Coming to a Close

© Kylee Parks 2016
© Kylee Parks 2016

Summer sauntered. Autumn arrived. Winter wept.

So…it’s been a while. While I want to write regularly, it’s difficult to find the motivation to shout into the void (particularly when I post on Twitter instead). But as the end of the year draws near, I think perhaps I’d like to document my midnight thoughts.

I finished my fall semester with an A in each of my classes and what I hope are interesting term papers. My doctoral applications have been submitted (save one) but I still need to work on my summer research application. I’m currently fielding conference invitations to share the research that I am neglecting in order to finish the chapter manuscript due at the end of this month. I have one semester left of my program before I am officially considered a “Master.” Hopefully I know where my future leads by the time I graduate.

Sewing is at a standstill. I have numerous unfinished costumes and yet I continue to come up with new ideas and projects. Sometimes I imagine that a dedicated craft space would result in more finished work but more likely it would mean an even larger fabric stash and more half-sewn garments.

At the beginning of the year, I gave myself a fairly modest Goodreads challenge and I’m happy to report that I read more than my anticipated goal of twenty books. As of right now, my count is 37 books (though three are textbooks I did not finish but of which I read a great deal). I read fifteen collections of poetry and am especially fond of the wise words in Lang Leav’s The Universe of Us. There are seven books in-progress, two of which were nearly finished for my medieval literature class. Currently stacked on my desk are seven books I hopeto finish before my next semester begins. They are as follows (in no particular order):

  • The Four Loves by C.S. Lewis (in progress)
  • Horse Latitudes by Paul Muldoon (in progress)
  • Fixing English by Anne Curzan (in progress)
  • How to Read a Poem (And Fall in Love with Poetry) by Edward Hirsch (in progress)
  • Four Romances of England edited by Herzman, Drake, and Salisbury (only dear Bevis left to be read)
  • Insular Romance by Susan Crane (briefly skimmed)
  • Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur (not yet started)

Of course, I’m also reading A Storm of Swords and I wholeheartedly blame my sudden interest in A Song of Ice and Fire on Game of Thrones Book Club with Practical Folks. If you haven’t yet seen any episodes, there’s a special guest on AGOT episodes eight and nine (hint: it’s me).

I travelled frequently this year, primarily to Seattle but I also explored Portland, Orlando, and more of my home: southern California. While in Florida, Kylee shot a fine art series titled “Whispering” which can be seen in full at Colfox Photography. The featured image at the top of this post is from that series and I am always blown away by Kylee’s work.

I hope to put together a chapbook of my own poetry next year, featuring what I consider my best works of recent years. I’m caught between spatial experimentation in my newer works and the emotional weight of my older ones. Hopefully working on a small collection will help me to bring that distance together. I’m slowly becoming more comfortable sharing my poems because, while sharing my poetry is hard, pretending I don’t want to is harder.

I have little else to say and I have started most of these sentences with “I” so, as it is now nearing the end of the midnight hour, good night.

My Fear of Sergers

I learned how to sew when I was 15. I grew up with my mom and grandma constantly making things for me, so when I decided I wanted to learn how to do it too, I did. I primarily use a Brother Ex-660 because it was the machine given to me for my birthday that year, though I’ve also dabbled with other machines (including but not limited to Viking, Bernina, Singer).

But I never learned how to use a serger.

Both my mom and my grandma have sergers and both of them use them from time to time. About half of my sewing friends have sergers, which they’ve let me use for straight lines under their supervision. But I have no idea how to use one and reading the manual for my Singer Ultralock (a gift from a former coworker who had never used it) did not help me an ounce. My biggest issue is with threading the machine and an even greater concern is in accidentally unthreading it. I’ve read the guides, watched the youtube tutorials, and tried time and time again to thread both my and my mom’s sergers. I just can’t figure it out.

Hopefully that will change. As I’ve been working on new projects this year, I want to have clean seams wherever possible and vastly improve my personal craftsmanship. I have plans for projects that use velvet, satin, organza, spandex, and even more fabrics where a serger will be helpful. And I want to make use of the machine I was given so it doesn’t just gather dust.

I wish I could say that “No Fear” from The Swan Princess plays through my head but this serger has been a desk ornament for the past few months precisely because I am full of fear. Since I don’t want to let a perfectly good machine be a paperweight, I’m going to reread the manual for the umpteenth time, scour countless online tutorials, and do my best to follow the color-coded numbers that tell me exactly where I should place each thread.

Wish me luck.

visual of serger thread guide
After threading the machine & successfully sewing a few lines! (Sorry for the lint.)