Tuesday, June 12, 2012

NYC Shopping Report, Part II

Otherwise known as "Macy's and Bloomies and Mood, oh my!" (I saw Wicked while there, so naturally I had to crack an Oz joke.)

So, when last I had updated, I was on my way to the Fashion District to visit start-up designer Monif C's shop to purchase one of her convertible infinity dresses.  I ended up buying her ruched Marilyn model in a gorgeous shade of purple, thus using all of my early birthday money from Christian.  (He told me not to spend it all in one place, but I think I did...)  The link above doesn't seem to have the purple model, which I believe was a leftover from a previous season, so here's my own somewhat less effective picture (I'll add some selfies in several different variations later on):

From there, I eventually headed to Mood Fabrics together with a friend from college who now lives in NYC.  There I acquired enough of a lovely pinkish wool blend knit to make a slightly more upscale hoodie, enough silk jersey in a sort of raspberries 'n' cream tie-dyed look to make a summer dress, and enough of a black and white Missoni knit to make myself a skirt!  I figure, hey, Missoni doesn't make clothes in my size, but since they sell their fabrics on the bolt, I may as well make my own!  However, they sell their fabrics for $40 a yard, which is why I'm making a skirt instead of a whole dress, which is the more traditional Missoni format.  (Hmm... though it occurs to me, if I could find a complementary print or a nice solid, I could make a dress similar in cut to the one featured in this fashion blog post.)

The next day, I went to Bloomingdale's, the big one on 59th and Lexington.  I have to say: if you're a plus-size woman in North America (or just planning to head to NYC), and you have money to spend, go here.  I will not go so far as to say it was my dream shopping experience, but it's as close to it as I can ever recall getting.  The plus-size section (still called "Woman's", which is pleasant but inaccurate) occupies about a quarter of the fifth floor, with half going to home furnishings and another quarter going to evening wear.  (Deviation from Dream #1: My dream shopping experience would be a place with the whole floor of a department store that size.)  It had virtually no lingerie (and the lingerie section on 4th had very little in my size), though I did get two tops from a shapewear brand called Yummie Tummie, one I hadn't heard of before (think Spanx for your upper half).  (Deviation from Dream #2: My dream shopping experience would have a quarter of that whole floor devoted to lingerie, both everyday and special occasion with a nice sprinkling of naughty girl, as well as sleepwear and exercise clothes.)

I get the distinct impression their sales staff is either entirely or partially on commission, given the way they (very politely!) glom onto you when you enter the department, offer to open a fitting room for you, and put their card in a holder by the fitting room.  I had the assistance of a lovely older Peruvian lady named Fanny, so if you go there, look for the short cap of bright red curls, or ask for her by name.  My only gripe, about the sales staff in general, not about Fanny in particular: only one of the sales associates in the department looked to be of an actual plus-size nature.  This is especially tragic and wasteful on the store's part, as I saw at least two or three down in the lingerie department.  (Deviation from Dream #3: My dream shopping experience would have a shop staffed exclusively by fabulous fat-shionistas.)

The Bloomingdale's Women section carried the following brands: Ralph Lauren Woman, Calvin Klein Woman, Jones New York Woman, Tahari Woman, MICHAEL Michael Kors, and Eileen Fisher (which features several garments with organic fibers!).  The Bloomingdale's online shop carries a few other brands as well.  (Deviation from Dream #4: My dream shopping experience would have TONS of different designers and styles represented in the shop, hence needing to be housed in a space at least as large as an entire floor of a Bloomie's-sized department store.)  I was pleased to see that so many of their lines were plus-size extensions of name-brand designers, as SO FEW designers do this.  From what I could see from my peeks onto the 3rd floor, at least some of the Woman collections featured the same garments as the mainstream size collections, just larger (I was about ready to have a fit at Michael Kors for his tops being all baggy and shapeless, until I realized that his regular collection looked that way, too).

