fledge capable of flying, from Middle English flegge, from Old English -flycge; akin to Old High German flucki capable of flying,
Old English flEogan to fly -- more at FLY
intransitive verb, of a young bird : to acquire the feathers necessary for flight or independent activity

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Mellow Yellow.

I'm just mad about her.

Quite rightly.

"Electrical banana": Hee hee.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Rejoice! Reuse!

...the Trader Joe's bags!

Smiley mushroom stamp from Corrabelle at Etsy.

And if you have a color printer, the best gift cards ever can be printed for free, thanks to Handmade by Hannah. Every little thing she does is magic.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Sunday, December 14, 2008

3rd Advent

These are lights from IKEA. They are cool, because they make everything look black and white. This is a color photo.

Happy Holidays!

Die Lichterkette ist von IKEA. Ich finde cool, wie alles schwarz/weiß wirk. Das ist ein Farbfoto übrigens.

Schönen 3. Advent!

Friday, December 12, 2008

How about this?

I live in California. And here in California, gosh, there's a warning label everywhere you turn. The gas pump causes cancer. The ceramic plates could have lead. This pesticide sprayed here will kill you this way and that. This restaurant uses a microwave. That restaurant received a "C" grade. Video games can cause seizures. Televisions emit microwaves. Rip currents over there. High bacterials levels at that beach. (I'm convinced now that California is just pretty deadly: "Welcome to California! Prepare to DIE"). And I still go about my life.

Frankly, I do not think there is much awareness of the dangers of lead to small children. I also think that the government cannot babysit all children and that parents should make informed, responsible decisions for (and with) their kids. For handmade children's items, for which, as discussed, lead testing is simply unfeasible, what if there was some kind of official warning label? You all know the warning labels for tobacco products. How about something like:

"Ingestion and inhalation of lead and heavy metals can lead to possible neurological, reproductive and kidney damage. Children under the age of 12 should not have oral contact with items containing more than 300 parts per million of lead and/or heavy metals. Lead is commonly found in paints, dyes, vinyl and some plastics and metals. THIS ITEM HAS NOT BEEN TESTED FOR LEAD AND HEAVY METALS."

And then the seller could make an explanation of the materials she uses (oragnic, Öko-Tex, Ecolabel, etc.).

That way, the consumer has the information he or she needs to make an informed decision: "A. Lead is bad. B. I don't know if this item contains lead or not. C. If my kid doesn't chew on it or ingest it, he'll probably be okay. I might not give this to my 7-month-old, who puts everything in her mouth. But for my 8-year-old nephew, this item would be okay."

Kinda "use at your own risk"...

Would that work?

By the way, did you know that the greatest source of lead, which leads to lead poisoning in the United States is from household dust? Partly from crumbling paint, but also derived from plain soil? Dust and dirt. Try and ban that. I'd like that ban. The way my son dirties up his new clothes playing soccer and football should be a felony.

Just an idea.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Can someone proofread this draft letter?

Yes, we're all talking about the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA), which, after an initial reading, appears to ban the sale of all children's products which have not been tested by an accredited third party for lead--including handmade children's clothing. There is quite a bit of confusing information. Is cloth included? Or excluded? Somebody on that thread over there talked to somebody in their district and that person said, "No." Somebody over on that forum talked to that other person directly and that person said "Yes." This is the letter I may send to my local Congresswoman, the tenacious Jane Harman. I like her. Lead is bad. No doubt. Bad. Bad. Bad. And whoever glued lead Swarovski crystals on baby pacifiers? C'mon: That was cute maybe, but just a really, really dumb and shortsighted idea and proof again that common sense does not always abound. But there has to be a better way. Can someone read this and comment if I have any factual errors? I like my grammatical errors; My grammar errors are so "me".

Here goes...

Dear Representative Harman,

Congratulations on a successful 2008 election season. With your help, I am confident our nation will be steering once again on a prosperous course.

I am a designer and supplier of sewing patterns primarily for children. I am writing to you as a private citizen, but also as a member of a community of entrepreneurs, artisans and parents, who make handmade items for children for sale, primarily clothes and toys. I am writing to you, because one piece of upcoming law will steer our endeavors entirely off course. I am speaking specifically of the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act or CPSIA. The creative livelihoods of thousands of cottage-industry entrepreneurs and their suppliers are threatened with extinction when the CPSIA goes into effect on February 10, 2009.

CPSIA is designed to regulate the amount of lead and phthalates found in products manufactured for children. The law specifically requires that all products be certified through a third-party testing laboratory and labeled with an extensive tracking label. Failure to provide a certificate from an independent accredited testing authority and/or the tracking label can result in hefty fines and penalties.

