Thursday, November 23, 2017

Happy Thanksgiving from Macy

Happy Thanksgiving, Blog-o-land!
I am grateful for blogging and for all of you who read and respond here--thanks!

This, below, is Macy, according to the ripped tag.*
I got this stuffed bear off eBay, one in a lot of seven stuffed animals--only $7.99 for the whole lot--cheap, for eBay (though the shipping doubled the price). 
(Most of the others I don't want--shall I get into reselling on eBay myself? Might be fun...)

BEFORE, below left
Macy just out of the eBay box, squashed and dirty, but chipper--Macy's ears have jingle bells in them that still ring.

below right: de-stuffed and ready for a bath in the kitchen sink (I have taken to wearing a dust mask while removing toys' stuffing--I'd hate to look under a microscope at the old, wadded, chewed up material and see what's living in there)

AFTER, below
Macy this morning, after a brief stint in the dryer on air-fluff, then a good vacuuming for more fluff restoration, and then... fresh new stuffing.
Ready to lead a Thanksgiving Day Parade!

I was so excited by how well he cleaned up, I took him to show my neighbor, who was home baking pumpkin pies.

"Cute," they said, "but aren't you being a little obsessional?"

"Obsession is just another name for passion," I said. 

* The tag is ripped, but looks like it would read in full "Macy's Associates". Looking online, this bear looks like the Cubbi Gund bears, made in the 1950s? --some have jingle-bells in their ears too. 

"The Gund Company of Edison, N.J., the oldest stuffed toy company in the country... has been making stuffed bears since 1898." 
--article in New York Times

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Turmeric Yarn

Ohboy, ohboy, the Manos del Uruguay turmeric-colored yarn I ordered just arrived! I've been holding off on darning the blanket until I had a second color to weave in. Now I do.

Star Anise & Persimmon


I want to take some better photos of the stuffed animals--some close ups of their stitches, etc.--but the camera is in transit, flying back from Oregon where Marz left it last week.
In the meantime, star anise & persimmon I took recently.

Does anyone know what the marks on the bottom of the ironstone dish, top photo, signify?

Who is "Je Sui Charlie" now?

My auntie emailed me that she was horrified and heartbroken to learn that her favorite interviewer, Charlie Rose, is among the high-profile men who "kiss the girls and make them cry"--literally, in this case:
[A] woman, speaking on condition of anonymity because she found the experience so traumatic, ... said that after sitting by the pool, [she and Charlie Rose] went to his bedroom. She said she wept as Mr. Rose tried to put his hand between her legs.

“'Baby, oh baby, why are you crying,' she remembers him saying.

She called it 'the most humiliating experience of my life.'"  --New York Times
At first I was surprised that my auntie was surprised (I wasn't), but then I thought, no, I would be surprised and heartbroken if I learned my favorite––Bill Moyers––was a sexual predator. 

And my 92-y.o. auntie is not naive--she also told me about how she's been sexually harassed. Me too, of course. Of course! I don't know any woman who doesn't have some such stories, from mild to sickening enough to make you doubt all goodness. 

I'm annoyed that the Powers That Be are acting "shocked, shocked" to find out star players are acting exactly like people with too much power & too few checks and balances.
Imagine that.
But it's not just star players who act that way.

I googled and didn't find anything incriminating about Moyers. 
But I did find a recent article on Moyers & Company [that aims to deliver "the truth about power"] reporting what I've been thinking, and which you know: 
violence against girls and women is normal, all around the world.

"It’s Not Just O’Reilly and Weinstein: Sexual Violence Is a ‘Global Pandemic’"

Hm. Whoever could be doing these things?

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Christmas music on the radio... I like it.

I've rolled my eyes in the past when radio stations start playing Christmas music before Thanksgiving, but this year I like it.
Maybe because we've already had snow? (It melted.)
Or because I'm in an unusually acquisitive, present-seeking mood?

I  revised my plan to only work with animals that come to me, organically (like, in the alley)--you just don't find wonderful old ones lying around.  I've never ordered anything off eBay before, but in the past week I've spent almost $100 for a dozen or so old stuffed animals to repair and reinvent.

The first shipment arrived last night--you can see why I might be in a Christmas-y mood:

I immediately put them on the back porch in the below-freezing temps--I read this kills dust mites, and I've been sneezing more, lately... I also need to buy a dust mask to use when I'm de-stuffing toys.

I like repairing animals for others, and but since these ones don't belong to anyone (except to me, now), I feel free to change them up. 