Major complaint:  TOO MUCH F'ING POLYESTER!  There were SO many dresses and tops that were just gorgeous to look at, but as soon as I touched them or read the fiber tag, my heart sank.  Admittedly, there was one top that was so silk-like to the touch that it had me fooled until I read the tag, which speaks volumes about what really, really good polyester can be like; however, most designers don't use really, really good polyester.  Most designers use mediocre or crap-level polyester, and way too much of it.  (Deviation from Dream #5: Any designers trying to slip polyester into my dream store would be given a stern talking to, and strong encouragement of the "or else we won't sell your clothes here anymore" variety to discontinue their use of polyester.)

The one exception here was Ralph Lauren Woman.  Almost everything was in natural fibers, or natural blends with very small portions of synthetics.  For example: I got a wonderful pair of jeans, which were 98% cotton 2% elasthane!  They were $75, but I've paid more in Europe for jeans I liked less.  They seem to be a good, solid denim, and I have high hopes about how they'll wear (I frequently achieve inner-thigh blowout in less than a year).  They're a bit higher-waisted than is currently fashionable (which I prefer), but straight-legged rather than tapered, so as not to be the prototypical Mom Jeans.  (If I hadn't spent so blasted much already, I'd be tempted to order two more pairs from the Ralph Lauren website, have them shipped to my mom, and have her bring them with her when she visits in August, as they're currently on sale for $30 on the website!)

I also got the adorable Roma dress from Tahari Woman, which would look extra cute with a suitable petticoat underneath it to give the skirt additional flare:

And this gorgeous sheath dress from Jones New York Collection Plus:
Here's me trying it on in a 22, which was too big:
And here's the 18 (!) I actually bought it in, a bit wrinkled from being in my suitcase, I'm afraid:
I truly love service staff who go the extra mile and take pride in their work, which Fanny clearly does.  Even though it was obvious from my accent that I'm American, we had enough friendly conversation that she learned that I live out of country.  Since I could produce ID of foreign origin, she popped down to the Visitor's Center to get me the voucher for 10% off all purchases, and complimentary Bloomingdale's tote bag (not in the style of the classic Brown Bag, but very nice nevertheless).

Truly, by this point, I was tired of clothes shopping, and what little remaining shopping-oriented energy I had went into books.  On the last day of our stay, the morning before our flight, Christian and I popped by Macy's just for the sake of seeing it.  I have to say, I wasn't all that impressed.  Sure, it's big, and the plus-size section occupies about a third of its floor.  It carries most of the brands that Bloomingdale's carries.  But the additional brands it carried seemed to be the usual assortment of "meh", "ugly", and "grandmotherly" that makes me want to scream and tear my hair out when I shop for plus-sizes.  As far as I could glean from brief observation, the salespeople seemed dramatically less helpful, and the overall impression I had of the store was just nowhere near as pleasant as my impression of Bloomingdale's.  So, obviously, I didn't buy anything at Macy's, not even an ice cream from their Ben & Jerry's scoop shop, since Christian had been there a previous day, had said it was the slowest ice cream shop he'd ever been to, and we were in a hurry.

All in all, I have to count myself as pretty pleased with my New York shopping experience, disappointments notwithstanding.  I came back with some great clothes, some clothes cheap enough to make up for being not-so-great, and some fabric from which great clothes can and will be constructed.  Although it left me with fairly overwhelming sensory overload, I really loved NYC, and I can't wait to have the money and opportunity to visit again!  (Next time, more theater!)

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

NYC Shopping Report, Part I

My NYC plus-size shopping experience got slightly derailed even before it started. The midtown Lane Bryant was listed on Google Maps as "permanently closed", something I'd swear it wasn't last week when I made my maps. ReDress NYC, the only plus-size vintage shop I've ever heard of, closed its doors in November. The midtown branch of Avenue is having an everything must go sale prior to closing its doors. Perhaps there just aren't very many fat women in Manhattan...?
I had to go to Avenue regardless, as I was about to run out of underwear. I find shopping at a going out of business sale to be rather depressing. It makes me feel like a scavenger, picking over the body of someone not quite dead for valuables. Still, I got four pairs of panties, a set of summer jammies, two tops, and two pairs of jeans for $132, so I can't complain too hard.
Now I'm off to Monif C to buy an infinity dress, and to cruise the fashion district with a friend from college!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

An inspirational talk by Neil Gaiman

I'm a huge Neil Gaiman fan, have been for almost 20 years.  I got to meet him once at a signing in Champaign-Urbana about ten years ago, and he was so kind as to sign every last volume of my Sandman graphic novels (I went through the line four times, the last time going back behind about two people).  He could have turned me away, but he chatted amiably with me, and was so incredibly kind and gracious to my friend Ava, who'd brought him a Chinese-dragon beanie baby.  (He asked if he could give her a hug!)  I consider both him and his wife, Amanda Palmer, to be the two luckiest people in the world for being married to each other, and I've never read anything he wrote that I didn't love.

