Thursday, November 25, 2021


I tend to be really bad about starting projects and not finishing them.  Or starting a project but forgetting where I was in it, or having the inspiration for it fade a bit, or losing energy to work on it, or losing motivation to work on anything, or setting it down somewhere, or...

Yeah.  More ways to say "not finishing them."

I'm trying to do better.  

I have a lot of yarn.  And some crochet thread.  Mostly handed on to me from relatives who'd stashed it, then lost the ability (age, arthritis, shingles eating into the nerves of dominant hands, etc) to work with it.  I've been trying to use it up, recently, and I've made some headway.  Decent headway, even, considering.  The yarn is uniformly acrylic, mostly Red Heart cheap acrylic, and kind of scratchy (with one, notable exception that mimics mohair, of which I have enough to make myself another sweater...and probably will). 

My current project is actually finished.  The labels on the yarn said it was black, but it's not.  It's more a shimmery, dark charcoal gray.  Scratchy as hell, but there was enough of it (five 3.5 oz skeins) to make a lap-sized afghan.  It's pretty, and I'll likely keep it in my library for use in here.  

I've got my first, huge knitted project in here already.  It's an afghan sized for (probably) a queen-sized bed, in black, red, gray purple, and blue stripes of varying sized.  Knitted on size 8 knitting needles.  It took me three years of (admittedly very intermittent) work, but I did finish that one.  I bound it off my freshman year of college, and have mostly stuck to no bigger than scarves, shawls, small afghans, and sweaters since.  

But back to that big afghan.  

It...doesn't go with any of the colors already in here, and clashes with several.  And the kids desperately want it back.  They'd been using it in the family room to cuddle under on the couch while they watch TV (as it's big enough they can cuddle under it without actually cuddling each other...which, like cats, causes fights).  

That means my next big project is already planned.  Big projects are ones that stay next to my chair because they're unwieldy to take with me to work on when I sit down somewhere (like visiting relatives, waiting on picking up the kids from school, waiting in line, waiting on tires to be mounted & balanced, waiting at doctors' offices...).  I have two one pound skeins of navy blue yarn, and will be working on a larger afghan for the lovely burgundy loveseat I found for my library.  I will just need to switch my size 10 interchangeables to the longest of my circular cords--which is two joined together with an adapter. 

Smaller projects, current definition of a "smaller project" is "one I can fit in my purse."  Which, while large, isn't that big, and is taken up with things necessary to other projects--paper, pens, my planner, and things like that.  I used to be able to bring a mid-sized project in its own tote bag, because a lot of my "waiting" time is spent in the car, but now, my front passenger seat is spoken for.*  And the little twerp insists his trumpet, backpack, and massive binder must be in the front with him, rather than the cargo space in the very back.  Which...leaves no room for anything of mine at all.

Yes, I have a small project on needles.  Right now, it's on double pointed needles, but I will need to shift to a set of interchangeable size 7 circular needles on the shortest cord soon.  This is yarn I had purchased a while back, and is a wool/acrylic blend.  I bought it for a sweater (yes, I finished it, and yes, I wear it--often, in the winter), and had several skeins left over.  My darling other half requested a hat, so a hat I am making.  A thick, double-layered stocking cap that will felt together somewhat when washed.  I'll have to see how much of the yarn I have the hat will take up.  I have no idea, at present--I don't make a lot of hats, and I have never before made a double layered one.  

Why no, I don't have a pattern I'm following.  I haven't found one I liked.  I have done research about how it's done, in general, and I will be making measurements to fit this more precisely to my other half.  But I don't have a pattern.  

(I often don't. Mostly because I can't find any specific to the projects I want to make, but partially because, like good cooks, I've been knitting long enough--almost thirty years, now--that I may start with a pattern, but usually end up modifying it to the point that it only barely resembles the original, and I like it better anyway.)

*My 13 year old son has claimed shotgun whenever both parents aren't along.  Eventually, I will make him take turns with his sister, but she's not quite tall enough for it to be safe, yet.

Tuesday, November 23, 2021

Something old...

When I was a little girl, my grandma used to sit me on the treadle of an old Singer sewing machine, under the cabinet, for time-outs.  Like all kids did, I'd get bored and look at stuff.  There was a broken leather belt, and fragments of baling twine stuck in the treadle wheel.  I asked Grandma what it was, and she said it was her mom's sewing machine from before anybody had electricity.  No, she'd never used it.  No, she had no interest in fixing it--she had a good electric machine, why would she want to?*

I'd wanted that sewing machine for a long time.  The table it's in is really pretty (even if it really needs some repairs/rebuilding done), and I developed a phobia of electric sewing machines when I was in my very early teens, after one seriously malfunctioned in Home Ec class.  I made sure my family knew not to get rid of it because I wanted it.  And because I wanted to fix it.  

Fast-forward to 2017: we bought this house.  And not long after we moved in, my aunts and my mom came up to visit...with that sewing machine in Mom's pickup bed.  It is a heavy bastard: the sewing machine itself is cast iron.  The treadle is, too.  The gears inside it, and all of the workings are heavy steel.  Only the table and drawers are made of wood.  But three old ladies and two young ones got that heavy bastard unloaded, and set on a scrap of carpet in the entry hall.  

And it's sat there for four year, being used as a side-table.  Same use my grandma put it to.  

Until recently.  

My other half has a pair of slacks that need to be repaired.  One of the seams let go.  Should be a fairly simple repair...if I can get a sewing machine to work.  

