Puns N Needles

Dispatches from my adventures: sewing, knitting, and otherwise.

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Sewing out of necessity

Some time ago, when my husband and I were bed shopping, we decided to get one with drawers underneath and also eliminate a dresser from our bedroom. When we did that, we also re-organized our clothes and found some to give away, donate, turn into rags, etc. I have more clothes than I need and am aiming to not let my closets get out of control. This downsizing included some things I’ve made for myself, like a blouse that never fit well and was made from a strange fabric that I never liked. If I’m not going to wear it, I shouldn’t keep it.

I turned my sewing room into a disaster area with my Christmas presents sewing. Having a tight deadline (leaving for holiday travel on the 20th) will do that to a person. I spent much of my time after the holiday catching up with other projects and trying to fully shake the pre-Christmas cold that struck on the 19th. The only reason I entered the sewing room was to put something away or find a knitting needle. I so dreaded the mess that I couldn’t even get excited about starting a new project. Does that happen to you?

Panorama of the room

Panorama of the room

In Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains, the snow had started to fall on Friday morning, and didn’t really stop until Saturday evening. I had all of Friday (snow day!) and Saturday to catch up on other projects and bake lots and make two pots of soup. With all that out of the way, I braved my sewing room. My goal was to get things put away and cleaned up enough that I could start a new project—next weekend or next snow day I can finish dealing with the odds and ends. I sat down to my sewing machine and realized the snow’s glare was going to give me a headache. I needed curtains.

New curtains keep out the bright winter sun

New curtains keep out the bright winter sun

I’ve needed curtains for, well, a long time. The room became my sewing room four years ago and while I slapped together some panels for the street-facing windows, the large window facing the neighbor’s yard remained decorated only with a valance (leftover from the last place I lived). I bought the fabric (two choices!) in May. I figured out my measurements, cut the fabric and found something for lining, and had the curtains on the curtain rods in a couple hours. It’s wonderful!

If I continue to sew out of necessity, my next project should be trousers. But we’ll see…

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Another mystery

For Christmas, I bought my husband two CDs. Because he’s kind of old school, even though he usually listens to music on an iPod, he likes to own actual CDs rather than digital files. There is a difference between owning a group of 15 or so songs on a disc and paying for access to the music, you know. We don’t have a music store in our small town and actually, besides chain stores like Walmart or Barnes and Noble, I don’t know where the close music stores are. So before Christmas, I ordered from amoebamusic.com, an independent music store that provides free shipping.

I hid the two CDs, packed them into my suitcase and wrapped them at my brother-in-law’s house, where we spent Christmas, and the Machinist was pleased with his gift: The Steep Canyon Rangers’ “Radio,” and Joan Shelley’s “Over & Eden.” We saw the Rangers play at Lime Kiln, a really cool outdoor venue close to home, and though I knew nothing about Joan Shelly, she was recommended by Amoeba and, as I learned, NPR. I found a couple clips online and it sounded like my husband’s kind of music—melodic female vocals with country leanings— so I clicked buy.

At some point he popped the Rangers CD into the CD player and it sounded nice but more churchy than I remembered from the Lime Kiln show. I looked at the liner notes and saw the various musicians’ names, which didn’t seem to correspond to what I was hearing, but what did I know… One morning after getting home from Christmas, the Machinist popped in the Joan Shelley CD while we were making breakfast and cleaning the house. Pretty female vocals, but I had to wonder, “I didn’t think Joan Shelley’s stuff would sound like gospel.”

The Machinist said he wanted to get some more Steep Canyon Rangers, because he really liked what we heard in the concert. But, he said, he didn’t care for most of the Joan Shelley CD. A few days later, when we got a new Netflix disc in the mail, I opened the DVD player to take Joan Shelley out. Imagine my great surprise when this is what I found:


Steep Canyon Rangers “Radio” case with Joey+Rory “Inspired:Songs of Faith & Family” CD (Gaither Gospel series).

The Machinist came in and I showed him all the evidence: two CDs, two cases, one sleeve. I’m glad to know that the gospel sounds were coming from an imposter CD, and Amoeba Music is going to check into this and (I hope) send on the correct CD.

What will the next mystery be?

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Worth the (6-month) wait

It arrived!

Seeing this sweet baby snuggled into the sweater I made—that I thought for sure would be too small for her once it finally arrived—and sitting on the quilt I sewed makes me almost giddy. She was mostly sleeping when I met her in August and I can see she is turning into an incredible little person.

