Month: November 2012

Triumphant return to knitting

Some of my knit projects.

Once upon a time, I knit like mad. I loved knitting and cranked out hats and scarves and a few ill-fitting tanks like nobody’s business. One one of my early dates with my husband, I knit a hat for my mother while he worked the sound board for a metal show in Fitchburg, Mass. There’s nothing like a set of big old metal #10 needles to let the jerk at the pool table know that he DOES have to say “excuse me” when he’s about to poke me with the cue while making his shot.

Anyway, I had some awesome knitting mentors and loved the heck out of it.

But then, something happened. My hands started to hurt. Shooting pain across the back of them whenever I knit. Which takes the fun right out of a leisure activity, let me tell you. The doctor tested me for all kinds of things ranging from arthritis to lupus and came up with squat. Which did nothing to solve the problem. I had a job that I hated and a bunch of other stressful things going on in my life, and I’ve always been someone whose emotional stress menifests physically, so it’s quite possible that my psychological sense that my hands were tied resulted in a physical reminder. Who knows. That was several years ago.

Since then, I’ve gotten a fabulous new job that I love and resolved many of my other stressors.

And then I saw Tasha’s (bygumbygolly) blog post about fingerless gloves. I LOVE knitting gloves. But I wanted to make sure my hands cound handle knitting again. My neighbor is pregnant and due fairly soon…and I have some adorable patterns for baby booties. Which are small and knit up quickly, so even if my hands DID hurt, I could still probably suffer through them.

I went to knit up my test bootie and something wonderful happened. No pain. Even after about an hour of knitting. A few days later, I knit while my car got inspected – another hour or so at the needles. And again, no pain. I’m thrilled. I joined ravelry. I ordered the actual yarn for the booties. I started sifting through pattern books to find things I want to make.  I started planning projects for the yarns left in my stash. I reorganized my office to fit in my grandmother’s sewing machine, which also opens up a nice space for knitting. I’m really, really excited.

Stay tuned for all kinds of vintage-inspired knitting projects.


Not vintage: new job rituals

I start my new job today.

I’m excited. And nervous. And ready.

I was a girl scout for ages –long after it stopped being cool–which has left me with a tendency to be SUPER ULTRA PREPARED. My new work bag has a sewing kit, Tide pen, myriad office supplies, tissues, allergy drugs, lip balm, and picture of Tim. In a few minutes I’ll make myself a peanut butter sandwich and make sure I have some cash, because you can never predict the lunch situation. Some friends have explained the Law of Constant Arrival Times, so I understand that my new commute means that if I leave my house at any point during a particular hour-long window,  I will arrive at the same time. Interesting.

Time to go remove manky old nail polish and iron my pants. Did I mention I’ve had my first-day outfit picked out for two weeks?

Fran’s birthday

Fran & Bill, January 21, 1942. Five days after they were married, just days before he left for Australia to fight in the Pacific.

Today would have been my grandmother Fran’s 96th birthday. She was an interesting woman – I didn’t understand her much when I was small; she wasn’t a warm fuzzy grandma who invited me to sit in her lap. She was a sharp, intelligent woman who read voraciously, dominated at poker and had a pretty good golf game. She and her husband existed entirely for one another – they had few friends. My relationship with her started developing after her husband died. When I was in college I finally had a car and could visit her by myself, not rely on my parents to bring me.

Her mother died when she was 4, her father died when she was 12, and she was raised by her grandmother (also named Frances). My grandmother was apparently engaged several times before my grandfather proposed–apparently she even told one suitor that she’d wear his ring, but “if Bill asks me to marry him, I’m going to do it.” And the guy still gave her the ring. Scorpio magnetism at work.

My grandmother and grandfather.

My grandmother with her father-in-law.

I think I’m like her in some ways. I have her eyebrows, which she made me promise to keep. At the time, I thought that was an odd request, but since then, I’ve come to appreciate it. I share her passion for reading. I’m a far better cook and housekeeper, thank god–her house was a mess and she could barely cook (probably because she grew up with servants who handled that.). She appreciated family heirlooms and I have some wonderful furniture and jewelery that she passed on to me. While I don’t think she was pretty, I think was interesting-looking in a way people found attractive. I think the same thing about myself – we have character that shows.

