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Most of you know I have an uneasy relationship with my mother.
Lately, I don’t have a relationship with her at all. The last time I saw her was at Christmas, and only then because she was invited to the family meal by my father’s side of the family. We barely spoke, and she left early without saying goodbye to me, a supposed punishment. There are two emails from her in my inbox that I don’t intend to reply to. I have no intention of reinstating contact in the near future. Maybe one day, I won’t rule it out. Certainly not this year. I feel as though I should feel ashamed of this decision, but I don’t. I don’t feel proud, either. I don’t feel anything but resolved.
This mother’s day was easier than the last, or the one before it. Far less emotional on my part, and I found social media easier to bear. As I hurt less, other’s joy hurts less. It’s never a good feeling to be standing on the outside of a happy group, scowling in. Among the joy, which this year I could appreciate and allow to warm my heart, was plenty of acknowledgement that mothers and motherhood are complicated, from both sides. That among the people rejoicing and loving each other there are people nursing hurts and injury and loss. That even people with good relationships with their mothers rarely have simple ones. That age and time create cracks in everything. Sometimes these cracks and bumps add to the story and the joy of the thing. Sometimes they break it.
When my mother was the age I am now, she had a two year old – me. When I look at photos of her, she seems achingly young. She was living in a caravan on an 18 acre property in the Adelaide Hills that was mostly scrub and falling down buildings. She was helping to build a house, and sharing a desk job in the city with my father. She was grieving for her brother, who had died a handful of years before in a motorcycle accident when a car cut a corner on a hilly road. She had a troubled relationship with her own mother, who did all the things to her that she would do to me, but magnified by many factors.
Two years before my uncle’s death there had been an argument, during which my grandmother had slapped him, and he said he wouldn’t see them again until an apology was made. The apology never came. Christmas gifts were sent back unopened. And two years later there was no time left for apologies.
As every year for me passes, I see shadowy reflections of that woman in the choices that I make. We are similar, we always have been. And our stories are similar, they carry the same themes, hit some of the same notes. I can see, from here, how many advantages I have had that she didn’t. Advantages of time and place, of being born when I was and having extra choices. But also the advantages of the choices that I have made, and the work that I have done to teach myself better ways of being. I am finding ways to give myself credit for the things I did right while still being infinitely thankful that I had the freedom and ability to do those things. Through sheer dumb luck.
I understand my mother – or at least I understand that woman that was. As I come to know myself, I come to know her, too. I feel the echoes of her. I feel her hurts and her anger. I do not accept them as my own, but I can grieve for her. For the shitty hand that she got dealt. I come from a long line of hobbled, confined women. Women with strong, quick minds and tempers who had no choice but to put them aside and pretend to be meek, to be less than themselves and pretend a joy in sacrifice. Women who dealt with poverty and death and other traumas, and who passed them on like a legacy.
Praise be to modernity, while my grandmother was one of 14 children who survived to adulthood, my mother was one of four, three still walking the earth, and I am one of two, both of us still here. Each generation had more food, more clothes, more medical care. More love. I can’t pretend to think that 100 years ago I would be anything but bitter and hurtful, along with those women. That is my legacy.
I am happy to leave that legacy behind. To turn the coldness back on itself and freeze it off of me. Enough.
Sometimes I feel the distance between who my mother was and who I am becoming shifting, as though I were slipping back and forth between realities. I catch myself standing like her, laughing like her. I catch a scared and angry reaction to a stressful situation and I know in that moment how she felt when she was at her most hurtful. I stop while sewing children’s clothes for friends to reflect on all the nights I saw her sewing, creating, clothing others.
I see my child-self from the other side, and I see my mother from where she stood, and I am sad for how much and how little promise we had as a family. For how much hurt was behind her hurtfulness, how what I saw as her power came from powerlessness. How similar we are and how that closeness keeps us apart. And in those slippery times I feel more confidence in the choices I am making. The choice not to be a mother, and not to have a mother either.
I don’t have a mother. I do not have a woman who mothers me, who provides love and comfort and who tells me stories of myself with fondness. I don’t, and I can’t have that. And that’s ok. I’m not angry about it anymore. But neither am I willing to maintain a relationship with a person – any person – who refuses to treat me with kindness and respect. Who refuses to understand that I exist outside of her wants and needs, and have my own. Who consistently acts thoughtlessly and hurtfully.
