Saturday night art night.
Red Sox Varsity Sweater and “Green Monster Butt” longies for my sister in law’s baby shower. I’m not much of a knitter, and this is my first time making a sweater or completed longies. There are lots of mistakes, and I think the two are different sizes, but overall I’m proud of how they came out.
I wish things weren’t so hard right now, and that I could have gone. There is nothing on the planet that makes you feel worse than letting down someone you love, especially when times are supposed to be happy. I hope the love that was knit into these fibers shows that I do care, very much, even though I’m not able to be present right now.
Patterns (free through Ravelry)
How to Support a Loved One Coping with Pregnancy Loss
Like most of the writing I’ve done where I’ve specifically discussed my miscarriage, I have hemmed and hawed over whether to publish this post for months now. As much as I bristle at the societal “cone of silence” we’ve built around this topic, it still feels very uncomfortable to bring it up in a purposeful way.
I’m not exactly sure why this is. Perhaps it’s because it’s still so raw. Perhaps it’s because I’m acutely aware that I’m supposed to be “over it” by now. Perhaps it’s because I’m surrounded by pregnant friends and family, which is amplified by the in-your-face nature of social media.
At any rate, I want to channel this frustration into something constructive. So today’s post is the first of a two-parter- how you can support someone you love if they experience a pregnancy loss. In a follow up post, I’ll address some of the ways you can be kind and gentle if you experience a loss yourself (something I’m still striving to practice.)
How to Give Support to a Loved One (and What Not to Say)
1. A miscarriage is a death in the family. Respond accordingly.
For some reason, our society doesn’t view pregnancy loss as a death. I didn’t view it that way for a long time, even after it happened to me. I only began to wrap my head around that concept when I wasn’t “over it” within a few months, as I fully expected to be. I think I would have been much less confused by my feelings if having a grieving process was expected and talked about.
Support your loved one in the same way you would if they lost a close family member, because that is exactly what has happened. Call them, send a card, bring food, check in on them to see how they are doing on a regular basis. Miscarriages are incredibly isolating, and many people aren’t open about what has happened. If you are close enough to be “in the know,” take that as a compliment of your friendship, and be there for that person now, and just as importantly, in the months to come.
2. Skip the cheery anecdotes (or, what not to say.)
"It just wasn’t your time." or "It will happen when the time is right."
"You’re young- you can always try again."
"If it doesn’t work out, just adopt!"
"It wasn’t a real baby anyway."
"Things happen for a reason," or "It was God’s will."
"There comes a time when you just have to move on."
Each of the things above were said to me by people I love and who love me dearly. None of them were meant in anything but a supportive way- sort of, “hey, look on the bright side!” Unfortunately, none of these things are helpful when you are grieving, and they all hurt for different reasons.
If you can’t think of anything more specific, just say, “I’m so sorry” or “I’m here for you.” Check in with your loved one on a regular basis, and ask how they are doing. It opens up a chance for them to talk about it if they feel comfortable doing so. And if they do open up and talk, just listen. No need to counsel, make recommendations, or add cheery anecdotes.
Also, please don’t ever tell them “it’s time to move on.” Everyone grieves differently, and everyone has a different timeline. There is enough societal pressure to “get over it” quickly. Trust me when I say your loved one is keenly aware of that pressure.
DIY Cloth Pad Tutorial
I have had several requests from friends to share how I sew reusable cloth menstrual pads, so I figured a tutorial was in order! This tutorial is meant for folks who don’t have access to a serger, and want to sew pads that are turned-and-topstitched.
What you’ll need:
- PUL- a waterproof fabric that can be purchased online or at a fabric store.
- Cotton Velour- I like to use recycled track suits, just be sure the polyester content is 30% or LESS (so 70% or more is cotton.)
- Absorbent Fabric- this can be a thin recycled towel, or other cotton/bamboo fabric. I’m using heavy bamboo fleece in this tutorial. You’ll have to use your own discretion with how many layers to use, based on how thick your fabric is, and how heavy your flow is.
- Decorative Fabric- can be cotton, poly, fleece- whatever! Just remember that the thicker the fabric you use, the bulkier the pad will be.
