24 December 2010

Happy Holidays!

I am now nestled all snug in my chair gazing at the tree (and its guard) and waiting for Christmas.

Why do I feel that I have to wait for my daughter (who is 25) to come home and go to bed before I fill the stockings?

Earlier this evening I worked for a while on a little shrug I want to make for my daughter out of a pretty charcoal and silver metallic knit I picked up in the LA Fashion District. Here it is, with my hyper-conscientious attendant:

It's a very slinky, stretchy sweater knit so I haven't made much progress on it, unless you count basic learning about sewing and serging on knits. I gave up on making it a Christmas gift some time ago, now I just hope she likes it or, if it's a wadder, wishes it had worked out.

Meanwhile I consider myself a minor Facebook sensation. Yesterday I suggested that I might wrap Christmas gifts in fabric this year to avoid wasting paper and killing more trees. My daughter thought that was a good enough idea to make it her facebook status (must be hard to come up with news to report when you are home with the parental units for the holidays) and give me credit for the idea. Multiple "likes" and positive comments. However, I stole, I mean, learned the idea from Melissa at Fehr Trade. But I can't find Fehr Trade on facebook, so I'll have to give her credit here. Fabric wrap is virtuous but fabric doesn't crease like paper, so the gifts have a comfy, badly-made bed look to them.

Anyway, Happy Holidays to all!

19 December 2010

Loose threads

A few miscellaneous observations:
1. Elizabeth and I completed our first project together. As promised, it is a suede cover for a birdwatcher's book for my brother. I stitched it together with silver metallic thread--what a bear to get through the eye of the needle!--and appliqued (glued) a bird on the front and a cat on the back. I'm pleased, despite the raggedy stitching (still working on Elizabeth's thread tension and my minimal skillz), and despite the fact that my brother, being color-blind, may not see the contrast between the green book and the tan applique. But then, color-blindness makes birdwatching a challenge as well, so there's a symmetry there, at least.

IMG_2022.JPG IMG_2023.JPG

2. Two nits to pick. First, "loath" is an adjective meaning reluctant, as in "I am loath to butt in and correct people when they misuse this word." "Loathe" is a verb meaning "hate" or "abhor" or some such, as in "I don't say anything when people mix "loath" and "loathe" because I loathe the kind of busybody who has to correct every mistake they hear.

Second, I was going to complain that when gentle, well-meaning people say they've been "trolling" the internet looking for something like parts for their vintage sewing machines or just the right fabric for a pretty shrug I have to believe they mean "trawling"--fishing, not trying to start a flame war. However, I find that I am completely wrong about that. Both "trolling" and "trawling" are kinds of fishing--the former with a line and bait and the latter with a net. I only learned that while double-checking this post. It's a good thing to be loath to correct people whenever I think they are in error!

Library of Congress, Artist: Frances F. Palmer (1812-1876); Lithograph: Currier & IvesLibrary of Congress, Artist: Frances F. Palmer (1812-1876); Lithograph: Currier & Ives

3. I find I have 6 followers on this blog. Since for neurotic reasons I haven't told anyone I know that I have this blog, that means 6 people who are not my mother think it might be worth reading. Thank you very much! However, I haven't signed up to follow blogs (except by putting them in my ever-burgeoning blog roll) and I don't display my "followers" because I'm skittish about my online identities and the startling places they seem to turn up once I let go of them. I know I'm delusional if I think I can control the circulation of anything I say on the internet, and I try to follow the New York Times rule (don't write anything, anywhere, that you couldn't live with in a Times headline) but Google and Facebook intimidate me.

17 December 2010

She Sews!

Maybe I was a little hasty in giving Elizabeth a name--it is a little creepy to bring a new pet into the house, give it a name, and then dismember it/her and spread its/her guts all over the house. And filthy guts they were!

But all is well and, I hope, forgiven. Elizabeth has been rewired, degreased, regreased, oiled and reassembled and now stitches smoothly and quietly frontwards and backwards.

Next up: stitching up a leather cover (from thrifted coats) for a birdwatching book for my brother. And decorating it with a stylized cat, my brother being a serious cat person. Or is that inappropriate for a bird book?


06 December 2010

Meet Elizabeth, My New Old 15-91!

I admit to being a Craigslist junkie. I don't buy much, and I sell even less, but I love poring over ads for what folks want to get rid of. I'm also a sewing blog junkie, especially those like Spare Time and Male Pattern Boldness that include a lot of sewing machine porn. So my two addictions collided on Friday when I spotted an ad for "Vintage singer sewing machine 1940's - $25" just a few miles from home. Not much information--nothing about whether it worked, for example, or what model it might be, but it came in a cabinet with a chair. Here's the photo:
Now, I learned to sew on my mother's black metal Singer and remember it fondly. I'm also buying up old suede coats at Goodwill with the idea of cutting them up and making book covers, bags, vests, etc., for which an old Singer straight stitch--especially a 15-91 with its all-geared drive--would be just the thing.
I've learned how to identify old Singer models and could see that the tension dial on the left in the photo meant this was likely a 15 of some sort. For $25, including the furniture, most likely it wouldn't work, but it was a pleasant drive to find out. As it turned out, the machine belonged to the seller's grandmother and had been stored away by her late mother. The mother's house was being cleared out, and pretty much anything the seller didn't want was going for $25. I was still wrestling my new treasure into the car when another buyer pointed out to the seller how much more she could have gotten for this machine, bwah-ha-ha!

The serial number indicates that my 15-91 was built between April and June, 1953, in Elizabeth, New Jersey, where my mother was born and grew up. I shall call her Elizabeth.

01 December 2010

Fabric Shopping in LA's Fashion District

I spent half of November on jury duty. Despite being a lawyer and law professor, I was empaneled on the jury in a medical malpractice case tried in Downtown Los Angeles. This is the third time I've served on a jury in the 17 years I've been teaching law; plus once when I was a practicing lawyer I put in 3 months (once a week) on a federal grand jury. I love sitting on juries--observing trial techniques (or lack thereof) to enrich my teaching, and then being astonished and impressed when the non-lawyer jurors start to deliberate. I forget how warped my perceptions have been by my legal training and experience.

Anyway, we were summoned at 10 one morning but after we jurors had sat around in the hallway for a half hour or so we were told we would not be needed until 1:30. So I hopped a bus down to the fashion district which, despite living in Los Angeles for 25 years, I had never seen.

What fun! I'd way rather wander around Santee Alley and Maple Ave. than plod through Disneyland again. These crappy cell-phone pics don't do it justice, but I'm posting them anyway because I FINALLY figured out how to liberate the pics from my phone!


I marched bravely into Michael Levine and was completely overwhelmed.


Eventually I got my eyes to focus and managed to buy some grey rayon-poly doubleknit, with which I plan to make a suit or dress to hang in my office to change into after I've cycled to work or when I've forgotten to dress up, and some yummy gold, rust, black and metallic stuff for a dressy-ish T.


AND to find my way back to court to sit in judgment with my peers. (Defense verdict at the end of the week.) A good day.