I made a thing

In which I do my best to remember everything my mom ever taught me about sewing.

In the spirit of making things this year, I bought a sewing machine. My ultimate goal is to make beautiful quilts like this and this and this, for wrapping myself in while reading books and for giving to friends and for handing down to future generations. I’m starting small, though: I made a potholder.


I looked up a bunch of tutorials online, ranging from the fancy matching set with rounded corners and double fold bias tape binding to the quick and dirty, who needs pins?, all machine-sewn version. Ultimately, I leaned toward the quick & dirty.

This may have already been obvious from the photos above.

It’s not perfect—I attempted to free quilt using my new machine, just for kicks, and didn’t end up liking the look of it (though maybe actually having a design in mind, rather than going at it willy-nilly, would have helped). The binding is wonky. The hanging loop was an afterthought, and as a result is oddly placed. HOWEVER. I’m proud of my awkward first attempt (which Dan already used this morning to pick up a hot cast iron skillet—it’s functional, even if it’s ugly!), and I’m not yet totally scared off from the idea of someday making something someone else will actually admire. Success!


Housecleaning, self-incubating (less weird than it sounds), and making things. Here’s to 2014.

I’ve been thinking a lot over the past few months about goal-setting, self-incubation, being myself and being bad at things, and finding direction and clarity. Today, I stumbled across Maggie Mason’s blog post on editing your life list and decided it was time to give mine an overhaul.

Taken off: lots of old travel goals that have become less interesting or important over time (do I really need to ride in a dhow off the coast of Zanzibar? There’s a good chance I’d much prefer spending a week on the Pacific Coast Trail instead.), a few conferences I no longer want to attend (ahem), a few older fitness/adventure goals that have since changed (goodbye, obstacle race; hello, ultramarathon).

Updated: liking poached eggs. A couple of years ago, I somehow convinced myself a) to eat one and b) that I liked it, but I’ve never ever wanted to eat one again. I’m leaving this as a successful accomplishment anyway (though I did remove “learn how to make a poached egg,” as it now seems like a fairly pointless personal skill).

Added: a ton of goals related to making things. Since finishing the first version of Wedding Draft last fall for my CS50 final project, I’ve been itching to make more things—to write more (and better!) code, to cook, to blog, to hand-stamp thank you cards, to sew, to make things out of clay. Some of these are things I already do well; some are things I haven’t done since I was a kid. I’m looking forward to working more on these skills this year.

Reviewed: I realized I’ve let some of the goals on my list languish, un-crossed-off, for years, even though I’ve almost definitely achieved them. The problem: I have no proof. To help fix this, I’ve started tracking the books I’ve read this year so that I can finally cross “read 100 books in a year” off the list. So far it’s a few fantasy novels (vacation reading), a couple of more literary novels, and, erm, a wedding planning book because Dan and I got engaged last week. Looking forward to keeping track for the rest of the year, then maybe using the skills I’m hoping to learn over the next few months to make some pretty pictures out of the resulting information about the kinds of things I’m reading.

To sum up: housecleaning, self-incubating (less weird than it sounds), and making things. Here’s to 2014!