Busy As The Bees

Product development is ongoing at Ms. SpoolTeacher’s house every day.

These yo-yo’s someday want to be a quilt like the one below this image. Someday to be a Yo-Yo Quilt


Image: NewVintageOldSkins on Etsy

These twills and corduroys someday want to be a patchwork purse with fringe…

twills and corduroys

seams as fringe

…with these as inspiration:

image from Barbara Vaughn’s Etsy shop:bvaughanhandbags

image from Barbara Vaughn’s Etsy shop: https://www.etsy.com/shop/bvaughanhandbags

View on: honeybeepollen on Etsy

View on: honeybeepollen on Etsy

Lately she got hooked on T-shirt yarn and got carried away making things…

how to make t-shirt yarn graphic

Where did she get this image?  She’s like to give credit where credit is due.

The first step is to cut off the hems and the top, under the sleeves. Save those though. The tops can be cut for strips and the hems used for other projects.

product development, making t-shirt yarn, tarn

The collection of hems from the rolls below

There is one step missing in the graphic above…stretching it after it is cut. It curls in on itself and gets much longer. There are lots of things to do with just the un-pulled fabric as well; but for yarn, seems best to stretch.

T-shirt yarn, tarn, pulled to stretch and elongate

The turquoise failed to turn in on itself and was used for a project you will see below.

Here is the pile she started with. All from shirts she had on hand and planned not to wear any longer.

collection of t-shirt yarn, tarn, rolls

This was her first project using the “Tarn”. You can see the details here:“Throwing a Tarn Bowl”, (though it is more of a basket).

Wabi-sabi tarn bowl, 21st century, thrown on an "artists" lap

Wabi-sabi tarn bowl, 21st century, with handles and a touch of purple


Wabi-sabi tarn bowl, 21st century, thrown on an "artists" lap

Bottom up!

Wabi-sabi tarn bowl, 21st century, with handles and a touch of purple

Strings have since been woven in.

And then she started braiding….
Braided rug fom t-shirt yarn.

…and braiding,

T-shirt yarn, tarn, braided for a rug

  and braiding…

T-shirt yarn, tarn, braided for a rug

She will try to post a tutorial of sorts to describe how efficient she got at braiding with rolls. The best rugs are made with “continuous-cut” tarn/yarn that is then rolled into balls, but the braid gets tangled if you don’t have a technique. And then when you do run out of the longest strips, there is a great way to splice a new run in.

There are several ways she has seen others splice pieces; but by far, the best way she has seen is to do it like it is done with bias tape. Click this picture to go to a how-to if you like. It’s for bias tape, but use the same method for the tarn.

Be sure to put the right sides (the original right side of the t-shirt) of “tarn” together when doing this as you want the seam to be inside the curling of the t-shirt yarn.

She did this herself and it worked like a charm; no lumps, bumps or knots (though that could be a design decision and even desirable, you be the judge).

As for how she braids…she can’t figure out how to tell you so that it will make sense, so maybe someday a video. Don’t hold your breath.

The main gist is to pick one ball to be the one to pull through the other two strands every two laps. Otherwise, you get a second braid forming below and it’s a tangled mess. If you get in a rhythm, it goes like the wind.

Lots of sellers on Etsy are stitching the braids together with zig-zag stitches on their machines. Ms. SpoolTeacher thinks they look nice this way. She hasn’t mastered (let alone even tried) this technique yet. She keeps hoping the braid will sew itself together.

Meanwhile she surfed the internet looking for that tutorial for joining the ends, didn’t find it, but found this Adirondack lady, Helen Condon, who makes some awesome rag rugs the old fashioned way. You can view a video of her working here. There is nothing like authentic craft, but Ms. SpoolTeacher likes modern adaptations as well… as seen here in a rug that inspires her:

For the old fashioned, lacing way of doing it, here is a great tutorial video, (Poor quality video, but useful for the information).

So as for that darned piece of t-shirt yarn that would not curl….she just used it as it was and imbedded it within this cotton macrame cord and made a few rows in single crochet with it as well as she went along. Pretty pretty, eh?

100% cotton macrame cord and t-shirt yarn crochet basket

100% cotton macrame cord and t-shirt yarn crochet basket

100% cotton macrame cord and t-shirt yarn crochet basket

There just aren’t enough hours in a day to do all the wonderful things she wants to do. She doesn’t understand how anyone gets bored.

