Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Bargains and Craftsy Love

I headed back to JoAnn Fabrics on Saturday. I had another 50% off and 25% off coupon. This is what I came home with.

I had been looking for a good way to store my sewing threads. I used to have a couple of those thread holders that hang on your wall but thread that is out and uncovered is a dust magnet. I needed a way to keep the thread clean while still being able to see the colors. I found these nifty double-sided, clear cases, above. They each hold twice the amount of thread shown. Two of them were almost enough to hold my entire collection. I did go back on Sunday and pick up a third since they were still priced at 50% off. Saturday I used my 50% off coupon to buy that little sleeve sized ironing board. It will come in handy for pressing smaller items, like bags.

Sunday the husbeast and I began to clean up my Kenmore model 51. I want to eventually (hopefully soon) place this machine into a treadle base and make it people powered.

We spent about an hour freeing up the feed dog mechanism. First I un-stuck the knob that should lower the dogs. I got the knob to move but nothing else happened. The feed dogs refused to budge. The oil had turned to varnish and they were glued in one position. The husbeast finally got them back into working order. Now they drop as intended. Today we got the tension assembly fixed. Someone before us had dismantled it and put it back together out of order and also managed to get the tension knob on crooked. I feared the shaft was bent but we lucked out. I located the proper schematic and we got it back together correctly.

Here is the wonky knob before:

And here it is all fixed.

We make a pretty good sewing machine repair team. Today I will start cleaning and lubing the upper workings. I am anxious to see if the cams I bought will work in here.

I also want to put in another positive plug for Craftsy.com. I have signed up for many of their courses but there was one that I just couldn't watch. Something about the instructor's speech mannerisms drove me up the wall. Like nails on a chalkboard. The nice folks at Craftsy allowed me to trade that course for another. I chose the wax resist dyeing class. I hope to create some lovely batik fabrics using my bees wax. Darn it, I gave away all of my cellulose dyes. I didn't think I'd have a need for dyeing cottons. Oh well, I know where to get more.

Friday, November 23, 2012

My Lame Black Friday Shopping

I admit it. I'm not much of a Black Friday shopper. I wasn't even going to participate but there were a few things I had on my "wants list" and it is hard to resist 50-75% off. First on the wants list: Doll Shoes. You heard me right. American Girl doll shoes, to be specific. Long story short: I was given a bunch (like 30) patterns to sew 18" doll clothes, I wish to sew some doll dresses, I bought a used AG doll to use as a model, she came with tennis shoes, you cannot wear tennis shoes with nice dresses. Thus I need some fancy doll shoes. Someone told me Artco had the type of shoes I was seeking and I happened to have 2 coupons in my possession. Both were for today. The 50% off coupon was for before 9am and the 40% coupon was for after. Wanting to use both coupons on the same visit I had to time my arrival at a few minutes before 9. I barely made it. I ran in with just 2 minutes to spare, asked the lady at the counter to point me in the direction of said shoes, and made it to the checkout counter in the nick of time. Once she rang me up it was after 9 and I could use the second coupon. All that to get 50 and 40% off of $4.99 doll shoes. I'm just that cheap. The white espadrilles are awful damn cute.

Next stop, JoAnn Fabrics. A place sane sewists avoid like the plague on Black Friday. However, I wanted some heat resistant fabric to make pot holders and I also heard their flannel was going to be 75% off. What a zoo. I pulled a number for the cutting counter as soon as I walked in. They were on number F80. My number was G61. It was going to be a while. The good news was the desired heat proof fabric was not on sale which meant I could use my 50% off coupon. Good thing, since the regular price is $14.99 per yard. I bought 2 yards.

Over the next couple of hours I had plenty of time to browse through the stacks of flannel fabrics. The selection kept changing as people would get their choices cut and those bolts made their way back onto the sales floor. I settled on 3 yards of the sewing themed flannel (how could I resist the hand crank machines???) and 1 yard each of the red chocolates and the brown/teal heart print. The latter two are intended for some girly pipe bags.