- Polyester thread, a thin ballpoint needle (size 9 or 11), and snaps (plastic if you have a set of pliers or a snap press, or metal if you need to hand-sew them.)
- A Pattern- many free ones can be found online. I used this great pattern from Jan Andrea, that I altered to make the wings fatter (I find it easier to sew, since my layers never match up perfectly.) Be sure to adjust your print settings so it prints at 100%.
Ready, set, sew! First, gather your materials. (I swear, whenever I want to do a tutorial, it’s a dark, gray day. I hate artificial light photos, but it is what it is, le sigh.)
When you print your pattern, you’ll want to do it twice. Cut one copy for the whole pad pattern, this will be used with your cotton velour, PUL, and decorative fabric. The other will be for the soaker (cut around the dotted lines), that you’ll use for your absorbent fabric. This greatly reduces bulk when you turn and topstitch.
Cut out all of your fabric pieces.
First, we’ll be attaching the absorbent soaker piece to the cotton velour top. Center the absorbent fabric in the cotton velour, with fuzzy sides down. Attach the pieces together by zig-zagging down the center of the absorbent pad, then straight stitch all the way around the outside, close to the edge.
Trim any excess absorbent fabric so it’s cropped close to the outside seam.
Next, we’ll sandwich and pin all of the fabric together to assemble the pad. I definitely recommend pinning with this step. You’re working with 4+ layers, and it can be tough to get them all to stay put.
The sandwich should go- PUL on bottom, sticky side UP, decorative fabric next, good side face UP, then cotton velour, fuzzy side DOWN.
Pin the layers together. I usually can get away with just 3 pins down the center line, and two in the wings, but when I first started I used a lot more. Your pin holes will be steamed shut when you wash/dry these on hot to seal your sewing holes.
Top stitch all of the layers together. On the curved ends, I trace a path about 1/8” away from the absorbent fabric. Leave about 1.5” un-sewn so the pad can be turned right-side-out. Try not to catch the absorbent fabric in this seam, it will help reduce the bulk of your pad. I thin the wings in this step (see wing seams below.)
Trim the excess fabric so you have about 1/4” around your seam. Flip the pad right side out. I find a chopstick helpful to poke out the wings and square those corners.
Fold the edges of your turning hole in towards each other, and pin closed. Topstitch around the whole pad about 1/8” from the edge, sewing your turning hole as you go. I try to trace the seams that are already there on the rounded edges.
I like to sew a seam to hold the wings down and stop the layers from separating in the wash (can be seen in the above photo to the left of the seam from the absorbent pad.)
The final step is to add your snaps. I like to put two “female” snaps on mine, because sometimes I find the second setting to be helpful. Wash and dry your new creation on hot to seal your sewing/pin holes, and voila- your very own reusable pad!
Progress on my version of the Smoochie Monsterpants for Miss Vinka! Still not thrilled with my short rows, and the gusset is a mess (kitchener stitch is not my friend!), but since this is the fourth time I’ve attempted these, I’m calling it good!
(My blog is) not quite dead yet!
Sorry for the radio silence of late. To be honest, there is almost no crafting going on in my world. Or at least no crafting that inspires or excites me. That’s because nothing seems to inspire or excite me these days.
Depression for me is like that dysfunctional ex that just won’t stay away. You want nothing to do with them. You hide and you run and you pretend that time in your life never happened, but it’s always lurking in the far reaches of your memory. Every time a hint of it sneaks up on you, you stomp on it with every ounce of your strength, hoping it will keep at bay. But sometimes, it just isn’t enough.
I’m doing many things to work through it. I’m in counseling, which is helping, and there shouldn’t be any shame in sharing that. But for better or worse, depressed is where I am right now. I’m really hoping something will shift, and break this forced stasis I’ve been in for months. Thanks for sticking with me through the blues. I hope I can kick my unwanted ex to the curb again very, very soon.