Not sure exactly what I'll do---maybe just a little visible mending on their worn spots; I'd like to somehow highlight the handwork in the hand-sewn ones. 
But I also might change them up, incorporate other textiles, scraps of old hand-sewn work, trinkets, or embroider them myself...
And then give them away or sell them. I don't intend to keep most of them. (Famous last words?)

Meanwhile, I do find amazing non-fabric things at Goodwill.
Look at these hand-painted mice on this ceramic plate with a handle, from Bavaria. ($2.25, with my 25% senior discount.)

I especially like the one that is looking up with some indignation at the handle: 
Who's disturbing our gymnastics?

A little googling and I found that plates with handles like this are lemon servers, for slices of lemon at tea time. 
The mice seemed weird to me, but I found a couple others like it.
Mostly, however, Bavarian ceramics are all about fruits or pheasants.

Monday, November 20, 2017

Stuffed chicken repair #1: A New Eye for Livia

For my sister.
Our father's 50-year-old stuffed chicken, Livia, had only one eye, her yellow felt comb was almost ripped off, and her feet were worn thin. Her heavy old stuffing was wadded, and she gave off a musty-dusty odor.

My preference is to restore and strengthen the toy's worn parts, (not replace them with new materials), allowing their history to show.

After giving Livia a bath and fresh stuffing, I was able to back her comb and feet with new red felt of real wool (not polyester), with top-stitching in red thread.  

I made a new eye to replace the missing one.

First photo, below, is Livia BEFORE; center & right are AFTER:

Sunday, November 19, 2017

The Eyes Have It

I almost feel as if I'm cheating: this weekend I bought three well-worn stuffed animals at antique stores, to take home and repair. 

The thing is, I know from working behind the scenes that thrift stores don't put beat-up old animals out for sale––they send them off to salvage & recycling. Antique stores label them "well-loved", however, and sell them for sometimes quite a lot of money. And now I've looked, I see eBay and Etsy can be even more expensive.

This panda was $6, which is the low end for vintage animals. (I'd guess it's from the 1960s, like me.) I instantly loved it––not the case with all animals, by a long shot. And it didn't have any eyes at all, so obviously it belongs in SNARP (the Stuffed Needy Animal Rescue Project).

It looked a bit disturbing eyeless though, so this afternoon before I started any clean-up, I sewed a couple button eyes on its straw-filled head, with some white felt behind, for contrast.
So much happier!

Artisanal Stuffed-Animal Repair, Paternally Curated, Familially Sourced, & Gifted by Me

 My sister asked me to restore a pair of stuffed toy chickens that my mother bought for our father back in the 1960s, back when they liked each other.

I am very happy to. 

Here's the rooster of the pair,Taouk. > 
The hen is Livia.

Mostly the chickens are just in need of a bath and new stuffing, but you can see this felt beak needs repair.

I was a little surprised that during lunch my sister referred to something else (nothing to do with toys) as "artisanal", a word that strikes me as ridiculously overblown in most cases.  
E.g., artisanal sea-salt.

Words coming into and out of vogue don't usually bother me much, but this trio of related words---artisanal, curated, and sourced-- bugs me with its pure puffery. Oh, and there's gifted too, as in, someone gave you a present.

"I was gifted with a curated set of artisanal salt sourced at the sea."
I.e., someone gave me some high-priced salt.

This craze for using salt "to take your food to the next level" [actual ad copy] really bugs me.
I first noticed it with sea-salt caramels. Chunks of salt on candy makes some sense. (Pearson's Salted Nut Roll!) But it spread, and the other day I was served a croissant at a swank restaurant with salt dandruff on top. Even after I brushed the flakes off, they made for a very salty croissant.
I miss when unsalted butter was in vogue.

And it doesn't matter what you call it, salt is salt. It's all sodium chloride, and all of it comes from a salty body of water––a sea––even if the sea evaporated eons ago.

What's next, artisanal MSG?

a pleasing number

Not quite 007, but I liked the number in my Blogger stats this morning:

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Flying Monkey Repair, III: Action!

Here's Flying Monkey, all repaired from being lost and squashed in the alley––plus I sewed it a felt jacket with flying designs on both sides, because it's an action monkey.
(What you can't see it that I replaced the smashed noise-maker with a squeaker that squeaks when you squeeze Monkey's tummy.)

And here's 8-seconds of action:
Or, "action..."
Really, it can fly much farther than that.
One day soon, when I've stopped playing with it, I'm going to put Monkey up on a telephone pole near where I found it, with a tag saying I've repaired it and am returning it to whoever dropped it or whoever can give it a home.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Flying Monkey Repair, II: "things go round and again go round"

In a comment on this morning's "Flying Monkey Repair" post, Art Sparker quoted Wallace Stevens' poem "The Pleasures of Merely Circulating":  
"The garden flew round with the angel"...

