Since launching Home Row Fiber Co. in 2017 I’ve felt my personal sewing habits shift and evolve in a serious way. I sew my bags with all new materials and because of that I feel a big responsibility to offset the use of virgin resources where ever I can. When I originally started this sewing blog it was my goal to eventually have a 100% me-made wardrobe. Now my goal is to buy primarily secondhand clothes, make time to mend what I already have, and only sew new pieces that I will use and love for a long, long time.
Have you read The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo? I did a few years ago and I’ll admit it didn’t fully resonate with me then the way I was hoping it would. The truth is I wasn’t really ready and so I didn’t “get it” the way I do now. Since the new Netflix show Tidying Up came out though the concept finally clicked and I realized Yes!, I do want less clothing, I want everything I own to bring me joy, I want less laundry, I want to want more of what I already have.
I’ve learned clutter is a big anxiety trigger for me so the less I can be overwhelmed by my possessions, the happier and healthier I’ll be. The struggle with realizing that though is: to have less clothing means I need to sew less clothing, and when you identify as a sewing blogger that stirs up a lot of emotion.
I hope mending/upcycling and sewing with more strict intention will be a good compromise to my internal struggles on that subject.
I bought this pair of linen pants on ThredUP* last summer when I was in serious need of more weather appropriate clothes since I don’t wear shorts and jeans are so hot in July. I loved the look of these wide-legged dusty rose beach pants when I saw them online and was doubly happy to discover they fit really well, too. I wear them constantly! So much so that I’ve worn through the original blind hem and it needed to be mended.
After securing the hems of both pant legs I noticed the seam at the center back looked pretty strained as well. I decided to be proactive and do some reinforcing before I ended up with an actual hole that would be difficult to patch.
(*that’s a Give $10, Get $10 link but this is not a sponsored post. I just really like ThredUp.)
After reinforcing the center back seam to protect my butt from busting through, I thought I might as well give the inside leg seams some TLC as well. It’s a little fiddly to topstitch the seam allowance down along the full length of a pant leg, but if you take your time and adjust your fabric every few inches it’s not too difficult.
In the amount of time it took me to sip one cup of coffee I guaranteed my beloved ‘secret pajama’ pants would last another couple of years. This feels so satisfying on so many levels! Not only have I kept an item of clothing out of a landfill by giving them a second chance but I’ve extended their new life with me as well.
Side note: Linen pants are an excellent investment for your wardrobe when you have a kitty who insists your ironing board is her favorite sleeping platform. Wrinkled clothes for the win!
And so here they are, washed, mended, folded KonMarie style and put back with the other clothes that spark joy for me. Over the years I’ve downsized my clothes quite a bit, I truly don’t own that much, but after this recent purge I can fit every single item of clothing I own (minus my coats) in just 4 dresser drawers. That feels SO good! I can breathe easier in the morning and I don’t feel anxious about doing laundry or getting dressed. Minimalism is not for everyone, and slow fashion will have different definitions for each individual maker, but for me personally I know the direction of making less and mending more feels right moving into 2019.
Today’s WIP is a special one. It’s me. Today, on my 31st birthday, I am my most favorite Work In Progress. Every trip I take around the sun makes me wiser and ever more grateful. I do not dread getting older. To breathe is to be blessed. This year I will continue to work towards more personal victories and more inner peace. I hope you’ll work towards those things, too. You deserve it.
Today’s photo was directly inspired by Brienne Moody, it features O-Wool Balance yarn, and it’s sponsored by Lucille’s constant confusion as to why I do anything besides pet her. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
And p.s. yeah I shaved my head! It feels AMAZING. If you’d like to read more about that journey you can refer to my Instagram post on the subject <3
Any other November birthdays out there reading?! Happy Birthday to you, too!
This morning I was thinking about #2019MakeNine and the rapidly approaching new year while doing a bit of reorganizing around my workspace. As I was cleaning I came across a sad sack. …literally! Wadded up in a forgotten corner was a project bag containing a nearly completed Bough Hat that’s been on my Make Nine list since 2016. As I held this forgotten WIP in my hands a wave of thoughts and feelings came back to me. For two years I’ve wanted to complete this hat and for two years I didn’t. Why??
I remember my excuses being so valid and sensible at the time. As sensible as resisting an impulse buy because you don’t really need the thing and you’d rather spend your money on something else. It’s funny how much our perspective changes year to year, or even season to season… or week to week if you have a hormone-induced anxiety disorder like I do. I rarely ever read my old blog posts because they often feel like a résumé of how many times I completely overthought a simple thing and then made a dumb excuse not to follow through.
Case in point: This Hat.
This is a hat. It’s a hat made out of wool string. It comes complete with instructions on how to take two pointed sticks and tangle up this wool string in such a way that it becomes decorative and also wearable. It’s not more complicated than that. It’s really not. But in 2016 my anxiety and crippling self-doubt was on the rise, and in 2016 my Abby Normal Brain told me “you’re not skilled enough to make this hat so don’t even try”. I thought that was the sensible decision.
