on coming a long (or even just some of the) way

Disclaimer: this is one of those terrible posts where I talk about my personal life and relate it to crafting and do all that awful navel gazing jazz. Hopefully I won’t sound incredibly miserable, which is how, at least to my untrained eye, the overwhelming majority of medical student blogs sound.

What is this? It’s a princess seam. It’s a princess seam on an inside-out bodice of a dress that isn’t even finished and the insides aren’t even that pretty.  So why am I showing it to you? Because 2 years ago, when I sewed the exact same princess seam using that same pattern, it took me about 6 tries to do each side. That thing was an abomination. I cried, I swore, it took me two weeks to finish the bodice because I kept putting it down out of frustration, it made me want to quit sewing when I had just barely started. I kept going though, and was rewarded with two princess seams that only had a noticable-ish pucker or two. So when I chose to sew this particular pattern, I approached the princess seam with that baggage in my mind. But you know what? It didn’t suck. I had gotten better at sewing, which is hard to notice when you try so many different patterns that require different things (and you also just don’t have the free time to sew a lot). It only took me one try to do each seam, and dang, they looked pretty darn good if I do say so myself. They looked so good that I went ahead and decided to just self-line the bodice rather than do those godawful facings. Every now and then it’s good to have a win to make challenging yourself worth your while.


Maybe you know, maybe you don’t know, but my third year of medical school has been under way for about three months now.  I just started a research month, which means there will be lots more time for posts and crafts (woo!) but I still feel like I’ve done a lot. (And enjoyed a lot, which is surprising.) I’ve done my pediatrics rotation, and while it may be calling it early, I really liked it a lot and that may be what I do for forever. Eeep. I also just finished obstetrics & gynecology on Friday! Will I go into OB/GYN? No, but I have had some pretty cool experiences. I pulled a baby out of the place where babies come from and I didn’t drop it, I saw some seriously rare stuff, I have seen some seriously sad stuff, and you can bet your britches that I have seen a lot of vaginas (and not once have I told a patient that I was about to put my fingers into my vagina, so let’s count that as a major improvement from a mere six months ago). I’ve also really bulked up my Spanish vocabulary, but it’s all words about urinary incontinence and vaginal discharge (flujo vaginal, if you’re feeling nasty, Senora Jackson).


cloth sewing + sewing humans = two spheres of my life collide in a very strange way

The first two years of medical school were miserable. Mentally, emotionally, physically, everything-ally. I did work I wasn’t proud of, I constantly felt stressed about my future and even more stressed about burdening those around me with those feelings, I became very socially anxious, and I spent more time than I’d like to remember in bed with a migraine. Needless to say, I questioned why I was in medical school in the first place. For a long time, I was convinced I had made the wrong choice (am I now convinced that I made the right one? nope, but I’m still here, so I’d like to think that counts for something) and I spent a long time looking at other grad programs, job options, and just daydreaming about what my life could be like free from the miserable future I melodramatically believed that I had boxed myself into. In case you’re curious: my imaginary dropout scenes were approximately as dramatic and fabulous as that of the Weasley twins’, but instead of opening a joke shop I would go on to become an international craft-gymnastics-cat blogging sensation. Hey. Crazier things have happened.


the most “medical” thing i’ve ever done – work the night shift, wear scrubs, and eat takeout from a plastic hospital dish that was definitely meant for something other than chicken pad thai. cue the scrubs theme, everyone.

But I kept going. Not sure why, but it probably had a lot to do with my amazing boyfriend and the other people who cheered me on even when I didn’t deserve it. And now I’m here, and you know what? It doesn’t suck. Sometimes it’s even fun. I can feel myself getting better and learning, which is a very cool, strange feeling, possibly the only thing stranger would be feeling my hair or fingernails grow. In the end, will medicine have been the one and only career for me? Probably no, but I’m okay with sticking around and helping people out.


embarrassing bathroom selfie (no worries, hands were clean). it is cruel irony that someone who cares so much about sewing should have to wear the most shapeless, wrinkly clothes on a daily basis. not one single dart!!! NOT ONE.

TL;Dr. (see what I did there?) – I am finally coming out from that dark hole that consumed me for a very long time. Things aren’t perfect, but they’re getting better, and that is my message to everyone who might be in a similar boat. It’s good to be reminded that you’re not wasting your time, that you can improve, and that things can get better without you noticing it until all of a sudden boom! You’re kind of excited about the next day.

