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Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Mysteries of a new Sony Walkman

If only I were electronically literate!

A long time ago, in the mix-up of several resident grandchildren with missing earplugs, power cords, and even I-pods and Walkmans, I lent pieces parts of my Walkman, that I had mastered for the sole purpose of taking audio books to the gym. When I reassembled all the parts returned to me, I discovered I was a power cord short, and no one had it, or had one that fit.

Such is life with children. I quit the gym anyway, and life went on without it. I put the remaining pieces in the Goodwill bag and forgot about it, for at least a year. Then I had a burning desire to own a new Walkman and listen to books through the magic connector that goes between my car radio and a Walkman—you know what I’m talking about. I don’t.

I ordered a new device. It arrived with the packaging open, but no obvious problems, so I forged ahead. Except my computer could not recognize the device, and after a couple of days of trying to find a driver out in the ether I realized my power cord had been substituted for one that did not fit the device. I returned that whole problem, and forgot about recorded books again.

Except in passing, I did learn I did not need to scotch the Walkman separated from its power cord by a grandchild; I could buy missing parts at Radio Shack. Day late, dollar short, but somehow that piece of information stuck.

When I began weaving again, and wanted recorded books I scoured the house for my MP3 CD player last lent to Hamilton. No one knew where it was, but my sister located an old CD player, sans power cord and ear phones. Off to Radio Shack, where I purchased those items for a nearly obsolete CD player for just short of the cost of a new Walkman. Since summer I've been weaving and listening to my personal collection.

It came to me this week I can recite whole passages of JRR Tolkien by heart. I finally opened the new Walkman I bought a month ago but hadn't screwed up the courage to investigate. I have a granddaughter in the next bedroom, for crying out loud.

For the record, I proceeded bravely on my own all the way to downloading a book of choice from the library. In my defense, the entire site has changed in my two year absence and I once again forgot the difference between e-books and audio books, but Emily, of course, knows. I have two books downloading as we speak.

In good conscience I can leave Frodo and Samwise with Faramir and start anew tomorrow!   

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Old hippy clothes

In the olden days, when Jan and I were weavers, two thirds of our business was the clothing we made. People often asked to purchase our fabric and I would not sell it. Working with handwoven fabric is very different from goods from the fabric shop, and I wasn't about to give them lessons, too, when they stumbled on that fact. I generally suggested they buy a loom and weave their own. Some did.

I have a fond memory of a show we did for several years at Lincoln Center in New York City. The show wound around the outside of Lincoln Center, and onto the beautiful plaza. I was several paces away from my booth, smoking, and two old gentlemen stopped to look over the booth. They stood fingering a jacket (our cotton is soft and lovely to touch. Good hand, it is called), discussing the fabric and wondering if Julie would like to have this.

“It’s unstructured,” one said.

“I know, but it is soft and looks comfortable.”

“I know, but we would have to get her past being unstructured.”

“I know, but it is beautifully made.”

“I know, but the cut is unstructured.”

I smiled and let them play out their debate and wander away. Our customers loved soft and comfortable, and we found them, even in New York City.

Our clothing was “unstructured”, for the reason that our fabric did not lend itself to fiddly details. It was too soft, too few ends per inch, for a crisp edge. One haute customer, in her impeccable jeans and close cut shirts called the look “this old thing I just threw on!” She made us look really good.

I was thinking, as I wove towels, about a customer who took two towels and began demonstrating how I could sew them into a blouse for her. My imagination simply could not follow her instructions. I had a good deal of people telling me what I could weave for them, as it was. I eventually suggested she purchase two towels and give it a go, or even a loom and have at it. She certainly did not do the former.

Twenty years later it came to me, a blouse with no shaping at all. Well, minimal, as it turned out. First I needed a prototype, which I made of muslin. It’s pretty firm stuff, you could make structured garments from it. I needed to know what I was doing and had no intention of experimenting on my woven fabric!

My prototype. It has a hem only to make the muslin the same length as my woven fabric, 20". The piece for the back is 24", edge to edge (before seams), the front is 30", to make that neat drape, which was not in my instructions twenty years ago from two towel girl. But, it needs some shaping.

What do you think? This piece of fabric would not lend itself to a casing and a drawstring, so I gathered the fabric along the line of a pair of grouped threads.  Cleaner than the drawstring, too.

And, the rest of the way around. Side and back. All that's left is to research sizing. This is probably a large, but I need to find out. Otherwise, what a cool shirt for a hot summer day. Coming soon to an Etsy shop near you.

And, PS to Two Towel Girl: This is the very same towel you demonstrated to me--lengthwise. You were holding it by it's ends, and I couldn't see how to fit anyone inside two twenty inch towels. 

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Martha and the Christmas Bird Watch

A couple of months ago, when the weather was completely fall like, I thumbed through a Martha Stewart Living magazine and waited in the dentist's office. It was a new dentist, and my first look at Martha's magazine.

It is a large format magazine, with pictures of life on a grander scale than, say, Time, or People magazines, that I would normally expect in a dentist's office. I flipped idly past vast interiors and precious dinners, but was stopped short by Martha's garden.

I'm not making this us. Martha does not clear out the garden growth at the end of the season. My dears, do not bring in those tall stalks to spray paint and arrange artfully in the foyer--that's paraphrasing, of course. Leave them until spring.

The two young women who schlep to the compost made no complaint, and so my garden looks like this:

I can only say, I'll never do this again. Some of these stalks I would not have spray painted in any event will not be difficult to clear out come spring, but that August lily will be one wet mess.

Recall you mother told you to wear clean underwear when leaving home, and the front room generally is tidy, against the entrance of a surprise visitor. This morning two cars stopped in front of the house and did not move on for some time. The windows were down, folks were hanging out, surveying my front yard. A woman in the recesses of one car was writing down everything they reported.

I realized it is the Great Christmas Bird Count, but not before I also thought they were assessing my flower gardens. They were counting all my flying pigs, bless them.

Since we have had no sun for thirteen days, and I am counting, and no prospect of sun for another thirteen, here is a woodpecker from last winter. The Bird Counters probably saw him again today.