Monday, May 15, 2023

The Annual Rite of the Hose Bits

Last Friday our first heat wave of the season started and to make sure that my garden gets all the water it needs, I conducted the annual Rite of the Hose Bits. Every year I replace washers, discover which hose bits have mysteriously broken over the winter and which hoses have sprung leaks, and remember how to program the timer. The Melnor timer that I'm currently using is my favorite yet, with 4 zones, and each zone supporting 4 cycles. So, for example, I use Zone 1 for misting seedlings and young plants twice a day, at 8 am and 7 pm, for 20 minutes. 

Each year I usually find that I'm short a couple of bits that I absolutely, positively need, and this year was no exception. The trip to the hardware store is part of the ritual.

Once I have everything set up the way I think I want it, I test each zone. This always results in me getting soaked. This also is part of the ritual.

I'm proud to say that this year I threw away all the old washers and broken bits rather than absent-mindedly putting them back in the tub.

There is a line of gardening hose that's made locally, and it's a great product, though expensive. Each year I replace one of my older hoses with a WaterRight hose. Watering the patio plants with a purple curly hose never fails to entertain me. This year they've added a soaker hose to their product line and it's the best soaker hose I've ever had.

Thursday, May 11, 2023



Physics is proof that God loves us and wants us to apply straight strips of fabric to curved edges.*

Woven cloth is composed of threads on two axes. Let's call them N/S and E/W.  (Technically, they are warp and weft.) If you pull the N/S threads or the E/W threads, there is very little give in the fabric because you're pulling directly on the structure of the fabric.

Bias exploits the weakness of the spaces between the threads. If you pull the NW and SE corners of the fabric - the red arrow - the little square spaces between the threads deform into little parallelogram spaces. (The same applies for the NE/SW bias axis.)

The gray fabric above is a straight strip that has been deformed to lie smoothly along a curved neckline. While a bias strip can be deformed with just the fingers, a little coaxing with a steam iron assures a very smooth curve.

Bias strips can be deformed on both inside and outside curves. In the example below there was a lot of questionable language as I repeatedly steamed my fingers.

Bias tape or binding is available commercially, but only in solid colors, and typically only in a cotton-polyester blend, so I almost always cut my own. I'll cut more than I need for the project at hand, so over time I've developed a nice back stock of bias strips. In many sewing projects, the bias strip isn't visible from the outside of the garment, and it gives me great joy to use several different prints in a single garment.

The edge-stitching in the black example a little wobbly - I'm between cataract surgeries, so I can only really see close work out of one eye.

*I've borrowed liberally from "Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy," which is wrongly attributed to Benjamin Franklin.

Saturday, April 29, 2023

It is a Truth


It is a truth universally acknowledged that a woman in possession of a tin box of knitting markers will drop the box on a hardwood floor on a day when she's having just a little back trouble.

I'm pretty sure this isn't all of them, but it's all the ones that weren't fast enough to roll off into the darkest, dustiest corners of the sewing room.

Tuesday, April 11, 2023



A year ago I went to a native plant sale and purchased three pots containing a lumpy sort of compost and a promise that they really did contain trillium plants, still dormant. I duly set them out and wasn't terribly surprised when nothing happened.

Until this week. No sign of the other two, but I'm pleased as punch to get even one plant.

Victor is intrigued by the dishwasher, so I let him go exploring, very, very carefully. I can't imagine what the attraction is.

Sunday, March 26, 2023

Let's see - where was I?


What a lot of water under the bridge since my last post! I could trawl through my journals for the last two years and try to pick out the interesting bits to list here, but I think it would be pretty short list.

Let's start afresh. Say hello to my new housemate, Victor Velluto. At the end of December I braved high winds and an atmospheric river event to drive to Seattle to pick up a 12 week old Russian Blue kitten, after being on the waiting list for about three years. He's about doubled in size since then and quadrupled in personality.

As I write this I can hear a few pacific chorus frogs singing. The red-winged blackbirds are quiet for the moment. It's time for me to take a look at the long list of gardening tasks I've been keeping over the winter and start working through them.

Monday, August 31, 2020

The Last Rose of Summer


No more writing here for the foreseeable future.  I do have a Twitter account where I post now and again about nothing of any importance. I'll leave it to you to find it.

Sunday, August 25, 2019

Who Let That Skein Winder in the House Again?

You know how it goes.  The barn cat has a litter of kittens and then you start finding them in the house.  As the weeks go by, despite your best efforts, you find one watching you from atop a kitchen cabinet, another one harassing the spider who lives in the corner of the bathroom, and yet another (perhaps most disturbingly,) looking extremely at home in your favorite chair.

I have what I think is a perfectly reasonable amount of textile equipment for one person, but there is no denying it - it's a lot of stuff.  Much of it lives in my workroom, but the large, bulky, less used things are stored in the Two Loom Garage which is attached to my house.  Except when they aren't.

This skein winder is supposed to roost on top of a filing cabinet in the Two Loom Garage, but now that it has cosied up to my desk, it seems unwilling to return to its proper roost.

What is a person to do?