Saturday, March 29

sew well - the ensis tee

Sewing is saving the day.
I feel very invigorated by my 2014 challenge to make my wardrobe. Invigorated is not something I am accustomed to feeling. My mind is absorbed and stretched, and I feel like I have found my perfect antidote to boredom.  

Making clothes is very similar to music for me. It’s mostly mundane and methodical, which I find grounding and soothing. But there are flickers of creative excitement throughout the process, and they keep me hungry for more.

The Ensis Tee pattern arrived from NZ just as my latest virus was {finally} easing, so the timing was perfect. I need some warm winter tops to replace my stinky ones, and I feel that sewing with knits is the next step in my progress, so that’s why I went to Joy’s Fabric Warehouse and bought 100% Cotton Jersey. A solid lycra-free beginning. I know I'm going to wear this one a lot, and I plan to make a second soon.

Pattern: Papercut Patterns, Ensis Tee
Level: Novice
Next up: Amerson Undies.
When I vowed to make my clothes this year, I fully intended to continue buying my lingerie. The other day I needed a half slip, and forced myself to make one from a 50c too-large Berlei slip which I found in the op shop. I still don't plan to make all my lingerie, but a cute pair of {maybe floral} undies appeals. The idea of recycling old t-shirts into underwear is growing on me too.

Thursday, March 27

the trouble with me


Lately it has been raining outside and inside. And unlike the original title of my blog {dance in the rain}, there has been absolutely no dancing.

The warm days are taking their final curtsies, and as the skies are growing increasingly grey and the air increasingly cool, my body is also hibernating. Which wasn’t supposed to happen.

I had written this strikingly positive 2014 script in my head. I held out masses of hope that this winter would be better, because this winter we were staying still in one place, and because I’ve changed my diet radically, and because I’m ‘happy’ here. This is supposed to be the year for getting well.
Now that I write that, it seems extraordinarily naive. Especially in such a ‘doesn’t respond to anything you do’ kind of illness. Especially as I have had five years to ponder the reality that the whole me-in-control concept is false.

If this illness is hanging around until I’ve learnt what I need to learn, I fear it will be hanging around for a long long time. I really hope that’s not how these things work.

I think I have been chasing for the perfectly ripe healing environment, and now that I supposedly have it and find myself plodding into a winter just as miserable as the last four, I am a mess.

Not an external mess. You wouldn’t be able to tell really. If I were to show up somewhere you wouldn’t see the tongue ulcers, swollen glands, red throat, and starry vision. Plus, it would increase tenfold once I returned home, and you wouldn’t see that.

On Saturday night I pulled myself out of bed after a nasty migraine, to attend a party of great importance to me. My eyelids were so puffy that I had to ice them before leaving the house. Later in the night I was talking to a lady I hadn’t met before, and she was charming. Part way through our conversation, my lips began to tremble as I smiled. At this point I became so fixated on releasing my smile slowly and controlling my over exhausted muscles, that in the process I lost complete track of what she was saying. I don’t know if she could see the twitching, but that and my vague replies might have backed up my initial statement that I wasn’t so well.

I feel like I should be joyfully settling down to the ill virus-ridden life with a ‘dance in the rain’ kind of optimism.

“Yes I’m really unwell, but I’m so content.” Smiley face.

“Sorry I can’t come, and no I don’t feel guilty.” Smiley face.

Where is that positivity in the face of sad times which I admire in friends and strangers? I could swear I have had it before. I even believe it will return to me, but in the mean time I feel both unwell and sad. It’s an epically drizzly combination.

Even though I know the moral of the story is not to have my happiness dependent on improvement, realigning my thoughts is slow and uncomfortable. The trouble is that conditional contentment masquerades as real contentment – and then the conditions evaporate, and the contentment is gone. And then you weep because you lost both the thing you wanted, and your happiness.

Perhaps it’s good that I have realised in no uncertain terms that my ‘well 2014’ will take whatever path it will take. It will take it’s path, but my emotional path must be rooted in something else. 

Ralph Waldo Emerson

Thursday, March 13

My 2014 challenge

I have decided that 2014 is my learn-to-sew-properly-with-patterns year. I never would have had a chance if I were on the normal path of life, so I feel a sense of delight. The same kind I felt when I to the beach with a friend on a Tuesday while everyone was at work. It’s an unexpected joy of being off the conveyer belt. It’s like when you’re at a conference and the gluten free option is better than the normal. What?!

I plan to make instead of buy as many clothes as possible this year, because I have both the time and desire to invest in 12 months of journeying from pre-beginner levels to almost decent. Actually decent would be ok too.  

Right now I am making skirts. Last week I made a pale pink cotton, and this week a winter navy blue in corduroy. My plan is to buy patterns which I can see myself loving to wear often {no frumpy lumpies, at least not before I've sewn it}, and then find fabric I like at warehouses, opp shops and on sale. Today that meant saying goodbye to the $19.00 per metre houndstooth at Spotlight. Both these fabrics were $5.00 or less per metre.

I love that this skirt can be sewn in two afternoons. The satisfaction is beyond. It actually rivals shopping, but wins because it is affordable, creative and ethical.

Pattern: Everyday Skirt by Oliver+S
Sewing challenge inspiration: Talia Christine Blog
Next project: Papercut - Ensis Tee

Monday, March 10

back when life was good


I think the grass is so lush in other places. I often think that if I was doing what I wanted to be doing, in good health, I would be living in a sunny meadow.  

A couple of weeks ago we went to Melbourne. I went with my favourite man, wore my favourite dress, and the sun shone. At the end of the day we plonked down on the grass in the Tan with chocolate cake that I’d bought along in my tote, of course. I was looking over at the red brick VCA (victorian college of the arts), with those million memories of music days rushing at me – and the sadness, and the nostalgia.

“Maybe I am well enough to try again.” I mused, and we both know this is not the reality. We have this conversation every Melbourne day, and sometimes in between. We really like this conversation.

“We could get a little tiny apartment close by, and I would work at the Royal Melbourne Hospital, and we could have our lunch breaks together...” Ben was saying.

And then the next part of the conversation goes like this: “Or maybe I should do an Arts degree because then I wouldn’t have the stress of practicing all the time?”

And then we revise it a little further: “If you’re doing an Arts degree, you could do it in Geelong which is less tiring.” But I always say, “But I want to do it in Melbourne, because it makes me feel alive.” {Despite being the city which made me almost dead}. But Ben knows what I mean, soul mate. The conversation always ends with, “But I would probably relapse again, and I don't think it's worth the risk.”

We know that script so well.

When we got home that evening, I had a kind of epiphany, about something I should have known. I have a full life here and now. I’m not sure I would swap it for the one I had, if it came to it. 

In the dreaming I always forget the tied-up feeling that I had. I wasn't a free bird. I've put a pretty filter on some of the harder realities.

My life is full of a freedom and variety I didn’t have. I read Wild Swans by Jung Chang last week, and I had time to look at China on the map, and research Mao. I bought my second sewing pattern, and I gave up practicing my flute to pin and sew. Wednesday bought me back to my needy kittens and all their mess and vulnerability. I spent a sweet lazy Saturday with Ben, free from the old guilt I had in our early relationship: but, I could be practicing now.

You know from my hundred other posts that there has been great pain, and great sadness. It’s not a life of ease, but I realised that I am developing and exploring {sometimes barely, sometimes a lot}, and when my health is a little better as it is now, I even feel like I am flourishing.  And all this, away from the place I thought I wanted to be most of all. Would I really have been happy if it had all gone my way? I don’t know. I think the path I am on is just so terribly right. How could something so unravellingly miserable be so freeing? God knew what he was doing I suppose.