Monday, January 7, 2019

Happy New Year!

Hello, friends!

What a whirlwind 2018 has been! So many good things to be thankful for. So many projects to look back on and marvel at (mostly that I finished them at all, I mean). So many occasions on which I felt that I needed to not just slow down but stop altogether, or else lose the moment. Have you ever had that feeling? 2018 seemed to be full of those. 

First, though, let's talk a little about 2017.

See, 2017 was a bit of an eye-opener. I remember looking back at the end of it and wishing I hadn't worked so hard on certain projects at the expense of other things I realized later were more important to me. It took me that whole year's worth of hindsight to see it and when I eventually did, I felt partly perplexed (how did that happen?), partly sad (why did I let that happen?) and wholly determined to choose differently in 2018.

So I did.

Let me confess outright that it was not without relapses. There were situations in which I found myself working longer than I'd wanted on some project that was fiddlier than I'd anticipated, with only a sliver left of the initial interest that had so moved me to begin it way back when. You know the kind, right? I call those my "What Possessed Me" projects; they live under my sewing table in their Dungeon of Surplus and Shame.

Yet at the end of 2018, I looked back and - behold - it still felt like a better year than 2017, not the least because I'd said no to some things that allowed me to say yes to better things. Here's an example: last summer, we moved the two younger kids out of their shared bedroom and into solo rooms, and there were two immediate outcomes to this.

One, in order to make the space we needed, we curated and cleared out infant and toddler doodads we'd been hanging on to forever, as well as my own mementos from a more bygone era (like before I had children). It was not so much cathartic as diagnostic: in saying yes to what was of value to us and no to the rest, our lives (as it were) flashed before our eyes: a sampling of the choices we'd made to sew vs. buy, buy vs. make, mend vs. toss, toss vs. save, in every item we'd hoarded long after it'd outlived its usefulness. Was I being dramatic just then? Probably. It's hard to let go of the stuff that reminded us of 
Who We Were, after all. And might I not be presumptuous in guessing that anyone who's similarly cleared out a stash of life's artifacts might nod and say, "Yep, I concur, now let's all break out the stiff drinks"?

Two - and this is less metaphorical - I no longer sew at night. One of the newly-inhabited bedrooms is next to my sewing room. My glorious daylight lamps, once resplendently conducive for midnight work, are now an entirely inhospitable environment for children who prefer sleeping with the door open. And then there is the issue of the noise: the whirrs, snips, and clacks which are the soundtrack of Making. Once upon a time, it was when the children retired for the evening that my creative day began, these days, come bedtime, all that had to end. When I first realized what I was giving up, I could hardly bear it.

Surprisingly, it wasn't as hard as I thought it would be. Certainly it took getting used to. When I had deadlines to meet in the late summer, for instance, I resorted to sewing in the earlier mornings before the kids were awake. As long as it was a temporary arrangement and I ignored the dishes, the laundry, and the clarion call of daytime errands, it worked. If I needed to design, create or conceptualize something new (which still only happens late at night when the world is truly still), I waited till everyone was out of the house at summer camp, or a sleepover. True, my productivity isn't what it used to be, but my evenings are freer now, and I can read more, chill more, exercise more, write more.

Toward the end of fall, I took stock of the year and knew that it was turning out differently than the one before. I was sewing less but enjoying it more. I was taking the time to go on school field trips and have lunch with the kids in their school cafeteria. I spent a fair bit of the summer helping one kid through an advanced Math course. I took a solo trip to New York to be with friends and eat obscene amounts of food of the sort we don't have here in Minnesota. By Halloween, I was looking forward to Christmas. I had Stuff Planned For Gifts! Everyone had new rooms! With curtains! I would bake! I would cook! I would make advent calendars!

And then, just before Thanksgiving, life took quite the turn.

Two kittens moved into our house.

Tiny, fluffy things they were when we first brought them home. Like stuffed toys that could magically bleat and mew and waddle in captivating uncoordination. We'd never had cats before, so this was going to be an adventure, we said, but by gum, we were Going Forth. And we did.

We fed them. We took them to the vet. We bought, filled and cleaned their litter boxes. We agonized over whether to get a Christmas Tree or not get a Christmas Tree. We eagle-eyed them all the time they were in an Important Room With The Good Furniture. We entertained them. We began to train them. We said No and ran for the squirt bottle. We said Yes, Good Job and ran for the treats. We kitten-proofed the house room by room. We asked for advice. We read and researched and schooled ourselves in felinephernalia. Suddenly, it felt like I had brand new babies again, our lives revolving around a steep learning curve and the hope that we would do them more good than harm. 

Now, three months into being cat parents, I will report that our world has been  simultaneously enhanced and upended in all kinds of unexpected ways. The children are beside themselves with delight. All their maternal instincts are in full force caring for these young 'uns. 

My maternal instincts on the other hand, are responding in a rather curious way. Ever since the little fluffnuggets arrived, I've been plagued by one question: what can I make for them?

You're laughing, right? Me, too. What is it about babies that awakens the insane desire to handmake, particularly when those hands are already so full, holding and loving and comforting and protecting?

Perhaps that whole Chill-2018 movement was to prepare me for this high-octane ride to the finish. I didn't see it coming, but I have no complaints. Handmade it is, then. 

Incidentally, just seconds after that little baby cat made its way up the stairs, it fell fast asleep from exhaustion. 


So . . . (and I never thought I'd see the day when I'd actually say this) look out for some cat projects in the next post!


  1. Lier, kitties will steal your heart. I have had cornish rex kitties since 1991. They live long, Do not let them outside ever.
    So many fun kitty projects out there, I have made hats for them, beds, toys, blankies etc. Miles and Princess especially, have curly fur and no guard hair. Princess gets cold.
    I hope you enjoy your new kittens. They are so sweet.
    When my girls were little, they used to put Caesar and Princess in beds and strollers. Now my daughters are grown and married and they have two daughters each (little babies really)
    Happy New Year!!

  2. i am beside myself with excitement. that first kitty pic is the best reveal ever <3

  3. Yay, cats! Congratulations to your new family members. We just got three new cats ourselves, so I'm really looking forward to your projects! At out pet shelter is a volunteer, who sews hammocks for cats. They are basically shoulder bags with a wide bottom (where the cushion goes) and a shallow rim. The handles are for hanging. Have a happy 2019!

  4. The kitten is so adorable! I have a puppy, which is not quite the same but easier on family allergies. I'm curious to see what you've made for the kittens!

  5. Oh, I am so happy for all of you! Kittens and cats are just pure wonderful. And in terms of art and creativity, as Leonardo daVinci wrote:
    "The smallest feline is a masterpiece."


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