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_______________.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

I'm thankful! How 'bout you?

Happy Thanksgiving! Love to you all!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

"Once upon a time..."

There are many "So, I began to sew..." stories being posted. They are very inspirational to read. As soon as the stories come to the part of "One day, I found Farbenmix..." I find amazing how similar these stories are to my sewing story. It goes something like this for a lot of us: "And then I found klickundblick. And since then my sewing machine has been going non-stop. And since then, I've made many, many new friends. And since then, sewing has become more colorful, more joyful and more fun. Since then, sewing has become a part of my life."

Sewing is pretty deep in my DNA, as my mother always sewed me wonderful clothes, all the way through college. But I'd like to jump ahead and show you my first sewing project for one of my children.

I made this little overall thing that Anna is wearing while I was pregnant with Jack. I'll tell you a few things I learned from this first sewing project.

The first thing I learned about sewing for babies is that babies are small. Yep, pretty darn little creatures these babies are. This overall thing was huge -- just huge -- compared to my tiny baby boy. Jack wouldn't fit this overall until he was well into his twos. 

The second thing I learned about sewing for kids is that, big white appliqués across the front and across the bum are a good idea -- not. (There is a back side to that bunny on the back of the overalls. And yes, that is a bunny. A stylized bunny. Yes, it is. Yes, it is. And, yes, it is cute. In a stylized bunny way, cute. Not hideous. Cute.) Really, colors that conceal apple sauce and blueberry yoghurt and grass and dirt are better choices. Really. 

The third thing I learned about sewing for babies is that sewing is too expensive. Frankly, I'd never heard of JoAnn's and picked up this navy cotton percale for a measly $16 a yard. Something about it being from Italy or something...And the buttons are shell, so named as I shelled out about $5 apiece for the large ones. All in all, about $50 in supplies. For just that? Great.

And the fourth thing I learned was that I couldn't rely on sewing patterns. The neck was too large, the body too wide...I just never really liked the way this thing fit. Like a sack. Just weird. Just plain weird.  

In summary, sewing for kids would be expensive, ill-fitting and just weird, somehow. I sewed no more. Jack made it through toddlerdom entirely in GAP overalls and t-shirts, as did Anna, for the most part.

And then one day on Ebay, I came across Farbenmix. And then I clicked onto klickundblick.de. My. Chin. Hit. The. Floor. And despite the weird bunny overall experience, I tried a bit of sewing again, this time without patterns. And my story from that point on is about the same as everybody else's. Sabine welcomed me into the forum and said some of the nicest things about the clothes I had made. Blew me away. Sabine began publishing a few of her own patterns. I was blown away again at how nicely DORTJE fit. Blew me away. At one point, when I messed around with bias cuts and made a skirt, Sabine offered to make a pattern of it. Blew me away again. I never would have moved beyond that weird bunny overall thing without Sabine Pollehn. I never would have made these friends. I never would have come out of my shell this way. And since then my sewing machine has been going non-stop. And since then, I've made many, many new friends. And since then, sewing has become more colorful, more joyful and more fun. Sewing has become a part of my life.

I have also since learned to sew to size. I have since learned that while much of the fabric I buy may still be $16 a yard, I can find good plain navy fabric for much, much less. And I've also since learned that handmade clothes can not only not be weird, they can be spectacular, a celebration, in fact.

I'll have more to say on that soon. 

But for now, I'd love to hear your "So, I began to sew" story. If you post it, I'd love to link it.

Es gehen die "Und so fing ich zum Nähen an"-Geschichten in die Blogs herum. Sie sind wirklich inspirierend. Sobald die Geschichten zu dem Teil kommen-- "Und eines Tages stosste ich auf Farbenmix..." --finde ich's fazinierend wie ähnlich meine Story zu all den anderen Stories ist. Die Geschichten gehen in etwa so: "Und dann kam ich auf klickundblick.de. Und seitdem steht meine Nähmaschine nicht stil. Und seitdem habe ich nette, nette, bedeutungsvolle Freundschaften geknüpft. Und seitdem ist mein Nähen bunter, fröhlicher, lustiger geworden. Das Nähen ist zum Teil meines Lebens geworden."

