Monday, November 17, 2014

Friday, November 7, 2014

The Shirt Project: Episode 1

The Shirt Project is my attempt to teach myself to sew with an emphasis on good fit. Inspiration - I go to a store, I try on shirts. Larges are like tents or sacks, but mediums and smalls fit in the shoulders, are perhaps only a little large in the waist, but too small in the hips and bust. DIY to the rescue? Let's find out.

My sewing background? I made this shirt in a sewing class at Gray's Fabric and Notions (incidentally, it was a fantastic class) and it is a nice shirt (Scout by Grainline Studios) and I should make some more, but it was not an intuitive experience for your humble aspiring seamstress.

Ages ago I almost finished making this shirt in a different sewing class. It was long enough ago that my body shape has changed substantially so I don't know if the fit would have been correct at the time, but trying it on now, I would prefer to have done a adjustment for the bust. (yes it needs sleeves - that's a photo of me trying on the armless shirt over a shirt and a sweatshirt, so maybe it's a little large, but somehow also too short, particularly in back - go figure).

And my most successful project so far - a zippered pouch:

Up first for the amazing Shirt Project - the Kimono T-Shirt, a free pattern by Maria of Denmark. It's a basic knit garment. Probably I should start with wovens, but oh, well. What could possibly go wrong? Maria writes that her patterns, like most commercial patterns, are drafted for a B cup, so that she does a full bust adjustment (FBA) even for a knitted dartless garment. I'm confused about whether to make a large, which on paper looks like it will fit my measurements, or to go by my high bust measurement and choose a smaller size and do an FBA, or go by my regular bust measurement and still do an FBA. I'm also a bit confused about how to do the FBA for a knitted garment and avoid introducing darts. She's done a nice tutorial, but I'm not sure I've really grasped it yet. (I almost wrote totorial right there, which would clearly be a tutorial written by and for a totoro).

But, I digress - back to shirts. How am I doing with my Kimono T-Shirt? Well, I chose to make a shirt using size large with no adjustments to see the result. 

I've managed to trace the pattern and cut out the front and back of the shirt, however, not without a few mistakes. The fabric I purchased was a bit stained (on steep discount), so I was just barely able to cut out the shirt and avoid the messy bits. And I have learned that it is important to replace the blades on one's rotary cutter rather more than never. But I didn't remember to add a seam allowance. But it's a knit, right, so it should still fit? And I'll still get experience sewing knits on my machine? Let's at least pretend that's true. 

Will our trusty seamstress sew a shirt? And how will it fit?  Stay tuned for the next episode of...The Shirt Project.....

Friday, June 6, 2014

Lunch 1

Boston North End

Columbus Park

Soundtrack: Wagon Wheel OCMS cover by local busker

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Spy Pond

We recently moved. Our new town features a LOT more green space. And a much longer commute. I'm starting to enjoy that extra time on my bike and to really notice my new surroundings. One of the first things that caught my eye was a little sparkle at the end of a road off the main drag. Yesterday I finally took a little detour and saw the lovely spy pond. The legendary Minuteman bicycle trail runs beside it.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Before We Came to the End

Everything good that happened last Monday has been overshadowed by the drama that has gripped Greater Boston in the past few days. But the day itself dawned with a special loveliness - besides being the first marathon in the past several years where there was no threat of rain or specter of sweltering heat, the sky seemed a bit bluer, the air a bit sweeter, so much so that it seemed hard to believe nature had seen fit to grant us all such a glorious day. In fact, I chose not to take a picture because there was no possibility of doing that morning justice in one just frozen frame.

I arose that morning earlier, perhaps, than I ever have, and slipped outside before the dawn. I made my way downtown to the Huntington YMCA, for Hal's 28th Annual Marathon Bike Ride. It's a 52 mile ride, starting at the finish, up the marathon route to the starting line in Hopkinton, and then back down the route to end again near the finish line. Last year I observed cyclists racing through Washington Square, hoping to make it back before they were asked to leave the course so that the ultra-fast wheelchair racers could claim the stage. I could never make it back in time, I thought to myself last year. Yet, somehow this year I thought I would try.

Only once before have I ridden more than 35 miles - a 50 mile ride when I was still a teenager and I only remember a hot, slow and miserable five-hour slog on bare and windy hilly roads. I didn't train for Monday's ride, but I thought the worst result would be if I had to take a break for lunch and then cycle slowly and miserably back after having been dropped by the group - that didn't sound so bad. Our group, maybe 50 or so riders, left the Y at 6 am and made our way past the finish line and down Commonwealth and Beacon, headed towards Boston College. When we hit the 10 mile mark we were still close to my home - I thought hard about turning around - the pace felt terrible - could I really do this 5 more times that day? You're not trying, I thought to myself; I pressed on. We climbed out of the hills of Newton, into the hills of Wellesley, and then Natick. I could still breathe, I was still in contact with the middle group in the pack. Then we all stopped.

