Happy National Lipstick Day!

When I was younger, my relationships with makeup and things I considered feminine were fraught. First, I was a fat kid and a fat teen, so it was hard to find clothing that appropriately captured my sense of style and also fit my body. This led me to wearing a lot of baggy clothing and t-shirts. I’m not really a fan of the t-shirt and jeans look, but I didn’t know what else to do. For awhile, I consoled myself by being into hair and makeup. Maybe if I dyed my hair the right color (as close to eggplant as possible) and I wore the right makeup, I could still count as pretty.

Second, because I grew up internalizing a lot of misogynistic ideas that traditionally feminine activities were frivolous and stupid and not-something-you-wasted-your-time-on-if-you-were-a-thoughtful-person. And, that was hard. I was interested in “girly things”. I wanted to wear dresses and play with makeup and color and style. Those things seemed fun. But, I also wanted to be thought of as smart and I wanted the nerds, particularly the nerdy boys, to think I was good enough for their time. So, I walked this line where I appeared to not care about my interests and also appeared to not care what other people thought of me. It is a lot of work to affect that much disinterest, especially when I really did care about both. I am lucky in that I did find people and my performance was accepted. But, I did occupy a space that wasn’t particularly feminine and it was made very clear to me that I wasn’t attractive. I was fun to hang out with. I was invited to play Vampire: The Masquerade and DnD. But, most of those kids didn’t really get a chance to know me. I didn’t let them. I didn’t even let me get to know myself.

It hurts to think about that. I was so ashamed of my body, and therefore who I am because to be fat was to be stupid and lazy and not worth anyone’s time, that the thought that anything, even something small that might somehow mitigate those things was something I latched onto with desperate hope. (Not coincidentally, and like a lot of nerds I suppose, I read a lot and worked very hard to appear like I just effortlessly knew everything. And, when it became apparent that none of my efforts did the trick, I pretended like I didn’t care and spectacularly crashed and burned. But, that’s another post for another day.)

My relationship to makeup, like my relationship to my body, has changed. I think I consciously started to try and love my fat and (as I thought) unattractive and unruly body in 2009. I went to Re/Dress with my sister when it was still in Brooklyn for the first time that Spring and I bought so many clothes. A friend of mine was a friend of the sales lady (sales femme?) and tweeted at her to take good care of me and my sister. It was a wholly uplifting experience, maybe the first one I had ever had a clothing store. At least, the first one in a clothing store that wasn’t the result of weeks of dieting. It was certainly the first time I’d ever had the experience of feeling supported and seen for who I was now and not who I would be in 20 pounds in a fitting a room. I still have some of those clothes and I still wear them. When Re/Dress re-opened in Cleveland, I drove there from Buffalo with some friends. I definitely still have and wear those clothes. I bought a Size Queen dress that weekend that I couldn’t afford but that just fit so well. I makes my boobs look good, it makes my waist look good, I feel lively and fun it. It’s a great dress.
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Tour de Fleece: The Last Week

A puff of unspun wool, waiting on the top of the spinning wheel to be spun

I’ve slowed down in my spinning. Perhaps it is that I’ve recommitted to doing my dailies on Habitica or its that I’ve done a better job the past week getting up and getting to work. Or, maybe its that, as much as I love this creamy white undyed wool, there is a lot of it, I’m spinning it thin and it is getting boring. But, I still have probably an ounce and a half of it left to spin.

So much floof

I think the last one might be weighing on me, because I think I’m going to end the tour not trying to finish this massive bag of wool but instead switching to the goat I’ve had a plan for all along. It will also probably take forever to spin, but I’m excited about it. I also plan to spin it thin and chain ply it. I’m hoping for a fingering weight. I have no plans for it after that, but it should be fun thinking about the possibilities.

Goat wool! Gradient dyed goat woal!

The Tour de Fleece, when I first did it a few years ago, was an opportunity to get down to zero roving stash before the fiber festivals in the Fall. This year, it has served as an reintroduction to a hobby I had forgotten that I enjoyed.

