Friday, March 20, 2015

Kindness and Skirts

I am not a good flyer.  I hate the idea of being stuck in a tiny metal tube in the sky.  I spend the whole time sick from the motion.  I have to take copious amounts of dramamine in the hope that it will dull the motion sickness and put me to sleep.  I absolutely hate sitting still.  But I do have a few rituals that I do every single time.  I put my apple juice, salty potato chips, water bottle, and Kindle in the seat back pocket.  I make sure I have plenty of sick bags.  I put my headphones in and turn up my favorite music to drown out the noise of the plane, and after take off I start to relax a bit.

After landing, I always check the pocket for everything.  Just like anywhere I go, because I have small children who lose things.  Again with the rituals.

The flight back from QuiltCon was nauseating, even if we did see something burning it's way through the sky and the aurora borealis.  I spent half the flight with my face in a bag.  I was tired because it was very late and I had taken an extra dramamine to try to combat the sick.  I was worrying about making the last bus of the night.  So I can't remember checking the seat back pocket this one time.

Somehow, my Kindle ended up not making it home with me.  Or maybe it did and I left it somewhere nearby after trying to get past the brain fog from traveling and re-entering my daily life.  I know the last time I read it was in Austin.  But when I came home I was reading a "real" book from the library so I didn't notice it was gone until I started getting emails from Amazon that someone was purchasing books in my account.  

I was angry with myself for being irresponsible.  I felt violated that someone was reading my books on my kindle, spending my money, and using the patchwork cozy that I had sewn with my own hands using some of my very favorite fabrics.  I posted a picture on Instagram hoping that maybe someone had seen it.  I filed police reports.  I had Amazon deactivate it.  That all happened on a Friday and a Saturday.  By Sunday morning I was still upset, but mostly with myself for letting it happen.  I was sad that someone would even do that, since it would have been really easy to find out that it was mine and return it.  You know, the right thing to do.

That afternoon a UPS driver knocked on my door with a package.  Inside was a brand-new Kindle with the absolute sweetest note.  I am so happy that my friend included her name so that I could say thank you, (while crying and being generally unintelligible on the phone, because emotions.)  I won't tell you who it is, but I will say that it is someone who I met through sewing.  This world, you guys.  This sewing world is amazing and I am so, so happy to be a part of it.  I'm looking forward to when I can pay it forward.

Of course, I had to protect this kindle, so I found a skin on Nuvango and sewed a new cozy.  This one is LINED with my all-time favorite fabric (the blue VWs!)

Also, I made a few new jersey skirts.  The top is a pattern from Collette Patterns called Mabel.  I used an old nerdy t-shirt from my husband (One up!) The bottom is one that I made up using my measurements and some up cycled thrift store t-shirts.  I love them both!

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Renfrew, Revisited

At my first Sewing Summit, I made a successful Renfrew top.  I like the pattern a lot--it fits well, and looks great.  I've lost a lot of weight since that trip and decided a couple more were in order since my first one is really baggy now.

I started with a heavyweight sweater knit from JoAnn's.  I saw this on the bolt and knew immediately it was coming with me.  I'm so glad I did because it is cozy and soft, and I love it!

The second is a knit fabric I bought at DryGoods Design after a garment sewing "tips and tricks" class with Jen of Grainline Studio.  It feels a bit more like terry cloth than a true knit to me, but with an undershirt I don't mind it.  Plus the hearts are super cute!  Also, the class with Jen was awesome!  Highly recommend that you take a class from her if you are at all serious about sewing your own clothes.  She went into so much detail in the few hours that we were there.  I can't wait to sew the Scout Tee and Moss Skirt!  (And Keli's space is absolutely gorgeous!)  

(I apologize for the exact same pose in both pictures.  They were taken months apart by my tiny photographer assistant and it was a pretty comical and frustrating experience.)

Monday, March 16, 2015

Emotions and Stuff

"Jesus fucking Christ!  You scared the shit out of me!  You may not EVER scream like your head is stuck in the tunnel unless it is ACTUALLY STUCK IN A TUNNEL!  I was so scared--SO SCARED!"  

Tears and all, this is what I screamed at my child and his friend at another friend's birthday party at the community center, where there were 20 or so children and half as many parents.  Mind you, the friends at the party are all in my son's class.  Where I am referred to as "Ms. Keating" and I teach cooking and tutor kids in reading and spelling several times a month.  I interact with these parents sometimes.  I'm not proud.

I had bolted across the floor, heart pounding, expecting to find my eight year-old with his head or finger stuck or being cut off.  He was screaming that horrible, shrill, "I'm hurt and it won't stop hurting me" scream and I reacted like any sane mother would: I quickly climbed up into the play structure and crawled into the tiny tunnel, expecting to find a severed finger.  

Instead I found two screaming and laughing seven and eight year-olds who had absolutely no idea what I had just imagined.  And I lost it.  

And then I apologized for yelling.  I explained that I was scared.  I hugged them, I told them everything was ok, and I exited the play structure to face the parental group.  All of whom were either hustling their kids into coats and shoes and making quick exits or deliberately looking away from me--anywhere but at the mom who lost her shit in front of everyone.

It was close to pick-up time anyway, so people were getting ready to leave.  The mother of the birthday boy (a good friend) was so sweet and assured me that it was fine, that everyone does it.  The mother of the seven year-old who took my yelling along with my own boy assured me that it was fine, and even told her child to apologize to me for scaring me half to death.  The other three parents left quickly, probably because that's what they were already doing, but it felt like they were judging me; that they never lose their shit and yell at their own kids.  I felt terrible and ashamed.  I felt like I wasn't a good enough mom.