I think what my Abby Normal Brain was actually trying to tell me in its irrational way (because that’s what anxiety is — the irrational processing of normal thoughts) is: “Hey, you’ve never knit a hat that used charted instructions before so it might be slow going, and you might have to lookup some tutorials on YouTube a lot, so if you’re looking for an instant gratification project, this hat probably isn’t it, but you can totally make it through this pattern if you want to!” …But that’s not what I heard.
All I heard was: “You’ve never knit a hat with charted instructions before so it’s going to be hard, and even though you can knit and purl and therefore knit pretty much anything, you’ll inevitably mess up and have to start over. Don’t waste my precious time on a project that’s doomed to fail. You’re not good enough at knitting. Pick something else.”
So I didn’t knit this hat in 2016 even though I wanted to badly enough to put it on my Make Nine list. Thanks, Abby Normal.
Abby didn’t have me seized up every single time though. I did actually knit a charted hat in 2016. I finished the Rosebud Hat that had a tiny section of chart which should have been the perfect stepping stone to tackle Bough next. But again, I have an irrational brain sometimes. So I did not attempt to knit Bough in 2016.
Oh, but the t-shirt I’m wearing today? It’s a Lark shirt that I also made in 2016 and thus successfully completed off my #2016MakeNine list. See, Abby Normal Brain!? I CAN do stuff!!
So flash forward to 2017. It’s time for me to narrow down my Make Nine list again. So I think: Abby, this is the year I’m knitting the Bough Hat! You can’t talk me out of it this time, Abby! I’m gonna do it. I think I can… yeah no I can definitely do it. There’s no reason why I can’t! TRY AND STOP ME ABBY.
So it’s 2017 and I cast-on the Bough Hat. And it’s going really well! It’s way easier than I thought it was going to be! Why did I put this off for so long?? I’m really happy with my efforts so far and I especially love the color. I love the color so much that I decide I’m going to dye my hair from rose gold to light auburn red. Nearly the same color as this hat. Then I hear Abby coming up with dumb excuses again, right on schedule. “Wait, your hair is red/orange now. …and you’re going to wear a red/orange hat? Isn’t that a lot of red/orange near your face? That’s probably going to look stupid. You need more contrast or the hat won’t be flattering. Why even wear it if it’s not flattering on you. Might as well not even finish it if you’re not going to wear it. See I told you you wouldn’t finish this hat.”
And thus the dumb excuse cycle continues. If my anxious brain talks to me like this for trivial things such as hats, imagine what other paralyzing thoughts I suffer surrounding situations and tasks that are actually important? I’ve been trying to run a business like this. The abnormal part of my brain was only getting bolder, too.
So now it’s the present day and we’re inching towards the end of 2018. It’s been a tough year for so many different reasons. I was officially diagnosed with PMDD this summer after more than a decade of escalating cyclical anxiety, panic, self-doubt, hopelessness, severe cases of “the blues”, debilitating migraines and a tangled mess of other symptoms that helped my doctor and I reach this diagnosis. My struggle with PMDD is definitely a blog post for another day, but it’s amazing how I didn’t even realize how affected I was until after I got help. I can think rationally and be kind to myself for the entire month now instead of just a few days. I haven’t had a panic attack in 3 months and all of my current WIPs don’t feel like bleak badges of failure or raging proof of incompetence.
They’re just things I haven’t made time to finish yet. Like this hat. No big deal. I’ll finish it before the year is out and finally cross it off my #2016MakeNine list. I’ll wear it proudly no matter what hair color I decide to have and I’ll pat myself on the back for finishing something I started, even though it took me really long time. I’ll smile at how nice my tension looks, how neatly my cables turned out.
And, most importantly, I’ll bask in the uplifting satisfaction of knowing I could do it all along.
In the summer James and I do more traveling and I find myself back and forth from my mom’s house often so she can babysit Lucille for a night or two. I’m close with my mom so I love visiting as often as I can, especially because she has a beautiful private yard with lots of green that I definitely took for granted when I lived with her. She also has all the good baking equipment and that’s convenient for my latest life goal.
This year I decided to try my hand at baking from scratch with ingredients grown from my crumb-sized patio garden. (air quotes) Patio Garden (close air quotes) sounds so much more chic than ‘Old Porch Overlooking A Parking Lot’ which is what it actually is. I’m not growing much in my “garden” yet and honestly it’s felt like more of a science experiment than an actual food source. So far I’ve baked a rosemary lemon cake with rosemary from my porch, served with 3-ingredient blueberry jam (not from my porch) and unsweetened whipped cream (also not from my porch) – definitely worth making again so I can properly document it!
I (OVER)BAKED A THING! I’m not known as a baker by any means, nor a cook for that matter, so this is very exciting for me. I just really, really love making stuff, especially when it’s stuff with an aura of utilitarian necessity …useful things. That sounds funny as I type it but it’s true. I enjoy the simple practicality of making staples for your life such as curtains and mittens …and apparently food items.
What a novel idea.
It’s sad, generationally, how far removed I feel from the fact that the answer to “what’s for dinner?” used to be “well what’s ripe in the yard?”, how the farm-to-table movement is marketed as this radical new enterprise when it used to be the only option. I laughed at myself a bit as my mom and I picked zucchini from her garden and brainstormed out loud what to make with all of it. We’d definitely have to google some recipes in order to put our micro harvest to good use, that was the first conclusion we came to.
