Monday, November 30, 2015

Thanksgiving Geraniums

Growing up, my parents instituted dressing up for major holidays. Imagine my papa dressed to the nines -- waistcoat, bow tie, and cuff links -- sticking his arm up a goose's bum for Christmas dinner. Yep, it's amazing. When we moved to the States, we welcomed the same tradition for Thanksgiving, but substituting the goose for a turkey. It's a tradition I haven't really stuck to with my own family unfortunately, but as we were visiting my parents this year, I wanted to make 'special' Thanksgiving dresses for the girls (maybe I'll get to making waistcoats or button-ups for the boys next year).

I bought Rae's Geranium dress (both bundles since my girls fall into age categories that span both sizes). It's the very first time I have actually succeeded at making a dress  that not only looks like a dress, but can actually be worn. (insert hands on face/mouth open emoji)

For Wookie's dress, I got the fabric from JoAnn's during that frenzy I talked about. It's such a sweet floral pattern and I really enjoyed working with it. The first go around with the bodice was more difficult than anticipated, especially with the "U" cutout that Rae uses in her dresses; so, after one failed attempt, I opted for the regular round neckline.

I tried the "U" cutout with Nins' and had better results. But Lady Jane (my machine) has decided that buttonhole making is an overrated venture. I'm really disappointed and am hoping to take her to a specialist or at least someone who knows more than I and getting the function fixed. No matter what I try the buttonhole function won't work properly. It bunches, and stalls, and unravels, and restarts in a different place, and won't measure the button correctly, and the foot won't hold the button even when it's shut it will gradually expand as the machine moves. It's a mess. I've followed the manual exactly. I've Googled, and read blogs, and researched, and watched videos, and still can't get it right.

So I used hooks and eyes to close the dresses. It's not my favorite and as Wookie says, "I don't love that." But it will suffice for now.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Leaving Before the Rains Come and Yarn

I have been having so much trouble sticking to one book or one project. It feels like every five minutes or so I'm switching it up, starting something new, or just adding a few stitches here and there before quitting and doing something completely different. In the last month, I had read the first 5-10 pages of three different books, before settling down; then I undid the whole chevron blanket because it was driving me crazy. Gaping holes in the valleys and a general dissatisfaction with the look led me to pull it all apart and begin again with a much simpler, more rhythmic pattern---Lucy's granny stripe. Part of why I like crochet is that I can lose myself a bit. My focus can drift and yet my hands keep moving because they know what they're doing especially with a pattern like the granny stripe. But even with the simplest of patterns, somewhere there's a snag. Like this wonderful ball of yarn (standing as the metaphor of my life). It's one enormous mess, but somewhere, somehow structure emerges, at least I hope I can get this yarn (and my life) to cooperate and make something beautiful out of both.

I've just finished Leaving before the rains come, by Alexandra Fuller. It is such a beautiful, haunting read. Her imagery and descriptions are stunning. I love how the past is interspersed with the present, showing how time is a man-made invention insufficient for its purpose. The fluidity of time is so fitting of real life. Nebulous not static. Events don't occur of themselves; events occur within a given context, a specific place, with specific people, and after they have occurred they are never really finished; they are recalled again and again in different context and situations so that they take upon them the additional memories created by new events.

I had to limit myself to just a few favorite quotes to give you a taste of Fuller's writing:

"The truth is, most of the things that change the course of ourlives happen fleeting unguarded moments; grief buckling us at the knees; fear shattering through us like buckshot; love pulling us out on an unseen tide. And finding ourselves in the grip of these overpowering emotions, we then invent reasons based on the flimsy evidence we have accrued why they have happened, trying to make sense of the insensible with armloads of self-justification distortions, and deliberate misinterpretations" (23-4).

"It is the perpetuating tragedy of all families: each of us believing our congenital pathologies and singular pains end with us. We think of ourselves as individual dammed rivers, the blood of generations stopped up in our veins, the accumulated habits of a lifetime ceasing at the border of our skins. We don't think of our present, our current conditions, and our immediate decisions as incurable infections or persisting gifts that will cross through porous vectors of inheritance and time and blossom into the future. In spite of biblically ancient warnings, we don't think of our contaminating or blessing not only ourselves but also our children, their children unto the third and fourth generations" (129). 

"I thought then of the collective memory of land, of the ways in which people and animals and geological events cannot help but leave scars, sculpt wonders, and weave stories onto its cover" (167). 

"There is no loneliness quite like the loneliness that comes from living without ancestors, without the constant lively accompaniment of the dead" (186).

Isn't her word choice incredible? I recently saw a meme-thing about how every book that was ever written consists of the same 26 letters in different orders. Mind-blown. It's something so simple and yet so beautiful, hopefully like Rose & Toast, and this blanket, and my life. Simple. Beautiful.

Linked to Ginny's Yarn Along