Thursday, September 17, 2015

Project 48: Union Jack Shirt

 The third and final of my flag-themed shirts, the Union Jack. I really got excited about this design when Google revealed to me that I could order fabric from the Union Jack Shop with the Union Jack printed on it for the pocket. Making the DIY maple leaf was challenging enough, thanks!

I've executed this pattern enough times that I don't usually encounter any construction issues anymore. Mishaps, however, still happen. I rarely work with white fabric, so didn't really think about it when I pricked my finger with a pin and drew blood. Oops. I suppose a blood stain is appropriate for any imperial power's flag.

Being color-blocked, it was inevitable that some of the top stitching would be contrasting to the fabric, so I decided to use up some of my left over blue thread that was slightly lighter than the blue fabric. I like the fact that all of the top stitching is visible, rather than just where it crosses a white area.

I also completed the project from cutting to buttons in two evenings, down from a typical three for a shirt like this one.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015


The following is an open letter to the membership of our Gaelic society, Slighe nan Gaidheal regarding my decision to retire from the Board of Directors after 18 years of service.

Mo Shoraidh Slan Leibh (fad greis)

My Fond Farewell To You (for a while)

Back in 1995 when the guys in my Scottish Gaelic class with Richard Hill started organizing events together I could not have imagined the joys, the challenges, and the love that the next twenty years would bring into my life. I have been called upon to grow as a student of Gaelic and it's history and culture, as a community organizer, and as a human being and I know that growth will serve and sustain me for the rest of my life.

Three years ago, when I decided that I was running for my last term on the Board of Directors this day seemed a distant dot on the horizon, but here it is. Deciding to retire wasn't easy, and last Monday evening when a new season of Seirm started without my help it was strange. Good, but strange.

I was one of the original incorporators back when we started Slighe nan Gaidheal in 1997, and there were a couple years of work before that also, so all told, I have served this community as an organizer for twenty years without a break. I have life goals that are sitting basically idle and I’m hoping that I’ll be able to accomplish some with the time I’ll have back by retiring from the Board, the Communications Committee, and the Gaelic Music Committee. I will continue to teach through the Zero to Gaelic program, though, so if you miss me, come sign up!

Working to help build Slighe nan Gaidheal the organization and its community is without a doubt the most important thing I've ever done, and it has been hugely rewarding. The opportunity to meet and learn from our many tradition bearing presenters over the years is something that I will be grateful for forever. Just as importantly, knowing, working with, and sharing time with all of you has made my life into so much more than I ever thought it would be. Thank you.

Together we have built something extraordinary and precious. Féis Seattle, Seirm, and Zero to Gaelic are models that other communities are already starting to emulate. I know that whatever challenges may lie ahead, Slighe nan Gaidheal is strong and resilient enough to make it through with all of our help and the continuing leadership and dedication of our Board of Directors. It is especially comforting that our first president and another person who signed the incorporation documents, Richard, is back on the Board and steering the way to a bright future for our organization.

While I won't be involved in Slighe nan Gaidheal's day-to-day operations for the foreseeable future, I will most certainly be working hard for Gaelic in our region. Doug and I are already involved in the launch of Guth nan Eilean's inaugural season of their program, Conversational Gaelic, and we hope to be able to provide some organizational assistance to other groups as well.

Sharron Gunn and I at Folklife circa 1998
So it's really not farewell, it's just see you in different contexts. If you want to stay in touch, you can join my musician page on Facebook:

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Chí mi sibh uile a-rithist!