nearly a barf-o-rama

I feel absolutely crippled – physically and a bit mentally – by how busy it’s been around here these last few days. All very, very enjoyable stuff: waitressing, teaching, birthday presents, desktop publishing jobs, having company, sewing, having more company, more sewing, garden work, and two trips to Oly.

I Want You Out, Bro
Harris Vs. Ralph. Every day.

Next week is this quarter’s last class. I have enjoyed teaching so much. But I look forward to not having to help anyone for a while, and being able to focus on my own things.

Last night’s trip to Olympia yielded, among other things, the twin pleasures of fabric buying – 13 wonderful, fabulous yards of it – and dinner at Quality Burrito (recommended it by locals who obviously didn’t have children; however, it was a great meal despite hipsters and b.o. of waitperson). This evening in the bath Sophie told me she had named the plastic dragons Ralph purchased her at the craft store: Four-Winged Glory, Drake, Godzilla, Wyvern, and Cling-To-All-Surface. I admire her brain for the imagination it holds. I’m like the orange peel in our worm bin, all scraped bare and used up.

And I just want to remind the general public who reads that when you are parents to children your every peaceful, fun outing can be immediately transformed into a type of nightmare – just like that. We were about thirty feet from the entrance of the fabric store when my daughter – despite our repeated suggestions she stop reading her comic books in the car – complained of being ill, then leaned back in her seat, called out to me, and began sputtering out puke (don’t ever watch someone vomit when you have a direct view of their mouth, just a friendly tip). Our son had fallen asleep in the car so Ralph had to drop me and the sleeping boy – who weighs four hundred pounds while unconscious – off at the store and go in search of wipes etc. to manage the mess.

Sophie’s first words upon completion of the hurlage: “Oh dad – you were trying so hard to sell this van!”

my little tendril curled back up again

Tuesday evenings are odd for me because I’m coming off sewing class – a rather active experience for me mentally (and sometimes physically). I try to provide a semblance of professionalism as a representative of the College but today I was A. not prepared for the students who arrived early, and B. had unfortunately chosen an alternate venue that was at first very cluttered and then suffered from extremely inadequate lighting (both we were able to remedy). All of my students attended, including one who was starting to feel very sick. She worked as much as she could, and left early. I felt gladness in my heart to see everyone there.

Class is getting interesting because each student is embarking on their own project. At first I was teaching a clinic of basic skills. Now I am hopping around like a butterfly and finding delight in answering each question, assisting with each problem. One student wanted to learn to sew on a button correctly; wanted it so bad she cut a button off her own coat to practice!

Dean Martin plays over the stereo as I bring coffee and tea to the students. One of them, a friendly young girl with hair painted the color of a fresh bloom, sits on the floor taping together a pattern while the proprietor’s young child makes her necklaces out of red wrapped candy. My “slowest” student has – this was predictable – moved on to being a great deal more confident, showing gratifying progress. One student speaks to me in sign language while she talks (a habit; her job involves the deaf). Another woman worries her completed muslin was made incorrectly. It wasn’t, though – and I admire the precision she’s learned in her seam allowances. A friend from the college, not enrolled in my class, attends and sets up at a table to twist wire, putting together lovely jewelry and talking with these women she’s just met.

The only sad thing about Tuesday nights is as of this week I am missing one of two weekly sessions of my daughter’s swim lessons. Today I learn from Ralph that she swam across the pool by herself and dove off the diving board – and, even though it had been a year since her last lesson, she remembered her father promised her french fries after diving. So that’s what they did.

After they get home she takes her bath and falls asleep early. It was funny though, today. It’s almost as if I knew the day would be here and gone quickly; I took my time in talking to her and holding her close while I had her.

a modest series of impressive protoges

My husband supports my sewing to an extent I have simply not seen in any other partner towards their spouse’s hobby.

From the beginning he has championed my habit and praised my talent. He was the one to suggest a sewing room (and therefore, a shared bedroom for the kiddos) and he has hauled all my very heavy sewing machines from house to house. The first day after we moved in our new domicile he prioritized buying the expensive bulbs in the studio so I’d have good lighting. I mean he made a special trip to get me those bulbs. Whatever our budget indicates, he puts money aside for my fabrics or whatever else I might need. Now that I’m back to doing a bit of teaching, he prints out class notes for me and has driven from the college to home and back to bring my huge ironing board to class and in short performed a million big and small errands with the cumulative effect of feeling immensely supported.

Today due to the snow the on-campus class was canceled. Ralph called right away to tell me. I decided to invite my students over to my house during class time. I was able to reach three, and one couldn’t attend due to road conditions. At 5:30 a lone student, S., shows up for instruction.

It seems every person I’ve ever helped has delighted or surprised me – usually both. It had been a while since I’d taught and in my foolishness S. had seemed nearly hopeless to me a few weeks ago when we commenced class. She exhibited fear or trepidation at nearly every step. I would have to explain something to her more than once, not because she didn’t understand my verbiage but almost as if she literally did not hear me the first time. She showed what I at first would call a low social awareness: in class she would interrupt my “lecture” even if only seconds previous I had just personally assisted her. She is quiet – so quiet it is nearly impossible to hear what she’s saying, even if I’m in the same room with her. So I’d hear her interrupting but have to ask after her question nearly every interruption.

On the first day she attended class she took up a piece of work we’d sewn on the machine and embroidered a perfect elegant flower, freehand.

Tonight we spent most the “class” at my house in silence, as I directed her in tracing patterns. I tried to make small talk but she is not much of a small talker (although she did seem to enjoy my cats). Having her alone I was able to observe her more closely. She may not know this yet, but she has shown a tremendous amount of progress since I saw her first drive her machine. Her caution and trepidation have resulted in exact, precise results of cutting and stitching. Her requests for repetition means once she starts operation she does not make mistakes. What may have seemed at first like a dragging pace is actually serving her well for the rather advanced project she’s picked: many small, repetitive steps. She is, in short, a precise, meticulous seamstress in the making, right before my eyes. I had a wonderful time being with her tonight.

I think I could be as addicted to teaching the craft as I am actually sewing myself. Each student I have had is so unique. They see themselves as flustered, in a new territory. Most of them get rather peevish when given a difficult problem! Then in a few minutes with my guidance they are able to accomplish it. I see their potential talent. Every person I’ve helped has shown talent. I laugh (internally) at their colossal mistakes even as I laugh (internally) at myself for once again forgetting they are beginners. I remember once having a girlfriend show me the threaded bobbin for her brand new machine – it looked oddly formed. I asked if something was wrong with her winder and she gave me a quizzical look, “Well, my husband wound it” – by hand! I laughed but at the same time thought of course that made a lot of sense – and was so sweet besides.

It is sometimes odd to have to explain things I’ve known how to do since before I can remember knowing most other things.

What my students like S. probably will never realize is I am sure I love teaching them and watching them more than any of them like learning to sew.

i rest my case.

I Make A Pencil Case
In looking for a tutorial online for a zippered pouch, I didn’t find anything fantastic – or rather, anything that hit the skills I wanted to present to my class tomorrow – so I just designed one myself (notes to follow). Note: my resultant pouch wasn’t too fantastic itself, but it will do.

Stitched While Neighbor Dropped In For A Visit
I love free-hand embroidery; just a tiny detail that only takes a few minutes. The expensive machines that do embroidery for you – it’s not for me.

I have some vintage threads and I used a buttonhole thread for the running stitch around the patch. Pearl cotton for the letters.

Lining, Fair Green
I like lining; it adds to the interest, finished look, and the durability of the sewn item.