Friday, August 21, 2009

Dinah's Friends (or not) and English Literature

Good evening everyone (well, if it is evening where you are). I've just finished sifting through email and got my first assignment for the year-- I'll be taking a class on "queer" as in "odd" communication and exploring what it means for writing (why does it make us college teachers so upset? why can't we find it more useful? when is it useful? etc.) and the assignment just happens to include some pretty intimidating work. Plato anyone? Roland Barthes? To name two of four readings to be completed during the last weeks of summer vacation. I don't want to complain, except about the Plato, I never can bring myself to enjoy Plato, because I'm one of those odd people who likes reading about writing or (duh duh duh!) THEORY as it's more commonly known.

Dinah's Friends is my creative outlet for now, since I have paralyzed myself regarding my writing. I don't have writers block, since it doesn't exist. No, I have what fellow Barnard alumna Anna Quindlen so aptly calls the fear of writing well. I suppose this is a way of overcoming that, this blog. Here's hoping. At any rate, Dinah's Friends, for those who don't know, is my little shop on Etsy, a marvelous online marketplace for things handmade or vintage or supplies for things handmade. It's named after my cat, Dinah, and I sell little sculptures made of wool as well as jewelry that features wool sculptures or designs. It's all done using a technique called needle felting that essentially involves poking a barbed needle through fluffy wool (after it's dyed, before it's spun into yarn) until it makes a shape.

I find that I need the creative outlet desperately. I do love teaching (will I still say that when I'm teaching at 8 am in two weeks?) and learning and all that, but I must must must get out of my head. What better way of getting out of my head than using my hands to poke at things with a sharp tool? Perhaps I should start grunting while working. Me poke. Me no think. Lately I've been loving the puppies:

Actually, I even got sick of the needle felting recently, which accounts for a sort of slow-down in new items listed in my shop. It began when I quit smoking--hooray for me!--and needed something all-absorbing. So I sewed myself a dress! It's quite lovely. Vintage pattern purchased on Etsy. Vintage fabric handed down from Husband's great grandmother. She kept everything in beautiful condition. I never had the chance to meet her, but I do feel I have a sense of her having used her fabric, her wicker storage basket for my wool, her metal thimble that looks about a hundred years old. Mother-In-Law, or Ma as she likes to be called, treats me like her own daughter and gave me such a lovely tour through her grandmother's things. It's nice to feel part of that tradition as well as my own mother's family, who all sewed their own clothes, even my mom.

I recently found some wool and picked up another skill learned in childhood--I crocheted myself a hat! I found a very cool pattern (on Etsy, where else?) and now have a crocheted version of a riding had done with a big hook and very very bulky merino. I should be very warm come winter. It did feel a little silly, as it's about 90 degrees outside right now, but I won't have time when it's cold.

Finally, I need a new handbag and laptop sleeve to protect my precious MacBook called Jane (after Austen of course--I'm a geek in case you hadn't noticed already), and couldn't justify spending the money on a premade version of either. Husband was laid off, you see, and I make no money on my fellowship. So as soon as all the materials I need have been collected I'll be making an adorable little handbag as well as a padded laptop sleeve! Pictures of progress will appear here shortly.

If anyone knows of a fabric store in Queens, NY, please pass on the info, because I haven't been able to find anything but craft shops. They don't carry batting, fabric, etc, and buying everything online takes so much patience!


  1. Congratulations on the new blog! Great job!

    jesse :0)

  2. Lovely blog AnneMarie,

    English and the lack of, has been a pet-peeve of mine for a long time. I only have an AS degree, but acquiring that (as a non-traditional student) was quite an achievement for me.

    In my quest for education I became aware of a disturbing lack of writing skills in our American students.

    I really admire anyone who has the skills and ambition to help educate us.


  3. Well done. At least you did it, your first blog. check