Of cats and sewing machines and life

I dont usually do verbose personal posts but this year has been a doozy. I’ve discovered (and perhaps overindulged) a new passion and uncovered personal revelations since the last time I posted.

In Which Fears are Overcome:

My new passion is sewing. Garment sewing. It’s something I’ve always been interested in, but lacked the hardware to pursue. That is, until my grandmother in-law gave me her 1960s era Singer sewing machine last fall. It’s a beast – over 100 pounds of pure sewing fury embedded in a wooden table. It frightened me. I kept envisioning my fingers being impaled by its 60 year old needle, or the metal foot pedal catching on fire.

My grandmother in-law is a sweet, gentle lady. She kept the machine in good order, even preserving the original instruction booklet (which opens with a letter addressed to “Dear homemaker”). I am not such a sweet, gentle lady – the acknowledgement of which finally spurred me to be brave. If she could tame this metal beast, so could I!

So, after a couple of months with the machine in my possession, I sat down to learn it. And clean it. Oh, boy! was it dusty inside! I took apart everything I could, cleaned out the decades of dust, and oiled the gears.

Some people say sewing is magic. The instant you start the machine and make a row of stitches, you’re hooked. I am certainly no exception. After that first stitch, I went crazy for sewing. Lacking knowledge and experience, however, I made one of the only thing I could: a simple skirt with an elastic waistband. And pockets. (Pockets on everything!) I was indeed hooked.

Soon after, I found Colette Patterns and their digital magazine Seamwork. Their focus when making their patterns and the magazine is to teach sewing. Thus began my deep dive into the hobby. When I started, I had no interest in learning techniques or best practices. None. But the more I read, the more fascinated I became.

There’s so much to learn and practice. It took my hands a couple of weeks to get used to guiding fabric through a machine and a couple more to consistently do it with a straight, even result. As I learned more skills, I felt my confidence growing exponentially.


A complete "me-made" outfit. And sillyface.

In Which Bad Things Happen:

Then May came and things went downhill. Our sweet kitty Penelope suddenly started acting strangely. Her eye didn’t dilate properly anymore and the tip of her pink tongue began to protrude. After a few vet visits, we concluded she most likely had a stroke, induced or influenced by her Feline Leukemia. She went into a slow decline and, in the end, we had to put her to sleep. It was the hardest decision me or my husband has ever had to make. But we knew it was the right one. We held a small wake that night, toasting to Penny and the two short years we had with her.

Four days after Penny was laid to rest, my husband’s grandfather had a stroke and was sent to the ICU. For the next couple of months, we spent evenings and weekends visiting the hospital. He’s an incredibly tough individual and I’m happy to say he’s fine now and recovering back home.

But around this time, I realized I felt…off. Not just sad, but empty. Like I was missing a piece of me. Then I realized: I had barely made anything since Penny died. No sewing. No drawing. No writing. Nothing.

That’s what had been missing. I needed to create things.

So I made more clothes and starting planning my wardrobe more thoughtfully. I now have enough handmade clothes to wear something I have made everyday. It’s quite empowering.

I also started working on my game again, finishing up a challenging level and starting a new one (spoiler alert: its a boat level – yarr!). The final product is still a long way off, especially considering the list of things I wish to sew, but it feels good to be working on it again.

In Which Conclusions Are Drawn:

Our life, like a sitcom, has returned to its equilibrium. We adopted another cat, no one is hospitalized, and I’m back to making things.

If there’s one thing this year has taught me, it’s how important creating is to me and my overall well-being. I get antsy, crabby and sad without it. Here’s to 2016 being creatively productive!

How do you feel when you can’t create or engage in your hobbies? And how do you cope?


TeeTee helping with a project.

*It’s worth noting that I used to be allergic to cats. If you are allergic and suddenly find yourself a cat-guardian, I recommend BioAllers and nettle leaf tea. It takes a few months of patient diligence, but it worked very well for me!

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