Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Does anyone really use these, and what I made for Christmas.

Sometimes I am mystified by the things that are suggested we make for gifts.

Every single everywhere, for example, has a pattern - knitted, crocheted, sewed, whatever - for an eye pillow. I took a little survey. It turns out:

I don't know anyone who uses one.

I don't know anyone who has EVER used one.

None of them knew anyone who used one, either.

Now why do we need 75 gajillion patterns for something no one seems to need or use?

Even more places have patterns for tissue pack covers. Now I will say I have, in my lifetime, known one or two people who use these. However, compared to the number of people I know with noses, this is a very small number. I have never used them myself. I have no anticipation of ever using one myself. I own several. If I am ever stuck in a grab-bag situation with people I don't particularly care for, I suppose I am all set. Other than that, pointless.

I think I am going to keep a running list of things that I find patterns for which no one uses. But I am not going to mass-produce these things for gifting.

I have, I will admit, just done a pretty much handmade Christmas.

I started out with a plan for myself and the older son which was about as large as the Library of Congress, but scaled back continually over the 60 or so working hours that included all the sewing time I got. Travel organizers made way for tea wallets and little purses, hand painted pictures made way for patches sewn on tote bags. New ideas were born out of thin air. (I know how to free motion embroider? Apparently, I do, at least on a primitive level. I discovered this by accident. Go figure...)

What did I make?

Fleece cowls. Fleece cowls with embroidered patches on them. Last, desperate fleece cowl sewn, none too neatly, by hand.

Tea Wallets. Tea wallets in Osnaberg and a black linen blend, with a Zen aesthetic. Tea Wallets made from Orientalist print fat quarters. Tea wallets made with a sort of polka dot fabric in brilliantly bright colors against black. Tea wallets cut on the straight of the printed pattern, rather than the straight of the grain, since it was one or the other and the pattern was geometric. Tea wallets I can't even remember...

Little purses. Little purses with three pockets for folding money or various cards, and a velcro closing, that simple. And even so, I sewed one semi-inside out. Surprise, that worked too... Last little purse sewn by hand, including the velcro...

ONE travel organizer. I would have liked for it to have been three. Maybe more. But frankly, that one took a lot longer than I expected, and there just was not the time. Maybe if I start now, for next year...

Tote bags... The bags were premade, but had to be cut open along the side seams so I could sew on the postage stamp like machine embroidered panels, then sewn back together. I used my fake serging stitch and my overcasting foot. I broke a needle or two, forgetting to change needle position correctly, but these are the breaks...

A Hat. This hat matched a cowl I made. I made the tube longer and sewed up the top, straight across. Then I turned it inside out and met the two corners of the seam, and sewed them together. It is very warm. He does not like it. He doesn't like much, though, so...

All of these were nice things, I would have been happy to have gotten any of them. They were all useful. The tea wallets intrigued some of the recipients who decided they would put little notepaper and a golf pencil in there, or a cell phone, and may have mystified one, but I had one full I showed them, and I explained that It could also take instant coffee packets, the energy drinks in the long packs, etc. I decided to let the 21 year old find out for herself what else that comes in foil packets will fit in there...

No tissue holders. No eye pillows. Anything else you think it is likely my audience was happy I spared them???

Monday, June 21, 2010

A little story for our Reducio Mum...

Killjoys... I took a little writing class where I had to invent a magical animal with its own properties and write 500 words that included the animal. I "invented" Killjoys, although I have to say I was heavily influenced by a children's cartoon. These animals have the power to make people cheerful, but they have to choose to do it. Mum was mentioning making a nativity shepherd into Hagrid, and I thought this would amuse her...

Hagrid and a friend sit and mull over the miseries of life...

"Five o' them, ye say?" The large, bushy-haired man put his enormous tankard to his lips and sipped. "Five?" His voice echoed in the almost-empty tavern.

