Friday, February 26, 2010

A New Addiction?

I think I might easily fall prey to addiction. I'm showing the early signs of an irrepressible urge to bring treadle sewing machines into my home and it needs to stop. I don't have the money or room.

Now that I have positively affirmed my choice to be responsible forevermore, I will post about the road trip I dragged the kids on yesterday.

Kurt procured a lovely Singer Model 27 sewing machine for me for my birthday. Unfortunately, it was in pretty rough condition and I doubted my ability to ever get it into working, usable condition. So I started haunting Craig's List looking for parts or for other Singer Model 27 sewing machines. I didn't actually intend to buy another sewing machine; I was simply looking.

Yeah right. Last week, I found this Singer Model 27:

The table was in beautiful shape for a sewing machine manufactured in 1903. My pulse raced every time I saw it. I made several phone calls, requested more pictures and finally made a ridiculously low offer to buy the machine. Knowing I was quite a drive away from Ariton, Alabama, the owner of the antique store decided he would sell me the machine for what I offered if I was willing to make the drive. I think he'd had it in his shop for awhile. The sewing machine has lovely "pheasant" decals I believe.

I really couldn't believe I would be able to get such a lovely machine for so little so yesterday, I grabbed the kids and we headed out for a small town in Alabama whose name I'd never even heard referenced before. I don't have GPS, but I did print out a map from Mapquest. The map would have been sufficient had I not missed a turn early on in our journey and traveled many miles before discovering my mistake. In the end, Gregory learned how to read and navigate from a printed map, which comprised our homeschooling lessons for the day. We created our own route from faded gray lines representing "secondary" roads without names on the large United States Map Book I've had in our car since our last trip across country to visit family. Secondary roads are interesting. There is almost no traffic on secondary roads which I like, and fortunately we had no car problems while in the middle of nowhere, for which I prayed the entire time. We also saw a lot of cows. We even saw a pasture full of miniature cows. I had no idea Alabama had so many cows. I suspect we might have more cows than people.

Despite all the wrong and missed turns and the long trip and all the cows, the machine was every bit as lovely as I'd hoped for a 107 year old sewing machine. I think I should be able to get this machine into working condition, though I feel rough and clumsy around it.

Before traveling to Ariton, I asked the proprietor of "Not Too Shabby" antiques (a LOVELY store by the way) if the Model 27 Singer had any of the attachments with it. He told me no, but that he had another treadle machine in his store that had lots of attachments. If the attachments fit the Model 27, he would let me have them.

Another TREADLE MACHINE? Why wasn't I told???

He tried, but the attachments wouldn't fit. I got the serial number for the second machine and my research told me it was a Singer Model 66, supposedly a good work horse machine that can handle fabric as thick as leather. It sounded interesting. I thought my trip would be a great excuse to learn about another model treadle machine. So upon arrival, the kids and I innocently asked to see the second machine.

While not as ornate, the table was in pretty good condition for a machine manufactured in 1924. I casually asked the price. It was more than I was willing to pay and I walked away. Gregory moaned and told me since we'd come so far, we really should bring both machines home. It was a lovely "red eye" Model 66.

In the end, the man made me an offer I couldn't refuse if I would take both. And I did.

I didn't know how to tell Kurt because he tends to be too practical to understand my love for antique tools beyond what I "need." I did call him and reminded him he loved me very much. I reminded him 3 times so he knew something was up. In the end, he took the news very well and helped me get the Model 66 out of the car. (I did a bit of damage trying to get the Model 27 out of the car with just Gregory's help. It made me sick to my stomach although it is fixable.)

I think one of the things that excites me most about the Model 66 is all the accessories.

I see what looks like a hemmer. I haven't looked at anything too closely yet to determine what else might be there. I decided the clean up of these machines will be my summer project once it gets too hot to garden. I can hardly wait.

Of course Gregory, Kurt and I are now sick today with something that is going around. I'd hoped to get some more seeds in the ground, but don't have the strength for it. Lousy germs. But my new sewing machines are happy things despite colds and flu and work left undone.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Ready for Spring

After a very long winter (to us Southern folk anyway), we are itching for Spring. I've ordered my vegetable seeds for the year and I signed up for a tree grafting class. I planted potatoes.

In Brewton, my potatoes generally rotted before growing. I think the heavy clay and winter rains conspired to kill my potatoes year after year. The soil in our new house does not appear to be as full of clay and I'm hoping we will get our first potatoes this year. I planted gold, red and white potatoes.

Next up will be lettuce. The weather forecast calls for rain tomorrow so I will have to wait until later in the week to plant my salad garden.

In the meantime, I am trying to finish my knitting projects because I don't get to do much knitting in the Spring. I finished my Farmhouse Monkey socks.

And I've been knitting as much as possible on Asa's sweater.

