Hi, I am doing better this week, in case you were concerned! Shit is hard, and it sucks sometimes, but it ends. In other words, fuck depression.
In other news, my weeks (months?) long yak-shaving adventure has finally come to fruition! In case you’re curious, yak-shaving is a story about how little problems can lead to big ones if you’re not careful. It goes like this:
Once upon a time, there was a coder diligently working in their office. They quickly noticed, however, that it was a little chilly. “I need a sweater!” they thought. So the coder went to get a sweater, but realized they didn’t have one. “Ok,” the coder thought, “I need to make a sweater!” and went to to find a pair of knitting needles and some yarn. Shockingly, these items were not at hand in a software development office. “I need to spin some yarn!” the coder thought, as always applying themselves to the problem at hand. A spindle is easily created with a pen and a CD, but fiber to spin was a more complex problem. “I need to gather some fiber, I’d better put in for some time off, to go shave a yak!”
The moral being that sometimes following the most “logical” steps to solve a problem can lead you far afield and that you should keep your original goal in mind so that you don’t find yourself shaving a yak instead of adjusting the thermostat.
For me, this was an altogether necessary yak-shaving, however. I decided a bit ago that I would like to make a quilt. In order to make a quilt, I needed a sewing machine. In order to use a sewing machine, however, I needed a table to put it on, as well as an array of other proper tools.
Last Friday my table arrived, a great little craft table with 2 leaves that drop down leaving it about a foot wide, easily tucked into a corner. Last Saturday I went out and bought a brand new sewing machine - a Pfaff Expressions 3.5 - and I’m really excited. It’s so fancy, compared to the 1970s era Sears Kenmore travel machine that I learned on. I also got some quilting fabric, a rotary cutter, thread, scissors, and a quilting ruler. On Sunday I was slapped face-first with a fact that I hadn’t considered throughout this whole shopping and planning process:
Sewing is right-handed.
“Oh, come on, really?” I can hear you thinking. Yes, really. Pick up a pair of sewing scissors. Notice how nice and ergonomic those handles are. Now switch them to your left hand. Every curve that gently surrounded your right thumb is now a pointy ridge digging into your left. Try to use them to cut along a line, and realize the blades are stacked so that you can see what you’re cutting if you hold them in your right hand. Now switch them and try to see what you’re cutting. Thankfully, Fiskars makes lefty scissors. I spent years using my moms’ right-handed sewing scissors, and can tell you from experience, they hurt.
Scissors are sorted, but quilting requires accurately measured straight cuts, and the right tool for that job is a rotary cutter - think a pizza cutter for fabric. They’re really awesome and the one I have is ambidextrous, thankfully. However, using a rotary cutter is a two tool job, really. The other half of it is a quilting ruler. Friends, this is going to sound ridiculous, but my ruler is right-handed. Really.
The ruler is designed to be cut along the right edge because, as a righty, you use your rotary cutter in your right hand and hold the ruler steady with your left. I do all this backwards which means all the measurements marked along the ruler that go right to left are backwards. And there’s separate distances marked when you rotate it 180 degrees (every inch with a half-inch added on at the beginning for your seam allowance), so flipping it over is not a cure-all. I have to remember to always read the numbers that are upside down, or cut too-short pieces.
Ok, now I’ve got all my pieces cut out and I’m ready to start assembling my quilt, having persevered over the tyranny of my measuring implements. However, sewing machines are the epitome of right-handed without a way to reverse them. They’re made with their controls on the right side, and with the intention that the fabric hang off to the left, as you feed it through. There’s no one thing that is insurmountably righty, but there’s lots of little things.
For example, since I use my left hand to help guide and handle my fabric as I sew, I tend to raise and lower the presser foot (the little do-hicky that holds the fabric flat as the machine sews) with my right hand. The lever is on the back of the machine, and I find myself reaching through the center of the machine to reach it, instead of around the left side as the designers intended. The power switch is on the right side of the machine. The fine-control wheel to raise and lower the needle is on the right side.
In a perfect world, I’d be able to swing it 180 degrees and move all the controls to the other side, like re-stringing my ukulele upside down. In the real world, I’m continuing to adjust, doing things like pinning things with the pointy side out, so that I can remove them as I sew. I’m remembering to read the upside-down numbers on the ruler. I’m being careful not to pizza-wheel my fingertips off!
Don’t let the righties keep you down, fellow sinister warriors! 🤜🏻