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I am a mother, a grandmother, and a teacher. But whatever happens in my life, I keep sewing. I have worked as a political communicator and now as a teacher in my formal life. I have also written extensively on sewing. I have been a frequent contributor and contributing editor of Threads magazine and the Australian magazine Dressmaking with Stitches. My book Sew.. the garment-making book of knowledge was published in May 2018 and is available for pre-order from Amazon

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Thursday, June 18, 2015

There's something you should know about me

I have a character flaw that is sometimes a good thing and sometimes not.

When I get on a challenge I don't move on until I get it figured out and get on top of it. Not until then really, which I am sure sometimes makes me annoying. This is particularly true when I have decided I am indignant about something.

So bear with me while I work this one through.

You may remember a while ago I wrote about compression socks/stockings.

Shortly after this post I went and got my eyes tested and fitted for new glasses. In the middle of trying to read the last line of text, the really small one where you hope that is an E and not an F but turns out to be a P, it hit me.

Glasses are medically necessary.

When you get your eyes tested and you need them they give you something called a prescription. It means essentially that your eyes are not up to scratch and you need something to keep yourself operational.

Not unlike the millions of folks who have less than idea valves in their legs, because of age, injury, or occupations that stress their circulation (think nurses, teachers, anyone on their feet) or other circulation issues.

However when you go out into the big room to choose your glasses no one says "these are medically necessary so your choices are these four kinds of steel rimmed industrial numbers" in fact you have a gazillion options of these "fashion accessories" and more often than not get more than one pair. Many of us feel pretty sharp in our glasses.

Now compare this experience to the compression hose business that still believes it is in the medical supply business and not in the fashion business.

Think what a difference it would make if these folks readjusted their heads and started to think of themselves as selling accessories?

So after this great epiphany I sent off a link with my post with your comments to every manufacturer and supplier I could think of to see what they could suggest.

I heard back from three manufacturers, Rejuva, Sockwell and Sigvaris, and one online seller Brightlife.

The response from these four was excellent. Rejuva asked to repost what I wrote on their own blog, Sockwell sent me a pair of light coloured socks to try and some short socks for relief from plantar fascia and Achilles tendon issues.

Bright life sent me a pair of Mediven Soft and Sheer thigh highs to test and Sigvaris also sent me a pair of  suntan and grey Eversheers to try.

I am being very specific about this because I have never on this blog accepted any product for review. However given the cost of these is $100 a pair and my insurance only covers a total of five pairs a year, which really does not leave much room for trail and error, I thought it was fair enough to test these.

And I am more or less obsessed with finding a support hose that I can wear comfortably and not look like a dork. And I know I am not the only one who feels that way and we are now at a point where I have a social responsibility thing going on in my own head.

You should also know that I accepted these products only on the proviso that I would do completely honest reviews.

Before I start with the review you should know that I have in the past tried two other makes and not been happy with them.

Those are:

Allegro thigh highs from Brightlife - the colour of "natural" can only be described as ochre which is not what my legs or anyone else's are.

Bauerfeind support stockings - this company also makes a number of medical support devices. Although their support hose look good I have found them really uncomfortable. The tops of the knee highs are tight which I don't think helps the circulation, and the backs of the knees of the pantyhose crease when you walk and build up a tourniquet. I went back to the person who fitted me and her only suggestion was that I travel with Rubbermaid gloves and go in and out of bathrooms smoothing them out. I don't think so. There is a normal life to lead here.

Now onto the current ones I am using. 

Inappropriate picture alert, I had my husband and then my sister take leg shots for educational purposes and you know we will do just about anything around here for educational purposes.