This is Neil giving a commencement speech recently at The University of the Arts.

He makes some great points about making mistakes and breaking rules, but I've transcribed my two favorite passages here.

Remember, whatever discipline you're in, whether you're a musician or a photographer, a fine artist or a cartoonist, a writer, a dancer, a singer, a designer, whatever you do, you have one thing that's unique: you have the ability to make art.  And for me, and for so many of the people I've known, that's been a lifesaver.  The ultimate lifesaver.  It gets you through the good times, and it gets you through the other ones.  Sometimes life is hard.  Things go wrong.  In life, in love, in business and in friendship, and in health, and in all the other ways that life can go wrong.  And when life gets tough, this is what you should do: MAKE GOOD ART.

I'm serious!

Husband runs off with a politician? MAKE GOOD ART.
Leg crushed and then eaten by mutated boa constrictor? MAKE GOOD ART.
IRS on your trail? MAKE GOOD ART.
Cat exploded? MAKE GOOD ART.
Someone on the internet thinks what you're doing is stupid or evil or it's all been done before?  MAKE GOOD ART.

Probably things will work out somehow, eventually time will take the sting away, and it doesn't even matter.  Do what only you can do best: MAKE GOOD ART.  Make it on the bad days; make it on the good days too.

Sometimes I feel like I'm still figuring out my medium, figuring out my voice, figuring out what in the hell I want to be when I grow up and what to do with my life.  I'm definitely in the stage where I make more bad or mediocre stuff than good stuff, and make mistakes by the dozen.  But I figure I can't go too wrong if I just keep on creating, whether it be words, or drawings, or fashion, or fiber.  I need to get out of the habit of waiting, or doubting, or self-editing too soon, and just CREATE.

Words going around in head?  Write them down.
Something I want to be able to draw?  Learn how to draw it and practice, practice, practice.
Something I want to have to wear?  Design it and make it.
Fiber speaking to me?  Get it on needles and see what it becomes.

Every day, rain or shine, happy or sad, energetic or tired, whether it becomes a piece of gold or a piece of shit, JUST CREATE.

And also, document it and get feedback.  Use my dusty DeviantArt account.  Blog, whether it's here or on my comparably dusty LiveJournal account, or in some other location entirely.  Put pieces up for sale, on etsy or Dawanda or at Farbspiel if they'll let me.  Create because I yearn to create, but share my creations with the wider world.

Neil also had some fantastic wisdom to share about making sure you can keep working:

You get work... however you get work.  But people keep working in a freelance world – and more and more of today's world is freelance – because their work is good, and because they're easy to get along with, and because they deliver the work on time.  And you don't even need all three! Two out of three is fine.  People will tolerate how unpleasant you are if your work is good and you deliver on time.  People will forgive the lateness of your work if it's good and they like you.  And you don't have to be as good as everyone else if you're on time and it's always a pleasure to hear from you.

Hmmm... My stat levels aren't maxxed on any single one of these, but they're closest to full on "on time" (at least, I was usually pretty good at turning in term papers on time in uni unless I was having serious health issues) and "easy to get along with" (as long as I don't totally bowl people over with the force of my personality).  I'm high up there on "good" with non-fiction writing, but in all other pursuits, I don't feel like I'm there yet.  So while I work on "good", I'll do my damndest to be extremely prompt and likeable, I guess.

So, the take-home lesson of Neil's talk: MAKE GOOD ART.  I'll do my best.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Plus sized Tracht!