Normally I would not knit something with skulls. We don't like to celebrate death in any form around here. But, I do think Jesus meets us where we are sometimes. Asa is a neat kid in our new neighborhood. He has a growth disorder which makes it impossible for him to buy clothes that fit. Ever. After seeing him in a new jacket with sleeves almost double the length of his arms, I felt the Lord whisper to me to knit something warm for Asa. Something that fits. So, I pulled out my budding design skills and worked up a pattern for someone who doesn't fit within typical pattern proportions (proof that all that math I had to learn in school had application to my life after all). And since I was designing the sweater from scratch anyway, I thought I would design a yoke pattern that would appeal to the young man for whom I am knitting. He likes the whole pirate and skull fad so I'm knitting skulls.

As creepy as the skulls look, I have to admit I'm pretty proud of the way they are turning out. I have one more round of skulls and the yoke will be done.

In the meantime, we actually saw another forecast for snow a week or so ago. Since Brewton got three to four inches of snow the snow forecast before, I thought I'd be ready to travel if snow arrived again. Both Michael and Gabrielle have mittens, but Gregory only had fingerless gloves. So I let him choose some yarn and I hurriedly knit him a pair of wool mittens - just in case.

We didn't get any snow near here after all. Oh well, I'm really clamouring for Spring anyway.

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Winter Keeps Hanging On

Winter keeps going and going and going this year, sort of like the Energizer Bunny. Our new house cannot keep up with it's lack of insulation and gappy doors. For us, winter means lots of rain and the rain keeps coming. We've found a couple unrepaired roof leaks that are fortunately not too bad and my gardening efforts have been on hold.

Last Fall, I did manage to plant some garlic and onion bulbs. They are peaking through already.

I haven't done any soil testing at all yet. I did throw a bit of chicken manure into the ground when I dug the beds hoping for the best. Eventually I'll walk the more scientific path. In the meantime, I plan to see what will grow in the native ground.

It rained again last night and the creek once again overflowed its banks.

A small bend of this creek cuts through the corner of our property. I think it is quite pretty.

I would love to build a little deck by the creek with a porch swing structure or something. It would make a lovely place to sit outside and feed the mosquitoes in the summer.

Originally I wanted to truck in a load of sand and make my own private beach. But everyone keeps telling me the sand would wash away in the rain and during these times when the creek overflows its banks.

But first, the house needs work. Lots of work.

I thought I was done with big remodeling projects, like ripping up floors, tiling, grouting, etc. But apparently not. A couple of days ago, my oldest child sat on the toilet. A couple of minutes later, we all heard a big crash.

The side of the toilet bowl literally disintegrated and fell to the ground. Fortunately for my son, the toilet seat remained intact. Ugg. Now we have to replace the toilet. But the prior homeowner laid the floor in that bathroom and instead of doing it properly, he carefully cut around the base of the toilet, custom fitting the floor to the broken toilet. There is probably no way we are going to be able to find a toilet with a big enough base in exactly the shape to fit the opening. And since I always figured we'd have to redo that floor eventually, we figure we better rip out the bathroom floor when we replace the toilet. Fortunately, we have just enough tiles left over from the kitchen floor, if I don't mess anything up, to tile the bathroom. And then the room needs painting, so I should probably go ahead and paint before I install the new floor and toilet. Nothing with this house is ever easy.

During the brief period of time between things going very wrong in our house, and winter keeping me inside, I did manage to finish my Christian Artisans Stash Sock Club socks.

They are Monkey Socks. I liked the Monkey Sock pattern so much, I actually started a second pair.

I'm knitting this pair from stash yarn too. It is Socks that Rock in the Farmhouse colorway. When I look at the yarn I can see an old red barn sitting in a golden field under a blue sky. This is the first yarn I've used where I think I can glimpse the dyer's vision.

I'm actually very close to finishing my second pair of Monkey socks. However, Gabrielle has me distracted. Gabrielle told some new friends that she could sew skirts and they asked her if she would sew a skirt for each of them. Gabrielle readily agreed. It finally got to the point where the girls were going to each have a matching skirt. Every time Gabrielle saw her friends, they asked her about the skirts. I knew the project was really beyond Gabrielle, so I thought I'd help her out and do them for her. So, that has been my afternoon project for the last few days.

We found some fabric in my stash. (It is not actually so bright.) I had barely enough. Unfortunately, I don't have adequate light yet in my sewing corner so I can only work on them when the sun is right. I'm hoping to be able to finish them today or tomorrow.

I finally started combing out the beautiful wool Caroline sent me for our Queen Susan spinning. The fiber is just beautiful!

I'm a little concerned about the range of colors in this fleece. While I love the colors, I'm not sure they will work for a lace shawl.

I hate the waste combing produces.

So, I started carding up the waste pile and spindle spinning a waste yarn. It feels bumpy and rough, but I'm sure it can be used for something. Otherwise, it is nice to be spindling again. I haven't picked up a spindle in a long time.

I'm really tired of being cold all the time and I want to eat fresh garden food again. However, I really enjoy the knitting, spinning and sewing time cold, nasty weather affords.