As written and currently interpreted, I feel the law will not serve the public good: Vibrant enterprises will fail and consumers will face higher prices and less choice. The important burgeoning roster of small manufacturers, including those who specialize in ecologically friendly products and uphold fair labor practices could very well whither and die. In less than 3 months, the entire manufacturing market for children’s products could become oligopolic.

I am confident in saying I speak for my community when I say we agree with the intent of the law. We, as parents, strongly believe our children should be protected from the dangers lead and phthalates pose children’s developing minds and bodies. Since becoming aware, I am quite astounded at the amount of lead found in zippers and buttons. I applaud the strong stand our government is taking against the heretofore laxness toward lead and phthalate contamination by manufacturers of children’s products. The challenge for manufacturers and consumers alike, however, is in the implementation.

As a matter of introduction, the handmade cottage-industry sales venues are primarily online marketplaces, such as Ebay.com and Etsy.com, as well as independent retail. Often, the handmade market provides a Petri dish for new talent and springboard into commercial manufacturing. This community contains many stories of good old-fashioned American boot-strapping enterprise. Making handmade children’s items affords many members of our community the opportunity to supplement the family income while remaining at home with young children. There currently are no independent statistics to support the size of this market, however, I do believe we would be astounded at the amount of bread that is won for families through this specific entrepreneurship, while primary breadwinners are serving overseas in the military, have been laid off, or have been required to take hefty, recessionary pay and benefit cuts. This community represents a deep and diverse cross-section of America. It is comprised of caring, loving, creative and successful entrepreneurs from all walks of life, who represent the best of America.

As written, there are parts of the law, which we feel require revision, in particular:
• Unit testing
• Tracking labels
• Retroactivity
• Scope of producers and manufacturers

Unit Testing

Unit testing requires that the finished product be tested and certified for lead and phthalates. It matters not, if the item is manufactured entirely of certified lead-free materials, the finished product requires its own testing. It stands to reason that a finished dress sewn of certified lead-free fabric, stitched together with certified lead-free thread, and held in place with certified lead-free buttons would be itself lead free. However, selling this dress without first testing the finished sewn dress for lead and providing certification for testing the finished sewn dress would be illegal and be considered “hazardous banned substance” according to the CPSIA. Logically, if the components are already tested lead-free, the additional testing of the finished garment is not only expensive, but clearly redundant. From a regulatory standpoint, I imagine it is certainly easier to go after the closest link in the value chain. However, due diligence can be served, surely, if the manufacturers of the components provide certification for legal lead content. A simple compromise can be met, which both protects children from lead and our businesses. Instead of unit testing for lead, we suggest component testing on the part of the inputs manufacturers. A textile mill could be inspected and certified against lead much the way a food plant is inspected and certified. The cost of this conformity could be bore across the entire customer base of the mill, adding pennies, not tens of dollars to the final retail price of a garment. In Europe, it is common practice to maintain "Öko-Tex" standards in textiles, which is then commonly used for children's products.


Another aspect of the law, which is troubling, is its retroactivity. As written and presently interpreted, anything without the required certification and tracking labeling would be deemed hazardous, whether the item poses an actual threat or not. In other words, “guilty, until proven innocent.” On an industry level, this would make the hundreds of millions of dollars of current inventory unsalable in the United States. On the level of the consumer, retroactivity would eliminate entirely the second-hand and thrift markets upon which many struggling families depend. Furthermore, part of our cultural heritage may be lost, as, technically, any sale of vintage and collectable toys and children’s clothes would be the sale of “hazardous banned substance”. Imagine if, from one day to the next, all the inventory of your family business, Harmon Kardon, was deemed hazardous and banned, not because of any real hazard, but rather because of a lack of proper accredited testing and tracking labels. The retroactivity of the law appears unique to this legislation: If safety legislation were applied retroactively on, say, automobiles, I doubt there would be any automobiles older than five years on a used car lot. Classic and antique cars would be, quite literally, a thing of the past. And where do we draw the line? Should we prevent the sale of homes built before 1972, the year when lead in house paint standards were implemented, to families with children under the age of 12? It could be argued that bedrooms in older homes for sale are marketed and intended for children.