Color me a happy camper!  Ulla Popken has added a Tracht (Bavarian folk-costume) collection to their Autumn collection.  I could get plus-sized Lederhosen!  Too awesome!  Only downside: the current site is just a preview, and nothing ships until August.  Oh well, at least that's in time for Oktoberfest!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Link Round-Up: The German Fat-o-sphere

This blog post is high on content but low on context.  I mostly just want to round up all these links in one place so I can close a bunch of tabs in my browser!  And since it's pretty much relevant to my blog, rather than doing the simple thing like bookmarking these sites, I'm putting them here on my blog.  I'll get back to this entry later to add some of my thoughts on each site once I have a chance to go through them.

At the moment, however, my apartment is a mess, and I've realized a major lacuna in my wardrobe: accessories of an "I can't be arsed to deal with my hair today" nature.  Hence I have a whole lot of cloches, snoods, headwraps, beanies, and other sorts of gear on my "Remember and Compare" stack on Ravelry, and want to get started on making one ASAP, as today is also one of those "hair-be-out-of-mind-and-my-way" days.

Without further ado, fat-positivity and fat-shion blogs in Germany:

Übergrößen Ratbeger
"Plus-size Advisor"

Übergrößen Total: Hier bin ich die Norm
"Total Plus-size: Here I am the Norm"

Maxx & Molli
A cute play on Maxx as in "maximum" and Molli as in "mollig", which means "chubby".

Dollface is Candysweet
Blogs in both German and English!

Beauté Plantureuse
Because French always sounds cooler than German, unless you're into Industrial.

Not much to tell yet, save for the cute ginger in the splash graphic.

Reizende Rundungen
German for "Lovely Curves".  She's got a really long list of recommended blogs in her sidebar, so I might be able to find some other German Fat-o-sphere bloggers through her.

More to come!

Friday, April 13, 2012

Paris Shopping Update

Between the fact that I was still fighting The Upper Respiratory Infection That Would Not End(TM), and the fact that we ended up having to take Frida along, I didn't end up getting to do as much clothes shopping as I would have liked.  What I did end up doing, however, was clothes shopping by necessity!  Paris was way, way warmer than I was led to believe based on the weather forecast, and the clothes I packed were way, way too heavy for walking around in the City of Lights.

I will say this much: Un Jour Ailleurs is utterly worth avoiding. The sizes only go up to 50FR (48 in the rest of Europe), so unless you're an in-betweenie, you won't find anything useful.  There's another clothing shop on the Rue de Rennes, within a few streets northeast of UJA on the same side, that made a similar claim to "Grandes Tailles", but only went up to 50FR as well.  Here's me, wanting to scream and throw things.  Clearly I need to do more research before I'm able to actually SHOP. *headdesk*

The one plus-size shop that I actually liked, namely Couleurs on 17 Rue de Rivoli (no website, apparently), had a pretty nice selection, and I ended up buying two sleeveless tops to tide me over for the rest of my trip.

This cute take on the classic sailor top, sans sleeves, with a cute and functional zipper set in on one shoulder:

And this abstracty floral with elastic ruching three places on the neckline:

Couleurs had a bunch of utterly cute dresses from designer Elena Miro (there's also an Elena Miro boutique in Paris), and if they hadn't been made of 100% polyester, I would have been sorely tempted by them.  

If I haven't stated it here before, let me be absolutely clear:  I hate polyester with the passion of a thousand burning suns.  Plus-size designers should just straight up NEVER use it, because BIG WOMEN SWEAT, and polyester does not breathe.  The ONLY exception I make for polyester is when it's in the form of microfiber (and then it says "microfiber" on the label, not "polyester", even though microfiber is usually made from PE, polyamides like nylon, or some combination of the two).  Really, designers, please: if you're thinking of using polyester satin, use silk or cotton sateen.  If you're thinking of using polyester jersey, use modal, tencel, a viscose blend, or something really yummy with bamboo fiber.  Your schwitz-ing customers will thank you.

