Book club boogie


This year I joined one official book club and one kind of unofficial book club with my teaching program.  I thought it would be great way to gush over books that I love, live, and breathe and geek out with new friends.

It was.


But it was also a little isolating.  Like I often feel that my perspective is unique.  And not necessarily in a good way.

For instance, here

Me: I want to be Lyra’s friend.  I hate Mrs. Coulter, even more than Umbridge.

B: I don’t like Lyra or Mrs. Coulter.

E: I don’t like Lyra, but I like Mrs. Coulter in terms of the role she was able to craft for herself.

S: I like Lyra and I have to respect Mrs. Coulter’s rise to power as a woman in this world.

C: Lyra was me when I was younger, might be because my parents are Lord Asriel and Mrs. Coulter.

Holy cow.

I guess it’s good to push my horizons, meet all types of people, boom de yadda yadda.  But it’s starting to activate my social anxiety and reinforce my perspective as an outlier.


Ok, so I started this post in …July… and now I just got an email about setting up another series for the book club.  Someone introduced Chronicles of Narnia as a possibility.  Which was then shot down by a few key members of the book club since they said once was more than enough.   And now I kind of want to quit going to book club.

Guys, Chronicles of Narnia was the first book series I read multiple times.  It holds a special place in my heart: I love it, have strong opinions about it (Book #1 is always “The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe), I have been trying to track down copies of the same publication version that I read in 3rd grade… there are sections that shaped who I am as a person.

I think Aslan has a line in “The Last Battle” saying that it does not matter whose banner you are under if you’re doing good: it is still good.  Same for evil.  And that has really been how I have tried to live my life.

I know Narnia is flawed.  My friends and I bond over the ridiculousness of it, especially “The Last Battle.” C.S. Lewis’ Christian overtones are more like a rock concert decibel in the book.  I consider myself an agnostic/atheist, but having this comparison in my life has helped me develop tolerance for different walks of life and religion.

And I don’t really want to bare this to people who talk over each other.  Or try to sound smart/nitpick things.  I’d rather celebrate things I enjoy.


First Irish Dance class of 2017

I had dance class the day after the 2016 election and Addi, our dance teacher sub and public school teacher, was like, “I have spent the whole day watching grown adults cry.  I am going to enjoy the heck out of dance class today because it will be the highlight of my week.”  So.  Yes.  Sounds like a good way to start the year.

We did receive my favorite presents ever for Christmas from our amazing friends in Alaska: duel-ready lightsabers!   Art & I totally wandered around the house whacking each other for at least a half hour.  Now all we need is a lightsaber dueling dojo and we will be set.


Half a slip jig step from Janelle:

(Right foot) Point in-out-in kick butt back

Jump-switch jump-switch (right foot in back)

Step right foot front to point

Skip-1 Skip-1-2 Leap 2-3 Step front point

(Grapevine) Whip right 1-2-3-4-5 (Legs are uncrossed)

Gallop-right walk-turn

Step-right left-lift step-right kick-butt-left whip-left to turn (the last bit may be wrong footed)

New Treble Reel Step from Jessica:

Bang rally-right back-toe-right

Rally-left back-toe-left step-back-left whip right


Rally-back rally-back rally-back


Charleston-whip right foot from back to front

Swivel feet 1-2-3-4 < > < >

(Then repeat on left)

Maggie’s Christmas step:

Step-right step-left

Swivel feet 1-2 <>

Rally back

(repeat on left)

R dance slip jig swingy:

Skip 1 skip 1 skip 1-2 leap-2-3 step en pointe kickbutt pause

Skip 1-2 switch skip leap 2-3 whip-up

Outfitting the Rebel Alliance


My friend Ann informed me yesterday about Columbia’s collaboration with Star Wars to develop a new line of Rogue One inspired outerwear.  I thought that was oddly fortuitous as I was telling Art last week that I was in need of a new winter coat as a holiday present hint. (Mine is a decade old and is finally wearing holes in places.)   And, wow, the collection is impressive:

I took a gander and liked the Jyn Erso jacket, but thought I would probably prefer Cassian Andor’s insulated parka (Mm…Omni-tech).  I’m pretty much Rebel Alliance all the way, so the Imperial Deathtrooper jacket held no sway over me, but looks like a good waterproof rain repeller.  Art thought they were awesome as well, but was disturbed that there were no prices.  So I did a quick Google search and here is what I wrote to Ann:

“Found prices! They are totally out of my budget! Jyn’s jacket = $400 Time to whip out my sewing machine! I won’t have the awesome Omni tech fabrics, but I think I could do a decent Jyn’s jacket rendition.

Ah yes, $500 for Cassian’s parka is way too rich for my blood, though the construction looks like a lot of work and could represent the workers involved getting a fair wage (improbable, I know).  It’s times like these where I am super glad that I can sew and make almost exactly what I want.  In terms of labor, it is not cheaper if I had to pay myself in anything aside from satisfaction, but my projects tend to start from “I covet that desperately.”


I actually have planned out & procured material to make a Rebel Alliance jacket very similar to Jyn’s that was supposed to be a birthday present for myself…6 months ago, but you know, life.  Since it’s been on my brain, I thought I would post possible patterns as launching pads to make my/your own versions of Rebel Alliance outerwear.  While I won’t have access to swanky Columbia Omni-tech and other technical fabrics, Seattle Fabrics in the next neighborhood sell Goretex and other specialty outerwear fabrics, so I might have some options. =)

Jyn Erso’s Jacket pattern ideas:


Jyn jacket idea #1: Burdastyle 03/2012 115 (the pattern I picked)

I actually bought the March 2012 issue of Burdastyle when it came out specifically for this motocycle-style jacket pattern.  I didn’t know when or what fabric I was going to use, so I filed this away on my bookshelf and brain and I think it is perfect for my Rebel Alliance jacket.  I bought some grey cotton twill for my birthday, salvaged the zippers from the faux leather jacket I cut up for Zoe’s vest, add pleated strips to the arms, and am going to applique a Rebel Alliance emblem on the back.  The plan was to have this done for Rogue One, hahaha, sadly I don’t think I have the time to get it done.  Still, soon!

Other modifiable options:

Burdastyle “Larissa”:

StyleARC “Ziggi”

Burdastyle’s mens moto jacket: 

Cassian Andor’s Parka Pattern Ideas:


Parka idea #1: Sewaholic’s Minoru Jacket

Sewaholic’s Minoru jacket has been bouncing around the sewing blogs for year and I’ve never felt compelled to make it…until now.  It’s a female parka that is amenable to a host of changes!  I liked Tasia’s original red Minoru, drooled over Four Square Wall’s blue minoru v2, and admired the customization that Cut & Sew used for her Olive Minoru.  I personally would add at least 2 zippered slant welt pockets to the front and pleated strips to the sleeves as a start.

I tend to mainly focus on indie pattern companies and I was surprised for find out that there quite a few parka/anorak patterns have come out recently in the indie pattern world.  For instance, I am a fan of NZ’s Papercut patterns and saw that Lladybird made up their Waver jacket:

Then there’s also Colette Patterns’ Albion, Closet Case Files’ Kelly Anorak, Grainline Studio’s Cascade Duffle, and the aptly named Hot Patterns “Mr. H.P. Hemmingway Windcheater! ” (I posted Thread Theory’s finished Windcheater below.)  There are other relevant coat patterns in addition to these, but I thought this was a good start.  Plus, many sewers have their own versions and its fun to surf through their finished projects for ideas!

And this is not related to Rogue One, but I was hopping through a bunch if indie sewing pattern designer sites and stumbled across Pauline Alice Patterns’ Quart Coat and fell in love with the military style with playful pleats….my style goal encapsulated in one coat pattern.  So I will probably end up making this coat too. =)

So when you add a Rebel Alliance jacket, a new parka, a cute Quart coat, and my long queued Alice jacket… I will have more jackets than I know what to do with!  I’m ok with that.  It was freezing in Seattle today I could totally have used that longer parka.

ETA: I just stumbled upon Waffle Patterns’ Tosti jacket, which looks like a brilliant pattern to use for a parka as well.  I like the plethora of pocket options.  Hm, I did buy Minoru already, but I may ponder this one as well.


Waffle Patterns Tosti jacket

Cat hoodie


This technically counts as a “selfish sewing” project even though it was one of Art’s requests for his birthday a few months ago.  He’s been  asking for cat sweaters ever since we got them as kittens.  Not for them to wears constantly, just to see their expressions. (Alistair does have fine hair and gets cold during the winter, but I don’t think even he would willing wear a sweater.)

Yes, we are those people.

Alistair sweater

The pattern is the “Cat Hoodie” by Kristin Roach knit in some random wool/acrylic yarn that my French friend gifted me when she moved.  Unfortunately, I knit it a little too big and the the cats easily slip out of it when left to their own devices.  Rats.

So here is Art helping our cats model the sweater.  We got some great pictures.  Especially this last one of Morrigan expressing how she really feels.

Morrigan sweater 2

My friend said this is a textbook example of  a”baleful” look.

No more making things for other people**


Fthagh ry’len eahd chagh… (Well, during Independent Bookstore Day)

Memorial day heralds my annual ” I’m tired of making things for other people!!!” meltdown.  I have usually been creating things for other people since thanksgiving:  Christmas presents, then presents for my sisters’ birthdays, then dad’s birthday, then costumes for convention season (80% for other people).  Not to mention all the baking I do for people’s birthdays, appreciation parties, and various holidays.

I’ve forgone the costuming for other people, but this year replaced it with being ill for a month and making scarves for a friend’s friend’s trade show booth.  I volunteered because “it’s just rectangles/sewing in a straight line, it’ll take no time at all.” Fast forward to two nights before she takes off for New York and ten sewing hours later…. I usually work with cotton, the scarves were a floaty polyester crepe de chine that shifted like crazy and that my sewing machine hated, plus ironing all the seams slowly so I didn’t melt the fabric.


See the scarves that these lovely people are wearing? Yeah, those ones. Two of the six I sewed together.  Scarves look nice though. (ganked from my friend’s facebook.)

I usually just make a mental note about this time of year, but thought it would be helpful to have a written reminder.  So in celebration of my start of selfish sewing/knitting season, I thought I’d post a showcase of all the things I made for other people in the last 6 months.  Woo.


That’s right, kitty, I’m having a breakdown

** for now.  Barring the sheath dress for my sister that’s been in my queue for years and the wool sweater for Art’s grandfather.  His grandparents have supported him a lot over the years.


This was “Year of DNA gloves.” Seriously, these pairs all went to separate lab friends and I have another in the blue not shown and another pair I made for myself below.

Actually, it was the year of fingerless mitts in particular.  (Well, the grey DNA ones are for me…)


Let’s break up the knitting with some sewing!  I made a laptop case for my labmate since she got a new $2000 lab laptop, but no case.  And it was getting scratched in her bag. Eeeeeeeeeee…… o_o


And I made a “Grad School Interview Survival Kit” bag for our interviewing undergrad, complete with plane reading. (She had never read Harry Potter before)

And I think that’s it for the sewing.  I really need to get back to that, I have a pile of fabric waiting for the several patterns in my queue.  Most pressing are Deer&Doe’s Zephyr dress (one in yellow, one black), Colette Patterns’ Wren in Rinoa blue, Deer&Doe’s Bleuet in Night Circus colors, Seamster’s leggings, my sister’s sheath dress (oh yeah…), and a few knitting project bags for my sisters.  And Rey’s vest because I’m going to Orlando this summer for a conference, which also means Disney World’s Star Wars corner.  And Harry Potter world.  One of my postdoc friends described Harry Potter land as a themed shopping mall that you pay $100 to get into.  He’s…not wrong… but I’m totally going to both.  Star Wars is more my bag, baby.

Ok, back to knitting.  Did I ever mention that I made wool blankets for my cats?  Because Alistair really loves wool.  And then we figured out that Morrigan liked wool too, but Alistar kept kicking her off…because he’s kind of a jerk to her.  He even does a Lemongrab impression when he plays with her toys.


Alistair’s blanket


Rebel Alliance Blanket. Because why not.


Morrigan on her blanket.

I also made one of my friends not one, but TWO pastel rainbow cowls last year.  The first one was knitted for her birthday since I didn’t buy enough yarn and the yarn striping would have looked psychadelic had it been crocheted in the round.  The second time I custom ordered more yarn, but in separate color balls so I could do a chunky crocheted version.  She wears both almost constantly.

One of the ladies in my Irish dancing class gave me one of her old pairs of hard shoes to practice with before I bought my own.   I made her this Celtic headband since it looks like her wedding ring.  And mine. We’re apparently wedding ring siblings!


I also knitted two cunning Jayne hats: one for Art’s cousin and one for my friend’s sister’s baby since they are all Browncoats.  For the record, Berocco Comfort acrylic yarn is a delight to work with.

Oh, and the friend above is rooming with me at the Orlando conference and Hogwarts.  We got talking about stuff to bring and she mentioned that she had been thinking about buying a Ravenclaw scarf at Emerald City Comicon.  I was too disorganized to meet up with her at ECCC, but loom-knitted her a book!Ravenclaw scarf.  I’m very snobby about scarves, especially Hogwarts ones and will make them for friends.  I already had the blue Cascade 128 merino superwash in my stash for ages, so I just picked up a “Pumpkin spice” skein.  Bronze is really hard color to do correctly, so this was the closest I could interpret.

I also made a really cute lamb toy for my friend’s daughter.  This is the guy who pimped out the C. elegans costume at the International Worm Meeting, so I wanted to do something in appreciation and offered to make his daughter a toy.  He wanted a sheep since that’s her Chinese zodiace sign…and I liked the design and texture of this toy.  And it’s my first amigurumi!  Now I’m eyeing this T-rex pattern and a Hobbes pattern….

Are we done yet?  …actually, I think so.  *phew*

*throws hands in the air* No more things for other people!  I feel like Persephone, except instead of the pomegranate seeds meaning months with Hades, I’m instead stuck in gift purgatory.  Not to say that I didn’t make some things for myself, but this is definitely over my 2:1 gift-to-me project ratio.


Aside from the grey DNA gloves and Zoe’s outfit, this cowl was the only other thing I made for myself during gift purgatory.  Yeah…. I did wear it a lot though!


Hair experiments

I have very long, straight Asian hair, which I am actually quite happy with and would not trade it for the world.  (Except for maybe if it was the same except red, like Ginny Weasley’s…)  But the first thing my friend said when I told him I was making Zoe’s costume was, “Man, she has GORGEOUS hair…”  Which, let’s be honest, Gina Torres is stunning and so are her locks.


Image from Black Hair Media

So…. I thought I should at least put some *texture* into my straight hair if I was to make a convincing Zoe.  In the weekends leading up to Emerald City, I tried out some hair experiments: supercoils, rag curls, and braids.

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