Das Nähen steckt bei mir ziemlich tief im DNS drin, denn meine Mutter nähte mir wundervolle Sachen bis ins Uni-Alter. Aber ich möchte in meiner Story ein wenig vorspringen und auf mein erstes Projekt für meine Kinder kommen.

Das Ding, das Anna trägt, habe ich während meiner Schwangerschaft mit Jack genäht. Aus diesem Projekt habe ich einiges gelernt. Erstens habe ich gelernt das Säuglinge recht klein sind. Winzige Wesen sind diese Babies in wirklichkeit. Diese Latzhose war riesig. Jack könnte diese erst mit zwei Jahren tragen.

Als zweites habe ich gelernt, große weißen Applikationen vorne am Bauch und hinten am Po gute Ideen nicht sind. (Auf dem Latzhoserücken ist nochmals das Häschen von hinten. Doch, ist ein Hase. Ein stilisierter Hase. Doch. Und ist süß. Doch. Nicht schrecklich. Nein, süß). Nö, Apfelmußflecken, Blaubeerflecken, Grasflecken, Weiss-woher-nicht-Flecken sind magnetisch angezogen worden.

Drittens habe ich gelernt wie teuer das Nähen ist. Damals kannte ich den großen Stoff-Discounter nicht und dieser Baumwollstoff hier kostete schlappe $16 pro Yard. Irgend etwas hatte die Verkäuferin von "aus Italien" erzählt. Und die Knöpfe sind aus Muschel und ich habe für die großen je $5 berappt. Na, wunderbar. $50 für das bißchen Stoff und Knöpfe?

Viertens habe ich gelernt, daß ich mich nicht auf die Schnittmuster für Kinder verlassen könnte. Der Halsausschnitt ist zu groß. Das Ding insgesamt zu weit. Wie ein Sack. Alles merkwürdig. 

Ergo, das Nähen für meine Kids wäre teuer, die Sachen würden nicht passen und das ganze wäre meiner Bemühungen nicht wert. Jack verbrachte seine Kleinkindzeit ausschließlich in GAP Latzhosen und Anna beinahe auch.

Und dann eines Tages stosste ich auf Sabine Pollehn und klickundblick.de. Und meine Story geht ab da fast genauso wie Euere. Ich habe ein wenig das Nähen wieder angefasst (trotz Hasenhose-Disaster und diesmal ohne Schnittmuster, danke schön). Und stellte ein paar Photos bei klickundblick ein. Sabine schenkte mir herzhafte Komplimente und mir Mut anderes zu probieren. Irgendwann stellte ich einen bestimmten Rock in die Galerie ein. Dann bat Sabine an, daraus einen Schnittmuster zu erstellen. Und seitdem steht meine Nähmaschine nicht stil. Und seitdem habe ich nette, nette, bedeutungsvolle Freundschaften geknüpft. Und seitdem ist mein Nähen bunter, fröhlicher, lustiger geworden. Das Nähen ist zum Teil meines Lebens geworden.

Hier hat Chris eine Linkliste der Geschichten aufgestellt.

Nov. 24th: Sara tells us her "So, I began to sew..." And do not miss clicking through her flickr! Tie dye ta die for! She must have some sort of rainbow catching contraption. Actually, in an earlier post, she explains something about dyes and dye families. But I think there is also some kind of fairy magic involved. That's my suspicion.

Nov. 25th: Yvonne tells us her story. She only started sewing in her 30s and now runs one of the loveliest online fabric shops around. The whole ten yards (those ten yards being gorgeous European fabric). She even creates her own velour iron-ons.

Nov. 29th: Eileen tells us how she overcame her fear of German patterns, German online ordering and German airmail to make her first GREETJE. I love that fuzzy material in the middle! No two GREETJEs are ever alike. Thank you, Eileen!

