Dozer, the bulldog

Dozer, the bulldog
Dozer: He was the best dog on the planet.

Bonding

Bonding
The author of Mark's Work with Ellie Mae

Guess who's coming for dinner

Guess who's coming for dinner
Blue heron, sitting on the dock of our pond

HappyDay Farms bees are happy bees.

HappyDay Farms bees are happy bees.
Air-borne bees

BFF's forever

BFF's forever
Margie and Ellie Mae

Tomatoes and peppers are us.

Tomatoes and peppers are us.
Spicy salsa with roasted peppers, here at HappyDay Farms

Much love, John-Bryan

Much love, John-Bryan
Eric at 26 on the left, and John-Bryan in January of 1973.

Halloween fun

Halloween fun
SmallBoy and Dancing Girl

Our house

Our house
The snow season approaches...

Mahlon Masling Blue

Mahlon Masling Blue
My friend and brother.

Mark's E-mail address

bellspringsmark@gmail.com

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Me and My Husky

Me and My Husky
Got out the old Husky today; figured I’d do some serious damage.  Got my gear together, checked the oil*, and grabbed ahold of that puppy, and got ready to dazzle ‘em all.  
“Oh, so you’re getting some chainsawing in?” you might ask.  
“No, I am sewing on Annie’s Husqvarna, Viking, Mega Quilter, Sewing Machine, working on Mahlon’s quilt.”  Oh.  I figured if Word-Nerd could use the tease she used the other morning, I could do the same.  [OK, it lacked some of the pizazz that hers had, but I didn’t want to outshine her.]
Mahlon Blue is my friend from the service, who passed on January 30th, and the color of the quilt is, appropriately enough, blue.  It doesn’t matter to me, or to Annie, that Mahlon won’t ever get to see it in person; it would have been nice, but is not critical in the big picture.  He even gets to watch us putting the rest of it together.  He’s probably getting some good chortles in at my expense, so I may as well tell you why.
I make the assumption that everyone here sews, so I am simply going to ignore that fact, and tell this remarkable saga through my man-eyes, and if it gets too pedantic, or I keep too close a watch on the score, feel free to move on.  I’m not very good at this, though I did make a pair of pajamas about five years ago, when Annie was first getting her couturier shop set up on the second floor, where small boys somehow grew up to become men, and traipsed off to do manly things.
So we have been talking about me helping with my friend’s quilt, not to vary too far from the theme of manly things, and Annie came downstairs yesterday to see if I was up for some work.  I was very excited at the prospect.  For years I have watched the parade of brightly patterned, brilliantly colored artistic endeavors sail through, long enough for Annie to work her magic.  She has to insert batting, attach backing, take care of logistical details such as last minute squaring of the quilt, and wavy borders, and then use the long-arm to sew the whole kit and caboodle together.  She does this by producing all of these carefully orchestrated swirly, undulating movements, like an Ice Capades on cloth.
My first task was to take a pile of two and one half inch squares of fabric,** and draw a diagonal line through each of them, using a ball-point pen.  Annie took the extra moment to make sure that I knew to offset the ruler just a tad, to compensate for the base of the pen.  She emphasized that precision in sewing is a must.  Luckily, as a wood-smith (as well as a word-smith) I understand clearly how a sixteenth of an inch can come back to bite you in the backside, when it is multiplied by sixteen pieces of plywood, or in this case, a “bunch” more squares of cloth.  
Annie also explained to me that she defines quilting as “cutting up big pieces of fabric, into little pieces of fabric, so that you can sew them together, to form big pieces of fabric.”  It’s kind of a complex definition to follow, but I like it all the same.
When she explained that it was important that I not get the top of the squares confused with the bottoms, I looked closely and saw it was hard to differentiate the two.
“What is this stuff?”  I asked.  
“Batik,” she responded
“Boutique?” I asked hopefully.
“No, batik, b-a-t-i-k.”
“Sounds Indonesian,” I commented.  Later, when I looked it up, it proved Javanese, so I was on my game, even in Annie’s arena. 
“They make it by pouring hot wax in splotches all over the fabric, and then adding the dyes. The dyes do not stick to the fabric, where the wax was, and the result is the batik fabric.” 
Next, I placed the piece that I had drawn on, over a second piece of cloth, cut to the same dimensions. The second piece was a much darker hue of blue.  I then sewed the two together, following the lines I had drawn.  Of course I was crawling on the sewing machine, preferring to be precise, if not fast.
“Is it OK if I am as slow as the satellite is to boot up?”
“Slower, if you want.  Speed is not important.”  She was smiling broadly.  Of course, I had to get past the fact that one of the two threads kept ending up outside the needle.  Well, it happened once, before I asked Annie to inservice me, so that I would not have to keep bugging her. She has an infinite amount of patience with her students, and double that with me.  After all, this is the Husky I was telling you about, and I wanted to be on good terms with her.  Above all, I wanted to keep a close eye on that needle, so it wouldn’t do to me, what it did to Dakota.
Dakota was in sixth grade at the time, athletic and outgoing, and not afraid of anything.  She was in the sewing elective one afternoon during seventh period, and I think this is as far as I need to go.  The next morning, she told me [almost] matter-of-factly how Annie had had to take the whole machine apart, to remove the needle, still imbedded in her finger.  Dakota’s dad used the pliers to, well, never mind.  She was certainly very brave.  I made an indelible note on the white-board in my mind, to profit from Dakota’s experience, should I ever board a sewing machine.  I asked Annie what Dakota was like, while the needle was being removed, and she said as stoic as a rock.  Kids.  Aren’t they resilient?
So as I settled in to sew more than one hundred and twenty of those squares, in two sittings, yesterday and today, as straight as my drawn lines, I made sure that my seat belt was fastened, and my fingers were not.  I didn’t want to see any pliers on this job.
  More tomorrow-This is too much fun.  I didn’t want to kill the post.

