Monday, May 30, 2011

Treadle and Hand crank Singers

I am a bit of a history nut.  I particularly love the history of everyday life, what people wore and ate and how they made things. So, it's no surprise that I love treadle sewing machines.  The above machine ( when you discuss a machine without a table it is called a head, by the way) came to me as I picked through a large trash pile at the side of the road.  I am an unrepentant trash picker, freecycle user, thrift shopper, and so forth, and I think it builds my kid's character to have a mom who will jump unhesitatingly into a dumpster after a find.

So, this darling machine, born sometime in 1903 ( you can date Singer sewing machines at their website) was alone a filthy at the side of the road, and of course I took it home.  It's model is, I believe, a 66, which means it has a round drop in bobbin, just like today's machines.  If you have or find a machine, and would like to make it usable, the web site is a wealth of information.I made the base from directions there, painted, because I am a lousy carpenter, and as they say, a little putty and a little paint makes a carpenter what she ain't. It is a marvelous feeling to have something mechanical that can be completely restored to working with a bottle of sewing machine oil,a screw driver some toothpicks, and a rag.
I had initially wanted to convert this machine into a hand crank.  The hand crank mechanisms are still made, which is reasonable when you consider a lot of the world still has no or little electricity. The mechanism for hand cranking is meant to go on a casted in motor mount on the pillar of the machine.  Here we see that I not only don't have a motor mount, I have a casting hole where I would want to drill in to attach a mechanism.

However, I have a hardware store nearby, and so I made a substitute.  The main disadvantage is that there are no gears, so each crank makes one stitch or so.  However, my 9 years old just sewed a part of a border for me, so I am more than satisfied.

Here is the Singer 28 in a parlour cabinet. When the machine is down, the doors hide the treadle. This machine is so pretty, and also a rescue from a junk store where they thought it was broken, because they didn't see the small button in the trim on the right that one pushes to push the machine back down.  This one has a vibrating shuttle, which is a bullet shaped mechanism and a long skinny bobbin.

I haven't done anything to the cabinet yet but wiped it down with Howard's Finish Restorer.  Like most treadles, it has a mark from a potted plant on the top from the obligatory fern of the 1970's.

Posted by PicasaI can't convert this one to a hand crank, either, as it has the same casting hole. But it treadles nicely. So i am happy with it, too.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Blog you must go see... 
She is ( gasp) a new quilter, if I am reading the blog correctly.  She is also a proponent of creative common (copy left! cracking up, as opposed to copy right)  and I think creative commons is a powerful idea.  I hope it catches on.

She calls her un-vented technique traplique, and if you read back in her blog, explains how she came up with it.  I did that on my  Houses at Night quilt, for the moon.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Now in Stage 1 again...

repost from 2007.  I guess five years is pretty good for a laptop....

Computer love- no, not that kind- seems to run in stages. I am firmly in stage three, right now, and feeling entitled to be in stage four. Ahem.

Stage 1: Heady Bliss. The keyboard is clean, clicky enough to let me know when the keystroke is done, but not so clicky as to annoy most others. Oh, the battery! Odes could be written to the day long battery. Unplug in the AM, trail around the house all day, checking the battery status and seeing, yes, Woolywoman, you have plenty of battery life left. The connections are swift and sure, and my packets just wiz along. I sometime send myself email, just for the thrill of how quickly new messages load. I browse graphics rich sites. I take the laptop everywhere I go, even if computer use is unlikely. I buy a new bag to carry the laptop in during our adventures together.

Stage 2: Dependable Comfort. The laptop is a noble, sturdy beast. It does everything I tell it to do, and I still occasionally take a spin through the control panel, update wallpaper and default browsers and such. Life is good, I have a nice machine to assist me, and that little scratch on the top only shows when it's closed.

Stage 3: Roiling Irritation. The laptop, while still indispensable, is annoying. It acts as though it has a virus, but sweeps find nothing. I find myself glancing at the clock while it loads emails, cursing the minutes I will never get back from my life. I have to ask Mr. Woolywoman for technical help, and it rankles. (Yes, I have an inhouse networking expert. Don't hate me.) I have odd glitches in page loading, and if I touch the cursor while the email is loading, it freezes. If it were a patient, we'd order a CT scan, but we'd find nothing. The thing still works, right. I'm writing this now, aren't I? So it's a little slower, and I just had to plug in after only one cordless hour. I rarely write or surf anywhere but at home, so get up and get the damn cord, already. Don't trip on the cord I have stretched across the living room, children. I eye my husband's laptop, which though sticky ,( he eats at the computer YUCK), is serviceable.

Stage 4: Crisis. Please look up at your keyboard, and note that the numeral four shares the key with a dollar sign. This is not coincidental. The laptop is totally unworkable. I buy a new battery and am appeased, until the browser fails to load at all. Mr Woolly de frags the hard drive, sweeps for intruders, considers adding a blank to the blank so that the blank will stop blanking. He'll do some research, toss some ideas around. I am cut off from my invisible friends. I stomp upstairs and down, book in one hand, knitting in the other, leaning over his shoulder. Did the blank work? I need it to work, ok? I may get just the tinniest bit shrill at this point. I go to the recycling bin, pull out the Comp USA flyer from last Sunday's paper, and rattle it menacingly. I...I...I realize that I do not know how to buy anything without a computer to research, compare, and contrast. I'll drive to the store. Lets see, for store locations, check our website. OH. I burst into tears. This stage only resolves with the purchase of a new machine. See Stage one.