The fact that one of those people is the person to whom I feel closest in my most personal self, is the person who did a very good job of parenting me up until the point where my needs became too inconvenient, that is irrelevant. If it ever counted for anything, it has been worn down to nothing by years of hurt.
I choose not to allow myself to continue in a relationship that means emotional servitude to someone else. I choose to protect myself from that. To mother myself. To refrain from mothering her. The relationship we could have – have had – where I parent her and tend to her emotional needs, is no relationship at all. Nor is the one where I manage her, and spend every minute of contact policing my own boundaries. I have no patience left for that. I am tired. 30 years is enough.
In some ways this leaves me bereft, missing something. But I have come to a place where I am so accustomed to not having that thing that there is simply no place in my life for it. I don’t feel alone or abandoned anymore. I have many communities of amazing women (and some men), who provide me with friendship and support, who are mothers and sisters and aunts and friends of the heart. I don’t have a mother. But I have enough.
Maybe one day I will be up to the task of building some kind of relationship with the woman who is my mother. I would like to hope so, because I would like to hope that one day I will be the person with the strength and wisdom that will take. Right now I am not. And that’s ok.
One day I will be more. But for now, I am enough.
I finished Sunbreak.
Ravelry tells me that I started it on July 19, 2011. I remember starting it at a Craft Camp. I used one of Kate‘s stitch markers for the centre and ended up taking it home with me. I returned it on the next camp, don’t worry. I think I finished the centre bit that camp, because I remember frantically making up little bobbins to do the rays, as everyone was packing up to leave.
For a while after that it looked like this
I couldn’t really knit it on public transport, so I watched a lot of Qi and That Mitchell and Webb Look while knitting this part of it. This part was sometimes hair-pullingly complex, but I can genuinely say (at this remove) that it was fun. I would do it again, no matter how lacking in calm wisdom I sound in this other post.
The reason it was so tangly was that I didn’t want a lot of floats behind the rays. Because the yarn is crepe ply, not wooly, they showed through and it was hard to keep them neat. So I basically did intarsia. Each little section of colour was its own bobbin. I remember getting very frustrated at how lumpy and imperfect it was looking, but I decided that a bit of bumpiness was ok. Eventually I got to the end of the short rays and it did get a lot easier then.
And then you knit each corner to square off the shape. It’s been long enough that I can’t remember the details of this, but I remember thinking that it was very elegantly designed. I remember a few head scratching moments of confusion, but I trusted in the pattern and it worked out lovely.
Then you block the middle bit like lace. It’s knit on fairly large needles, so it spreads out a lot. I didn’t get exactly the recommended size, so I just blocked it till it was even, and a nice proportion.
The centre is 76cm x 110cm. Flickr tells me that I blocked it in early February 2012. I started knitting the border, although after a whole blanket I wasn’t super excited about that. I decided to knit the longest sides first.
Then, on March 30, disaster struck. I know it was then because that’s the date of the email from me to the Clean Person at the hairpin, saying ‘HALP! I have ink on my knitting!’ A pen leaked on my bag and there was a splodge of ink, right at the beginning of the longest border edge that I’d almost finished. Clean Person Jolie was very helpful but although the ink was reduced, it was still present and I knew it would always bother me. So I ripped it out.
Then I didn’t knit anything at all for almost a year. I picked it up again in January this year. Because a summer of repeated 40 degree heatwaves is clearly the best time to knit. But also, I started it when I found out that my best friend was pregnant. It’s not for her kid, it’s for her. But he’s about to turn one and I thought it would be nice to have it for her by then. Not to mention that I intended to knit something for her 30th which was in February but obviously I am working on a year’s delay here.
So anyway. I turned up to craft camp this time with the blanket, two long edges, and half of a short edge. I finished the first short edge that first Friday there, and sewed on everything I had, so I only had one short edge to go. I was DETERMINED to finish it.
On the Sunday night I had the edge about five rows from completion when I gave up and went to bed. On Monday morning I steam blocked it and sewed it on. And then we had a little photoshoot.
