About me

My photo
I am a mother, a new grandmother, and a teacher. But whatever happens in my life, I keep sewing. I have worked as a political communicator and now as a teacher in my formal life. I have also written extensively on sewing. I have been a frequent contributor and contributing editor of Threads magazine and the Australian magazine Dressmaking with Stitches. My first book Sew.. the garment-making book of knowledge will be published in May 2018 and is available for pre-order from Amazon


Follow by Email

Follow me on Instagram


Thursday, April 28, 2011

Touch down in Florida and heavy topics

My husband and I have just arrived in the house we rent in St. Augustine Florida and this is the first time I have had a chance to post.

The drive down did us good. We processed my father-in-law's passing which affected us both so much. In my husband's words his dad did exactly what he wanted, built his own house last year, was tearing trees down a few months ago, terrorizing everyone with his many projects, and then he stopped. He had 200 flies he had made ready for the fishing season this spring and was likely, because of health issues, going to be spending it in a nursing home instead. One of the last things he said to my mother-in-law was "who in the hell did the paint job in here?" meaning in his hospital room. Sometimes it all makes more sense than you think.

The drive also gave me time to think of many serious issues and things that have been bothering me for quite a while now, and I think it is time to share them.

Here they are:

1. What's with the 1/4" seam allowances that are used on quilts? As a garment sewer I know, as do you all reading this, a few things about fabric fraying, not to mention how seams look better when they are pressed open. Now I know too what my cotton clothes would look like, even the lined ones, if I made them up with 1/4" seams and didn't finish those seams. In a little while the seams would start to open up and fall apart.

I have been thinking about this because I have some old quilts that are pretty nice but some of the squares are giving out on them. I mean what does a real family do with a quilt on a bed? Lie on it, wrestle the dog on it, spill coffee on it, have little kids throw up on it - in short these things get washed and experience wear and tear.

So what's up with the 1/4" seam allowance? How come no one makes the seam allowances big enough so if you aren't going to finish those seams, at least they are not going to fray away from normal life.

2. OK this one really makes me completely crazy. Where did fingerless gloves come from? Here is a picture of what I mean from Knitty :

As a Canadian I am an absolute expert in being cold. I mean I was 8 years old when I sat in the snow and watched white patches appear on my sister's cheeks as her face slowly froze solid  (it's called frost bite and we were too busy playing to come in). So here are some well-researched facts about coldness and hands:

1. You put on gloves and mitts when your hands are cold so they will be warmer.
2. The medical laws of what happens in the cold is that the blood moves from less essential parts, like fingers and toes, to heat more important stuff in your centre like your heart and lungs and even your brain. This means that what is most coldest and first coldest are your fingers. In fact the moment that made you decide to put on your gloves is the moment when you realized your fingers were getting cold. So why intentially make something that is missing what you are looking for? And put cables and lace on it?

The only people I have actually in my life seen wear fingerless gloves were:

1. Fishermen who were untangling nets. Fishermen BTW are notorious for losing fingers in the nets because they have lost all feeling in them and their fingers get caught and pulled off or something sort of like that. Young people aren't going into fishing anymore.

2. People milking cows on cold winter mornings. Try grabbing a wet teat with a mitt. Milking machines have been invented.

3. A student of mine who came to class with her herbal tea in a mason jar, tired because she was out late at night doing "guerilla gardening" which means she was planting garlic in the grass median strips between the road to make a statement about the waste of arable land in our urban culture. I could not make this up.

I have never in my life seen anyone put on fingerless gloves to go acron gathering as in this picture. I have never seen anyone wear these things at all.

So can you explain to me why most knitting magazines have about eight patterns for fingerless gloves in every issue? This is even more annoying than the news that some of the boys think going back to the Moon is a worthwhile thing to do. You know how I hate outer space.

I think it's time Babs took a walk on the beach and chilled out.

P.S. does anyone know where a girl can buy mason jars in north Florida? The man at Winn Dixie thought I was crazy. I took one look at the beautiful gorgeous produce and knew I had to do some pickle making while I was here - however it seems that most of the people who come to Florida do not come here to can. Such a waste. Maybe I can order some in on amazon.com and have them delivered.


Carolyn (cmarie12) said...

I'm sorry to hear about the loss of your father-in-law. Hope Florida is good to both you and your DH.

NancyDaQ said...

Hmm, I'm surprised at the dearth of Mason jars, but St. Augustine is more touristy than rural. Try Publix or Alberstons, perhaps even Walmart.

I don't really get fingerless mitts either. I suppose people wear them, but here it's usually mild enough to get away from gloves altogether. Maybe it's people who text a lot. Cell phones don't work so well with gloves on.

Sorry about your FIL. He sounds like he was a force of nature in life. I hope it's a comfort that he was able to live for so long on his terms.

BTW, congrats on your Threads article. I haven't read it yet, but saw your photo amongst this issues authors. Looking forward to it.

KC said...

I'm sorry about your Father in Law.
We wore fingerless gloves in high school marching band to play flutes and clarinets at late-season football games. Maybe marching band has become popular?

The Hojnackes said...

Sometimes it's good to just let it all out- those stupid things that just don't make any sense! Fingerless gloves really are useless in everyday life.
As for mason jars, Walmart usually carries them. Is there one in the area?

shams said...

I am sorry about your Father in Law. He sounds like a very unique man who marched to his own drum.

My climate (foggy coastal weather in San Francisco) is *perfect* for fingerless gloves. I have (and wear) several pair, as do my kids. It's just the ticket for those foggy, chilly mornings as you walk to school, or to the coffee house. They are perfect for texting, which is like breathing for the modern teen. We love fingerless gloves! :)

shams said...

Oh, I also like them if my hands are cold, but I want to type. :)

Karin said...

I agree- fingerless gloves are perverse!

Quarter inch seems on quilts work. Maybe because all the seam allowances are on the inside. I don't know. You press the seams to one side rather than open. I believe this is to stop the wading from poking through the seams. I am not sure this is really necessary. Anyway, in the end, any lumps and bumps just sort of "quilt out." I've washed my quilts many times with no issues.

Bunny said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Bunny said...

So sorry about the loss of your father in law, clearly a very special man who has given you great memories.

My understanding is that the seams are so short because that way you can stitch around each piece without going thru an extra layer of fabric, therefore keeping your stitches nice and tiny. Don't know where I got that info but it is embedded in my brain from somewhere.

Anonymous said...

So sorry to hear about the passing of your father-in-law. He sounds a lovely man and was living life to the full.

Re the fingerless gloves ... it's so you can still knit while wearing gloves ;)