Do I worry that saying these things will bar my entry into the residency program of my choice? Yes, but then again, if my top choice residency program doesn’t acknowledge that burnout exists and physicians sometimes end up in dark places needing to care for themselves, then I maybe shouldn’t have made that my top choice program.

for future neck snuggles

Knitting in the summer is a terrible double-edged sword.  On one hand, I have a little more free time to knit, but on the other hand, when I finish a project, I can’t (and don’t want to) enjoy it for 5 months at least.  The finished object lies on my desk or dresser for a few weeks and I occasionally pet/squeeze it, and then I regretfully stash it for a colder, wetter, more miserable day.


This is definitely one of those projects. As I finished the triple needle bind off, I casually mentioned to David that I couldn’t wait to wear my new project. David turned around  and the look he gave me was colder than the weather I’d need to wear this scarf without getting sweaty. Point taken, David. I’ll wait until November.


The pattern is the Marble Falls Cowl from Ravelry, which I picked to show off my lovely YarnCon purchase. The pattern was modified slightly –  I was just a teensy bit short on yarn, so I took out one 5 row repeat in the middle section of the cowl.  I love the shell-like pattern, and the yarn is so soft and squishy!



elegant octopus

Every now and then, I feel a strange hankering for a really difficult craft project.  A seriously fiddly, pain in the ass project.  It’s usually when I a) haven’t been doing much crafting lately and b) the crafting I have been doing is unchallenging and repetitive (stockinette sweater body, I’m looking at you).  As you can probably guess, this happened to me recently.  I found myself thinking “Man, I really need a project that is going to make me really need to focus, and probably frequently swear under my breath.” (What is wrong with me?) So I picked up the Knitted Amigurumi Sea Creatures book again and chose the octopus pattern.  I made the jellyfish last year, and while the project was fun, it definitely introduced me to some new and challenging techniques (and for some reason, I couldn’t make the jellyfish look like the one in the instructions although I’m pretty sure I followed the directions right – gah).


Here’s the finished product!  It was definitely fiddly, although perhaps not quite as impossible as I was expecting. There were some tense moments though: by the time I cast off the mantle, I realized that I had been gripping the DPNs so tightly that I couldn’t feel the ulnar side of my right hand.  It’s still tingling more than 24 hours later.  Nerve damage by knitting. Could I be any more metal?


On another note, have you ever taken a few minutes out of your day to learn how awesomely, terrifyingly intelligent octopuses are?!?!? Seriously folks. They play! They have personalities! They are capable of very subversive sneaking around and rare fish consumption in aquariums! While knitting this thing, I went on an octopus information overload and basically just read a bajillion stories about how smart these excellent creatures are. In case you are interested in doing the same thing, here (and here) are some reading materials.

still alive

Why hello there, crafternet.  It’s been so long.  Third year is well under way and I’m working on rediscovering the sweet balance I had of work vs. play in the first two years of med school (although let’s be honest, it was mostly just play with a little work tucked in here and there).  Third year is so radically different in terms of schedules and expectations, but not necessarily in a bad way.  For the most part, I’m really enjoying myself when I am at work, and lest anyone think otherwise, I’m nowhere near an “all work and no play makes Ellie a dull girl” sort of situation. I get plenty of time to just hang out and enjoy myself, as evidenced below.

First, I cut off most of my hair! Not that I had a lot in the first place.

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Chicago’s pride parade was today and I celebrated with some (as per usual, hideous but delicious) rainbow cupcakes. Someday my baking will look like someone who possesses fine motor skills made it. photo (33) photo (32)


Speaking of makes, David and I also whipped him up a pair of jorts over the weekend.  His legs are enjoying the breathing room. (:photo (31) photo (30)


I’ve got a few projects that I’m still working on (that’s part of the reason for the radio silence as of late, all my stuff is big stuff that won’t be interesting until it’s finished) and now that I’m getting into the swing of things (“things” being waking up at the literal asscrack of dawn, or even before, on the regular) I’ll hopefully finish soon!

farewell to may

Okay. Am I the last person to post about MMM14 on the internet? Maybe. I’m slow. It should not be surprising to anyone, least of all to me, that I completely fell off the Me-Made wagon around week 3.5.  Waking up at 4:45 in the morning to bike to work as the sun is rising is just not conducive to taking selfies, especially when one doesn’t like to take selfies in the first place. Here’s a random smattering of what I wore in the last few days. My favorite outfit was my pink Sorbetto with the blue cardigan + grey slacks.

