Just sew sew

I mentioned in my last post[1] that I’m overwhelmed with knitting projects and projects-to-be that I want to knit all at once. I’m also suddenly struck with the urge to sew! I bought a little Bernette 330 (a perfect little sewing machine from maybe the 1970s that doesn’t do anything fancy, but does what I want it to well) two years ago, shortly after Tommy was born, and was briefly excited about learning to sew. It started with a desire to make my own cloth diapers (good cloth diapers are shockingly expensive), but that turned out to be more trouble than it was worth, and my interest in sewing sort of petered out when I got pregnant again (my interest in knitting also waned during both pregnancies, but came back with a vengeance in the third trimester. Go figure.)


One of my first sewing projects. Tommy was about 4 months old.

Anyway, I really want to sew again all of a sudden. I had this moment a couple weeks ago where I thought I would run out of design ideas, which was immediately followed by a design idea: cute little vests/waistcoats in fingering weight yarn, and a photoshoot involving suit jackets with satin bias binding trim. For both boys. So, you know, I need to sew some jackets.


A schematic of the little vest (mostly an exercise in learning new techniques in Inkscape)

It was weird, that feeling that I was about to run out of ideas, and I had another feeling just like it again. I had a job interview last week (and another the week before, both for the same job, which doesn’t exist), and I guess it went well enough that one of the interviewers followed it up with an email saying they’d like me to do a short programming test (it’s a software development job). Immediately I knew I was going to fail this test, and started coming up with a plan for what else I could do with my life[2]. I’ve never worked in industry as a programmer, but I’m a really good programmer. I know this. I knew rationally that any test they gave me that I couldn’t easily pass could only be one of those tests that are designed for everyone to fail[3], where they want to see what you come up with under those circumstances (Kobayashi Maru, as both my brother and Steffen pointed out… geeks!) And I have a PhD, I’ve “passed” those sorts of tests. But the rational part of my brain wasn’t able to get through to the rest of my brain, and I had a couple hours of planning for failure.

My mother happened to be flying home that day, and I was riding with her to the airport in a rental camper van, which took about as long as my crisis (in other words, way longer than a drive to the airport should take… This city has too many cars). She pointed out that I had these crises all the time in high school: moments of certainty that I’d fail at something important. I don’t remember that, and I don’t really see myself as plagued with self-doubt. And yet, here I am, certain that both my would-be career and pseudo-career are about to end prematurely and catastrophically.

I wrote the programming test last night, by the way. It was about at the level of the second assignment in an intro to programming class (I’m not exaggerating, but there was a 30 minute time limit, which a newbie programmer wouldn’t necessarily be able to manage). It took me about 15 minutes.

  1. I also mentioned a top I wanted to write a post about a top I designed that I’m still not sure I’m happy with, but that is at least interesting. It’s coming! I have to weave in some ends first (BORING!) and take some pictures.
  2. I think this is related to what academics call imposter syndrome: this thing where you constantly feel like you’re a fraud and that at some point the powers that be will catch on and you won’t get to be an academic anymore. It’s amazing, even the most obvious academic superstars seem to be afflicted.
  3. I’m not bragging here. The only logical reason to make all your candidate programmers (even the real junior developers) pass a test is to verify that they can actually program. Unless you’re trying to select only the elite few… This isn’t that sort of company.

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