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 retrieve the Sacred Plastic Tub of Hose Bits, replace all the 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 Sacred 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.