Later in life she wore completely awful polyester pants with loud plaid patterns and mismatched sweaters, but I can forgive her that. She painted her living room the ugliest salmon color you’ve ever seen. It was her living room and she liked it. That was good enough for Fran.

Moving on.

So, as I mentioned previously, I’ve accepted a new job. It’s kind of a big deal for me – it’s with a well-known marketing company that serves Fortune 500 customers. I’ll be designing and executing marketing programs to create demand for the company’s B2B services. I’ll have the word “Senior” in my title. None of which my grandmother would understand, but my mom assures me she’d be proud if she were still around to see it.

The hard part: working out my notice.  I am completely, totally utterly distracted. While I’m doing my best to make life easier for the folks who will remain with my current employer, I’d love to fast-forward to my first day at the new place. I’m planning beauty treatments and shopping excursions and all kinds of stuff to help me look and feel my best when I start (OK, so I’ll probably hold off on buying clothes until I’ve been there a few weeks and get a sense of how people dress–uber professional? Business casual? Other?).

The only part I don’t want to fast-forward through: getting to spend the last days working with some really kick-ass women. While none of them read this blog, I still want to recognize them:

Pam, VP product management. She’s smart, warm, sincere, and passionate about what she does. She’s a great presenter and really approachable.

Stephanie, director of product marketing. Another ridiculously smart woman. I also admire her determination and pragmatism in working through tough situations.

Karen the consultant. A working mom who travels a lot, she’s incredibly easy-going and patient. She understands people and realizes that sometimes, even when you know the answer, you have to let people work it out for themselves (But that doesn’t mean you can’t nudge them gently along the way).

Sharon, VP sales operations. She’s a tough cookie. The woman has high standards and holds people accountable–including herself.

And then of course, there are the women from my department who I work with daily (or worked with, like Julie, the wonderfully irreverent woman who hired me and Donna, the saucy PR pro). They each have their own special charm (some more charming than others, of course). But overall, it’s been a good experience and I’m glad I got the chances I did. Now I’m looking forward to finding a new crop of role models.

Sometimes inspiration comes from unexpected places. Who makes you think, “She GETS it. I’m going to do THAT next time.”?

Plaid, plaid, plaid

I have long been a fan of plaid. Especially plaid skirts. But this morning I realized that none of the plaid skirts in my wardrobe are PENCIL skirts, and I am all about the pencil skirt.

I need to remedy this situation.

I have it in my head (probably erroneously) that sewing is easy.

I have never sewed on a machine, ever. But I’ve got my grandmother’s Singer from 1951, complete with manual, and I’ve looked at multiple pencil skirts and I keep thinking, it can’t be that hard. Measure, cut, pin, stitch. Right? We’ll see. In the meantime, I’ve been on a pinning frenzy.

Like this gorgeous number from Lipstick & Curls:

plaid pencil skirt

Gorgeous. Everything about this is gorgeous.

I’m also admiring many of Jessica from Chronically Vintage’s lovely plaid dresses, though I suspect those are considerably harder to make. Another one. Off to trim my bangs, go vote, and look for plaid pencil skirts.


I’m back!

Yes, I have been woefully absent from the blog lately.

But I have a good reason – I’ve been job-searching. My efforts paid off and I landed a new position – I’ll start November 19, the week of Thanksgiving. I’m really excited. And nervous. And all those other things that go with major life transitions.

Speaking of transitions, my family is selling off the homestead. My grandfather built the house in 1949. My mom and her siblings gew up there, then my mother and I moved back in with my grandmother in 1985 after my folks got divorced, my grandfather died, and it made sense for us to combine households. It’s sad, but at the same time, preparing to sell the house means I get to go through all kinds of things and explore the memories attached to them.

And I get my grandmother’s sewing machine. It’s a Singer from 1951, complete with the instruction manual. Do I have any idea how to sew? No. But I’m looking forward to learning. To help me along the journey, I have a wonderful set of books that my mother found in her attic: a series of 12 books that made up a dressmaking course offered by the Women’s Institue of Domestic Arts and Sciences. They’ve got very clear instructions, as well as great photos and illustrations:

essential stitches

Table of contents from “First Steps in Dressmaking”


Illustrations demonstrating how to make patterns.

I have no idea when I’ll find time to start learning to sew, but it’s probably a good winter activity. I’m sure I’ll have tons of sewing disasters to share in this space soon.