Monthly Archives: September 2015

The sound of music ain’t got nothing on this Singer

…even if I can’t say it sews as pretty as a song just yet!  After a week of cleaning, reading and fiddling, my Singer sewing machine is looking pretty good:

1917 Singer sewing machine...aaaaaand Wolverine.

1917 Singer sewing machine…aaaaaand Wolverine.

A couple years ago a relative pieced together and refinished this beauty, and I’m just now diving into how to keep a treadle machine in working order. At this point I’ve got more questions than answers, but I figure starting a master post and then linking to everything useful I find will be helpful for future reference and other people just starting out with an older sewing machine. If you have additional resources or advice, feel free to drop a line in the comments!

  1. How do I wind thread on the bobbin?
  2. When I unscrew the ‘brake’ knob as if to wind the bobbin, the needle still moves. Whyyyyyyyyyy?
  3. How do I clean old oil out of the innards of the body of the machine?
  4. How do I thread this effing bobbin holder.
  5. Adjusting thread tension: how, when, why. Will I be doing this on test swatches for every project sewn?
  6. Where do I put my feet on the treadle?
    1. Why does my treadle have a ridge at the front if a common treadling method is to have one foot further away and the other closer with a heel on the ground?
  7. Methods for taking care of the leather belt
    1. Does the leather belt always stay on the wheel or do you take it off/loosen it like the bow on a violin?
  8. When I use the treadle it feels like it gains momentum and overbalances (not going backwards though). Is it supposed to feel like that?
  9. What are all these attachments?
  10. How do I use each attachment? I really wanna learn do make a button hole using an attachment!

Southern Belle Plans Weekly Menu

I just had such an intense brain fart that I had to google ‘little green balls vegetable’ to figure out that yes, I do plan to make Brussels Sprouts as a part of this week’s menu. That pretty much shows you how long they’ve been iced over in my freezer.

It’s cool! I’ve got this whole thing under control. Totally. In an effort to trim my grocery spending and food waste, I’ve been cooking to the beat of regularly scheduled drum. And it drums on Sundays.

Because if I don’t grocery shop, prep, and cook things on Sundays, it doesn’t really get done. Then I end up letting produce go bad, eating out, or eating pancakes and in general being inefficient and bad to my budget. At my best, I can cook enough mains and sides to keep things varied during the week, and if I get tired of all my options by Friday, splurging for pizza won’t break the bank.

Speaking of pizza, I made an awesome one yesterday from ready made dough from Trader Joe’s. I shopped my pantry and came up with canned chicken, home-canned banana peppers, cheese and ranch dressing. It was far more delicious than it had any right to be. Unfortunately, those leftovers are long gone so here’s the plan:

  • I have dried Lima beans and carrots=soup
  • I have ground corn=cheesy corn grits
  • High time to use the aforementioned Brussels Sprouts=Brussels Sprouts
  • Use that random box of potato latka  mix
    • BTW, plain yogurt with dill and garlic salt makes a great dip for just about everything
  • That just leaves buying fresh fruits and veggies for breakfast smoothies and snacks.

I think I’m all set!

When dish washing makes you crotchety…crotchet some dishcloths!

My home decorating aesthetic could be described  a lot of different ways…eclectic, vintage, second-hand, and floral just about cover the main themes though. 

I like to add strategic pops of color around the house–making my own curtains, or painting an old coffee table and shelves to refresh their look is the easy route to giving a dull room some pizzazz. But right now I’m really into updating my kitchen linens. Cottons? Cloths?

The point is, there’s this super awesome rad nonprofit creative reuse center where I live called The Scrap Exchange where I bought half a dozen bunches of cotton yarn for oh, six bucks. I don’t know how to read a crochet pattern to save my life, but when I was about seven my grandma showed me how to do chain, single- and double-crochet stitches. She did granny squares, and I ended up making excessively ruffled capes for my dolls.

Now, I make dishcloths! They don’t lay flat, and they’re not shaped perfectly, but it’s awfully nice to have a project that only takes a couple of hours and doesn’t require fussy material or counting stitches. It’s relaxing, makes washing dishes slightly more palatable, and I’m using reclaimed materials. Triple win!

Behold, scrubbies*:

Floral and striped and ruffled oh my!

Floral and striped and ruffled oh my!

*In the interest of full disclosure, two of these were actually knitted. #stillcounts

Pen shells trimmed with beards

I knew my love for reading the BBC World News section would pan out eventually. Today’s article was about Sea Silk, or fiber spun from the solidified saliva of a large clam.

Image result for byssus sea silk art

Yup. Chiara Vigo dives into the ocean, harvests the spit (or beard) that anchors the clams to the ground, and turns it into fine, elastic thread that she spins, then weaves/embroiders etc. into textiles that churches and art museums all over the world want. Don’t quote me on that though. The internet being closer than a library, I ain’t ashamed to say this Wikipedia was a good start to learn where this craft has popped through time and across cultures.

Sidebar: it also led to searching for “Mermaid hair” which brought up algae…you’re welcome.

My favorite find from trawling the interwebs, is “Spirals in Time: The Secret Life and Curious Afterlife of Seashells” by Helen Scales, which is now featured prominently on my Need to Read post-it note list. One section delves into Sea Silk, and the vagaries of mussels. During an experiment it appeared that the more a mussel is agitated, the more solidified saliva (byssus)  it produces. Thankfully, “This was done by an automated mussel-bothering machine, not a sleepless grad student.” Shew.