Archive for September, 2008

election year calls for a new dress.

September 13, 2008

I have been obsessed with politics lately.  In a very bad way.  In a way that during one of the party conventions which will remain nameless I found myself screaming out my window how miserable of a human being a former mayor of New York City is.

Seriously insane.  And then a later development in the election really almost killed me…and I rediscovered the meditative, calming wonder that is knitting.  I had known that in preparation for winter I would need some mittens and so I had already decided on Norah Gaughan’s Target Wave mittens from her beautiful Knitting Nature book and some Frog Tree Merino Melange that I ordered from The Yarn Tree in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.  I love Norah’s book because it speaks to the same dichotomy I have in my own life–love of science (traditionally masculine) and a love of some things VERY domestic (traditionally female), and it blends the two seamlessly (pun completely intended).

The Target Wave mittens “were inspired by the look of traveling chemical waves”.

This was the first time I used Frog Tree yarn, which I decided was more than suitable to use given my social/eco conscious goal since the mission of the company is “to supply meaningful and continuous work to various artisans and non-profit groups. Purchases Made by T & C Imports helps by supporting families and their communities.  Funds from our project are used to support worthy educational causes.”  I mostly like it because they’re a non-profit cooperative.  I used the Merino Melange, which is very soft and lovely and will definitely be using it again (it’s also relatively inexpensive).

After a few days, my insanity over the political goings-on of today (which is hard to escape when you live in Washington, DC) started to thankfully dissipate.  And so the knitting frenzy subsided and I returned to sewing and accomplished an FO that I’m extremely proud of.

I’ll be wearing this to a more casual wedding I’m going to next week.  I’m very excited about it.  It’s a gorgeous, almost silk-like cotton lawn.  I’ve only started using patterns and this was my first time making my own pattern, which I modeled after some clothes I currently own.  The collar was shaped off of a shirt I own with a somewhat similar collar and the shape of the dress from another dress.   I just recently discovered the wonders of elastic and have been really into blouson shapes, so I was excited to try that out, which I think went relatively well.  I also have never done the fabric covered button thing before which I may be overly obsessed with from this point forward. It’s also got other fun details like my first try at faced hems.

The whole idea came from this J.Crew shirt.  But I wasn’t about to pay no $88 for a shirt that I can clearly make for less than $20. And even better, it’s a whole dress. I did use their pictures to guide my own creation…their zoom tool is quite handy.

There’s nothing like that feeling when you realize that there’s so much you can do for yourself…like make your own pretty dresses.


I don’t need a bag, thank you.

September 2, 2008

This is another Burdastyle pattern: the Charlie Bag.  It’s technically a shopping bag, for groceries and the like, but I modified it to be my new purse.  I made the pattern smaller and used a heavy, shiny twill for the outside and a charmeuse for the lining, with some nice contrasting yellow topstitching.

I have to admit I thought the lining would add more pizazz than it did…but I still use it everyday now.  I actually really love it.  It’s the perfect size.

But what’s really great about it is not only that it’s big enough that when I buy small things at the store I can say, “I don’t need a bag, thank you”, but really because I now buy less unnecessary things at the store.  When I see that nice bag, pretty skirt, or a nice dress, I mostly think, “I think I could find enough patterns to cobble together to make something pretty damn close to that and therefore not have to spend more money than I have on it.”

That is a truly beautiful thing in the name of reducing my personal consumption.  And it’s also a beautiful thing in the name of curbing my addiction to handing my money over to others for things I don’t need or even really want that much.

Sometimes I think many people (myself definitely included) forget that reducing consumption (and thus conserving precious natural resources) is the most important way to do the ever-so-sexy reducing our footprint thing (I say that sarcastically, but I’m thrilled people are all about it actually).  While I don’t think it’s helpful to scare everyone with the concept of overhauling our entire lifestyle, I think most people are not against the idea of changing their behavior within reason…changing those lightbulbs, unplugging things when not using them, taking transit when the option is there, and so on.  I also think people would not be against larger changes if planned and transitioned into properly.  So what really gets me is people that think they’re progressive, that they “get it”, by simply acknowledging that climate change is a problem — that it actually exists, but then refuse to make those changes that so many other people are willing to make.

My case in point here is, well….Al Gore.  Yes. Al Gore.  Nobel peace prize be damned, that man has made my job (my actual rent-paying job) so much harder.  Al Gore has done more for spreading the science of climate change than any individual and I more than appreciate that.  However, when asked about his 10,000 square foot house, he seems to brush it off as some sort of inconsequential and understandable choice he’s made.  As though one should just disconnect his crusade from him and have sympathy for his inability to put outrageously extravagant personal desire aside.   Instead he offers electric cars and the equivalent of $1/gallon gas as the bright solution, so he and many other auto-addicted Americans can maintain their current lifestyles.

The renewable energy portion of his plan is fantastic, but the problem with this is that the traction that climate change gave advocates for compact, transit-oriented development almost vanishes when people can point to the most famous climate change advocate and say they’re being told by environmentalists themselves that nothing needs to change (with transportation at least) except the engine in our cars.   Advocates for walkable neighborhoods and compact development aren’t just advocates because of the climate change benefits — there are many benefits associated with this kind of development:  lower energy consumption from denser development (less heating and cooling per person as opposed to heating and cooling 10,000 square feet just for Al and Tipper), which clearly does have climate change benefits; an urban form that people can connect to outside of an automotive bubble; the ability to walk and bike places and thus stave off that ever-present issue of obesity and diabetes; freedom for children and the elderly to get around their neighborhoods without depending on people aged 20-60, who I think can be overwhelmed as chauffeurs in the current suburban reality; and a more vibrant place to live in where people may actually see their neighbors and pass them on a walk through the neighborhood, sort of like my neighborhood now, which is not some crazy Manhattan-like zoo riddled with high-rises and concrete, but a place that probably resembles a 50s suburb more than that oppressive, intimidating city so many people are turned off by.

So now, when people I already have to argue with about climate change solutions can point to Al Gore and say, “Look, we don’t have to change a damn thing, we can still get fat and overuse because electric cars will save the day” I can only sigh and begin the tirade all over again…

Why must each crisis be fixed with tunnel vision?