Slowly emerging from the darkness and lots of changes

I’m alive, although I don’t know if I can say the same about this blog, or other aspects of my life for that matter. My life stopped in April and I’m still trying to take the reigns of it. I still don’t have a definitive diagnostic about what’s wrong with me (I’ll know more next week) but I guess it’s a mix between a severe oral allergy syndrome and histamine intolerance. Around April my life started to be unbearable, I started my peregrination to many different doctors and all this took a heavy toll. Since these two conditions are not very well known and not very well investigated, I started to read, study and soak any related information, which consumed all my energies. All my efforts were focused on knowing what is wrong with me, how to improve it, talking to people with similar issues, visiting doctors, working on my diet. Being ill is a full time job, leaving no energies or time for anything else. I kept doing my job thanks to being extremely lucky and being able to work from home. Otherwise I don’t know how I would have been able to manage. I can’t eat outside. I need to prepare all my meals from scratch, avoiding what is normal and healthy for most people, even spices. I need to know and control all the ingredients in everything I eat to avoid allergic reactions and feeling miserable the day after. And I need very fresh food. I have to avoid all fruits and most vegetables due to my oral allergy syndrome, cereals and potatoes are also out for the same reason, gluten makes me extremely tired and dairy gives me a horrible congestion the same day and even more the day after. And then the eggs. Eating eggs gives me a horrible migraine the day after. Sometimes I don’t get the migraine, but I feel like I have the worst hangover ever, not being able to think or drag my miserable body around our apartment. At least I’m starting to know my triggers and I have to say that my oral allergy has improved a little bit, meaning that my lips and throat are not swelling with every meal I have. Now it’s usually just my lips once or twice a day. That is helping with avoiding losing more weight. Two weeks ago I went to a Mastocytosis research center and my weight was 44.9 Kg. Today it’s almost 46 and I’m not feeling like I’m going to faint if I need to walk somewhere.

Unlike it’s mentioned in “the Fault in our Stars” (read the book, didn’t watch the movie), Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is true, at least for me. I was (am) so busy reading about these diseases that I abandoned all the rest. I stopped knitting in part because of the horrible eczema I have between my fingers (partly due to my allergies, partly due to the medication), then I stopped sewing too. The last makes were a Lady Skater dress, a pair of Prefontaine shorts and a Soma bikini.

I have cut another Lady Skater that I didn’t bring myself to sew. My body has changed a lot since all this started. I think I’ve lost like almost 10 Kg and I don’t know how it will be in the next future. Part of my weight was due to the muscle I got practicing capoeira and I know that I will probably never be able to practice again, at least with the same intensity. In hinder sight, probably the intensity of it has worsened my histamine intolerance. Anyway, I just don’t know where I’m headed. I had a plan of making a pair of shorts for Koen using the Jedediah pants pattern I used last year, but then other things got in the way.

 

When all this started, when I still had the hope that I was going to get over it quite fast, we decided that this summer we deserved a treat. We wanted to travel again, not very far, not very costly, but just spending some days somewhere else. We rented an apartment for 6 days in August  in Lanzarote and hoped for the best. Koen has been complaining a bit for a while about our apartment, just because it’s too small and how wonderful it would be to have an apartment with a terrace and a guest room. And after checking online for some weeks we finally found a lovely place. But it was at the wrong time. Just before Koen had to spend a week in Denver to attend a congress and a week after we had our vacation in Lanzarote. And as I’ve said before, being ill is a full-time job and a vacation in thiese conditions is not a vacation. That week I lost more than one kilo and I spent quite some time reading and starving.

And Koen was offered a new contract and I had also mine renewed. And if we wanted the apartment, we had to take it at that precise moment, with no time to think carefully because we were in a waiting list and more people were behind us. We moved in one month ago, but with all this, there’s still a lot of work to do here. It’s in a very old building but the apartment has been renovated and it has a wonderful terrace. When we first arrived it was a bit frustrating, since half of the plants were dead and we discovered several surprises, like a problem with the washing machine pipe, the oven door, or the upstairs neighbor being too friendly with pigeons, and the consequent “presents” we get each morning from them. The word to describe the state we found the terrace is decadent. Dead plants, pigeon drops, a broken hose. But the place has quite some charm and it has lots of possibilities. It also means that  there’s a lot of work to be done and while it helps me to feel motivated, sometimes it can be a bit overwhelming.

