Tedious and Brief
Posted on Friday the 29th June 2018 by Wrong Doll
One of my aspirations this year was to apply myself to a particular kind of yoga - an athletic, hardcore, equivalent to a gym work out kind - with the aim of developing a semblance of upper body strength. And to give me credit, I have pushed way out of my comfort zone and stuck at it, despite being the least able, self appointed laughing stock of my class. But as the months went by, I noticed for the first time, that the word yoga was becoming synonymous with a feeling of dread. And when I realised I had transmuted an act of self care into yet another yardstick to measure myself against, I came to the conclusion that I would be calling time on my Ashtanga journey. Piaf style, I have no regrets. I’ve learnt shed loads about alignment, discipline and most of all humility. I’m certain that if worked at it religiously, I would witness my body slowly contorting into unimaginable shapes. But what I’m even more sure of, is that I don’t want it enough.
What I’ve become aware of is that when I really want to do something, there is no end to what I can achieve. In the last few years, I’ve received some generous and very welcome feedback about my burgeoning sewing skills. Amidst well meaning but misguided notions that I could sew for profit, there’s a sense that I have been blessed with a creative gene that others lack. I’ll concede that I possess an idiosyncratic style of my own, which is intrinsic to who I am and how I interact with the world. But my ability to follow a pattern and assemble a garment, comes from the motivation to practise these skills, hour upon hour upon hour.
And as I journey further along my adventures in stitch, I’m beginning to appreciate the relative unimportance of the final outcome. That the real satisfaction lies in the gnarly, frustrating, extreme emotion inducing and ultimately joy giving process of learning. Which brings me to my latest make for the Minerva Crafts Blogger Network - the Longshaw Skirt from A Beginners Guide to Sewing with Knitted Fabrics
by Wendy Ward.
Iterations of this skirt have been popping up all over social during the book’s promo and I was raring to put my own spin on it. But then I clapped eyes on the denim-effect long version on page 111 of Wendy’s book and knew I’d be flexing my copycat muscle once more. I perused the bounty of fabrics on offer from Minerva and this Ponte Roma
fit the bill nicely. Considering how eagerly I’d awaited the arrival of this knit bible, it would have been pertinent to stick the kettle on and peruse its pages before diving straight in. Instead I quickly ascertained my size, based on my waist measurement, hastily traced off the pattern and cut out the fabric. Only then, as I surveyed the fruits of a couple of hours labour, did I realise I had neglected to add the requisite 10cm to the front and back pattern pieces for the longer version.
On the hottest Bank Holiday Monday on record, I was a mess of raging hormones and if I’d bothered to listen, the universe was screaming at me to down tools. It’s sage advice in these situations, to avoid activities where the stakes are too high and your mental wellbeing is reliant on a particular outcome. It would have been prudent of me to heed such advice but sometimes you live and learn and others … well you just live. And so I tred that habitual path of least resistance and blundered on to my inevitable undoing. Bish, bash, bosh and my overlocker and I butchered the extreme angles whilst seaming around the pockets. And as no-one would ever see them, I almost convinced myself they would suffice …
Two weeks passed and I distracted myself in a knitting cave but I couldn’t escape from the nagging feeling that I had missed an opportunity. Eventually I succumbed to my inner truth teller and painstakingly unpicked those seams, cut out a few practise shapes and worked on my overlock game. I remember I’d seen a nifty trick on YouTube where a right angle was rendered into a straight line by folding the fabric at the corner into a triangle. Ta da - it worked an absolute treat! As I basked in the afterglow of a job well done, I realised that this very moment is where I get my kicks. My name is Aimee and I’m a learnaholic.
This pattern is simply ingenious with pockets that pack a powerful punch. As my waist is comparatively small, I was keen to accentuate the sculptured design lines and mask my bottom heavy frame. The fabric does so perfectly, giving rise to saddle bags of architectural majesty. And it gets better. After bemoaning my mistake of cutting the shorter length skirt, I tried it on over a pair of leggings and realised that it was EXACTLY THE RIGHT LENGTH. Sans leggings, I resembled a teen rocking up for cheerleader tryouts but with leggings - I was instantly transformed into ballerina chic (okay … that’s not exactly true but it was a ‘look’ and it was look I wanted).
Wendy’s books are aimed at the beginner and she champions a no-nonsense, no need for fancy equipment approach. I used an overlocker but other options are clearly outlined in the ‘Sewing Seams’ section on pages 25-26. This is an excellent pattern for a beginner to sew, with a show stopping shape which belies the simplicity of it’s construction. For a knit novice, I’d recommend a stable fabric such as this Ponte
which has a beautiful soft handle and variegated marled effect. Instead of rushing to the finish line, I saved attaching the waistband for another juncture and surprised myself with how smoothly it came together. It turns out if you take the time to actually read the instructions someone has laboured over, you save yourself a whole heap of time and trouble.
I finished this skirt in the aftermath of an S Town
bingeathon. The characters from John B’s Shit Town were etched on my brain and got me thinking ever more about our finite lives in all their tragic beauty. It piqued a newfound interest in sundial mottos and ignited a longstanding preoccupation with the multitude of ways in which we can fritter away our time. As I approach 45 years of age, I’m sloughing off activities that no longer serve me and honing in on what feels meaningful. As for yoga, I haven’t ditched it altogether - I’ve just circled back to a slow restorative style with a generous sprinkling of yin and my body and mind are thanking me. And when it comes to sewing, I’ve come to fully appreciate that I don’t need any more clothes and especially not ones that are poorly constructed. I am here to learn a craft and if I lose sight of that … well I kinda miss the whole point.