Thursday, December 30, 2010

A Year In Review, Part One: Revolutionary Heroine or Disturbed Trouble-maker?

Interesting non-conformist or irritating agitator? Charming individualist or borderline sociopath?


Last weekend was a five-day vacation for me: five days of sweet, sweet freedom from the hellish nightmare of endless toil and sufferin-- er.  I was off from work.  And I knew that at least some of that time I would spend sewing.  Or I hoped so.  I had two pairs of jammies, a shirt-dress and a blouse all half-sewn on the table.  I also had two knitted skirts, completed up to about row 8 and two knitted earwarmers,completed up to about... row 8.  (Row 8 seems to be pivotal for me in some way.)  These were all, of course, supposed to be Christmas gifts.

By December 24 at 4:00 pm I had completed one earwarmer. 

I did, however, complete the jammies and the shirt-dress by my last evening off.  And once again, I went whizzing around on the "Why do I stress myself out about a leisure pursuit?" merry-go-round.  I know, I know, we all take a spin on that particular ride now and then.  Usually my little trips are pretty uninformative.  (I do have an amazing ability to combine deep introspective thought with a pathological refusal to acknowledge or alter my self-destructive behaviors. I'm special like that.)

This time, however, I actually came to some conclusions. It's amazing how cogent you become when you've actually had some sleep for three or four days in a row.

Conclusion #1: I think everyone should wear unique and interesting clothes. Or at least my kids should.

Conclusion #2: I actually do have to make TLo's clothing. And in that case I should really make at least some of The Big One's too or she'll get a complex.

Conclusion #3: Artistically speaking, I am a colorist. I always have been. Apparently in garment-making, this translates into wanting to make simply-styled clothes with lots of funky, bright fabric combinations and not highly-detailed, complicated designs with muted, subtle fabrics.

Conclusion #4: I feel compelled, in the interest of keeping myself interested, to make clothes that are either challenging to design or challenging to construct.

Conclusion #5: Conclusions number 1-4 do not combine well with making uniform-appropriate clothes.

Conclusion #6: I really really really hate the school uniform policy.

Hmmph. I don't like my conclusions.

But of course in typical fashion, I did not decide (as perhaps a more mentally sound person would) to just stop making clothes I don't want to make.  No, instead I resolved to even further attempts at twisting and torturing completely inappropriate patterns into something that I could at least nominally call School Appropriate.  Regardless of their actual appropriateness.  I told you I was special.

Which is all to say, I had an idea and I'm not sure it works.

IMG-env-frntB4217-design-changeSo what do you think? Can a surplice knit dress have a collar arbitrarily added to it and look... Not Crazy?   Because The Big One has some serious surplice love since way back and I thought I might try to use her favorite pattern to make a school dress. 

Please vote.


edit: Thanks to everyone who commented and voted so far (and everyone else, please keep voting!)

Uniform Policy Refresher Course:



shirts/blouses/dresses: collar, sleeves
solid color (any)
jumpers/pants/skirts: navy, brown, black, khaki

indoor jackets/sweaters:

solid color (any)
socks/tights: solid color (any)

Monday, December 27, 2010


I don't watch Late Night. In fact, I don't know that I watch anything on network tv. However, I found this both funny and sort of impressive: Jimmy Fallon (as Neil Young) and The Boss (as himself) singing Willow Smith's highly-annoying "Whip My Hair".

(Sorry, can’t embed a copyrighted clip without the commercial at the beginning.)

That's one good impersonation.   Which I realize is a somewhat dubious distinction, but still... gotta hand props to Jimmy, right?

edit: I did look up the “History of Rap” and it was funny!  I love Justin Timberlake, he never seems to take himself too seriously.  I might have to start DVRing “Late Night”.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Ahhh… Don’t You Just Love A Fanatic?

I do.  This year we’re having a smallish Christmas with (as far as I know) just the immediate local family—which is to say myself, The Husband, The Evil Monkeys, The Parents and The Grandparents (the only two of my original six that remain).  We hold all such gatherings at The Parents’ house because, quite frankly, their house is a veritable mansion and mine, veritably, is not. 

We’re having a very casual meal for Christmas Eve Dinner and I decided to bring some additional sides.  So I chose green bean casserole and ‘some type of bread product’.  I had originally intended to just make my standard (albeit tasty) whole-wheat loafs.  I even contemplated making lefse, inspired by Joy’s fabulous foray into the making of krumkake.  But then it occurred to me that I hadn’t made soda bread in a long time.  A really long time.  So long a time that I couldn’t remember the recipe.  And thereby discovered that I also couldn’t remember where I’d put the written version.

Doh!  And yet…. there’s a reason Google was put on this earth, right people?  Surely I could find a nice, simple, traditional soda bread recipe.  We just put “soda bread” into the search engine and….

Good.  Grief.