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The Other Side of Shawl Doldrums

On the other side of shawl doldrums is finishing up a bit of the wool you were using the shawl to stash bust.

The end of the Bell Star yarn from the Gilmore Girls yarn club. This shawl has been a looooong time coming

I don’t think this shawl is going to be as large as I intended, but the pattern and the colors really make me think of the summer and butterflies.

A butterfly in the kale

Knitting has been my constant companion through graduate school. It has an end when so much academic work does not. Everything can seem like successive drafts. Like, you write a dissertation. Then, you defend a dissertation. But, then before you’re done you have to revise your dissertation to account for any issues that came up at the defense. Once that is done, you have to turn your dissertation into a book or a series of papers. It can feel never ending.

Knitting, on the other hand, is usually only one draft. Sure, sometimes I have to tink back and reknit a few rows. Or, I start a project and then change my mind and frog it all. But, mostly, I pick a pattern, I pick a yarn, and each row is visible, measurable progress through the project. Because of this, knitting has been so good for my mental health.

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First Harvest and Other Things

The first tomato

I have harvested my first tomato of the season. I was so excited about it and so happy with how big this grape tomato got! There are other tomatoes that are starting to turn red and it is very exciting. There are few things as good as a fresh, ripe tomato.

The other two tomato plants are doing well, but still haven’t flowered. I hope they do, though, so that I can be harvesting tomatoes all the way to the first hard frost.

The first chili right next to the second chili

I’ve got one chili almost ready and a second on its way. I noticed that cherries are in season at the grocery store this week and I think I am going to use these first chilies in a cherry chili jam. It has been two years since I’ve put up any jam and even longer since I’ve done a fruit and heat jam. It should be fun.

This cucumber is growing like its on a mission

I’m also really excited about how fast the first cucumber is growing. I was so surprised when I first found it and now I can’t believe I missed it. I have no plans for it, but it will still be some time before its ready. But, even more exciting, I’m sure there are one or two more cucumbers on their way. It is such a delight to go and water them every day.

A Cucumberling

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All Progress is Slow Progress

I’ve been working on job applications this week. In particular, one for a job that isn’t really in my wheelhouse, but is in my area of interest and training. Plus, it aligns really well with both my short and long term goals, so I decided to give it a shot. They asked that I submit a syllabus and I didn’t have any handy that were in line with I’d be expected to teach so I worked on one. I figured, at the very least, it would be useful for thinking about the position and what kind of work I would be committed to doing.

I always underestimate how long things are going to take. I shouldn’t, but I do. Writing the syllabus was no exception. I set aside a 4-hour chunk on Tuesday morning for it and an hour in I realized there were a lot of things I still wanted to think about for course prep. (Of course, some of that can be saved for later, if I get the job as there are particulars that the school itself will want me to adjust.) Four wasn’t going to be enough.

I had a bit of an epiphany while I was working on the syllabus, though. I am not using my time in the right way to meet some of my longer term goals. It just occurred to me. But, doing that work on Tuesday morning helped me think about progress and how it is incremental. I did slow work, but the work I did was solid, and even if I don’t get the job is useful because not only do I have another syllabus and another course I’ve thought through, I have reminded myself of the importance of putting the time in. And, the importance of using my time thoughtfully.

So, now I’ve set aside time (likely not enough) to think through how to better structure my time. Or, to better make use of my time. It’s nice to have apps like forest, which help keep me from getting distracted. But, I think I have to do more work around my goals and really thinking about where I want to be headed and how to get there.

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I thought when you got older, you didn’t have to worry about acne and pores and such

I’ve been trying a few new skin products out, because I like to try new things. And, because I thought when you got older that you grew out of things like acne and enlarged pores. That was silly of me. The products I’ve been trying are all targeted to reducing pore size. It did occur to me, as I was trying these products, that I probably should have only done one pore treatment at a time. That would have made more sense, if I wanted to see how one individual thing helped my skin.

Alas.

