New traditions

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

A couple weeks ago there was a sale on at my local fabric store.  I picked up a few yards of this fleece-backed knit.  I thought I'd make myself a sweater... the weather was turning cold, so I thought maybe I'd make Oliver one too.  When I mentioned to Dan that I was making Oliver and I matching sweaters, he wanted in on the action.... so, I made him one too.  Then we decided that we had to capture the moment in a perfectly cheesy family photo, and a new tradition has been born.  Acually, it's the first Family Christmas Tradition ever for us, and I think it's a pretty good one. It also gave me an excuse to cut off Dan's bush-man beard to a more suitable length...

Oliver looks particularly embarrassed here.

Oliver was as cooperative as I would have expected him to be.  We set up the camera and tripod and timer, and rushed to get everyone in place.  At one point, he heard the cat run up the stairs, so of course he had to bolt after her, barking all the way.  Here I am cursing at him!

"Oliverrrrr! Come back here!"

I made Dan's Sweater using the Strathcona Henley Pattern.  It turned out really well, and I think I will make Dan more (less cheesy versions) of these.  I did Oliver's sweater to match, with a little button up placket.  It's just the cutest. Now, if only I could convince him to wear it more often...

Christmas just isn't going to be the same this year. It's definitely not the Christmas I imagined it would be a couple of months ago.  But, starting new traditions, and doing things a little differently is definitely making it easier.


Tuesday, December 3, 2013

I never, ever imagined that going through a miscarriage would be like this.  Right now it's just at the point where everything is just awkward and it feels like it lasts forever... I ran into a friend a couple of days ago who I had told I was pregnant about 13 weeks in.  We ran into each other at the grocery store and exchanged hugs and hello's.  The thought didn't even cross my mind until halfway through our small talk, and it hit me "ugh.. he thinks I should be big and pregnant right now, and I'm totally not." I didn't even address it.  I brushed it aside. It's been just over two months since everything happened, and most days are pretty good now, which is great, but I still have these moments where I realize "I should be pregnant now, and I'm not." It's such a weird feeling.  Like never reading the last page of a novel... Absolutely no closure.

Dan and I decided to stay in this Christmas.  We will visit with his parents in the morning and then head out to my parents for the afternoon. We were supposed to visit his Aunt and her husbands family in the City, but I felt like it might be too much for me right now. I think the thing I am dealing with the most at this point is that I just feel so awkward around people, and I think people don't quite know what to say to me.  I am socially awkward enough as it is!

This morning I popped over to the Etsy forums to see if there was anything new and important I should know about and right there, on the discussion board, in big bold letters was a random "I'm Pregnant!" announcement. I'm not really sure Etsy is the venue to be announcing your pregnancy, but there it was... I shut my laptop and got another cup of coffee (one upside to not being pregnant, lots and lots of coffee). A girl I know is due in March, another girl I know just had a baby.  Newborn babies and pregnant ladies... everywhere.

I am still angry.  I'm less angry now, but there's no denying it, and I don't think that will go away anytime soon.  I have this feeling that there should be some sort of universal justice, but there's no finding justice in this situation. I know universal justice isn't really "a thing," but I can't get it out of my head. I feel like it should work itself out like a math equation:  Really Bad Thing  + Really Good Thing = Universal Justice   

I think the thing that hit me the most with this whole situation is how horribly and universally unjust life can be. Life is full of such terrible things.  Babies get born unwanted, babies die, people abuse animals, people get sick, people are starving, horrible things happen... Ugh, life! You're such a cruel bitch...

I speak in hyperbole.  Terrible things do happen, but small good things are going on too and we all get on with our lives. There's not much other choice!  Business is sustaining itself at a reasonable pace, and I have some potential opportunities coming my way.  I'm looking forward to a low-key Christmas and got Dan a really great present this year. I made a donation to my local Humane Society and feel really good about that.  I started working out again and have lost 15lbs and physically feel better than I have in a long time. I've nearly completed a knitting project (a sweater for Oliver). I started a new Christmas tradition, making matching sweaters for Oliver, Dan and myself. And, today I'll be spending the day with three of my favourite people, my mom, my aunt, and my cousin, doing some Christmas Shopping.  

I dreamed two nights ago that Dan and I moved to Oregon. How weird is that? I've been craving a change of scenery. I'm hoping Dan can take some vacation time soon and we can go on a road trip.

Sleep Tight!

