Tuesday, July 31, 2007

forget naomi. i've got your top model right here.

Just look at this sweet girly modeling her new outfit. How CAH-UTE is she? I'm beside myself. I'm thinking of her as Claudia Schiffer to my Karl Lagerfeld. Except I don't design like Lagerfeld. Or sew like him. Or draw like him. But with a model this adorable, my humble pattern sewing is just fine.

Oh, and now she has a sister. Andi and her hubby had a new baby girl two days ago. I think they've hatched a consipiracy to people the world with pretty folks. One day I will clothe those pretty folks in matching sister dresses, yes I will.

Andi and Brett, thank you for taking the time to send me these pictures in the midst of caring for a brand new person. xo

Monday, July 30, 2007

hoop dreams

Another Eye Candy Friday has come and gone without any eye candy around here. I have soooo many pictures and such a non-system of organizing them that it's a chore to go through them looking for eye candy sometimes. But I'll get back to it. Meanwhile, how about a project post? Here's what I'm currently working on:

I'm embroidering some pillow cases because damn if I can stop with the hoop and the needle and the floss. All those DMC colors, so sweet like sugarcane. The silky feel of the mercerized cotton as it glides between the fingers. The slow, savory filling in of the carefully chosen design. It's all too much. I do love it so. There are many stitches to learn and mastery takes time. I don't profess to be there and perhaps I never will. But the journey. Oh, the journey.

The printed fabric will embellish a birthday present I'm making for a beloved friend. It's from a line called Mameyakko. It's duck cloth, from Japan. It's only $16/yard at Michael Levine's. I kept fondling it longingly until finally it dawned on me that 1/4 yard wasn't that much money. Notice I said it "will embellish" a project, not it "will be" the project. I haven't started that million-dollar-a-year job yet. It's probably occurred to most anyone who sews that the way to indulge in pricier fabrics is to use them for small projects but I'm new here and to me it was a novel idea. I'm glad I realized it, because this fabric would put a freshly powdered baby's behind to shame. It's that soft. I haven't cut into it yet. For now I take it out and sniff it and rub it up a few times a day.

When I can't embroider, I entertain myself with this:

Well lookee there. Is that knitting? Turns out it is like riding a bicycle. Who knew?

This is the most knitting I can handle. Simple mistake rib that gets its intrigue from magic self-striping yarn. I've hit a wall on all my more complex projects, even those that shouldn't be difficult to knit. I figure my gumption will return with cooler weather. Meanwhile, I'll keep a scarf on the needles.

Monday, July 23, 2007

everything new is old again

Everyone has heard it: We live in a disposable culture. Was it that long ago when reliability was the buzz word of the age? Is Maytag even as dependable as it used to be?

I get that obsoleteness pays in the form of residual profit. The point is to build things that keep people coming back for upgrades and extensions on extended warranties and all the tie-ins and accessories (everything sold separately) and latest versions that the human mind can dream up. But I'm really mothereffing tired of it.

Last year I got a new account from Sprint (never again) and a Moto Razr (or whatever hacked up, retarded spelling the ejits in marketing at Motorola came up with) cell phone. Sprint never bothered to give me the new plan discount on the phone. Every time I called for a credit they'd swear on the lives of their mothers they'd check the account and call me back but they never would and do you know what they do now if you call and complain to them "too much"? They dump you as a customer! Anyhow, the Razr (I can't believe I own something spelled like this), with its ten minute battery life, is more fit for cleaning a toilet than for telecommunication.

But it goes very nicely with my three-year-old Dell Inspiron 1150. I'm typing on it now. It's really helped me up my words-per-minute because I have to keep my fingers moving lest they get scorched by the heat radiating from the defective heat sync up through the keyboard. And, oh yeah, I have to think fast because at any -- and every -- given moment, it cuts off. No warning. No gradual shut down. Just off. I'll bet you can't hit ctrl+s to save your document as fast as I can. Or as often. Before the (extended) warranty expired last month, I could have sent the unit in for repair, but it would've been the second time in a year and the last time they kept it fo-evah. I use it to teach my online classes and I don't have a backup, so I couldn't afford to be without it indefinitely. I'm currently scheming up a way to throw it out the window and buy something else. Though I don't hold out much hope that the new brand (because it sure as hell won't be Dell) won't suck too, I'm looking forward to having it suck in a whole new way to keep things interesting.

