Thursday, January 31, 2013

Pretty Thing: Vintage Crocheted Shawl

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Whew!  I've been making a lot of progress at school (and some at home, too - I finished the second Ondrea sleeve this morning), which I'll share soon.  I'm hoping to get at least one skirt finished save for hemming this week, possibly two.  Hooray!  Hooray!

In the meantime, here's a very pretty thing that I received in the mail last week from Etsy seller vintagefindsetcetera.

A little over a week ago, a friend linked me to a list of gorgeous crocheted shawl patterns.  As usually happens when I find websites devoted to yarn and/or crafty things, I fell down the rabbit hole pretty hard, and in my wanderings, I found a picture of this vintage shawl.  It was listed on Etsy, and I popped over figuring that it would be long sold.  But it wasn't.  So, of course, I bought it (at one am, on a weeknight, because I have priorities) because it's one of the most amazing things I've ever seen.

I sort of want to design a little crocheted sweater with this same motif and beads - it has such a lovely drape because of the heaviness of the crochet thread as well as the beads, which I think would be really well suited to a fitted v-neck top with swingy sleeves.  I also may want to plan my entire wardrobe around its color palette.

In other news, I've decided to try to design a shawl and knit two versions of it in Prairie for the fashion show.  Because I'm clearly not busy enough.  Hah!  Hah!  Let's file this under "things I think are reasonable past 11 pm while hungry and exhausted and completely out of touch with reality," shall we?

Monday, January 28, 2013

Thank you.


Thank you.

For your support; for your stories; for your love and incredible compassion.  I've received an outpouring of emails, texts, messages and comments in the last day or so, and I am absolutely overwhelmed and touched by every one of them.

I have been afraid to talk about this for so long, and now that I have, it feels like a weight has lifted from my heart.  Thank you for making me feel safe.  Thank you for making me feel heard.

Thank you, thank you, thank you.  Words cannot express how much it means to me.  

So much love,

Sunday, January 27, 2013

The Politics of Hemlines

Okay, so this is a difficult post to write.  And perhaps more than you wanted to know about me.  But I also feel compelled to talk about it, because it's been a long, long time coming.

Part I: A Picture

Recently, this photo by a flickr user named roseaposey went viral on Tumblr and the internet in general.  Understandably, this has some connections to the fashion and sewing community, as hemlines are both a practical and a stylistic concern.  It's started a conversation on these words: what they mean, who gives them meaning, who gets to use them, and who is hurt when these words are used against her.

It also strikes a major chord for me, because I'm always and forever an Oberlin student.

But more importantly, because I'm a survivor of sexual violence.

 I recognize the condescension and mock-concern in these words; the gross subtext that the length of your skirt says more about your sexuality than your words and actions do.

I recognize the slut-shaming words, because my best friend at the time used them to describe my experience to me, and thought that it was okay to do so.  I doubted my own feelings for years because of words like these.

I recognize the desire to believe that longer hemlines will protect you.  I changed to a simple wardrobe of slacks and different colored t-shirts for years after it happened, thinking that I could make myself invisible by changing what I wore.

I also recognize, almost seven years later, that a layer of fabric cannot protect you from someone who wants to hurt you.  That was a long and difficult lesson to learn, and ultimately not a very uplifting one.

In general, the older I get, the less okay the whole thing seems.

This picture says so many complicated things, and it makes people angry.  And maybe they should be angry, because it's absurd that these words are acceptable ways to talk about - or to - women.  They are not an okay way to pigeonhole women's experience, whether it's "slutty" or "proper".  Words on both sides of this spectrum are insulting, because they imply that sexuality is the only reason a woman would ever wear anything, and that sexuality is relegated to the young and stereotypically attractive, and that different levels of skin display are quantifiable levels of sexual availability.

All of this is bullshit, and I think the artist is doing a beautiful job of calling it out as such.

Women have different reasons for wearing what they do. Maybe she has a hormonal imbalance that makes her overheat in everything she wears, so she wears camisoles under her blazers.  Maybe she's a teenager and loves cut-off shorts because her unbearably cool older sister wears them.  Maybe she loves wearing historical clothes because she finds the story behind them fascinating.  Maybe her partner just died and she's wearing the dress she wore to their first anniversary.  Or, maybe she just feels comfortable and beautiful.

Any one of these reasons is reason enough.  No matter what a woman is wearing, she deserves not to be judged and shamed for it.

Part II: A Life, Complicated

I have very mixed feelings about writing about this.  But it's also hard not to talk about it, because the experience shaped my life profoundly.

My life pretty much fell apart when I was raped, and it was further complicated when the man who hurt me was murdered during a dispute between him and my former landlord.  I was 18 and naive, and that made me feel responsible - for both my own trauma and his death - for a long time.  He wasn't a great person, but he also deserved to live.  I struggled between compassion for him and hatred for a person who no longer existed.  Sometimes I still do.