Unfortunately, I just didn't have the energy for more shopping, or a shopping-friendly travel companion, so I didn't scour Paris the way I'd hoped to.  Clearly I need to go again in the future!  Even if I'd had more energy, I might not have had more money.  On an entirely accidental but intriguing walk through the Quartier Juif, I stumbled onto a high-end handicraft fair.  I ooh-ed and ahh-ed like crazy, took lots of business cards, and then fell into conversation with a delicious young man who made Steampunk-themed jewelry.  Long story short, I spent half of my cash shopping budget on a surprise I'm giving to Lars for our 9th anniversary in May.

I also only got to hit one yarn shop, La Droguerie, but I happily spent all of the rest of my cash plus a bit of extra from Christian on a gorgeous bamboo-linen blend yarn.  I got a fair amount of white, and about 10 shades of blue to blue-green, which I'm knitting into a sleeveless top in a chevron lace pattern.  Should be gorgeous and very yummy for summer!

One thing that always amazes the introverts in my life is how easily I can just talk to random strangers.  Thanks to this ability, I ended up dishing extensively on plus-size fashion with a young Swiss woman who was staying at the same hotel.  Ironically enough, her mother runs a plus-size store in Lausanne!  Time for a road (or train) trip! She made it to Jean Marc Philippe, which I didn't, and got a couple of truly fantastic items.  She said her mom carries JMP, although not the whole line, and she's always loved his stuff.  I pointed her towards Marina Rinaldi, as she was unfamiliar with them; I hadn't bothered putting the MR shop on my map, as we have both an MR boutique and at least two other shops besides that carry that line here in Munich.  However, since my map is publicly shared, I'm adding it now, in case other FAT-shionistas are heading to Paris before I go back.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Signal Boost: ABC News Article

ABC News has an article about the trend of fast fashion finally hitting plus size, focusing on Fashion to Figure.  I really like the quote from plus-size model Anna Kleinsorge:

Almost 6 feet tall and nearly 200 pounds, Anna Kleinsorge is a plus-size model. She argues that having sexy clothing options doesn't enable someone to be obese -- quite the opposite.
"If I'm wearing sweat pants or a paper bag every day, I would grow to fill that paper bag -- whereas when I have something that looks awesome on me and makes me feel good, I'm out, I'm doing stuff, I'm with my friends and experiencing life," she said.
Well said, Anna!

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Shopping, shopping, shopping...

I think I'd heard mumblings about asos once in a while in my monkeysphere, but assuming it was a US-only and mainstream-size-only website, I didn't check it out.  I could not have been more wrong!  Thanks to one of Plus Model Magazine's Fashion Friday posts, I saw an awesome dress on a woman in my size, and followed the click-through just out of curiosity.  Said dress no longer seems to be available, but wouldn't you know, asos also has a German site with free shipping and free returns inside Germany!  Color me thrilled!  Not only that, the clothes are totally cute, way more exciting than anything I've seen on my usual German go-to sites, Happy Size and Ulla Popken!  There were a number of pieces I loved, but which were unfortunately polyester, which I detest, but there are also a number of pieces which I immediately put into my shopping cart.  I will, however, be saving said shopping cart until after my Paris trip.

Happy Size and Ulla Popken, I might add, are my go-to sites because there's not much else to choose from in Germany (and sadly, the situation is better here than it was in Denmark!).  In all truth, though, I find the former to be mostly boring, and the latter ranging from mostly boring to occasionally godawful ugly (to say nothing of how their sizing charts lied to me, but that's a rant for another day).  Would that there were fantastic new designers like Domino Dollhouse popping up on the German scene (I also intend to throw together a cart for purchasing in about May or so, as I'll be stateside in June)!  I will keep my eyes peeled for them!

On Thursday, I will be travelling by fast train to Paris!  I have three custom Google maps prepared for the trip: one with plus-size stores; one with secondhand, thrift, vintage, and consignment stores; and one catch-all with yarn stores, fabric stores, and a confisserie that I simply must visit.  After printing them out, I even used color-matched markers to sketch in the Metro lines as best I could.  I also plan to go back and number the tags and the list, as Google Maps didn't seem to have an option for this (note to self: have the guys submit this idea to the Google Maps development team).  Naturally I won't be able to hit them all, but there are a number of places where several shops from each map are clustered: Rue de Rivoli, Boulevard Haussmann, and a few others.

