Saturday, April 25, 2009

I Get By With A Little Help From My Friends

Everyone, I'd like you to meet my sewing buddy Miss Eleanor Davis. She's a Davis vibrating shuttle treadle from some time in the 1920's. She is not a Vertical Feed, the most commonly known and sought after type of Davis, but she's one of my best sewing buds. Her presser foot measures out to a perfect scant 1/4" allowance. She knows enough about sewing, that she really only needs me to treadle. If she could figure out a way to self treadle, I'm sure I wouldn't need to do anything but cut pieces and leave them stacked on her cabinet. When I woke up in the morning, she would have them all taken care of for me!

This week, Eleanor and I have been making blocks for the Dear Jane Big Siggie Swap. That comes to a total of 84 blocks sewn, pressed, stamped and signed. And yes, I did give her full credit on the blocks, and included her name too! Unfortunately I forgot to get pictures before I packed them up and sent them (I was pushing to get them out to the Swap Mom before deadline).

For those of you who don't know, I sew almost exclusively on treadle and hand-cranked machines. I suspect it has to do with the episode of getting my sewing badge as a Girl Scout, when my Mom would constantly warn me that I was going too fast and was going to sew through my finger on her electric. Regardless, I find treadling a nice activity - there's something soothing about the steady rhythm of treadling while watching pieces go together. No noisy motors. No guessing at speed. Just nice steady pedal, stitch, pedal, stitch - and as a bonus, the ferrets like to ride on the treadle pedal while I sew (then chase the quilt blocks as they spill off the back while chain piecing!)

I'm sure a lot of you may have a family machine tucked away in storage, or sitting in your living room as decoration. Think about giving them a try! On a treadle, there is virtually nothing to go wrong. Unless they're seriously rusted or deteriorated, all you need to do is find a belt, oil them up, maybe grease the treadle moving parts a bit, and you're off. You may even notice that you get a true straight stitch (if you're detail oriented enough to notice that type thing). Modern machines that are made to zig-zag have play built into the needlebar to allow them to move back and forth. Treadles have one mode only. Straight. And the stitches themselves are a nice, neat, straight line, not the series of angled lines in a row you get from a modern machine. Plus, Earth friendly power, the ability to work even during a storm if your lights go out - you really can't beat them!

If by chance you're interested in giving yours a rehab and try, or if you're interested in getting one, there's a great group on line at where you can find support, information, and even people who will help with parts and supplies. Plus the neatest local gatherings (called TOGAs for Treadle On Gathering and Academy) that you'll ever get to attend.

OK - time to get off my treadle soap box, and back to all the rest of the 500 projects in process! And I'll get pics up once I get the swap blocks back, so you can see the final result!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

My New Hero

By this time, you've probably all seen this clip, but just in case, here's a link.

May she inspire us all to follow our dreams, no matter how big, no matter how much everyone else laughs. Congratulations Susan Boyle.

I Dreamed a Dream indeed.

May all of yours be so grand and so successful.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Public Service Announcement - Zombies

Thanks to the LSG group on Ravelry, (special thanks to Hallie) for bringing this to my attention:
If you act now you can still get supplies and a copy of Max Brook's definitive Zombie Survival Guide.

If you already have a copy, review your basic Zombie Survival Rules:

1) Organize before they rise!
2) They feel no fear, why should you?
3) Use your head: cut off theirs.
4) Blades don’t need reloading.
5) Ideal protection = tight clothes, short hair.
6) Get up the staircase, then destroy it.
7) Get out of the car, get onto the bike.
8) Keep moving, keep low, keep quiet, keep alert!
9) No place is safe, only safer.
10) The zombie may be gone, but the threat lives on!

Now back to the scheduled projects for the weekend.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Talking Heads: Part II

As promised, here's the follow up on the disembodied heads that are currently living in jars on the counter and bossing me around...

