Thursday, November 20, 2008

It's finally finished

Though you may not have believed that Peter had abandoned me for other diversions, I now have proof of his alcoholism (snort!). Below is a candid of Peter bottling up his latest apple jack. This started about two weeks ago when apple cider went on sale at our local Hannaford supermarket. I guess you could say that Peter bought off less than he could brew. Last night, after two weeks of fermentation, he bottled the whole delicious mess, which we now get to schlep across the country in an inebriated foray south of the secession line. We'll be sure to let you know how things regress... 

On another topic, Peter says that people in the rest of the puniverse are pun-averse and that I should refrain from over-using them. Indeed, he has relegated me (as his family did his father) to the Catholic tradition of vocalizing puns only on Fridays. I'll try to de-cyst, but don't be cantankerous if I'm a somewhat less benign than I intended.

On to crafts. Since yesterday, I've been working on a sewing machine cozy from Rupp's "S.E.W." beginners' book. I've more or less adhered to her directions, except for one major deviation: though many acquaintances profess the sliminess of Walmart, the megastore nonetheless failed to carry the most necessary ingredient for this project - oilcloth. As a blockhead, I obviously find it difficult to think outside the box. After issuing a well-deserved ragging to the nice old lady on hand to assist, I ended up with this: 

100% cotton quilted with polyester fill. It seems, this time, that I cut off more than I could sew... well, almost anyway. I promised to offer advice, but instead, I've provided the above photo to give you some indication of what not to do: 

1) Thou shalt not forsake your measurements. I'm usually pretty fastidious about this sort of thing but I hadn't stretched the fabric or pressed it adequately before cutting and ended up with two sides that were 1/2" too short. I solved this by allowing for 1/4" seam allowances instead of 1/2" but that did prove for pretty dubious, if penitent, sewing. 

2) Thou shalt not lay your fabric indiscriminately. Though Ms. Rupp did eventually admonish against casual positions, she might have thought to do so before I pierced the fabric with my 7.5" scissors. Sheesh! 

3) Thou shalt not sew with unmeasured bias. Pay attention to the thickness of your fabric. This is what happens when you don't: 

I estimate (fairly conservatively, notwithstanding the indiscriminate positions) that this pin-job took at least 20 minutes longer than it should have for undesirable fritzing around a rather thick edge.

Nonetheless, I did finish the job, as they say, with alacrity, in spite of the obstacles certain blockheads threw in front of myself. My Janome (snake eye, in Japanese) doesn't even mind the blood (do not pin overzealously), and is much cozier thanks to the effort. It even has a little opening for its various cords AND, by not paying attention to the dimensions of my little machine, I've left it room to grow (that's right - this is even a problem in Japan.

Bon sewoire et bonne chance, mes amis!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

From Blockhead to Bloghead

I wasn’t always such a crochety [sic] pinster [ditto]. In fact, back in my heyday, I was quite the baller. Nary a fellow managed to pin me down. Nor can I say that I was a stranger to casting off. As the old yarns about me got worsted and worsted, I decided it was time to change my pursewts. I’ve long since abandoned my extremist ways and am proud to say that I now exclusively pull from the center. Wound a little tight? Yes, but at least it’s consistent. I rarely get knotted up over anything anymore.

OK - no more puns (on to parentheses!). This blog is mostly about my transition from cerebral to sartorial (left to left?), from crafty to craftsy and from bitter to knitter. As much as I am a slave to live for graduate school, I’ve learned that, by itself, graduate school didn’t quite cut it. Here, I’ll take you through my own adventures in teaching my old self new pricks. I’ll review patterns, both knitting and sewing, explaining where I had trouble and how I jury-rigged epiphanically arrived at a solution. I’ll also suggest, for other beginners, books, tools, machines and other resources that I’ve found particularly helpful in my quest to acquire that elusive nirvana, seaminess. 

Which brings me to recent undertakings (in the most funerary sense): I’ve been working really hard to avoid working on my dissertation and crafts seem as good as any other way to procrastinate. Add to that effort a month-long residence at the cummings’ (I don’t want to offend e.e. with proper capitalization) former summer swamp  house, where, with no TV (though we do have access to two ATVs) and no company (Peter is too busy poring over alcohol recipes), I’ve resorted to cultivating (emphasis on cult) an interest in crafts. 

Tasked with finding my sister a sewing machine for her birthday (more on this later, as it would spoil the surprise if she read which machine we bought her), I, too, have taken up sewing. After all, I had to do all the research. For now, I’ll leave you with the pattern of the day, a photo of the lovely tote bag I constructed to test my sister’s wooly dog machine, and the random photo of the day (Siobhan's interpretation of East meets West, Bejing 2008). 

Bon sewoire, mes amis!