The saga of how the package made three trips across the country has a couple interesting parts that I want to share in conclusion to the previous post.

  • Rural post offices—My post office is in an old wood building that looks like a small train depot. I think there are one or two delivery people and one clerk that service us, and the post office is open weekdays from 9-1 and 2-4 as well as Saturdays from 9-noon. Because of the USPS budget, the possibility that this location will close is real. For that, I like to patronize it when I can, and that usually means Saturday trips to the PO. My post office does not have a computerized postage meter or cash register, which seems quaint, but probably is because there isn’t good reliable high-speed internet like most post office locations have. I’m not sure, but that’s our best guess. Several times I’ve mailed something and the clerk wrote down on an index card the zip code and tracking number, but that didn’t happen in June when I shipped the quilt. That’s partly my fault, though with the computerized receipt printer, I wouldn’t have had to ask for the tracking number.
  • Mysteries of mail delivery—Once I had the tracking number, I looked it up to find out where this box had gone and what happened between Virginia and Washington. When I saw the first tracked event was Dec. 23, I assumed that the public tracking system was different than the Post Office’s. Surely this box had gone somewhere. So I showed this to my local clerk, and she looked up the tracking number in her system, and came back perplexed. She didn’t see any more detail. She didn’t know what to tell me, and didn’t know what to do. She suggested I talk to our local postmaster, and a location about six miles away. The clerk and postmaster there were just as confused as anyone else about my package ending up in a “black hole.” Also interesting was that the hand-marked notes (NMR or no mail receptacle) did not match the tracking information in the automated system (no such address).
  • Helpful postal employees—While the clerk at my postage was unsure how to help me, the clerk at the nearby spot was able to quickly, easily, and pleasantly affix a new postage label on the package, no charge to me, and send it on its third trip across the country. He did suggest that I recommend Melissa let her local post office know something was coming and to NOT send it back to Virginia!
  • I told a small fib—Before I brought this package back to the PO, I added the (apparently VERY necessary) NE to the street address. I know it could be the main reason that the package didn’t get delivered in June, but I’m pretty confident that a thoughtful person in Washington could have gotten it to the recipient, and Priority Mail is not cheap!


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A Christmas miracle

This summer I sent off two packages to two important women in my life. Kyla and Melissa were both in my wedding two years earlier, and have both been great friends for a long time. They both had their second babies earlier this year, and I had made a quilt and a sweater for each baby. One went to Washington, D.C., about 180 miles away, and one went to Washington state, 2700 miles away. A couple days later, Kyla texted a thank-you, and I waited to hear from Melissa. I met her beautiful baby in August and asked about the package—she told me she never got one.

Sweater for Kyla's second baby

Sweater for Kyla’s second baby.

My heart sank and I was overcome with sadness and anger. I had paid for the postage with cash and had not gotten a tracking number, even though it was shipped Priority Mail. There was nothing I could do. A couple weeks later, I sent Melissa pictures of the sweater and quilt, because I wanted her to see what I’d made for her little one. A quilter and crafter herself, I knew she would appreciate the work and figured she was sad that it was missing, too.

Dixon quilt

Quilt for a little brother.

It almost seems like every time I turn around I learn of another cousin or friend who’s having a baby. I like making itty bitty hats and sweaters and blankets and quilts. Most of my local friends are done having babies, so any baby gift I make will have to go elsewhere. It’s been hard to start something new since this one went missing—why would I put hours into making something when it possibly won’t end up in the hands of the loved ones I made it for?

Sweater and quilt that went west

Sweater and quilt that went west.

If you’ve read this far, and if you paid attention to the post’s title, you probably suspect that this isn’t the end of the story. And you’d be correct. Along with a package containing Christmas presents from my parents, the package destined for Washington state ended up on my front steps last week.The USPS had marked it “NMR” or no mail receptacle. Melissa and her family live in a town of about 6000 and and I’m a bit surprised that the postal clerks and postmaster or -mistress were not able to find the address. The small mistake I made was omitting the NE from the street address.

Quilt soon returning to the west coast.

Quilt soon returning to the west coast.

Nevertheless, I’m going to send it back to Washington, to the exact address. I will pay by credit card and I will hold close the tracking number until it arrives. And as I’ve seen photos of the other baby with his sweater and quilt, I look forward to seeing this baby snuggled in hers.