MMM 14 taught me a lot about my sewing.  I need to make more of an effort to make it look nice (ugh, taking my time with stuff),  and I just need to do it more. Practice … and practice and practice and practice forever makes perfect. It’s easy to make a lot of excuses for yourself when you’re busy, broke, and don’t care that much about clothes, but what’s the point of making things if you don’t make them well? MOVING ON. Here you go. Now time to spend some real actual time sewing (instead of studying for the pediatrics shelf exam/OSCE, which are apparently so terrifying that I cannot induce myself to do anything to prepare for them).

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sorbet-two’s company

I have a teensy tiny (and by teensy tiny I mean 5 and 1/8 yards) confession to make. I might have bought some fabric even though I was definitely supposed to be stashbusting.  And I might have had a torrid love affair with said fabric over the course of the past week and I sewed two Sorbetto tops and have basically spent all my spare moments thinking about the dress I’ll hopefully sew in time for my birthday.

I got all the fabrics over which I’m slavering at a local fabric store called The Needle Shop, which is probably the cutest place known to the sewing world and I desperately want to be friends with everyone who works there slash walks in the door (shy people problems). They have lots of quilting/fashion weight cotton and home dec fabric, all in excellent prints. I went in there last Saturday just to look for some bias tape/interesting trim (oh the little lies I tell myself) and came out with 3 cuts of fabric.  One week later, I’m up two shirts. Yay!


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I love the Sorbetto top because it lets me show off a yard of fabric that I really love, whether it’s for the color or the pattern, but it only takes one yard. Hallelujah, said my bank account.

Theeeeeen, I might have caved and bought 3 yardsof fabric in something that I have been desiring since basically the second I first saw it on the Grainline Studio blog: the Lizzy House Catnap fabric.  Is it basically everything I want in a fabric? Duh. Is it professional? Nope. Am I going to wear it to clerkship anyway? OF COURSE.  (That is, after I make it into a dress, probably Simplicity 2588 – wearing just a sheet of fabric to clinic is beyond even my realm of acceptability).  I’d like to make this to wear on my birthday, which will hopefully be the only way I acknowledge its existence in every sphere of my life.  Now it’s time to get sewing!


bring on the lady skaters

Now that I sew knits and do all sorts of fancy sewing stuff (ha), it was time for me to try my hand at a few Lady Skaters!  I’ve made two so far.  I’m out of knit fabric for now and I’ve just stocked up on some wovens, so no more purchases (and thus no more Lady Skaters) are allowed until I clear out some stash. Here’s how it went.

My first one was made from the same feather fabric as my first Renfrew. I didn’t photograph myself in it extensively (case in point: one iPhone selfie and a picture my mom took of me messing around with a model skeleton in the school library).  However, I feel like it fit pretty well.  My biggest critique was that the waist was a wee bit low, and so I made the adjustment to raise it for future makes.  It was also tight in the shoulders, which I attributed to the fact that I had made the seam allowances 5/8″ in some places thanks to that very annoying clear elastic. I was hoping I’d be able to get away with wearing it to clinic, but I don’t think that’s going to happen – the neck band makes it look pretty obviously t-shirty.  Alas, alack.

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On Saturday I finished my second Lady Skater, this one in a minty green cotton jersey. I thought the Girl Charlee website said both this fabric and the feathers one had the same stretch content, but this one seems much stretchier and consequently there’s actually some positive ease on this dress. The extra space could possibly be attributed to me paying closer attention to better seam allowances, but I don’t think it would have made such a striking difference (I basically have to Houdini-style dislocate my shoulders to get into the feather dress, and this one just slips on).  Overall, it was one of those makes where I finished it, and I thought I really liked it until I tried it on after it was all done – then my reaction was more along the lines of “hmmm.”  I did get a bit of an ego boost on it when I wore it to brunch with David on Sunday; moments after leaving our building two women walked by and I heard one comment on how she thought my dress was cute. (:  I’ll probably adjust the armscyes a bit before I wear it again, but for now I’ll relish the compliment.

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Also!  Despite the fact that I live less than a five minute walk away from Lake Michigan and the beautiful enormous park that runs along its shores, this is the first time David and I have traipsed the mighty distance of two blocks to go photograph my sewing in said park. Embarrassing? Yes. But the results were so nice that I will definitely no longer shirk from the photography expeditions (: