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Project Queue

August 27, 2010

Is that seriously how you spell “queue.”  It looks so wrong I actually Googled it.  Anyway, I decided to list the upcoming projects that I’m considering, if only to clear my mind.  Here goes:


  • Finish the bookcase I’m making for Ike.
  • Make a bookcase to replace the creaky IKEA bookcase in the basement, which I refer to as the leaning tower of bookcase.
  • Make two very basic cabinets to hold my sewing supplies.  I don’t know about you guys, but I checked out the sewing spaces BurdaStyle Flickr set and it puts me to shame.


  • Hang quilts in Ike’s room.
  • Frame photos for a “framed collage” in the hallway.
  • Hang curtains in the living room.  I have them made.  Well, almost.
  • Paint the ceiling fan.  (This is my cheap alternative to simply buying a less ugly ceiling fan.)
  • Hang this giant map in the living room.
  • Paint the bedroom.  Yes, we’re still hemming and hawing over the color.


  • A basic black tee shirt.  I haven’t picked the pattern yet but it will be long sleeved.
  • Vogue 1194 out of red wool jersey, teal polyester jersey or purple matte jersey.
  • Leopard print mini skirt using Simplicity 2451


August 20, 2010

I just nursed Ike for the last time.  The nursing had been dwindling and after leaving for three nights without a pump two weeks ago, it was pretty much over.  Tomorrow I leave again for the weekend to go to my sister’s bachelorette party.  Which means, nursing will be really over, instead of pretty much over.  Tonight was it.

It makes me teary, but Ike is getting so big.  The little person who nursed against me this evening has a farmers tan and spiky hair.  “He’ll be fine,” said Steve, and of course he will be.  He won’t even notice.  But I will.

It’s funny, when Ike was a newborn, I felt like babies and toddlers were completely separate species.  “Do you remember when you were that little?” a Mom asked her toddler in the waiting room at Ike’s one month check-up.  “Mommy does.”  It seemed sort of inconceivable to me that her lurching toddler had ever been as tiny and perfect as Ike.  (And, of course, I assumed her kid was three years old.  Looking back, he was probably about 18 months.)

Still, I will miss the nursing.  It was our thing, the thing that was just ours.  I remember the nights with his baby belly snuggled against mine, the hours spent with him balanced on two stacked Boppies.  (How many hours, if you added them all up?  Weeks, certainly.)  He was so good at it.  I can’t really take credit.  He just knew what he was supposed to do.

Most of all, I remember how, as he got older, he would stick his fingers in my mouth as he nursed.  I would pretend to nibble his fingers and he would giggle, latched all the while.

I guess I still get to nibble his fingers.

In which our heroine gets a serger

July 26, 2010

Yes, you read that correctly.  I can haz Viking serger.

The lovely machine hails from Sew Creative, a little shop in Parkersburg, WV owned and managed by my dear aunt and uncle.  It’s a Huskylock s15, which apparently is the same thing as a Pfaff Hobbylock 2.o.

So far I haven’t taken the serger out of its box yet.  I’m working on a gift for a friend that doesn’t require any serging.  I don’t want to talk about the details of the gift because, on the extreme off chance that my friend reads this blog, it would ruin the surprise.  Now everyone who knows me in “real life” is wondering whether a gift is headed their way.  No.  Well, probably not.

But as soon as the gift is completed, it’s off to the exciting world of knitwear for me!  I have a lot of ideas.  I’ll be hitting the Jalie patterns pretty hard.  So long they have taunted my with their “requires 35% stretch knits.”  No more!  And Kwik Sew, you should look out, too.

Here are just a few of the ideas floating around in my head:

Jalie 2919 made out of wool jersey.

Vogue 1194 made out of a soft, drapey knit–maybe Swiss 4-way stretch knit from Gorgeous Fabrics?  (Would that waistline make me–or anyone–look pregnant, though?  Discuss.)

First up, though, are some basic tops made with Vogue 8634, Vogue 8151 and jersey fabric I already have in my stash.

Are children fun?

July 12, 2010

Yesterday a friend of mine sent me a link to this article at New York magazine.  It’s a good article and certainly worth a read, but if you don’t have the time, here’s a one sentence summary: although parents love their kids, they don’t enjoy a lot of the work that comes with having them and thus, parents are less happy than childless people.

I’ve read about these studies before, so the article didn’t really surprise me.  What has surprised me, though, has been my own experience with motherhood.

Before I had Ike, I expected that I would love my future children to distraction, and that, of course, happened.  I also expected that I would have to give up most of the fun in my then-unencumbered life.  And I didn’t.  Ike is a lot of fun.

I enjoy the family meals and the little outings to places like the library.  I enjoy hanging in the backyard, watching Ike play with Juno, our lab mix, while I tend the garden or read a book.  And the three of us spend a lot of time in the basement.  Steve builds furniture on his workbench, I sew (or watch the World Cup.  I won’t lie), and Ike roams around looking for things to climb on plays with his toys.

Of course, my pleasant experience with motherhood involves a lot of luck.  Ike is a mellow child.  And he’s only fourteen months old, so he will probably become more intense as he grows into full-fledged toddlerhood.  I have a flexible job and excellent childcare.  Steve and I try to split household chores 50-50, and I think we succeed.

What are your thoughts?  If you have kids, how does the experience compare to what you imagined?

Sewing Success

June 15, 2010

I have bad history with self-made garments.  I don’t think I’m a bad seamstress.  I can put in a zipper or a hem like nobody’s business.  But for some reason, the things I make never seem to look right.  The projects just don’t gel.

Until this.  This is possibly the first piece of clothing I’ve made that looks like RTW (that’s ready-to-wear, for those of you who don’t frequent sewing blogs).  It’s also the first piece of clothing I’ve made without a pattern.

