6.20.2012

I Have a Dysfunctional Relationship with my Sewing Machine

Pic: brand name smudged to protect the guilty. 
Like a woman in a bad relationship, I have tried for far too long to make things work with my sewing machine. I bought it, what? Twenty years ago? I tried, goodness I tried. I thought it was me. The ongoing problems with thread tension - perhaps I was pulling too much? Not enough? Maybe the thread was cheap? Too thick? Was the thread spool paper grabbing the spindle? Oh, I cleaned that machine. Oiled all its parts. Every time I needed to use it, I'd check it out. Make sure it had the right needle for the fabric on hand. I'd carefully test-sew on fabric scraps to make sure the bugs were worked out before starting any project. Sometimes I could get an hour of sewing done before the thread tension would vomit all over. Other times, it'd take only five minutes for tension failure. 

I finally took it in for a professional tuneup last year. Perhaps there was some glitch that I, in my ignorance, had overlooked. Brought it home, started sewing, then kerplooey - tangled, broken thread, from either the bobbin, or from the top side. 

You'd think I'd learned my lesson. Nope. It took a few more months...

The bags I use to haul sorted recyclable goods to the Transfer Station have been falling apart. Took a look at one person's method of re-using feed bags, got inspired to do my own variation, and picked up some emptied bags that were returned to the local feed store. Scissored some leftover pant-legs from cutoff jeans for handles. Then started sewing.

This project brought me to tears. Four measly bags, nothing fancy, no lining, and yet: missed stitches. Broken and snarled thread. Even the heavy-duty needle, made for denim & woven fabric, broke. Then came that watershed moment where I snapped, when I finally realized...

"It's not me, it's YOU! Yes, YOU, you good for nothing piece of @#$!! sewing machine! I've had it! I've made excuses for you, stood by your side when others made fun, and yet you still let me down. You've taken advantage of my good nature for the last time."

"Don't try to sweet-talk me. Don't start batting your eyelashes. I've fallen for every trick you've played, and I AM FINISHED. I'm not even going to bother trying to sell you or give you away to a thrift store - I wouldn't want anyone else to suffer the misery you've put me through. At this moment, I  am mentally searching for the last place I left the sledge hammer. Tell you what, I'm a good sport - obvious from all that I've put up with over the years - I'll give you a five-minute head start to hit the road. Just know that if I ever catch up to you, they will never find your body."

UPDATE: My mother-in-law, who has decades of professional tailoring/sewing machine experience, says that inexpensive plastic sewing machines like mine have issues with parts overheating and shifting, which is most likely causing the tension problems. Wow, whodathunkit? 

6.04.2012

Tomatoes and Plums and Limoncello, Oh My!

Pic: "Dirty Girl" saved-seed tomatoes
Two of the seven tomato varieties planted this Spring are already ripe enough to eat. One is the Monster Mystery 'Mater (the volunteer from the compost pile), and the other is the Dona F1 hybrid. The MMM has sweet flesh, but the skin is slightly bitter, which is actually the norm for most tomatoes - still quite tasty. The Dona F1, however, has both sweet flesh AND sweet skin. Very interesting! Will save seed from the Dona, and see if it re-seeds true to its original form next year.

The "Dirty Girl" tomatoes are just beginning to redden. Looking at the plants, I'm thinking this variety is a "determinate": one big harvest, then the plants will give up the ghost for the remainder of the season.

pic: plums with bird alterations
The one plum tree that has kept fruit 'til, well, full "fruition" this season has been noticed by the local birds too. In the mornings, I now pick breakfast off the tree - any ripe plums that are also bird-bitten. The birds eat a few chunks from the ripest plums, then leave the rest. Rather than waste an otherwise perfectly good plum (of which these are absolutely delicious, by the way), I eat around the bird bites, then throw the remainder of the plum to the chickens. We all get a nice morning treat, and no waste. I could go to the trouble of throwing bird-netting over the tree, but the harvest isn't so large as to be worth the time or effort. I am happy to share... THIS year. May have to install a few more white mulberries as birdy food-distraction trees for the future.

The limoncello experiment made earlier this year - with Everclear as the base, mind you - has been taste-tested by five different folks now. The initial comment on the flavor after initial sip (then a head-rock backwards, followed by wide-eyed rapid blinking) is a diplomatic "medicinal!" After a few more sips the comments change to "not bad", then a few more sips ends with "hey, this is all right!". I think the later opinions may be influenced in a blood-altered sort of way, and not truly impartial *ahem*, but that's okay. We're all happy by the bottom of the glass, and that's what counts. This particular vintage is being named "10K Limoncello" in honor of @Virgotex's Twitter remark that she'd tried a shot of 10000-proof limoncello at my place. I think a label needs to be created...

Pic: 10K Limoncello. You know you want some of this
head-rockin' goodness, yes you do!