Category Archives: relationships

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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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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Yarn Is My New Boyfriend

Ever since I broke up with my boyfriend this summer and really got back into knitting and sewing, my mom has been joking about how I’m having a relationship with my yarn, fabric, knitting needles, and sewing machines.  When you think about it, I’ve been with knitting and sewing for far longer than any relationship that I’ve had with a man.

Of course, my latest relationship would have ended regardless of my piece on the side, but a big part of it was my boyfriend’s lack of respect for my prized knitting and sewing tools.  He was generally careless, but when he managed to bend two pairs of Addi Turbos, dent the cover of one of my Harmony Guides, ding my sewing machine, and rip a vintage sewing pattern, I was more upset than usual.

He said that his bending the knitting needles and Harmony Guide was really my fault because I had left them on his spot on the couch.  I asked if he had seen them before he sat down, and he said yes.  I asked why he didn’t move them, or ask me to move them, or sit on the unoccupied other end of the couch, and he couldn’t answer.  We hadn’t even planned on seeing each other that night, and I’d said that I was going to be working on baby gifts for my cousins, but he still wanted to come over.  He also got mad later that evening when I proceeded to work on said baby gifts while we watched a movie.  When I asked why he was upset, since he’d seemed fine with it when we were on the phone that afternoon, he explained that he had assumed that I would find the movie too interesting and not knit in order to watch it.  (Non-knitters have such quaint ideas about movies.)

He did apologize for dropping a heavy book on the extended table for my Brother, thereby dinging/bending the little tab that secures it to the (then 2-week-old) machine and tearing a pattern piece that I had sitting on the table.  He then started to explain that if I had an organized bookshelf, he would have known where to put the book, and we could have avoided this whole problem.  He also said that I shouldn’t have been upset that he had bent my machine because he had helped me to get it back to my apartment after I bought it that summer.  Can you see the logic there?  Because I can’t.

Of course, I’m not a perfect housekeeper.  My life isn’t totally organized, and I fully admit that I probably shouldn’t leave knitting on the couch and that my bookcase could have a more logical organization system with fewer books stacked in front of and on on top of it.  (Actually, I may need a new bookcase.)  But when you’re dating a man who won’t let you see his apartment because it’s so messy that he’s afraid you’ll break up with him over it, a disorganized bookcase is the least of your worries.

I’m not sure if he was being intentionally passive aggressive with this nonsense, or if he was really so totally clueless about his surroundings that it didn’t strike him as foolish to sit on a stack of knitting supplies, or drop a hardback textbook onto a sewing machine.  Now I get to live with damaged equipment, but at least I don’t have to deal with him any longer.

Sewing and knitting are often frustrating, but at least they behave logically.  Wool felts when you wash it wrong, and cheap acrylic pills.  The sewing machine stitches an uneven seam when the tension is off.  Addi Turbos are slippery, Clover bamboo needles are not.  And on no occasion will any of these things sulk for weeks without telling you what’s wrong (well, maybe the sewing machine will), or leave dirty socks on the floor in the dining room, or disappear during your cousin’s wedding reception because it’s just too stressful.

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Filed under knitting, relationships, sewing