I am SO pleased with it. I love it. The border gives it a nice heft, and it’s as snuggly as you could not-want in the heat we’ve been having. I am so pleased to finally be finished, and I’m really pleased with it as a piece of work, and proud of my own skill.
With the border it is 93cm x 120cm. I lost track of the amount of yarn I used, because of the shenanigans with the bobbins, but it weighs just over 900g, so I’d say I used 4 and a bit balls of blue (Bendigo Woollen Mills Classic in Tasman), and maybe a quarter of a ball of the yellow, which is an unknown yellow in Classic that I bought at their mill. Which is a shame because it’s a lovely colour, unlike all the standard yellows they offer which are palid and sad.
I’ll be giving it to its owner this evening and I hope she likes it.
As I mentioned, after Craft Camp was over I had another day and a bit in Melbourne. Gill was lovely enough to drive me to my cousin’s house in South Yarra – and it sounds strange to say that I really enjoyed the drive, but I did. A last little bit of Craft Camp, we nattered the whole way. It was such a lovely day, too. Sun was out, and so were all the people: parks were filled with pasty white legs in search of some vitamin D.
It was really lovely to spend some time with my cousin, too. I’m fairly close to all my cousins, but Z and I were the only ones who grew up in the Adelaide region, so we saw quite a bit of each other, and we’re fairly close in age. Of all the cousins I’d say she’s the one who knows the most of my own story, if that’s not being too grand – although we’re a weird private lot, our family. Lots going on under the surface, I think. But, for instance, she’s one of the few cousins I can talk frankly about my mother to. Anyhow, she and her husband spent a year or so overseas, and then settled in Melbourne, so I haven’t seen a lot of her the past few years. It was nice to reconnect a bit.
On the Monday, though, I went fabric shopping. I gave myself a budget, and a list. I wanted some knits. Ssome specifically for tiramisu, and some to make some tops etc. I have a pretty casual office, and I don’t really wear tailored shirts and the like, pretty much ever. But I am trying to lift my game a bit in the ‘outfit’ category, rather than just wearing clothes. So I want to make some comfy jersey tops that aren’t too boring. I was having a lot of trouble finding nice knits, although I discovered after I got back that Spotlight is doing pretty well on that at the moment – some nice ponte in plain colours and stripes, and some spotty cotton jersey. Might have to do a knits run before they hide it all again (they’re bound to. Have I mentioned my constant Spotlight Rage?) I also wanted to get some basic fabrics for skirts. I have given up on pants so I need some more boring skirts that go with everything and again, I was having trouble finding plain fabric in decent fibres.
The number 8 tram goes straight past my cousin’s house, and then up past Rathdown Remnants. How convenient. I got a couple of jersey remnants (top right, teal and black) some black wool and some stretch demin, for skirts (on the left).
Nope, no colour theme going on here. I don’t know what you’re talking about.
I seriously only just noticed this in the photo. Well, at least I’m consistent.
Then I headed to the Fabric Store where I got some Marc Jacobs double knit, which is GLORIOUS and I wish that I’d gotten twice the amount so I could make something with both sides. I also wish that I’d written down the fabric content – I think it’s a wool/cotton blend. I could probably call and ask.
Mmmmmmmmmmm. It’s lovely and thick and soft.
I also got wool jersey remnants, grey and black, at the bottom there, and some stripey silk/cotton which I have no plan for but couldn’t resist. It’s the only thing I bought with no plan, I think I did pretty well. (Note to self, this bled quite a bit when washed, make sure to wash it separately in future.) You can see it a bit on the bottom right here:
Front and centre is some jersey from the Allanah Hill outlet next door. I wanted something stripey for tiramisu, but it’s a bit flimsy and was cheap (I think $6 a metre, but might have been $5) so I bought twice as much to double it over. But now I’m not sure I like it. It’s my colours, but slightly lighter than I’d usually go for a whole dress. I feel like it might read a bit pastelly? Which I’m not a fan of, on me, in large swathes. And the marl is a bit… muddy. Or something. In retrospect I should have left it and gone back to the Fabric Store and just bought some of the plain coloured jersey that was hard resist. I definitely liked it in there. AND they were friendly, AND knew what they were talking about. Fabric store heaven.