Is that the secret?  Did I crack the code?  Is drafting your own patterns the key to making clothes you actually like?  I sort of hope not, because I went crazy at the last pattern sale at Joann’s.

I still can’t believe I made this.  I made this. Rock on.

Your 1952 Pregnancy

June 7, 2010

I recently bought a copy of How to Care for Children, published in 1952 as part of the Homemaker’s Encyclopedia.  It clearly assumes a few things about it’s reader: that she is young, married, at-home and expecting her first child.  (The chapter on pregnancy repeatedly refers to “your husband” and there’s no mention of how your pregnancy might impact your job.)

Most stay-at-home mothers today leave paid employment when a child, usually their first, perhaps their second or third, is born.  (I know that’s not true for all stay-at-home mothers, but I think it is the norm.)  I had assumed that was true of the 1950s as well.  But HTCFC never mentions quitting your job because your pregnant or, for that matter, having a job at all.  I have to assume that the target reader quit work before she bought the Homemaker’s Encyclopedia.

Oddly, the chapter on pregnancy features exactly zero pregnant women.  I suppose sensibilities in 1952 were such that pregnant women couldn’t be featured, even in a book for and about them.

Instead, HTCFC shows photograph and photograph of wasp-waisted women with jaunty pregnancy oriented captions: “Milk is one of the building and repair foods,” “Take frequent naps and get lots of sleep,” and my personal favorite “Pregnancy is no longer an excuse for adding pound after pound.”  That last one shows a remarkably skinny woman standing, holding knitting needles and staring at her coffee table.  It’s not clear what she’s doing or how it might prevent “adding pound after pound.”  Is the knitting?  While standing?

HTCFC repeatedly refers to maternity wear as "stork fashions."

Some of the advice in HTCFC is so stereotypical of the 1950’s that it seems almost satirical (“Your doctor will probably recommend a maternity girdle to be fitted by an expert”) but by and large it only hints at 1950’s attitudes toward women and childbearing.

For example, modern pregnancy manuals can be oppressive with their lengthy lists of things that can go wrong, but the 50’s approach, if anything, is worse: it just says to talk to your doctor.  Beyond a mention of blood pressure and syphilis testing, and a later mention of amniotic fluid, there are no medical terms at all in HTCFC.  The word “trimester” is never used.  Not once.

Then, there’s hospital stay.  HTCFC doesn’t say how long you might be in the hospital.  (Various internet sites claim 8 to 14 days was typical in the 50s, compared to the 2-3 night stay typical today.)  But the book make sit clear you will be there awhile.  They recommend taking:

  • “Gay little bed jackets”
  • “A pretty robe and slippers”
  • “A cosmetic kit”
  • “A manicure kit, curlers if you need them and a scarf to cover your hair when you’re too tired to struggle with it”
  • “Writing supplies–you’ll want to write thank you notes”
  • “Something to knit… and a few new books and magazines”
  • and perhaps most disturbingly, “your most glamorous nighties… the ones left from your trousseau that you’ve felt strange about wearing just to sleep in.”

It’s assumed that yor husband won’t actually be around when the baby is born.  “It will probably come as a shock when the nurse has you say goodbye [to him] at the front desk and takes you in tow… Unless you’re part and parcel of the Childbirth Without Fear group, in which case he may be allowed to remain with you until hard labor begins.”  I gather that even in the 1950s, there was some push back against the medical establishment and some families wanted the father in the delivery room.  But it was still widely seen as a weird, fringey thing to do, perhaps the way home birth is today.

The description of birth procedures is frankly horrifying.  (I’m tempted to copy and mail it to my Bradley instructor as a “see how far we’ve come” sort of thing.)  Some highlights:

“Once you’re in the hospital… you belong to your doctor and the nurses body and soul… your clothes are removed and you may not see them again until you are ready to leave the hospital… Your doctor will probably order and enema or enemas… As part of the preparation for delivery, pubic hair will be shaved off.”

The indignities don’t end there and HTCFC recommends that you learn that this is all for the best.  “You’ll understand that the joking remarks of nurses and interns are meant to be reassuring and to divert your mind from pain; that the many intimate examinations of your person are conducted from a thoroughly impersonal viewpoint; and that any unpleasantness or tactlessness probably results from fatigue and long hours.”  Indeed.

Preparing for Baby in 1952

June 3, 2010

I have a new book and it will probably provide blog fodder for a few weeks: How to Care for Children, published in 1952 as part of the Homemakers Encyclopedia.

The entire encyclopedia consisted of:

  1. Decorating Handbook
  2. How to Care for Children
  3. Etiquette for Everybody
  4. The Hostess’s Complete Handbook
  5. Indoor and Outdoor Gardening
  6. Needlecraft for the Home
  7. Food-Buying and Meal Planning
  8. Housekeeping Made Simple
  9. Personal Beauty and Charm
  10. Home Repairs Simplified
  11. Hobbies for Everyone
  12. Fashion Sewing on a Budget

The used book store didn’t have the whole encyclopedia.  I do wonder about the Hobbies volume.  What hobbies might the encyclopedia cover besides needlecraft, gardening, sewing and cooking?

But I decided that of all the things that might interest me about the 50s, what interested me the most was child rearing.  How has the advice dispensed to new mothers changed and stayed the same over the last 50 plus years?

Do over the next few posts, I’ll be delving into that.  In the meantime, some humor.

From chapter one: The Art of Pregnancy.

The original title is “Let your husband take part in the preparations,” but I think we can do better than that.  Can you come up with a funnier caption?

There’s so much to work with here.  Is this some sort of parent preparation class?  Where are the expectant mothers?  Were parent preparation classes segregated in the 50s, sort of like sex ed is today?

Fire away with your new captions in the comments section!