Saturday, November 22, 2008


Not much to say today. Just saw some pretty fabrics. Pretty yukata. Pretty obi. 

Friday, November 21, 2008

I have a tax question...

I've received some gifts and with these gifts, I think I have been elevated to the status of Super Rich.

I've received things like hand-crocheted ice cream cones. And special barbeque sauce from a fan. And, when Anna needed a dirndl for International Day at school, no sooner said than done. And look how sweet she looks.

And also Nana's bridge pad. Nana was a Long Island beauty queen and she left her granddaughter her Bernina. And her granddaughter sews my patterns and this granddaughter wrote me this note.

So, you see the great wealth I possess?

I'm looking though the tax code, but I'm not finding a place to declare this kind of intrinsic value. Which is good, because I know I would owe big time. And I am also fortunate that I don't need to find a shelter on some distant tropical island or tiny mountain country for my wealth (although Anna would fit right in in Liechtenstein, don't you think?). And I can increase this wealth tenfold by giving it away.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Das macht glücklich!

Bei DaWanda.

Ich habe früher in Celle gewohnt und kenne Hannover dementsprechend gut. Diese Idee macht glücklich, finde ich.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Thank you, Farbenmix, for four years of color and creativity

Looking forward to many, many more!

Happy Birthday!


There are a few wildfires in the surrounding areas (our family faces no danger). But look at this layer of smoke. This is the middle of the day. The sky would otherwise be perfectly blue, cloudless. That ribbon of bright white on the horizon is the daylight.

Strange day.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

I'm curious: A hypothetical...

So, let's say you are on a sinking ship and you only have time to grab a handful of sewing tools. And let's just say that your ship is going down within swimming distance of Pfaff Island in the Bernina Archipelago, first discovered by the Husqvarna Vikings and this is where all the sewing machines grow. So you are covered as far as having a machine. And there's fabric and thread, no worries.

Which tools would you grab?

I'd take those up there: Cutting mat and large and small rotary cutters (yes, I can swim with a big cutting mat--it's my hypothetical, so just go with it). Knife-type seam ripper. Scissor-like seam ripper. Sharp snippers. Marking tools. Long pins and really thin and sharp short pins (I like these ones with glass heads: I think they are for quilting). And some WonderTape. And two safety pins. I can survive with just that.

And if I lost the scissor-like seam ripper in a battle with a hungry shark, I'd be okay with that. Same with the marking tools.

Seam gage? Got one, never use it. Turning tools? All worthless. And there's this thing. I don't know what it is or what it does. And I've still sewn many things.

So, what are your must-haves? Am I missing something?

Oh! The measuring tape! I totally spaced that. Left it on the ship. Darn it. Measure thrice, cut once!

Bin neugierig: Hypothetisch bist du auf einem sinkenden Schiff und Zeit hast du um nur ein Handvoll Nähwerkzeug mitzunehmen. Das Schiff sinkt zufälligerweise keine 50 Meter vom Insel Pfaff im Bernina-Archipel von den Husqvarna-Wikingern erst entdeckt worden und dort wachsen die Nähmaschinen. Insofern hast du dort genug Nähmaschinen. Und Stoff und Nähfaden sowieso.

Aber welches Nähzeug nimmst du mit? Ich könnte mit der Schneidematte (ja, ich kann mit einer großen Schneidematte schwimmen: Ist meine hypotethische Frage, also akzeptierst's einfach, gell'?), Rollschneider groß und klein, Messernahttrenner, Scherennahttrenner, Markierstiften, langen und kurzen Stechnadeln, scharfter Fadenschere, einem paar Sicherheitsnadel und WonderTape überleben. Und wenn der Scherennahttrenner beim Kampf mit dem Haifisch verloren geht, ist nicht schlimm. 

Also: Was sind deine Must-Haves? Habe ich etwas vergessen?

