Episode 12: Uh oh.

I am not a clothing designer.

Yeah, it would have been helpful to realize that a bit sooner, and it would have been extra helpful to do more research on wedding dress construction and maybe even consult with a professional, if I could find one. Because here’s the deal.

I waited two weeks to try on the skirt. Part of it was that I was a bit bored with the project, since I had ended the skirt by working on it for hours a day and needed a change. But mostly it was because I wasn’t brave. At all. I tried to chicken out of what I knew would be the result of making a dress when you are not a clothing designer and also not using a pattern made by a clothing designer (I modified the VK pattern so much that I don’t know if it really counts anymore).

It looks like crap. The skirt is the most unflattering thing I’ve ever put on my body, including my Torg costume.

The problem is that, because I’m not a clothing designer, I thought I could go from this:

to this:

simply by making the skirt longer.

WRONG.

WRONG WRONG WRONG

The skirt I made goes straight down from the waist on the hanger.  On my stupid body, it clings at my hips, which were clearly built just in case I had to give birth to a new civilization, and somehow also clings to my legs, fitting closely all the way down to my feet. The yarn and the lace pattern combine to make a very flexible, stretchy fabric, which is great except that it behaves like comfortable elastic. If the model in the first picture had closed her legs, I’m pretty sure the skirt would have snapped closed around her knees (while making a ZRRRPP noise). It looks really, really weird, and not at all floaty and romantic like I thought it would.

I don’t know if it’s fixable. I was thinking I would try to find a professional to line the dress, and maybe if I had them install a couple of layers of liner and maybe some tulle or PVC piping it would give the damn thing some shape. It would also probably add 10 pounds to the dress I’m going to be wearing in the middle of June, which is already made out of cotton yarn. It would also probably add a sizable amount of money to a project that was supposed to be a cost-cutting measure to secure our really minuscule budget.

The perhaps larger problem (pun most definitely not intended) is the nagging feeling that the skirt would look just fine on someone the size of the Vogue model. Or maybe even the size of me if I lost, you know, 30 or 40 pounds. 50.

I’ve been pretty determined not to go on a “wedding diet.” No matter what the WIC wants me to believe about how much more I’d love my wedding if I only spent five hours a day in a gym and ate three raisins a day, I think that’s a pretty horrible idea. Aside from issues of wild stupidity (including everything Robin said earlier today about gaining weight back after the wedding), I can’t seem to lose weight with any goal other than to be healthier*. “Five more pounds” or “one more dress size” are the kinds of concepts that kill a diet while I’m still optimistically perusing Cooking Light‘s online catalog. The stress of needing to lose weight so that I don’t look like I’ve been trussed head to toe in constrictive elastic netting would probably inspire me to find out what a lethal dose of cheese looks like.

I'd probably start here.

The point is, I don’t know what to do about this thing I’ve created, and it’s a bit terrifying. Suggestions?

*There was a time in high school when I lost a ton of weight by not eating enough food to sustain a human being. That pretty much wrecked my metabolism and caused a heck of a wild ride in college when my body realized that french fries are delicious and it never knew when I was going to go crazy and stop feeding it again.

Not About the Dress: Changing My Name

toothpastefordinner.com

This has nothing to do with making my wedding dress, but it’s a topic I’ve wanted — needed — to put into writing for a while now, and I have a place to do it.

I’m a feminist, and I’m going to change my name when I get married.

It’s not a decision I came by lightly. I have my mother’s last name, so my choice has nothing to do with tradition. It does, however, have everything to do with choice.

Here is what my mother’s generation, the second-wave feminists, did for mine: They gave us the ability to choose for ourselves. We get to choose what traditions are meaningful, and we get to choose to make new traditions if we feel like the old ones don’t mesh with our lives anymore. I want it to be traditional in my family to live with your partner before you get married; I feel strongly that it’s a vital step in determining long-term compatibility, but more importantly I want my children to have the ability to choose for themselves whether that tradition is right for them or right for their relationship. That’s what tradition means to me: Publishing your values to the next generation and then letting them go.

