let it hang to stretch the bias, and believe me it is necessary!  The sides are noticeably longer, possible due to the yoke piece.  I will have notes about this pattern later, but I really like it.   I hope to have finished photos soon – I’m planning to wear this for Christmas eve!


crafts · Life · Sewing

Wardrobe truthiness (and a blog award!)

It is becoming clear to me that there will be many lessons learned during this month of wearing handmade clothes.  The first?  It’s ok to admit that something isn’t working for you.  Here is today’s outfit:

Sweater: Blithe, designed by Kim Hargreaves.  Blogged here.

Jeans: NY & Co flares

Shoes: Anne Klein

Another lesson to be learned: as in a catalog, a funny pose from me probably means that something is wrong.  I liked this sweater after I finished knitting it, but then it sat unloved in my drawer.  I had a few requests to use handknits this month, and while I don’t have as many warm weather sweaters I have a few to try.  Let me tell you: this sweater does not fit, and I don’t think it ever did.  I think I used to be less picky, before I started sewing.  Now?  It makes me crazy.  Here is a head-on shot.

No,  I don’t know why I have such a crazy smile here.  Anyway, it’s too short, and the sleeves are teeny tiny, like “I feel like I’m in a straightjacket” tight.  That’s why it’s off the shoulder here, because it’s slightly more comfortable that way.  I was on my way out to the mall, in search of a concert dress.  I needed a black dress in a non-wrinkle fabric (matte jersey) that was dressy but went below my knees.  I bought one from Ralph Lauren, and we’ll see how that works – I feel super guilty not making one, but to be honest I wasn’t feeling like it – I hate deadline sewing.  After I tried on dresses I left this sweater in my bag and wore the tank top – that’s how uncomfortable it was!  I also really don’t like the way that it pulls up in the center.  So this sweater?  It’s going to be going away somewhere, to a friend with a more petite torso.

I like long shirts.  I have a long torso (but short waist) and those of you with a long torso know what I mean – it’s torture to have a shirt that just isn’t quite long enough!  I’m actually quite happy about the current trend for tunics because I never have to tug at them.

The lovely Robin over at Yarncrawl nominated me for the Beautiful blogger award.  Thanks, Robin!  Robin is definitely an inspiration, and she was so helpful to me when I started sewing!

This is another of those “share things about yourself” deals, I do love filling out a list (if I can come up with another ten!)

1.  I have no “in between” mode in housekeeping.  I’m either completely OCD about every speck of dust, or I’m a total slob.  Since I have parents and students in my house all the time now I’m trying to find a middle ground, but it’s hard!

2.   Earl Grey is my favorite tea.  I tend to like things that taste bitter or perfumey, but to be honest I started drinking it because it was what Captain Picard always got from the replicator in Star Trek.  I went for a formal tea for the first time, and when asked to make a selection I could literally only think “Earl Grey, hot!”

3.  I hate being in a house by myself at night.  I tell people it’s because of the break-in we had last year, but in truth I never liked being home alone, it’s just that the break-in reinforced that my fears weren’t actually crazy!

4.  My parents were big-time hippies, but I didn’t always live with them (I lived with my paternal Grandmother, as I’ve mentioned before.)  Because of that, I have some odd quirks – like, I’m about the most open minded person you can imagine, but I have a strangely conservative sense of style, and I’m always asking people “is my skirt too short” when it’s barely above my knees.

5.  I love “old lady” perfumes.   I hate modern scents, which either smell like overripe fruit or soap… I like the smell of soap, but it’s not making a statement, you know?  I want my perfume to say something.  My all-time favorite is Baghari by Robert Piguet.  It’s sort of powdery, with vanilla, amber, and jasmine.  It bears a similarity to Chanel no. 5, but it’s better (I love no 5, which I also own.)  The only modern perfume I wear regularly is Estee Lauder Sensuous, which is very nice, smelling of amber and woods, but not (I must say) as exciting, and I wear it when I need to be unobtrusive (yes, I have a perfume habit – I love the stuff!)

6.  I am completely fascinated by sociology, especially feminist sociology.  I took a ton of classes in college and considered a minor, but ended up transferring.  I recently discovered the blog Sociological Images, and read the whole thing.  I constantly analyze things in real life, which I will admit makes people crazy.  I read the first Twilight novel and wound up filled with feminist rage, and let me tell you how no one wanted to hear me rant on about it (but I did anyway, because that’s how I am!)

7.  I like eccentric people, the odder the better.  The first thing my husband said to me was “Want to switch Kroger cards?  You never know what they’re using that information for.”  I know so many people who strive to be normal and unnoticed… I can’t imagine living that way, and I love people who dare to be themselves no matter what society might say!

Ok, I guess I only got to seven – still, pretty good!

I hope you are all having a great weekend – I bought the dress mentioned above, had some great Indian food, and hit the Joann’s sale for some top patterns (it has become apparent already that I need some, and it’s only the 4th!)  I’ll write more about that tomorrow.

crafts · Life · Sewing

Midweek randomness (my goodness, it’s almost September!)

Sorry I’ve been MIA for a few days – we visited my in-laws in Cincinnati, and I’ve been fighting off a sinus infection.  I’m finally feeling almost better, and I’m anxious to get back to my sewing room!  I can’t seem to organize my thoughts, so here is a convenient list of all the random creative things I’m thinking of lately.

Self-stitched September is almost here!  Just to review, my version of the pledge says that I will wear something I’ve made every day, but every item I’m wearing doesn’t have to be handmade – I simply don’t have enough basics to make it through a month that way.  It’s going to be hard enough making it with this version (I think that come weekends I will get sad that I never made casual clothes.)

– I’m joining the Lady Grey sewalong at Gertie’s blog.  I’m very excited yet intimidated.  I have an obsession with coats, and the idea of making my own appeals to me greatly.

Fashion Fabrics club has a pretty good sale on right now – most of their wools and cottons.  I find ordering from them a bit like fabric roulette, as the descriptions are lousy and the photos are tiny.  But – if you watch other fabric sites you can often find really nice fabrics for a fraction of their cost elsewhere.  I bought the fabric for Butterick 5490 from them for some ridiculously cheap amount, because they had mislabeled it as a cotton (instead of a cotton/silk blend, which is what it definitely is.)  I ordered 2 knit prints, a tweed suiting, and a nice cotton print for under $60.  We’ll see how I like them when they show up in a month (yes, the shipping is painfully slow, but I can be patient when I’m getting something for $4 a yard instead of $18.)

– I had  a few readers ask me for a review of the websites I’ve ordered from… would that be helpful?  I order almost all of my fabric, since I have no good local sources, so I’ve ordered from a bunch, some multiple times.  If it would be helpful I can write a post.

– I haven’t sewn at all since Friday, since I can’t decide what to make next.  I think I may make the 60s style suit I posted about recently… I just need to get some motivation!

– I have gotten my copies of all the fall fashion magazines, and I must say that I’m glad this is a year where things I like to wear are in style – full skirts, high waisted wide leg pants etc… hooray for that!

– I actually went clothes shopping this weekend – my denim situation was dire, so I forced myself to buy some new jeans and black dress pants at NY&Co.  I also tried on some of the newer pants trends.  Let me tell you, I’m thinking that skinny jeans and jeggings are trends that I will not be taking part in.  Who does this look good on?  Not me… makes my hips look wide as a house.  I’ll stick to my bootcuts, thanks.  I might buys some straighter jeans to wear tucked into boots, but then again maybe not… I have a hard time finding any that I like!

–  More later, when I can organize my thoughts!