  • Afterwards, when I joked about checking the oil, Annie stopped me, and gently told me I didn’t need to, because that was the first thing she did. Appropriately chagrined, I wiped that smug smile right off my face. 
** I called it material.  I only did it once.  It’s fabric.

11 comments:

  1. I have a Husky myself. I could say that it is gathering dust in the closet, but that would not be totally true because it has a dust cover. I learned to sew in Home Ec. class in HS. I used to make my own clothes. I remember many bleary eyed late nights, furiously sewing, determined to finish the dress that I would be wearing to work the next day.
    I attempted to learn to quilt a couple of years ago. I managed to make a little wall hanging that my granddaughter uses as a blanket for her dolls.
    I think it is so cool that you, who as a Mister, is willing to learn to do something that a Mrs. usually does.
    I ask Ross all of the time if he wants me to teach him how to knit. He is more than willing to accompany me to our local Wool Shop and help me pick out the type and color of yarn for my next project. But, he says he doesn't have the patience to knit one, purl one over and over and over again.
    I am fascinated by men who knit. I am always on the lookout for blogs written by men who knit. I think they may have a different perspective and I find that interesting.
    What a perfect way to honor Mr. Blue's memory. It is beautiful. 120 squares? In two days? Wait till I tell Ross.

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  2. I guess I should apologize to poor Ross in advance. And knitting? The pace would not bother me at all; baby steps, as in "What About Bob?"
    I'm a fan. Thanks for your take on it all. I loved that you "have a Husky" too. I still laugh at the misrepresentation that line presents.

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  3. I am finding myself particularly enjoying the posts that include stories about Annie. Sewing, knitting, crocheting - all require fine motor skills and attention to detail that I do not have. My mother tried hard to pass on her sewing skills to me...to no avail. I learned to crochet one year in college - to make an afghan for my mother. She was so surprised and said "who made this for you?" until she took it out of the box and realized that this afghan, which was supposed to cover a full sized bed, was barely enough to cover the width of one person because the yarn was pulled so tight. That afghan, however, still holds a place of honor on her couch. It's the thought that counted, right???

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  4. I love that story about the afghan, and how it still holds a place of honor. As well it should. Annie is a queen, make no mistake about it.

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  5. I used to sew all the time. It was the therapy that got me though the years when A and M were small. My daily pleasure was sewing while they were napping. Heaven on earth at the time. I made a lot of their little kids clothes just for fun and I got into serious quilting. That was so much fun. But little kids grew into school age kids and the time came when I had to go back to work and the sewing went out the window. ANd now I have moved on and my time goes to painting, wrtiting, reading and, oh yeah, work.
    Annie's quilts are EXCEPTIONAL. She has such an unbelievable eye for color and her attention to detail pays off.
    And you called it material b/c that's what we called it at home -

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  6. It's funny that you sewed while they napped; I think most moms nap when their kids nap. Anyway, quilting and painting are not that far apart, as far as producing some awesome artwork.

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  7. My sewing machine came from my Grandma, on the condition that if Grandpa needed pants hemmed, I was now in charge. I'll do it! But thankfully, he hasn't needed any hemming. They'd both find out that I have zero precision, and my sewing skills are best used for throwing together a Halloween costume that requires an uneven look!

    That has not stopped me from teaching my daughter. She's taken to it and one day I came home to find she'd sewn herself a skirt, no pattern, just an idea stitched together into reality, using Grandma's old Kenmore.

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  8. Didn't Huskvarna used to make dirt bikes, too? I thought that was the direction you might be heading for a second there. One of the men I work with sews and does cross stitch. He has made christening gowns and prom dresses for younger family members. I'm impressed with anyone who sews, quilts, knits, etc. Good luck with your quilting endeavors!

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  9. They did out here in Cali, anyway. It just sounds so rugged.

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  10. I have a sewing machine--it is sorely neglected, however. I wish I were better with my hands and crafty stuff because it's very satisfying when it works out. Usually, though, the gap between the picture in my mind and the end result is dismally vast.

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  11. I remember JT and I comparing quilts when the kids were little. She was also always making pajamas for her favorite nieces, mostly flannel, and oh so warm! I still have some of the early quilts. So worn and ragged, but an accomplishment from those days when I was bone-tired yet needed that creative outlet. I still love the touch and color of the fabric, and the infinite variety that comes from cutting up big things to little things to make big things. And our ancestors did it by candlelight when they were REALLY exhausted, because they had to, to warm their families. I got my first quilt book from Auntie Anne. (Anonymous, but really Cousin Mary F!)

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