My “niece” Miss Vinka Margaret made her arrival last Wednesday during a snow storm, at 8 lbs 9 oz and 21” long. She gave her parents a very brief little scare, but has since been kicking butt and taking names! Auntie KP, expects much more of that in the years to come. Her mama is also kicking butt and taking names, and is recovering very well. I am so excited to get to know this little nugget <3
An Ode to a Year of Personal Growth
2013 was nothing if not a year of immense personal growth. I went through some major changes- physically, professionally, and emotionally. Though it can be hard to recall the good when times feel tough, there were truly some amazing things about this year.
First, there were these exceptionally wonderful, generous, and immensely talented people. Noises Off was, for me, the best theater experience I’ve ever had, and I felt truly privileged to lead it. I still sort of can’t believe they let me helm this show, but I think it worked out OK in the end. :)
Every rehearsal was met with enthusiasm, sometimes overly so! But it was underlined with this incredible urge that we all wanted to get it “right.” I remember being only a week into blocking, and the actors wanted to already be running at full speed. I think that’s why, on opening night, we shaved almost 10 minutes off the run time. They had wanted to run it that fast since Day 1, and when they finally got that chance, they seized it.
I’m also proud of the publicity we accomplished for the show. The mockumentary shorts are something I’ll always treasure. I’m also still chuffed that on closing weekend, we were able to use all 9 balls every single night in warm ups (my cast knows what that means!)
As you all know, I decided to go “vegan-ish” in July, and take control of my health. Over the past 6 months I’ve dropped an even 30 lbs, gained strength I never thought I could have, and ran my first 5K.
Losing weight has been great, but what I’m most proud of is that I finally understand what I need to do to maintain this level of health. I understand that I don’t need to starve myself to drop pounds, and I know how much I can eat and stay the weight I am now. I had a very unhealthy attitude toward dieting, starting from a really young age, and to finally crack that code makes me feel empowered to continue. That doesn’t mean I won’t have slip ups in the future, but I will know how to steady the ship if/when that happens.
I was privileged to officiate not one, but two weddings for close friends. Crys and Billy’s wedding was idyllic, and packed with smiles, laughter, and some out-of-this-world boogieing by their DJ/Photographer. (The phrase “high on life” came to mind…)
My best lady and her gentleman pulled off an immense feat of a wedding, thrown by a legion of their loved ones. I was so honored to be a part of it, and over the moon to see her so beautiful and happy.
Speaking of my best lady, I’M GOING TO BE AN AUNTIE! I can’t wait to meet my niece/nephew. There are already grand plans in the works to trick her into letting me steal said niece/nephew on a regular basis, for appropriate snuggles and spoiling. (FYI, this tummy is bigger now ;) )
Through all of these things, the wonderful and the not-so-wonderful, I’ve been lucky enough to have my best friend and partner by my side.
I count myself incredibly fortunate to have such a supportive person in my life. We certainly tested the “in sickness and in health” clause this year. He was the one who encouraged me to try the vegan diet in case it would help my odds in ducking cancer. Any time I wavered with working out, he’d offer to come with me so my motivation wouldn’t go away. Through all of the doctors appointments, fear, and tears, he did whatever he could to listen and care for me. Even now, he’s still rooting me on, in anything I set out to accomplish.
We rocked out our 3rd anniversary in style, donning the first pieces of clothing I’d ever attempted to sew. I was pretty happy with how my first corset turned out. I may even attempt another one for next Halloween (but will start MUCH earlier this year!)
Over Christmas vacation, we went skiing. For me, it was the first time in over 10 years, and boy had I missed it! For Shawn, it was his first time ever trying to snowboard, and by the end of the day he had really picked it up (despite being quite sick!)
Also in the mix this year was a move, a new job, many new friends, amazing conversations, a wedding shower, a baby shower, and the start of the hunt for a new home.
While there were aspects to 2013 I won’t miss, I do hope 2014 is filled with just as much growth and meaningful connections as its predecessor. Happy New Year everyone!
Vegan butternut squash “mac ‘n cheeze" with wilted greens, scallion and tomato. My farmer friends sent me packing last week with about 50 lbs of winter veggies…so, so awesome :)
The Great Vegan Christmas Cookie Experiment
For the first night of our vacation, we had our nieces stay for an overnight, which has become something of a fun holiday tradition. I always try to plan an activity we can all do together that doesn’t involve screens. Last year, we made clay ornaments. This year, I thought it’d be fun to try out Christmas cookies. Since Shawn and I have spent the last 6 months staying about 98% vegan, I thought we’d try out some vegan cookie recipes.
