Amara Hotel

I do not know how to read these gleaming tiles
that stare back at me from
the hotel room
because, of course, it is not them I am looking for.

With what tone of voice, what expression, what emotion,
with what pride, regret or ambivalence should I mention,
in passing,
to you as we saunter past the Amara Hotel
my ahgong’s tailor shop once stood here
before they tore it down? Here they were,
all these tailors in Tanjong Pagar, in the old day.
(all Cantonese, no Hokkiens, just me. Why? I also don’t know.)
Enough skill between them for a boy to pilfer.
In the curve of crotch curves, fly-fronts, side seam pockets
my grandfather marked his notch. The cutting table
fed its upstairs twin. This way
Turn right for ahma chiselling buttonholes open,
the cut edge already fraying in the muggy monsoon damp.
It’s an October rainstorm and guests are hurrying in from the Garden
upstairs to their rooms, shaking the rain off
my mother and her siblings haul fabric bolts to dry
because nobody knows if it’s going to flood.

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New Year’s Resolutions 2017 – aka things that get me supER dUPER EXCITED!!

Because obviously, it’s that time of year again.

  1. Shave my head. I’m still deliberating on whether or not I should buzz it short or just shave it all in one go. Should I have a go during Hair for Hope, or just do it alone? Or with friends? Document the process? How do I grow it out? Should I get contacts so my face looks less distracting? SO MANY QUESTIONS!!
  2. Knit a fish hat. To go with the botak head, of course. I giggle every time I think of it.
  3. Run a 18.45km race! I completed this year’s resolution of a 10K, so I don’t want to run another 10K next year. I’m still deliberating between 15km, 18.45km, or a half-marathon. My heart says GO BIG OR GO HOME but my rational self says I’m really scared. I haven’t decided the exact distance yet. There are too many possibilities – will I stay in hall next semester? Do an internship or go on exchange? I’ll have to figure out new running routes because I don’t fancy running around in more circles. And do a ton more cross-training. But why do I feel weirdly excited?

I really hope I manage to keep on knitting and sewing next year, too – my impatience at regular shopping will probably take care of that. And next year I’ll join a club or stay in hall, so hopefully that’ll take care of the loneliness.

xxx

喜欢的诗篇//poetry’s surprise

In English, first, if you please, because it is yours to keep.

Of all the poems in Carol Ann Duffy’s The World’s Wife, “Mrs Quasimodo” is my favourite by far. It’s perhaps a little long for a blog post. I contemplated putting in a shorter poem, but instead I’ll just put my favourite bit down, and hopefully, it’ll inspire enough curiosity to read everything that I’ve left out here.

Mrs Quasimodo          Carol Ann Duffy

[. . .]

Where did it end?
A ladder. Heavy tools. A steady hand.
And me, alone all night up there,
bent on revenge.
He had pet names for them.
Marie.
The belfry trembled when she spoke for him.
I climbed inside her with my claw-hammer,
my pliers, my saw, my clamp;
and, though it took an agonizing hour,
ripped out her brazen tongue
and let it fall.
Then Josephine,
his second-favourite bell,
kept open her astonished, golden lips
and let me in.
The bells. The bells.
I made them mute.
No more arpeggios or scales, no stretti, trills
for christenings, weddings, great occasions, happy days.
No more practising
for bellringers
on smudgy autumn nights.
No clarity of sound, divine, articulate,
to purify the air
and bow the heads of drinkers in the city bars.
No single
solemn
funeral note
to answer
grief.

[. . .]

我尝试着,赶上你勤快的步伐。凄凉、热情。你是最亲密的爱人,但也常常是我最捉摸不清的那个谁。我的汉语、华语、闽语。

竹简          顾城著

你说小竹简中,
有只萤火虫;
然后让我细看,
问晃不晃眼睛。

我说:呵,真亮!
可竟然不爬不动。
你诡谲地笑着,
说已经变成了星星。

我看到天黑,
萤火虫就没了踪影;
怎么倒也倒不出来,
这可真叫人纳闷。

最后打开手电,
才突然发现原因:
竹简尽管密封,
却被钉了个小洞。

1980年4月于绍兴

 

Upcoming Projects – An Update!

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My nearly-completed projects have successfully passed into the realm of done-and-gifted bits, as you can see –

The Two-and-a-Half-Month Culottes, for my grandma. Ta-dah!

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I redid one of the pockets, and had to rip out four lines of stitching, then decided to recut the pocket fabric because there were tiny holes left in it from the stitches. I had the most trouble with the curve on the fly front. The hem is blind-stitched to the inside of the culottes.

A Hermione Hearts Ron hat, for my cousin J.

I cast on 11 stitches less than what the pattern called for, on account of my yarn being worsted weight, but knitted the same number of pattern repeats (J asked for a slouchy hat). I knitted to LOTR, Jewel in the Palace, a few episodes of Gilmore Girls and, I think, The Fundamentals of Caring. Whew. That’s a lot of TV!

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Here ya go, a piece of glorious pinkness.

My now-In Progress things can best be summed up, I think, with these pictures:

I have been spending TOO MUCH this month, and these lovely fabrics started it all.

