Hello! It's been a little while, so what is UP?!
Things have been pretty good. We have had an extremely beautiful autumn and beginning of winter in Dublin (in Ireland, winter starts in November):
Hello! It's been a little while, so what is UP?!
Things have been pretty good. We have had an extremely beautiful autumn and beginning of winter in Dublin (in Ireland, winter starts in November):
Hello! Happy autumn, I guess!
For the first time in a very long time - maybe ever, in fact - I find myself not actively hating the onset of autumn and winter. I think it might be to do with the fact that I now live in a home that has central heating (our flat in Leamington was brutally cold in winter as the only heating was from two ancient storage heaters and all the windows were single-glazed and draughty) but it's probably some sort of autumnal denial because we have been enjoying some unseasonably warm weather recently.
Since I last blogged, life has continued to shift in interesting ways. The short-term job I had been doing from the beginning of June came to an end in mid-September, and I was offered a permanent job in the same organisation but in a different department. Working there had not been my plan when we moved - I had job offer for an assessment job somewhere else. But I enjoyed the short-term job so much that I was excited to accept their permanent offer. I started the new job at the end of September and I'm enjoying it a lot so far. I've also started working in the office two days a week, which feels a little weird (it definitely feels strange to wear a mask all day) but it's good. I can walk to work, which is wonderful. My colleagues are nice, the job isn't stressful and, importantly, the work canteen is superb and cheap.
I definitely had a moment of doubt of like... should I step out of the field I had been working in for 13 years. Does that mean I have wasted the expertise I have built up, is this a backwards step etc... the way we are taught to think about our work life is that a career is a ladder that you are slowly climbing up, and that up is the only direction you should be travelling. But it isn't that. We moved to improve the quality of our lives and work is a big part of that - my old job was very bad for my mental health! Taking a chance on something else feels like the right thing to do.
Here's what I wore on my first office day of my new job - mustard Flint pants, RTW blouse and vintage velvet jacket.
If you're here for the sewing, prepare to be disappointed. I haven't been doing much sewing. Well - a little, but not much. I'm working out what my new wardrobe needs are, so I'm not extremely motivated to do a lot of sewing.
Something I did spend time on, though, was making a replacement pair of denim Jenny overalls. The first pair I made - my first pair of Jenny overalls - were absolutely great and I wore them until they were no longer really wearable:
Look at this sweet summer pre-global pandemic child! I made this in October 2019 and wore them LOADS. Lots and lots. They were made from a stretch denim that ended up not wearing well - they shrank and faded quite badly so after we moved, I retired them. And I have numerous other pairs of Jenny dungarees now but there was a gap in my wardrobe for a denim pair so I bought some rigid denim from a shop in Dublin and made another pair:
There's not a great deal to say about these, but I made these in early September and they're great. The denim is an 11oz washed indigo denim, and it feels lovely to wear. I have ended up hemming them slightly shorter than they are in this photo now though because they were slightly too long. Anyway, they're great.
I had a birthday recently and I made an impractical birthday dress from some cute knockoff D&G fabric that I bought from Ali Express:
I wasn't going to make a special dress but we decided to have a couple of days away for my birthday, so I thought I might as well. I'd had the fabric for a little while and hadn't been sure what to do with it. I used the Emery dress by Christine Haynes and I just added a ruffle to the hem. Again, this is kind of a riff on something I've made before - the Majolica dress - which I made for my birthday in 2019 and was able to wear on holiday in the south of France:
I love this dress so much, you guys. And it's still very much in rotation!
We didn't go to the south of France - I'm not ready yet for international travel - but we had a couple of days in Cork city because neither of us had ever been before.
Dia daoibh, a chairde! Conas atá sibh? Yes, I live in Ireland these so I'm going to be speaking Irish to you all now, lol. No, not really. But one of the things I have been enjoying the most about living in Ireland again is seeing the Irish language everywhere: something you might not know about me is that I speak Irish, having learned it at school, and although I am very rusty after a fair few years living in England, I am picking it back up by being surrounded by it once again and that is a lovely feeling. I am taking some Irish lessons online and am looking for some in-person lessons to start later in the year too, which is very exciting!
