Wednesday, October 30, 2013

I was thinking.

"Hi, Honey. How did that job go?"  said I, as Steven came home from caulking the tub at our neighbor's house.   To be fair,  he was supposed to replace one of their windows, too.  He had decided to "cut loose" from that job because it was cold and late in the day.

"Oh, pretty good.  Almost done." Turns out, he had enough time to get it started, and almost finished, this afternoon. 

"Great.  Some lady called."

"Really?"  He has been hoping for another little job.  Just enough to keep him busy.

"Yes.  She wants you to fix the ceiling in her kitchen.  It's a bit funky and she is sick of it."

He gave me a grin and pointed at me and at our kitchen ceiling.

So what if I was a bit resentful of our neighbors?  I mean, caulk their tub?  Really?  Our kitchen ceiling has been FUNKY for years, at least ten.  I am truly sick of it.

I honestly can't remember why that piece of plywood is there.  It has a function and I am sure it is important. But I hate it.

"So, do you think we can get the game on the radio?"  I am talking, of course, about Game 6 of the World Series.  The Sox can clinch it tonight.  We listened to Monday's game on SiriusXM in the car the way home from the airport.  

We tried to tune in the Albany Fox Sports AM radio but all we got was static.

"There is a way that we can stream Sirius radio on line."

"How do we do that?"

"I don't know, I am trying to figure it out."  I pulled up the Sirius web page.   It took about thirty minutes. First  I had to find the radio ID in the car.  Then I had to log in with it and then create an account on line with yet another username and password.  Then I had to add internet radio to the account. They timed me out and we had to start all over.    Finally, we made it to the all important billing page.
 "Are you excited, honey?"

"Oh yes, I am ecstatic."

"So, does that mean I can get my kitchen ceiling fixed?"

"Oh, yes, for sure, honey."

"Oh good. I was thinking, maybe we should get a new light, too."

Friday, October 25, 2013

Southern California

Things are different in Southern California.  For instance, the ocean is to the west and it is a different ocean.   The sun comes out.  There are oranges, persimmon, lemons, guava and avocado.  Hummingbirds hover over the trees and swoop in to the feeders chasing out competitors.  In the Northeast the hummingbirds are long gone, along with the sun.  In fact, snow is forecast.

Just the same, the natives are saying it is cool here.  True, I have to wear a light sweater and the sun did not come out until the afternoon.  But shoot, it's almost NOVEMBER !

Thomas Hood, clearly did not live in Southern California


No sun - no moon!
No morn - no noon -
No dawn - no dusk - no proper time of day.
No warmth, no cheerfulness, no healthful ease,
No comfortable feel in any member -
No shade, no shine, no butterflies, no bees,
No fruits, no flowers, no leaves, no birds! -

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Cool New Tool

 Betsy bought a snap press last year so that she could make diapers.  I used it a couple of times then.    Last week when I was at her house, I used it again and decided that I just had to have one.

So I bought one.  She had done the research so I  bought one just like hers.  You can  buy the press alone or you can buy a package deal to include 500 snap sets and the matching die for the press.  I went one step further and bought some metal snaps and the matching die.  Now, between the two of us, we have a lifetime supply of snaps. 

Our goal today was to set up both presses so that we could install snaps "production style."  Instead we each made a one hour bag.

We never had the chance to set both presses up.  Betsy had to get home by three.  She had finished her bag, I was just about done with mine by then (I had strap issues).  I am sure we would have been able to finish our respective bags in less than the three hours we worked had we had two cutting stations and two ironing stations.  I finally put up a second ironing board and iron but it was too late.

After she left, I had a chance to play with my Cool New Tool.  A Kamsnap snap press.
I happily placed snaps on the OHB inside pockets
and on the tab closure on the OHB itself
I chose a psedosuede fabric which was a bit difficult to work.  The bag actually looks quite nice, though this photo doesn't do it justice.