Friday, November 15, 2013

I just realized this morning that Christmas is coming very, very fast.  Too fast, in my opinion.  I'd happily bypass Christmas all together this year... Just not feeling in the festive spirit this year.  Maybe that will change by the time we have a good blanket of snow on the ground.  But, I did have a bit of fun this week making and photographing some sleep masks which are perfect for holiday gift giving. I think I has as much fun propping the photograph's as I did making them!!  All of them are ready to ship, so If you'd like to order one as a gift for Christmas, you will need to order by  December 9th for US delivery, December 2nd for International Delivery, and December 16 for delivery within Canada.

Yesterday I also started planning several new patterns.  I am contemplating a cami / slip, a new bralette, and a couple new panties patterns. I got interrupted though when my roll of grid paper unfurled and spilled a full cup of coffee all over my desk (and pattern binder!).  UGH! 

Cabin Fever



Rustic Plaid

It snowed!

Friday, November 8, 2013

I woke up to quite a bit of snow this morning, so much so that the City even had to plow the sidewalks! Personally, I like the first snow. Oliver, on the other hand, is not such a fan.  He hates to get his paws wet, so going out for walks can be quite a pain.

I am spending this lovely, snowy morning posting some new items (finally), and doing some general business 'housekeeping.'  Now, I'm taking a bit of time to spend with my blog.  I don't write as much as I'd like to even though I have lots that I'd like to say.  It's all a matter of time!

Last month, I had the opportunity to work with a young photographer out of Quebec, Mlle Chevre.  I was really excited about this opportunity because I have been wanting to connect with more Canadian artists.  I sent her a box of goodies and she took some amazing photos of my fall / winter items.  She did an amazing job organizing everything, and the models are perfection

Gingerbread Lingerie Set
Photography by Mlle Chèvre ( )
Make up by Audrey Lavigne (
Modeled by Emilie (

Winterblossom Flannel Lingerie Set
Photography by Mlle Chèvre ( )
Make up by Audrey Lavigne (
Model is Daphnée (

Wintergreen Velvet Lingerie Set
Photography by Mlle Chèvre ( )
Make up by Audrey Lavigne (
Sonia (tag or link )

Cranberry Lingerie Set
Photography by Mlle Chèvre ( )
Make up by Audrey Lavigne (
Emilie ( )

Cranberry Lingerie Set
I still have a few more things to come, and more things up my sleeve! 

Pour Moi

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

A few weeks ago I did some sewing for myself! I can't even remember the last time I sewed something for myself.  It was so much fun.  When your hobby becomes your business, your hobby can sometimes really feel like work.  Sewing for myself reminded me that I do really love sewing! 

I made myself a couple of nighties/slips to wear to bed.  I did one in cobalt blue, with some lace overlay, and one in plum, with some strapping which is so popular right now.

I also fiddled around with a new pattern.  It's not quite a thong, not quite a bikini... It's like a micro bikini, which I actually find quite comfortable. As you can see, I made myself a few pairs.

I recently bought myself a Gossard Retrolution Bra  (which I love!), and my black satin and lace panties match it almost perfectly!  I am slowly phasing out my woven satins in place of these spandex satins.  They are much more comfy and easier to fit. 

I had actually forgotten how exciting it is to have new lingerie! It makes me get excited to get up and get dressed each morning... I have made a new pledge that once a week (time permitting) I will sew for myself.  That might mean, sewing myself something to wear, or just sewing new designs.  It keeps that creative spirit strong.

Yesterday I cut the Sewaholic Minoru. I didn't sew a muslin, and was happy to find that the size 8 fit pretty much perfectly! I didn't do any alterations at all, other than adding side seam pockets.  I am going to throw the lining in today, since I am in desperate need of a coat right now, then get back to work.  I bought this pattern about a year... maybe two years ago... and I'm just getting around to using it now!!! How time flies!

Moving On

Friday, October 18, 2013

I can hardly believe it's only been three weeks since my miscarriage.  I feel like I have been going through this for an eternity.  Why do the good times seem to fly by so fast but the hard times drag on forever? My wedding happened in the blink of an eye.  But this, I feel like I could write a novel about.

The last few weeks have been rough, but mostly I am feeling better.  Physically, I feel back to normal. I am getting active again, working out again, trying to do all of those things I used to do to make myself feel good.  Mentally, I get better day by day. Mostly, I just feel an odd sense of being "lost."  I am having a hard time finding purpose in my every day life and tasks. I know this will change as time passes.  I am trying to plan small getaways, lunches with friends... trying to give myself things to look forward to.  But, I won't lie, it's hard and it's an effort.

Mostly, I get through my days without incident now. Thursdays are always hard.  It makes me think of that Thursday. Thursdays are the weekly anniversaries.  Soon I will remember it monthly, then yearly... then I hope the pain will become a distant memory. Knowing that this will get better feels good, but I am impatient.

