Friday, August 30, 2013

Boggling Walternate

I was not expecting to get this darling video.  I had just wanted to get Walternate's darling face on camera, but then he started boggling.

He starts with a brux.  Bruxing is when a rat grinds his teeth together.  It's like purring.  They are perfectly content and happy when bruxing.

The muscle that a rat contracts to grind his teeth actually runs behind his eyeball, so if a rat intensely bruxes, their eyeballs will bulge in and out.  And, that's a boggle.

Here, Walternate bruxes and then revs up to a full -blown boggle.  You can actually hear the brux in the video.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Tomorrow August 17, 2013 is BLACK CAT APPRECIATION DAY

This is an old photo of Doc who passed away this spring from old age.  I guess I could have scrounged up a photo of Philip whose my current black rat.  But, Doc is special.  He was a true black rat.  He went a tad grey in his old age, but he didn't have any patches of white hair.  He was a black self.

So, since tomorrow (August 17, 2013) is Black Cat Appreciation Day, Doc in the spirit of inter-species cooperation is my posthumous spokesrat.

In the photo, Doc is smiling from ear to ear as he's nomming his favorite pumpkin seeds.  You can even see his ears crinkling.

Apparently, black cats are difficult to adopt because of our cultural beliefs that black cats are unlucky.  This reminds me of the general public's attitude toward rats in general.  But, in addition, rat rescues have problems getting plain rats adopted.  Indeed, Doc is the epitome of plain rat.  And, he was adopted from Mainely Rat Rescue.

So, next time, you see a black cat give them a hug for Black Cat Appreciation Day.  Indeed, Little Bit, my dog, I'm sure will hug the next black cat she sees since she's buddy buddy with the neighbor's black cats.

Friday, August 9, 2013

In the News - Skateboarding Mice

Huffington Post as well as several other news outlets have been reporting about Shane Willmott's skateboarding mice.

It makes me want to break out some Tech Decks to teach my lazy boys some new tricks.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Vintage Puzzles - Surprisingly Fun and Educational

I'd been planning to post this before I sold the puzzle, but oops.  It sold.

 Have you ever wondered why we call Jigsaw puzzles, "jigsaw"?

It's extremely obvious when you look at this old puzzle.  This puzzle was made by gluing an illustration to a piece of plywood and then, cut it into the 300 pieces with a jig saw following a wiggly course that cuts out the puzzle pieces.

In order to sell it I like to confirm that we have all of the pieces which means we HAD to put it together.  How horrible.  Our work was putting together a puzzle.  Giggles.  Anyways, this puzzle was a particular challenge.  The large areas of green were very challenging, and a plywood puzzle has a heck of a lot more wriggle room for each piece.  This means that pieces that are supposed to fit together don't always look like they fit together until you put them together.  Fortunately, you can actually use the grain of the plywood to help orient and confirm placement of pieces.

I, also, had a eureka moment when I figured out how the carpenter cut the pieces.  I figure that you can use the same pattern when quilting a quilt.  I'm going to have to try that out.  Giggles... Another test hammock for Daryl....

P.S. I found this puzzle in a pile of modern puzzles at a church tag sale.  I just love church tag sales.

Monday, August 5, 2013

The TEST Hammock - Fancy Fabric Crazy Quilting

Did I say Crazy Quilt?  

This was just plain insanity.  And, I threw this little hammock together in about an hour.  Wowzers.  This may just be my solution for profitability for my custom hammocks.  This was fast and beautiful.  Most of my custom hammocks take hours to make.  But, this one was done in less than an hour.  Giggles and its shiny.

I have a potential customer who wants a really snazzy hammock for her hamster.  Zebra print, brocade, and bright colors.  Her hamster reminds me of Lady Gaga.  Anyways, this hammock requires a bit of testing.  First, who in her right mind makes a hammock out of brocade.  Well, me, of course.  But, first, it's important to know whether my brocade fabric will survive the washing machine.  So, I washed the dryclean only fabric and found out that ..... IT SURVIVED, but it shrinks like crazy.

So, the brocade is feasible, well, hopefully feasible.

I'd been throwing around ideas for the hammock but nothing was catching my fancy.  Here's my initial plan which has been shredded and thrown out the window.

By the way, I haven't edited any of my photos today.  I've just tossed them up on the blog pretty much in the same fashion that I made the test hammock.

I guess, I'd been thinking crazy quilt because brocade goes with crazy quilt, and my customer's hamster is pretty much loco, too.  But, there was no way I was going to hand stitch a crazy quilt.  

Then, today, I stumbled across this Quilt-as-you-go Improv Bag  And, eureka, a plan was hatched or tossed together.
 Here's my fleece square aka backing.  Since I'm making a hammock, this is actually going to be the back of the hammock.
 Here's my first strip of brocade sewn down.  I didn't even iron it.  This is totally against my rules.  Then, again I was just cutting out these strips freehand.  OOOOOOooooo.  I was breaking all of the rules.
Then, I sewed on the second strip.  It was about here that it dawned on me that I should have paid more attention to the instructions.  But, I was throwing all of the rules out the window.

 So, I had to do a bit of scrambling to figure out how to fix my creation, but it wasn't too hard.  I should remember that following instructions makes things easier.  The trick is that you want each subsequent piece to be larger than the last piece so that you can always cover your last bit of stitching with your next scrap of fabric.
  Here's the "quilted" square.
 Then, a bit of trimming.

 And, I attached bias binding.  I still need to refine my binding technique as the corners are um... not perfect and I want a better finish to the ends, but I was actually pleased with both the front and back for the stitching that attached the binding.

Daryl, here, has already started the rat durability test.

Singer Feet / Attachments are the Coolest Toys for Your Sewing Machine

This is a Singer Ruffler Part # 120598.  These are the coolest things.  It's amazing how these gadgets work.

Anyways, I found a great resource today.  Check out Singer's Presser Feet Instructions  I love Singer's vintage versions of these, and I'd thought the modern versions would be lame.  But they are NOT.  So, very NOT lame.  For each presser foot there's a PDF and a video which shows you how to use them and provides ideas for projects.

Keep in mind that although some of the "modern" feet are just like vintage feet, some are different.  And, of course, I would be extremely cautious using a vintage foot on a modern zig zag machine if it lacks a big enough throat for those zig zaggy needles to zig zag within.

By the way, this is my current favorite vintage sewing instruction booklet.  This one actually has quite a bit of information on presser feet even though it is focused on dress making.  Oh, and it has the most delightful illustrations.  I kept having to figure out whether they were depicting a Singer 66 or a Singer 15-91.  It seems that Singer tended to alternate between the machines for the illustrations.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Perusing Estate Sales - The Death of a Sewing Machine

I love vintage sewing machines.  --their durability, their beauty, their functionality.  Part of why I love them so much is that they are a glimpse into yesteryear.

At estate sales, sewing machines are ubiquitous which reflects how central sewing machines were to the families of the past.  Now days, few people even know how to fix a tear in a coat with needle and thread.  Don't even ask if they know how to use a sewing machine.  Sigh.

And, although old sewing machines are everywhere, and there are just too many to find a loving home, my heart still tore when I saw this.

This lovely vintage New Home sewing machine was unceremoniously discarded on the floor of a house with its treadle base ripped from it.  The treadle base will either be scrapped for its metal or be converted into a table base.