Also, Christian's darling little sister Ulrike bought us a Moleskine City Notebook for Paris and filled it with must-sees and must-dos, recalled from the summers she lived there while working at EuroDisney.  I had no idea Moleskine actually made such a thing!  I'll definitely have to get one for the NYC trip!  And possibly one for Chicago, and one for Copenhagen, and one for Berlin, and and and...  ok, let's just stop there. Ooh, one for Munich!  I should fill in one of these for handing off to guests when we get out-of-country visitors.  Oops, didn't stop.  But really, these are too awesome!

On the workshop front: together with the guys and Lars's mentee Bartosz, we packed up my workshop space and brought most everything back, save for the IKEA furniture which will need disassembling, and a couple other pieces of furniture that didn't fit.  Most everything is now in my new garage space, save for the things I'm putting in my room, like my yarn, my knitting books, and my comfy chair.  The garage is definitely a short-term solution, not a long-term one; the floor is warped from housing a car, it smells musty in ways that make me a little worried about my fabric, and the lighting is terrible (thankfully it's about time to stop using my light therapy box for the year, so I have a portable bright light unit I can put down there.  And given how rarely the guys and I game at home, I think they can resign themselves to temporarily losing the gaming table to my work.

On the work front:  I need to make a splash graphic, and pick out a CSS template for Lars to apply, as well as help him design the data structure to house the survey responses, but it mightn't be too long before we're ready to go live with the body type survey!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

How did I miss this??

Full-Figured Fashion Week is in New York in June, the week AFTER I'm going there.

Hmmm... can I rearrange my plane ticket?  I'd so love to go!

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Opinionated FAT-shionista: This site makes me happy!

I'm starting a new category to list the sites and retailers I either love, hate, or feel decidedly "meh" about.  I simply had to start this planned type of entry today, as I've just found an American plus-size retailer I actually LOVE and which has several items which inspire feelings of "IT MUST BE MINE!"

The retailer is none other than Domino Dollhouse, created by plus-size fashion blogger Tracy Broxterman. Hey, blog to designer to store, sounds like a path I want to go on!

Check out some of these pieces of awesomeness that I so, so want:

The Lipsticky Skirt in Red:

The Royal Icing Coat:

The Domino Dahlia Pencil Dress:

Considering how rare it is for a plus-size site to make me sit up and go ZOMG!, I will definitely have to budget some money for a Domino Dollhouse purchase in the near future!

Monday, February 20, 2012

Adventures of an Accidental Fat-shion Designer: My four-footed anti-assistant and other news

It would not be exaggerating to say that I've been a bad, bad blogger.  It's been over two months since my last post!  Two months!  Good grief, woman!  I can blame at least part of it on holiday craziness, as my last post was December 16.  But since then?  I can blame it on an adorable little four-footed critter named Frida.  Lemme 'splain.

See, I am A Dog Person(TM).  I love just about anything with four feet and fur, but dogs hold a special place in my heart like nothing else.  I had a wonderful dog from somewhere around age six until we had to put her to sleep when I was 18 due to congestive heart failure, after which I cried harder and longer than I ever have in my life, before or since.  Since then, there has been a dog-shaped hole in my heart which periodic encounters with other people's dogs could only make more poignant.  I've been meaning to get a dog for years now, but the time and circumstances never seemed right.

Early this year, all that changed when I adopted a rescued Bodeguero from Mallorca, who'd been given a new lease on life by a German dog rescue called Beschützer Instinkte ("protective instinct").  Apparently when Germans go to the Mediterranean or Eastern Europe on vacation, they abscond with homeless and mistreated dogs, to which I say "Go Germans!".  She had been brought back to Germany by a delightful young woman named Sarah who'd gotten her own dog there five years ago, and who's successfully fostered a couple dogs since then.  Sarah named her Frida for Frida Kahlo (Spanish, Mexican, close enough, right? :P), and then advertised her on Quoka.de, which seems to be the local equivalent of Craigslist.

