Monday, October 24, 2005

My Sewing Machine

Last weekend, my pal Erin and I both took our vintage Singer sewing machines to the vintage sewing machine repair man (as in, he works on vintage machines, and he's pretty vintage himself) in Turners Falls. Erin has a cute little Featherweight that she bought from the repair guy when she was in college, about four years ago. My machine was my mother's, and she bought it second hand, for $15, when she was in college about 1950. Mine is ostensibly a portable, but it sure isn't a Featherweight. It's made of black cast iron, comes in a solid wood dome-topped case, and weighs a ton. It only goes forward, but it's a fabulous machine. My mother made tons of tailored clothes on it, using designer patterns and designer fabrics that she bought on our annual trip to Fishman's Fabric in Chicago, where Mr. Fishman himself would take us around the store and show us his favorite new arrivals that he kept in the shower stall in his office so that he could look at them for a while before he was willing to put them out on the floor for sale. Very few people got to see what was in that shower stall.

Erin was having trouble with the light on her machine, and the repair man quickly put in a new bulb, tested it, and gave it back to her without a charge. My machine is staying with him for a while to have the light repaired and the wiring gone over. He promised to fix it up without compromising the vintage quality of it, i.e. no new-fangled wires or plugs.

We both asked about the age and value of our sewing machines. Erin's was made in the 1930s and is worth about $700 today because it's the little darling of the quilting crowd. Mine was made between 1938 and 1941, originally sold for about $150, and was worth $7 according to the 2000 price guide. But it's worth much, much more than that to me. I learned to sew on this machine when I took sewing in 4-H starting in the fourth grade. When I was in high school, majoring in home ec much to the dismay of my guidance counselor who wanted me in science and math classes with the other brainiacs, I made nearly all my clothes on it. I lugged the thing with me from Michigan to Northampton and have taken it with me wherever I've lived since. I've made several quilts with it and hemmed a lot of pants. Right now, I'm thinking up a holiday gift item that I plan to be sewing for lots of my pals. I can't say what that item is because people who might be receiving it might be reading my blog. But after the holidays, I'll try to post some pix.

The repair guy just called to say that my machine is ready to be picked up. He's got it running great, and it will cost me only $55 -- a totally worthwhile investment in such a stalwart.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

It's Not Fair!

Why does ipod have all the great accessories while Zen Micro gets nothing? First, ipod (big, mini, nano) got lots of cool cases made out of rubber and stuff. At the computer store in Noho, they sell cute little ipod cases made of faux fur. And if that wasn't enough, ipod just got Halloween costumes! My lime green Zen Micro feels very left out. I think I'll make it a margarita costume for Halloween this year. Meantime, I did find one cool accessory that will work on all mp3 players -- an earbud clip. (Of course, the clip is modeled by an ipod.)

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Car Tunes #1

My driving has gotten much better in the past 10 days of driving the Mini. I've only stalled it twice -- once on day 2 when I was at a stop sign and a pickup truck behind me was breathing up my butt and I got nervous, and once on day 4 when I was pulling into a parking space and forgot to put the clutch in. Not bad, if you ask me. But I'm still avoiding a couple of hills in town, especially the one on Old South Street with the stop sign at Main Street, right at the top of the hill. It will be months before I'm ready for that. But I do feel that I've gained enough confidence that I don't have to put 100% of my concentration into my shifting and am ready for a bit of distraction. So I made myself my first CD for the car (the old car had a tape deck, and I was the queen of the car mix tape). I haven't published a playlist in a while, so here it is:
  • Bob Dylan - "Things Have Changed"
  • Buddy Miller - "Water When the Well is Dry"
  • Dave Alvin - "Abilene"
  • Greg Brown - "Blue Car"
  • Chip Taylor & Carrie Rodriguez - "Red Dog Tracks"
  • Jim White - "That Girl from Brownsville Texas"
  • Mike Doughty - "Looking at the World from the Bottom of a Well"
  • Jesse Harris & the Ferdinandos - "Roberta"
  • Mark Knopfler - "The Trawlerman's Song"
  • Old Crow Medicine Show - "Wagon Wheel"
  • Jack Johnson - "Breakdown"
  • Josh Rouse - "It's the Nighttime"
  • David Gray - "One I Love"
  • Richard Barone - "Forbidden"
  • Ringside - "Tired of Being Sorry"
  • Ryan Adams - "Hallelujah"
  • Steve Earle - "Shadowland"
  • Tom Waits - "Hold On"
If any of my pals is interested in taking possession of some of my old mix tapes, let me know. And on that subject, I highly recommend Sarah Vowell's "Thanks for the Memorex" in Take the Cannoli.