I still had lots of browsing time so I looked through the Butterick patterns which were 99 cents each. I decided I needed more bag patterns.

After being trapped in JoAnn's for 2 hours I was finally free to return home with my bounty. That was the extent of my Black Friday shopping. I know. Lame. I didn't even spend $40.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Bye, Bye Fluffiness.

   You may have noticed the weight loss tracker added to the top of my blog page. Yes, I weigh that much. No, I'm not embarrassed to admit it. Anyone who glances my direction knows I am not a tiny wisp of a thing. However I am heavier than I am comfortable being. My goal is to reach 140 lbs. That sounds like a reasonable and attainable goal. Once there I can re-access the situation. I chose the snail as my "ticker slider" knowing that I will probably lose weight at a snail's pace. My metabolism is not what it once was.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Truth Really IS Stranger Than Fiction

   Guess who is the new Seattle Pipe Club Slow Smoke Champion? No, really. I'm as shocked as you are.

   The trophy above is the one I get to keep. I will also get my name engraved on the club's trophy (shown here on the SPC web site) and will get to display it in my home for a year. This is the second trophy I have won in my entire life. Oddly enough that first trophy was also won in a male dominated challenge (NCO Academy). I was one of 4 females in a class of 27. Thank goodness pipe boys take losing to a girl much better than Army boys do. I don't have to sleep with one eye open.

   I first competed in last year's slow smoke. I practiced and practiced beforehand. I didn't embarrass myself. I think I came in right in the middle of the pack but nowhere near the top. This year I didn't practice at all. I was participating to support the club and hang out with friends. Maybe that was the key? I didn't have a hope in heck of winning so I wasn't the least bit nervous. As we were smoking I heard names called which meant that person was out of the competition. Pretty soon it was down to 4 of us. At that point I thought there was I chance I might get the bottle of scotch this year. Then they announced there were just 2 competitors still smoking, Alex and I. Hurray! That meant I'd get the scotch. Then Alex was out and I just kept smoking. Instead of scotch I get $250 towards my trip to Chicago, in May, where I will compete against pipe smokers from all over the states (and the world).

   Look at the lovely Pendelton 49er jacket my friend Lennea gave me. I think I will wear it to the pipe club meeting next month.

   Wednesday was a great day all around. A trophy and a new-to-me vintage jacket. Life is good.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Trip To Bothell For Free Sewing Machine

I am always looking for sewing machines to refurbish. It's almost comical how much I enjoy tinkering with them, especially since I would not describe myself as mechanically inclined. When the Army gave me the aptitude tests they did not place me around tools. But then I also suck at math and Uncle Sam thought it a good idea to place me in stock control & accounting. Go figure? Friday evening I happened upon a lady in Bothell who was offering up a vintage Kenmore, in a cabinet, with a stool...for FREE. She said the hand wheel was stuck. I took that to mean the hand wheel would not turn. That can be something easy (tangled bobbin) or something hard (cracked gear). Even if the machine was beyond hope, the cabinet looked nice and I could sure use the stool. Yesterday I informed the poor husbeast that he was taking me to Bothell on Sunday morning. And that's just where we headed bright and early today. The first thing I did when we arrived was give the hand wheel a turn. It moved easily. That ruled out a cracked gear which meant it was probably something easy to fix. I kept that knowledge to myself. We loaded up the Subaru and headed for home. Later this afternoon I got a chance to play with the machine a bit more. When I plugged it in the belt turned but the needle bar stayed still. Nothing was gummed up so it dawned on my that the clutch was not engaged. The clutch on this particular model is controlled by a button on top of the machine, not by loosening or tightening the hand wheel knob. It seems the levers, under that knob, were stuck. I applied a few drops of oil and we were in business. This is a Kenmore model 158.1603 and it is in mint condition.

See the button on the top front of the machine, just to the left of the bobbin winder. That was the culprit. It's working fine now. This is the beautiful, solid wood cabinet that came with the machine.

And here is the stool which has generous storage under the seat. I'm keeping the stool but will be selling the machine and cabinet.