She stays as busy as the bees…

busy as the bees

they say bees like green water…check out this blog: http://citybees.blogspot.com/2010/03/spring-bees-slurp-algae-and-forsythia.html


Sew Much To Do

Sew, it’s either feast or famine.

For about a month, there was a slight panic that enough work wouldn’t come in for her to keep her utilities turned on or the computer running.

She knows better than to worry. Her needs are always met. Manna from Heaven, don’t ya know?

Suddenly there were people coming two by two with arm loads of things to be hemmed, nipped and tucked, collared up.

ss.sewmuchtodo 013

Twelve pair of jeans to be shortened a few inches. She made an afternoon and into the late evening, assembly-line event out of this “fun” chore…

  1. Measure and cut X12, √
  2. Finish raw edges with special cam stitch X12, √ (since she doesn’t have a serger and believes in using what she has with a little ingenuity, √)
  3. Change bobbin and thread to black for X5, √
  4. Fold up 5/8″, stitch line 1/2″ X5, √
  5. Re-thread bobbin half way thru X5, √
  6. Change bobbin to gold, thread to blue for X7, √
  7. Repeat line 4 X7, √
  8. Lay down and collapse with stressed out shoulders X2, √ (with pride for a job well done, √)

ss.sewmuchtodo 008

She asked Client if she wanted a double hem or if it would be acceptable to finish edge and turn over once?

Unless you have an industrial strength machine, it is near impossible to get even a heavy duty needle through that lump that is 3 layers of “flat-felled seams” sewn over. She does do them this way but adds extra time/$labor to the job to clip and trim seam (in inconspicuous ways) and do some fancy footwork to get her machine to make it through the bump that is by that time reduced a little. ss.sewmuchtodo 007

A true flat-felled seam can be made on a home sewing machine. It is done by special machines in industrial settings. True flat-felled seam

Industrial machine and flat-felled seams

Industrial strength machines can make it easier at home, but an alternative mock flat-felled seam is more commonly done when sewing for fun.

ss.sewmuchtodo 009

And Ms. SpoolTeacher saves all the cut off scraps for….???… something. Did she ever tell you she is a Pack Rat?

ss.sewmuchtodo 010

X2 Sous-Chef uniforms snap heads replaced, √
X2 for same client, Sous-Chef uniform sleeves shortened and later the lengths overall shortened also, √

ss.sewmuchtodo 012

Hems, loops, take-ups, take-ins, X1, X1, X2, X2, future √

ss.sewmuchtodo 002

Old favorite work clothes, some of which she has already put patches on, to have new patches put over the old ones and some other things done…like to “collar up” an old shirt whereby the existing collar is hanging on by strings of threads. sew much to do
(see how she did this here)… another future √ (the picture is from his last batch of which he was very, very happy with the results).

Sew, so now she is a bit oversewhelmed! But grateful and glad it isn’t Cleaning Lady duties. (happy face) (she likes being home with the puppies) (they like it too). She’ll take those too though, Cleaning Lady duties. She’s Ms. Jackie of all Trades don’t ya know!

Today was Driving Ms. Margie day and that is always a reprieve. Ms. Margie likes to go to lunch after and talk like friends for awhile. It doesn’t feel like work at all, but she insists on paying and even for lunch.

And then Ms. SpoolTeacher brought Ms. Margie’s new Wally World cell phone home to have her number ported….cuz how can they possibly expect 90 year old lovely ladies to go through all those silly gyrations?

……    ……     …….. z z z z, trolling, trolling, coffee, ……   !!!!!! X#@$ !!!!

……, about two hours into the phone conversation, Ms. ST said, “Do you have a supervisor?” Then she said to the supervisor, “Do you have a supervisor?” And then she said, “Can you transfer me to the refund department?”……For some reason that girl didn’t need to put in an order for a system check for a 24-48 hour follow-up return phone call to explain why the port wouldn’t go through. By the time Ms. SpoolTeacher got Ms. Margie’s phone charged and back to her, voila! the number had been ported!!!

Oh, the power of “do you have a refund department?!”

It’s either feast or famine, and always Sew Much To Do either way.

Thanks Giving


“No Christmas until after Thanksgiving”, is a common refrain when the stores first start putting the displays out even as they put up fall and Halloween. But at the first signs of chill, we all start anticipating our family gatherings for Thanksgiving and soon thereafter, Christmas. The first chills after a nice long hot summer make us all want to blanket up and start the fireplaces.

