Friday, May 22, 2009

The Sewing Machine

It started when I was invited to join a stitch'n'bitch group that two of my fellow Gateway Antarcticans were part of. So I biked out that Wednesday night with my little basket of knitting and felting, and found my way to a cosy house with tea and treats. There I met Fenela and Louise (Ursula and Briar being the ones who invited me). Mostly the others quilt. Quilting is a pastime I've always told myself I will take up when I'm old and have time (that's what happens doesn't it; as you age you have more time on your hands?!). That first night, I worked on my knitting and watched as various squares of beautiful fabric came together.

The following week was hosted at someone elses house, with different treats and tea, but all the same lovely fabric overflowing from bags and baskets. I spent more time asking about how to hand sew and choose fabrics and patterns. The weekly meetings encouraged me to finish more projects than I'd ever even dreamed of, but it also expanded my creative desires, much to Stephen's chagrin as more and more wool, fabric, beads, paper, and all their requesit tools filled our little space. This all came to a head when last Sunday I took a much desired trip to Riccarton Market (without Stephen).

I went there with only a certain amount of cash. This is a must when attending any sort of market (much like setting a limit before going to an auction). I gathered all the vegetables and fruit I knew we needed, then set to with the remaining cash to find what sort of deals I could find to feed my growing crafting urges. A beautiful porcelaine bowl here, some heavy silver cutlery there, a variety of frames for the collection of Yukon art cards I'd brought from home, and always, on the back of my mind a good deal on a sewing machine to replace the one we left behind in Whitehorse.

And there it was. A gorgeous old Singer. Gold flower design handpainted onto it's slender body resting amongst an assortment of antique wooden furniture and worn tapestries. I inquire off-handedly as to the cost of the "old sewing machine" and choke on the answer, 100$. Okay, so maybe that's not all that much, but it's certainly more than I had left in my pocket. So, it was one more lingering glance and goodbye. I wove amongst the hundreds of other market goers looking for deals.

Some ten stalls later, I chance a glance of another, somewhat less antique machine. This time I use more surreptitious techiniques and scan for a price tag, 85$. Not much better and certainly not within my budget. Things are not looking good, as I've done my once over of the market and can't remember seeing any other machines.

Winding my way through the stalls, I make towards the exit. Stopping at a stall held by several women to pick up a little glass vase. Making my way to the table I literally stumble over my prize. An unassuming wooden tubular box sits on the ground amongst some cardboard boxes of kids toys. I carefully peel back the cover, underneath sits a dusty, grimy, glowing, regal Singer sewing machine. I quickly move to the table and ask for its price. The lady looks at it and back to me, "How does 30$ sound?". Done!

Then of course I realize I have a bulging backpack on, I'm carrying two overlaoded bags of goods, I'm 45 minutes from home, and on my bike. Hmmmm. I ask casually where the lady lives. On the other side of town from me. Not much better from here. I tell her where I live, she's not planning a trip in that direction any time soon. But she does work only 10 blocks from there and she'll bring it in on Tuesday. Hooraahh! So I pass over my money, load the machine into her car and head off singing.

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It's Tuesday and it's raining. Pouring. Hailing. I'm not leaving the house.

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Wednesday, See Tuesday.

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Thursday, not much better than Wednesday or Tuesday, but I'm tired of waiting. I haed out on my bike, loaded with as many bungee cords as I can muster (4 - hey, they're harder than sheep, especially with no mustering dog to help; believe me, the cat does not even approach helpfulness on this front). I arrive at the office without much fuss and find the machine sitting on the desk waiting for me. A nice lady helps me with the door and wishes me luck with the rain and the bike home. I trundle outside, muttering about the rain and work at somehow attaching a 30lb. piece of machinery to the back of my bike.

Just as I struggle with the last of the cords I notice a distinct lack of increasing wetness. In fact the rain has not only stopped, the sun has come out (partly). I slap on my helmet, meet up with Stephen (who stopped on his way home from school to help with the expected terror of a trip home), and carefully bike home. And now, the Singer sits on the dining room table (when in use), whirring happily away on my basic projects (like seaming). The excitement now lies in figuring out what all the various sewing 'heads' that came with it do (there are some pretty complicated looking ones) and how to convince the other stitchers to come to my cramped quarters and teach me how to use them for quilting. . .PhD?! What's that?


  1. It pays to wander through markets I guess. However, as I am not really old yet I do not have the time to spend on such extravagent expeditions.
    The boat is going into Schwatka Lake tomorrow to see if it will run, then I commute across the lake to Alpine Aviation and fly to Lindeman for the day.