I was really excited that my sister was able to come over. She pretty much saved the day, bringing fun cookie cutters and oodles of decorations. She wasn’t too keen on the vegan thing, but hey, her grinch older sister was making Christmas cookies, so, there was that.
There was a whole lot of measuring, mixing, taste testing, coloring, rolling, and decorating, but mostly it was a chance to groove to some holiday tunes and talk.
It was great to get a bit of Christmas in one day, since we’ve decided not to travel anywhere this year. We’re bummed to be missing our families, but sometimes, when the world tells you that you need a break, you need to listen. So we’ve planned to relax, do a few fun things together, and get our first real vacation of 2013.
I’d rate the experiment a success, though the end goal was really in the making. The sugar cookies tasted like sugar cookies, the icing tasted like icing, and the gingerbread cookies had waaaaaaay too much molasses for my taste, but had the mix been a bit better, they would have been fine. All in all a great day. Lots of smiles, and a great sugar buzz.
Happy holidays everyone!
Cloth Diaper Bonanza! Seren’s Shower Present
After sewing like a mad woman to get her stash finished, I managed to get all but 5 diapers finished for Seren’s shower last night (the last few are cut out and pinned, but I just didn’t have quite enough time.) I’ve said it before, but her friendship means the world to me, and I was really excited to be able to take this on for her.
I focused on sewing her SM/NB convertible fitteds (her hubs loved these when his daughter was a baby), SM/NB covers and One Size covers. As she jokes, she’s not fluent in “diaper” yet, so she doesn’t have any idea what will system work for her. I’m guessing she’ll favor prefolds and covers, but you never know. So I kept her covers flexible- making most of them Flip-style, with the option to snap in soakers if she ends up liking AI2s better.
Enough chat- on to the pictures! Not shown are a variety of snap-in soakers, made in contour, half contour, and snake style out of heavy bamboo fleece. I used them to line the bottom of the basket.
The basket was part of the gift- and is meant to be used as a nursing basket for her once the babe arrives.
One Size Covers (Sprout Snap, Arfy T&T OS, Arfy Mock Flip and Mock Grovia):
NB and SM/NB Covers (DD Free NB, DDU SM, and Arfy SM Fitted enlarged a bit):
SM/NB Fitted Diapers- all topped with recycled t-shirts (mostly Arfy SM fold-in with added snaps for NB setting or Arfy SM with internal gussets and sewn-in soakers):
And lastly, gotta support the family farm!
I hope to do a future post about the patterns, materials, etc. if people would find that helpful.
After two visits from the Etsy fairy on Monday, I scrambled to get some more goodies listed yesterday. My shop is looking slightly less comically empty, with 8 whole listings, woohoo!
My major problem with Etsy has always been that I make jewelry at a lightning pace, but the time and effort it takes to photograph, edit, and list them takes longer than it did to actually make the items I’m selling.
I’m trying to become more disciplined in taking less shots, and doing a whole slew of photos in one sitting, so I can edit and list as the week goes on. The result is photos that I am a little less happy with, but at least I’m able to be more productive. In Maine, daylight hours are limited for about 8 months out of the year, so I’m stuck doing my photos only on the weekend if I want to use natural light. This has always posed a challenge in keeping my shop running.
I still need to work out my preferred background fabric. The burlap I purchased is too dark to work with most of my pieces, and the white canvas isn’t reading as well as I’d like it to. It’s all a work in progress, and part of the fun!
Two more new listings in my Etsy shop today! I’m enamored of the dark, swirling gray of the Calla Lilly earrings against the lustrous peacock pearls. Can you tell I’m a pearl girl?
New listings up in my Etsy shop, with many more to come! Today’s selection of earrings feature freshwater pearls, cloisonne beads, and filigree metal links. All proceeds are going towards the down payment we’re frantically trying to scrape together in the next 6 months- every little bit helps :)