I had a friend in high school who told me he didn’t like my name. It was “too biting”. My “biting” name suits me, or maybe I’ve grown to suit it since I never gave it any thought until this person offered his rude, insulting, irrelevant, unsolicited opinion.
My name is biting, my nose is sharp, my chin is pointy. As I age I see my aunts’ angular features emerge. I would be pretty if I wore makeup. Or smiled. I used to be cute before I cut my hair. If you’re a woman you know the drill.
My name, my features, my bare face, my expression all subvert traditional notions of femininity, or so I’ve been told explicitly and subliminally all my life. I’m an invisible middle-aged woman, now, and the drop off in scrutiny emboldens me to try clothing styles I never would have when I was younger.
Pattern: Tacara by Seamwork
Size: 4? 3? Does it matter?
Fabric: Plain black knit remnant I bought at a fabric scraps store
This dress is unmistakably femme, but subversively so. The unusual shape and loose drape are the opposite of feminine. I had expected those features to hide my figure, but it emphasizes my curves more than closer-fitting styles. Surprising!
And it is Oh. So. COMFORTABLE. It’s a dress I think I’ll like and possibly grow to love, but it’s also a dress that will take some practice wearing just because it’s so different from anything I’ve worn in the past. I forget that I like wearing this dress until after I already have it on – I just have to remember to take it out of the closet.
I wasn’t going to do any sort of 2018 retrospective. I especially wasn’t going to look at my 2018 Make 9 list. I was sure that I completely missed the mark. I hadn’t thought about my list in, oh, 7 months or so, except for the nagging sense of guilt I felt about not making as many pairs as pants as I hoped.
Juniper Pants – 2018 was supposed to be my Year of Pants. It wasn’t.
Ginger Jeans – I made these! And then never blogged about them.
Boxers – Got stuck sourcing elastic.
Some sort of denim skirt – I made most of one, Ginger, but I sewed the invisible zipper in too closely (who knew this could be a problem?!) and it doesn’t zip past the start of the waistband. I’ve ignored it for months.
Lander Pants – I made a muslin and it was so, so bad I was put off of pants completely. I’m still working up the gumption to deal with the mysteries of a crotch curve.
A mixed bag, to be sure. I don’t look at this and feel good about the things I’ve made, I feel bad about the things I haven’t. Unmet goals weigh heavily on me. I won’t be repeating this experiment; its specificity doesn’t jive with my more lackadaisical attitude towards making. Or maybe I need to reframe it and conceptualize it as a direction or theme for the coming year rather than a than a to-do list. I’m still learning about what I wear, what I feel good wearing, and what I make, and I hope I’m getting closer to a Venn diagram of the three that’s a single overlapping circle. I pecked a bit at putting together a Make 9 for 2019. I couldn’t commit to 9 patterns to sew, but it did help me realize a theme for 2019: developing and making a work uniform.
Because socks are my on-the-go take-anywhere-and-everywhere knitting I forget how fast they fly off the needles if you just sit down and work on them. It took me 4 months to get to just past the gusset on the 2nd sock knitting these in found moments outside the house. It took me me a cheesy holiday movie and a bit of Christmas Eve morning to finish it off. Makes me wonder if the volume of knitting I accomplish out and about is worth the trouble of carrying it.
What am I even saying, OF COURSE IT IS.
And that’s all the holiday makes I have to share. Christmas is in books., or it will be soon after I get it all packed up and moved out of my living room.
My mother is a guesser, not an asker. What’s more, she’s a guesser who is uncomfortable asking anything of anyone, ever. Pause for a moment before taking that sip because I have something shocking to tell you: I’m the exact same way. In ourselves we call it independent. In one another we call it stubborn. In Granny we call it ornery. With love, folks, WITH LOVE.
You might think our respective guessing and *ahem* independent natures are at constant loggerheads, but it only seems to be a recurring problem when it comes to buying things for the kids. Mom guesses at what we need and I guess at what she has or hasn’t already purchased while we both try to avoid being presumptuous or hurting one another’s feelings. This has played out in several different ways over the years with different results, most notably the time I decided to ask, just ask, for an Easter dress and my mom gave us SEVEN (I haven’t mentioned, yet, that gifts are my mother’s love language which complicates these transactions even more), but this year somehow we just didn’t talk about it. At all. I didn’t ask if she’d bought or would buy Christmas clothes for the kids, she didn’t ask if she should or give me a big bag of them. I honestly didn’t think about it until I picked the kids up from my parents’ and realized that I wouldn’t be seeing them again until Christmas Eve church service and for the first holiday ever we had no clothes for the kiddos.
What to do? I scanned my imperfect memory of the kiddos’ wardrobes. This is another problem, neither my mother nor I remember all the things we buy or where we put them., but I clearly remembered Chuffy having 5 Christmas sweaters to choose from and decided that if MJ were to wear a pink Minnie Mouse dress, well, that would be OK.