When I think about my 18-year-old self, I just want to hug her and tell her that she'll be okay.  I want to tell her that other people's disbelief doesn't make her anger and despair any less real.  I want to tell her that this won't happen to other women.

But I can't.  And that will always be hard.

Since then, I've pulled my life back together.  I distanced myself from former friends who mocked my story rather than believing it.  I went to college and graduated.  I started making friends again.   I like to think that I've made a better life for myself than the one that fell apart.

But sometimes the weight of this story is too much.  It feels like I'm keeping a secret because I don't want to be shamed, when the real problem is that my survival is seen as shameful rather than strong.

In the end, I think that this is what the photographer was trying to critique: that in this society, silencing women with sexualized shame and judgment is as easy as using the right word to describe her hemline.  And this has to change.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Off The Needles: Ondrea Sleeve #1

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Sleeves.  They are sneaky little things.  First, you think, "Oh, it's just a sleeve, how long could it take?"  It starts out innocently enough: you cast on fifty-something stitches, finish the ribbing in less than an hour, and feel very smug that you are knitting the sleeves first, as they seem to be the downfall of many a sweater knitter.  "Why does anyone give a crap about sleeves," you think.  "These are easy."

Then, the next thing you know, entire days are lost in a haze of wool; you're picking bits of yarn out of the strangest places (your boyfriend's pants?! the dishwasher?!); you daydream about going to the dentist as a pleasant alternative to knitting more sleeve. 

Then, all of a sudden, it's over.  Somehow the black hole of knitting that has consumed your every last braincell for the last week is suddenly and magically finished and ready for a warm bath.  After which, you know that it's going to be so cute and fluffy and you won't be able to stop petting it and admiring how well it turned out.

....all right, Sleeve, you are pretty adorable.  But don't think this means we're friends.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Good Morning!

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Mr. Boo is getting a little slower in his old age.  Even though he's still a little rocket-butt in the evenings, in the morning he's sleepy and a little sluggish.  This morning he kept on poking his nose out of the blankets and actually sitting still for a minute or two, which was too cute not to photograph.

Then Lumberjack picked him up, and he decided that he was fully awake.


Nothing like a little parental humiliation to get you moving in the morning!

Friday, January 18, 2013



Today, and many days in the preceding weeks, have got me thinking about a few topics that seem to keep coming up: the relationship between failure and progress; the role of fantasy in creative life; challenging situations that are still completely worth it.

Failure and progress.

Today I sewed a zipper, and that's about all I did, and I feel pretty good about it nonetheless.  I pinned and sewed and ripped and re-pinned over and over again until finally, my waistband seams were meeting on the left and right and my dress zipped up in the back, just like it should.  Every time I had to rip the seams out and do it again, I had to take a second or two to be angry before trying again.  But then I would do it again, because even though I get frustrated, I wouldn't be happy with it in the end if I didn't.

And earlier this week, I made two different and very awful muslins of a skirt before figuring out what the design needed.  I walked away frustrated as shit when the second muslin in a row turned out ugly, and as I walked up the street to get a cup of coffee, I suddenly realized what needed to change.  I had to sacrifice an element of the design to keep the original intent, but then the skirt turned out exactly how I had envisioned it.

I've had this thought before - particularly as it relates to knitting, which is much more forgiving a medium than fabric - but this week I have felt it every day.  Failure can be constructive.  Failure means you've found out which direction not to go; failure means not accepting what is not good enough; failure speaks to the integrity of your creative vision.

At least, this is what I tell myself the seventh time I have to sew that $*##(@* @#*$ing zipper.


I have yarn and fabric dancing around in my head, yarn and fabric that have absolutely nothing to do with the fashion show.  Grey cashmere and black & white checked cotton and grass green tussah silk... frabjous day!  I am queuing projects like crazy, and taking stash pictures, and designing things in my head that can't possibly exist for months and months and months.  It's both deeply satisfying and frustrating as hell.

Challenges and worth.

Today I thought about my trip to Indonesia in any sort of depth for the first time in a long time.  I'm not sure I've talked about it before, but Bali was a difficult, exhausting trip.  I also had an amazing time.  I watched rain come in over the mountains and out to sea for hours.  I heard Sanskrit prayers projected off the next mountain in the middle of the night.  I rode on the back of a motorbike down rolling hills covered in banana trees.  I saw some of the most beautiful coral reefs in the world.  I also left with a massive staph infection that took two months to recover from, that I still have scars from.

But in the end?  I am so, so glad that I went.  My world grew ten sizes bigger from that trip.

And so: the fashion show.  I doubt that the fashion show will leave scars - although I am pretty awesome at stabbing myself with pins! - but I have a feeling that after the daily struggles with stress and uncertainty have faded, my world will be a few sizes bigger.