Anyhow, we have a lot more place than before, so I hope I can start sewing again soon. Other good thing of it is that we can invite friends home and that will help me to get part of my social life back. Our previous apartment was very small and we haven’t gone out for several months. No dinners or drinks outside.

I haven’t even read sewing or knitting blogs during these past months, I even abandoned instagram most of the time, but yesterday evening I found myself checking a couple of blogs again. I think the worst is over and I will have my life back soon.

There have been also some changes in the feathery department. Gerry was a bit stressed the first days after the move but he’s enjoying now the fact that he has a lot more space, and one of the windows in the living room has become his favorite spot from where he has a nice view of the square in front of our building.

And do you remember Leslie? The Gouldian finch I found on the street almost two months ago?

He came in a pretty bad state, very hungry and distressed. His health improved but still his behavior was not the one of a happy bird. After a month of trying to find his previous owners with no luck, we decided to give him a girlfriend, and two weeks later Sally came home. You can see that both look very healthy and active, they eat very well, Leslie sings and they seem quite happy together.

P.S.: I haven’t danced in ages. I miss it so much… I hope I can do it again soon…

Me Made May: some thoughts

I apologize for the delay in writing and publishing this post. I thought the most boring part would be adding the pictures, but it wasn’t like that. In fact, I added them ten days ago, but my allergies and health issues are distracting me too often from the things that make me happy. I shouldn’t let that happen again, and I’m glad to inform that, even though my allergies haven’t got any better, the situation is more under control.

Here the pictures from Me May Made 2014:

As you can see there are a lot of repeats. I haven’t been sewing for so long and last year I regretted so much not being able to participate, so this year I decided to join even with my small handmade wardrobe. I’m very happy that I decided to do so, because it helped me to recognize gaps, successes and fails.

Let’s take a look at some numbers:

The total winners this month were the Miette Cardigan, Thurlow Trousers and the Lady Skater Dress. That cardigan is so versatile, comfortable and ideal for these temperatures that I should knit at least two more. The fact of being white helps a lot to combine with almost any dress or skirt in my wardrobe. When knitting it I disliked the portion of cotton in the fibers, but now that I wear it, I realize that it’s ideal for this weather, for summer when airco conditions and part of autumn. I should knit another one in another basic color and another one in a vivid color that goes with my wardrobe. I should also give a try to another of Andi‘s cardigans knitted with similar yarn.

The Thurlow trousers combined got 13 days of wear, same as the Miette Cardigan. That’s a lot of wear. I confess that during colder months I wore them even more, easily almost everyday I had a Thurlow on my legs. Now getting warmer and me thinner, it’s happening less and less. This week I rescued my old jeans that were too tight two years ago. I like them but that enormous waist annoys me. I would like to make more Thurlows and a pair of jeans but I don’t know how my weight is going to evolve. I’ve lost 6 kg in 2 months due to my allergies (you know the feeling of crying due to starving?) but as I’ve said, the situation is now under control. I’ve discovered yuca starch and I’m making some experiments and I have already my energy back. Now I need the weight too.

And what to say about the Lady Skater? It’s comfy, flattering and the perfect summer dress. I’m already cutting a second one (where I raised the waist 3 cm) and planning a third one. I should make one in a plain fabric one day. Also the fact of being elastic, makes it wearable despite the fact that my weight is still changing. I expected to make Anna, Bleuet and Bombshell dresses this month, but that’s not going to happen. At least until I stabilize my weight and my life (eating and sport-wise).

The Freija and Owls sweaters got a lot less wear than previous months due to the weather getting warmer, but trust me, winter was spent inside those two sweaters. I’m knitting a second Owls Sweater and I should knit something like that Freija again. Not the same pattern but something similar. I’m at the moment knitting Armande in purple. It’s going to be awesome.

The Cambie Dress was worn only 4 times, but in my defense I should say that it was finished at the beginning of May. Gosh, I love that dress. It’s very comfortable and elegant, and if I didn’t wear it more often was because I think it’s too chick just to go to the bakery (I work from home most of the time). I liked it so much that I decided to make a skirt from the same pattern. The skirt got worn just 2 times, but that’s because I finished it almost at the end of the month. Also, the dress was made during my most heavy weight loss, so it’s a bit loose now, but still wearable.

The Ziggi biker jacket was just worn at the end of the month when we had a cold spell, but I swear that I wore it almost everyday the previous month. That jacket and how I planned was a total success. I’m so happy that I decided to install a quilted lining.