Ms. SpoolTeacher is trying to make her way “off the grid” so she can accomplish her goals to live simply, live with less, make do with the least of things and have more time, not exchanging her labor for money but using her labor to effect the changes in the world she hopes to see. At the least she wants to make the changes in her own life that will reflect the values she holds, organic food grown by herself, time spent studying things that will broaden her perspective, studying nutrition and health so as to avoid the pharmaceutical fiasco, spending time loving other people and building relationships, sewing, caring for her animals, keeping her own house up.

Little Red-Haired Girl and Gertis The Mertis TurtleSo instead of running expensive utilities for heat, she just piles on more clothes. She has done this now for several years, and it is doable. A little uncomfortable, but doable.

She resents that prices keep going up on everything. Especially insurances.

She thought lately about dumping cars and getting her bicycle in gear to make her rounds about town for the essentials of her life…

But, just yesterday, one of her elder clients who hires her for housekeeping, had gotten so ill he was taken to emergency for what turned out to be pneumonia, again. He had called her up to make his bed with new sheets. When she first saw him he was grizzly with an unshaven face and mussy hair. He was laboring to breath. She patted him on his skinny little arm and said, “You feel so bad, you haven’t even shaved?” To which he replied, very slowly and labored, “I feel so bad, I couldn’t even take a shower.”

Levon HelmHe’s a handsome man, looks a little like one of her favorite actors/musicians of all time, Levon Helm but with much whiter hair.

While she was scuttling about making the bed, another friend came in and together they decided that he should go to emergency hospital. She finished her chore and left just ahead of the two of them.

It wasn’t much later that Mr. Frail Client called her, “I hate to ask you to do this, but I’m waiting for them to give me a shower. Could you bring up a pair of shorts and a T-shirt?

“Of course”, she responded. He gave her detailed descriptions of where to find and what to bring. She would need her car for that.

She no sooner got home from doing that when he called and said, “I’m sorry to bother you again, but I should have thought, I will need a pair of pajama bottoms too.”

Well, she would get one thing to him and he would think of two or three other things he had forgotten… brush, deodorant, razor; steak in the fridge that needed to be cut and frozen for when he came home; sleeping pills and more shorts and T’s for the days he anticipated staying.

She must have made five or six trips. “I’ll catch up with you for money when I get home, is that okay?”

“Of course”, she said as she thought of how she gets to be too friendly with her clients and hates to even charge them for things she does for the love of them. But she knows they love her also and want to keep her going and handy and wouldn’t think of not paying her.

But she sure did need her car for all that. So the insurance that she just changed, probably two months ago because of rate changes, has gone up now too. She sure would like to dump it. She hates (strong word but accurate), hates, hates insurance. It’s a racket and completely unfair to consumers. She thinks regulations aren’t strict enough. She’s assured by seemingly everyone that “that is Capitalism at work”. Where’s the competition if the only competition is a tiny discount to get one moved over and then two months later they raise it to “allowable increases” at the first opportunity? Maybe she'll get a Harley and ride off into the sunset

Well, she will get rid of car (or maybe she’ll get a Harley and ride off into the sunset with Old Harley-Davidson-Riding Boyfriend) as soon as she can find the right things to make with her abundance of resources (of which she wants to rid herself) and is able to sell them on Etsy or at a fair or some such way.

And she wants to write a book. Those are all things she can do without a car.

Car is dying anyway and that would require more labor for wages and a trap she could never get out of if she started that cycle again.

She marches on.

So she is giving thanks for all the things she does have that make it possible for her to keep on living the life of which she has become accustomed; off the grid, simple. Great friends, Old Harley-Davidson-Riding Boyfriend, (who came to visit lately and took her for a day of fun), family, pets and God.

Thank you God for everything.

Thanks Giving. It’s a good practice to keep everyday, don’t ya think?

Hot Pink, Fairy Zinnias and Christmas Candy Bar Stockings

Red Gingham

For the love of anything red gingham or Red Gingham Calms Her Like Yoga

It hadn’t turned cold yet. Ms. SpoolTeacher wanted to go out and do some work to make her summer liter-strewn yard look a little more presentable for the clients who show up for mending and alterations.

As often she does, she grabbed whatever “felt” good to her at the moment to wear.

She happened to have on a pair of hot pink tights she’d cut the feet off of (because she can’t stand the pressure of anything bearing on her toes or her feet feeling confined). She had been to church that morning and had started out to wear an ensemble that they accented. She had decided not to wear that outfit, had put long pants on instead and didn’t want to bother to take the pink tights off so wore them under the pants. She didn’t bother to take them off when she got home either so just pulled the red gingham overalls over them. She had on a hot pink long-sleeved T-shirt as well. When her friend showed up later he exclaimed, “Woah, wow…shades of Marilyn Manson, I mean Monroe!”.