I had so much fun pressing on snaps that I put a set on a tote bag I made last year.
Tote bag made with Amy Butler Lark Charisma Midnight laminated cotton
Talk about difficult to work fabric.  This is a laminate. The foot wouldn't travel easily.  I think a teflon foot would work, but I really hated working with this stuff.  I love the bag, even more now, with the little green snap

In order to install the snaps, you need a cap with a male connector and a cap with a female connector along with the corresponding die.
It is a nuisance to switch the dies out each time you want to change from male to female.  Hence, our idea to get in production mode.

Yesterday I made a draw string bag for my press and Steven gave me a tool box he wasn't using.  The press and snaps fit nicely.
I have plenty of room for other snap tools in the nesting compartment that fits on top.

I am storing the metal snap sets and corresponding die set in the outside compartment.  This actually can be removed from the lid.  Steven rejected this tool box because this compartment would open and spill his stuff.  He thinks it was because he was hauling it in and out of the truck.  I don't plan to move it around much.  I just needed storage for my Cool New Tool.
I love the little snaps for the wonder wallets.  I know that I will find lots of uses for them.   Who knows?  Maybe one day I will be making diapers. 

Saturday, October 19, 2013

How do you like them apples?

Apple abundance. This year we have had a bumper crop of wild apples.  Steven has been saucing up apples almost daily.  Today he went to our neighbor's farm with 6 1/2 bushels of apples and came home with almost 17 gallons of cider.  Mmmmmmmm good.

We have quite a few wild apple trees but the ones at the top of the field produced the most.

There were a gazillion on the ground, too.  We did our best to pick from the branches but these trees are on a slope.  Next year we will be better prepared.  The plan is to keep the area underneath them mowed. 

The cider is the best I have had in a long, long time. Fresh and clean tasting.  Last year there were NO apples because a late frost killed all the blossoms.  Hopefully that won't happen next year.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Six Billion Dollars

Who do they think they are?

Why are they allowed to keep their jobs?

What the heck is the point?

Wednesday, October 16, 2013


It was a good day today.  I re-homed two machines.  A lovely Japanese zig zag in a treadle stand. Complete with a manual I found on line.
And a Singer 128 as a hand crank.  (OK in this photo it isn't a hand crank.  But it is now.)

The motor doesn't work.  But that might be because we (L. and I ) didn't know how to work it.  But we did know how to work the hand crank.  Woot !  Woot! 

I am feeling lighter.  So far this makes four machines that have been re-homed in the past two weeks.  This is significant.  It means that I don't have to worry about appearing on that awful reality show about hoarders. 

All of the machines that I released will be used. Now isn't that a wonderful thing?

L. Came over today with her Minnesota A.  She wanted to clean it up.  We set to work and used the wonderful ultrasonic cleaner.  Got some dirty parts, really, really, really clean. 

Then she took a look around the shop and spotted an interesting case. 

"What's in there?"

I opened it up and there was a lovely New Home VS.  We tried to fit it with a hand crank but it wouldn't work. 

"Oh, so you want a hand crank?  I have just the machine."

And out came the 128.  It came to me as a gift.  It has the attachments, the oil can and the knee controller.  It is adorable.  The decals are worn but that means it has been loved and used.  It will be now too. 

I tried to send the New Home along too.  No go. Well, that's ok.  I think I will just get it out and put it in the museum.

We didn't get the Minnesota A stitching.  I think we were using the wrong needle. 

Sunday, October 13, 2013


They, in this case, being me.   When I figured out that the Mystery Singer was actually an Improved Family modified for leather use, I thought it would be fun to use it to make a bag.

older photo, the machine is now in its nice refinished stand.

It took me a while to adjust the tension, again.  Finally I declared it ready.   I started on the bag yesterday afternoon, late.  First I made the strap. That was pretty thick for this little machine.  The rest of the bag went together pretty quickly since I had so much experience with the pattern.  But I had an awful time making the final seams.  The machine just wouldn't handle the bulk.

I thought, some, of trying the 31-15 but by the time dinner was over and I had taken my cholesterol lowering, heart disease prevention medicine, I was spent.  Besides, I wanted to watch The Princess Bride.