Strange things make me remember it, even on days when I think I am doing ok.  The thought of knitting brings me to tears.  I was going to knit things for the baby.  Family get-togethers make me uncomfortable... I feel like I have nothing of importance to say. Certain things that I ate while I was pregnant are just unappetizing now, because it reminds me of what I had and what I lost.  It is so strange how this grief manifests itself, and those things that grief attaches itself to.  It's unlike anything I have experienced before...

But, mostly I am doing ok. I think from here on out, things will get easier.  From here, I hope I will start a new chapter.  I think the first month is the hardest. I am actively trying to stay positive.  When a negative thought enters my head, I purposely make the effort to move acknowledge it, then move on.  Getting messages from others who have been through a similar situation is really touching.  I know it's hard to talk about, but it feels good to know you're not alone.

Business has been busy, which although stressful, is a blessing.  I am running a few days behind and am lucky to have very patient customers (thank you!). I have pulled a couple of late nights and early mornings, and will work this weekend to try to get back on track.

Dan and I went to Toronto last weekend.  I haven't spent much time there since I moved. It felt pretty strange being there. I definitely felt like a country bumpkin.

We got a hotel for the night, had dinner with my Abbey and her boyfriend, went to the Art Gallery, then the Royal Ontario Museum on Sunday.  It was nice. I wish we could afford to do that more!

I don't know much about art, but Cornelius Krieghoff's Images of Canada paintings were my favourite.  Some were quirky, others beautiful, they all told a story.

The ROM is one of my favourite places in the world.  We saw the Mesopotamia exhibit, it was was ok, but not as exciting as I hoped.  What I really loved was the Gems & Minerals exhibit.  It was amazing! The highlight of my trip (I am such a nerd...).

Hidden away on the fourth floor was a small costume and textiles exhibit.  The coolest part of this was the black lace Alexander McQueen gown, and the Worth Gown.

Last weekend was also Thanksgiving.  We played it low key, family wise.  We got Oliver out for a nice walk in the woods, which I hope to do tomorrow as well.  Oliver loves to frolic in the woods. Frolicking is what pugs do best.

ETSY POLICY UPDATES Pt 2: An Insider Perspective

Friday, October 4, 2013

Yesterday I had the very amazing opportunity to speak to someone at Etsy about their recent policy change.  Having someone reach out to me to discuss the struggles I am dealing with was a huge deal for me, and although the policy change is here to stay, and I may not 100% agree with it, it was very reassuring to speak with someone about the challenges they have internally and how it may impact my shop and me as a buyer.  Etsy may be young, but it is a relatively large company with millions of users. It felt empowering to know that they actually are listening.

I've been thinking about the policy change a lot lately, and discussing it with my friends inside and outside of Etsy.  I'm with Etsy for the long-haul; although I do plan to diversify my selling venues, I can't leave Etsy.  I co-lead a Team, I have friends there, I am an obsessive treasury maker... The community is what keeps me at Etsy, and this particular Etsy Staff Member's ability to reach out to me when I was having serious concerns about the future of Etsy really made an impact on me.

At the Town Hall Meeting, when the changes were announced, someone asked the question "What's not handmade?"  I immediately think that something factory produced is not handmade.  I think you would all agree with me, and I think that Etsy understands how their new policies are problematic in this way.  The new policy makes it clear that manufacturing or 3rd party assistance is entirely acceptable, but shops who want to use this type of outside help have to apply to do so. I am very interested to see what happens over the winter, and what types of manufacturing actually gets through the Etsy filter. I am hopeful that Etsy will maintain high standards for the type of production that is being used.

It is my understanding that Applications for Manufacturing Assistance will be screened by the Integrity Team.  Etsy is increasing the staffing by 30% in this division, so I am hopeful that the screening process will be quick on behalf of legitimate sellers, and thorough on behalf of the integrity of the marketplace. As I mentioned in my last post, shops who are on Etsy who currently use 3rd party manufacturing will have to voluntarily submit the application, but if they do not, and they get flagged, and it is found that their manufacturing use is outside of what Etsy permits, they will be removed from the site.  It will be very interesting to see which shops voluntarily begin to disclose this information, which shops change venues, and which shops are found to not be Etsy "legal" (I'm sure there will be some).