I almost kept the cabinet but I really don't have enough room. It is lovely, though. Maybe I'll change my mind.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Pot Pie & Patterns

   Earlier this week I purchased a roast chicken from Costco. Those always feed as for a couple of meals then I take whatever meat remains and make a chicken pot pie. The husbeast loves them. Pure comfort food and perfect for a chilly autumn afternoon.

   Of course I am very non-PC in my cooking. Lots of lard and butter. Yum! I disagree with current medical opinion and believe that "real", natural ingredients (lard, butter, eggs, milk) are better for me than margarine, hydrogenated shortening, canola oil, etc...In an attempt to make the pie healthier I did not use a bottom crust. I did make "pie snacks" from the leftover dough, sprinkling them with sugar and cinnamon and baking them. Probably not the healthiest meal, but I hate waste.

  Still not sewing since my return from Vegas, but I'm thinking about it. I bought two OOP sewing patterns from a lady I met on a sewing forum.

Love the tied collar and 3/4 sleeves.

Perfect for the Indian Restaurant.
More 3/4 sleeves.

   I also received the cams for my model 51 that I'd ordered from eBay. These are some funny looking cams. I love the vintage box they cam in.

I think I'll play with my serger this evening. I really need to sew something.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Back From Vegas

   Saturday morning (we woke up at 3 am) we flew to Las Vegas to attend the West Coast Pipe Show. We arrived at the Palace Station Hotel in plenty of time to unpack before the show started at 10 am. I have more then enough pipes so was mainly interested in purchasing tobacco. We pipe smokers in Washington State are at a disadvantage because it is a felony to order pipe tobacco through the mail or package services. That's right, the brilliant (?) powers-that-be have deemed it a felony to mail order pipe tobacco. Having marijuana mailed to your home is a misdemeanor. Go figure. Is it any wonder I am anxious for the husbeast to retire so we can move somewhere a bit less stifling? But I digress. Back to the pipe show where I am furiously making my way up and down the aisles looking for my favorite tobacco, Butera Kingfisher. I notice a lone tin of Orlik Golden Sliced but I was on a mission. A failed mission. There was precious little tobacco to be had and none of it was Kingfisher. Sadness. Then I remembered that tin of Orliks. Back around I went, trying to remember where I had seen it. I searched and searched, to no avail. Someone else had claimed that prize. I didn't come away empty handed. I purchased 2 tins of Virgina-Perique blends from a vendor I was unfamiliar with. I also nabbed 8 tins of Molto Dolce from Sutliffe. I am not much of an aromatic smoker, but when I get the urge this is the tobacco I reach for. Once I was finished shopping I could focus on the real reason I was there. Drinking, smoking, and schmoozing. We spent a good deal of time (and money) at Jack's Irish Pub. The highlight of the trip happened quite by accident. We headed out to dinner Saturday night with the Guss Brothers (Matt & Jon). They know their Indian food and the conversation kept me in stitches. Free entertainment. Eat your heart out, Louie Anderson (he was headlining at the hotel). Sunday evening we headed out to the strip (God, I hate that place) to make our pilgrimage to Bouchon at the Venetian. We had eaten there 4 years ago and had fond memories. This time I chose poorly. I ordered off the specials menu and my veal was just so-so. The husbeast's "tower of seafood" looked fabulous, though. Kind of made me wish I didn't find oysters disgusting. Monday our flight didn't leave until 6pm so we hung around the hotel, killing time. I was glad we did because I got a chance to meet Carol, Bob Taylor's wife. All in all it was a pleasant experience. I enjoyed the company and the show but I probably will not return because of the awful state of our hotel room. My husband booked us into the Courtyard to save a bit of money. We had stayed in the Courtyard 4 years ago and found it to be fine. I do not require a fancy room because I don't intend to spend much time in there. I do, however, require it to be CLEAN. If I wanted a room full of dust I could've stayed home and saved my money. If I am PAYING for a room I expect it to be vacuumed. Our room was horrible. Look at this dust. This doesn't build up overnight. It takes months.