I might make something else out of it – maybe a maxi skirt? – and go get some spotters ponti for Tiramisu, instead. But not until S is down so I can get him to drive me to the Spotlight near me (but not on any bus routes, thanks Adelaide Metro!) because that one generally doesn’t make me want to die, after setting everything else on fire. Unlike the one in town, which I Rage Quit this week, leaving a pile of discarded notions in the middle of the scrapbooking aisle, like a small offering to a vengeful god. I STILL don’t know where they’ve moved their g#Y*(#@ zips to, and I couldn’t find anyone to ask apart from one girl who didn’t know, and also didn’t know where the interfacing was or, in fact, what interfacing IS.
Here is my little Lancefield opshop haul:
Some patterns, some mesh fabric that I’m idly thinking about sewing produce bags from, some ribbing and some plum coloured wool felt. Plus the lining fabric you saw when I showed you the yellow skirt, which is maybe not actually lining – it’s a herringbone sort of pattern – but is a weird apricotty yellow, and is slippery, so it can be lining. I’ve got enough to line another skirt, at least.
I took very few photos this craft camp. Janet articulated something I’ve felt for a while – that all the sewjourn photos have been taken. I feel that way about blogging it, too. How many times can I tell you that it’s wonderful, food for the soul, like bathing in ambrosia. See, now I sound hyperbolic, but I haven’t even come close to being able to capture how incredibly lucky I feel to be able to spend time with such lovely people, in such wonderful surrounds, doing such marvelous things.
It was good.
Because my inclusion was a little last minute – I’d opted out because it seems a bit silly to fly in for a regular length weekend – I came in a bit earlier and later, to defray the cost of flights by not flying on a weekend. I flew in on Thursday evening, and Janet was kind enough to put me up for the night. It was a nice callback to my very first craft camp, when I did exactly that. Except that this time I had met Janet, and she had met me, and we weren’t just strangers from the internet. Much more comforting. On Friday, Gill very kindly picked up me and Janet, and we all drove down to Sewjourn.
These are all of the photos I took
A face, for an absent friend.
I started the weekend with another ottobre skirt, in some drill from Spotlight. This line of drill/cotton is really hitting it out of the park. I will continue to loathe Spotlight, but at least they can do one thing right. I was in there tonight and there are some really nice, mostly cotton, ponte and jersey knits. I didn’t buy any because I got The Rage and had to leave, but not before I snapped a photo of the pear version of this drill, which is also fantastic:
Anyway. I made the ottobre skirt, with lining that I’d bought in the Lancefield opshop on Friday. I had a decent little haul in there. Nothing fancy, but some lining stuff and a few patterns.
I lined it because I always wear wither tights or bike shorts, and obviously skirts stick to either. Modesty is not a problem but then I do flash lacy shorts at people, which is not exactly the look I’m going for most days. I made my usual adjustments to the skirt – no seam allowance for this one because I just serged it (on Sue’s overlocker. I owe her lots of overlocker thread/karma) and three centimetres to the edge, because I traced the pattern a bit too small and can’t be arsed fixing it.
However, like the last two times I’ve made this pattern, it somehow came out to big. WAY too big. I’ve already knocked a centimetre of each side and this weekend I’ll probably take it back down again because it’s still big enough that it slips around. I could have just traced the pattern as is, no allowances at all. Yet the old ones I’ve made are still the right size. So what gives?
I wouldn’t wear it with this top, it’s just what I had on.
I also fixed the bodice of a red polka dot dress I’d made last summer and adjusted so many times that it was too tight and too poorly sewn. I just chopped the bodice apart and used it as a pattern. I’d show you photos of it but I just sewed up the bodice as a muslin and the rest isn’t done. I was going to try to finish it off on the day I got home, but I came down with a terrible headache and spent most of the day lolling about, and there has just been no time since to commune with my sewing machine. I also sewed a black work dress from an Ottobre pattern, but it is as yet unhemmed. Again, I meant to do that when I got home, but…
So those two will have to get their own FO posts. I am determined to at least have them done by next craft camp!
That was the sum total of my crafting achievements – one skirt, and two half dresses. Plus a whole lot of eating, laughing and talking, a bath a nap and generally relaxing. I’m a bit spoiled by having long weekends there – I felt like I was only just getting into the swing of it and then it was time to go.