Apparently, we had taken a wrong turn. They all leaped on to their bicycles and took off while I was still eating my snack; I raced to jump on too and keep them in sight since I didn't know where I was. I caught a little group of riders. We rode and rode into the traffic that neared the starting line. Then I got stuck alone at a red light. I continued to ride for a bit, but only saw cyclists going the opposite way. About 2 miles before the starting line, and 30 miles into my ride, I turned around, concerned about being able to get back. I rode the miles into the city alone, passing little groups and being passed by cycling teams from all over the area. I cycled past volunteers setting up aid stations and pouring water into hundreds of little green cups. Officers and officials in yellow and blue jackets were setting up barricades and directing traffic. Onlookers were beginning to gather along the route, the older ones setting up chair while the college students stocked up on beer to the sound of pumping music.

One part of the route was closed, and I and other cyclists walked around it through an ally paved only with heaps of stones before rejoining it and climbing Heartbreak Hill. Finally, I began to recognize the scenery. Just before 9:30 I rolled down the hill that leads into Washington Square, where I generally watch the Marathon. I had made it without getting kicked off the course for slowness. I was thrilled. I rode to Harvard Avenue, taking a sip of Gatorade. That was a mistake - I felt horrible and stopped. I sat in a bench. It was a big ride for me - no need to go all the way back to the Y. I checked out my cycling computer. Over 52 miles. Average speed over 14. And a completely different feeling 50-mile ride than my first.

C had never seen the marathon, but due to unforeseen circumstances, took the day off from work and we both strolled down Harvard Avenue to Coolidge Corner to watch the marathon together. We watched and wandered down Beacon Street for hours, clapping, cheering, ringing our little "cowbell" and watching the efforts of so many thousands of runners, the culmination of the months of training. We stopped to listen to a band, we ate Italian sausages. We walked some more and enjoyed the silly outfits of some of the runners, the hoots and cheers when someone ran past her supporters in the crowd. A friend and co-worker of mine was running her first marathon and we decided to stay on a bit later than in the hopes of seeing her pass and cheering her on.

As we watched from around mile 22 we heard chatter from the EMTs, first responders, medical personnel and a police officer who were monitoring an aid station and attempting to restrain onlookers from disrupting runners when crossing the street. And then a runner walked straight toward the officer and asked him, "Are we supposed to keep running?" He looked at her uncomprehendingly. "We've heard from friends at the finish - something has happened," she said. He told her that he had no information, to keep running and that if there was a reason to stop running, officials near the finish would take the appropriate steps. She ran on. 

We all kept clapping and cheering, but, like the officer, turned to our phones. What was happening, what blight on this most beautiful of celebrations of running, of the human spirit, and our local Patriot's Day holiday? "Nothing," said C, scanning the news. "They don't have anything," said the officer to the EMTs. "Twitter," I said, hoping that the fastest way to learn about MBTA disruptions would also prove the fastest way to know if something had marred this special day. And there it was - in less than 140 characters - explosion at the finish line. It was maybe 10 or 15 minutes before it was known that the explosions were vicious, not some overheated steam pipe, not a backfiring bus, and that something was truly and horribly wrong. In the meantime, the crowd became nearly silent and hundreds of runners ran past, their pace becoming increasingly slow. I clapped, I encouraged: these runners had worked just as hard, deserved our praise and support just as much as every runner who passed before them. Eventually, hundreds of people watched hundreds of runners silently, as the runners slowed to a walk, looking at their phones as they ticked off the last few miles of the day's momentous effort.

And then, they shut down the marathon. We didn't know, then, but my friend had been stopped on the course at mile 21 and was safe. The T was stopped. The street cleared. Police cars rushed down the route, and some drove with flashing lights traveling eastbound down the westbound lanes of Beacon Street. Thousands of runners and spectators tried to figure out where to go and how to get there.The beautiful afternoon was left to sirens and then to silence.

We won't forget the victims and their need for our support as they and their families try to stitch their interrupted lives back together. But as we do so, we can also acknowledge the real accomplishments of all those runners who cannot help that their accomplishment coincides with a day that brought not only joy and beauty, but like so much of life, also pain and suffering. 

Monday, April 15, 2013

And then we were sad

Our Hearts Go Out

 to the victims of the Boston Marathon bombing
to the people whose loved ones were injured or killed
to those who witnessed something that no one should ever have to see
to the runners who trained and ran as hard as they could