Anyway, since I last wrote I have been grand. Things have been good! Here's what's been happening:
I got fully vaccinated! We managed to just miss the window for vaccination for our age group when we moved from the UK - I literally got the text inviting me to register for a vaccination two days before we left the country - and I thought we would have to wait longer to get vaccinated here. But once the slot for our age group opened up it all moved very quickly and it was very straightforward. I got to go to the Aviva stadium on Lansdowne Road for the vaccination and the last time I had been there was in 1999 to see R.E.M. so it was all very emotional (although at that point, it was just the Lansdowne Road stadium so it was totally different to when I was there before.) I got a sweet badge and no real side-effects after either jab - some tiredness and a slightly sore arm for a couple of days. Because of the rise of Delta, I doubt that being vaccinated will change my day-to-day life a huge amount but it does feel good to feel so much safer when doing essential things, and to feel like travelling a little (within Ireland) and seeing loved ones is safer also.
I was absolutely fucking DELIGHTED to get vaccinated and I felt very grateful that it is something that was available to me. But, as I discussed in my last post, one of the things about the experience fof living in the pandemic has been the differences it highlights between people. I've been really disappointed to see people in my life spreading anti-vaxx rhetoric and even worse when they have co-opted pro-choice wording to do it. For me it's one thing if you don't want to be vaccinated: that's a personal choice. I don't agree with it, but it is a choice. But I see no justification whatsoever in going out of your way to discourage other people from taking it, and from spreading blatant misinformation IN A PANDEMIC. Especially when it is coming from people who have children, or who work with children or with other vulnerable people who are unable to choose to be vaccinated. I've unfollowed and blocked a depressing number of people on social media because of it. Obviously people haven't acquitted themselves well in the pandemic in general but I do feel a lot like George Costanza just shouting WE LIVE IN A SOCIETY into the clouds.
Anyway please do not comment with anti-vaxx stuff because I will delete it.
I've done some sewing in my new sewing space, which has been great! I made a pair of trousers that were pretty horrible, so there are no photos of them. The first successful thing I made was a Deer and Doe Bleuet dress, although I don't have photos of it yet! I refashioned a too-big Marimekko x Uniqlo dress. I also don't have a photo of that! But I do have photos of two of the other things I made. One was a Made by Rae Geranium dress that I made for my best friend's daughter:
My best friend from school, E, came down from Belfast in July to visit us and brought her four-year-old daughter N with her. I hadn't seen E for about three years, so it was tremendously exciting to spend the day with her. It was extremely hot but we had a lot of fun just pottering around Dublin. N was so delighted with the dress that she immediately demanded to wear it, so she stripped down in garden we were having lunch in and put it straight on. What better compliment is there?! The fabric is some beautiful Nani Iro double gauze that was a gift from Neko Neko fabrics and I think I have enough of it left over to make another Geranium dress for my niece, Katie. I've already made her quite a few Geranium dresses and she loves them - her favourite, understandably, is the one I made her from some scraps of Cath Kidston mushroom fabric. It's such a sweet pattern and so quick to put together!
My most recent make is another pinafore dress - I have also been making less-utilitarian things in the last year, but when I crave comfort on a chilly day, there is nothing quite like dungarees or a pinafore dress. As a leaving present, my colleagues in my old job gave me a very generous €150 voucher for a fabric shop in Dublin called Cloth and I used it to finally buy myself a copy of the Apron Dress pattern by The Assembly Line and some beautiful 14oz indigo denim to make it with. I also bought some navy twill to make a pair of trousers for Nic and some Liberty lawn for a dress for myself at some point, but the apron dress called to me first of all. I'd admired the pattern for some time but had been put off by the high price point and also because initially the pattern's size range was very small AND you could only buy the pattern in single sizes. Both of these issues have been addressed - the pattern now comes in multiple sizes and the size range has been expanded so the waist measurement goes up to 49 inches, which is more inclusive than it had been previously.
This was a very quick and enjoyable sew. It took me most of a Sunday morning to make it - I listened to a couple of episodes of Double Love and before I knew it, I was done! There aren't many pattern pieces and I found the instructions to be very clear - I liked very much the way the drawings were labelled with a, b, c etc corresponding to the different steps in the instructions... it's a little difficult to explain but it worked well. The design is fab - the skirt's side seams curve to the front and the pockets are angled so that they are anchored into the side seams, but they are cut slightly bigger so that they don't lie totally flat, which gives an interesting shape. I really like the shape of the skirt.