Etsy's challenge going forward, aside from this screening process, will be to clearly display to customers which shops use manufacturing assistance (and to what extent) and which shops are "handmade".  There have been some ideas floating around the forums, like a badge system, or I had the thought last night of a  6th picture on each listing page which tells the potential buyer whether the item is "Hand Crafted," "Hand Assembled," "Manufactured in the USA," etc., I actually like both ideas.  As I said in my first post, I support shops being able to hire help (I have an assistant come in one day a week myself). Creating Jobs, especially within our own communities, is an amazing thing that we can do as shop owners.  I am apprehensive about overseas production, because we can't be there to oversee the employment conditions, but if there are ways that good jobs can be created in developing countries, I support that too.  There just needs to be a way to clearly, and visually define this to a potential buyer, because I know from my experience on Etsy that people really do care!  And, I know from my experience buying something on Etsy that was drop shipped and I suspect was not handmade, that you really do feel cheated when you think you are supporting an independent artisan in PEI, to find out your few-of-a-kind t-shirt came from a factory in Timbuktu.  Sellers production methods, whether handmade or factory produced will be stated on the listing page, however, as a seller & a buyer, I can say that people (myself included) rarely read the fine print.  Etsy is marketed as Handmade Marketplace, and handmade is what people expect. I am very interested to see the ways in which Etsy differentiates the two types of shops.

I am happy to hear that Etsy is taking this seriously, and is looking for ways to clearly differentiate handmade sellers from independent designers.  I wish that there had been a plan in place before the policy change, but I can appreciate the position they are in, and making huge changes like this are never easy.

I am also hopeful that this new system will help buyers who truly want to buy a handmade item weed out the factory produced pieces.  I really want to stress that I have no problem with artists/designers/creators using responsible factory assistance.  Businesses grow, and I am struggling with that demand myself, my problem is with the transparency.   There's that word again. After talking with Etsy yesterday, I feel pretty confident that they really do take this seriously. As a positive spin, those of use who do create with our hands, hopefully it will be easier for buyers who truly want "handmade" to identify us now.

An interesting topic that was brought up in the forums recently, and in my conversation yesterday was how handmade does something have to be to be considered "handmade".  For instance, in my category there are shops who take pre-made bras and panties and embellish them, and there are shops who draft, cut, sew, and embellish everything from scratch.  Are they both equally handmade?  A jeweler who has a pendant cast by a 3rd party must now disclose that they use a manufacturer to do so, but a hobbyist who puts a pre-made pendant on a pre-made chain can be considered " 100% handmade." I don't really know what my opinion is on this or if a distinction really needs to be made... but it is an interesting debate, and no matter what Etsy does they can't please everyone.

I think the fact that shop owners and buyers have reacted so passionately to this change says something big. People care about supporting creativity and craftsmanship, and for me, that seriously brings a happy tear to my eye.  People care about where and how their goods are made, and that is something that is really important to me.  People care about the community that has been created on Etsy, it's a community that has changed my life in amazing ways.  People care about integrity.  It may be rough, dealing with change, but it also is a reminder of how much we really care. Etsy is so much  more than just a place to shop; it is a community, it is a set of values.

So, it will be an interesting few months.  I am going to try to be hopeful that this will actually benefit my shop by displaying more prominently to customers the way in which I produce my lingerie, and after speaking to someone at Etsy, I can really appreciate their position.  I still don't love the policy changes, but I am hopeful that this will actually help Etsy identify our handmade shops, and hopefully give us a little extra love.

Etsy Policy Updates: Redefining Handmade

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Oh boy, this has been a tumultuous week for me.

Yesterday, Chad Dickerson, the CEO of Etsy announced some major changes to how sellers are allowed to run their shops on Etsy. I don't foresee it changing how I run my shop in the near future, but I do see it changing how I buy on Etsy.

Etsy started out with a simple mission - Etsy is a place to "Buy and sell handmade or vintage items, art and supplies..." "the world's most vibrant handmade marketplace.."  Previously, sellers could run what was known as a "collective" where multiple people helped in the production/fulfillment process.  Each member of the collective would have to be disclosed on the sellers About Me Page.  Some shops were also permitted to use "production assistance." At first, it was my understanding that this allowed sellers to outsource a step in their production process, so it would be OK for a jeweler to have a pendant cast by a 3rd party in a mold that they had made, or for a potter to send their work out to be fired, or a clothing maker to have fabric professional printed with a design that they created. As time went on, the lines started getting blurred and it was unclear how much of the process could be outsourced.

Here is what has changed:

1. Etsy Shop owners can now employ an infinite number of people.  When you are shopping on Etsy now, you may be buying from a shop like mine.  I do it all, though I do have a helper come in 1 day a week to help me cut garments.  You could also potentially be buying from a shop that employs 50 people, located in different parts of a world - a customer service rep in Canada, a shipper in USA, an embroider in India, etc, etc.  It is my understanding that shop employees must be disclosed on the seller's About Page. Being able to employ people, especially locally is important, and I understand Etsy's rational behind this decision, but what kind of jobs are being created by individual sellers is something that maybe should be considered.

