29 March 2020

In Which We Join The Army

The other day, my kid said to me "can you help me change my bed? There's a hole in my sheet." So I duly climbed the stairs to help her find the clean sheets and take apart the bed - whereupon I discovered that the hole was, um, big enough for a large grown-up to climb through. This was not some tiny little tear.

But, because I am my mother's daughter, and because there's been this surge of folks sewing up face masks for themselves and local hospitals, I took that dead bottom sheet and threw it in the wash. When it was out, I cut off the elastic edge, harvested the elastic, repurposed the edge into (un)bias tape, and cut up the good parts of the sheet into 6"x9" rectangles.

I then scrounged through the box of t-shirts for projects (remember, I am my mother's daughter), and cut a few of them up into more 6"x9" rectangles.

And I pulled out my sewing machine, which, providentially, I had had overhauled in January because the bobbin winder wasn't winding bobbins.

Some hours and some experimentation later, I'd produced 16 masks - using a simple pattern that's been all over the internet.

I am keeping a couple, sending two to my father and his girlfriend, and sending another two to my sister and her wife. And the rest are going to a local hospital.

Random observations:

  • My sewing machine is a weird prima donna wannabe: it demands fancy thread in the bobbin, but it doesn't care about the top thread. Happily, I have a stash of silk thread from who knows where - it's old but perfect.
  • [Old cotton thread rots; if you can break it easily, throw it out.]
  • No one cares that the lime green polyester top thread doesn't match the pale celadon silk bobbin thread. We're talking life safety here.
  • Making the pleats is a pain in the ass if the t-shirt fabric is too butch.
  • The cut off neck of a turtleneck makes an admirable and oddly comfortable mask - with NO sewing.
  • Proper bias tape is cut on the bias.

I'll make more masks soon.

15 March 2020

Teensters and Circles of Unloveliness

The girl and I have been working our way through The Office - we are up to season 9 / episode 11, which means that it's coming to an end.

Last night, we watched "Suit Warehouse", in which some of the folks are out of the office and the remaining Dunder Mifflinites drink ALL THE COFFEE. And start sweating.

Of course, my reaction was "oh, circles of unloveliness!"

The kid was all "huh?"

So I had to explain that this is what you call visibly damp armpits, and that it was a phrase used frequently in my family - like while watching ice skating championships: "OMG she's got circles of unloveliness!"

The kid didn't believe me. So I googled it, as one does.

There was precisely ONE hit for the phrase "circles of unloveliness," ONE.

All hail Archive.org.

In 1948, someone published a pamphlet for teenagers called "The Stork Didn't Bring You [The facts of life for teenagers]".

A chapter called "Oh, Woe Is You" contains this rich paragraph:

Excessive perspiration is another distressing teenster
problem. It ruins clothing and good times with equal fa-
tality. And it crops out in all the worst places the palms
of your hands, making them exempt from holding; the
soles of your feet, making sox smelly; around your hair-
line, undoing curls; and mostly underarms, leaving deep
dark circles of unloveliness.

In 1948, my mother turned 13. Clearly, my mother read said pamphlet, retained said phrase, and passed it along to her children.

Could we PLEASE get "circles of unloveliness" into common parlance?