I had a small, cheap, plastic (and plastic geared) Singer sewing machine--an electric one--intended for light mending.  I bought it, intending to do some mending, and one of my aunts asked to borrow it.  She gave it back, not long after, telling me that it didn't work.  

As it turned out, she'd tried using it to hem some jeans.  And had stripped the hell out of the gears inside the machine, and bent the needle to the point where it wouldn't go through the plate to pick up thread from the bobbin.  No shit it didn't work--you don't use a light mending machine on anything heavier than light cotton.  

I...had not known just how badly she'd FUBARed my machine, until I pulled it out to try mending Odysseus's work slacks.  

And my mother-in-law's light-mending (aka, semi-disposable) Brother sewing machine...the drop-in bobbin's design is utter shit.  I can't get the thing threaded so that the needle will pick up the bobbin thread.  

I didn't (and don't) have $150-200 to spend on a decent sewing machine...but I had Grandma's treadle machine.  I opened up the table and took a look at it.  

To start with, I stepped back, and just looked at it.  It is, in a word, gorgeous.  It's a Model 27 Vibrating Shuttle machine.  Yeah, the decals are worn (off, in places, and just worn down to silver in others), but holy crap is the machine itself pretty!  It's not a square chunk of plastic like most of the modern ones, but a thing of graceful curves and lines.  The hand wheel turned--stiff, but it turned--and moved the needle up and down.  And flipped the bobbin back and forth.  It...honestly, it looked like it would work.  I just had been afraid to look at it before then.    

All it needed was the new belt (I'd spent my childhood picking fragments of baling twine out and dusting a lot of the treadle and treadle wheel with my picky little fingers), and some oil.  Honestly, it needed a lot of oil.  It hadn't seized up, but it was...really stiff.  

I'm friends with somebody on social media who fixes old treadle machines for fun.  With his advice and instructions (and help finding bits and bobs--like the treadle belt), I managed to get the machine up and running.  Sort of.  Maybe.  

I haven't tried sewing on it, yet, but the hand wheel and treadle work together, and the bobbin winder looks like it'll work fine, too.  

But all in all?  It cost me less than $20 to fix a machine that the serial number put at just over a hundred years old.**

I am going to learn to sew, and on this machine.  And, when I am gone, it will go to my daughter.  

And I have every expectation that it will still work just fine.  And be higher quality than anything new she'll be able to get.  

*To be fair to Grandma, she wasn't wrong.  Her electric sewing machine was made in the '50s, and the only bits on it that need work are easily sourced and replaced.  It still runs fine, despite being seventy years old.  

**The serial number on the treadle machine indicates that it was built toward the end of the first half of 1898. 

Tuesday, November 16, 2021

Well. Sudden cat syndrome is a thing.

 It's been a busy morning.  I've had a little bit of energy, and a lot of little things that need done, half of them things I could do sitting.  So, I've alternated standing tasks (starting a load of sheets in the wash, for example) with sitting tasks (decluttering coffee table/end tables).  

And then, I sit down to know, one of the other things I need to do.  

And I suddenly get a cat in my lap.  

I'm not in my recliner, with my laptop, which means the cat gets half my lap, and I can still work.  No.  I'm at the desktop.  Where the most comfortable way to write is with my keyboard in my lap because I am not sized normally.  

And before I can pick up the keyboard, I wind up with an 11 lb house panther curled determinedly in the way, glaring at me.  

She glares at me for reaching over her to type, too, but that's less of a deterrent than how much it hurts my shoulders, wrists, and elbows to type with my arms in the air. 

Thursday, November 11, 2021


 Okay.  I've had this laptop for a little less than a year (bought in January of '21). Yes, I've used it all day, every day, within that year, but... shouldn't be threatening to die on me already.  

So.  Tuesday, I woke up with an incipient migraine--halos, sound and light sensitivity, irritability, and all--and went through my normal morning routine: get dressed, get the kids up and fed, get the kids' school lunches made, just...get shit done, y'know?  And then, I sat down with my laptop to surf the news and check email while I drank coffee.  

And two minutes after I started using it, it quit being able to access the internet.  It's done that a couple of times, now.  I started out with turning the wireless card off, then back on.  Then, when that didn't work, running the troubleshooter.  And then, I tried the restart. froze.  And then I got a blue screen announcing that Something Was Wrong.  And Please Wait while the laptop tried to repair itself.  

It spent the whole day at 0% done, on a blue screen.  


I had two finished first drafts of two different novels on this damn piece of hardware.  And several finished short stories.  I can't just...toss it.  So, we've spent two full days trying to get the stupid thing to unfuck itself to the point where I can get my damn finished drafts off of it.  And we start trying something else tonight, and it... unfucks itself, and starts.   

I will be spending quite a bit of time grabbing usernames and passwords off this hunk of plastic.  As well as the documents.  Looks like the documents copy over is about 40% complete, at the moment.  And yeah, I'll use it for surfing comfortably in the evening until it dies the final death, but...

I think I'll be using the desktop for the foreseeable future.  I don't think I trust my laptop anymore.  Not even as far as I can throw my car. 

I think I'm going to need another draft book, though--one of the book ideas I had came abruptly unstuck when I moved over to the desktop.  

I am going to have to find my Office CDs.  I don't think Libre Office has the functionality I really need for what I want to do.  

The moral of the story?  Computers may be a necessary evil in the modern world.  However, that does not mean that they aren't evil.