Sunday, January 26, 2014

This week ...

Progress on the bird quilt: Only three more blocks to construct before sewing them together. I've laid out 6 of the blocks in this picture so you can see how it's going to shape up. This quilt makes me happy.

Mind you, I'm sewing the whole kit and caboodle on the antique pedal sewing machine--and loving every minute of it!

I've got quite a routine worked out whereby I can piece a block together and get some exercise at the same time. If you've ever done piece work you'll know that there's pressing to do after almost every seam. So the sewing machine is upstairs but my iron is set up downstairs. You get the picture: I'm up and down stairs continually. A clever way to get exercises if I do say so myself. Honestly, it feels much better than sitting still for a couple hours.

A new knitting project: My first ever brioche knitting. I purchased a class on Craftsy--my first one there--and it's going well. The class was on special for ~$20 and it comes with a downloadable pdf of abbreviations, explanations, and 2 patterns: A single color brioche scarf and a two-color scarf. I'm starting with the single-color, of course. Also included is a pausable video with clear, detailed instructions. Two nice features of the video is the ability to run 30-second replays, and the ability to put bookmarks anywhere in the video for quick and easy referencing. There's also a chat feature. A good system. The brioche stitch itself isn't so bad, but the Italian cast-on was a bit of a struggle. It took me four attempts to get a good one! I can't wait to try the 2-color scarf pattern, but first I'm doing this one called Jacki Scarf.

That fiber is an unspun pencil roving. It was a gift and I'm pretty sure it's Icelandic wool. Truly love the color, but it does add a slight level of difficulty: It can be hard to distinguish stitches sometimes. Need really good light when I'm working this. Feels ever so lovely though, especially knit-up in this brioche stitch.

I joined up with a knitting group at Artistic Roots in Plymouth this afternoon. It felt really great to knit in a group again. There is something to be said for knitting socially.

The SNAP challenge is on hold for a week.

Stash accumulation: Fabric. Is it not bad enough to have acquired a reasonable stash of yarn, but now I'm acquiring fabrics?

Sunday, January 19, 2014


I'm going to do this. Not this week because I need to go to NY, but the following week. I have an acquaintance who is doing it, and reading about his experience has drawn me in.

The SNAP Challange summons one to meet one's food requirements on just $4.50 a day -- an amount typical of what a person receiving SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) benefits is given.

I will pledge to take the challenge for 7 days, a full week. I've decided to take my regular food budget--such as it is--minus the SNAP amount of $31.50 for the week and give the difference to a soup kitchen or other such program. Care to join me? Please do.

According to the rules, one must not use food currently on hand. I guess that leaves out my cupboard of staples. That makes it hard. I'm going to have to purchase a handful of necessary staples and that will cut into the budget. I have the advantage of not eating meat, but on such a low budget I'm tempted to put some sort of meat on the list if I can get humanely raised; but that's expensive.

Already, the one thing I noticed is the amount of time it takes to plan on such a budget. I tend not to think too much about the food budget; I go get what I need keeping extravagances down to a reasonable amount. But for this challenge, I've already spent a few hours this evening coming up with eating plans and a shopping list.

Here's what I want to buy to feed myself for 7 days:

1 canned tomatoes
1 canned white beans
1 canned corn
vegetable oil
1 onion
2 cans tuna
boullion (if possible)
hot dogs or Spam* (if possible)

If there's any money left I'd like to get a bottle of the cheapest wine I can find. If we had Trader Joe's I'd get a bottle of their "2 buck chuck". Iffy.

* Hot dogs or Spam (no, I don't mind it). I'd very much like to keep to my ethical standards, therefore hotdogs are preferable because I can get Applegate's which are made from humanely raised animals. Spam will be an absolute last resort. Problem is, hot dogs are expensive, especially humane ones.

From that list I could come up with the following meals:
- Oatmeal
- Eggs
- Toast
- Pancakes
- Lettuce & tomato sandwiches (I love them!)
- tuna sandwich
- soup
- maybe hot dogs
- Tuna patties
- Baked potatoes
- Hot dogs (maybe with beans)
- Salad
- Soup

It's not so easy! I did some on-line shopping by going to my local supermarket's web-site and looking up current prices on several items on my list. It's clear that going with the store's brand will cut costs considerably. Store brands are a lot more meaningful all of a sudden. I could buy my staples for a total of $8.24:
- Quaker Oats $1.99 for 18oz.
- Store brand rice $1.19 for 16oz.
- Store brand cider vinegar $1.29 for 16oz.
- Store brand macaroni $.79 for 16oz.
- Domino sugar $1.99 for 32oz.
- Store brand flour $.99 for 32oz.
Dairy--so far--will come to $6.26:
- Store brand butter $1.99 for 8oz.
- Store brand milk $1.88 for 64oz.
- Humanely harvested eggs $2.39 doz.
Canned foods: $3.68

Current total: $18.18 leaving me with $12.32 for boullion?, hotdogs?, bread, and the list of vegetables. Boy, a jar of peanut butter would be nice to have. When I'm at the store I'll keep my eyes open for good buys, but I think something's going to have to give. Now thinking that since I'm not a meat eater to begin with, I should scrap the hot dogs and get peanut butter and more beans maybe.