"Five," agreed the mournful pile of unkempt hair and tattered clothing that sat and drank with him, "an' if ye can believe it, Hagrid, I only paid for three. How I got the other two I couldn't say." He, too, took a drink absentmindedly. The beer spilled from the heavy cup, splashing his filthy clothes further, but he seemed ot find it funny. "There ye go, mate. I just put on these robes this mornin' for the firs'time, and they're broken in already." His laugh was rusty, but a laugh, all the same.

"Do they play cards like that fer folks? Ye ough' ter make a few knuts lettin' folks watch." Hagrid observed the small, sheeplike animals sitting cross-legged on the floor near the fire. "They'r real convincin' like."

The largest of the small animals looked up at Hagrid and growled. The ferocity of the sound, combined with the adorable mop of curls on top of it's placid, sheep-like head got a smile out of the large man.

"No," Dung continued mournfully, "They won't perform in public.. Although Eunice in the corner there'll knit."

"Really? Well, thats sumpin' like. Don' see too many sheep as can knit."

"No, ye don't, do ye. There's no market for knittin' sheep in these times, Hagrid. I've wasted my money." Mundungus seemed resigned. "Free to a good home. Ye've got the room."

"But they're a bit dull, ain't they. No breathin' fire or bitin' or spinning rope?" he asked with a faint hope in his voice.

"Not a bit of it. Still, sort of amusin', watchin 'em when they think ye ain't lookin. Billy was playin' drums on the oatmeal box this mornin'"

Hagrid burst out then with a deep belly-laugh. "OATmeal, Dung? I'd a never picked ye fer oatmeal in the mornin'."

”Oatmeal goes very nice with a bit o' fire whiskey in the mornin'. An ye know, I don' think they're sheep. I think they might be KillJoys."

"Ye don' say. But they're supposed to be extinct!" This was more interesting to Hagrid.

"I have it on good authority," Mundungus responded, in a low voice, "That there's odder thin's in New Jersey than that."

"Maybe. Maybe, Dung. I can' take em, though, anyways. Too much to be doing right now, what with..."

"Well, mebbe Fred and George, then. they're use' to bad knitting anyway..." He stood up and whistled. "On yer feet, lads." Obediently, they stood on their hind legs. "March."

The little wooly animals sashayed out the door of the Leaky Cauldron. "Then again, Hagrid, mebbe I'll keep 'em meself. There's sumthin' about them I je' can' put my finger on, but their cheerful, like."

"Well, if ye like that, then. Good day, Mundungus." Hagrid, sat down again at the table, remembering to be bereft, while happiness on the hoof marched itself out the door.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Small enough for a House Elf.

So recently I got myself a very Reducio'd machien on ebay. Actually, I got two machines - the listing said one should be able to make one functioning machine out of the two and have lots of spare parts left over. Well, I had a feeling the first one was actually running, and I was right. Here is the photo. Note that the cup is a regular size cup, not a supersize one, and that the little bag was actually sewn with the machine.

Now in case that did not convince you that the machine is small, here is another shot, this one with a coin for reference.

Note that he is a bit dirty, and lacking a proper spindle for the thread to hang out on, and that he is there all by his lonesome, without the foot control that is almost as large as he is, or the little briefcase they come in, or any of the bunch of accessories they used to throw in with a machine.

{Now a days you are lucky if they throw in a presser foot and a few needles, but back in the day they came with hemming feet, quilting line guides, tuckers, rufflers, and various implements of construction that can baffle even the brightest of modern minds. This machine came with a decent, middle of the road set - we just did not put it in the pictures (which are, as usual, thanks to Lava. Thanks, Lava!)}

He weighs in at less than four pounds all by himself - with the case, accessories and foot thinger he has been clocked in by others at about 9.5 and I am willing to take their word for it. But he is a real sewing machine, not a toy, with very convincing innards and very credible moving parts. I sewed the little bag and in the future I will show more.

Does he have a downside, other than being smaller than some beetles? Well, there is a marked smell of ozone with the motor running, the easiest way to pull up the thread is actually to just stick the bobbin thread through the needle plate before replacing it on the machine and the bobbins hold a very very small amount of thread. However, I can live with all that. His biggest limitation is that he only straight stitches. Then again, the Featherweight only straight stitches, and goes for easily ten times what I paid for the two of these together, and more frequently for 20 times as much. I'd still like a little Kenmore, but for now this one is small, and light, and fun, and I can use it on the desk, which was the idea, after all...

