Thursday, January 28, 2021

On My Book Shelf: January

January is historically a quiet month in Michigan. Probably because the snow and cold block any and all sound, but that's my first guess! Honestly, there's just nothing going on. The rush of the holidays is over (and my birthday!) and we find ourselves in the middle of New Year's resolutions or some devious house cleaning challenge. Even without the pandemic, January is for staying home.

And what better thing to do at home than to read? I ordered more books that have slowly trickled in over the past few weeks, leading to another sizable collection on my nightstand. While my recovery from COVID continues, it is nice to have a comfortable activity to do at rest. Luckily, I don't fall asleep mid page turn like I did not that long ago!

By Lisa Jewell

Here's another book recommended by the book club. It's not a typical selection for me; if I'm in the mood for mystery/horror/drama, I'll jump into Stephen King's early work again :) Honestly, it was worth the time.

The story follows a woman whose daughter went missing at a young age. The author's perspective sort of sucks you in little by little in a nonchalant way, making you dig through the details. By the end, you're begging to know the whole story and speed reading to figure it out. This has to be one of my greatest fears, having a person I love to go missing. Then again, I think that's almost everyone's greatest fear! I can only do a book like this on occasion since it makes me a little paranoid about my own family.

By Samya Kullab, Illustrated by Jackie Roche

I can't get enough of these graphic novels! Especially this one. The main characters are a family that must flee the war in Syria, then find a home across the world. The story itself is gripping; between violence at home and being treated like outsiders, I'm amazed at their grit and determination to make a better life for themselves, to survive despite overwhelming forces out of their control. I'm also somehow MORE repulsed at the fact that I personally know people who have said nasty things about refugees fleeing Syria and other places. This book will definitely go in my classroom library! The artwork is very powerful, and I found myself looking at individual panels for some time. 

By Nina LaCour

I wasn't sure what to expect with this one, as I picked it up in the bargain section at my local bookstore. I read it in little bits, moments that I snatched through the day when I had time. The main character has suffered through trauma and is trying to navigate the world afterwards. She's very alone and suffering through more emotions than she can understand.

Let me just say, as someone who has worked through depression and anxiety, this book hits me in the chest. While she discusses her feelings as an outsider looking in, I remember being in that moment. The author does an excellent job of leaving information out until absolutely necessary, instead focusing on the depth of emotion and feelings in the moment. As a side note, I would have paid full price for this!

By Yuyi Morales

I might be cheating a little by picking this one. It's a children's book that I read aloud during a public reading session in late January. It portrays the story of Yuyi from Mexico to the United States, where she struggled to assimilate into a culture that is not always kind and understanding of different people.

So I had to include this one because it hit me in the feels. I have family members that immigrated here from Mexico and experienced many of the same things. The otherness, the poor treatment because of language learning, always wanting to be apart of the new world but still retain identity with the old. This transfers across generations, and sometimes I find myself wishing for a place I've never known. Sometimes I wonder if yearning is written in my genetic code. Though short, the words and illustrations speak forever.

By Naomi Novik

A mix of magic, fairy tales, and everything in between. I am a huge fan of fantasy, especially when it comes to old stories and folktales. Usually a book like this would be right up my alley, but for some reason this one didn't capture my interest in the same way. Maybe it was the writing? Perhaps I couldn't connect with the main character? I also didn't completely agree with all of the choices made in the plot; it felt like there was at least one or two directions that I would have explored instead. From what I understand it is a bestselling novel right now, and I will definitely give the author another chance. was okay.

Happy reading everyone! How many days until summer???


Friday, January 22, 2021

A Punch Paper Surprise Solstice Gift

As 2020 drew to a close, I participated in a lovely solstice gift swap. I received a mourning purse, one that I'm currently taking pictures of/documenting in another post, so I don't want to say too much about that yet. Perhaps the most interesting part of the swap was that among the 10+ fellow costumers participating, the name that popped up was quite familiar...

Anneliese, The Sewphisticate

Of course, it came later than expected. The silly mail service dragged through most of December/January, and even now I'm finding Christmas cards in the mail. Thankfully she's patient, and even more thankfully she's willing to take a ton of pictures!

This gift was months in the making. I'd been planning for months to do some sort of beaded box and had even cut the dimensions just before I participated in the solstice swap. When I pulled her name I knew she would be the PERFECT recipient! 

And then I got COVID...and the rest of these projects were recovery work. The pusheen kitty needlebook took forever, mostly because my fingers were still pretty clumsy then. The thread winders were my favorite, mostly because they went together so quickly. The little wool felted kitty was fun and easy, and I need to make about twenty more to satisfy my need for pusheen kitties.

It's the castle tape measure that took the most thought and skill. Let me give you my inspiration:

Godey's Lady's Book, Date: June, 1868


Materials. — A cotton-reel, perforated card-board, colored silk cordon, and small steel beads; colored sarsnet ribbon, a quarter of an inch broad and one yard long.

COVER an empty cotton-reel very neatly with perforated card-board. Fasten one end of the ribbon intended for the measure to the reel; place in the hole of the reel a little memorandum-book pencil, which serves to wind the measure upon, and also, by being carried through a square opening in the roof, may be ornamented with a flag. The reel must be so enclosed that it may be easily moved, and yet always remain in the same place. Fasten a ribbon to the reel, leaving a short end free, to be afterwards hemmed round a piece of a match. Write the numbers with good ink very clearly upon the ribbon very exactly from another measure. 