Under the heater/air conditioner.

On the valance over the curtain.

   No, I did not ask for another room. The same maids clean all of the Courtyard rooms. I knew the hotel wouldn't move us to the Tower. Friends had found fault with their Tower room and the hotel offered to move them.....to the Courtyard.

   We arrived back home around 9 pm Monday evening. Dead tired. It's been nearly 3 days and I'm still draggin' my wagon. Today I got the craving for some quinoa salad. I love the stuff from Costco but it is rather pricey. I decided to try to make my own. The toughest part was finding the quinoa. I had to visit Marlene's. The salad turned out delicious.

   I am back on my health kick, again, and am going to drag the husbeast along. I am mentioning it here so I'll have witnesses and be forced to stick with it. I am getting way too fat for my comfort. It would be nice to be able to fit into one of my dresses for the Pipe Club Dinner in January.

   I've been doing a little wheeling & dealing since my return. I had found this OOP vintage Raggedy Ann sewing pattern at a thrift shop for $.59.

It is now on its way to Australia for $25 plus postage. I also traded a pound of henna for vintage fabric.

1 3/4 yards of this lovely Chinese print.

3 yards of this knit. 
It's 60" wide with a border down one side.

And 2 yards of this canvas with a Pennsylvania Dutch feel.

I don't know what I'll make with it but I like it better than that henna. Payday I'll order up some better quality henna from Mehandi.com.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Bobbin Winders & Bees

   I have been enjoying tinkering with my Kenmore model 158.902. I think this is the prettiest Kenmore I've had in my possession, thus far. It reminds me of a classic automobile. All that lovely chrome. It even has a shapely fender that houses the light bulb.

   Her finish isn't perfect but that just shows that she was loved and used. Everything that I have tested, so far, has worked. Her only problem was a broken bobbin winder tension disc. Somewhere along the line it had been snapped off.

   The tension disk on this machine is shaped more like a little round metal button. Without a tension disc it is pretty much impossible to wind a bobbin. Something so small is terribly important. Sure, I could always wind bobbins on a different machine but I would rather not have to get up to go do that. I figured I would have to order a replacement which would run me about $10 with shipping. Meanwhile I had acquired this little Italian machine for $10.

   It is straight stitch, only. I don't really need another straight stitch machine but the price was right. I thought I would fix it up and pass it along. Unfortunately when I got it home and took a closer look I found it would require more effort to restore than it would be worth. The tension assembly was in need of repair and the wiring looked dicey. But guess what it had? A functioning bobbin winder tension disc. Which now resides on the front of my model 90 Kenmore.

   It isn't exactly identical to the Kenmore disc but they all do the same thing. That was $10 well spent on the Visetti, which I turned around and sold today for, you guessed it, $10. Free tension disc! I admit I did keep a few more of the Visetti parts that would work on other machines (bobbin, bobbin case, and spool felts). It was purchased by an OSMG (old sewing machine guy) with a fondness for Italian machines so everyone was happy in the end.

   Now for the bees. You remember the last photo of them bringing in amazing amounts of pollen? I was curious as to where they were getting it. I heard from beekeepers in England and in California that their bees were all over the ivy. IVY??? I didn't even know ivy bloomed. It does, but only when it is mature. Most ivy that you see in landscaping is pruned back and this inhibits it from maturing. It remains in the juvenile form. But ivy left to its own devices will eventually grow so large that it will have a thick woody trunk-like stem and the leaves will take on a different appearance. This mature ivy blooms in late October here in the PacNW, and bees LOVE IT! This morning the husbeast drove me around on a scouting mission for ivy. We both remembered this old abandoned brick building that is located in the Fern Hill district of Tacoma. Sure enough, part of the building is covered in ivy.

Ivy covers the ground next to the building, as well.

 A close-up of the blooms.

   Of course now that I know what to look for I am seeing mature ivy everywhere. There is a lot of it in my area which is a very good thing for the bees. I doubt they will starve this winter. They were still bringing in pollen today, the first day of November.