Ach! Das Meßband! Habe ich total verschlampt. Am Schiff vergessen. Dreimal messen, einmal zuschneiden!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008


Veterans' Day was declared a holiday in November 1919 by U.S. President Woodrow Wilson, one year to the day that the guns and grenades fell silent. It was originally called Armistice Day. "Armistice" is derived from a couple of Latin words, "arma" and "statium", and basically means an end to fighting. On November 11, 1918, at 11:11 a.m., fighting stopped on the front lines in Belgium between the Allied forces and the German troops. It just stopped.

This is how one survivor, Dr. George L. Barry, who at the time was a 28-year-old surgeon in the 91st Division of the U.S. Army, which on the eve of Nov. 11, 1918, was ordered to the front for a possible move against the Germans, recalled the day:

"Dear Al, This day will go down in history, for at this hour, French time, all hostilities ceased."

Nobody fired a rifle. Nobody lobbed a grenade. Nobody sent off a mortar round.

Maybe it was quiet.

Maybe you could hear the young men in the opposing trenches talking.

The war was over. 20 million casualties, 40 million civilian and military deaths by some of the very gruesomest methods devised. Over. Done with. This was the war that would surely, surely end all wars. Let's go home.

It is probably not a coincidence that 11/11, 11:11 was chosen to stop fighting. Yes, Kaiser Wilhelm abdicated two days earlier, taking with him once and for all the fashion of handle-bar mustaches. But 11/11, 11:11 happens to be the exact moment in that part of Europe, when preparations for Carnivale/Karnival/Fasching/Fastnacht, the pre-Lent time of celebration which culminates on Ash Wednesday, may begin. Only once the clock strikes that eleventh minute past the eleventh hour on this eleventh day of the elventh month, may you begin working on your costume or meet with your Carnivale club or prepare your float for the parade. Not one minute earlier.

The week of Carnivale in Europe, especially in Germany, has another function. It is a week when traditions and routines and biases and conventions are turned on their head. And in doing so, perhaps those traditions, routines, biases and conventions are also put into question. During that week, the formal "Sie" form of address is tossed aside and everyone is suddenly "du", a form normally reserved for only family and close friends. Other times of the year, the move from "Sie" to "du" can almost become an unwritten adoption agreement when you drink a shot of schnapps together with arms linked, called a "Bruderschaft" ("brotherhood"). During Fasching, you may call your boss by his first name, address your grumpy old neighbor like he was your high school chum, perfect strangers, and so forth and so on. This is a big deal: You simply do not call someone by their first name. During my yuppie years, when I was in meetings with Germans and Americans and the languages switched between German and English, while speaking German, the German managers would address each other with their honorific, Herr This, Dr. That, Frau Professor Doktor This and That. And when these same individuals switched to English, they would call those same colleagues Horst, Herman und Hildegardt. Don't ask me: It's a German thing. During Fasching, you are also supposed to lay aside your quarrels and squabbles, at least for that week. Those stodgy Lutherans tossed aside Carnival, because the celebrations do have pagan, pre-Christian origins. Martin Luther also enjoyed a good party any time of the year. Whatever the origins, Christian, pagan or otherwise, I think at some level the people would follow the moon during the coldest times, would look to their fellow villagers and say, well, it's the dead of winter. It's cold and it's difficult. If we're going to make it to spring, we'd better try and get along, at least for a little while.

I can imagine that the French, Belgians and Germans on that battlefield, young, young men who likely hadn't shaved more than a couple of years, were thinking this is really horrible, really difficult. Maybe we can toss these guns and this mustard gas aside. Maybe we can turn convention and prejudice and ambition and blind patriotism and violence on its head. Maybe this minute can be the beginning of the end. Maybe by Carnivale we enemies can be friends. Or maybe not quite friends, but we'll drink a beer together. Maybe we will be able to forgive.

