Sunday, November 24, 2013

J is for Janome

Have I ever told y'all about my sewing machine?

When I left Germany and got stationed at Ft. Huachuca, AZ, I had a friend that was very good at sewing.  My grandma was a master seamstress, and I'd always wanted to learn. 

I found out that there was a company that would come to our little town (Sierra Vista, AZ) every few months and rent a conference room in the Holiday Inn to sell sewing machines for very low prices.  I had my friend go with me, and she helped me pick one out. 

I got a Janome Home for about $100. 

As is my way, I let it simmer for about two months, then finally took it to my friend's house so she could show me how to use it.  She got it all threaded and started it up.  It made a very disturbing sound, and it didn't work.

We opened up the casing and saw that the engine was.... sideways.

I called the company and explained the rather obvious defect.  The saleswoman (who was the actual seller at the Holiday Inn) simply said, "Well.... buyer beware."

I was boggled.  For about two whole seconds.  Then I said, "That's fine. You're right.  But you should be aware that I will be notifying my base commander so he can restrict the entire base from doing business with you.  I'll also be outside your conference room every time you come to this little Podunk town.  You'll easily recognize me as I'll be the one handing out flyers saying "Buyer Beware.""

She replaced my machine and even paid for all the shipping to send me the new one and to get the broken one back.  (I still notified my base commander.)

I am not one that takes failure easily.  It's best to avoid it altogether.  Which is why I let my machine simmer for another... 18 years? before I gave it a shot.

I have a basic working knowledge of machine sewing.  I did take a class or two here and there along the way, but never completed a class or a project on the machine.

Last year, my knitting group had a sewing night.  We brought our machines to one house and set about making a project bag that one of us knew how to make.

I ended up in tears.  I was SO frustrated.  THREE other people used my machine with no issues, yet when I tried it, I got yarn barf on the bottom side and a mess on the top. 

My machine is... quirky.  It sounds like it's trying to start sewing and you keep pressing and pressing on the foot pedal and then all of sudden WHOOMP, it takes off at top speed.

After giving up that night, I let it sit for another year.

At our annual knit-group swap, my friend (and master seamstress) Tina gave her partner a really cute project bag she'd made.  She was explaining how it was made, and it sounded so easy (all straight lines!), I thought I'd give it another try. 

I'd had an idea for awhile in my head about bags I wanted to make.  Her style fit in perfectly for what I had in mind.

I tried one.  It was SO easy!  I made 15 bags.

I have pictures of them in this previous post.

I bought a Craftsy class on basic sewing techniques.  I highly recommend this class!  The teacher, Diana Rupp, is spectacular,  and the projects are so doable.  I learned SO much!  I made two pillow covers for the boys. 

(Picture two of those.)

I haven't yet made the skirt, but I bought the book, and once I pick it up from the post office, I'll try the skirt.

I took another class at the ever-lovely Fabric Bliss in Denver.  This shop is gorgeous and the owners and staff are SO friendly!

I made this super-cute little bag.

Yes, the fabric on the back is upside down.  I folded wrong before I cut.  Lesson learned.  (Theoretically...)

I took the class because I wanted some hands-on help learning to put in a zipper.  I didn't know if I had a zipper foot, but I remembered there's a little hidey-hole drawer in my sewing machine and I was pretty sure there was a foot or two in there. 

I opened that space for the first time in several years, and there were eleven feet in there!  After a little research, I found that it's all the feet in this set.  I'm glad I found this set online because I took the feet to my knitting (and now sewing) guru at knit group and she didn't know what some of them were.  Neither did the sewing teacher at my class!

In the class, I got to use a darning foot.  My foot set doesn't have one, so I'll definitely need to get one of those!

I plan on making many more of these for gifts in future swaps.  I also have ideas for other bags I want to make to sell in my Etsy store!

The Fabric Bliss store also had adorable hanging towels in their bathroom, and tons of people are getting those for Christmas this year!

I've got the sewing bug.  I have no desire to quilt.  At least not yet.  (Like I have absolutely no interest in spinning, even though I'm obsessed with knitting!)  I want to make bags, and I want to make skirts and dresses.  I want to sew fun, stuffy things for the boys (although, they are probably getting a bit too old for that nonsense).

I almost bought a basic serger class from Craftsy, but then I remembered I don't own a serger.  (Although that didn't stop me from getting a basic rigid heddle loom class!  Must buy rigid heddle loom....)

Because I need another hobby, Ruth!

Monday, November 18, 2013

I is for Inappropriate

One of my favorite people in our knitting group is Megan.  She is 6 feet tall and a dear, sweet, lovely person! 

She teaches Special Needs kids at a high school, and she loves her kids beyond all reason.  She tells us stories of their triumphs and sometimes their funny quirks as well.

She told us about one boy who is relatively new to the school.  He has severe autism and is pushing boundaries to see what they are at this new school of his.  But he's really funny about it!

He'll say something really out of bounds, then lean over and smile and say, "That's inappropriate, right?"

When she told us about this, I about died laughing.  "That's BRILLIANT!!" I said.  "I'm so using that.  For the rest of my life, I can say WHATEVER I WANT, as long as I follow it up with: That's inappropriate, right?"

It's really become a thing in our knitting group.  When we are feeling salacious, we say what we want and follow it up with that!

I've noticed that people online get all bunged up about the strangest things.  Case in point:

Ravelry has an SKA group.  That's Sock Knitters Anonymous.  I love socks, and that group is exploding my already burgeoning queue!

Recently, someone got all bunged up over the disagree button an Ravelry SKA thread.  Someone saying they find it "offensive".  Really??  The fact that some random stranger hits the "disagree" button about something you posted is offensive?  That seems a bit extreme.  Personally,  I find racism offensive.  I find victim-blaming in rape cases to be offensive.  I find yarn to be many other things.