This morning I surveyed the machines in the sewing loft; Singer 237, Singer 201, Kenmore 1760 and, of course, the Singer 15-90.

I popped it in the treadle stand, swiped the bobbin from the Non Improved Family and started to sew.  That machine went through the four layers of the strap and the two layers of the seam plus the lining with ease. I also gave up on the leather needles. I went through two, and the points on both needles failed. IOW, they became burred.  Back to microtex sharp Schmetz.

I think I will be able to use that Non Improved Family class 15 Gloversville Machine for sewing very fine leather.  I have some nice soft stuff.  I could try making little change purses.  I suppose I should keep the machine for the "museum."  Likely there aren't many of them around.  I wonder if this guy would want it.

Gloversville isn't THAT far from here.  Maybe on a lark I will load it into the car and trek up there to see. 

Saturday, October 12, 2013

The triumph of Hope over Experience

It takes two hours.  That's all I have to say.
I followed her directions except that I added the tab closure.  I didn't like the width of her strap so I folded it in half and stitched it together.  But I did that after I finished the bag with her directions.

Next time (if there IS a next time) I will make the strap my usual way; cutting a strip 4 inches wide and folding it in half and then folding the edges together again and stitching.  Makes a strong and pretty strap.

I still prefer the tab closure to just putting the clasp on the lining.

So there.  It is a nice spring bag.  I will use it in April

Friday, October 11, 2013

Time is an arbitrary concept

I don't know about you, but when someone claims that a project takes under an hour, I think that means less than 60 minutes.  I decided to try out the One Hour Bag from All Free Sewing

It truly did look straight forward and quick.

I made a pattern, after I realized that, since the pattern would be placed on the fold, the pieces would be double the size of the pattern.  I thought 13.5 cm was small.  I had no idea what A4 paper was when I made the first pattern.  I just used some brown paper I had in the sewing loft and went for it.

It took more than an hour.  How much more, I cannot say.  I had to stop and walk the dogs in the middle of the project.  Plus I changed things up a bit.  I added the tab and sewed the straps to the inside.

I am pleased with the results.  I needed a new bag.  Mine is rather beat up and I am quite tired of the old pattern.  This was fun.  Sort of.  I used a remnant that I bought in NC.  It is that waterproof, canine proof, upholstery, Krypton stuff.  Gums up the needle.  OK, so maybe that is why it took longer. 

Given that, and wanting to imprint this new information on my 60 year old brain, I decided I would try another with denim.  Betsy was discarding an old denim comforter that was embellished with emrboidered flowers.  Perfect, I thought.

I made a new pattern with freezer paper after I GOOGLED A-4 paper.  Turns out that there is a standard measurement for paper size.  A-4 is 210 X 297 mm. (8.3 X 11.7 in).  Ah now it makes sense.

I cut a piece of freezer paper 8 1/4 by 11 3/4.  I figured that was close enough.  Then I made my pattern.   The first one I made was a bit deep. 

Because I used freezer paper I could just iron the pattern onto the fabric before I cut it out.
I originally cut out the pockets and the lining from the denim as well but decided that the bag would be too heavy if it were made entirely from denim.  OK.  Another time waster.  I am glad that I changed that.  The machine had a hard enough time going through all the layers as it was.

So when I had the bag almost done I noticed some spots.  Darn.  It is quite adorable and now it is in the wash.  Hopefully the spots will come out.  Those are the risks you run when you "repurpose" I suppose.

Truthfully I think I like the depth of the first bag.  The pockets aren't quite deep enough, unfortunately.  Next time I have an hour, I will whip one up.


Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Brother CS-6000i

 When I picked up her machine with two fingers, I knew right away that H.'s machine had no metal frame inside its plastic casing.

Still it is a cute little machine.    It is quiet.  The variable speed control is nice.  the single step back tack is nice.  And H likes it.  So there.

But I couldn't help myself during the whole sewing lesson.  I did try to NOT  insult her machine.  I really did.  I mentioned how light it was.  She replied that this is an advantage.  When she is older she will be able to lift it.  Before I knew it I was saying:

"When you are older this machine won't be around."

