Category Archives: life

Creating a craft supplies nook (and generally getting settled into my new apartment)

Lately, I’ve been working to settle in to my new apartment. I moved in last month. I managed to fit all of my belongings (less the things that were at the Gentleman’s apartment from his amazingly generously letting me stay at his place while I got moved to the Cities) into a 10′ U-Haul truck. No kidding. That’s everything.

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My lovely friend and her boyfriend helped with everything from driving the truck to loading and unloading; there were an absurd number of freight elevator trips in both the storage unit building and the new apartment building. We were incredibly graceful throughout the whole process. This is how ballet dancers move things, people. I should start a moving company and charge for the show as well.

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Of course, this was in the middle of Nutcracker season, and I quickly found out that I would be performing in The Nutcracker with my new studio, despite the fact that I am “retired.” (Query: Is a professional ballet dancer ever truly retired?) My parents were in town for Nutcracker and Christmas, and being onstage with the Gentleman again was lots of fun.

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I had the rest of winter break to recover, and then the insanity started.

I am one of a handful of teachers at the studio where I am teaching now, and one of only three who are there 6 days per week. One of us three had a baby two weeks ago, and is now on maternity leave. The second (my boss) went on a surprise “babymoon” that her husband planned so they would have one last hurrah before she gives birth in April. In these past two weeks, we’ve had three snow days on top of the crazy sub situation created by maternity leave and vacation time. It has been nuts. And on top of it all, I’m still putting together my new apartment.

It’s a great place. It has some crazy columns (stay tuned for colorful plans for those), lots of kitchen storage and counter space (more than twice what I had in my old place), a huge living room, and it’s generally awesome. Here’s that amazing kitchen before I moved all my stuff in and it got all messy:

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The Gentleman helped me unpack. He was thrilled to take bubble wrap off the myriad dishes, glasses, etc. that I have.

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Now that I’m finally all moved in, my head is full of projects to make my space work. First of all, I need a dedicated craft space. I haven’t had one since I moved out of my parents’ house and had essentially a whole room in the finished basement. Obviously, that’s not happening, even in a large one bedroom apartment. My plans involve curtaining off the far wall of my living room and setting up shelving so I can pull back the curtains and have access to all of my craft supplies, or close them and have a neat and tidy space.

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Obviously, this plan does not account for the massive amount of mess that I always have everywhere (hello, dirty dishes on the kitchen island, I’m looking at you), but I’m thinking that having an epic amount of storage that I can just close the curtains on should help with that too. (I promise I won’t put dirty dishes on the storage shelves and close the curtain on them. I just may have more kitchen counter space if I’m able to dump all my sketches, paperwork, magazines, etc. somewhere else.)

In case you can’t tell, this is a HUGE wall. It’s 11′ wide, 12′ tall. For my shelving unit, I wanted something simple, sturdy, tall, and able to fill as much of the space as possible in one unit. I was originally thinking of using the wire shelves I have on hand, but they’re nowhere near big enough for this job. They’re loaded up with paper crafting supplies and sewing notions, but I still have bins stacked up in my bedroom.

On top of wanting large shelves, I quickly decided that, since I’m renting and not allowed to screw anything into the walls, it would be easiest to use the shelves to help support the curtains that will cover them. I’d originally thought to create a steel pipe curtain rod and support, but that would be ridiculously expensive. So I started looking at wire shelves that I could possibly hook a curtain rod onto. Those were just as ridiculously expensive, and none were quite the right height.

Luckily I live in a city that has an IKEA store. This configuration of Ivar shelves looked perfect. After a few weeks trying to figure out how to fit a 132 1/4″ shelving unit into a 132″ space, I remeasured and determined that the space is actually 132 3/8″ wide. Let’s hope IKEA’s listed measurements are precise!

Ivar comes up to about 8″ below the top of the cabinet over the fridge, so I’ll use a couple of extra wood uprights to help lift the curtain rod (probably a piece of electrical conduit) up to the ceiling. I’ll be making back-tab curtains that reach from ceiling to floor. For this space, that’s a lot of fabric (27 yards if it’s 54″ wide), so if anyone wants to suggest a good place to find cheap taffeta in a light teal-ish color, I’d be grateful. Current top picks are from JoAnn (although I’m not thrilled with the color choices in my favorite fabric of theirs, the Party Taffeta), Fabric.com (Softline Netherwood Taffeta, Crestmont Lustra Sateen Twill in Sky (too light?) and Teal (too dark?), Two-Tone Taffeta in Dark Teal (too bright?), and Microfiber Twill in light blue), and Mood (Bluestone Silk Taffeta which is way too expensive but my absolute favorite, and this cotton twill shirting which is likely too matte).

