Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Pavlova Presale! + Small Sewing Updates!

Pavlova... The latest delicious pattern from Cake, with illustrations by yours truly and graphic design by my talented hubby. And the $11 presale ends tomorrow, Dec. 20!

Dear fellow seamstresses, seamsters, sewists, sewaholics, knitfanatics, etcetera: I hope you're all having a lovely and craftalicious holiday season. Despite the somewhat despondent tone of my last post, I have several slightly exciting things to report:

I actually near-sewed a top last weekend. It was another Jalie 2921 scarf-collar top, this time in three-quarter sleeves in white rayon knit with red polka dots. I am not showing it to you yet for several reasons:

  1. It is rather transparent. Oops!
  2. It is rather snug. Really, it fits PERFECTLY, but considering issue (1), perhaps I should have been more generous with the ease. It's very sexy secretary. Er.
  3. I haven't actually hemmed it yet. I thought I had plenty of time (my parents borrowed my toddler for a family Chanukah celebration) BUT neglected to calculate in the three hours it always takes me to curse my serger into submission and actually get it stitching every time I pull it out of the closet after months of disuse.

Still... baby steps. Also:

The knitting has been helping me relax a little, and I almost have one sleeve on my chartreuse sweater. Really! (Pictures soon on all of this!)

Pavlova, The second pattern I've illustrated for Cake is now in presale (until tomorrow, Dec. 20, it's $11 instead of $17). I had so much fun with this — we moved the background model from Tiramisu, Esme, to the front and center, and added a new cover woman, Maya. And as you can see, with this pattern and Tiramisu, I'm trying to create girls of various figure types who are all gorgeous — but realistically so.

AND I've been enjoying seeing a number of delicious Tiramisus around the blogosphere. I'm hoping I can actually make one myself over the long Christmas weekend, but that might be overly ambitious for my current circumstances.

But back to Pavlova for a minute. Steph and I had fun designing a little paper doll / rag doll pattern (a "petit four" if you will) for the cover girl, Esme. So this weekend my daughter Z and I gave her a test run in paper — Z decided she would look best with purple hair, brown skin, brown eyes, blue top, green shoes and bracelet and a yellow polka dot skirt. I think her instincts were spot-on:

Warm holiday wishes and happy sewing to you all!

P.S. Thank you again for all your kind comments on my last post... I can't even describe how much your support and digital hugs meant to me!

P.P.S. When I am able... I have NOT forgotten about the blog giveaway I ran back in June. Really! Please just consider it a longish delay.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Knitting Therapy

Georgina Cardigan Progress

Don't worry, I didn't have to rip my sweater back to the beginning, I just needed a knitting image to go with the post title.

Part 1: The rut. Being in it. Etc.

When you fall out of the habit of making things, sometimes the smallest stumbling blocks seem insurmountable. You take a short pause, get stopped up or stuck... and then somehow it's months later and you can't remember where you keep the extra bobbins or where your elastics are or how the hell to do a wrap and turn.

By you, I mean of course, me.

It's been a long time now — nearly four months — since I mentioned I was struggling on a few fronts that were keeping me from crafting: Struggling with my daughter's life-threatening food allergies and debilitating severe chronic eczema. Struggling with a strict budget. Struggling with lack of sleep (due to afore-mentioned toddler eczema).

At the time I hoped it was all temporary, and in a month or so I'd have it sorted. But bad turned into worse, and temporary into never-ending. I'm afraid I even stopped reading all your wonderful blogs because it hurt too much to feel so behind and so out of the sewing and knitting loop.

On top of the above-mentioned, the minute my sweet girl started preschool, she (predictably) began catching every cold virus known to humankind. She'd get minor sniffles and a cough and be better in a few days... but between my sleep-deprivation and my own seasonal allergies, I began getting repeatedly seriously sick. Not cold sick, but fever and chills and fatigue and aches sick for weeks on end. I'd get well for a few days, begin to get back on my feet, try to catch up on my life and work and chores... and then the whole cycle would start again.

So. How does this relate to "knitting therapy"?

Part 2: The knitter on the subway.

Recently I was trying to keep my eyes open on the subway train after yet another horrible sleepless night of trying to soothe my daughter as she cried and itched and scratched from head to toe from her severe eczema. I was feeling pretty distraught and sorry for myself, and just generally glum and anxious and worried and tired. I was worried that the latest expensive time-intensive eczema treatment regimen would just be another bust. I was tired of all the well-meaning advice and comments from strangers on the street alarmed by the cracked, flaking, inflamed, infected red rash covering her face ("What's wrong with her face?" "Have you tried Vaseline?" etc.) I worried that I had distanced myself from my friends, and that the people around me that I hadn't pushed away were probably sick of hearing about nothing but my little girl's food allergies and eczema. I worried that the slight sore throat I had was a harbinger of yet another miserable few weeks of illness.

Across from me on the subway there was a knitter. I found myself watching her calmly click-clacking her needles, working her way stitch by stitch through a thick wooly gray — scarf? sweater? it was unclear. I have no idea what was going through her mind, but she seemed utterly relaxed and absorbed in her work.

And I remembered my soft chartreuse merino Georgina cardigan, the one I had near-finished in September.

I realized the only thing that had kept me from moving to the next stage was that I just hadn't taken the time to search for the size 6 double-pointed needles I needed to pick up and knit the sleeves.

I didn't get around to searching out the needles just yet — I barely felt capable of putting my clothes on the right way front in the mornings – but I felt a tickling at the back of my brain.

Then I was watching an online webinar about the latest advances in managing pediatric eczema (yes, that's how I occupy myself these days) ... and the doctor presenting mentioned that they had some success in teaching children to keep their hands busy with knitting as a way of distracting them and calming them and stopping them from scratching their rashes and infections. As a kind of meditation.

Part 3: Digging out the DPNs.

It still took me a while. But, a few mornings later, while my husband packed me a lunch and got my daughter dressed, I found a few moments to rummage through my knitting drawers and find my size 6 wooden DPNs.

I began to knit again on my lunch break (I didn't want to mess with DPNs and short rows and lace and picking up stitches all at once on a crowded subway). It came back to me — mostly, though I had to look up tutorials on short rows and even which direction a yarn over is supposed to go (really). And I can't describe the feeling of relief and calm that came over me — even amidst the sleep deprivation and anxiety and worry for my sweet little girl — as the soft wool fed through my fingers and I clicked the needles back and forth.

Anyway. The title of this post is a bit of a joke, but a bit not. When you're really low, there is something to be said for the calm that comes from making things with your own hands, with doing something that is just complicated enough to absorb most of your attention, but not so much your mind can't wander a bit or you can't speak.

Part 4: Relearning the habit.

I really miss you all (am I still in your feed readers?) though I can't make any promises that I'll be back at active sewing or blogging or even blog-reading any time soon. But I no longer feel totally interrupted in my crafting, and maybe I can relearn the habit of never not making things, even in the small moments I have available to me.

On another front... my daughter's eczema has been so frighteningly bad lately that I couldn't possibly show any photos of her sweet little face here. But today, a new regimen we've been trying has been having some tentatively positive results... and we were actually able to take a family holiday photo. This is a huge deal.

Thanks for listening!


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