The same goes for the Fleece Renfrew. I wore it a lot in April, but May was a bit warmer so no change to wear it too much.

There were things that got worn just once and finally I know why. The cowl neck dress was a lovely idea, but my knowledge was poor then. The fabric is too thin and the skirt just gets in between my legs when walking. Probably a slip would help here. Also the hem and armscyes look a bit sloppy, again because the fabric is so thin. It was a good idea, but the fabric and execution were wrong. The orange skirt just feels too large now. It’s designed to be worn lower than the natural waist and that doesn’t help now that I’ve lost weight. Also the waist line looks a bit weird. Well, there was undoubtedly some evolution in my sewing. The A-line skirt with patch pockets had a lot of wear last year but not now. Why? Not sure. I think the fact that tends to turn when walking and rubbing against my handbag annoys me a bit. I hate to have to pay too much attention to those things when I’m walking. That also happens to the light blue A-line skirt. I think it’s in part because they sit lower than the original waist and I’ve lost weight. Anyway, that’s why I prefer dresses now (even though the Cambie skirt is a complete success). Another reason is that right now I prefer just under the knee length.

The portrait blouse got worn 4 times, but previous months I wore it more just because I wore less dresses. I like that blouse, but there’s something wrong with it. It wrinkles a bit on the underarms and my execution was not the best. Anyway, I think I need more blouses for the times that I wear trousers and for that Cambie skirt. I’ve recently finished an Alma blouse (still unblogged) and I’m planning a Belcarra blouse, a Black Canvas Tee, a Maria Denmark Edith-Tiki Blouse, and an Archer Tiki Blouse; and I think that’s the right direction.

I really wanted to wear my Lonsdale Dress, but May was not as warm as expected. The problem with the Lonsdale is the bow or knot on the back, and that’s a bit annoying to wear a cardigan over it. I’ll probably modify that if I ever make it again.

I’ve also discovered that I feel more happy when wearing things that I spent quite some time making, and not rushing through the process. I didn’t wear my Hawthorn and i think it’s because I got carried away by the sewalong but I didn’t feel it was my style. The Thurlows, the Lady Skater, the blouse, the Cambie; those were made just when I felt the need of making them. Not rushing to make a deadline. Also, my last Alma blouse is a complete beauty and it took me some days. This is just to say that it’s great to be part of the community and joining sewalongs, but sometimes we need to avoid distractions and make what our heart feels and at our own pace. I’m more of a perfectionist right now. For me, especially in these difficult moments, it’s what makes sense and makes me happy.

 

Starting the Hawthorn

Hawthorn Dress Sewalong

I couldn’t help the charm of those lines, the temptation of making a perfect light and fresh summer dress. And with a sewalong going it was impossible to stop myself from buying this pattern, which had 15% discount at that moment. If I didn’t have any reasons before to buy a new pattern, those were enough for me.

I printed the pattern and placed all the pieces together on our living room floor. Good that I was alone at that moment, because it covered almost completely the room floor (have I ever mentioned we live in a small apartment?). After assembling them and cutting them with some allowance, I traced the bodice on tracing paper, just in case I needed to make modifications. I cut the muslin in a very cheap fabric I bought for this (€1/m) which was stained even after being washed. I don’t even want to know where it came from and I just want it to make muslins, so I’m not going to think further about it. My bust size is a 2, waist is a 4 and hips even larger, but since the dress will be loose there, only bust and waist matter. I cut a size 2 to see the effect.

After sewing the muslin, during which process my machine almost gave me a headache, since it started to go only backwards (after unmounting the sewing plate it went to normal again), I saw that there was something wrong with that shape.

I apologize beforehand for the pictures of my muslins. They were taken, as you can see, with my phone camera, and as it was previously demonstrated, it’s a pretty bad one. Anyway, it’s enough to have an approximate idea. The darts are too low there, what makes the bodice look baggy. I raised them 2 cm and the result is much better. In the following picture I have the muslin inside out to be able to pin and check whether it improves the shape.

The waist was not bad, in fact I could stick with a size 2, but probably a bit more room there won’t hurt, so I decided to grade the shape to a size 4 for the waist. Consequently, I’ll make also a size 4 for the skirt to avoid any matching issues.

I’m still not sure about the neckline. I usually like necklines a bit lower than this, but I guess if you lower this one, you will lose a bit the shirty feeling of it.

And you? What are your modifications to the pattern?