I am part of my father’s second family. I was not given his name, and then my parents separated when I was young. They fragmented into different states, hundreds of miles apart, and I only saw my father when he came to visit us a few times a year. He didn’t raise me. Now we see each other a couple of times during the summer, and occasionally at Thanksgiving. We’re both terrible at keeping in touch, so we’ll go months without talking. Sometimes he feels like a stranger I acquired somehow, an older mentor who has similar taste in movies.

I will always have an innate connection to my mother, not just because she raised me mostly single-handedly for a good portion of my life but because I lived inside of her for nine months. She was my home when I was unable to live on my own. No name can possibly replace that connection.

Would I be closer to my father if I had his name? Probably not. But I might feel closer to him, and that’s more important than you might think.

That’s why I want my kids to have their father’s name. I want to have it too, because I want us to feel like a cohesive unit. There’s power in a unit that shares the same name; that’s why the first thing they have you do when you split into teams in school is give yourselves a name. And if I could talk Nick into taking another last name, a portmanteu (Pomesheka has such a lovely ring to it) or another name altogether, then that would be just the same as me taking his name. We could be that family down the street, the Nerf Herders, and we would still be united.

For completely superficial reasons, I think I’m going to nuke-and-pave the rest of my name while I’m at it. I have too many names. I’m not rich enough to support that many syllables. Three names is enough for one person, and now that I’m grown I think I can remember who my parents are without having to spell their names aloud. My pharmacy thinks my last name is Pomaanto. That’s enough of that.

Til next time,

The Future Mrs. Nerf Herder

Episode 11: Break

The wedding dress project is getting a little intense. The dress’s clever design, which allows for a slight taper at the natural waist without decreasing, means that the last foot or so was worked with much smaller needles than the bottom (it started with size 8 and gradually worked down to size 5 needles). Maybe I’m doing it wrong, but I’ve always found that the tension I’m using increases as the size of the needles decrease, so a pair of socks worked on #1 or #2 needles is basically like knitting with really tight fishing wire. This aggravates the carpal tunnel like you wouldn’t believe.

To give my wrists a break, and to use some of the pretty yarn I bought for the bunting, and to whip off a small project in a weekend and therefore return to work feeling accomplished even though I’d really just watched the first season of Parenthood with my dogs, I made these fingerless gloves (the pattern called them “gauntlets” but I just can’t get behind that):

It was a good weekend.

Episode 10: The Title

Credit: Leslie Laurien, MSMI

The rush — both physical and emotional —  of finishing the skirt slightly blew out my brain and left me tingling with excitement and anxiousness and something else. Something located more in my wrists.

The title of this blog is actually relevant. My chiropractor told me I had carpal tunnel syndrome when I was in high school, and that I had gotten it by playing the violin too much. In college a teacher told me that I wasn’t playing too much, I was just playing wrong — my wrists stuck out at awkward, forced angles and remained stiffly glued for hours each day. If I would just play right, my body wouldn’t be doing anything unnatural and I would avoid injury, he said.

But when I looked around in music school, I saw the walking wounded all around me. Every student had carpal tunnel. The rare few with tendinitis were regarded with awe — if you get carpal tunnel from practicing too much, you must get tendinitis by being completely devoted to your craft.*

My chiropractor was not very specific or informational in his diagnosis. This is probably related to the Wikipedia entry for carpal tunnel‘s statement that “the pathophysiology is not completely understood.” He showed me a couple of stretches and told me to take it easy.

For the most part, I followed his advice by practicing less and then finally not at all. I laid down my fiddle and my neck hickey faded, but the pain stayed. It turns out that carpal tunnel stays with you forever and is mostly triggered by stuff that I enjoy doing. Video games. Typing (whatever, I’m a nerd). Knitting.

Even now, more than a day after I bound off the last stitch of the skirt, my wrists still ring with residual agony.  The pain will be there until I decide to take up a less physically demanding hobby, like ice hockey. For now, though, it’s worth it.

*Musicians are really sick people. A member of my youth orchestra once told me how he had developed a huge and incredibly painful ulcer on his neck at a competition which then burst all over his instrument at a climactic moment. He was incredibly proud of having played through this horrifying incident, and I can only assume the judges handed him the win so that he wouldn’t come over and squirt neck goop all over them.