Red Gingham bombshell kinds of thingsShe took it as a compliment and went on raking.

She had already previously corralled things into heaps of decaying debris for compost but was letting leaves dry so they would more easily fall from the branches and stems.

Gertis The Mertis Turtle Branches, sticks and debris Branches, sticks and debris, Compost debrisThis day Gertis the Mertis Turtle was helping as much as she could, (following Ms. SpoolTeacher around keeping her company).

She got finished with as much as she could do for that day. Now she needs to turn the compost heaps and add the debris she has corralled and shaken, stomped, rubbed off the branches and stems to what already exists and hope it’s ready for next spring. Leaves haven’t fallen quite yet, so there will be much more to add as fall continues. Most of what she corralled this day was from a giant branch that had fallen from a tree. It fell on the patio roof and was still attached at the crotch til friend came with chainsaw and finished “felling” it. Now she will need to hand saw the bigger branches into firewood size pieces. She has a chainsaw, but likes the exercise and the lack of noise and not using fossil fuel. Simplicity. Doing with the least of things. Minimalism.

Vintage Christmas Stocking Pattern

The last she mentioned in her Gingerbread-aholic post, she was on her way to making some Christmas “candy bar” Stockings. Well, she’s been working on them and isn’t so sure she’s gonna bother to go very far. Sewing is a very laborious task and very hard to ask for enough to make the time spent pay for itself. She’s been ironing the bugs out to start; making a pattern she likes, getting it sized right and curves that please her eyes, testing techniques for adding embellishments and finishing treatments (hiding seams, raw edges and such).

ss.christmascandybarstockings 022ss.christmascandybarstockings 025Fronts and backs. Size about seven inches long, just enough for a large candy bar.

Which one do you like the best?

She found a vintage item on Etsy and used it as a “model” to sketch her idea.

Vintage Christmas Stocking PatternIt’s a lot more work than she thought and she’s not sure she likes the results. The one from her childhood mentioned in last post was felt, seamed on the outside with pinked edges and glued on glitter in her initial. But she wants so to find a good use for all her millions of fabric sample swatches from Designer days of old.

Her favorite thing is to be out in the sun, digging in the dirt. Maybe she’ll take her sewing outside…maybe not.

Hot Pink Fairy Sister Zinnia

The Hot Pink Zinnia that volunteered in her back yard she thinks was a seed her Fairy Sister flew over from the front yard to under her clothes line and planted to remind her that she isn’t so far away after all. (Her sister passed not long ago). It’s still there after all the ones in the front have expired! Hot pink was her favorite color!

Hot Pink Fairy Zinnias. She loves zinnias. Wasn’t that sweet of her sister to do?


Gingerbread House

(/\ photo belongs to http://www.brianvandenbrink.com/A)

Gingerbread-aholic, that’s what she is. She has a hard time editing. She likes to put lots of detail in anything she does. Especially sewing as it is an opportunity to “apply” (i.e., applique) more of her acquired repertoire of skills, techniques, and abilities.

It shows up in everything she does.


Hand-painted Checkered Floor treatment

Not Your Mothers Smock

Not Your Mothers Smock

Egyptian Cotton Pillowcase Curtain

Egyptian Cotton Pillowcase Curtain

So it’s very hard to believe that she is all about minimalism, scaling down, doing with the least of things, doing with what she already has. The problem there is that she has a lot. A lot, lot, lot. Big Lots! Of course she is “still not 60” and has had a hoarding ability handed down by her mother who threw away/parted with not very much, so she has had lots of time to “collect”.

She thinks that the reason why her house always ends up congested is because that is the comfort she brought from childhood.

When she was little, as has been told here before, she lived in a very small 30 x 30 “cracker-box” (her mother called it) house. As the years progressed and the three little girls grew up, the more they accumulated the more furniture went into a room. She lived there until she was 13 with wall to wall, floor to ceiling stacked furniture, every drawer or cubby filled to the max.

So now as she edits things out and starts to believe she is on her way to minimalism, she realizes she is bored with nothing to look at.

She’s an analyzer. An introvert who likes to think, think, think. She likes to have something to think about and for her eyes to fix on for inspiration of what next to think about.


But she is trying very hard to get to her desired goal of minimalist living. She really wants not to have so much stuff. Indigenous people wonder why industrial societies need so much “cargo”, they call it. And that’s just what it feels like.