Speaking of interesting, I didn't post Eye Candy Friday because I had a crazy busy weekend. I've hung out my shingle as a proofreader/copy editor, and I had my first assignment, from Mister Stevens (he runs his own publishing company because ain't nobody bad like him). I had a manuscript due, and two birthday parties to attend with gifts to make for each. Thursday and Friday it was edit, edit, edit. Saturday morning I made this:

It's a dress from an old Butterick Sew & Go pattern. It's the first thing I've made using a commercial pattern outside of sewing class.

Any dress with fabric this cute calls for a purse, so I made one:

I improvised it using a combo of a purse pattern in one of my sewing books and a Craftster tutorial. It's lined in the same pink polka dot fabric I used to face the dress. It closes with my favorite thing, a magnetic snap.

The set was a birthday present for my friend Andi's daughter, who turned four. Even though I didn't think to ask her (sorry, A!), I have to post this pic of Andi because she's nine months preggers and look how perfectly beautiful she is:

Her due date was Saturday, the day of her daughter's party. I was so tickled that she had the chutzpah to do this. We were all waiting, but the baby (another girl, yay!) didn't make her debut. Andi ran the party with more energy and patience than I would have (kids, a waterslide, barbecue, parents, friends, Romans, countrymen, animals, beer, cake, babies, more kids -- wow). She was a wonder to behold.

After the party, it was a little more edit, edit, edit and then some top secret work on a gift for Ellen, whose birthday was Friday (same as Andi's daughter). I left the project in good standing on Saturday night. On Sunday afternoon, Ellen threw a fun and fabulous soirée at her house. It was grand times and she made out like a bandit with lots of amazing gifts, many of which were handmade by her crafty friends. I would've been in that number, but instead I was giftless. Why? Because my Brother ES 2000 sewing machine...

DIED. There I was on Sunday, in the zone, putting the finishing gloss on Ellen's gift, when it stopped. Cold. It starting flashing an error code, F2. Calmly, I got the manual and looked it up. It said "your machine may be malfunctioning." No shit. I wanted to put a hurtin' on it, but this machine means a lot to me. It was a birthday present last year from my friend Valecia, whom I adore. It's the first machine I've ever owned. Today I went ahead and located a service center. I'll take it in on Friday.

But I'm not going to take this betrayal lying down. In protest against new manufacturing, I copped this off eBay last night:

Picture me Roots style, hobbling up to a clearing in the woods, holding my new machine up to the moon, "I will call you Rosie."

Oh yeah. Take another look. Or ten. I love it so much I hope I don't go all Lennie from Of Mice and Men and squeeze it to death when it gets here.

Not only am I going to use it to make wonderful things, but also to shame Brother into elevating his game.

Whenever possible, I am going to buy things that are at least fifty years old. If I could, I would buy a computer from 1960. It would weigh 300 pounds and take six months to connect to the Internet, but the sucker would run, I'll bet you. It would run until the pigs come home.

(Hi, Kelly from Chicago. I don't have a pattern for Naiomi's tote, per se, but you can use the Jordy tutorial to make one any way you want. Enjoy!)

Friday, July 13, 2007

love power art song

Naiomi is Schmin's girlfriend. Some days she's his fiancee. Other days even his wife. It depends, I suppose, on what's transpired between them the night before. I do not speculate about it much. I figure their ebbs and flows, their mountains and molehills, belong to them.

I'd be lying if I said I wasn't shaken (to my very foundation) the day Schmin called to announce that they were planning to be married -- that week. When I asked if Naiomi was pregnant, came the answer: We don't know yet. This happened on the kind of day when you walk into your apartment and there's Lucifer, frying frankfurters on your hotplate. You look down and notice that, though its coils are red hot, the thing isn't plugged in. That's how you know this guy's the real deal and you have indeed, officially, arrived in hell.

I was going through so much the day Schmin called with his wedding and possible baby news that I had to laugh to keep from crying. The Bubs reminded me that whatever choices Schmin makes are not about me. I've read The Four Agreements. I know this -- intellectually. But emotionally, it's a different story. Emotion is where the clandestine mines lie. Emotion is where it's all about me. Emotion is where loving a child finds its home. Naturally, when said child plunges himself into a situation that can most charitably be described as half-baked, it feels personal.

I spent my youth in a hail of maternity; nearly all my adult life fulfilling the obligations and responsibilities of raising a son. Now that Schmin is 22 and living on his own, I am tasting freedom. At first I didn't know what to do with myself. I felt lost, without direction or purpose, but I am growing beyond this.

A grandchild most assuredly does not figure into my sexy new mix. A little critter trailing behind me calling me Grandma -- even an adorable one who worships me like Schmin worshipped my mother -- would cramp my style. It happens every day, especially to those of us who have children young, but my list of life goals does not include "Become Granny at 41."