This wound up being a pretty depressing post about pain and stuff, so here are some pictures of puppies:

Babushka!

Best behavior.

Episode 9: WOOOH, WE’RE HALFWAY THERE

Woooh, livin' on a prayer!

Look!  Look what I did! I hired minimum-wage workers to finish the skirt!

Kidding. Maybe.

Last night I finished the skirt in a mad rush to get out to Piano Man*. My fiancé cheered me on giddily as I counted down the last few rows and then the final stitches. I hung it up on the booze cabinet, we both took pictures on our phones, and then we went out to get drunk with a bunch of 18-year-old strangers (and my maid of honor and her awesome roommates).

I’m not tall enough for the skirt I custom made for myself. Apparently all those years of kvetching about how impossible it is to find jeans that fit my body type meant nothing when it came to actually designing my own clothes.

Pictured: My body type.

I made mistakes in the skirt. I can’t look at it without finding a place where I screwed up the pattern. I don’t know where to start with the bodice. I’m going to have to wear the kind of shoes that make my engagement party heels look like flip flops in order to pull this off.

But I don’t give a fart, because my wedding dress is half done**.

 

*Sidenote: Piano Man is Alan Tudyk’s little brother. VERIFIED FACT

**Proportionally, it’s a lot more than half. I would say it’s probably more like 3/4 done, but it’s more of a metaphorical half.

 

Episode 8: Progress, and the Reason Why There Hasn’t Been More of It

And Jamie Bamber.

Last weekend I threw a party. A lot of very cool people came, from all over the country, and seemed to have a pretty good time. I wore ridiculously improbable shoes, started drinking before I ate, and probably embarrassed myself in front of my future in-laws. I don’t really mind, though, because I had the kind of good time that completely rocked my face off.

The skirt is about 13 inches away from completion, minus the train that I think I’m going to attempt to make. I keep saying it’s almost done, and I have these short stubby legs that end abruptly right around where a normal person would have calves so that helps, but as you can see the skirt’s going to take a few more days and a lot more wine. (The wine may seem to be counterproductive, but it’s actually like an energy drink for crafters. Until suddenly you find yourself yelling at Battlestar Galactica “THAT WAS SUPER LAME, SHOW” when it fakes out the death of a main character again, and you realize that knitting time is over.)

I tried to think of the engagement party as a practice run for the wedding, and I learned a great deal that I will probably forget in the next two years. I learned that I shouldn’t self-cater, for instance, because even though I can make food for a hundred people in two days, I probably shouldn’t. I learned how to delegate, a little, and I also learned that I’m not terribly good at letting go. I don’t think anyone is.

I learned that I have the best friends and family. Seriously. You may think yours are the best, but you’re wrong.

Most relevantly, I learned that I need deadlines. I think I’ve been dragging my feet on this dress project a little, inventing distractions (I really hope someone took a picture of that bunting, preferably before it got draped across me like a pageant sash), because if I finish my wedding dress in three months then it might not feel significant enough. This is, of course, my crazy brain talking — the same crazy brain that did elaborate and fictional math and decided to make enough food to feed myself and FH and probably our dogs for the rest of the year. Crazy Brain says it’s not really a wedding dress unless it takes at least a year and is literally laced with blood, sweat, and tears, but what Crazy Brain doesn’t know is that I can’t remove blood stains from white yarn. (The other two I could probably handle, but ew.) I can’t still be putting the finishing touches on this dress a week before the wedding. It’s time to kick this sucker into a higher gear and get it done by Christmas.

Hey, even if I blow that completely unrealistic deadline, I’ll still have 18 months before the wedding. Take that, Crazy Brain!

I did have some more Vogue Knitting patterns to share with you guys, but I was starting to have trouble coming up with witty commentary for them. Like, what more is there to say about these?

Really, I can’t improve on that. It’s just…perfect.

Or these:

They’re egg cozies. To keep your eggs warm. Perfect.

Til next time,

The Carpal Tunnel Bride