Micro vs. Mass Producers

As far as mass manufacturers go, only the largest manufacturers with the greatest advantages of economy of scale and negotiating power with the limited number of testing facilities would survive this law. Initial estimates for lead testing of finished clothing lines of 10 pieces in three color-ways (a very small line, the type of clothing line a specialty or start-up brand may produce) start at $30,000. One estimate has close to 70% of the companies producing children’s clothing to have 20 or less employees. It would follow that specifically this 70% of the children’s clothing industry would dwindle. Because of the boon in testing requirements, the law of price elasticity tells us that increased demand with limited supply of accredited testing facilities will increase prices charged for testing. Lead testing for each individual garment produced is a prohibitive cost factor for small manufacturers. And, as made mention, for the handmade market unfeasible to the point of impossibility. A single clinical lead test costs presently around $70. Considering that a very simple garment has three separate material components, that would equate to $210 in testing for a pair of trousers we would hope to sell for $50. Following Bane’s Structure-Conduct-Performance paradigm, only a few large manufacturers will remain. The legislation will create an oligopolic structure of manufacturing. It will limit consumer choice while increasing consumer prices. The market structure will be conducive to price gouging. Come February 10th, families will face less choice, higher prices and no second-hand alternatives.

The requirements of CPSIA, the clinical testing of an individually made toy or clothing article is no more feasible than certifying against enterobacteria in every cupcake the local baker bakes. For cottage industry, home-based handmade items, I can imagine a complete exemption from clinical testing. If an artisan can prove due diligence, for example, through use of a home testing kit and posting of actual test results on his or her Web site, I believe the public interest would be served.

I am confident with a bit of revision to the CPSIA, our children’s safety can be assured and our livelihoods may remain.

I would like to note that the greater portion of makers of handcrafted toys and clothes began their enterprises in reaction to the poisonous, polluting habits and questionable labor practices exercised by mass producers of children’s products. These handmade items for the next generation are the product of a higher consciousness of what exactly is being used, how and why. It will be sadly ironic that only the large mass manufacturers will have the resources to afford and the access to testing as required by this law. It could very likely be, that the heretofore worst offenders will ultimately benefit the most. Already, the numbers are dwindling: Three of the highest quality, most ecologically friendly manufacturers of children’s products, which have won many, many coveted design and education awards, the German companies HABA and Selecta, have announced they will no longer export to the United States. This is a loss for our children. This law will eliminate competition for the mass producers, as well as eradicate the vibrant and worthwhile enterprise of independent creative economic endeavor. I am confident in saying that the handcrafted children’s enterprises is in no way afraid of testing—go ahead: Test our products any which way you like—it is simply that we cannot afford the testing, certification and tracking required by this law.

On a side note, out of curiosity, I purchased home lead testing kits and tested many of my fabrics. These fabrics are mostly milled in Southeast Asia, some come from mills in Spain and France. Some of my material is vintage, from the 1940s and older. Some is organic. Some is milled according to the Öko-Tex standards. I dabbed the testing medium on some 50 different fabrics altogether. Admittedly, my testing is not clinical nor quantitatively relevant. I tested the fabric to satisfy my initial curiosity and concern. After all, most of my fabric will likely find its way next to the skin of my own children. Nonetheless, as not one of my fabrics tested in the least bit positive for lead, I wonder if this legislation is necessary to this degree for most textile products for children.

I welcome the opportunity to speak one-to-one with you or someone in your office. I can also arrange an Internet chat with many members of our community.

Thank you in advance for reviewing and considering revision of the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act.

Nancy Langdon

Here an open letter from Etsy.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

2nd Advent Sunday

And very much behind on holiday preparations. Sure wish I had this Advent calendar. Love it, Diana! And the indefatigable Nic created 24 of these darling shoes from her own sketches. Maybe next year. Or the year after that.

But I did put out this hunk of ephemera. Funny old guy for advertising "Gnome Beverages."

And if anybody is trying to think of the perfect Christmas present for me? I'd like any of these. Or this. No need to gift wrap. I'll be sure to act surprised.

Enjoy the season!

I swear.

Can someone please send me an email, oh, next November? Something like this?:

"Nancy, remember, life is short: DO NOT BUY THAT SILK VELVET FABRIC. I know, I know: That Ebay seller is practically giving it away and nothing is more gorgeous than silk velvet, but, really, let it go. Go. There. Let it go...just let. it. go...."

Just like clockwork, I usually fall into the trap about this time of year when I think about my girl's holiday outfit. I love silk velvet. Mmmmm....Nothing is silkier and velvety-er than silk velvet. Like warm cocoa for the skin. And then there's the way the light plays off the nap like Christmas Eve starlight. And the way it moves and swishes like misty breath on cold winter's night. I love the way it gathers and folds, like a cuddly sharpei puppy...


Working with this sharpei-puppy stuff is like sewing pudding or wet lasagna noodles or something else squishy and squirmy. I don't have a straight seam in this thing. And ripping out the seams is not much of an option when the needle leaves a visible track like moose tracks in the snow.

