In person, I’m a quiet, usually reserved person. Speaking to the person next to me or walking into a crowded space are forced endeavors. So, as a small business owner, I find myself in an uncomfortable position yet again. Selling myself.
It’s not that I can’t appreciate my own work; I can. Although my perfectionistic nature prevents me from loving my accomplishments without reservation, I am confident that my execution of whatever task or project set before me is adequate. So…why is self promotion so incredibly difficult?
Whether its writing, crocheting or something else, I find it’s so much easier to encourage others in their accomplishments and share those accomplishments than to encourage myself and share my own accomplishments.
I recognize how foolish this attitude is - after all, my family depends on the revenue my accomplishments generate - but still, I nurture sentiments of inadequacy. Incredibly, even my minute level of success evokes guilt. “Well, my work is ok, but is it the best? Did I really earn/deserve this?”
I know that I’m not the only person who faces this challenge, but that does little to pacify me.
So, I decided it was time to tackle a more challenging crochet project, and decided a custom fit dress would be just the thing. I looked everywhere for the absolute perfect dress pattern, seeing much I liked but few that met my criteria. Namely, I wanted to make a formal, fitted gown that was actually wearable - and seamless!
Well, eventually I stumbled across the Organdy Ribbon Dress, a gorgeous vintage pattern from the 50s. It wasn’t worked all in one piece, but was essentially seamless and appeared vastly customizable. Project selected, I then moved on to materials. Instead of organdy ribbon (which would have cost me upwards of $3,000 for materials alone!!!) I selected Naturally Caron Spa (a light weight bamboo blend yarn in a soft off white) for its soft, shimmery, fuzz free appearance. Next, I worked on gauge. The pattern called for a J hook, but my yarn looked best with a G, so I worked the largest size in the pattern.
My next amendment was working the skirt from the waist down instead of from the bottom up. I started with the number of chain stitches called for at the waist of the top, and worked increases in place of decreases. First I worked the single crochet row, and worked 6 rows with 20 5 double crochet shells. I then increased by 5 shells on the next row, and worked 3 more rows even. I repeated this increase pattern until I had worked 4 rows with 60 shells. Next, I worked 60 7 double crochet shell rows until the skirt measured approximately 4 inches shorter than the desired length. (For me, the perfect length is 24 inches, but I’m only 5’0.) On the finishing row, I worked 60 7 double crochet shells, but in the single crochet spaces, I worked sc, ch 3 sc to give a lacy look. Skirt done!
The next change was to work the top onto the skirt as I went, to avoid the dreaded seam. For the waist and torso, I worked the smallest size, so as I attached the top to the skirt in the unworked loop of the initial chain, I worked 2 sc together spaced evenly to obtain the number of single crochet needed for that size. I discovered that, for me, additional rows were needed before I began increases at the chest. Trying the dress on every few row was essential. At the bust, I made another adjustment. Since I am large chested, I worked 3 consecutive increase rows in which I worked 1 increase at each side of the bust, working each new increase in the center st of the last increase. This created a ‘dart’ effect that gave me the increased volume and shaping only where it was needed. I then worked rows evenly up to the underarms.
From this point, I followed the pattern until the final row of the neckline and trim rows around each arm. On both, I worked sc, 2 ch, sc in the sc spaces to mimic the lace effect of the bottom.
I worked a row of slip stitches with a fine elastic cording on the backside of the chain joining the top and bottom of the dress. After soaking the dress in cold water, I pinned and blocked the skirt to the desired length. To finish the dress, I selected a vintage sapphire blue full slip to go underneath to show off the intricate lacy pattern on the dress and modernize it a bit. A wide blue sash and a coordinating delicate lace and shell headband completed the look.
I love lists. I find my myriad scraps and pages of things to do, to be, to have or which I have already done, been or possessed strangely comforting. During the pinnacle of my organizational madness, when I was pregnant with each of my children, I pored over my painstakingly detailed lists daily, adding, editing, reorganizing and occasionally crossing items off. The other day, a journal resurfaced which contained a number of said lists.
I want to…
Ten Random Truths
25 Things I Love about My Kids
I suppose that my vehicle breaking down and earning itself a trip to the shop was a veiled blessing, because I’m enjoying one of those weeks that makes me long to never leave these four walls again. I remember a friend telling me about how she lost it and just stopped going out. For more than a month, she never left her apartment. She had groceries, toiletries, meals, etc. delivered to her door, and even had someone come and walk her dog. Eventually her parents came, packed her things and took her back home with them. Right now, that sounds nice. Problem is, I do not live in a city, I have three small children and I am not independently wealthy.
