Thursday, September 17, 2015

Finished object: Pencil shirt

No, that's not a typo. My daughter requested a shirt with a pencil on it to wear on the first day of school; she is starting third grade and I doubt this sort of charming earnestness will be around much longer (kind of surprised it is even still in play, really)*, so I was happy to oblige.

*(More evidence that those innocent childhood days are numbered: I asked to take a picture of her wearing the shirt before we left for the bus stop this morning, and noticed that she was posing. That is, instead of smiling for a picture while wearing her shirt, she was trying to look a certain way. Like with a knee pop and everything. I felt pretty sad about it, to be perfectly honest.)

The shirt itself is a hand-me-down from her cousin and the pencil is made from fabrics my daughter chose from my embarrassingly large stash. I would like to point out that I cared enough to change the thread in my machine three times to match each element of the applique.

I did this project in a mad rush last Tuesday afternoon but my daughter didn't get a chance to wear her shirt until today: the start of school was delayed 6 days by a teachers' strike here in Seattle. Officially, the strike is not over but merely suspended; the teachers won't vote on ratifying the tentative contract until this weekend. I hope they do accept it (my daughter would be heartbroken to be out of school again), but even if they do it's clear that what we have here is not a finished object but very much a work in progress. Without getting too strident and overtly political, there seems to be a groundswell of energy among parents to finally force our state government to fix the systemic underfunding of public education that has been going on for four decades now, and I'm hoping to play some small part in that effort.

So here's hoping my daughter and I both learn and achieve a whole lot this year.


  1. I always figure if you're going to do something, you should do it right. In other words, I too, would have changed the thread on the machine three times ;) . And it looks like you did a beautiful job, Sarah --- the applique is lying very nicely, with no puckers anywhere along the edges, which is not an easy thing to achieve on jersey knit.

    As for the posing ... sigh, that earnest childhood innocence DOES all go by way too fast. I saw, with my daughter growing up, that while some girls began, far too soon, to care way too much about appearances, about what the boys thought, and also began to be really mean to each other because of superficial reasons, that this skipped over many of the girls. (Maybe this means all the "girl power" talk is working?). Here's hoping your daughter (mainly) keeps her head about her (as it were), as my daughter did.

    Oh, and good luck with the school situation! We've been in and out of "work to rule" situations for a couple of years now. My 16 year-old was really worried that they wouldn't have sports (he's in grade 12 and would have been devastated to lose out on cross country in his final year) but the high school teachers managed to ratify their contracts just before school started, thank goodness. The elementary teachers on the other hand, are still talking with the province, so our youngest, while he does have school, has only the basics. No sports, no comments on report cards, no meet the teacher bbq ... So far there's been no threat of a complete walk-out, but who knows? This kind of upheaval is hard on both kids and parents :(

    1. Thanks for the nice compliments about my applique skills, Marian! And yes, I hope my daughter does prove to be one of those keeps-her-head-about-her girls. I did get a lecture the other day about how stupid makeup and earrings are, so maybe that's the direction she's headed. (Though, I would like it even better if she could avoid the *obsession* with superficial stuff without deciding that everything labeled "girl" is dumb.)

      I hope your school contracts work out! That just-the-basics situation sounds very unsettling!

  2. When I was growing up in Seattle in the 70s and 80s, teacher strikes were just part of the whole back-to-school thing. I'm sorry to hear that they're back. Every teacher I know hates strikes as much as parents, so the situation must be pretty bad for them to strike. We all know how much damage they do to a community.

    1. Thanks, Rita. I think in my effort to be not-too-political before I may have actually been a little to opaque: actually I strongly supported the strike, and know that the decision wasn't taken lightly. I was relieved when they voted last weekend to accept the tentative contract though! There is a lot of work to be done to fix school funding here in WA, a single strike was never going to do it, so now it's up to all of us.