Happens every year. I never learn.

I was this close--this close--to just saying, "F--k it." Now, hold on: I didn't say it. I barely even wrote it. I was raised better than than that. A lot better than that. For example, my mother would not even say "rock 'n roll" and would throw a raised eyebrow my way if I ever said it, because she grew up knowing that the name of that type of music was also meant, um, referred to, um, you know, when two people, um, "get busy". (Although she would tell me often to "get busy"...). But did I think "f--k it"? Remember when President Jimmy Carter admitted in a Rolling Stone interview to having "lust in his heart"? So sure, I thought it. I'll admit to having a bit of cussing in my heart. Since my last incident of public dysphemism, however, I have controlled myself, because it was a doozey (Cell phone not turned off and the thing bleep-bleeps during Sunday church and--yep, you already know what's coming--*bleep* slipping from my mouth in the Lord's house). Well, didn't our current born-again president drop an s-bomb in front of Prime Minister Tony Blair with mikes switched on? He sure as heck did.

Supposedly, researchers in linguistics believe that cuss words have been around as long as human speech. I can imagine some Cromagnum s-bombs and f-bombs happening along the path to discovering fire and inventing the axel and wheel and the needle and thread (the needle and thread is considered a huge leap in human development, by the way). You can hurt yourself making fire for the first time. And become pretty frustrated with Wheel Prototypes A through G, the rolling triangle on an axel, the rolling square on an axel, the rolling tetrahedron and so forth. With trying something new comes failing and with failing come the cuss words. The more failing, jiminey crickets, the more cuss words.

I can even imagine that cuss words, because of the circumstances, are popular, if unfortunate, last words while on this Earth. I mean, what is the last thing a person utters when noticing the four ton truck barreling toward him at full speed or steps onto the 20th floor elevator which isn't there? Do you really think it is "I am grateful for the time I have had in the world and for the opportunity to love and be loved"?

Jiminey Crickets! Now that was foul, foul, foul language, as it was (is?) a euphemism for Jesus Christ, having the same initials. Some of these words were created during the Renaissance, when curse words on the stage were forbidden by law. In another 300 years, in the 19th Century, the powers that be would even frown upon these euphemistic dysphemisms. "Shoot", "shucks", "gee", "drat", "jeepers" and, for crying out loud, especially "for crying out loud" were big no-nos, doggone it. "Doggone" too. "Heavens to Betsy" was off the charts. By the 20th Century, Jiminey Crickets was animated to be the morning-suit-wearing, when-you-wish-upon-a-star-singing anthropodic conscience, the "Lord High Keeper of the Knowledge of Right and Wrong, Counselor in Moments of Temptation, and Guide along the Straight and Narrow Path", no less, in Disney's Pinocchio. Go check out the link. Think Disney made the connection?

I have no reason to take the Lord's name in vain. As far as that goes, however, there are names I would certainly like to take in vain, for example, Ken Lewis, the CEO of Bank of America, or Bob Steel, CEO of Wachovia, or Rick Wagoner, CEO of GM, coming hat in had (but not in private jets this time, no, no, in hybrid cars) to beg YOU AND ME for billions of dollars for their slothful, greedy, shortsighted ways. $739 billion for the credit industry bailout? That's about half the entire GDP of Russia. Twice the GDP of Belgium. 500 times of the GDP of Namibia. For what? To loosen the credit markets? It hasn't happened. And it won't. There's no oversight. Who here wouldn't like all the money in the world and no one looking over your shoulder? Ken Lewis!

Is using comic strip cussing an option? "Ampersand asterix glyph section pilcrow!" (That would be ampersand &, asterix *, glyph #, section § and pilcrow ¶). "Glyph you, asterix driver! What part of "Stop sign" don't you ampersand understand?". And I'm punctuating like a drunken sailor.

And sewing like a drunken sailor. You know that you can learn just about anything on the Internet, including some tips on sewing silk velvet. This site recommends that if a person should actually find a silk velvet that sews well to go back and buy the entire bolt, such a rarity is a silk velvet that sews well.

I finished the dress. I used bad language to get there. I'm trying. I'm failing. I'm cussing. But I might be learning something.

Bob Steel! This hem is all wrong. I swear: Silk ampersand velvet. Ken Lewis!

The dress turned out rather nicely, actually. I hadn't slipped the dress over Anna's head for one second and I was already thinking of searching for more "silk velvet fabric" on Ebay. Not one second later. Was this dress worth the fight? I don't know. This is not a rational decision.

So, am I going to reveal the dress? Heck, no. And I have a hellava good reason. So insert your own dysphemism here_______________.


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