I will have to make a Reducio project for next round on this one.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Lucius Malfoy's sewing machine

Ok, I know that Lucius Malfoy didn't do his own sewing. He was way too aristocratic. He had house elves for that sort of thing. House elves, and quite possibly sweatshops full of Muggles purchased on the black market who sew T-shirts and fetish gear to keep The vault at Gringotts full and the powers that be quivering in anticipation of their payoffs.

But what if Lucius Malfoy's secret, dirty, passion is....


What if there is a secret room at Malfoy Manor full of fat quarters? What if there is a torture device down there which is actually a disguised quilting frame? What if Lucius Malfoy's boggart is Voldemort finding him with a needle in one hand?

So maybe, maybe this is Lucius's machine.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

How to use the row counter....

This would be SOOOO much better with piccies, but as I pointed out, I am notoriously bad with getting pictures up, especially since the camera with the easy software had a bad accident...

Anyway, so here is what you got, and how it works.

There is a long chain. It has a bird at one end, (your namesake), a lobster claw at the other end (No relation that I know of) and in between a little flock of small flying things.

If you lay it out on the table, you will see that there are plain rings between the birds. They are not huge, because this was made for sock knitting.

What you do is put your needle, on your first pattern round, through the first circle (jump ring), the one closest to the bigger bird, and then knit around till you come to it again. When you do, take the needle on the right, insert it in the next jump ring down, the one after that next bird, and drop the first jump ring of the left needle.

You have now counted one row.

There are at least 12 jump rings there, and depending how you count possibly 13 or 14. You don't have to count a dozen every time. Let us say you have a 6 row pattern. Take that lobster claw and bring it up to attach in the SEVENTH jump ring. Now use the row counter, and when you get to the jump ring with the lobster claw attached, you know you go back to round one. Just stick the right needle back in that very first jump ring.

Now if you have to do something spiffy, like cross cables, on one of the rows, you can attach a crochet stitch marker/earingtype stitch marker in the appropriate jump ring, so when you get to it you can say "Oh! Time to cable!"

And if none of this makes any sense you can just use it as a bracelet or attach it to your waistcoat with the lobster claw and stick the bird in your watch pocket...

As I said, I made it for socks, so the jump rings are small. If that is a problem you can get bigger jump rings, or mail it back and I will replace them with larger.

And if this still makes no sense, let me know and I will get Kim to take pictures...

Friday, February 26, 2010

Reducio 9

I am notoriously bad at posting pictures, but Lavander Ackerly took this with her cell phone and sent it to me so everyone could see how lovely my Reducio 9 package was. (All the things are still lovely, but they are no longer in the package...)

Friday, January 1, 2010

When you can see the lights of the oncoming train at the end of the tunnel...

In certain categories, and perhaps only in those categories, I have been around the block enough times to recognize the lights of the oncoming train at the end of the tunnel.

I think the sewing project I am about to commence is made up of those lights.

It starts out by advertising on the package that instructions are enclosed.

I bought it

I read the instructions.

Let us just say...that I am rather glad indeed that I know enough to know that when it not exactly crashes and burns, but, rather, does not meet expectations, it will not be my fault, but the fault of a faulty plan based on simplicity at the expense of do-ability.

The parts of the instructions that should be there, but aren't, I can figure out for myself, or at least make a decision on myself. When there are four ways to do something and the way most likely to end you up with a bunchy, squunchy seam is the one provided, well, you can decide to go with that least common denominator, or you can substitute, here and there, for the inferior technique. And when you actually know there are four ways to do it you don't have to blame yourself if, doing it their way, you get the mess that could logically have been expected.

I would feel that new sewers should be warned, except that in my experience newbies don't actually notice how horribly things turn out, so long as they stay stuck together.

Warning - garments printed on a piece of cloth to be cut out and sewn are unlikely to be of couture quality...