And, of course, as soon as I’m done with this massive storage wall and curtains thing, I’m thinking of building a bed frame. Stay tuned to see if I ever get around to that. I have sketches, so it’s promising. (Disclaimer: The previous statement was written by a perpetual dreamer who is far too in love with the planning process of any project and rarely actually finishes things.)

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Filed under ballet, life, organizing, relationships, sewing

Moving on from Socks to… Socks.

Dad’s second pair of Raggi socks are finished!

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I’m very happy with how I managed to work out the pattern with the larger yarn and to make the stitch count work out. The toe-up heel flap is exactly the same as the one I worked on his Hickory Socks, and it took some interesting math and charting to make the stitches flow correctly through the ankle and leg. I finished off the top with Elizabeth Zimmermann’s sewn bind off from Knitty.

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Now I’ve started on a new pair, this time for the gentleman. Fittingly, I chose the stitch pattern from The Gentleman’s Fancy Sock from Knitting Vintage Socks. I’m working it from memory and people’s project photos on Ravelry since all my knitting books are still in the storage unit, and I’m knitting it from the toe up (are we surprised?). Luckily, I got my Hennepin County Library card this week, and I’ll be able to go to the library tomorrow to browse their selection of knitting books.

The first toe is done, and I’ve started the stitch pattern. Excepting the cast on and first couple of rounds, it’s only been worked on my way to and from work. Public transit may smell funny, be slightly unreliable when you get down to the southern suburbs, and require dealing with other people, but there are benefits.

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In other news, while I’ve been convincing myself for weeks now that the downtown apartment is what I want, an apartment opened up in the building that I originally wanted to move in to in Uptown. I had called this summer, heard that there would be no openings, and put my name on the waiting list for next year. Last week, I got an email saying that they had an opening next month. Since the downtown place is still under construction, I made an appointment to see the place, and fell in love.

The downtown apartment was much more finished, with soffits covering the ductwork, etc. but shortening the ceiling, the tops of the closets finished and closed off eliminating storage space, and generally feeling a little smaller than I’d anticipated. I went in to my viewing of the Uptown building anticipating the apartment to feel the same size, since the square footage and closet space were nearly identical, but it felt huge. The windows were much bigger and more open, the ductwork and electrical conduits were raised to the ceiling and left uncovered leaving more space and more of a cool loft feel, and the polished concrete floors just added to it. The best part was the closets. They were finished up to the standard 8′ ceiling height, but the tops were finished, so there was an extra portion of storage space on top, all the way up to the 12′ ceiling. The apartment that I chose is actually 150 sq ft larger than the downtown one, with more windows, and overlooking the grassy courtyard in the center of the building. Plus, it’s in Uptown, so I’ll be in the middle of all my friends, in a much more puppy friendly neighborhood, and closer to cheaper grocery stores, etc. I’m ridiculously excited.

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The slow resurrection of a sewing machine

First life, then sewing machines:

I’ve mentioned it briefly before, but I just moved to Minneapolis a couple of weeks ago. My best friend R, her boyfriend A, and my boyfriend M moved down here in May and June, and I spent all summer switching between Fargo, Minneapolis, and Michigan teaching master classes, going on job interviews, and generally trying to see if I could make a life here in the Cities. It was nerve wracking. I quit my job in Fargo before I had signed anything with a studio here. During my last week at that job, I received a jury summons for the week that I was potentially renting a moving truck to move furniture down here. It was chaos. It was miserable.

But then I signed a contract with a wonderful ballet studio here, after finding out that I would get enough hours at a good enough pay rate to fully support myself on ballet teaching, despite the fact that my former boss had been making many sarcastic “good luck” remarks. I found an amazing apartment downtown, near the Orpheum, the Pantages, Crave, Seven, the main public library, the skyway, Target Center and Target Field, and bus and light rail stations. I got disqualified from jury duty because I changed my address a little early (and a big thank you to the amazing clerk of court who advised me when I called to ask what on Earth I should do). Everything fell into place.

Unfortunately, my lovely downtown apartment won’t be available until October 15. It’s in an old bank building that is being converted into lofts right now, and they just pushed the date back, so I’ll be spending a while longer at my boyfriend’s apartment. At least my new apartment will have a lovely kitchen, and some amazing views:

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In the mean time, the Gentleman has been good enough to put up with two sewing machines (now three), my bicycle, houseplant, lots of clothing, and too many pointe shoes in his Uptown apartment. In return, I taught him how to use my Brother Pacesetter 3700, use a rotary cutter and mat, cut and sew a pattern, and helped make his costume for the Minnesota Renaissance Festival; he’s working there spinning poi and staff and hula hooping. We’ve also been making fabric covered professional performance quality hula hoops, hopefully for sale on Etsy, but he’s at least managed to recoup all initial costs through the hoops he’s sold at the Ren Fest.