No, no, no.

But how many things must we offer up in life? A shitload.

With no small degree of difficulty, I hold this up to God and say, God, I guess I'll go with you on this one.

God being God and all, she is offering me a little something in return. For the time being, I am neither a mother-in-law nor on a one-way ticket to Grandmaland.

I won't court trouble by believing myself to be untouchable. I am dealing with people (to whom I sometimes refer as "those two idiots" but I am above that today) in their early twenties. In their early twenties and so crazy so crazy in love. They could show up on my doorstep tomorrow with a set of triplets and a marriage license issued by the state of Nevada. In case I am someday to become eternally tied to their union and resulting offspring, I decided to make nice.

To make nice, and to make Naiomi a tote bag.

This was not the hardest decision because I really like the girl. I completely violate agreement number two (or is it three? or one?) of the four agreements by taking things personally every chance I get, but thankfully I can set it aside long enough to exercise compassion and empathy.

I know Naiomi and Schmin get into arguments and fights. That's why the wedding's on again off again. I know she's helped him become more mature and responsible, but I also know he finds her controlling and overbearing. Recently, I had a "not my baby" moment over something she did to him. (You know, Uh uh, you don't treat my baby like that. Not my baby.) I offered it up and kept working on the bag. I had some ambivalence about this, until the other day when I recalled my own young self. I think of the line from Rickie Lee Jones' "Flying Cowboys": Oh I was a wild, wild one. I wasn't completely wild, but I had a chip on my shoulder as big as St. Louis. That day as I stood in the mirror, thinking about what Naiomi had done to Schmin and fixing to get mad and put my own stuff in the tote bag, I remembered Randy, my first love, and how I'd taken all his pictures, from kindergarten through high school -- practically every school photograph taken of him up to that point -- piled them up, and set fire to them on my mother's balcony. I have deeply regretted this over the years. Not only was it an affront to Randy, but so unfair to his mother, who never hated me for it, though I couldn't understand why. To say I had an anger management problem as a teenager is an understatement. There were reasons I was the way I was -- reasons I hadn't learned to deal with in healthy or positive ways -- but, still.

Funny thing, I hadn't spoken to Randy in more than ten years and didn't know where he was the day I thought about what I'd done to his pictures. I stepped out of my bathroom and my phone rang. It was Mr. Stevens calling to tell me that Randy had just found him on MySpace and sent him a message asking if he was Steven Fullwood from Toledo and if he knew my whereabouts. It was absolutely a Twilight Zone moment, except I am coming to believe more in God tapping us on the shoulder in ways that look like pure weirdness, but are really intended to show us something about grace. I have since spoken to Randy, though the conversation was too lighthearted and sentimental for me to bring up the photographs. Mostly, there was relief because we finally know where to find one another (literally and figuratively).

I finished Naiomi's bag and took it to SnB for show and tell. A few days went by before Naiomi came to pick it up. In the interim, Natalie joked that she had wanted to tell me at SnB that I should keep the bag for myself (maybe she was serious, a wee bit). I joked that I was thinking about it, and that Naiomi had one more day before I claimed it as mine and handed her a sweater tote and told her that was her gift. I will confess, here and now but never again, that I did take the bag for a spin to Baja Fresh the day before she came to get it. My excuse, er, reason, was that I needed to know how my bags carry so I can get the proper strap length, the precise aerodynamics.

Truth be told, I get my greatest inspiration when I'm designing things for other people. I stall when designing things for myself. The words I embroidered on the back -- love, power, art, song -- came to me while I was standing in line at Central Library, waiting to check out a pile of sewing, crafting, and art books. I'd gotten all fired up leafing through the books and I couldn't wait to get my hands on the bag to finish it up. I thought about the work I'd done on it so far, thought about Naiomi, and something told me those were the words she could use. I jotted them in a notepad because I'm bound to forget things, and embroidered them at my first opportunity. The bag became even more hers at that point.

Not only did I get the joy (I'll call it what it is: ecstasy) of making this bag, but I can tell you it's brought me closer to Naiomi and Schmin. At the end of it all, no matter what choices they make, I want us to be in this together.

An aside but not really an aside, a warm hello to Amy in Australia. Last week, Amy left me the loveliest, most generous comment. Thank you, Amy. I'm glad you're here.

eye candy friday -- motherhood

Sign. Tucson, AZ. April, 2006.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

eye candy friday -- and the living is easy

Oops. I'm a day late. That's because I've been using my new Juiceman for evil instead of good. But what's better than a strawberry margarita to dap up your sewing area? It is summertime, after all.