I also remembered the fabric I had ordered last year when I thought I might make MJ’s Christmas dress … and Mom bought her one, instead. 🙂 I used a big swath of that fabric to make myself a Christmas skirt. Did I have enough left to make a dress?
I did! I also had all the notions. This wasn’t the pattern I had intended for this fabric, nor is it a traditional holiday style, but I’ve had it on deck for a long while and there’s nothing like the holidays to remind you that time is running out and if you’re going to make your daughter all the dresses while she’s still young you better get cracking.
I didn’t choose this pattern for its simplicity, but I was grateful for it. Not too many pieces, no gathering, straight forward pocket construction, the loud fabric doesn’t compete with the design, and the seams are all finished before you piece it together which was a refreshing change from usual routine. I didn’t have enough fabric to worry over which to use where or pattern placement and matching. So I didn’t! And it was all so easy. I couldn’t believe how fast it came together. Hubs said he’d thought the same thing, but didn’t want to say anything. No, I assured him, it was legitimately and surprisingly quick.
MJ liked it well enough to not fight me too much getting into it Christmas Eve and the fight she put up was I think inspired by Chuffy’s tantrum over wearing not sweatpants. She choose the buttons, but it was the giant pocket that won her over – even little girls love a dress with pockets – and she voluntarily choose to wear it all Christmas Day. Chuffy, on the other hand, stayed in his pajamas. Fair enough, kid, I’ll give you that one.
I could have worn my coordinating outfit, but I’m not into mother-daughter matching. If that’s your thing, cool, no judgment. I’m not yucking your yum, it’s just not my thing. Instead in a funny twist I wore the Christmas dress my mom bought me this year.
Starting my super secret Christmas knitting in August was not planned. It was small-bite comfort knitting from a familiar and beloved pattern to satisfy my too-tired-to-be-inspired brain. It was nice that my mindless knitting projects also had purpose, but I knew myself too well to count my knitted chickens before they hatched. Having a deadline doesn’t guarantee motivation. Just because I start a thing in August doesn’t mean it will be done in time for Christmas this year or next or ever.
I had a friend who one Christmas was upset because she wasn’t going to get her holiday crafting done in time. She was in a bad place and I unwisely tried to reassure her it was going to be OK. “Is it? IS IT GOING TO BE OK?” she yelled. I couldn’t think of anything to say that wasn’t “Um, yes?” which, now that I was caught up with the magnitude of her stress levels I sagely refrained from blurting out. Instead I stood there awkwardly, realizing I had been dismissive and not at all reassuring, pissing her off all the more with my stunned silence. We’ve all been in that mental space and it wasn’t about the presents. It’s never about the presents.
This post, on the other hand, is ALL ABOUT THE PRESENTS. I hope you like gnomes because I’m about to introduce you to the 14 I made. First, family groupings:
The pattern is for male gnomes only. I added braids and left off beards to make lady gnomes even though neither I nor several of the recipients have enough hair to braid. But then most of the men don’t have beards, either, so I guess we’re even.
They came out a surprising variety of sizes considering I used size 1 needs and fingering weight yarn for all. I had a bit of work figuring out pairings and groupings, trying to coordinate colors and sizes before adding hair.
Amazingly they were done in plenty of time which wasn’t true for some of the other items I decided to toss in at the last minute. Leave to me, I thought, to finish the time consuming part and still end up late because of some random thing that ins’t. I was raised to believe that if you’re not early you’re late, but and when the post office pulled through and everything arrived in the nick of time (ha ha, couldn’t let that one pass) I decided to not think of them as almost-tardy, but perfectly-timed.
I like to make the kids tiny toys for their stockings I have this idea that they’ll grow to form a prized collection, but of course they get lost, separated and disassociated from the holiday, subsumed into the collective mass of my kids’ other toys. Only the ones in B’s stocking are collected or prized, and only by me. Her stocking is laughably large, so big you wouldn’t know there are tiny toys inside if I weren’t telling you.
I’ve already lost track of where the hot dog and ice cream have gone gotten to, but Chuffy’s delight when I fished his overlooked hot dog out of his stocking (hey, it’s super small and easy to miss and there was Pez) was more than enough to keep me making more next year and every year.
Winter babies are my very favorite to knit for, early winter babies especially, born when the nights are longest and there are so many cold days ahead and the year is new or will be soon. I don’t care if the tiny sweater will fit for only a few weeks or that it might get spit up on. It’s a sweater for the littlest, most fragile bodies that need the warmth the most. Little sweaters for baby humans are a knitter’s blessing. Summer babes, equally knit-worthy, just don’t have the same urgency.
My first baby was born two days before winter solstice and I remember those days being so warm and cozy and sweet and special and feeling like a Christmastime baby was the best sort of baby because the world seemed to slow down and know its specialness right before bursting with energy and newness at the same time as I was slowing down and experiencing the world in an entirely altered way.
Of course I would have thought any time was the best time to have my baby, that’s how it works, and I’m sure this baby’s parents feel exactly the same way.