Frida is a delightful dog, despite clearly having had a rough patch in life.  She's an absolute charmer, to the extent that she's won over the two avowed Cat People she lives with besides me (though at 5 kg / 11 lbs., I've known and owned several cats larger than she is!).  Christian adores playing and snuggling with her, and Lars is having a blast teaching her commands.  She's super-smart, amazingly snuggly, and having had food security issues in her past, very easy to motivate with treats.  Her only major downside, now that we've got the housebreaking issues mostly sorted out, is that she has a hardcore case of separation anxiety, and I am her Mommy-Security-Blanket-Person like WHOA.  Add that to the fact that big city noises and experiences like public transit are very new and scary for her, and I've been seriously housebound in the last month and a half.  Hence calling Frida my "anti-assistant".   Gratuitous cute pictures of me with dog can be found here.

She's gradually getting better, but it's slow going.  I passed off my ticket to go see Pirates of the Caribbean live at the Gasteig again tonight, since she's not ready to spend three hours without me even with a dog sitter.  I cancelled plans to go to Berlin with Christian this weekend since no way in hell she's ready to be separated from me for a weekend.  The only reason I'm not in a panic about our plans for Paris at the end of March is that Sarah has kindly agreed to dog-sit Frida then, and hopefully I'll get her to do so again in June when we go to New York.

Yup, you read that right: Paris and New York!  Oh my goodness gracious, people!  I've been through both cities just to travel via the airports (actually on the same trip, now that I think about it), but I've never actually been IN either city!  I'm totally stoked!  Where do I go plus-size shopping, folks?? Clue me in!

On the business front, things have been slow going even for reasons other than Frida.  Thanks to my having SAD (or "winter depression" as it's so aptly called in all the other Germanic languages), this is my lethargic, low-energy time of the year.  While it's SO much better here than it was in Denmark, it's still been like pulling teeth to make myself get stuff done.  Also, I will confess, I'm a bit of a video game addict.  While many of my friends have been playing Skyrim, which would be like heroin for me, I've been making do with my methadone version by playing the deluxe version of Oblivion, the previous title in the Elder Scrolls series.  And I really have to say, playing any video game while using the projector to create a two-meter "monitor screen" on the south wall of our living room KICKS EVER-LOVING ASS!  Ahem.  That said, I haven't been spending all of my time gaming, which makes Lars very proud of me.

There's also been a major hiccup on the workshop front.  Ingrid, the woman I rent from, had a small stroke or aneurysm in her brain shortly after I started renting from her, and it has left her with a jag in her visual field that's made it impossible to continue making jewelry, the poor love.  With a heavy heart, she's decided to close her studio and not renew her lease on her workshop, which means I'm out of a space as of March 31st.  In truth, though, it was too far away to be practical, so this is really a blessing in disguise.    I'm sincerely considering a space in Kultfabrik, which is close enough to be a single bus ride and roughly 7 minute walk away (or upwards of 15 minutes in deep snow with a recalcitrant dog, but I digress), and easy biking distance once the weather clears up.  The one major downside is that it's too big and expensive for my current needs, so I'll have to find a subletter for part of it, but that's not looking too impossible.

I've been working with my fantastic graphic designer on spiffy graphics for the web version of my body type survey, so hopefully the site can go live in a month or so.  I'm really looking forward to having data to look at.  Data is so much fun!  Sue and I are working on a customizable plus-size knee sock knitting pattern, and I've been having a blast collecting and looking at the data just for feet, ankles, calves, and knees, so I can't wait to start working with whole bodies!

I've also been working on making some plus-size croquis drawings to design over.  For those not familiar with the term, a croquis (or "crokey" as it's often written online by design students who've only heard it said and never seen it spelled) is a line drawing of a body that you can use as a two-dimensional mannequin to design garments on.  Plus size versions are virtually unknown.  Therefore, I've been gathering pictures of diverse fat bodies, from nude or nearly-nude models on Adipositivity, to actual plus-size models via Plus Model Magazine, to pictures of large-bodied female athletes.  Since I'm no great shakes at drawing people from reality, and even less so at drawing them from my imagination, I'm tracing images to make myself a bunch of different croquis drawings to work from.  They're turning out remarkably well, given that my hands shake!

All in all, I hope to be getting my butt in gear soon, and making 2012 the year that things really start happening with my business.  Sorry again for the long silence!