The poem also asks, "Is there any secret in skulls?"

Yes, yes there is.
As I was repairing Monkey's head from the inside (below), I was thinking of how much work some humans put into
1) designing this creature, and 
2) constructing the many, futzy little pieces of it--its little ears alone would defeat me.

I've always thought of stuffed animal rescue in terms of benefiting the toy and its once and future owners, (and my own psyche), but today all of a sudden I saw it also honors the care and skill of its makers. (Not reflected it its price: brand new, this toy costs $5.72 at Walmart.)

Art Sparker also suggested I leave Monkey's eyes as they were, but I'd already sewn on an old glass replacement button, and a new button nose too.
Its original eyes and nose were plastic childproof ones, but I guess "childproof" doesn't mean you can run it over with a car, and they had broken, leaving a sharp plastic shaft.

Monkey is whole again (mostly), and I'm almost done making a felt vest modeled on the Wizard of Oz flying monkeys.

I'm getting cranky from hunger though, so I'm taking a break to go out for a hamburger and beer now.

Flying Monkey Repair, I

“Jesus, I’m / going out / and throw / my arms / around.”

--found on Orange Crate Art, who explains it's "an untitled poem from Lorine Niedecker’s Next Year or I Fly My Rounds Tempestuous (1934), a work made of short handwritten poems pasted over the inspirational aphorisms of a two-week-per-page calendar"
This Flying Monkey, below, is the neediest stuffed animal I've yet scooped up––I found it yesterday in the alley, soaking wet and run-over by a car––quite icky––
so I'm showing the after-the bath photo first.

I'm drinking coffee this morning in one of the hand-painted, speckled stoneware mugs ^ I've become enamored of (Otagiri-type, made in Japan). This mug ($1.49 at Goodwill) is one of my favorites.
Ever since Marz got into Starsky & Hutch, I've reevaluated 1970s design style, which I hated when I when I was a kid––but I like some of the designs now.

And here, below, are the BEFORE photos--those rubber tubes allow Monkey's arms to work as slingshots, to fly across the room. Before I did anything else, I gave Monkey the hot tub treatment, with a friend (also picked up in the alley):

With some new stuffing, Monkey will fly its rounds again:

I found the original toy online--they have noise-makers inside (I took the smashed pieces out when I removed all the stuffing), and a cape;
I am going to make a flying-monkey jacket from Wizard of Oz for this toy--along the lines of (but not as excellent as) this one by costumer and body-painter Breanna Cooke [links to her instructions]:

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Mending Round-Up: "Who Made My Clothes?"

Sarah Corbett, founder of Craftivist Collective and the School of Gentle Protest, "changing our world one stitch at a time," interviews Orsola De Castroof––fashion designer and co-founder of Fashion Revolution, which asks, "Who made my clothes?"

scroll right for full image > >  >

Mending Round-Up: Lee Mingwei

Lee Mingwei, The Mending Project [link to youTube], a participatory installation (2012)
"During gallery hours, I was seated at [a] table, to which visitors could bring various damaged textile articles … and watch as I mended the article.

This emotional mending was marked by the use of thread which was not the color of the fabric around it, and often colorfully at odds with that fabric, as though to commemorate the repair. …
My mending was done with the idea of celebrating the repair, as if to say, 'something good was done here, a gift was given, this fabric is even better than before.'"  --Lee Mingwei [text from his site]

More bear repair, by Lee Mingwei, from Fibres of Being blog:

Saturday, November 11, 2017

"That's going to take a long time."

I was darning in the sun at the food coop this afternoon, with Julia. 
A woman came up and asked what I was doing, as people do when you sew in public. (I like that.)

When I showed her, and explained that darning this old handwoven blanket is like darning a sock, she said she'd never heard of darning. She thought it was a great idea, though, to repair a family heirloom.*

Another woman seemed unimpressed. 
She said in a flat voice, "That's going to take a long time."

That doesn't necessarily mean she disapproved. 
Maybe it's an international phenomenon, but I'd say hers was a classic old Nordic Minnesotan  response, to offer discouragement, to express some version of "That won't work".
I don't know--it's like it'll keep the trolls away or something.

Come to think of it, Sicilians can be like that too:
expressing too much joy at, say, the birth of a baby, could attract il malocchio (the evil eye) and invite  bad luck. So maybe being discouraging is a safety precaution in lots of cultures.  
At least in the past.
Modern Minnesotans are more likely to say things such as, "Failure is not an option."
(Talk about god-annoying hubris...)

But anyway, I'd just been saying to Julia that I hoped the blanket would have enough holes to keep me busy all winter, so I replied  happily
"Yes, it's my winter project! It keeps me warm."