We struggled with the automatic needle threader.  "Well, it will probably break today and then you won't have to worry about it anymore."

Gee whiz, couldn't I have kept that to myself?  What is UP with me?  So what if I had read about the needle threader breaking the first day.  I was being a good teacher, right?  I had done my research.

(I honestly hate my automatic needle threader on my Viking, but at least that one works)

 OK enough with the machine.  H was here to learn how to sew and she wanted to make an apron from a pattern she had brought along; a  1940s Vintage apron.

We cut it out.  She sewed the pocket hems and sewed one pocket onto the apron sides, as directed.  Time was short by now (All that time threading the needle.  Really, the automatic needle threader was NO TIME SAVER ) so we reviewed the rest of the directions and closed the session  I wish we had had time enough to finish the project.

Only because I had SO MUCH FUN with her.  It is wonderful teaching someone to sew.  H. caught on really quickly and graduated from very slow speed to fast speed in no time.  She meticulously cut out the pattern.  Plus, she brought a great project and is a great sport, and FUN. I had a really, lovely time.  What a wonderful way to make a new friend (I hope).

I do hope that she can finish the apron.  I warned her that she likely shouldn't sew anything heavier than the cotton weight we used today.  I mean, by the time the apron is finished, it will weigh more than the machine.  Really.  I am serious.

I tried to make up for my lack of tact by calling her machine cute.  She didn't take it to heart, I hope.  Besides, when she left, she told me

"And that music?  Get something different"  (I had Pandora playing Windham Hill radio in the back ground)

"Oh I am so sorry, I said.  I barely noticed."

"Ah, but when you are a musician, music is in the foreground."

"OK, when you come back I will play something else."

"Silence would be nice."  I wonder if she is referring to the music or me?

Monday, October 7, 2013


 We are at an impasse at MSMO.  I imposed a new rule.  A very Good Rule; All Dogs must Pee OUTSIDE before bed.

The dogs don't like it.  Though Steven approved and The Vet agrees;  it is a very good rule.  It is good for the household and good for the dogs.  But the dogs don't like it.

So the dogs have decided (Well, Frannie decided, and since Wilson and Wrigley are afraid of her, they went along) that it is NOT a good rule.  So she has said that she will NOT obey the new rule and demands that we repeal the rule.  If we do not then she will WITH HOLD ALL LOVE AND AFFECTION.  And what's more, she will be sure that W and W do the same.  Hence, holding the HUMANS (the ones with the larger brains) HOSTAGE.

I am holding firm.  I will not be held hostage in my own home just because I want a pee free home.  It is a smart rule and it is a good rule.

I told Frannie that she is NOT a TEAPUBLICAN. She is a CANINE and smarter than that.  She capitulated.

Now all dogs go out at night to pee.

SEE how easy that was?

Friday, October 4, 2013

Sometimes you just have to let go.....

Kenmore sold some mighty fine machines in the 1970s.  I have a 158.1760 that I love.  It has a free arm and built in stitches, takes cams and makes a lovely stitch.

But I think this 158.1813 has it beat.  Today I got it ready to go to its new home.  I checked it all out in the shop to make sure that it was clean, lubricated properly (including the gears) and ready to go. 

Then I took it up to the sewing loft to use it.  I like to make something with a machine before I ship it.  I always put it through all of its stitches and check the bobbin winder.  I do like to make something in addition to that.

So I made a Lazy Girl Designs Wonder Wallet.

I wish that this photo did the stitch justice.  It doesn't.  I took one look at this stitch and thought, "Maybe I should keep this machine."  Look at how STRAIGHT the stitches are.  Wilson said "No, don't keep it.  It needs to be used."  (He was the only dog in the sewing loft with me this afternoon.  Frannie and Wrigley didn't know enough to come in out of the rain).

OK.  It is true.  The machine should be used.  So off it goes.  I just hope I don't regret it.

I made that little draw string bag for the foot controller, too.  Sigh.

On the bright side, my son will have one less machine to deal with when he is going through my stuff.