A Useless Guide to Sewing Stockings

I grew up with one giant red stocking. My grandmother made it for me 🙂 It’s red felt, and has some reminants of glitter glue on it. Back when we were little and Santa was as real as real could be, it felt like a darn tooin’ miracle to walk into the living room Christmas morning and see those stocking filled with goodies.

Stocking LoveActually, it still does. My parents have been pretty awesome with that tradition. Though they’ve always said how the stocking my grandmother made were far too large. It’s been in my head for a while. The thing is, we could go out and buy new stockings – but Lulu made these all by herself. How can you replace homemade memories?

Well you cannot replace them. But I was thinking to myself, and decided that Zsolt and I need little stockings that we can take with us wherever we may be for the Holidays, be it Canada, Hungary or the moon. So, I decided to sew us Christmas stockings.

Stocking Z and C

Here’s my how-to-list for making Christmas stockings, from someone who really cannot sew.

1) pick out pretty material. I picked mine up from a shop called Fabrications in Hintonburg.

2) Pick out some soft stuff to add to the material. Only do this is if you want to make your life more complicated. Sewer Beware, this is a time-adder to the project. Though I do think it is worthwhile. I picked up some raw felt from the knitting shop Wabi Sabi in Hintonburg.

2.5) Watch a Youtube video on how to use a sewing machine . . . after you find yourself one. You can also handstich, but be prepared to take forever.

3) Figure it out!

Forget patterns, I Lady McGuivered it by just piling the materials on top of one another, did some pinning and cutting out a vague, large sock-like shape. This resulted in several errors and a lot of repining. Each sock is unique, because I’m terrible at planning. So one is really wide, and the other is really tall.

4) Sew it all together somehow. First I almost sewed it backwards. Then I ripped that out and started again. Except the edges were raw. So I cut a strip to cover that up. Eventually I resorted to hand-stitching certain sections that somehow estocking for Zscaped the chomp of the sewing machine.

5) The details matter. Seconds before I was about to cut into my felt for the Z and the C lettering, once again about to freestyle the letters – I thought, hey, why not print out a letter and just trace it?


I did, and it turned out beautifully. Because these stockings are meant to be life-long stockings, I didn’t just glue on the letters, but instead stitched them on.

And voila! Lovely Christmas stockings.

No matter how meandering and ridiculous the process, they got there in the end. I’m quite pleased.

And speaking of being pleased. I’m focusing on enjoying life a bit more this month. After the puddles of misery throughout November with waiting for & receiving scan results, I wanted to stop being sad all the damn time. That is my big goal for 2015 that I made during my parents workshop.

So, that means a few big changes that I’ll talk about later, but also one pretty important one I’ll talk about now.

I signed up for National Novel Writing Month, and finished the 50,000 in one month! It felt incredible and bizarre. At the start of the month it really seemed impossible, but by the end I was rolling. If I could give myself time to write 2000 words a day, do you realize how much I could write? TONS.


So, what I’d really like to give myself this year to help make life more liveable is the gift of TIME.

TIME to do what I love. TIME to clean my apartment. TIME to write 2000 words. TIME to get together with friends. TIME for my writing podcast. TIME to exercise. TIME to play.

That means shaving off time from other things. It means a bit of change and letting things go that I have wanted to do, and still want to do. But at this point, I think what really matters is just finding a way to not cry so often. Silly things like Christmas stockings are part of that.

So there you go, a useless guide for sewing stockings, and the gift of time. That’s me. That’s all I have to say about that. Happy holidays. 😉

Happy pictureSpeaking of fun, we had a really good time recording our latest podcast over at our writing show. Here is a link if you feel like having a listen as you wash dishes or something. 🙂

Help with a long, long shot: Deadline Midnight Tonight

Okay, it’s a long, long, ClaireNeverEnding long, long, long shot. One of those million in one chances. BUT, Canada Reads 2015 is looking for book suggestions for next year around the theme of breaking barriers. So, if you are in the mood, I’d love your help to get Claire Never Ending seen just that much more by tweeting (tweet #CanadaReads to @CBCBooks), emailing, instagramming or facebooking using #CanadaReads with my title. Oh, and the deadline is midnight today!

“We’re looking for books that will help us understand and overcome the things that divide us, in families and between communities, and at large.” ~CanadaReads2015

I really feel like my book breaks some barriers – it literally brakes the barrier of time within one family, and by doing so showcases the reasoning and actions between hard decision and their lingering impacts. I think that allowed me to paint the Claires with compassion, even if they were making sad choices at times.

Also, I reckon it breaks some stereotypical gender barriers with storytelling in that this is a book written about women, celebrating their strength, and it doesn’t hinge upon chasing a man or being caught between two men. Essentially it doesn’t need that love-challenge to make the story work. I’m rather proud of that, actually.

Plus of course, obviously, it’s self-published. I think it’s yet another example of how good books are finding new ways to be seen – breaking the publishing house barrier.

Plus, with all this breaking barriers, this season of Canada Reads is in store for some seriously heavy reading. So, the Claires could lighten things up, too. At least a bit.