2. Etsy Shop owners can have a factory produce their "handmade" items. Shops that use manufacturers to produce their goods must go through an application process, and disclose this on their About Page. The location of the factory must also be disclosed, but not the factory name.  If supporting artists and makers is important to you, or you are worried about where your items are coming from and if they are ethically made, you may have to do a little more research now.  

3. Etsy Shop owners can now drop ship packages.  Drop shipping means that the package either ships to you directly from the manufacturer, from a shipping center, or from any 3rd party shipper. This shouldn't impact buyers too much, other than the fact that the seller or "artist" may have never even touched the item you are about to receive, and to me, the process seems a little impersonal. However, I can see how this would be beneficial for some sellers, though it doesn't apply to me.

And here's the Big One:
4. Etsy has redefined the term "handmade." In order for something to be considered "Handmade" the selller must be able to demonstrate three things.
     a. Authorship - The handmade item must begin with you.
     b. Responsibilty - You must be able to demonstrate an understanding of the production process.
     c. Transparancy - You must be open and honest about your production process.

Etsy says they are making this change to help sellers, and I can see where they are coming from.  They don't want successful sellers to feel that they are "too successful" for Etsy, or to feel like they can't keep up with supply and demand with out using outside help. I get that. I get that employing people is important, and I favor that change.

But, I have a fundamental problem with the redefinition. Chad Dickerson says that Etsy is all about the story behind the purchase.  There is no interesting story in a supply/production chain.  There is an interesting story in a person that artfully crafts something by hand, who has mastered an art or skill, who can customize something to your liking, who can work directly with you to help create your vision or design something just for you.  

Here's the thing with this new policy change. I'm going to use my shop as a hypothetical example.  I could design a fancy pair of panties, by which I mean, I could come up with a technical illustration showing the seam lines, and details.  I could, theoretically, hand that to a designer to select and source fabrics and trims.  I could then hand my illustration to a pattern maker to draft & grade the pattern for me.  After that, I could send my pattern and materials to a factory in Bangledesh, and have them sew me 500 pieces.  I could then ship those items to a fulfillment center in the USA (where most of my orders ship), and have them ship out pieces as needed. I have still "designed" the garment, demonstrating authorship.  I understand the production process, and how to sew it, demonstrating responsibility.  I will disclose the location of the factory I use, and the name of my designer and pattern maker on my About Me Page, demonstrating transparency.  According to Etsy, my item is handmade.  

If I want to use a factory, I have will voluntarily submit to an application process and assure Etsy that I am not using child/slave/forced labour, and that I understand my production process. It is up to Etsy's discretion to approve or deny my application. Etsy will not audit factories or workrooms, it is up to the seller to choose a factory/workroom that is ethically run. A shop that does not disclose their production assistance, employees, or submit a manufacturing application, can be removed from Etsy if it is proven that they are violating the Terms of Use. However, there are currently many shops that do not disclose their use production assistance, or extent of "collective" help, despite the fact that those are the "rules", so I am slightly curious as to why Etsy thinks this will now change.  It will remain the responsibility of Etsy Users to flag shops that they suspect may be violating the terms of use.

We can debate to the moon and back what is "handmade" and what isn't, but I don't think anyone would consider the process I just described to be "handmade." But, in Etsy's attempt to make the guidelines more clear, I think they have become much more convoluted.  The scenario I described above fits exactly into Etsy's definition of Handmade.  It will be the buyers responsibility to read the sellers About Page to see exactly what goes into their "handmade" item.

I believe that there is a general understanding of what a handmade item is.  I asked my husband this morning, "If you ordered something off Etsy, under the impression that Etsy was a site to buy handmade or artisan goods, but and you received it and it had a 'Made in Taiwan' label, how would you feel?" He thought for a moment then said, "First, ripped off.  Second, lied to."

That's my thing. Etsy has sold itself to consumers as a handmade marketplace, and this expansion is deceptive. As a shop owner, I can see the desire to want to expand your business, but in my opinion Etsy can be a few things to shop owners, and is not a selling venue for everyone or every product.  It can be an excellent launching point for sellers whose goal is to one day manufacture on a larger scale - you can meet potential retailers, create a customer base, and establish a name.  It can also be an excellent venue for sellers who want to manufacture by hand on a smaller scale.  I suppose there is a potential third, and that would be how I envision my business: I'd like to have a line that I could sell wholesale, and I would outsource the production to a local workroom.  I would also have a Made to Order line that is made by me and sold exclusively on Etsy.  I would do that because there is retail demand that I cannot fulfill for my items.  Working through a workroom on a retail line would be an excellent way for me to do that. I would continue a handmade line because that is my passion.

