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.


Upcoming Projects – An Update!


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!


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!


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:


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.


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.

These past 20 days…

…I haven’t been updating this bloggy space because I’ve started university!

Yes, I did get the opportunity to study overseas, and no, I didn’t go because my family would rather I stay home )-: I’m still sore about that. Not as bitter as I thought I would be, but still…sigh. Sighhhhh.

Why didn’t I say no? I did. I begged and I promised and reasoned and talked to people. But I also know my dad struggled with the decision, and in a way, the fact that my parents at least seriously considered the option, and weighed the pros and cons of that decision the best way they could – is enough for me. I still don’t agree with it, though.

Anyway! On to the second-best thing: staying on campus! I’m now 99% settled into my room and felt at home right away. I thought it would take a longer while and I would feel more homesick, but thanks to the HDB-like feel of campus accommodation and regularly bumping into friends, everything is a-okay.

So I’m tentatively feeling my way through things. I really want to learn and grow and get out, out, out of my comfort zone and do all the things! Well, maybe not all. But you get the idea.