Since I can remember, I found myself fascinated by the House. Its regal countenance stood in stark contrast to its meager surroundings. Haughtily its graceful eaves peered down on the small row houses that bordered it like a dirty white picket fence. Proud, majestic, decrepit, like a long ago scorned maven, a belle abandoned, but not disgraced.
I envisioned its inception. Carefully planned and designed, erected over time on a solid foundation. Though its contemporaries were clapboard, it was brick. Presumably, stronger, required no paint, little maintenance – the added time and expense at the outset more than guaranteed financial and physical rewards over time. How lovely it was! The envy of the neighborhood. It was everything that a house should be and more – well built, expansive, nestled on a large lot in a discriminating locale. Whimsical and exotic, the rich red hue evoked a sense of nobility, while its green lawn and white trim grounded it in the ordinary, albeit tenuously. Visitors were vastly impressed by the eclectic appeal of its interior as well. The owners were well satisfied that their home was, indeed, the very best home. Perfect in every regard – perfectly suited to their every need and desire.
The owners lovingly cared for and maintained their home, reveling in any occasion to play host to friends, family and neighbors. Other homeowners looked to the House for inspiration when designing, erecting and decorating their own homes.
Over time, the owners found the financial burden of the House, grand as it was, too great. They determined that the House did not require the acreage that surrounded it, and sold off all but the land on which the House stood in an effort to maintain the lifestyle and image the desired. A number of small houses were swiftly constructed, filling every square foot of the adjacent property. In fact, one house had been built such that one corner of the house was on the owners’ property. Too strapped and beleaguered to initiate a long, arduous legal battle, the owners decided to let the little house stay, although they told themselves it was because they felt compelled to demonstrate compassion for someone so much less fortunate to have to live in such a small, modest house.
Over time, the owners found themselves intrigued by and drawn to the smaller house, and less and less compelled by and satisfied with their own glorious home. The House began to fall into disrepair. As the years passed, the grounds became consumed by weeds, rocks, and pits. The owners realized that they not only no longer found the House perfect; they found it to be everything they no longer wanted it to be - flashy, massive, expensive and high maintenance. Disillusioned, they put the house up for sale. To their surprise, they discovered that their once envious neighbors no longer found the house appealing, either. After many months on the market, the owners had no choice but to abandon the House.
There it stood, white paint chipping off of the numerous window sills, porches, and eaves, broken windows gaping like a snaggle toothed old woman. The roof was missing numerous shingles, like the thinning hair of an elderly man. The porch, now roofless, sagged almost to the ground at both ends like the wry grimace of a wounded soul. As the years and decades passed, the House grew more and more derelict, along with the smaller homes surrounding it. The neighborhood was no longer discriminating; rather, it was home to those who found themselves the objects of discrimination.
Many residents of the town petitioned to have the House demolished, what little land remained parceled out and populated with rental trailers. Repeatedly, one of the original owners convinced the residents to leave the House, promising to repair the home and grounds to its original splendor – as soon as they raised enough money. But time proved that a feat too ambitious for the single owner. An auction was planned, proceeds to benefit the town long put upon by the inelegant behemoth. The owners, now both long past their youth, were drawn to the property on the eve of the event. Neither aware of the presence of the other, the elderly duo regarded the woeful countenance of the House and grieved. They realized that the House had never ceased to be the home of their dreams – they, in their pride, had believed the House to be perfect, maintenance free. The years of living in other houses had taught them that no home was perfect, and all required regular care and repair to remain inhabitable. The House, even in its abject disrepair, was still the best house in the neighborhood, the most unique and structurally sound domicile in the town. From the outside, the House still stood erect and whole. The interior, however, was a shambles.
The owners pooled their resources and began to work on the House. They cleared the home of all debris, tearing down all the eroded walls and floorboards. They replaced all the windows and doors with stronger, more energy efficient ones. Despite some floor plan alterations and the addition of three bathrooms, the home remained largely true to original design inside. From the outside, the home was restored to its original splendor, its Victorian charm perfectly buffed, painted, spackled and framed by a green front lawn and wrought iron fence.
The long journey of the House had brought it full circle. It was still a home, strong and beautiful, a refuge to its residents. The once grand property was greatly diminished, and the small row houses remained, but no longer detracted from the beauty of the House. They were part of the history of the House now, for good and ill, and removal of the homes would have resulted in scarred land and angry hearts of the row house tenants. The owners never regained the wealth of their youth, but worked tirelessly to ensure the constant, painstaking upkeep of the House, no longer merely a residence but a respite for those in need of a place to call home.