The closures at the back are a little odd - again, this is difficult to explain but there is no closure as such on the dress - it's all in one piece and it is pleated at the back to allow you the space to get into the dress, with the pleat closed and fastened either with buttons or with snaps. I had navy buttons in my stash and so I used those. Because of the way the fold in the pleat sits, one of the buttons has to pass through two buttonholes to fasten and this is !!extremely!! awkward to do behind your own back. I am pretty flexible (and a year and a half of regular yoga has helped with that) and I found it a struggle. Someone on instagram told me that she just wriggled into hers and when I tried that I found it manageable. Snaps might be easier to deal with if wriggling into a dress isn't possible for you, but in a heavier fabric I'm not sure how secure snaps would be.
The other slight criticism I have was on the instruction for the straps which, to my mind, would leave quite an untidy finish on the inside. It has you just... sew the straps down on the inside? Like, not sandwiched between the facing and the bib? Just on top of the facing?? There are no instructions to finish the ends of the straps to make them neat. I sandwiched the straps between the bib and the facing, which is a very easy step to do, I just found it odd that it's not in the instructions to do this. Anyway! I made a size small but I think if I were to make another I might make the XS as the bib is a little big... and I probably will make another one because I wore this three times in the week after I made it. I feel great in it and I think it will be very handy in the autumn and winter. I mean it's been handy enough in Ireland in August... but then I didn't move here for the great climate.
Changeable weather aside, we have been having a lovely time here. We had my sister and her boys come to spend the day with us a few weeks ago, which was magical - all we did was have a picnic in the park at the bottom of our road (it was too hot that weekend to do anything else) but it was just such a joy to be able to spend such relaxed time together. We have friends from Leamington visiting this weekend - they are here because they have family in the area, but it'll be so good to see them and then the weekend afterwards one of our nephews is coming to stay with us for the night. This is very exciting as ever since he was old enough to talk he has been asking to come for a sleepover at our house. It'll be brilliant.
We have also been getting out and exploring as much as we can. A few weeks ago we had a lovely sunny day in Dún Laoghaire, just strolling along the coast, watching the seals and the sea swimmers and even having a little paddle:
Sandycove and The Forty Foot
My Mum told me I look like a granny in this hat, but I like it! Also no burned scalp, so...
On a not-so-sunny day on Saturday we went up the coast in the other direction to Malahide and had a rainy, windswept stroll along the estuary there. It was lovely. I love living on the coast more than I can say.
Well. It's a little embarrassing to roll up and publish a post on a blog that has been gathering dust for LITERALLY 18 MONTHS. The last time I sat down to write here was December 2019. I'm not going to apologise for the absence because... well, who cares? Also we all know that after 2019 came 2020 and... well. I admire the people who have carried on blogging in the last 18 months because honestly - I tried so many times to string a sentence together and I was simply unable to. But there we are.
Anyway, if you're here - HELLO! I hope you're as well as anyone can be in these truly strange and terrifying times. I'm... pretty good, considering. It has been a rocky old time, quite honestly, but that's true for all of us.
Since I last blogged in 2019 (!) obviously a lot has happened and life has changed quite considerably. When COVID started getting serious in March 2020, I started working from home full time and, like many people, spent most of the year essentially completely isolated from the world. Nic and I were both very lucky in the sense that neither of us got sick, we didn't lose anyone close to us and we were both able to work from home throughout. So we managed to miss out on many of the practical effects of the pandemic that upended people's lives. But of course that doesn't mean it was easy and, as I'm sure is true for many of us, the events of 2020 made me feel very differently about my life. I think about this postcard from PostSecret a lot:
This sounds much more dramatic than my experience, but the dual ruptures of COVID and then the events of summer 2020 really made me reassess who I was spending my time with and some relationships changed forever.