But, she still likes gingerbread, the cookies and the look, and little Gingy of course.

“Not the gumdrop buttons!”

So today, she is going to be making some little Christmas Stockings big enough to put just a candy bar in, like what one of her “Room Mothers” made and gave all of the class for a Christmas treat when she was in elementary school. Yes, she still has it. It had a Milky Way bar in it. It made a big, big impression on her little thinking mind. Now all these years later, she will use it as a pattern and try not to Gingerbread-aholic it up too much.

She will be using her stock of fabric sample books for curtain making/upholstery from days gone by when she did that kind of stuff as well as other things from her stash of goodies.

Does she have you waiting With Bated Breath to she what she comes up with?

Check back soon for the results. Or check out her Etsy shop and “Favorite” it to see them as soon as they are posted. (heart)

Update: currently at her shop on Etsy. (get while they are available!)

Christmas,candy bar,stockings,approx 8.5",upcycled,designer, fabric,swatches,trimmed,novelty,glasses case,gift card,candy bar, trinket

click on picture to go to Etsy shop

That Darned Mouse

Mouse in the houseMs. SpoolTeacher had a mouse tormenting her in her kitchen. She even dragged her one-burner-left stove outside thinking she was dragging Mouse out with it. She saw his/her little beady eyes look out from under the stove as she was dragging it out but she kicked it (the stove) and hoped s/he hopped back up inside…well, not so.

Mouse and his/her little beady eyes had stared her down one day from under the toaster oven sitting on the cabinet beside her while she was typing, and that was it. As soon as eye contact was made, they were simpatico (on the same wave length, agreeable). She told him in her silent mind, “Don’t run across my feet or across my table while I’m typing and I won’t feel the urgency to pummel you with my life-saving plunger weapon.”

So, she found humane traps that could be baited with peanut butter and set them in places she knew Mouse had been or liked to store/hoard pieces of garlic, sunflower seeds, peanuts (of which she will never leave out on counters again).

ss.Mouse.trapShe didn’t think it was gonna work; but one day she heard a funny scraping sound and sure enough, Mouse had fallen for the trap and was anxiously trying to pry down the metal trap door. It was late one night and she didn’t want to go out in slippers and night clothes to find a field to release Mouse in, so she hoped s/he would be okay til morning. She felt horrible about leaving him/her in that little box all night, but outside her kitchen door just wasn’t far enough away to not think s/he would find his/her way back to his favorite haunts.

Next morning, she came out right away to check on Mouse. She picked up the trap, and Mouse moved so that s/he was straddled all fours reaching out to the edges of the box so s/he wouldn’t slide. She took Mouse in-the-box over to Sister’s empty house thinking she would release Mouse to go out into the giant field behind her lot. She slid the cover to the box back and Mouse turned back to look up at her with his/her peanut-butter infused/spiked fur with his/her beady little eyes and said, “I was happy at your house, why are you doing this to me? I thought we were simpatico?”, and ran right over to Sister’s neighbors back yard which was full of hoarded things. A perfect place to hide from their big bad dog.

Ms. SpoolTeacher thinks there is a story brewing about Mouse and his/her adventures. She has way too many things brewing, but it’s fun to think about.

So, Mouse set her in action to revamp her house again. Her sewing room was not a happy place to be anymore because it is her extra (small) bedroom and she had taken EVERYTHING to do with sewing in there. It was overflowing and it was all she could do to make herself sew with it like that.

And, sewing is kinda her thing, (as well as painting odd colors all over her house to see if she likes them).

Mouse made her do itMouse made her do itAnd for some reason, her camera is failing to cooperate now. Time to check her lotto numbers…

So Ms. SpoolTeacher is once again Peripatetic Designing her house to accommodate her ever changing needs. She’s trying to get every little or big thing that isn’t absolutely necessary to her priority agenda-at-hand out, out, out of the house again and into her “holding” garage-that-wants to-be-a-studio. It’s a daunting task, but for the last week, she has had little other (paying) work to do and thinks God in His abundant wisdom arranged it that way so she could spend significant blocks of uninterrupted time putting “her house in order” for the wonderful things He has planned for her to do. She’s sure of it.

Mouse made her do it

She’s made great strides toward making it a guest/sitting room. ss.peripatetic.designer.clutterbusting-abundancemanagement

She’s really hoping That Darned Mouse didn’t leave her a family to contend with….

That Darned Mouse