I have no idea what was so transfixing here. Something on the iPad.
Under the table scraps. The big pile is Jenny’s.
And a hasty, wonky photo of the view. I don’t really need a photo. At the risk of being too cheesy and over the top, this place is stored crystal clear, in my heart. Along with all the people I am lucky enough to experience it with.
It really was over too quick. Luckily, I had some holiday left so I didn’t feel too bereft. I went and stayed with my cousin who lives in Melbourne now. It was lovely to be able to catch up with her, and I also spent the Monday traipsing around in unexpectedly warm sunlight and getting sunburn (hence, I think, the headache on my return) and fabric shopping.
It really was a lovely holiday. Thanks to Suse and Janet for herding us cats, yet again.
I Ma(y)de a skirt. A month late.
Well, it’s been cut out since May.
Another Ottobre yoked skirt. I just love this pattern. This one is in red cord, with some funky red fabric in the facing. It came together really fast and I only made two mistakes – did some weird improvised zip thing that I had to unpick, and sewed to front to the back the wrong way around the first time – that were both easy to fix.
I’m going to say that I Mayde it, though, because I made five partial skirts in May. I fixed the two black skirts, one of which needed multiple hemmings and unhemmings before I got it right. And I ‘fixed’ two drill skirts that had gotten wear marks by dying and painting them. Well, almost, the last step is yet to be completed. Jeez, I’m organised.
Well, whatever, it’s been busy over here. My sister has been visiting from Ireland. She came for my grandma’s 90th, which was great, and she leaves tomorrow. I am sad to see her go – it’s been so great having her here – but also kind of glad to have my life/house back. She’s been going through the stuff she left in my shed and the whole back half of my house is basically impossible to enter. On the plus side, not much of it is going back into the shed, but…
These photos are courtesy of her, which is why I am pulling weird faces in them. I have a different exasperated expression when S takes my photo. (Must practice photo face.)
I took some time off of work while she was here, to hang out with her and to get some stuff done. I had VISIONS of all the things I would achieve. Of course, I didn’t. But I DID hang out with my sister, and relaxed, both of which were amazing. I also went through my mending pile. It is now all but gone. All the is left is two things to hem – I’m trying to get my inherited coverstitch machine to work first – and a coat with fallen apart lining that I am not proficient enough to reline, but I can’t let the coat go.
I finished sticking together and tracing the pattern for Kasia last night. But my hips are one size too big and my waist two and a half too big and it was too late for pattern adjustments. That one might have to wait for a weekend because it’s hurting my brain slightly more than it should.
PS please ignore all the %*&)@ soursobs in the garden. I am tackling them from the other side of the garden, and haven’t gotten to that bit yet. Oh, how I hate them.
My best friend had her baby. He is tiny and looks like an adorable goblin. He officially has a name, as of the weekend. And he has this jacket, which it’s possible that he might fit in about a year (he’s swimming in 00000s at the moment).
Pew-whatever cardigan. Lovely pattern, although the formatting on the pdf was a bit whacky and made it hard to read. But hey, it’s free, and more importantly the actual instructions are well written and easy to follow. Will definitely be knitting this again, possibly with embroidery or intarsia additions to the front.
I also finished of another Aviatrix hat, because it was on some needles that I wanted to use.
Also a lovely pattern, took me two day’s commutes to finish up.
I still haven’t finished the edging of that blanket, though. I’ve got two sides of the border done, and there’s been no movement on that front for a while. I did have my wisdom teeth out last Thursday, so I’ve been drugged up to the eyeballs, which I think is a fair excuse, but it’d be nice to have it to give to her maybe when her mum goes home a bit after Easter (Oh shit, that’s weekend after next), or a similar time. We’ll see. That might be my knitting mantra – we’ll see.
Dreamt about packing for craft camp last night. Dream me is more organised than real me. On the plus side, it was nice to have decided what fabric to bring without having to take time out of my day.
