27 February 2012

It's raining.

I'd planned to take my library books books back and haul back another load. I'd planned to go to the library, then swing down Boyles Close to Aldi's for a bulk bag of clumping cat litter. From Aldi's I would walk up to the Farm Foods where I would load the granny trolley with several kilo bags of frozen veg. Then I would trudge home with my books, my cat litter, and my frozen veg. I would unload it all and then get started on Paul's handkerchief sewing.

But it's raining.

And there is no bus stand running close enough to the house to make it worth using the bus-I'd have to walk almost to the library to board the bus that goes past the Aldi's and Farm Foods. Sigh.

So I am grateful that Paul has a rather large personal library. I finished the last library book Friday night. I should have, could have, gone to the library Saturday morning. I could have made the grocery shop Saturday morning.

Not. I love my children. I love my grandson. But I have NEVER loved being out on the streets or in the grocery or in the library with a great lot of over excited children I am not parenting. I must be honest and tell you, dear readers, that Scottish children for the most part are rather well behaved when in public-it is rare for a Scottish child to 'pitch a fit' in public, it simply isn't done. That said, however, last Saturday morning the last thing I wanted to do was dodge groups of school children in the library, shops, and streets.

So I found myself a book in Paul's home library and started reading. Deer Hunting With Jesus, a book I read soon after it was published. It left an impression on me as at the time (2008) I'd been living in the Deep South for over 20 years, and could relate to the people, places, and situations Mr Bageant was writing about.

Re-reading it this weekend, I am finding my feelings and impressions a lot stronger. I read the author's commentary on how the working class American has been screwed, blued, and tattooed, and all I can see are the faces of my former neighbours, my son, and my grandson. The trouble is that this book (a must read if you haven't already, and if you have, well worth a revisit if it's been a while) could be about ANY First World Country with any aspirations towards Middle Class.

So. It's raining. I can't get out of the house to replenish the library book supply, the cat litter supply, or the frozen veg supply. Luckily for the cat I have an unopened bag; luckily for Paul I have an unopened bag of his beloved brussels sprouts. I just figured that since I'm going out to the library I may as well stock up. Oh well, hopefully it will clear this afternoon.

I still have a small smoking habit although I've managed to cut that down to about 5 cigarettes a day, and this morning as I was standing on the back porch (I don't smoke inside) I got thinking about the things Joe Bageant was saying about education being the key, and how we've priced people out of the educational system in the US. He doesn't mention libraries except in passing, but I've always believed a determined person can find a pretty good education in the library.

I've always had a library card, my first one being granted when I was about five. I would ride pillion with my brother to the Pomona City Library, first on his horse, then, when they took down the hitching rail, on his bike. Once the library ladies figured out I could read they gave me a library card.

I can still remember standing in the children's stacks choosing books, feeling as though I was the luckiest child on the planet. I loved biographies, and read my way A-Z through the outstanding collection available at the time. Back then the children's section of the library was the size of most main sections of your local library today. From the most very basic children's book to what was then called 'juvenile fiction' aimed at shaping the minds of teens, the children's library at Pomona Public Library was Sanctuary.

S'all good, as I wrote above, I have books, cat litter, and frozen veg enough to get by until the sun comes out again. And I have sewing to do. Which leads me to another funny story...

As I blethered on about several times, Paul and I have quite the collection of vintage and antique Singer sewing machines. It's been a chore, but we have collected the service manuals for each machine and were really looking forward to this spring, when we would set up a Singer sewing machine refurbishment hospital in the garage.

I've been sewing on a 513, a late sixties electric that is not a bad little machine, although I am really looking forward to the 6103 being refurbished because it's got an amazing straight stitch and zig-zag (rare for a machine that will zig-zag because usually the straight stitches are just a hair off being straight).

And then Paul asked me to refurbish his Barbour waxed cotton Border jacket. Oh hell. I've never sewn waxed cotton and it took me nearly a month to gather enough information to get the job done from this:

To this:

Not the easiest repair I've ever done, but both hand-warmer pockets are now repaired, the hang loop in the collar restored, and the waxed cotton reproofed.

I cleaned the wax out of the feed dog teeth and got started on a pair of fleece pyjamas. Got as far as half way down one leg seam too. And then the 513 threw the bobbin gear. Again.

You have to understand that when you sew on vintage machines it is not always possible to buy NEW parts for the machines because those parts simply aren't milled anymore. So you learn to keep your eye open for 'parts machines' you can salvage parts from. Which is what the bobbin gear on the 513 was, a salvage part. And I actually have a parts 513, and the service manual.

But Paul prefers I not use power tools. Or non-power tools for that matter. He gets a bit tetchy when I start taking apart one of my machines. We're working on it, but it does slow me down. He took my 513 and added it to the queue for spring refurbishment, and I sat down and cried because spring is about a month away...

And because two weeks ago an old commission of Paul's that had run out of funding was re-funded. This spring has become Spring 2014.


So he said "OK, order a new sewing machine. One with a warranty. One under £200."

I spent a week researching machines on the Internet, and found one that I felt would serve the purpose until Spring 2014, Singer Talent model 3321. It arrived Friday morning. The first thing I did of course was try out every feature, and then I set it up for the stretch stitching I needed to do to finish those fleece pyjamas. OH WOW! Right, I'm hooked.

Then I dug out the stashed four sack towels I brought back from VisaQuest, and after cutting one in half up the middle, sewed a really nice straight stitch hem along the sides, and got a little crazy and stitched decorative finishes on both:

Today I am making Paul several handkerchiefs from an old tattersall shirt. I've promised him I won't use the decorative stitches:)

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