In the mean time, I’m still working on restoring my new old Sears Kenmore. It has layers and layers of gunk on it. I’ve already cleaned this particular bit of the bobbin casing three times with Murphy Oil Soap, which seems to be the best at getting rid of this stuff, but the brown, sticky residue is very resilient:

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The outside is mostly clean now (barring little nooks and crannies and spots underneath some levers and knobs), and the moving parts have all been oiled enough to flush out all the nastiness there, so it’s possible to close up the machine and sew very well. M has also made noises about sanding things down, repairing hinges, etc. I say, if he feels like working on restoring the cabinet, more power to him.

Now I’m working on the bobbin winder, which appears to have all parts functional, and was just extremely stiff. I took the whole thing apart to clean because the initial condition was disgusting.

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Now it’s in pieces, but it’s probably cleaner than it has been in decades, and it’s well oiled again. I just have to make sure to put it back together correctly, mount it back on the top cover, and see if it works. Here it is earlier, halfway clean.

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Despite the fact that the reverse lever broke this afternoon (or was broken all along and I discovered it this afternoon), I have high hopes for this machine. I tested out more stretch stitches this afternoon, and it performed beautifully.

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And we’re back?

It’s been nearly a year, and so much has happened. Most recently, my summer was consumed with quitting my job in Fargo, finding a new position in Minneapolis, and moving. I’m teaching ballet in the Twin Cities now, staying with my (wonderfully accomodating and supportive and creative and awesome new) boyfriend until my apartment downtown opens up in October, and generally enjoying living in a bigger city with much better public transit and lots more to do.

My gentleman is performing in the Minnesota Renaissance Festival, and making and selling fabric-covered hula hoops there. The making part is with a lot of help from me, but I did teach him how to use the sewing machine very briefly, and on top of basic straight and zig-zag stitching, he can use the quilting guide and buttonholer and wind bobbins. We’re looking into getting him a machine of his own for making the hula hoops, though, because my delicate little Brother is taking a beating producing so many things a much cheaper, sturdier machine could do. I’m thinking he’d do great with one of the vintage Sears Kenmore, Singer, or Janome machines available on Craigslist here.

I’m currently toying with the idea of opening an Etsy shop to sell some felted mittens from a pattern I wrote, and possibly the pattern itself and other things as time allows, and getting into the swing of things with my new job. I’m thrilled to be teaching dance here, and I’m thrilled that I’ll be able to (just barely) support myself on my dance teaching income, but I’m looking for other sources of money, including math and physics tutoring positions, so I can afford a social life downtown as well as the apartment.

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Hello, again, blog. How are you?

Things that have happened since I last wrote:

  • I found a new apartment
  • End-of-year dance performances happened, and went fairly well
  • I bought new living room furniture that is new and mine and isn’t handed down from my ex-boyfriend
  • My mom came in to town to help me move all of my stuff into storage and get rid of my old, second-hand furniture and lots of the other random stuff that I had accumulated
  • I spent a month in Michigan teaching at the youth performing company where I grew up
  • I moved into a new, much nicer, apartment, where I had my new furniture delivered
  • I started my new teaching schedule

The nicest thing is that I have room for my great grandmother’s sewing machine in my new apartment, so I now have the little White serger, my new Brother, and Granny’s old machine (a Kenmore, not a Singer, as I believe I posted earlier).  I also have a washer and dryer in my apartment so I don’t have to deal with my crazy neighbor and her (mis)use of the laundry facilities, a little patio out back, and a full kitchen with a fridge that actually works and doesn’t routinely allow ice cream to melt all down the front (the novelty!), a full size stove (4 burners!) that maintains correct temperature in the oven, a double basin sink with garbage disposal, a dishwasher, and some actual counter space.

The past few months have been incredibly eventful.  Highlights (if they can be called that) are my friend’s baby being born and then immediately spending time in the NICU for life-threatening meconium aspiration (he’s fine now, no long-term damage, but that was a nerve-wracking couple of weeks), my parents’ dog and rabbit both dying, a falling-out with my grandmother, a 16-year-old student’s suicide, a student’s friend’s suicide, one of my closest friends breaking up with her long-term boyfriend, and not knitting or sewing a single stitch during the entire month of August.  With the start of the new school year, I’m looking forward to some positive changes.  Namely, I’m hoping that no one dies.  That would be nice.

I’ll update with some photos of things like my new furniture and Granny’s sewing machine as soon as I figure out where my camera is in the pile of boxes currently occupying my garage.  (Did I mention that I have a garage at my new apartment?!)

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