The Season Of Excess Expectation

I’m not talking about kids and toys or teens and electronics. I’m talking about how much I think I can get done in the time available. Specifically, how fast I think I can work to get the last gift finished and in the mail before Christmas. You probably have your own version of this holiday classic.

For the record, I love making gifts. But yes, I suffer from Excess Expectation. My expectations didn’t seem so excessive when I made the plan. After all, Bill and I sort of takes turns on making the majority of our holiday gifts, and this year is his year. I did help him cut copper pipe one day while he assembled and soldered.

He also made gifts for all the young fishermen, and I just made little bags from recycled T-shirts to hold them. Easy peasy — something I could do while watching a movie.

For my mom, I made a bag of stationery from fabric scraps in my Black Hole.

They’re still on dial-up, so no worries about letting the cat out of the bag. The bag for the stationery I made with fabric I designed and had printed on Spoonflower from a photo I took of my mom’s old Singer sewing machine. That’s the machine I started sewing on. One of the first things she had me do, lo these many years ago, was stitch on heavy paper. I had major flashbacks while stitching 24 pieces of stationery.

Dad is also getting a gift made with Spoonflower fabric. This one is made from a photo I took of a wooden serving tray he made years ago (there’s a photo of the tray at the link). I made a drawstring dresser caddy that folds flat when not in use.

There were a few more small gifts on my to-do list that I can’t show just yet. The chances of those beloved young people reading my blog are slim, but it is possible.

And really, with Bill doing so many of our gifts, I figured there would be plenty of time for me to make this gift for his sister (who does read this blog, but also knows what the gift is because we talked about it and she gave me the measurements).

When it’s done, this gift will measure 8 feet by 12 feet. It’s a piece of netting to spread over their koi pond to keep the neighborhood heron from eating the fish.

When it’s done, it will have taken less time than knitting a sweater or crocheting an afghan. But it’s taking longer than I estimated, mainly because of the materials I’m using. I usually net with linen or hemp and for this project I’m using bonded nylon. If When I’m not careful, the knots slip.

This net won’t be perfect, but it will do the job. It’s designed to do it unobtrusively so as not to distract from the flower garden around the pond.

With a bit of luck, it will be in the mail in time to arrive Christmas Eve. But before it goes, we’re getting a picture of it spread out. Will probably have to do that outside.

Good luck with your own holiday preparations!

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When It’s Not A Race

Over the weekend, I found myself this close to the finish line on a big task. Then my bobbin thread ran out. After a moment of frustration, I thought how silly that was compared to the Olympic triathletes who had to change bicycle tires during their race. I love the Olympics. Puts things in perspective.

I’ve been sewing the proofing swatches of my Spoonflower fabric designs into sample collections, both for my own reference and to make it easier to illustrate concepts in my Digital Fabric workshops. I teach that again this week for Michigan League of Handweavers. And I have plenty of samples. So I didn’t refill the bobbin and kick for the finish line. Instead, I got wash off the clothesline, went for a walk with Bill and Scout, and watched the Olympics again.

Sometimes it feels like the clock is always ticking and the to-do list never gets shorter. It’s August and unpulled weeds have set seeds. I haven’t started the deck project. And my ambitious summer dyeing plans? Those withered on the vine.

But I did get a staghorn sumac dyebath brewed from Bill’s leftovers. We gathered last week for a batch of wine. Bill scraped the fuzzy berries for wine, and I got the staghorn stalks and leaves for dyeing. After a couple days of soaking in Mom’s aluminum jelly kettle, I put the kettle on the stove to barely simmer for an hour or so. Yesterday I strained the liquid, but I haven’t dyed with it yet. It looked like there’s color left, so I put the solids into bags in the freezer to deal with later. Maybe when I’m back from Michigan.

Probably not. I need to do the things its been too hot and busy to do before it gets too cold.

In the meantime, I’ll be watching the Olympics and celebrating the achievements of all the athletes who made it there, whether they get to stand on a podium or not. 

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Man, Machine And Mending

Spoonflower’s fabric design contest theme this week is “Sewing Celebration,” so I pulled my mom’s old Singer out from storage to take some pictures for an idea I had in mind.

This is the machine I learned to sew with. It was not love at first sight. Callow youth. Nevertheless, I grew to love it, and it’s been showing me a good time for lo these many years. If I had more room, it would be set up all the time just to make quick work of fixing the back pockets on Bill’s jeans.

Bill is a relief driver on a rural mail route, which means he sits in the passenger seat and drives with his left hand stretched to the steering wheel and his left foot on the pedals while he delivers to boxes on this right. The seat belt thing is always catching his pockets while he’s twisted.

It’s not difficult mending if I get to it before there’s an actual hole. He’s getting better at giving me a heads up before it gets to that point.

This kind of mending is not my finest work. But he’s not picky.

Come to think of it, many of the qualities I love in that old Singer describe my husband, as well: Strong. Durable. Dependable. Many amazing hidden features.

And he’s still showing me a good time after lo these many years.

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