I'll be posting my results and experience here. Stay tuned.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

On a passing ...

Old Age

by Joseph Von Eichendorff
translated from the German by Vernon Watkins

High with the clouds migrating birds forgather.
Earth sleeps, the boughs half stripped where foliage sprang.
Hushed are the songs that late so sweetly rang,
And winter covers all with gloomy weather.

The wall clock ticks, and still with ruffled feather
Softly the bird sings which in autumn sang.
You turn, shielded from ice and storm's harangue,
A picture book which holds the past together.

Often such mildness age would have me learn.
Wait: overnight the wind will turn with grace,
And you may feel from roofs the dew descending.

One at the window knocks with happy face.
Astonished, you step out, nor then return,
For the spring comes at last which has no ending.

I remember, when I was a child, Aunt Lena never visited us without bringing some delight. God rest her soul.

A note: The Singer model 66 was hers.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

The dream machine ...

That's the first block sewn on the new Singer 66! It's one of 12 blocks I'll be making for my new quilt. The machine is a dream!! It's so easy to control, right down to a crawl if need be. No unexpected zip-a-dee-doo-dahs like my electric machines sometimes surprise me with. And the stitches are beautiful:

Aren't they lovely! Oh, I love this sewing machine. It's so human.

It turns out the slight puckering I mentioned earlier was being caused by the presser foot. The solution was an easy adjustment of the presser foot pressure knob. Easy peasy!

I'm so excited!!!

The new quilt is called "Family Tree" and I found the pattern in a magazine. Each block will have a different bird. I'm getting the birds out of this fabric here:

I think it's going to be lovely.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Stair treads ...

The stair treads are finally in the works. It remains to be seen if this warp ends up being treads: Having some doubts--mostly due to the weight of the woven fabric. I'm wondering if it's going to be hefty enough. True, I plan to paint the backs of them with Latex rubber--if indeed they become treads--and that will give them more substance. The only way to really find out is to finish one tread, take it off the loom, wash it and coat it with rubber. Then I'll decide if the rest of the warp will be treads, or just 4+ yards of nice fabric.

Fabric in this pic may look a little distorted because the web was relaxed when I snapped the pic.

First steps ...

I received a belt for the Singer 66 today. Couldn't wait to get it on the machine. Took a few attempts to get the length right. I started out a little long, figuring it would be easy enough to take off length if necessary, but impossible to add more. I would have gauged by the old broken belt except that in my attempts to repair it, it lost too much.

So here is it's (re-) debut. I wonder how long it's been since it sewed a piece of cloth? Perhaps a little more adjustment necessary on the tension, and I really need to learn how to pedal smoothly! There is ever so slight puckering of the fabric and I have an inquiry about this at Ravelry. Hoping someone over there can direct me to the fix.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Stitches ...

Yes, indeed! Some stitches from the model 66.

I have been puttering around and poking into the working parts of the machine to get an idea of it's workings. I've also done a fair amount of web surfing looking for anything and everything about this old sewer (isn't the English language just awful sometimes!).

Since the machine hasn't got a belt, I've been running tests by turning the crank by hand. Preliminary results indicated a problem. The top stitches looked great, but the bottom was a mass of loops (made with the top thread) and a bottom thread that simply ran through the whole lot.

First samples showing the bottom side of stitches:

Turning the top thread tensioner to it's highest setting helped a little but not enough; the loops shrank but did not disappear.

Close observation of the bobbin mechanism showed that the top thread was getting wedged between the bobbin case and a small metal plate as it wound around the bobbin case. It seemed that the pull of the thread caused the case to shift thereby applying pressure at the point where the thread should pass between the metal plate and bobbin case. This created too much tension on the thread which nullified the action of the take-up lever above, the result being these loops.

"Hm.", I thought. (Such a ubiquitous thought.) I wondered whether there was a fault in the bobbin case causing it to shift. As I watched closely this afternoon something else caught my attention: The hook assembly's (in which the bobbin case rides) rim seemed to be a bit gunked up with something. With a swatch of cotton and some sewing machine oil I wiped it off and applied a touch of oil to a few of the moving parts. Aha! This alleviated most of the shifting of the bobbin case. Apparently it was getting stuck to that gunky stuff which pulled the case along, shifting it enough to wedge the thread between it and that small plate.

Hard to believe that a little oil and cleaning could have such a huge effect. But this is what the underside stitching looks like now:

That's more like it! A little tensioning adjustment should make these stitches just about perfect. For the record, here's the top-side stitching (sorry it's white-on-white):

This is all getting very exciting.

The bobbin plate arrived today along with the new drive tire for the bobbin winder. Here's the old tire followed by a pic of the new tire in place:

The new plate fits. Unfortunately, it is matte finished, whereas the original is glossy. Not really a big deal, but it's noticeable. I'll keep my eyes out for a glossy one.

All I need now is a belt and will order one tomorrow.

This page came up in one of my searches. I like that it points out all the oiling points, something that the manual I ordered does not show--to my surprise. (If you look at this page where it describes the working of the oscillating hook, the problem I was having was occurring between steps 2. and 3.)