After my Chinatown excursion, I trooped off to Straits Art and Overjoyed the next week for calligraphy supplies for a friend’s birthday present, and grabbed a Pilot Kakuno fountain pen for myself. And then of course I just had to see a set of Pilot various coloured ink cartridges, and of course I just had to have that :/ AND then I bought a 1″ bias tape maker. And reserved a 3/4″ bias tape maker. And to top it all, I bought my notions, got another zipper (a 7″ zipper is a little short for my purposes), and my mom accidentally collected 3 3/4″ bias tape makers instead of 1 – I suspect some miscommunication on my part. And I have been dreaming about all these extra notions I don’t need at all. Or…do I?

Anyway. So I’m on a spending embargo for the rest of the month.

In the pictures: A soft brown Thai poly-cotton (S$12 for the lot since it was the last of the batch. I’m estimating somewhere between 1-2 yards), 1.5 yards of a grey woven poly cotton (around S$6/yard) for the Colette Sorbeto top, a really super swoon-worthy three-tone cotton that reminds me of the sea (S$17 for 1-3/4 yards) and charmingly grey Cotton + Steel fabric (S$8/yard) – I got three yards for a wrap dress. Not pictured: Lining for the skirt, and plain blue woven cotton for bias binding.

One Pleated Skirt – now gathered! Owing to a passing comment on its resemblance to bedsheets, I hereby christen it the Cloud Bedsheet Skirt (that’s a terrible name). Pictures up as soon as I’m done with it!

The $5 Pencil Skirt (well, $5.35, to be exact) – Black cotton twill, snatched off the bolt at an Arab Street store. Also the last remnants off the bolt. One and a half metres. Fair weight, very lint-y. Pictures up soon, too, but here’s a summary of what I’ve done with it so far:

Instructions from Simple Simon and Co.’s pencil skirt sew-along, here. They had a tutorial on a self-drafted pencil skirt sloper, too, which I largely followed with some modifications. Sloper drafted, skirt cut out, basted, adjustments made. Next: to sew!

I’m going to bind the facings with an excellent red skull-print fabric that I got way back in 2012 (I was 15! I can’t imagine being 15 anymore, but I think I can.). I’ll save the pockets for another project. A 9″ invisible zipper for the back, which I’ll sew in over the weekend, and a back split for mobility (and getting up buses).

M’s Sweater – I’m done with the swatch. Knitted up using TECHknitter’s method, but I haven’t measured and blocked it yet. Here’s the early beginnings of said swatch:

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This is, I think, a forgiving acrylic yarn. Here’s to hoping it knits up well!

When I’m done, or halfway, or three-quarters of the way done with these projects, I’ll tell you all about all the new ideas roaming around in my head, like the relatively inexpensive cotton rib knit I’m eyeing on Etsy, all those beautiful buttons I see online, and lately, even sergers (nooooooo!) have started creeping into my daydreams.

I think my New Year’s resolution for next year will be to: shave my head and knit myself a fish hat. I giggle every time I think of it.

I also spent today hunting down bow-tie and tie sewing tutorials. A distant maybe?

But! Lately I’ve been a little worried that my hobbies are kind of esoteric, or ‘out-there’. Am I stuck in this little bubble of interests that no-one outside understands? Should I be going out and joining clubs and making more friends? Oh, well. I’m trying to apply to one of the university halls next semester – email sent out! – so fingers crossed, I do get in.

xxx

Upcoming Projects

Nearly-completed ones:

  • One pair of culottes for my grandma that took stinkingly long to finish. The stitching isn’t perfect, and I’ve ripped stitches out too many times to count – but I learnt a lot! I just have the hook-and-eye to sew on.
  • One hat for my cousin J. The Hermione Hearts Ron pattern on Ravelry. Apart from the weaving-in of ends and blocking, it’s done 🙂

Upcoming:

  • A pleated skirt that my friend very helpfully pointed out looks like bedsheets. Cut out and serged. I’ll be sewing up the side and attempting to insert an invisible zipper over the weekend.
  • A pencil skirt. This is going to be the first clothing item I sew all by myself. Self-drafted, invisible zip, pocket and everything! Fabric: 1.5M, $5.35, 100% cotton – the stiff kind used for uniforms – from Arab Street.
  • A sweater for M! Acrylic yarn, red and white. My first. This one on Ravelry.
  • More distant projects: A mustard-yellow gathered midi skirt. Possibly cotton. If linen, I might line it with cotton lawn. One wrap dress in the style of McCall’s M6959, or a mock-wrap dress. The dress’ll be done in class – I haven’t yet figured out if I want to do the midi skirt all by myself, or not.

A man after my own heart.

Adam Grant recently wrote a piece in the New York Times titled “Why We Should Stop Grading Students on a Curve”.

My feud with the Bell Curve God aside, I also understand the logic of grading on a curve. Mostly, though, my emotions have ranged from frustration to ambivalence.

I think Grant puts it well. I would like to see alternative or modified grading schemes of the sort he proposes – it sounds like it’d be a weight off our shoulders.