Monday, April 26, 2010

Frogs - Eeoo!

Alex chose the two main prints for this quilt when she was just over two years old. We purchased them at a quilt shop that was located in an old train depot in Flagstaff.
One was a colorful print of exotic animals. The exotic animals got chopped up in a "Stack'n'Whack" manner.
The other was a frog print that also featured dragonflies. The frogs and dragonflies became pinwheels.
The back of the quilt was a repository of all kinds of wild patchwork leftovers.

Alex napped under the quilt, played on top of it, enjoyed it for months.  Then one day she realized it had frogs on it.  She no longer liked it--and rarely touched it, let alone considered using it.  All because of the frogs.  By that time she no longer remembered having chosen any of the fabrics.

This past winter when I was looking at some of our older small quilts, I asked her about this one.  She still doesn't like it---because of the frogs, of course! It definitely has a lot of good use left in it! I hope in 20 years or so she'll have a child who thinks frogs are okay!

Saturday, April 24, 2010

What Are These Machines?

I just received a call from my little sister in Houston. It was followed by an e-mail with these pictures attached.  These machines belonged to a family member and have been stored at our dad's house.  She wants to know if I want them.  She has a fuzzy memory of when they were purchased (she was a child) and thinks one might be an embroidery machine.  I've never seen the actual machines, only these pictures.  So please help me out if you have information about what they are.

These pictures supply the only knowledge I have of these machines, so I'm looking for information.  Since I'm mostly a quiltmaker (I piece, applique occasionally, and quilt), I'm not sure if they would serve a purpose for me.  I do love the quality of vintage machine; I know Wilcox & Gibbs made some great sewing machines.  But aside from that, I'm pretty ignorant about these machines.

If you're knowledgeable, please leave a comment, e-mail me, or reply to the list to which this post was linked.

Thank you, friends.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Sentinals of Spring: A Flower and Strawberry Crepes

One lone narcissus. I think this one was just checking--so she could tell the others if it's safe to come out. I surely do hope so.  We live a couple of thousand feet higher than Albuquerque and where I work, and we have the added "benefit" of high winds, so it takes several more weeks to actually accomplish spring than those other areas.

Yesterday was solo and ensemble adjudication for bands from around our area.  (Be aware that our "area" is larger than quite a few entire states.)  Alex was incredibly nervous as usual.  Of course, I found myself reminding her that her value as a human being has nothing whatsoever to do with the rating she gets and that it's okay to just relax and enjoy the experience.  She was still more nervous than I'd like, but she did receive a superior rating.  She's glad the competition was yesterday because today her throat is really swollen and sore.  I think it's allergies; she really hates taking the nutritional supplements that make them less extreme.

Due to the severity of her sore throat (and the fact that the choir has the morning off), we stayed home.  I made these:
Crepes, fresh strawberries, and whipped cream.  Alex was definitely not happy about that.  She said she wanted french toast.  Too bad!  She has no idea how lucky she is to have a mom who makes crepes for her.

I use a very basic French recipe: 1 part eggs, 1 part milk, 1 part flour.  Today I used 3 eggs, 1 cup milk (whisked together); 1 cup flour, whisked into the liquid mixture until there are only a few baby lumps left. Because these were to be served with fruit, I added about a tablespoon of blue agave syrup (because it's very low glycemic) and a dash of vanilla. (Sometimes I use almond extract instead.) I then let it sit in the mixing bowl while I sliced strawberries and made whipped cream. Then I took my sweet time cooking the crepes over medium low heat.  As they finish I stack them rougher side up on a plate and separate them with Kabnet Wax tissue on my stove's warming center. (I don't think it's waxed; in the "old" days, I precut sheets of waxed paper.)
Then I lift each one to the side, still on the tissue square, and fill it, then place it on the serving plate.

If I'm making more than I'll need, I omit the sweetener and flavoring so I can stuff them with a cooked chicken/turkey and vegetable mixture later.  Those go into a baking dish until it's time to put a little extra sauce and grated cheese on top and heat in the oven for lunch.

When we used to have 10:00 or 10:30 church services, I loved cooking a real Sunday breakfast for my family.

Before she had eaten anything, Alex asked, "What's for lunch?" Having had my efforts and my crepes shunned, I replied "Whatever you fix, dear?"  (Bad mama!) I realize she's not feeling well--all the more reason not to do the pearls before swine routine today.

Instead, I think I'll go count how many flowers will be ready to burst into bloom this week.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Play Day!

The last time I took my Singer Featherweight to our prayer quilt group, I thought it was stitching awfully slowly.  Today I got out the Tri-Flow and the tools to give it a good cleaning.  The blobs and thread you see above were stuck behind the bobbin case.  I slowly worked them out.  I don't think I've ever used black thread in this machine, but that glob is not only black thread, but also black fabric.  That thread on the right isn't really black--and I'm sure I was the one who got it caught in there.
See the shiny rectangular slit to the right of the bolt?  I could have removed thread from there even without opening the machine.  But I didn't because I figured the moving parts inside could use lubrication.