Sockwell: Again if I could live in Sockwell socks I would. They are the bomb to quote my sons. Natural fibres great support. Here is the light coloured version of the circulator sock, wore it yesterday:

Sockwell also sent me this compression sock for plantar fascia and Achilles tendon issues. They are snug and if you have ever hurt your tendons, and I have, these would be really helpful while you heal. I wish I had had a pair of these when I had my foot injury in the fall:

Mediven Soft and Sheer thigh highs from Brightlife. I have tell you the customer service from Brightlife is amazing. They have answered a million questions and been so interested in this project. 

The first pair "wheat" colour they sent me turned out to be a dry mustard colour and they replaced it with natural. I found these thigh highs comfortable and easy to put on. The colour wasn't that natural but OK and they are quite sheer. My legs felt great in them.

The only issue for me personally was that the silicone band at the top gave me a red rash after one wearing that took about a week to go away. This is probably my issue. I have sensitive skin and know for instance that I can't even use many bandaids because of the same issue. This is too bad because I quite like these. Someone suggested I wear them inside out so the silicone is not next to my leg and I might try that and see if they still stay up. 

If it works I will let you know.

In the summer I wear a lot of knee socks with shorts and short skirts but there are times when that is not the look you want. These have a little sheen to them but to give you an idea of how sheer they are I can clearly see all the moles in my legs in them - this is a small thing but if you have been a victim of industrial strength support hose this information will be of significance to you. Yes I realize I must be insane to post these pictures but you need to see this to understand what I mean:

I would not actually wear these shoes with stockings but I wanted to give you an idea of how sheer the toes are. Again with the education.

I have a suggestion for Brighlife and anyone else who will listen. The big issue is colour and gee I wish the manufacturers did some work on that. I can't imagine how hard it would be to order these online working only from the little inaccurate pictures you see on your computer. 

How about making swatches available? 

I know when I order online fabric I am happy to pay for a small swatch to get the colour right. I just paid Mood $4.50 for a silk swatch but when I am ordering $150 dollars of fabric (what support pantyhose cost) I consider that a good investment.

Next I tried Sigvaris' Eversheers. Again these were very comfortable, made my legs feel great and were easy to put on. 

A bonus I had no issue at all with the silicone band irritating my skin. The colour was not quite as good (the light colour made my legs look like prostheses according to my husband who never notices anything) and my sister said the darker colour, shown here was a little too dark, but that otherwise they looked just like ordinary pantyhose, which is a bonus. See what you think. Note these are more mat and do not have that sheen, although they are also quite sheer. I could wear these quite happily in the summer.

Again these house shoes are not my footwear of choice but I had to grab a photographer when I could
The truth is that getting a skin colour support stocking that doesn't look like a bandage is a challenge. If you want to wear a colour it is easier because of course you are not matching anything. 

Fall and winter will not be a problem and I note that many of the manufacturers are trying to expand their lines into colours, probably for that reason. I have seen mint and yellow (not trying those) from some lines and the Sigvaris rep sent me these product photos, and while I do not endorse anything I have not tried, these are worth showing as an alternative approach and as a trend. Also they illustrate legs much thinner than mine:

These are patterned and called Allure

The quest continues, and I will keep you posted.

Hopefully this information is useful to some of you.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Completion but not the sewing

I am settling in at home again after a weekend in Montreal and Ottawa. I have a sister in Ottawa and we drove up to Montreal on Saturday so I could speak at a memorial for my old and best friend Sue.

People say these things are good for closure and I don't like that word. I am never going to be closing any kind of door on her. But on a beautiful bright sunny day I felt and still feel a real sense of completion, which is different, and better. She was interned with the husband she lost 33 years ago, when we were all young and just married. Those were the pictures I saw all around me and somehow that day felt like the right thing.

We talked about how her house really did have an unfinished sewing project in each room and when her sister said to me Sue had gone into the hospital suddenly and the house showed she thought she would be back, I knew that was code to me that there were still sewing and knitting projects everywhere when they went into the house. 

I thought that was O.K. too. 

Better to always be a work in progress with works in progress. I actually think she got most pleasure out of the planning and starting than the finishing anyway and that's all that matters.