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Why Bother to Learn Sewing?

Why do I want to learn to sew my own clothing?

As a knitter who’s purchased $30 merino-cashmere-nylon sock yarn to make hand knit socks, I’m certainly under no illusions that it will be cheaper to sew my own clothes versus buying them (at least, not in the short run — more on that later). Most of us sock knitters have been asked why we bother to knit socks, when you can buy them so cheaply, and my answer to that will likely cross over to many of my reasons for wanting to learn how to sew: above all, fit; choice of materials; and pride of making something lovely with good techniques.

bayerischeAs a former Army officer, and as a veterinarian, I love the simplicity of uniforms.  I don’t have to think about what I’m going to put on when I dress for work at a vet clinic. I toss on a pair of scrubs and occasionally a lab coat.  I have a comfortable pair of clogs, and I wear my Bayerische socks.  I love that.  I get to wear comfortable clothes, suitable for my job. If I want to get on the floor with a big dog (or even medium or little dog!), I can easily do so in scrubs.

I have two main sets of scrubs, both in black. I have two scrub tops from 1st Care for working their vaccine clinics (the company uniform is black pants, with their blue scrub tops). I have one additional, older pair of scrub pants bottoms in turquoise-y green that can be paired with a black scrub top, but I rarely wear those.

It’s a good thing I don’t need an extensive work wardrobe. We have a small house, about 900 square feet. It’s also an older home, built in the 1920s, and as such, it has tiny closets, and small bedrooms.  There’s just not a lot of storage space. I share our bedroom closet with Dave; including winter jackets that only get worn if we go somewhere snowy, I get a little over half of the closet.  I also have a bookcase that I used for everything that doesn’t get hung up in the closet.  Work out clothes, jeans, sweaters, and underwear (along with a few miscellaneous items) are folded and placed on the shelves.

The idea of a capsule wardrobe, where you have a limited number of items that fit and that you love, from which you draw your daily outfits, really, really appeals to me.  I’ve not gone through and counted my items that I wear for non-work, non-working-out activities, but I’d be pretty surprised if it’s more than 37. Given I live in coastal Southern California, my wardrobe doesn’t change too much over the seasons, so I have that in my favor!  I tend to wear the same things over and over: jeans, a striped cotton sweater, a red patterned tank, a denim skirt, a corduroy skirt, a black tank top (I have two of those), and a chambray shirt. All go with my black Tieks ballet flats that I’ve worn so much they’re getting close to needing to be replaced.  (I do have a pair of cowboy boots I adore but rarely wear.)

I also feel that the idea of slow fashion is critically important for so many big reasons, including conservation of our world’s resources and humane working conditions for employees in garment factories. Here’s a more recent article from NPR. Have you read Overdressed: The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion?  It’s well worth reading.

This all means I want to have a simple non-work wardrobe of clothing that:

  • Fits well and comfortably
  • Is well made with fine finishing details and construction
  • Will both last a long time and be stylish until it wears out beyond repair
  • I love to wear, that makes me happy

Fit is one of the hardest things. I hate shopping, I hate trying on clothes, I hate ending up with something that just seems good enough because I can’t find anything else.

Good construction goes hand in hand with fit — things that are poorly constructed don’t maintain their fit.  Good construction is, if you can find it, expensive (as it should be, to fairly compensate people for their work) — and this is the point at where it might make economic sense to sew your own items.

I believe, if I learn to sew, that I can construct a wardrobe, over time, that meets those bullet points.


DIPs, Garden Update, a Wolf Pup, & a Focus

Woolen Rabbit Opal in "Godiva"

Let’s see…the Knitcircus sweater reached Jaala at Knitcircus right before she left for TNNA (lucky lady!).  I’m just about to start my run of editing for the Knitcircus Fall issue (and folks, this one is shaping up to be FABULOUS).  I’ve been editing some lovely pattern by other indie designers as well.

Here’s a yarn pic from the California Revival Collection….it’s so gorgeous, so luscious…. It’s from Kim at the Woolen Rabbit, her Opal base in Godiva.

In the garden….our Santa Rosa plum tree, little as it is, has been producing some luscious plums over the past week or so.  We don’t harvest enough to need to do anything with them, like jam or anything (though I fully intend to in the future, when the crop gets bigger).

The crows have been dining on our Desert King figs before we can pick them.  I’m sure I’ve asked before, but does anyone have any good fig recipes?  I like dried figs, but am clueless as to what to do with fresh.  (I suppose I could dry them somehow.)

Our peach tree is bearing a tiny bit of fruit — but what’s there is delicious.  I planted some raspberries a month or two ago, and they’re already bearing a tiny bit of fruit as well.  The one raspberry I ate was very, very good.