After all that, I noticed that the plate on the bottom of the foot control is cracked.  I took it apart and found the scrap of fabric that's at the top of the first photo.  I don't know how it got in there, but it's from a quilt I made three or four years ago.  I hope someone who salvages these machines has an extra bottom plate so I can replace it.  Whoever put it together last substituted a too short wood screw for one of the screws in the foot control. I've had this machine for over 20 years, so I'm wondering why I didn't notice the problem with the foot control sooner.

I'm also wondering if it's always sewn this slowly and I just didn't notice until sewing on the treadle and the hand crank.

The photos below are to show comparison of the full size machines (in this case my Redhead Treadle--a model 66) to the 1/2 size Featherweight.   And the second photo compares the size of the Featherweight to the 99. I'm told some people refer to the 99 as the little sister of the 66. They refer to it as being 3/4 size.  Those are interesting comparisons, but they're accurate only in a figurative sense.

I managed to get some piecing and ironing done, but the rest of what I accomplished today was just some housework.  (Why did I say "just.")

I won't have another day off work until the school year is over.  I did my best to enjoy it.  We had our first day of 70+ temperatures, so I was able to open a window--just one because it's really windy.  I inspected the sprouting bulbs.  My neighbor scattered single daffodils around her yard, and hers are in bloom.  But I guess I get more shade than she does.  I did go outside and gather windblown objects--mostly some pots that haven't been planted yet. With the warmth, today was a perfect day to have off work.  Temperatures will be significantly lower tomorrow.  (In fact, there are winter storm warnings active for the NW quadrant.) I loved seeing all the blooming flowers in the Easter photos from friends in other parts of the country, but at 6500 feet, and with the unusual weather El Nino has produced, it will be another week or so before they bloom here.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Singer 99 Handcrank Conversion and a Picture

I converted the Singer 99 from electric to hand crank.
Here's the conversion:
I ordered the hand crank, spoked wheel, etc. from Cindy at Stitches in Time in Lake City, MN.  She gives absolutely fantastic service!  (I love ordering bobbins from her because I know they will fit my machines and work perfectly--because she tests every batch she receives--unlike any fabric store.)

The conversion took less than 10 minutes--and that's with *no* instructions.  I just removed the motor and the original hand wheel, and then I installed the new one.  Honestly, it was so easy that my mind is still boggled!  I've spent longer trying to adjust the thread tension than it took me to convert the machine!--The needlebar was set so low that the feed dogs had begun to wear on the bottom of the presser foot.

This machine is one more reminder that the "sewing police" think they know more than they really know; I think they usually speak from lack of experience and assume that what works on one or two machines is true for all.

I am so excited that I now have a quiet little machine that I can pick up and take anywhere (that "anywhere" includes outside--when we get real spring weather). I'm debating asking someone to tell me how to get the housing for the machine light apart so that I can rewire it, just in case I want to use the little lamp that was on the machine.  It was wired into the motor--obviously the motor is off and no longer needed.  (It was making a funny rattle noise anyway.)

I do love people powered sewing machines!  (My friend Harriet reminded me that she and this little machine share the same birth year--the year my dad graduated from high school.)

Next, a picture for Aunt Katherine.  Sweet Teen has had this dress for several years--we've watched it get shorter as she's gotten taller.  (I offered to get some taffeta to lengthen a plaid dress from last year [I think], but she decided to wear this one.)

Friday, April 2, 2010

Blustery Day.....

Last weekend Alexandra played in the New Mexico Federation of Music Clubs spring festival held in Albuquerque.  As a result of that she was asked to play in an honor recital held at Charles Pianos yesterday evening.
She played beautifully--she thinks she didn't.
Getting her to the recital created some logistical problems--both time issues and mileage issues--but we got there a couple minutes before she was supposed to play.  Her current band teacher attended--but neither of us got to talk to him because of where he was seated.  I did manage to hand her current flute teacher the piano score--because she had loaned her own copy of the score to someone else.  Alex dashed to a back room to warm up.  Her band instructor from last year arrived a minute or so before Alex went on.
We had to leave as soon as Alex was finished because she was one of the lectors for last night's church service.  However, Ms. Sedillo had time to hand her a beautiful bouquet and a small stuffed tiger (the mascot at last year's school).
Aside from Alex's comment that she had "messed up" during the performance (minor error unnoticed by most people, I'm certain), Alex was amazed at how many Asians were part of the recital.  We were told she would be one of 12 students playing, but when we arrived the program included at least twice that number--however, only Alex and one other student were flautists; the rest were pianists.  Indeed, there were more Asians present than at any event we've been to in years.
Following the church service, several people commented to me how poised Alex was.  She confided that in the minutes before the church service she'd pretty much memorized the extensive scripture readings.  She is amazing. were the winds yesterday.  We watched all kinds of airborne objects flying past the window of my classroom for most of the day.  I drove through wind, rain, sleet, and snow yesterday--and felt blessed for the safe travels.  Spring in New Mexico......
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