Nic asked us to post something for which we are grateful. My list is long, long, long, long. But I'm just going to just mention forgiveness: for when I have been forgiven, for my own ability to forgive (not perfect, but I'm working on it) and for forgiveness in general. Forgiveness is magic. Really. Forgiveness stopped all war in most of Europe. Forgiveness is a conscious action and must be done with no strings attached. Forgiveness releases the forgiver of the huge burden of resentment and revenge. Ever had that feeling? You just say, "I'm forgiving you" and you feel like a weight has been lifted? "Eye for an eye?" Why that? Now we're both half blind. Forgiveness is freedom, I think.

The Great War soon was rechristened World War I. The war did not end all wars. But it did end. It appears that the military involvement in Iraq has an end almost in sight. Way off, and kind of hazy, but there is an end. I want to wish the families with members of the military a beautiful Veterans' Day. 

Monday, November 10, 2008

Boys will be.

Boys will be boyz.

And still be boys.

Growing up, I liked boys. Boy, did I like boys. And not just like-like, but I really liked their puppy-dog ways. Shirts untucked and stuffing your whole sandwich in your mouth and table top football and burping contests. No, I never wanted to do those things. Yuck. Boys were yucky. But that unabashed yuckiness was fascinating. And frightening. The nerve. Where did they get the nerve? No, really: Where did they get it? I was extremely shy around boys. Anybody or anything that had the nerve to be that--that--that much like a boy must know a secret that allows them to be that way. I wanted to know the secret.

I am now a mother to a boy. I have done my reading, now. The secret, physiologically, has something to do fewer connections between the right and left halves of the brain than girls have. So, in theory, boys are not nervier. Their brains just haven't bounced the message back and forth enough to know what they are doing is silly, socially awkward or even dangerous. And, in the evolutionary scheme of things, there is good reason to not think everything through completely when in spear-throwing distance of a three-ton mastodon. Really, you just need to throw the spear and not think too hard and long on those six-foot-long tusks or if your loin cloth makes your butt look big. 

Today, in practice, in Los Angeles, when several of these 10-and-11-year-old boy creatures are invited to a birthday celebration, it can mean riding around in a stretch Hummer limo to wherever they want to go (like I said: Los Angeles). After rollin' like rock stars, drinking cola from champagne flutes and bustin' out with the dance moves, where do boyz wanna go? They want to go to the park to climb rocks and feed the ducks.

"Let's feed the ducks!"

"YEAH! Let's go feed the ducks!"

How long will this last? This equal fascination with limousines and ducks? I suppose soon enough girls will surpass ducks on the list of interests. And I kind of hope "been there, done that" applies to stretch limousines sooner rather than later.

I still don't know where boys get the nerve. But I'm glad they have it.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Just too cool!

Something somebody in Japan thought up. As far as I can tell. Pretty cool, eh?

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

I've been wrong.

In my life, I've been very wrong.

When I was a teenager, I knew a black exchange student from South Africa, who was living under Apartheid. Her dream was to study medicine and become a pediatrician in her village.

When I was a teenager I met a kid in Berlin, when it was East Berlin. His dream was to someday go to Paris.

At the time, I thought these kids' dreams would be impossible to realize.

I was wrong.

Thank God.

As an adult, I assumed racism was stronger than reason. I thought a black person would never be elected to the Oval Office. As an adult, I assumed xenophobia was stronger than sense. I thought a man with foreign heritage and having lived in a Muslim culture would never hold the highest office in the land.

As of this minute, the election results of only three states are in, but I think I'm wrong again.

What a great day and age I live in.

I also think our habits and ambitions will destroy our environment beyond repair.

I also think sexism is too deeply engrained in our minds for men and women to view each other as equals.

I think status quo, not peace, is the best possible outcome in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

On these and many other points, I'm looking forward to being wrong yet again.

While my head may think one thing, my heart will dream another. And with that, I will borrow a line from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.:
"I say to you today, my friends, so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream."


Sunday, November 2, 2008

Trick or...whatever...

There were years when my mom made my Halloween costume, per my exact wishes, and there were years that I was directed to the closets to create some sort of costume out of whatever I found in there.
We went with Plan B this year.