The first product I tried was Skinfood’s egg white mask. I had a sample of the egg white cleanser from ipsy, and it was amazing. I loved it. So, I was excited to try the mask. The mask does leave your face feeling smoother and maybe a little less redder (it is billed as being anti-inflammatory). I guess my pores also seem refined. I do like the mask, though, even if its not shrinking my pores.

Skinfood’s egg white pore mask

Then, I tried two products out of Skinfood’s peach sake line: the emulsion and the pore serum. They both smell so awesome. I’m in love with the smell. The pore serum is wonderful, but I can only use it as a targeted serum in my t-zone. I do think its helping shrink my pores. And, its definitely mattifying, so its great to wear during the day.

Peach Sake Pore Serum

The emulsion is a really nice weight, but its the wrong product for my skin. I have still been using it, just not on my face. It is a nice light moisturizer. (And, did I mention the smell? It is so, so lovely!)

All in all, I’m pretty happy with these face-product experiments. I’d never used an emulsion before, and I’m happy with the weight of it. It is nice and lightweight, which is what I was hoping for for the summer. I have my eye on another skinfood product that is an emulsion that I might try before the summer is out.

What is your favorite summer moisturizer?

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Tour de Fleece: Rest Day

I started the tour with a plan for only two of the roving selections I have. And, I’m pretty excited about both of them. One of them is going to be a fractal-spun yarn and the other is going to be a gradient yarn.

Fractal-spun yarns vary the colors in a “fractal” way. So, in a three-ply, you go through the repeat of the colors exactly once in the entire thread for the first ply, two times for the second ply and three times for the third ply. I thought about doing a fractal ply with this specific colorway when I took Felicia Lo’s craftsy class when I was new to spinning. (It’s been at least five years. Maybe six.) I didn’t buy any of the roving and just set the idea aside. I was lucky to have so many good local producers of roving that I didn’t feel like I could justify ordering from someone so far away. And, then, a couple of years ago I picked up two braids of it when someone I follow on instagram destashed. So, this has been a long, long time coming.

This is from Sweet Georgia Yarns. I can’t wait to fractal spin this puppy!

I do this a lot. I have an idea, and then I talk myself out of it. Then, I get another chance at it. I get so excited about, set myself up to do it…and, then, I wait. For no good reason. Or, because halfway through the project or before I get a chance to embark on it, I get excited by something else and I set the first project aside. I’ve had down time in the past few years where I could have cleared my head with a creative project like this. But, I didn’t come back to it. So, its just been sitting there. Simmering. Waiting for its day.

And, I’m doing it again. In the post where I discussed prepping to do the Tour de Fleece, I mentioned both the gradient yarn plan and the fractal spun yarn plan. I just had to finish up what I was already in the middle of spinning. Then, in the middle of finishing that, I thought it would be pretty to ply it with some natural brown shetland wool, which, of course, would also need to be spun.

I do really like this blue (I think bluefaced leceister?) and shetland wool. This picture is from an instagram story

Its a little underplied, but I’ve already started and then frogged a hat with it. (The pattern I picked wasn’t right). But, I love how it came together. And, I have some two-ply of just the blue because I had more of the blue than I did of the brown. Then, I made a dk/worsted yarn out of a lovely bit of falkland wool. I used a plying technique that allowed me to keep the stripes separate, so this is a nice self-striping yarn. Now, I just have to find a pattern for it.

And, now I’m spinning bag of an unknown-sheep breed. I love this mystery bag and I’m excited about the creamy white color. It’s great and I have ideas for it. But, it’s not what I set out to spin.

This is from a mystery breed of sheep. It’s been a dream to spin

This should rest a bit before I ply it, so when I’m done with it maybe I’ll move onto the fractal spinning or the gradient yarn.

Or, maybe I’ll get distracted halfway through and start something completely different and unexpected.

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In Which I Find a Hidden Vegetable

The spaghetti squash plant is trying so hard.

When we brought the plants home from the gardening store where we bought them, we made a sudden stop at a stop light and the plants pitched forward in the backseat where they were. The spaghetti squash and cucumbers fell off the seat and some of their vines broke. It was quite hard on the squash. But, I planted them in hopes that they’d be able to recover.