I think it takes a lot to offend me.  It doesn't take much to irritate me, but to offend me?  When I was working for the X (gaming company), some people would cuss, then apologize for it.  I never cared.  As long as they weren't cussing at me, it never bothered me.  I would say, "I spent five years in the Army, and I have an older brother.  If I haven't heard it, you're making it up."  You should hear some of the names Dave and I call each other when we are alone and picking on each other.  He says things that most women would slap him for saying (name-calling-wise), but he says them because he knows it makes me laugh like crazy.  And I laugh because I know he would never say those things to me for real (as in, saying them in anger to hurt).

I think it's so silly to get all butt-hurt about ANYTHING in a thread dedicated to talking about knitting socks.  I always want to say, "Calm down, people.  It's yarn."  I hold my tongue though, as I feel it's not worth getting involved in that kind of silliness.

Someone else did comment on it though, saying "I don't take the disagree button personally, simples."  I'm pretty sure the "simples" thing was probably a  typo, but doesn't the comma make that look like she just called all of us Simples.  I'm so using that, too!!

I've actually already started.  When Dave starts getting on my nerves, I just say, "Shut up, Simples."  He looks at me like I'm crazy, and we both start cracking up!

I love all you brilliant, shiny Simples, Ruth!

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

H is for Hammer

In February, I got a chance to be in a booth at Stitches West. 

I shared a booth with Skeindalous and Dizzy Blonde Studios.  It was long days and great fun.  I sold enough to cover my costs and make a small profit. 

It was good to see California again!  I forget how beautiful it is there.  I still would never move back (couldn't afford CA even if I wanted to move back!), but it is always fun to visit!

Upon landing in LAX, I went to baggage to get my bag.  My bag was jammed to the gills with my Stitch Savers

Yarn I had dyed...

And bags I have sewn...

I sold some of the yarn (so hard to compete with the beauty that is Skeindalous and Dizzy!!), half the bags, and quite a lot of the Stitch Savers.  (When I get a chance to take much better pics, I'll put the stuff in my Etsy store!  If you want any of it, email me!)

As I was saying, my suitcase was stuffed with all of that, plus a few clothes.  I was waiting at the baggage carousel, when I heard an oddly familiar voice.  I thought to myself, "No.  Can't be."  I look to my right and see a guy reaching for his bag.  I thought, "Is it?"  And then he stood up...  all 6' 5" of him.

Armie Hammer.  What?!

He was a few feet away from me.  He took the bags to his wife who had their dog, then he went to a different carousel.

It may seem strange that I recognized his voice first, but I had recently watched Mirror Mirror and found it so charming that I had the boys watch it with me a few days later.

I walked over to him, and the whole time I was thinking, "Ask about his name, ask about his name, ask about his name..."  When I got to him, I asked, "Are you Armie Hammer?" 

He nodded and smiled self-deprecatingly and all thought flew out of my head and I fangirl geeked out. 


ME:  I just LOVE you!
HIM: (graciously not backing away slowly from the crazy person) Thank you, that's very kind.

I put my hand out and he held his hands up, explaining he was quite ill and didn't want to get me sick.  (He was carrying a wadded tissue and looked a bit rheumy.)

I babbled for a bit about how I "really enjoyed the work" that he's done so far. 
Then he said, "Where are you flying from?"

I was taken aback that he wanted to know about me (being a nobody and all), but then realized he was being polite and kind, so I said, "Um... [dammit!  He's so pretty.  Where AM I from again??] "Denver.  I grew up in California."
HIM:  Are you visiting family?
ME:  No, I'm here for a knitting convention.
HIM:  (still not backing away, not even batting an eye)  Wow!
ME:  I'm sorry, you probably have a life you'd like to get back to.  Great dog, by the way!
HIM:  Thanks!  Would you like to take a picture?
ME:  (looking rather forlornly at the enormous suitcase where my camera was floating around in amidst the debris) My camera's buried in there somewhere and I have a dumb phone.  May I have an autograph?
HIM:  Absolutely!

I went to shake his hand again, but he reminded me he was sick.  (I felt like an idiot!)  Then we parted ways, he to his wife who was sitting with her back to us the whole time, attending to their dog (an Airedale?), oblivious to the fact that her husband has been accosted.  Although maybe she knew and was just so used to it?

I should have scanned the autograph so I could post it here, but it's floating around in my closet somewhere.  He even wrote something really nice on it, not just his signature.  I'll just give you another pic of him instead....

Since I'd forgotten to ask about his name, I googled it later.  He IS a direct heir to the Arm & Hammer Baking Soda family and it is a family name.

In the weird-connection-with-my-mom category:

When the kids were out to see my mom over the summer (she bought the plane tickets for them to be with her and her husband in CA for two weeks), she asked if she could take them to see the new Lone Ranger movie.  (She asked because I specifically asked her not to show them the Harry Potter movies as we were reading the books together and, you know... no spoilers!)  I said, of course! 

I told her about meeting the star of the movie and she told me this tale:

When she was about six years old, her family (parents, sister, and she) went to L.A. for a vacation.  She and her mom were off on their own for some reason and happened in to this little diner on Hollywood Boulevard.  My mom immediately spotted him!  She was a HUGE fan of the Lone Ranger television show and the man who played Tonto was sitting in the diner having a bowl of soup!

She ran over to meet him before Grandma could stop her.  She remembers him being very kind and gracious about it all.

So funny!  She met Tonto and I met the Lone Ranger! hah!

Here's one more for good measure...

He's so damn beautiful, Ruth!