My boy dressed himself in bubble wrap and called himself Pop Rocks.

I was the Queen Bee (Honey, it's not easy being queen).

And a lesson in the economic theory of value, namely willingness to pay: One Heath Bar has a market value of one Lemon Heads, one Twizzler, one Sour Patch and one Whoppers. Admittedly, it is a very small market, just Jack and Anna, but a market nonetheless. And Anna drives a very hard bargain.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Goals for girls

Photo: M. Gallian

My girl had a real opportunity. Through sort of luck of the draw, her AYSO Girl's Under 8 team was selected to play a soccer game on the LA Galaxy field. The real deal. She hath trod where David Beckham not fifteen minutes earlier hath trod. For a full two halves, right after the game against Dallas on Sunday. She was tickled pink (and her brother green with envy).

But here's the thing: The other team selected at random was an Under 8 Boy's team.


As much as we might not have wanted this to become one, this was, at some level a Battle of the Sexes.

Is it nature or nurture? Something of both, I suppose. Nonetheless, boys compared to girls, generally, are stronger and faster. There is some research to support the notion that boys are more aggressive, as the pleasure centers in the brain will light up when taking risks. Which is just the way things are. And after all this time, these facts are still the kernel of plot, the dramatic arc, and the punch line in popular culture, because it is just so extraordinary, should a girl better a boy in an athletic undertaking. My fear was that my girl's team would get crushed. Just hammered. And not on some school ground soccer field, but at the Home Depot Stadium. In front of lots of spectators. Could I rely on the other team's coach to go easy if the game proved lopsided? And if, would the boys then listen? This is the LA Galaxy field. Who at 7 years old wouldn't want to win a game on this field? And win by a lot?

So what happened was this: The boys' team ticked off three goals pretty quickly. Most of the girls' were still pretty happy to be playing--goals shmoals--but two or three our girls were feeling a bit overwhelmed. The field the kids were playing on was sort of an ill-defined area on half of the Home Depot Center field. This area was much, much wider than any U8 field. In fact, this playing area was wider than it was deep, goal to goal. So what our girls' coaches did at this time was to stand along an approximate sideline, and if the ball were to journey too far beyond this imaginary line, they would chip it high back into the playing area. And this had the effect of taking possession away from the boys' team. So technically, the girls' coaches were interfering in the play of the game. I get that.

But, boys' parents, did you have to boo?

You boo'd.

And did you have to hiss?

You hissed.

And did you have to yell things like "Push her!" and "Kick him (the coach) in the shin!"? You must have seen me with my camcorder. It's a pretty good camcorder: I have it all the audio recorded. For all the respect I pay to the FIFA laws, isn't there some code of decency that says you never, ever boo for any reason ever around 7-year-olds playing soccer? Maybe, just maybe, one of those kids thought you were booing him or her. Think about it.

And here's the other thing: It was the boys' mothers booing and hissing. Not that I expected some sort of gender solidarity, exactly, but perhaps a bit of quiet sympathy for the situation? Maybe, just maybe, a goal is not the only goal for which to strive here.

There were flaws in the situation. Maybe the field should have been better defined. Maybe two teams of the same gender should have been playing. Maybe emotions were running a little high because of the excitement and it was warm that afternoon. There is a lot we could pin on a flawed situation. But still, still I don't see any reason to boo. None whatsoever. Your team won, even.

What will the girls take away from this game? Frankly, the girls played pretty well. They were nervous and some basic soccer principles escaped them. There was quite a bit of bunch ball. But Kaitlyn got in a break-away goal. And Samantha scored a goal right past three pairs of opposing team legs. And, Anna, for one, was excited beginning to end. She is not much of a player, but she was in there. She still refuses to take off the coveted yellow wrist band, which says "Play on field", allowing her to skip past security and right onto the field. And skip she did!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Make or Buy? Well, still buying...