I am emotional.  I am quick to react, I cry at the drop of a hat, I imagine the worst.  I speak before thinking, especially when adrenaline is racing through my body, like when I am stuck in a big group of people and I am practically giddy with emotion already and then I have to have conversations and interact with people...I say stupid, sometimes embarrassing things.  And then I spend the next few days reflecting on my conversations, thinking that the people--who witnessed whatever gem popped out of my mouth--hate me, or at the very least were offended.  I have talked it through with my close friends and my husband, who all assured me that while I probably shouldn't have screamed obscenities, it was OK.  I am not a horrible person, and if anyone did happen to judge me, they just don't know me, and it's OK.  They all assured me that they lose their cool sometimes too; it's human nature.  And the fact that the kids saw me lose my cool is OK--a good thing, even.  They saw a human being having human emotions and that was a good thing.

So yes, I overreacted.  Yes, I had an emotional outburst.  To all the parents at the party, I'm sorry.  I'm sorry I showed your children a side of me that they didn't need to see.  I'm sorry I yelled.  I'm sorry I swore (oops--I told you I tend to not think before I speak.)  But I hope that if you ever lose your cool (as I'm sure you do, just probably not in front of lots of people, ahem) your children understand that you are human.  I know my children do.

I am a good enough mom.  

Friday, March 13, 2015

The Kraken

The Kraken
Acrylic on canvas. 20" x 24"

Copyright 2015, Jessie Keating

The Kraken
Acrylic on canvas. 8" x 8"

Copyright 2015, Jessie Keating

I've been on a bit of a painting streak (ha!  see what I did there?) lately.  These are my two latest acrylics (and after a third--in progress--Kraken, I may be able to stop painting him.  Maybe.)

I really love texture in paintings.  Some of my favorite artists are Van Gogh and Pollock, because you can see the paint: the way the light hits the mountains and valleys created by thick and thin layers.  I am really enamored with layering paint on in the background, using the brush, my fingers, bubble wrap pressing.  I'm equally excited about scraping shapes into the thick paint, so you can see the layers through the lines, sort of like pictures of the strata of the earth, only teeny tiny.

I'm having fun with these techniques, learning to listen to my instincts for what looks right to me.

Just for fun, here is an in process shot of the large canvas, as well as the original sketches.

Monday, March 9, 2015


I never quite know where to start when I've posted about my depression.  It's a real downer, I know, but I also know that blogging about it is both cathartic for me and good for others to read.  So I'm just going to jump right back in with life like that little blip didn't happen.  Because I'm out of it for now and it feels good to just live.  Onward and upward!

I was so fortunate to travel to Austin, TX for QuiltCon this year.  It was an amazing trip, and I'm so glad I went.

I was a Super Volunteer, so in exchange for 16 hours of my time, I was given the amazing swag bag as well as a free show pass.  Win-win!  There was an entire section of charity quilts.  Quilters are generous people.  Hell, quilters' husbands are generous--James volunteered over 40 hours just so he could spend time with his wife, Paula.  The Gee's Bend ladies blew our collective mind.  Amazing people.

So.  I met my most favorite fabric artist.  I need to tell you my story with that, because it was so real and just a classic me-moment...

I'm standing at the door, being a Super Volunteer and stuff, scanning people in, as you do.  My friend, Amber, was right next to me and we were kind of chatting while I was checking badges, and a woman walks up to me.  She's tall, and in a super awesome black leather jacket.  I thought she was another person I needed to direct to the cheerleading competition down the hall.  "Excuse me, can you tell me where I can pick up my speaker information?  I'm Heather Ross."

And this, folks, is where my amazing brain (did not) kick in, as I realized that this was, in fact, my fabric-designing idol, the very reason I sew because I fell in love with fabric and needed to stash some (all) out of print Lightning Bugs fabric that I have very rarely cut into because it is so, so precious and I want to sit around petting it all day...

"Holy shit!" (That was me.  Not her.)

And then I started crying.

Because I am amazing.  And apparently my brain doesn't work in crisis mode.  Or maybe I was tired and slightly hung over...maybe a little...

And you guys, she was so sweet and the next day I sat in her lecture, and I put on my brave face and marched up to the stage after and apologized for swearing in her face and crying like a baby, and she was just so genuine and nice and reaffirmed for me that the people involved in sewing, even when accosted by crazy little fangirls, are nice.

(And I was shaking when I talked to Melody Miller and Rashida Coleman-Hale.  I might have cried when I met Kim Kight.  But not Lizzy House.  Nope.  I just told her I was glad I didn't pee my pants from excitement.  Because I'm classy in crisis mode.)

Anyway.  I can't even believe the inspiration I left with.  The show was jaw-dropping and amazing; appealing to both my inner quilt nerd and my more outer artist.  (Inner quilt nerd because I haven't had time to make all the fun quilts I've had ideas for--too busy painting, reading, knitting, and mama-ing.)

And Austin was amazing, what little bit of it I saw.  The Whole Foods flagship store?  A-freaking-mazing.  And can I just say that staying in a condo with a kitchen is a life-saver when you have nasty food allergies.  That was one of the best vacations ever food-wise.  And I stayed with friends in my quilt guild, which was fun because I got to know them a little better.  And they are fun and amazing people too.  (Quilters are good people.)

I wish I could go next year to QuiltCon in California, but I just don't think it's in the cards.  But the year after that in Georgia?  Maybe.  Hopefully.


(I might have gotten a new tattoo, too...)