I don't think the majority of sellers will go to the mass production route.  First, it takes money upfront, and I don't know many artists/craftspeople who just happen to have that type or cash on hand, or credit available.  Second, it takes a lot of time and planning to do any kind of production run, and most of the sellers I know (myself included), do not have the time to invest.  I know this because I have worked for small mom and pop companies that have done this, and I am looking/have looked into this for my own purposes.

I do think it will open the door to many designers and brands who have no hand in the production process. There is absolutely nothing wrong with being that kind of designer! But, to me, there is something deceptive about selling that item as a "handmade" item. 

This is going to change the playing field.  Every shop owner has certain advantages and disadvantages, but before it felt fairly even. In my case, living in a very small town, I don't have many skilled people I can easily employ.  I am morally opposed to outsourcing my production overseas, yet finding a local workroom to sew lingerie at a price I can afford, is a huge challenge for me. A seller living in Brooklyn has more opportunity to hire a seamstress, or find a local workroom.  I have to admit, I'm feeling some unwanted pressure to outsource, outsource, outsource (or move, move, move!), and I am not entirely sure how I can stay relevant, based on Etsy's new Guidelines.

The spirit of Etsy is changing.  This is the thing that makes me the most sad.  I felt nurtured as an independent maker on Etsy, and I don't feel that way anymore; none of the changes really help me, as an independent maker who likes being an independent maker.  Prior to yesterday, I felt like I could run a successful business out of a small studio in little Orillia, Ontario, Canada, working with my hands, and now I feel worried that soon I won't be able to compete this way anymore.  I hope these are just fears I am feeling, and I hope they do not become justified.  

I love Etsy, but I can't agree with all of these policy changes, and as someone who pays fees each month to be a vendor there, I feel I have a right to express those concerns.  Lately, I feel like we've been getting a lot of corporate double speak (if I hear the word "transparency" one more time...), but no real answers to many questions, or fixes to the problems that seller have been asking for for years (accurate shipping calculators, anyone?).  At the Town Hall, Chad Dickerson started out the discussion talking about how different Etsy is, how it's like no other marketplace.  If it's so different, why have they instated an Amazon/Ebay-inspired rating system for products? If Etsy is unlike any other website, why does it now strongly resemble Pinterest? How does including mass-produced items make Etsy any different from Modcloth, or Ebay, just as two examples? What makes Etsy Different now? That's something I'm really struggling with.  

I would love to hear your thoughts on the redefinition of "handmade," or the marketing of "handmade."

Thank You

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

 I really want to thank everyone for your kind words, and especially those of you who shared your stories with me.  When you are experiencing a loss, it is reassuring to know you are not alone; that others have made it through.  It has really been a big help.  I am always amazed by how kind and caring you all are.  It makes me feel extra fortunate.

Dan went back to work on Monday.  I had my cousin over to keep me company.  I got a bit of work done, mailed out one order, and cut a few things... we spent the rest of the afternoon making ourselves some slippers.  I made mine out of some plaid flannel, and floral cotton for lining.  We appliqued non-slip hearts onto the soles.  I have made these slippers twice now for myself.  The pattern is from  I made one minor adjustment this time, and made the upper foot part a little lower cut.

Friday and Saturday were pretty rough.  I finished the misoprostol on Friday, but was feeling pretty uncomfortable into Saturday.  We went out on Saturday to Ikea, of all places.  I felt like getting out would give me a good distraction from what had been going on.  It did, but the walking was not easy... We picked out a new couch, and bought some new shelves and knick knacks for in the living room.  I spent the rest of the weekend cleaning and rearranging.  It felt good to give the house a bit of a make over.

We went for Sunday Dinner at my parents house.  That was pretty hard for me, and I think for Dan too, but I have wanted to get back into my normal routine as quickly as possible.  I've been trying to get out and do things I enjoy, even if it is hard.  Thanksgiving is coming up in a couple of weeks and I am absolutely dreading it.  I normally look forward to family occasions, but it's going to be a rough one this year.  I'm still not 100% sure I want to go. This might be a good year to maybe go away for the holidays...

 I am incredibly grateful  for my little Oliver these days.  It is just so good to have a little animal companion during tough times.  We've spent lots of time cuddling the last few days....

Today, I will follow up with my doctor, and hopefully will be able to put this all behind me soon.  I am really looking forward to feeling 'normal' again.

Not the news I thought I would be sharing...

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Something really crazy, unexpected, and exciting happened 4 months ago.  I got pregnant.  I thought last Thursday I would be making a really happy announcement to all of you.  Instead, I left my doctors office with the sad news that the 16 week old little baby growing inside of me had died in the previous weeks; just about the time of my last doctor's visit.  It was horribly unexpected, as everything had been going well and I was continuing to experience all of the symptoms of pregnancy.  It is just one of those things, those crazy twists and turns that life brings.