Anyhow, as I said, this is an impossibly lonnnnnnnnnnnnnnnng shot. Without a publisher rallying behind a title, it really is damn difficult to get seen at that kind of level. But life is full of million to one shots.  I got Zsolt to email them with my book today. 🙂 By the by, I think anyone can nominate a book – they don’t go checking nationality.

And that’s all I have to say about that. Now I’m off to clean the kitchen . . . again. Dear Kitchen, please grow up and learn to wash yourself.

Thanks for reading this self-promoting post, and if you do contact the CBC to suggest Claire Never Ending, thank you so much!


Champagne Explosion of Brain Bubbles!

(i.e. a rambling post about everything. Except anything useful. Though that does depend how you define useful.)

So, me and Photoshop have been getting to know one another. It’s a multilayered being, and I’ve been playing with Youtube to help me learn. As my friend was saying the other day – it’s a really powerful platform, but with power comes complication. Man, it’s so complicated.

Being the Lady McGuiver I am, and never ever investing more than twenty minutes into learning anything, I’ve been bouncing between photoshop, picmonkey, paint and occasionally powerpoint to design the elements for my new Claire Never Ending cover.

Geez, I love designing stuff. I love, love, love learning stuff and getting hands-on. But I just hate, hate, hate, studying. This contrast is a real flaw in my system of creativity.

Anyhow, all this internal jabbering to sayyyyyyy: The Cover is Coming Along!

CNE New cover1

Preview – I am going with this image, and have now bought it from istock.

Out there amoungst the papers on my desk is a list of TO Dos before 2014 ends. One of them is to finishing the Claire’s redesign. Another is to apply for Zsolt’s citizenship, although I really haven’t gotten that far yet in my productivity.

There are a couple other points, but I’ve completely forgotten them. Hmm. I’m trying to remeber now. Nope. Oh, crowdfunding videos! I remembered one more! I want to finished my crowdfunding series. That’s nearly done to be honest, and just requires a few more late, late nights or early, early mornings for editing.

YouTube is fun. This is another area where I don’t really want to study too much, but do really want to create content.

Where is all this content creation going? No idea where yet. J Zsolt says I need to make a business plan. “Make a business plan?” I asked him, like he was speaking a different language – is “Makeabusinessplan” Hungarian for “You are the best wife and I love you like crazy?”

Probably not.

He is right, actually, plans are good. Structure is good. Strategy is even better. And then, action. That should come along too at some point: Structure, Strategy, Action. Not my strong points, but probably useful.

And that is that.

Now for a story:

Last night I was lying in bed with the Zsolt Man, and he was relating the story of a business meeting he recently had – where he saw the fellows walking down the street, and it reminded him of being with the fellows at the ORC when they would go for lunch.

That got me thinking. Those lunches not too many years ago were a lovely daily tradition. So I began telling Zsolt why they were so lovely. Zsolt would come down to the staff club cafeteria for their lunch. Since I lived & worked on campus, I would very often join them. And after about 5 years of this, it was a comfortable, happy routine. We’d all get together, I’d get to kiss my husband, and then they’d talk about this and that – often around the stresses of being a PhD student, but not always. The conversation always ended on a very similar note, around the lines of: Let’s search it on Wikipedia. And they’d go back to their lab to look up whatever the heck they’d been discussing that day.

And through that group at the lunch table, I not only got to enjoy their company, but also the company of their partners who would arrive occasionally for the meal – girlfriends, children and wives. So we would pull two tables together, and have a great big lunch meal.

It was really nice. Friends, support and food wrapped up into one nice hour.

After I’d finished relating those memories, Zsolt asked me if I missed it.

So I thought about it. And you know what? I don’t miss it. I’m just very glad to have had it. I’m very glad to have been there then. I’m very glad to be here now.

And that had me thinking – several years ago, I missed everything. It was this deep homesick pit inside of myself. Something has changed. Maybe realizing you can’t ever have things as they were before. Or maybe it’s realizing that there are always wonderful people there somewhere to connect with. I don’t know. Maybe it was coming back to Canada – but I’ll tell you, this hasn’t been an easy transition either.

Whatever the reason. I didn’t miss anything in the sense of longing for those day. It was simply nice to have had them.

And that is when I realized, between Zsolt and I, we have friends all over the world. Amazing individuals who we’ve connected with at one point in the moving and travelling and life-living. None of them are congregated in a single spot, and we’ll never have again what we had before in those moments of laughter and friendship.

Even if all those people and all those moment are scattered across our past, and across the world – that is okay. It is better than okay – it’s awesome. Knowing each of them, doing all of that life stuff, has been a pleasure. We have this beautiful gift, and I’m grateful for it.

And I don’t miss them, because to me, they are still there somehow. Whether it’s in my memory, or on my Facebook page. They are there, doing well, and that makes me happy.

Happy picture2P.S. Over on Ottawa Writes this week (in the process of being rebranded) we have an episode about quotes you stick on the front cover of books. There’s also a nice interview around writing and community. Listen here. This sideshow passion project is one of those things that could probably use a business plan . . .