We’re now 6 weeks into the growing season, and while I’ve gotten a lot of blooms, they’ve all wilted and fallen off the plant and not turned into fruit. Since squash need the full growing season, this has been a little sad. I thought it might be a pollinator issue; I’ve not seen a lot of pollinators in the backyard where the plants are. But, when I went out to try hand pollination (with the help of q-tip), I found the spaghetti squash has a little beetle friend.

Hello, beetle buddy

So, now I think that maybe the trauma of the quick stop isn’t something my spaghetti squash plant can overcome. I was checking on my plants and doing a little weeding, lamenting the lack of squash and wondering if I’d get any cucumbers this season, either. That’s when I noticed, quietly growing under several large leaves, a cucumber.

my first cucumber!

I am so proud of this little guy, doing its own thing without any attention. This little cucumber was just growing, silently, while I watered and weeded and didn’t notice. It is nice to be reminded that if you just keep doing your thing, you can grow and make progress on whatever you’re working on.

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How I Use Productivity

On A Playful Day‘s instagram the other week, she had a discussion about structured play and how some kids (and adults!) do better with a little structure. It was such a lovely conversation and it got me thinking about my own relationship to structure and how I still struggle with it. I was well into adulthood before I realized that I thrived with structure and that I floundered in less structured environments. This isn’t to say that I can’t deal with unstructured time or work environments, but it is to say that I need to bring my own structure to situations and better manage myself so that I don’t let situations overwhelm me or feed my anxiety or tear at my self-esteem. I’ve spent a lot of time, especially in the last few years, building structure that I can work within. So, this insta-stories conversation really resonated with me. I’ve talked about the various productivity apps and programs that I use, but I don’t really use them to be productive, I really use them to build scaffolding in my life so that I can get things done.

Sometimes, it seems like the older I get the more my life is like being in a kindergarten classroom. I work a lot from home, and the areas at home where are work are different than the areas where I recreate, and I work on different kinds of work in different spaces (like having stations!). I build in rest times, using the forest app and the pomodoro technique (I also like to read and knit or spin after lunch for a bit if I can). I have snack time. Sometimes it amazes me that I ever devalued or avoided doing these simple things that take care of me. How did I ever get the idea that these things weren’t useful or valuable?

So, when I’m being “productive” and using the forest app, its not just keeping my off my phone but its helping me to work and to relax. (It also helps me track my work time, although, there are other ways I do that.) I use asana to keep an eye on the things I need to accomplish in a given time period. Sometimes, you don’t know what to do next and having a list already made saves me the time (and the frustration) of having to look. I am proud of myself for building this structure in my life, even if I’m both a little annoyed that I have to and a little annoyed that it took me so long to realize that I needed it.

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The doldrums of shawl knitting

I’ve reached the part of shawl knitting where nothing new and exciting is happening but the shawl is not done. I love wearing shawls and I love lace knitting. There is something really soothing about doing a pattern with a repeat. But, once you get into a pattern, it is a lot of the same thing over and over again.

Those rows are getting so long

But, look at all the progress I’ve made! For the lace part I’ve been using leftovers but I didn’t really do a good job regularly switching between the leftovers. This is okay; the leftovers go well together and they add to the texture of the piece. I’m not sure I would notice if I didn’t already know that it was more than colorway.

In the progress department, earlier this week I wove the ends in from previous color swaps. So many pieces languish forever in the purgatory of the knitting being finished but the ends not being woven in. (The pussy hat I knit in January 2017 to wear to the women’s march still hasn’t had the ends woven in.)

Ooh! Speaking of weaving in ends, I finished the boneyard shawlette. Cooper did not enjoy modeling it, but he did it anyway.

Boneyard bandana on the lovely Cooper

Anyway, back to the original discussion. I’ve decided to switch colors once a week. So, in the past week, I’ve done seven repeats. I might actually finish this piece this summer! I’ll have a summer-colored shawl in time for fall.

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