I know this is an extremely personal topic, one that people don't often discuss. But, life isn't always pretty.  I am hurting. I can't eat, I can't sleep, I can't focus, I can't sew. It's 5:30am when I am starting this.  All I can do right now is sit, and think, and write.

Finding out I was pregnant was extremely scary, but very quickly that fear turned to excitement.  I don't know if it was the hormones, the realization that I'd have a little person around to care for and love, or what it was... but my perspective on having my own kids and my life changed.  I had this wonderful little treasure to look forward to. And so quickly, and with no say in the matter, it was all over. We waited the typical 12 weeks to tell our loved ones, and then started making some tentative plans... Finding out the baby had died but I hadn't actually miscarried was news I could have never prepared myself for.  I've spent the last two days going through the very painful process of taking misoprostol.  My body just wanted to hang onto that little one so bad...  I was not prepared for the amount of physical pain it brought on, but in a way it was cathartic, it felt like a physical manifestation of the pain that was happening in my heart.

Everyone keeps telling me that I did nothing wrong - and I know that's the truth. But, it's impossible not to categorically analyze everything you ate, that drink you had before you knew you were pregnant, those cramps you thought were growing pains... and feel that in some way you failed.  You failed the new life inside you, yourself, your partner, your parents and loved ones.  I know it's not true.  But, it's how I feel right now.

The last two days have been something I could have never prepared for.  When I got pregnant, I knew the statistics about miscarriage, and thought it would be something I could handle, but I didn't know I'd feel like this.  I definitely was not expecting the news this far along.

I didn't get a chance to know the little person inside me, but I had all of these ideas of how my life would change, a new sense of purpose, wondering who this little person would be, what they might be like.  And now it's all gone.  I think that is the worst part: crushing disappointment.  The names we thought of, the plans we made, it's all gone, just like that.  Four months, gone.

Life is like that.  You can do everything right, and things can still go terribly wrong.  It's unpredictable, chaotic. I don't believe that some higher power is controlling the twists and turns of my life.  I believe that sometimes horrible things just happen. It's not fate, it's not always a case of cause and effect, shitty things just happen, and there is no reason, and there is nothing you can do about it. Those are the hardest tragedies to understand and cope with. You just feel powerless.

I am trying not to be angry.  It seems so cruel and unfair, and I sometimes question "why me?" But that is just life. I am lucky to have an amazing husband who is strong when I can't be.  He is supportive and understanding, and every time we encounter hardship, we just grow closer.  I'm lucky to have a mom who understands me and brings me homemade Sheppard Pie... My friends are amazing, and know just what to say and when to just be silent. My dog offers comic relief and snuggles and kisses, and never leaves my side. I'm a lucky person. But I still hurt a lot right now.

I knew the minute I looked at the ultrasound screen what had happened; it's an image I can't help but replay in my head. The first thing I thought was, "I am not going to be able to make it through this day." But I did. I made it through a horrible, painful, awful day. And I made it through the next one, and I'll get through today too.  And each day will bring new challenges, but it will also get a little easier.

Pain has it's place. It has a value in life. It hurts so bad right now, but it will get better. I feel like I've gained a lot of life experience through pain over the last decade. In my early twenties, I lived with a man in the beginning grips of schizophrenia. I never thought that he and I would ever get past that fear and pain, but that experience made us both wiser and stronger, and though we spent years apart, we have always remained close.  My brother struggled with a very serious addiction for years. The pain and horror of addiction tore us all to pieces, but we all made it out and are so much wiser and stronger and closer now. I have had my own personal tragedies, loss of friends & loved ones, struggle & strife, and each experience gave me new perspective and a new sense of strength.  And now, I am experiencing the loss of a baby that never had a chance to be.  It will get better, and in the end, I will feel stronger.

Pain does some amazing things.  Pain bonds people, pain gives you the ability to really empathize, and it shows you just how strong you can be.  My experiences, both good and bad, make me who I am, and I really like the person I have grown into.  These things have hurt, but they have also given me perspective over life and the things that are truly important.  I wouldn't trade these experiences for the world.

I am taking some time.  I hope to get back to work on Monday, but I am trying to give myself whatever I need.  This process is as hard on your emotional-self as it is on your physical-self.  I have asked my friends and family to not send their sympathies, I just can't handle talking about it to them right now and I don't want to feel pity. But this, somehow, just feels right.  No need to smile and say "I'll be ok."  I can just say all of the things that need to be said right here.

Thanks to everyone for your support.

