It was a street race – we were driving in the middle of a Fast & The Furious style street race. We expected it to be a quiet, easy, low-traffic drive home from a jazz club in Denver – It was 11:30 p.m., not exactly rush hour.   Instead,  we found ourselves in a pack of super loud cars that were whipping across the lanes on the highway, ahead of us, behind us, along side us, pulling off on the shoulder to wait for the next car to catch up so they could race again.  It was super intense.  I kept waiting for someone to challenge our little Honda Accord, but alas there were no takers. The cars had blacked out their license plates and I even saw a driver wearing a face mask, presumably so the traffic cams couldn’t take his photo (all strategies worth considering the *next time I’m late for school).  I’m not sure I’ve ever been so thankful to see our exit.

As we drove home I reflected on how nice it is to live in our quiet little town with it’s slower pace. How we enjoy the peacefulness of our home near the creek, trails, and open space. That night, I slept the sweet slumber of a woman unconcerned with whether or not Vin Diesel won.  The next morning I was chatting with a neighbor when we came across a bunny on the front lawn.  Clearly, Thumper had not had a good night. I mumbled something about it being too bad, and coyotes, and oh the poor thing…

“Or, it could be the lion,” my neighbor said.

……… I’m sorry, did you just say lion?  Yes, indeed – I went from being thankful that we don’t have to deal with street racing, to learning a mountain lion had been seen strolling the sidewalks (not kidding people) two blocks from our home in the wee hours of the morning.

The list of things I’m really afraid of is not long. It includes: getting a paper cut on my eyeball, the super volcano under yellowstone, and mountain lions.  So, now when I take the dogs out to do their before-bed duties, I stand on the step with my flashlight, loudly singing Row Row Row Your Boat, while squinting into the dark looking for eyes…  The other night a rabbit ran out from under a bush and I very nearly had to change my shorts.

Isn’t that just the way it is though, happy medium – an ever elusive balance. Should we live with street racing or mountain lions? How do we balance work vs. play (I’d rather play), folding laundry vs. knitting (makes me laugh every time), and of course – store bought clothes vs. handmade.

I’m all about hand made.  Knowing who made my clothes and how they were made is increasingly a pretty big deal for me.  I like to buy local when I can, and try to support businesses who treat their employees the way humans should be treated.  My preference is to make it myself when my skills and time allow.  The planning, plotting, cutting, sewing, knitting, and finally wearing is crazy-pants addicting.  While I’m typically delusional enough to think I’m going to make all of my clothes, in reality I don’t have enough minutes in the day to keep up with my wardrobe’s basic needs.  As a teacher of tiny humans, I’m not easy on my clothes. I spend my days sitting criss-cross applesauce on the floor, kneeling to tie shoes, squatting and bending to fix instruments that are on the floor, and dancing (sweating) around the room with kids.  I love my job, but my wardrobe takes a hit.

Because nudity is frowned upon in the public school system, I’m left in the position of needing to refresh and repair more often than I might if I had a desk job.  Repair is often tricky because it’s not worn holes in my knees that are the issue.  I’m dealing with shirts that are pitted out, or pants that wear thin in places one cannot patch while still being considered presentable for work.

I try to crank out those fast/slow-fashion options (I’m looking at you Hemlock, Scout tee, and knit skirts) when I can, but a girl needs next level nice work attire as well. To be honest, I don’t always want to take the time and spend the money to make a muslin for that new pants/shirt/dress pattern, but not sewing a muslin is the equivalent of going out at dawn and ignoring the fact that there is a mountain lion in the neighborhood. Things could be fine, or they could go very, very wrong.

When the process of making is thoughtful, when it takes time and energy – the end product is valued and appreciated on a different level, but planning alone does not a clothed teacher make.  Once again, I’m working to find the balance between thoughtful planning and producing wearable garments.

At present, my big blue top-down sweater is putting the “slow” in slow-fashion. After surviving a wicked bout with the flu last week, the sweater finally has a sleeve! Unfortunately, my progress was thwarted when little Miss Ginger the bulldog decided the DPNs I need for the sleeves are an important part of a high fiber diet.


So, I took a forced break from the big blue sweater and dug through the stash. I found odds and ends of some bulky weight yarn from many moons ago. The colors were all purchased for separate projects, but they worked together (the purple got the boot). A bit of improvised colorwork later, a few texts to my knitting adviser, and a tall, slouchy, scrunchy cowl was born.


I can’t tell you who it’s for because it’s a birthday gift.  As a general rule, I tend to think of birthdays as “remember to cast on” days, because I’m organized like that. So, dear friends, if you’ve had a birthday in the last 8 months – this could be headed your way.

Get out the Big Needles and Big Yarn – Cast on 48 or 50 and make it up as you go!

You know, I imagine street racing feels like fast-fashion. It’s exciting, things changing quickly, always trying to stay ahead of the curve – a thrill, no doubt, while you’re in the moment.  If the analogy is going to hold true – I suppose that would mean making your own clothes is like living with a mountain lion in the neighborhood.  You need to plan ahead and make smart choices. The thrill and question of what’s going to happen exists every time you step outside or make the first cut. And when your project is finished, you can enjoy the satisfaction of knowing that all went well – and you’ll live to make another day.


*face-mask packed for tomorrow morning

3 thoughts on “Balance

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