*heirloom: 1472, ayre lome, from heir (q.v.) + loom in its original but now otherwise obsolete sense of "implement, tool." Technically, some piece of property that by will or custom passes down with the real estate.

Filling In

My auntie and her yarn friends hold up the blanket I am now mending, showing the biggest worn-through spot. 
The friends are all accomplished in working with fiber, and they were interested to examine the handwoven blanket, give me advice, and help me choose the right weight of yarn to mend it.

Because that gap is so big, I was going to patch it with cashmere from an old sweater rather than darning it, but I was inspired by how Celia Pym rebuilt with darns alone a tattered Norwegian sweater, below--it's a cool story (at 1granary) in itself.
 The chunks of darning have such a pleasing heft:

So, today I clipped the most worn area of the blanket onto paperboard, to hold it steady while I stitch some guidelines and outline the shape of the hole––in hopes that the massive darn that will fill it will lie fairly flat.

Friday, November 10, 2017

In the Slipstream of Time

My father, Paris, 1968, photo taken by my mother

Darn, 1, 2, 3

I thought I'd record the basic steps of darning, while I'm at the early stages of darning this ragged wool blanket. 

Basic darning is simple. 
1. Find a hole.

2. Stitch around the hole, to help firm up the surrounding area. Then, starting on firm fabric, weave lines with your needle in and out of the original weave, and across the hole. These are the stationery warp threads.

 3. Weave the other direction, going over-and-under your first lines--these are the weft threads. 
Warp and weft are weaving terms, and essentially you are using your needle to re-weaving the fabric.

 That's it!
It does take some care to make smooth and even darns, especially working with raggedy edges and holes. Luckily perfection is not the goal, and you can see I am not near it, but the darns are functional, and, I think, interesting for the eye.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Post No. 300; Come to Tea in London?

Hello, Blog Friends!

In only three other of my ten blogging years have I put up more than 300 posts, so I'm happy to see I've reached number 300 with this one.
And it's a happy one: 
looking for more about mender-extraordinaire Celia Pym [article about her in Make It Last], I saw she teaches darning workshops––in London.  I immediately signed up for her March workshop;
it starts a couple weeks after my 57th birthday.*

I've always wanted to repeat my 40th-birthday celebration in March 2001, when I invited any friend who could come to join me for tea at the Hotel Russell in Bloomsbury, London.

That's me [gosh . . .] in London at forty, far right, below, with my sister and my father, who, obviously, both came. (Gee, sad to think my mother was still alive, but too emotionally incapacitated to come.)

Well, huh––the Hotel Russell is reopening this winter as The Principal and looks impossibly expensive, so I'll choose someplace else, but I'm going do the same thing, seventeen years later:
I invite you, my friend, to meet me in London for a birthday tea in March.

I know London's expensive, esp. for those of us in the USA to get to, but flights from the US have gone way down---at a quick glance, they're as low as $400 round-trip.  
(I haven't looked into airbnbs yet--hopefully they're cheaper than previous lodging options.)

And the tea's on me.
Or, whatever you want to drink.
Hardly any birthday guests in 2001 drank actual tea. These are most of them, below--you can see they were drinking G&Ts and fruity cocktails.

L to R: my art-historian friend ATK, toasting me; my sister; father (he was in that sour of a mood); and my friend Barrett:

L to R, below: the lovely Polish waiter taking the request of Ms. Borealis; Mrs. and Miss Martyn; and me:

Maybe we could all bring a sock to darn.

So... think about it?

 * After I signed up for the darning workshop, I realized there's a small problem:
the second-of-two classes meets March 30, and I'm supposed to be in Dallas on April 4 to talk about my toilet history book on a nonfiction-authors panel. (I don't think I've mentioned this yet. It's for the Texas Librarians conference!) 

But, it's more important to me that the darning classes take place close to my birthday. (Maybe I'll just skip the second class, so the travel doesn't make me ill--signing up for the class is partially an excuse to make this trip.)

Repair Artist: Celia Pym

Looking for more visible-menders, I came across Celia Pym––(her website; her Instagram)––her darns make me almost hyperventilate with envy: Sweater mended, below, for 94 y.o. retired GP Bill, knit by his late wife:
And bear repair ^ (like my Stuffed Needy Animal Rescue Project)--I like the "before" sling too.

Celia Pym says:
"I darn and am looking for holes in people’s clothes and the stories that accompany them; repairing these holes and returning the mended garments. It is a way to briefly make contact with strangers. I am interested in the spaces the body occupies, the tenderness of touch and the ways in which we go about day to day life".