December 2010

Pretty good year

I know that 2010 was a difficult year for many people.

For me it was kind of extraordinary.

It was my second year of sewing.  I finished many fewer things, but was more proud of the ones I made.  I sewed a great pair of pants, and a very useful pouch, and several maternity dresses, and a wedding dress for my sister.  I learned a lot about manipulating patterns and a little about how different kinds of fabric work.  I also stole my Mom’s Babylock.  Thanks, Mom!

It was my third year of oil painting.  I finished about eight paintings, and sold four.  I settled into my palette, and learned how to use texture to create depth.  I played around with new mediums, and with painting on paper.  Of all my paintings, I think I was most proud of my cityscapes.  I wish I had painted more.  I’d like to paint more next year.

It was my thirteenth year as a scientist (ten since I started graduate school).  I got to speak at our departmental seminar, and at a research institute outside DC, and at a 500-person conference in Salt Lake City.  I tried to solve adaptation in the olfactory system in one crazy summer of experiments.  And thanks to Rachel, and Allison, and Helen, I got two (!) manuscripts accepted for publication.

It was my eighth year together with David (three and a half since we were married).  We traveled to San Francisco and Philadelphia, and to Vermont and New York, and to Florida and New Jersey and Wisconsin.  We saw lots of friends and lots of family.  We went for walks and looked at galleries and ate many many tasty foods.  We talked about science and about painting and photography and about finances and family and what we wanted for the future.  When our friends ask if we’ve learned anything as new parents, we say “Invest time in each other!”  It has paid off during 3am feedings.  And 4am.  And 5am.  And 6am.

It was my first year with Joey.  A year ago I didn’t know he was on his way.  I didn’t know that being a parent would be the hardest thing I’d ever done.  I didn’t know how much joy he would bring our families.  I didn’t know how deeply and instantly I would love him.

I cannot believe how lucky I have been: to have a great job, and time to pursue my hobbies, and a family that loves me, and a beautiful child, and a partner in all ways.

Happy New Year everyone!


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Up with babies!

Joey has now been on four different plane rides.  For three of them he tolerated it pretty well.  For one, he was up late partying the night before.  We will not be making that mistake again. However, his Dad was able to distract him for a bit by playing his favorite game: “Up with babies/Down with babies.”


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My spoon is too big


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Fourth generation

Photos by the third generation.


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Facing my fears

Are there techniques you know how to do but avoid doing anyway?  For me that would include sewing a fly, yoke pockets, and especially…welts.  I learned how to sew a welt pocket from Ann over a year ago when she taught her “Fearless Welt Pockets” class.  And sure enough I’ve avoided them ever since.  But since I had less than a week left before going back to work I thought I might as well go all in and add a bunch of them to the already-involved motorcycle jacket project.

My first thought was to have exposed zippers in the pockets:

Fortunately I made a sample first, since I didn’t remember exactly what I was doing.  I made the welt too narrow, the zipper bulged in the center, and the topstitching was pretty ugly.  In the end I decided that the metal zipper teeth would make the pocket too painful to use.

Next  made a little credit-card pocket with contrast welts in the front facing:

I figured that since it was hidden, if I screwed up too badly it wouldn’t be obvious.  I had some trouble getting the welt aligned properly so it still bulges slightly, but better than my first try.

By now I had the front and back panels of the jacket made and I basted them together and tried them on.  No way around it…it had to have front welt pockets.  Ann’s method is to first make an open rectangle in the fabric, stabilized with organza.  I realized I really enjoy this part of the welt construction.  Something about sewing and cutting a very precise shape:

Then she has you make the welt lips separately and attach these to the flaps of the opening.  For the front pockets I decided to make these from the same fabric as the jacket and to close them with an invisible zipper.  First I cut the welt lips and sewed them to the zipper.  The zipper was about an inch longer than the welts which worked out perfectly for this:

Then I zipped up the zipper and basted the welts into place:

Finally I sewed the welts to the flaps of the opening, and tucked the zipper pull back through the side of the pocket.  Et voilà:

Ok, here’s how the front panel looks so far.  The pattern is the one I muslined, Burda 7424, and the fabric is a heavyweight wool knit I found in my stash.

Oh yes and speaking of things I know how to do but avoid doing, here’s a pair of pants that I cut out last February.  It’s the same pattern as these wool tweed pants I made, but by the time I’d cut these out I’d outgrown those and I figured I’d wait until my waistline stabilized to sew them up.  Then they languished for several weeks while I avoided putting the belt hardware in.  And a buttonhole.  Anyway now that they’re done I love them.

Which does not mean I’ll be any faster sewing up pants the next time.


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