I have never seen such a jumbled and confusing mess of useless links.  Maybe nobody makes real soda bread anymore.  Perhaps they’ve all been seduced by the siren-song of “honey-glaze” and “dried mangos”, which seemed to crop up disturbingly often in my search results. Perhaps we were doomed, doomed to eat plain old yeast-risen bread after all.   I despaired. 

And then, I saw it.  A web address tantalizingly called  Wow.  Seriously?  They have their own website?  This I had to see.  And I was not disappointed.  I now have proof that there is someone emphatically-to-the-point-of-bordering-on-maniacally endorsing literally every possible thing on the face of this planet.  So meet my latest discovery: The Society for the Preservation of Irish Soda Bread.

You heard me.  A flippin’ society, people. 

Now I will say, they do have a point that some of these new-fangled ingredients (Sun-dried tomatoes?  Garlic? Chiles??) are not traditional.  Plus, they provide a seemingly exhaustive quantity of information about the history of soda bread.  I personally never in my life expected a soda bread to be desert, but apparently there are heretics out there who do.  And the Society does have a nice, simple, traditional soda bread recipe.  Which I fully intend to desecrate by –gasp– adding raisins.  And possibly a tablespoon of sugar. 

Don’t let the SPISB know.  They’ll probably hunt me down and beat me with a ten-day-old loaf wrapped in a sock.sodabreadwhite

I’m so glad I didn’t decide to make lefse after all.  I shudder to think what a Society For The Preservation of Norwegian Lefse website would look like.  There’s only so much gastronomic zeal I can take in one year, however well-intended.  Plus, I’m too lazy to rice all those potatoes.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Why, yes. One of my children IS Amish.

Why do you ask?


Poor TLo.  A dedicated reader will already be aware that TLo has very little in the way of Clothing That Fits, due to her -ahem- Sturdy Build.  So I added several jumper patterns to her SWAP list, hoping to have at least two or three for school.

I was really excited to make this BurdaStyle pattern (1-2009 #136A), which I've been eyeing since it came out.  BurdaStyle 1-2009 136ALittle did I know the shock and horror that would ensue. 

BurdaStyle 1-2009 136A

Look at those happy little urchins, just frolicking deceptively in the snow.  They are so totally not telling the truth about this jumper!  Evil, evil urchins.

The first shock came when I finally traced out the pattern pieces and suddenly discovered (I'm a little slow) that the yoke is ONE PIECE.  Seriously, this is a freaky piece of design work. 


It makes the jumper completely Not Adjustable, because the fit of the jumper is necessarily limited by the size of the head-hole.  Since I was up-sizing this a little for TLo, much mathematical confusion ensued leading to a highly typical round of sheer guesswork.  Would TLo be able to get her head through it?  Who knew?

The second shock came when I began assembling said freaky-head-hole-yoke-piece. Sadly, I decided to make the jumper in a fabric that one could only call "inappropriate".  I'm pretty sure it's a Haggar remnant. I got it online for a very good price and if I was making mens' trousers I'd probably be in clover. Sadly, I was making a little girl's jumper.  The results were... unpleasant.

Besides my poor fabric choice (much too stiff and egregiously prone to wrinkling), this pattern was a P.I.T.A. to put together.  I mean, I'm a quilter.  I’m not completely unfamiliar with a curved seam... but this one kicked my butt.  The trauma of it all has rendered details hazy, but I seem to recall that you sew the upper curve of the yoke and facing together whilst sandwiching the two straps, then stitch the (heavily pleated) skirt to one piece and topstitch the other down.  Much as you would any yoke-and-skirt combo, but with y'know, horrifying curves and hugely bulky pleats.  Oh joy.


Wrinkling.  Much, much wrinkling.

It didn’t really get any better from there.



I still make TLo wear this to school.  I’m sure I’ll be sorry in ten years when I have to pay her therapy bills.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

So Maybe All Of Life’s Problems Can’t Be Solved By YouTube. Maybe.

You know how sometimes you’re looking for something, some indefinable thing, and you just can’t seem to find it?  That’s how I’m feeling lately about… almost everything.

I didn’t find what I wanted on YouTube.  I did find this, however.  A pretty darn good clip of Ike&Tina.  You always gotta love Tina (not to mention those crazy backup singers, those girls are workin’ it).

I did spare your delicate sensibilities from the horror that is a clip of Tina on “Shindig”.  I mean, really?  White girls in go-go boots?  Glenn Campbell on guitar (that is Glenn Campbell, right)?  It’s sort of like watching Aretha Franklin on the Lawrence Welk Show.

You remember the Lawrence Welk Show.  “And uh-von and uh-two… everybody polka!”


Lawrence Welk was from North Dakota. 

We’re so proud.


(Ha.  I shouldn’t be ugly.  North Dakota has every right to be proud of Lawrence Welk and virtually every other 19th century pioneer who managed to survived a winter there to go on to do… well, just about anything.  You made it through the 60-degrees-below-zero winter with all your fingers despite living in a sod house and having no food?  You deserve commendation.  You play that polka music, dude.)