Working through the pandemic was also a LOT. I was lucky to have continuous employment and to work for an employer that was well set up for home working. I didn't have to worry about being forced back into the office or about losing my job. But my job changed completely - the thing I worked on was suspended and, as a result, I was moved initially into working on something else within my usual team and then eventually I was redeployed into working in a policy role in the Department for Education. I absolutely HATED it. I was miserable. I was working with some really nice people but the work itself was horrible and the management was horrible and the whole atmosphere was just extremely toxic... extremely hierarchical to the extent that people in the grade above me literally wouldn't talk to anyone at the grades below them. It was horrible, and I hated the policy I was working on too.
It was very hard, and the experience of being forced to move into a job I hadn't chosen made me feel completely lost and totally undervalued by my 'home' organisation. That was partly irrational - most of my colleagues were also redeployed so it wasn't like I was picked on specifically - but it was also an important wake-up call for me. Long-term readers will know that work stress has made me sick in the past and it just became so obvious to me during redeployment that I had been held to an impossibly high standard at all times for something that was so inessential that it ended up being shelved, you know? The job that, at times, made me consider hurting myself was so inessential that I could just be picked up and moved to something totally random. It was a painful realisation, but an important one.
Nic was wrestling with similar feelings about his job and his employer. We were both struggling with being separated from our families and friends and, by December 2020, I just felt like there was nothing to look forward to. I had managed to stay relatively sane during 2020 by talking extremely long walks around Leamington listening to podcasts and by doing Yoga with Adriene but the thought of another year of the same thing was really difficult to cope with. So we decided to make a big change, and decided to move to Dublin.
And that's what we did! Nic managed to get a great job in Dublin that he felt really excited about. I was successful in an interview at an organisation I was excited about working at and I'm basically on a waiting list for a job there AND I got a short-term job at another really cool organisation that I am exciting to be working at. So we moved - in May we left Leamington for good and we have been living in Dublin since then.
There were things I thought would be harder. I thought it would be harder to leave our flat, where we had lived for 12 years - but in the end, saying goodbye to our home was a good feeling. It was a good flat and I loved living there, but it wasn't suitable any more for the life I wanted to live. It was hard to say goodbye to friends but, again, not as hard as I thought it would be. I think this is because the pandemic changed how we conducted friendships so the idea of staying in touch remotely is much more manageable. But also... I think I came to realise that things had started changing before the pandemic with people having children and moving away or changing jobs and shifting the rhythm of their lives... the life I had a few years ago wasn't coming back. And that's not a bad thing! But it definitely made it less difficult to say goodbye. And finally, saying goodbye to Leamington was fine. I loved living there. I did. But I left Leamington/Warwick/Coventry ONCE in 14 months and... by the time we left, I was ready to go.
So... yes. We live in Ireland now! It is difficult to articulate how being back in Ireland feels to me. I lived in England for almost 20 years - which is a slightly terrifying statistic - and again, long-term readers will know how living there felt after the EU referendum. Honestly not being there is GREAT. But also, being here is lovely! We are close to my family, close to mountains, close to the sea and close to some excellent museums and galleries and cultural opportunities. Also, the potatoes here are just much better.
Now anyway if you're reading here still it might be because I used to blog about sewing and about what I wear and all the rest of it. I did sew a reasonable amount during 2020 but, in a shocking turn of events (shocking for me, anyway) most of the sewing I did was either to make myself various pairs of trousers/jeans/dungarees OR to sew for Nic. Making things for Nic was probably my favourite creative activity in 2020:
I made this whole outfit!
I made Nic various pairs of trousers, shirts and dungarees. It's been so cool to collaborate with him on choosing fabrics and taking the basic template of the pattern (just a simple elastic waist trouser pattern) to make colourful, comfortable garments.
I haven't done any sewing for myself since we moved - for various reasons, it took a couple of weeks for us to completely unpack - but I do have a cute little sewing/working space in our new house so when the notion takes me, I'll be all ready to go:
It feels a little strange to write a blog post though and not include some photos of things I've made for myself so here are a few highlights of things I've made and worn in the last 18 months:
I've made a few pairs of these Megan Nielsen flint pants. These are made from quite a heavy mustard twill that I bought in Ray Stitch. It shows up every wrinkle and is quite stiff but I love the colour and I think these are very cool.
I don't know if I'll make a return to blogging - the mood struck me there and who knows if it will again. But, sure, it's nice to catch up anyway.