And that can't be a bad thing.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Loft Ondrea, Cast Off

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Four days later, a sweater front.

Now, to start a sleeve!

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

This Is Just To Say

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All this yarn

All this yarn I can't knit

It's so pretty

The End

WIP: Ondrea

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Yesterday I finally finished the first sleeve for the Ondrea prototype and immediately wanted to cast on for something new.  I have a ban on non-fashion-show knitting, so I decided to start the real Ondrea sweater!

I actually have 8 skeins of Loft total, but I was too excited to wait until the morning to take photos of the full sweater's worth of yarn.  This sweater is working up very, very differently so far; where the Ondrea prototype is heavy and crisp, the Loft Ondrea is light, rustic, and visually soft.

So far it's been super pleasant to work on - it's really nice not to need to design as I knit!

Thursday, January 10, 2013

2013 Knitting Goals

So although the four-month period in which I don't really have a life has already started, I've still been thinking about some of my knitting goals for this year.


1.  Knit up at least 1 skein of my laceweight silk.  It's one relatively old part of my stash that has yet to be touched.

2.  Knit at least 2 baby things!  We're not planning to have kids anytime in the near future, but baby garments are little and cute and I've never made any before.


3.  Knit 1 big, squooshy basketweave blanket out of this Cascade Eco Wool.


4.  Knit more sweaters.  (I always say this.)  But no, really - knit more sweaters.  I finished my last one in October of 2011, and that's kinda sad.  Plus, I have a lot of sweater amounts of yarn in my stash.  Let's say I should knit at least 8 sweaters, since I have several in progress and have to knit 4 total for the fashion show already.


5.  My sock drawer is looking a little sad.  Therefore, I should knit 12 pairs of socks!  (This might be totally nutbars, but hey, I can dream, right?)


6.  Either finish, frog, or fix as many of my works in progress as possible.  Currently, I have two hats, four sweaters, five shawls, and various and sundry socks, scarves, and handwarmers on the needles or unblocked, and I would like to clear out my WIP bin!  I would also like to say that I'll do all of them, but let's not get ahead of ourselves here.

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7.  Knit from deep stash and festival/travel stash as much as possible.  I still have yarn in my stash from when I was a super new knitter, from about early 2007 on.  My tastes have changed since then, but I still haven't let go of certain yarns, I think because I actually still like them.  It's time for them to turn into things!

My main festival stashes are from the Great Lakes Fiber Show (Ohio, May 2010 & 2011), Sock Summit (Portland, July 2011), Yarn Con (Chicago, 2009), and Madrona (Tacoma, February 2012); my travel stashes are mainly from Japan in fall 2010 and Iceland in October 2012.  I would really love to knit up at least 1 project from each of these stashes.  I have previously considered them too special to knit, but I need to get over that, because you never really know how special a yarn is until you knit with it!


So, these goals might be unreasonable, especially considering how much work I need to do for the fashion show, but I'm going to try my best to keep them in mind as I plan my 2013 knitting.

I will also say that because I am working monogamously on my Ondrea cardigan, I'm totally indulging in Knit Planning as my yarny fantasy life.  Stash yarn has never looked better than it does right now.

Hope everyone's having a good week!

Baby dress photo copyright Tora Frøseth.

Monday, January 7, 2013

WIP: Gala Skirt

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Today I did a lot of patternwork, but still wanted to play with fabric a little bit, so I tried out some draping on the Gala Skirt.  It's based off of the skirt muslin I shared the other day, but I shortened it since then and I'm much happier with the length.  I love circle skirts both long and short, but I want my line to have a contemporary feel as well as a vintage inspiration, hence a shorter skirt.  It shows just a little bit of knee, which I find to be a flattering length for me.

The draped fabric is a gorgeous silk eyelet georgette - I only have a little bit of it, so I have to be careful with how much yardage I use!  I think I'll do the real draping to make the pattern pieces in some extra nylon mesh, since it's about the same weight, but I wanted to see if the fabric I bought in August was going to have the right look.

And it does.  I have a very clear picture in my mind of what this skirt looks like, and this is almost exactly it.  I still need to pick up some zippers and the cream silk crepe that I'm making it in, but then I think I'll be ready to start sewing the actual piece.  Good thing, because I had a nightmare the other night that I showed up to the fashion show with nothing but muslins... egads!

Friday, January 4, 2013


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Nothing is perfect, and it's likely that it won't ever be.  But just getting in there and making things, even bad things that have to be changed, is a big step.

I started this week with sketches and a half-baked plan, and as of today I have a dress, two skirts, and two blouses in muslin.

Not bad - but as always, there's more to do.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Cardigans and Yellow Paper

The new year so far:


Knitting furiously, making patterns, and cutting and sewing muslins while listening to music from my high school iPod...


...from morning until night.