Make It Better

A few weeks back my old rotary cutter broke, the retract button snapped off, and while technically I could still use it, the only way to get the blade back was to use the end of a pencil and poke it in the button hole, making it snap closed like a mouse trap! That old cutter lasted a really long time, it was the very first one I bought in the early 90’s after seeing it used at my local quilt shop and I remember being completely shook while watching the quilt lady slice through a pile of fabric with zero effort.

Sadly that quilt shop closed many years ago and because it’s currently a flipping pandemic, we’re still not going anywhere unnecessary, so I resorted to looking online, reading reviews and finally just picking one. I went with the Japanese brand kai (from kaiscissors.com) with a smaller 28mm tungsten steel blade (unlike the quilt lady who sold me my first one, I rarely cut thick stacks of multiple layers). So far I’m really liking this brand, it has a pressure sensitive blade, meaning that the blade slides into the cutting position when you apply pressure to cut and retracts into the garded position when pressure is released ..it’s amazing! The only time this is a problem is when I’m cutting against a ruler, you always have to have the blade side towards the ruler otherwise the stationary guard won’t let you get up close to the ruler edge and after years of having a blade that stuck out an unhindered half inch, and locked into the cut position (like a accident waiting to happen), it will take a little time to remember this one is different, safer, oh, and isn’t it just so pretty!

I didn’t get a chance to use my new tool much, because for a little stretch here it was too hot to sew, the studio can get really warm in the summer. So I stayed in the air conditioning and made an oversized doily, but instead of making an 8” thread doily, I substituted worsted weight cotton and a 5.5mm hook and made a giant 20” doily that I’m going to attach to a hoop and hang on the studio wall!

Pattern (charted) : Viola Doily (free on Ravelry) by Aki Kasaishi.

New title – Sewist and Part-Time Sewing Machine Repair Shop.

This was the very first machine I bought my adult self with my adult money (20ish years ago), a super portable Husqvarna Huskystar with top loading bobbin, needle up/down button, speed controls, auto button hole, it was a total modern upgrade from the 10 ton steel body front loading Kenmore (oddly also considered “portable”) I had been using since the 80’s (a present from my parents when I was 13, and yes, I actually asked for a sewing machine!)

Many happy sewing years passed, and then one day in 2018 my Huskystar stopped going in reverse. I tried to make do, adjusting stitch length, banging on the side hoping to knock it back into working (but mostly just the stitch length thing :) I did that until I turned so sour towards the hassle and extra effort, I gave up and put it in hibernation. Soon after that it was replaced by the cute black (very basic) heavy duty Janome I currently use. It wasn’t until recently when I stumbled across my old broken machine in a closet and thought, hum, what’s the worse that could happen if I rip into this? So I did and then Jason joined in and we ended up taking apart way more than we needed to, but in the end it was just a gummed up release mechanism and all it took was a few laughs, some head scratches, finger pinches, three swears and a can of WD-40 (we used the WD-40 to strip out the old hardened grease, a pro tip we saw on You Tube). Once the reverse was freed we oiled all the bits and put it back together. FIXED!

I was excited to use my old Huskystar, I top loaded the bobbin and started sewing and reversing and everything I loved about this machine was still true, except for one thing, it seemed to struggle through thicker fabric. Then I realized with each machine upgrade comes new things to love and maybe right now I’m completely in love with the industrial power of my heavy duty Janome, and that is more important to me at this time in my sewing life. So I smiled and turned off the machine, slid on its cover and tucked it back in the closet.

I still have that old Kenmore too, maybe I should pull it out and see what is what. If I remember correctly the power cord has a worn spot from being sucked up during some very lazy vacuuming in my baby days!

Because sewing masks is my current standard of judging machine performance, I tried a new mask pattern while I had the Huskystar out. Lex has been getting chapped lips from talking while wearing the pleated masks I usually make, she has a low profile button nose so the pleated masks were resting right against her mouth. I’ve been looking for a style with a nice boxy front, and this one is perfect for her. ♡

I used Keiko Olsson’s Summer Mask Pattern, (I added non-woven interfacing for structure & a metal nose piece so it sealed tighter over the bridge) it has the most perfect finishing ever, so beautifully tidy.

it sometimes happens

The original.

It was back in January when I got the email, it was from Vickie Howell saying she had stumbled across one of my photos online and was wondering if I would mind if she used it in her upcoming book. I was shook, cripes I watched Vickie on PBS and Knitty Gritty when I was first learning to knit!

A few things ran through my head:

No.1 I still really love the Beekeepers Quilt and I still really love my Constellation Charts.

No.2 Holy Shit!

No.3 Why did I stitch a Taurus chart and photograph it? No one in my family is a Taurus, and my original picture was from 2011 and for the absolute life of me I can’t remember why Taurus.

No.4 Feeling pretty justified in watermarking my photos. I’ve always debated with myself if it was worth the extra effort to do so, or if it just came across as pretentious. I never did it thinking it was going to stop people from stealing them, I did it just to make sure no matter where they ended up that hopefully people could track it back to me. (Granted it only took 8ish years, but it worked ..haha!)

The publisher needed a hi resolution version of the image and I panicked, not knowing if my then early 2000s Nikon Coolpix point and shoot even took publisher quality hi-res images (back in the day image files were huge and my little 32mb SD card embarrassing by todays standards) ..did I even kept the original ..what if I didn’t keep the f’ing original!!!! Anyways, after sifting through old flash drives I finally found it, I sent off a few images not fully knowing what I was doing or what they were looking for, then a little while later Vickie asks me what are the odds I have something even higher resolution, I didn’t, but I still had the puffs, so we decided a reshoot would be the fix, it was, and now I have a picture in a book. 💕