Yesterday felt kind of normal. I am so grateful for that.
I spend the day in the studio, batch sewing. Our family business is considered essential and I am making 200 masks for our employees. I’m using the Made Everyday pattern with knit ties. I tried a few different ones and picked the one I thought would fit the most people and would be easiest to sew in bulk. I also didn’t have elastic and these will likely be worn for hours on end, so ties are essential. So far, so good. I cut and prepped 140 masks on Monday and Tuesday. Yesterday, I finished 70. I sewed them in batches of 10, each batch taking about an hour. Today I will continue – hoping to get another 50 or so finished with the rest completed by Monday.
This is not my favorite kind of sewing. Once I got into a grove, though, it felt really good. I was reminded of when I used to make camera straps. I’d batch sew those, completing one step on all of them before moving on to the next step. There is a certain rhythm to this kind of sewing and after my muscle memory kicked in, it was second nature. I haven’t really been able to sew much during this time of isolation so it was nice to find my groove in an unexpected way. It felt good to be able to use my skills and talent. It’s such a small thing that could possible have much larger benefits.
I was also incredibly tired at the end of the day and finally had a good night’s sleep. So there’s that.
(It should go without saying, but I will say it anyhow: These are not a replacement for PPE or masks needed in a medical situation. They will be used in public settings where they may help slow the transmission of COVID-19.)
If you follow me on Instagram, you are well aware that we got a puppy in January. His name is Sully and he is the best thing about 2020 for sure.
We lost our sweet Hazel in July and I thought that we would never have another dog. Fatty and I are looking forward to traveling more with an empty nest and having a dog makes that more complicated. But I found myself really missing having a dog. And the house was so quiet during the days with Jane away at college and Kate at school. I needed a buddy that would hang out with me in the studio and walk with me in the park. One Thursday night, I casually mentioned to Fatty that I was looking at puppies. By Friday afternoon, we had made an appointment to go visit them on Saturday. On Monday, we brought him home.
He’s an Australian Labradoodle and the sweetest little guy around. When we got him, he was four and half months old with equal parts puppy energy and calm demeanor. We’ve had him a few months now and he is a wonderful fit for our family. One of the silver linings of isolation living for me has been that Sully has our full attention. We have bonded with him in a way we wouldn’t if we were coming and going each day and traveling for spring break and the like. The girls also get to be around him daily and this makes him more of “our” dog instead of “my” dog.
Plus, he is unequivocally the biggest bringer of JOY. And we all need joy right now. We love him.
I spent a good chunk of time in the kitchen this weekend baking. Banana bread using the three over-ripe bananas no one would eat. Chocolate chip cookies for comfort, baking 16 cookies and freezing the remainder of the dough. And two loaves of sourdough bread from the starter I began earlier in the week. It was all absolutely necessary to keep myself busy – hands-on tasks that required timing and attention. It was all unnecessary as well – we do not need a kitchen full of baked goods, although no one is complaining.
I know I am not alone when I say I am feeling very fraught. I had moments this weekend where I felt good and happy and productive. Then something small would happen – the yarn I was winding got tangled, the bread dough stuck to the dish cloth, the dishwasher wasn’t run – and my frustration level would skyrocket. Seemingly small, annoying things that I usually would let slide threw me into a (self-contained) hissy fit. And then I would be angry with myself for reacting so fiercely, for not being able to handle the situation with more grace. In the same moment, I logically understand that what we are all experiencing is difficult and scary. No wonder my mood can change in an instant.
I see it in my girls, too. Kate is a high school senior, missing all those year-end, traditional events. Right now she is definitely out until May 4th, but her last school day is supposed to be May 6th. She won’t be going back. The IB tests were cancelled – so disappointing after two years of hard work as a IB student. Her graduation is up in the air. She is worried that she’ll start college online, at home, missing that freshman experience. Jane is home from Colorado, three-quarters of the way through her sophomore year of college and feeling robbed of her friends. At her school, they take one class at a time for three and a half weeks and the one she has now is an archival history class where they were supposed to go on field trips to look at the primary documents. Instead, they are meeting via Zoom every day. She is not enjoying the experience and is missing the in-person interaction with her classmates and professor. She is supposed to study abroad in the fall and has convinced herself that it won’t happen.