This time some posters for the Annatorium. Vintage 60s from Ebay. Bright colors and trippy hippie sayings. Supposedly this artist worked in the studio of Charles and Ray Eames. So there's valuable provenance. Or something like it. Or I'll just believe anything an Ebay seller tells me. That's probably more like it. Well, I like them. And so does the girl who gets right in the middle of her big brother's soccer practice. You would have never caught me running in the middle of a bunch of older boys playing soccer. In a skirt no less. That girl.

Make or buy? Noch am Kaufen. Diesmal Poster für das Annatorium (Annas Zimmer). Von Ebay aus den Sechsigern. Bunte Farben und abgefahrene Hippie-Ausdrücke. Angeblich soll die Künstlerin im Atelier von Charles und Ray Eames gearbeitet haben. Oder 'was ähnliches. Oder ich glaube einfach alles, das der Ebayerkäufer mir erzählt. Dies ist eher die Wahrheit. Auf jeden Fall mag ich sie. Und das Mädchen, das mitten im Fußballtraining des älteren Bruders dabei ist--im Rock sogar--mag sie. In dem Alter hättest Du mich nie nie niemals mitten 10- und 11-jährigen Jungs beim Sport herumtoben gesehen. Dieses Mädchen.

And this/Und dies...

Minilogue - Animals from ljudbilden on Vimeo.

Just for fun!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Make? Or Buy?

Make! Of course. But Buy is good, too. Especially when it's this good.

I wear hats. Daily. I don't wear hats to be fabulous. I'd much prefer not to be fabulous. I wear hats, because I live in a very sunny place and I am outside as much as I possibly can be. Hats are practical. I wear them for practicality only. But I won't wear a stupid hat. I refuse to be stupid-looking. Therefore, if my hats must be fabulous, then being fabulous is the cross I must bear.

These hats are fabulous. Some of the best hats I've ever had. For so many reasons. And I have had some fabulous hats. These designs can be worn so many ways, each more fabulous than the other. Have a look at this Etsy store. Possible side effects include admiring glances and too much fabulousness for the less-than-fabulous to tolerate.

Make? Or buy? Selbermachen, natürlich. Wobei Kaufen auch nicht schlecht ist. Vor allem wenn die Sachen so schön sind.

Ich trage Hüte. Täglich. Ich trage Hüte nicht um fabelhaft zu sein. Nein: Ich möchte lieber nicht fabelhaft sein. Ich trage Hüte, weil ich in einer sehr sonnigen Gegend wohne und sooft wie möglich auch draußen bin. Aus rein praktischen Gründen trage frau Hut. Aber doofe Hüte setze ich nicht auf. Nein: Doofaussehend werde ich nicht sein. Von daher, wenn meine Hüte fabelhaft sein müssen, dann fabelhaft sein ist das Kreuz, das ich zu tragen habe.

Diese Hüte sind fabelhaft. Einige der besten, die ich jemals gehabt habe. Und ich habe sehr schöne gehabt. Diese Designs können auf sovielen verschiedenen Arten getragen werden, jedesmal anders und jedesmal noch fabelhafter. Hier das Etsy-Shop. Mögliche Nebenwirkungen sind neidische Blicke und Untoleranz seits der wenigen Fabelhaften.

And a bit of gloating. I like my funny cast iron gingerbread man maker thing. It looks pretty old. But maybe it was in the 2004 Williams Sonoma catalog. Who knows? And I did catch this gingerbread man much more easily than expected. Really, much more easily than I should have. Winning Ebay bid: $1.04.  Well, maybe the other people on Ebay know something I don't: Maybe my gingerbread men will run away.

Und nun freue ich mich leider ein wenig hämisch. Diese alte gußeiserne Backform habe ich für schlappe $1.04 auf Ebay gewonnen. Vielleicht wussten die anderen Ebayer etwas: Vielleicht doch laufen mir diese Männchen vom Backofen dann weg.

Und ein Appell: Wer hat einen vernünftigen Lebkuchenrezept?


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