Besides the space for the thirty-six inches, there must be a little piece allowed for sewing it round the reel, and it must also be glued on. The ribbon must be an inch or two longer than the measure, in order to be able to use the whole length of the measure when required. The round top wall standing out a canvas-hole higher on both sides of the reel must be ornamented with red silk and steel beads. The card-board must be made to fit round the reel exactly, and at the edges one hole must lie upon the other. They must be so neatly sewn together with white thread that the stitches do not show, and afterwards ornamented with silk and steel beads. Close the place where it is joined. A line of holes must be cut out, and the end of the ribbon measure must be drawn through the little opening, and a hem made inclosing a little piece of wood (part of a match), or a little brass ring may be sewn on. Ornament the tower according to the design. The little ornamental part at the rounding of the roof incloses an opening of four or five holes, and at the under rounding there is a cross stitch (see design) at the part that is not to be cut out. Both the roundings are lightly stitched over with white thread. The roof is ornamented with little scallops cut out at both the outer edges, and also with silk stitches, and beads sewn on with white thread. A little ribbon flag concludes the whole.

It will probably not shock you to discover the directions to be...lacking. It's common to have an image but without the instructions for how to properly recreate it based on the original source. OR, the image and directions don't even make sense together. This tower was no exception, but it was fun wrapping my head around how to make it work. I definitely want to publish instructions on how to do it because it was super fun to do, and I'd like to see them everywhere :)

Here I am thinking I didn't do much of anything for three months, and then I do all of this! And a very special thanks to Anneliese, who took all these pictures and let me talk about the process with her recent sip and sew. Seriously, it's nice to make a gift for someone who really appreciates the history and process!

Have fun, stay safe!


Monday, January 11, 2021

A New Year, New Space In Progress

Perhaps for some of my readers, this will be news. I am...not always organized. Messy, even, at times. It is a constant flaw that has plagued me for much of my life. As an adult, I've made huge changes to help counteract my lack of organization, and it has helped. Last year I used the Marie Kondo method to redo our entire apartment, and it really helped. When we moved we were far more organized and prepared, and it just felt better. But the one space that is still difficult is the craft room!

For years I've operated my research, business, and crafting in less than ideal conditions. There was always something a little off about the space. I'd pick too-small desks, poor room design, and not properly utilize the space. At first, everything would be fine, and over a few weeks, it would dissolve into an uncontrolled mess. While I do think the creative process sometimes demands chaos, I'd like an easier system in which to organize it.

When we moved I discovered that we would have the space to create a more open craft room, and I was psyched! It has taken months to finish the room (because someone got COVID...) but now we're finally working on the finishing touches. I'm excited to get back into my hobbies, and enjoy them in a more organized way!

So here's a bit of a teaser of what we've started. I'm especially excited to have my books organized, as well as open space to store items from my shop. The fabric boxes are FINALLY labeled, and I can even display a few past projects for inspiration. Hopefully, I can keep up this system :)

I hope your 2021 plans have gone well so far. You know, except for that whole terrorist attack by white supremacists in our nation's capital. And the threats of violence in the future, mixed in with a deadly pandemic that kills thousands of people every day. 

But yeah. I control everything in this craft room so that's nice.


Friday, January 8, 2021

January 6th Terrorist Attack

 So here I was in the middle of writing a boring blog post about my year in review, and white supremacists throw in a terrorist attack. I was just relaxing for a MINUTE, like crafting at my desk watching Netflix, and crap goes down. I can't say I'm surprised, since calls for violence from these organizations have been going for years. But still, it happened. And we have to confront it, not with some Facebook post saying "I condemn ALL violence," making some allusion to the summer protests as if there is equivalence there...

In the other blog post I was writing, I talked about the conversations reenactors need to have before returning to any events when COVID wanes. From what I've seen, many plan to continue with "business as usual," refusing any sort of changes. This attack on the Capitol is another example of escalation, after a summer of brutality towards protestors, violent rhetoric, and complete denial of a deadly pandemic. There cannot be "normal" for us anymore.

There are reenactors that downright refuse to wear a mask, despite the body count. There are reenactors cheering on the injuries of peaceful protestors. There are reenactors physically threatening other reenactors that speak out against racism. And there are reenactors supporting the terrorist attack on the Capitol. I've written about the complicated relationship the reenacting community has with the confederate flag and white supremacy and for the most part, any efforts have been ignored. I'm currently watching FB threads right now from reenactors who deny that white supremacists were involved in the first place; they spread the conspiracy theory that BLM or Antifa did it, despite the mountain of evidence saying otherwise. It's disgusting, and not just because they are racist, but because they cannot see basic facts before them.

We need to confront the ugly truth that we, as reenactors of history, have contributed to the violence that took place this week. I hear many people say "this is not who we are!" online, and then those same people doing absolutely nothing to change. Events were already dying, and it's getting a lot harder to explain we're not racist when someone three tents over tells the public slavery was "necessary." (Seriously, and people support this woman somehow). I'm embarrassed by a great number of people in the community.

Think about how gross it is to see the Confederate flag enter the Capitol in an act of terrorism. We helped put it there, either by actively supporting the hateful, racist rhetoric in our community or quietly allowing it without protesting. Our silence was and continues to be compliance, and this is what we get for it. This is who we are.

Start your conversations people. 



On My Bookshelf: December

December has been a really rough month. Between what happened in Oxford (not far from where I live...) and just the general pandemic issues,...