I don’t know what to tell these girls except that we are all disappointed right now. Collectively, as a world. And that it is ok to be disappointed and angry and sad. I am all those things, too. I am trying not to project too far in the future – maybe just a week or ten days ahead. Easier said than done, but really important I think. We don’t know what will happen. We don’t know when the isolation will end. There is a lot to be happy about, thought. We do have each other and all the streaming movies and TV we can consume. There are books to read, projects to make, things to bake. The weather has been nice and we can be outside. Maybe if we focus on the positive, the rest will seem less scary? I sure hope so.
I just reread everything that I have written and I thought about deleting it all. I don’t want to come off as negative. I am, however, feeling all the feelings this morning and I don’t want to pretend that I am not. Along those lines, I found this article helpful. Maybe you will, too? “That Discomfort You’re Feeling is Grief”
It’s 10:30 on Friday morning and with wipes and hand sanitizer in hand, I conquered my biggest fear: the grocery store. I also conquered my second biggest fear: the ATM. It is such a relief to be finished with that for a week. The anxiety and anticipation flat out overwhelms me, although I know that I am doing everything I can to protect myself and my family. I am smart about it and careful. So careful. Still, it is scary.
This morning I have also participated in a zoom workout with my normal Friday group. That was fun and felt so good! I need to see my friends faces and to move my body.
Good and bad and fun and scary every day.
It got me thinking about what I am doing to help me stay as calm as I can. I am doing the following six things. Maybe they will help you, too?
1. Waking up and starting my day at its normal time. It’d be really easy to keep sleeping, but I find that I am most productive in the morning and I hate it when I waste that time. I am still sleeping in a bit on the weekends as a treat.
2. Exercising every single day. Seriously. Most days that is some kind of a long walk outdoors. This is my personal time – I don’t listen to music or podcasts. It’s just me, my thoughts and nature. And Sully, our puppy. He’s a great walking buddy.
3. Putting on real clothes. It’d be easy to sit around in my pj’s or in my workout clothes, but I feel so much better when I take the time to get dressed and do my hair. I’m not putting on makeup, but my girls are. It makes them feel good and right now that is so important.
4. Making something every day. Right now, my making consists of a lot of knitting. It feels good to move my hands and it really calms my mind. I am not sewing much, but I think that is about to change.
5. Having a daily quiet time. Every day at 2 or 2:30, I put the puppy in his crate and we both take a nap. I’m not sleeping well at night and this hour each day is saving me.
6. Reading light-hearted books. Mysteries, light fiction, romance. Those are the kind of books that are feeling good to me right now.
How about you? What things are you doing to keep calm and get through this time? I’d love to hear.
Knitting has been one of the things getting me through this moment in time. For whatever reason, I am having trouble sewing. Knitting, however, keeps my hands busy and lets my mind rest. And my mind needs to rest.
I finished this Birkin sweater last week. I had cast on in January with yarn that Fatty gave me for my birthday last May. It’s Brooklyn Tweed Loft and I just love it. It’s so soft once blocked and comes in so many beautiful colors. I had a hard time choosing a main color. I waffled between an off-white, gray or the navy. Once I settled on the dark blue, the rest was easy to choose.
As far as the knitting goes, it’s a nice pattern. The yoke was slow going – parts of it have three colors per row. It’s also fingering weight which I had to knit on size 2 needles to get gauge. I took my time and managed a few rounds each day. Once I was finished with the color work, it was all stockinette stitch in the round. While it took awhile to finish and got tedious at some points (size 2 needles! fingering weight yarn!), I am so glad I kept at it and finished. I am beyond thrilled with the finished knit and the fit.
I posted all of the details on my Ravelry page, including the modifications I made, but the highlights are:
Pattern: Birkin Sweater by Caitlin Hunter; Yarn: Brooklyn Tweed Loft; Modifications: No bobbles, increased length by 1/2″, did not change to larger needles for body shaping.
I immediately picked up another project. This time it is a sweater for Jane. I saw the Throwover by Andrea Mowry and knew she’d love it. She picked the colors, we ordered yarn and it was off to the races. I’ll be sharing that soon…I have about 1″ of ribbing left on the body and the sleeves. It’s a super fast knit!