I realised the other day that Sewjourn is my happy place. Specifically the driveway. Ok, that sounds weird, let me explain. I can picture myself here:
It’s a liminal space – in between, a gateway, a crossroads. There’s not much going on, so I can create it well in my mind’s eye. It’s quiet, and clean, and bright. And whichever way I’m going, I’m on the way both to and from something lovely. I’m heading back from the studio after a morning of making and chatting and laughing, to a delicious meal, or a quiet contemplative bath. Or maybe I’ve been reading in the house and I’m heading back to be with my crafty family. There is joy and love and comfort waiting for me. Probably I am still chuckling about something someone said as a parting shot as I slipped out of the studio, or I have my head down thinking about what I am going to make when I get back there.
If I am in my real life, and I need a breath of fresh air or a moment of calm, that is what I picture. This view:
Or this one:
I’ve needed it this week, too, that dose of calm, that deeper breath. There have been several infuriating meetings and the like. Good thing I’ll be back there soon, to restock my supply of calm.
I also dreamt that I went to the fat fashion swap in Melbourne. When I found out about it, I seriously considered flying in for the day to go to it. I am not going to do that, but maybe some of you would be interested. Here is the facebook page with the information.
In less literal dreams, I finished Abby’s blanket that I was knitting for my bestie’s child.
I did, of course, make an error in the lace. I got off by a few stitches, for a few rows, and didn’t notice for a while. I set my chin and refused to tink back, because I was on a deadline, and my bestie is of the ‘that’s how you know it was handmade with love’ school of thought. I kind of wish I’d fixed it. Or at least taken close ups of a different part of the blanket.
It’s actually quite hard to spot in real life – I’m not fooling myself either. While it was blocking I looked for it so I could fret over it, as you probe a sore tooth. It took me a good minute to locate it.
Blanket ravelry details here.
Said baby was due on Sunday, as I was blocking the blanket. It’s still not here, and I’d appreciate it holding out a little while longer. I finished a matching Puerperium cardigan on the bus this morning. I brought needles and buttons to work and I’m going to finish the finishing at lunch, and then drop the two of them over tonight.
I requested that the baby not come this weekend, while I am away. On reflection, though, that would be fine – the respective families are going to descend and wouldn’t get a chance to smuggle the much awaited brie into the hospital for a while, anyway. So this weekend is fine, just… wait a few more hours, baby. The knitting is not ready yet.
I wrote out this whole post about how I haven’t been around because I’m tired, and then wordpress ate it. (And also this one, which I’d cleverly written in Word, first. It seems it didn’t like photos being included?)
Probably for the best – it got a bit maudlin. Well, it is Monday morning, after all. Only three weeks till holidays, though. I am looking forward to them.
I sort of accidentally volunteered to organise the family Christmas. I’m not hosting, it’s at Grandmas, but I’m doing the running around and
herding cats organising family members. Mostly just telling who to bring what. But it’s good, I’ve been trying to involve myself more with my family. There were a few thing this year that I felt left out of, and while part of it probably was certain family members not thinking of me, a good part of it was that with most of my cousins interstate or overseas, my contact with the general family is limited. So I am trying to rectify that.
I anticipate that family Christmas will be painful but good. We had a big family birthday/reunion type thing a few months ago, after which I was really upset for no particular reason. I think I need to do some more processing – which is good, because it means I am in a place where I can actually do that. Progress, emotional continence, etc. In the mean time, though, it’s leaving me a bit limp and faded. I was just describing it to a friend as it feeling like my emotional bones are aching. I feel physically fine, but keep catching myself walking carefully, and holding myself as if I hurt. Keep having vivid, confusing, emotional dreams, too, that I can’t remember but mean I wake up completely un-rested. Only to be expected, really, as we head in to December. I’m fine, though. Taking it easy on myself, and I could be better, but all in all, totally fine.
As frustrating as this time of year business is, it does mean it has a time limit. Three weeks till holidays, when I can sleep all day. Then trauma week. Then festivities, then one more week of holiday to enjoy the summer. Not so long, really.
Anyway, long story short, I’m around, although some days even logging in to leave a comment just seems like too much effort. I am looking forward to being less tired, so I can sit outside in the twilight, having drinks with friends. And I am grateful for all the company and metaphorical cups of tea and cocktails that you internet people provide me with.
Literally. WordPress keeps eating my posts.