Head Two - Introduction:

This one is the wide head. Originally intended to have a Cheshire Cat type grin on a more or less human face, I mashed in a mouth as well as eye spaces on the original styrofoam ball and clay overlay. As I was adding the Celluclay on the first layer, it began to demand a dorsal ridge. Erm, this point, I'd already had the discussions with head one, and was quick to just give in and do what I was told.

Once I got to the paperclay level to smooth out the skin, I was informed that it needed lips - not Cheshire Grin teeth. *sigh* Okay. Fine. Whatever you want. I just live here and buy the supplies, you know.

Then the eyes. She definitely was showing fishy characteristics here, so again, I didn't bother to argue or discuss. Remember, I just do what the disembodied heads tell me. Somewhere around here is when she mentioned the bicycle. I still haven't figured out how I'm going to do that. Hopefully I'll find one in a toy store, or lawn ornament section.

And here we have the paint to date. I'm still not sure I'm 100% sold on this. It's a coat of interference silver, then a drybrushed coat of blue-green with a pearlescent medium added. I was definitely not happy with the appearance at that point, so dry brushed again with iridescent pearl. I like this better, but she's still in the sit and think mode.

Head One - Cameo appearance and follow up:

Here's our friend from last week. She was debating at that time between a purple and sparkle roving, a bundle of novelty yarns, and a bag of multicolored Cotswold lamb curls for her hair. She decided on the curls, individually applied with gel medium. Yep, she's turning into a high-maintenance kind of girl. She needs a little styling and tidying of her locks once they're all dry and set, and fill-ins in a few spots, but I'm kind of liking the out of control curls, so don't know that I'll do much with trying to get it into an updo or more tamed style. I have a feeling after this, though, that she's going to be living on her jar for a while until I can find a suitable body and wardrobe for her!

Saturday, April 4, 2009

The ferrets are planning to kill me

See that face? That is the face of an angry ferret. A freshly bathed, very wet, Very. Angry. Ferret.

Something you may not know about ferrets, is that they can catch human sicknesses. They're especially susceptible to colds and flu, which are dangerous to the ferret, and expensive to the human who foots their vet bills.

With that in mind, I've tried to minimize contact with my boys this week, for their (and my budget's) own good. They, of course, think they are terribly neglected and abused, as they spent most of a week without getting to play their favorite ferret-human games like Tackle the Toes, or Knot the Knitting. Then I really made them mad.

Another little known fact - you don't bathe ferrets more than every six weeks or so, max, as bathing strips the oil from their coats, causing them to go into oil production overdrive, which actually results in them smelling worse for a few days. But they're in the middle of spring shed, so there's fur everywhere, and with the cold weather all winter it's been a while since they've had a bath. They had basically reached the point of smelling worse than they would if I bathed them, so it was time.

Trying to get a jump on the weekend chores, I came straight home from work Friday, so I could take advantage of the daylight to take their cages outside and disinfect and hose them down. I put their little hammocks in the wash - then it was doomsday (still not sure for who though).

I rounded everyone up, cleaned eight ears, clipped nails on sixteen feet, and dragged four ferrets up to the tub. (You don't want to do one at a time, or you'll bathe one ferret, then spend six hours looking for the rest of them.) They foofed their tails. They glared. Frack made a valiant attempt to escape by leaping over the side of the tub, climbing up and over me, and making a break for it. (Fortunately, I know this trick, and had closed the door.) Frick made an heroic attempt to save his brothers by stealing the shampoo after he'd already been washed (you could practically hear him squeaking "It's too late for me, but I got the smelly stuff - save yourselves!")

As of right now, almost a day later, they are still giving me glares and tail foofs, alternated with following me around, gathering at my feet, and giving me the "don't you feel guilty" look. I know what they're really up to though. They're weasels after all, and not above revenge. I warned them - "I know people!" "I know people with legal connections!" "I know people who are legal connections!" They just looked at me, and plain as day said "Silly human. Do you really think anyone would convict a bunch of cute, fwuffy widdle fewwets?" They know they could get away with murder, just by pulling the cute little fuzzy face routine.

If my crumpled corpse is found at the foot of the stairs make sure someone dusts for pawprints.