Things I've been doing

Sunday, September 15, 2013

I don't normally have such an exciting life.  Usually weekends consist of grocery shopping with my mom, cleaning my house, and sitting around on the couch (or working).  My aunt has been up, visiting from Wales, so we have been doing lots of excursions.

Last weekend I went with my mom, my aunts, and my cousins to Niagara on the Lake.  We went on a wine tour at Chateau des Charmes. It was just beautiful there, and the best part was the cheese and wine we got to taste at the end.  

Niagara on the Lake is a really gorgeous little town.  Almost too perfect... but I'd kind of like to go back with Dan at some point.  We had a really nice dinner out.  I shared a lobster poutine with my cousin, which combined two of my favourite foods.  It was really amazing. I would go back just for that!

Last week was our 2 year wedding anniversary.  It fell on a tuesday, so we weren't able to get out to celebrate.  Instead, we waited until yesterday and went to the Oro Worlds Fair (a real country event!), watched a demolition derby, then went out for dinner.  It was basically the best anniversary celebration ever.  Fancy celebrations have their place, but I'm a country girl at heart and I prefer simpler pleasures....

I've said it before, but I have to say it again... I love the fair! One of my favourite things about the fair are the arts and crafts entries by all of the local school kids.  Decorated plastic spoons, baked goods, rice krispie square sculptures... but I felt that this marshmallow sculpture took the cake. It is Princess Kate holding little Prince George.  It only won third, but I think it deserved First...

We watched the demolition derby for about an hour.  I can't believe how crowded it was! It was definitely the event to attend.  I didn't think I was going to like the demolition derby but... it was the coolest thing ever! Like Bumper Cars but way better.  I've added demolition derby to my Bucket List... right up there with seeing Big Foot and going on a Ghost Hunt.

Today I am headed out to a Spa in Collingwood for a massage with my cousins, mom, and aunts again... I have gone from never having had a massage to having two within a matter of weeks! Honestly, my life is not usually this glamorous.

A few weeks ago, I noticed a weird pull in my lower back, just to the right of my tail bone.  I passed it off as a strained muscle, and went about my business.  We had gone for a spur of the moment camping trip to Restoule the weekend before, and had done a lot of walking.  I thought maybe the walking and the sleeping on an air mattress squished between my giant of a husband, and massive pug was probably the cause.  But it kept getting worse... and worse... and worse! It eventually got to the point where walking from the couch to the fridge in my very small house was pretty difficult by the end of the day.  So, I went for a massage (after having consulting with my doctor), and by that evening, I was basically back to normal and able to get around by myself again!  I am a believer in massage therapy now.  I am expecting more back aches over the next few months so I am glad I know this works...

We took Oliver on this camping trip.  We don't usually take him because the few times we have, he has hated it and sat in the car most of the time like a mopey teenager.  He had a much better time this time.  We went on lots of walks, and he even put his feet in the lake.  I brought his bed, but he was more content snuggling up on my lap in front of the fire.  That was ok with me because it was very cold!!!  I wanted to get in one more camping trip this year, but the nights are getting pretty cool, down to single digits, and it will be even colder up north...

Oliver enjoying some light reading on our camping trip

Sunset over Stormy Lake... my favourite place in the whole wide world.

This is Oliver's content face!

On top of all of that fun stuff, I was sick for several days with a nasty head cold.  I had that kind of congestion that was so thick you can't think straight, which makes working virtually impossible.  I think I slept for three days straight... this was just shortly after the Steampunk show.

So! My life has been pretty busy, much more busy than I am used to.  I am looking forward to fall and weekends spent at home cooking soups and baking cookies... I actually have one other little thing that is going on that is also keeping me pretty preoccupied, but I will save that for a separate post.

I am still alive...

Goodness... the last month has been busy.  I feel like I start so many blog posts with that exact same phrase.  I can't believe the Steampunk Show was just a month ago, it seems like so much has been going on.

New Toile Lingerie

First, I have been working on Fall / Winter items. It has come together much more slowly than I expected, but that is my life right now! Slow and steady...  I really like this collection.  I used some fabrics I have been eyeing for a long time... and some fabrics I have had stored away for a few years. Here's just a taste of what is to come in the next month! Business was very good in June and July and I am still catching up... Last week, I had a helper in for two days to cut garments, and do a bit of basic sewing.  I am currently plodding my way through an order of 18 linen & lace panties, and it is taking me much longer than anticipated.  The week before, I sewed two orders which consisted of a total of 10 bras which also took much longer than anticipated, and as a result, I am now in major scramble mode!

'Thermal' Gingerbread Panties

And the Set... Cozy as a pair of Long Johns!

Mulberry Bra & Panties... coming soon!

A Dramatic custom Bra

A Custom order or neutral bralettes

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