We’ve been having baby lettuce for salads for the past couple weeks (month?).  Lettuce, for us, is a pest-free crop (as opposed to the broccoli/ kale/ etc family, which attracts aphids like no tomorrow).  I’ve planted some varieties that are supposed to be slow to bolt — I’d love to have lettuce all summer.

I ate some cherry tomatoes yesterday — they didn’t even make it into the house, though I shared one with our neighbor Doug.

Oh — almost forgot!  I now own another loom.  It’s a used Wolf Pup that I purchased from the arts director at the Idyllwild Arts Academy. It needs some TLC, but I’m hoping to start nurturing it this summer.  Dave’s okay with it — it takes up about 1/6th or less the space the Beast would’ve (the Beast being the humongous loom I adopted last year, and for which I subsequently found a new home).

I finally agreed to getting smartphones. Dave & I both got Samsung Focuses (Foci?). Anyhow, one of the main reasons I thought a smartphone would be useful was to have my Outlook calendar handy.

Little did I know how much of a pain this would be. You’d think, Microsoft Outlook. Microsoft Windows 7 phone. Should be easy, right?

Nope. Several hours later, here’s the final (and imperfect) answer, pieced together by finally finding a couple helpful sites (and this).  Note:  I could never make Outlook Connector work, so that option, well, wasn’t an option.  The following steps apply to getting the calendar from Outlook to Windows Live;  I’ve not included setting up the phone for Windows Live.

Go to Outlook.  Export calendar in .ics format — not by exporting, which seems logical, but by being in Calendar view and doing File >Save As.  Make sure you look at options such as date range, detail level, etc.  Default seems to be “Today” and limited details i.e. just showing if you’re busy;  not very useful IMHO.

Sign in to Windows Live and go to your calendar page (under the Hotmail tab).

Subscribe (not import, which seems logical) to your calendar.  If you’re updating your current calendar, make sure you choose to import into a current calendar.

Make sure that this calendar is the one checked as your primary calendar on the Hotmail Calendar page — this is the one that will sync with your phone.

So, obviously, there’s no way (without Microsoft Exchange) to directly sync Outlook with the phone.  If you make changes in Outlook, you have to go through the above steps to get the changes to show on your phone.

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Some of my favorite (knitting) things…

I finished the Bronte mitts — they are extraordinarily soft & fuzzy & warm.  I finished Dave’s house socks (pictured in the previous post with Obi as a model).  I’ve cast on for an extra Christmas gift — Lau socks for Dave.  (He knows.)  I’m in progress on PH’s mitts, should be able to finish them by tomorrow.

Movies I’ve seen recently…..

Lars & the Real Girl — not a new movie, but I just saw it.  Totally sweet.

Coraline (NOT recommended for young kids at ALL) — very creepy

I.O.U.S.A. — like I wasn’t already freaked out enough by peak oil & global warming.  Still, very good, concise & nonpartisan.

State of Play (2009) — not great but definitely enjoyable.

The Wrestler — well, saw it a while ago, but very good.  Even Dave cried at the end.

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Nearly Halloween…so it’s time for every knitter’s fave scary movie….

…the violence of the lambs….Black Sheep!

Weresheep?  There sheep!  40 million of them.  And they’re hungry.

One memorable scene Dave couldn’t even watch, he buried his face in the couch.  (I was laughing so hard I was crying).  Then he sold my copy of the movie on eBay.

I think it’s a funny movie.  Lots of gore, lots of sheep jokes, lots of sheep puns.  Lots of really cute sheep (other than the mutant sheep).

Other movies I’ve seen recently and enjoyed:

Watchmen:  I like this much more than I anticipated I would.  Very dark.

Thelma and Louise:  an old favorite.  I, of course, sob at the end;  this time I sobbed whenever Jimmy was with Louise…especially when he leaves her in the cafe and knows he won’t see her again.

King Corn:  nothing I’d not already learned via Omnivore’s Dilemma and other books, but still engaging.  Two guys, upon learning that they are mostly corn (testing of their hair revealed corn as the primary protein source), plant an acre of corn and make a movie (investigating government subsidies, herbicides, feedlots, corn syrup manufacturing and more).

Would Would Jesus Buy?:  Follow Reverand Billy and his choir as they perform/protest at various stores, malls and Disneyland against rampant consumerism.

In Debt We Trust:  another anticonsumerism doc.  Not much new here either but still interesting.

The Garden:  about the South Central Los Angeles community garden.  Sad.  Corrupt politicians and greedy developers.  What’s new?

Anvil:  The Story of Anvil:  it’s one of those movies, that if it was a mockumentary, it’d be funny;  as it is, it’s just really sad.  They really aren’t that good of a band, not even after practicing for 20 odd years and making 13+ albums, but they have good hearts.