When did growing your own food become a novelty? Does my family have any family recipes? What’s the origin story of grocery stores? How privileged am I that picking food feels like a fun way to pass the time with my mom?
These are thoughts I had today as I lazily browsed the internet for some stranger’s mom’s instructions on how to make a zucchini loaf.
So my lifemate James just recently launched his own side hustle, Witter Entertainment. Since day one he’s been the pinnacle of support for me and Home Row so it feels good to return the favor and help him out where I can.
I designed his logo, built his website, helped him take product photos, etc. I’ve actually enjoyed having small breaks from the over-saturation of my own work. It’s like a palate cleanser in a way. Being “interrupted” is not always a bad thing. Sometimes it’s necessary.
Even though James’s industry has nothing to do with the fiber industry, it’s been super inspiring to watch a collaborative project like this unfold from idea to launch. I didn’t expect his completely unrelated ideas to give me so many ideas of my own.
James is really talented with all things music and film, plus he’s full of good ideas, which makes him the perfect type of person to launch an entertainment company. He recognized that VHS was going to make a comeback in the same way vinyl, enamel pins, and denim jackets are having a revival moment right now. He wanted to re-release a modern cult horror favorite on VHS, which pushes all the right buttons for nostalgic fans of the genre.
He teamed up with his good friend Alex at Broke Horror Fan, they obtained the rights and got the blessing of writer/director Adam Green, then they found a manufacturer and partnered with long-time friend/wildly talented comic book illustrator, Will Perkins.
I can’t say I enjoy watching horror movies that much if I’m honest. I like spooky books, I like ghost walks and cemetery tours, but I’m a baby about spooky films. However, I am a super fan of all things retro and occult so I can totally appreciate how cool of a project this is. Apparently lots of other people appreciate it too because the project is picking up traction and grabbing the attention of big names in the industry. For two consecutive days after launch I helped James lug a massive bin of packages to the post office.
What is most inspiring to me is that this product is not only fully functional, it’s collectible, it ticks that nostalgic box, and it’s a piece of art in its own right. It’s all of those things in one. I also love that the whole concept was such a collaborative effort, and that’s something I want to do more of.
I want to team up with friends and big names in MY industry to create functional, collectible art. I have a few ideas already actually and now I just need to go for it. Another valuable lesson I’ve learned from James is that you’ll miss 100% of the opportunities you don’t go for. He wasn’t afraid to reach out and pitch his idea. The worst anyone can say to you is “no thanks” and that’s really not so scary at the end of the day. You can just try again.
If you’re ever feeling overwhelmed and uninspired in your own market, try seeking inspiration outside of your industry. I think this is how the most “original” concepts come to be – when you can take pieces from unrelated places and bring them back, reformed, to your own audience.
I guess what I’m trying to say is, it’s amazing what a hatchet-faced blood-spattered VHS reboot can do for you! Haha!
One of the projects on my #2018MakeNine list is to make a new scrap quilt, because Gods know I have enough scraps kicking around with all the yarn bowls I’ve sewn since last year. In particular I have a lot of not-quite-perfect squares piling up from the lining fabrics I use and they’d be perfect in their un-perfectness for a quilt. After stumbling onto some unorthodox quilt inspiration via Pinterest, I suddenly knew exactly what to make with these perfectly imperfect squares.
I’ve always loved the idea of a pixel quilt but never wanted to commit to something complicated or involving a lot of colors. It wasn’t until this photo of a traditional cross-stitch pattern showed up in my Pinterest feed that I had a eureka moment. I guess sometimes suggested pins are useful…
As soon as I saw the motif I knew I could make it into a quilt pattern! This process isn’t as freehand and improvisational as just randomly drawing a square out of a box and sewing it to whatever square came before it. In fact, turning a cross-stitch pattern into a quilt could arguably be considered its own kind of complicated, but I’m enjoying the process and that’s all that matters.
I have 6 of 25 blocks finished so far. The assembly is slower than I was anticipating since the cut squares measure only 2.5″ and there’s so much pressing to be done in between piecing it all together. I’ve also been wrestling with my obnoxious perfectionist’s eye who wants all of the seams to line up exactly, especially because I know I’m capable of that as a skill, but it’s not possible for this quilt to be perfect because the squares weren’t cut with absolute precision in mind. It can’t happen. I need to let it go. That’s not what this quilt is about.
I’ve struggled with the concept of perfectionism a lot in my lifetime, and more so lately with the rise of social media. I know we all do. Just one more reason why I wanted to reclaim this blog as a personal journal and not an avenue in which to sell some “pin-able” “share-worthy” maker’s lifestyle complete with painstakingly perfect seams…. Anyhoo, I’m moving off topic here. I’ll definitely share these thoughts in a later blog post…
I’ll continue to chip away at this humbling quilt with its essence of wonky, piece by piece, until it’s finished though it will probably take me the rest of the year to do.
And I’m okay with that. Slow and perfectly imperfect is my mantra lately.