It’s only Thursday. This week has seemed very long. Thank goodness there’s only one more day before Saturday.

I came home to a Royal Mail ‘sorry we missed you’ card yesterday. My usual postlady must have been off, as she is wonderful and leaves packages for me in an agreed safe place. So I now have to wait until Saturday to get the new bits I ordered. ¬†That’s ok, as I’m short on time and energy this week; it’s end of quarter at work which keeps me very busy. But I also have to get up on Saturday morning and go out to fetch it. I sound terribly lazy. I’m sure it’ll do me good, but I can’t help but think that I’d like a good sleep before tackling anything complicated.

I hope by Saturday afternoon I’ll be well on the way to getting things moving and working. How exciting. Now I just need to have a little patience. And sleep.

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I took some quick snaps on my phone…


This is with the table closed ¬†– the sewing machine’s inside.


So, there it is. The blankets are to keep it well protected when I’m not playing with it – the other members of my household don’t respect 70+ year old technology.

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Sourcing bits and bobs

So. My beautiful machine has been in the living room for a couple of weeks now. I’ve polished the wood with beeswax and dusted/cleaned it.

It needs some new parts. Nothing major. Not surgery or anything. Just a new treadle belt, some bobbins, needles and a bit of oil to keep it sweet. I’ve been looking online to find a place from which I can order all that I need. I found it at the weekend, but their site crashed on me and I was too impatient to put all the sundries I’d looked at back in the online basket. I called them yesterday afternoon. I was helped by a wonderfully sounding Geordie guy (they are in Newcastle….I found it odd that I couldn’t find somewhere in London to sell me things, but hey, internet shopping is not bound by geographical constraints). He was able to find my ‘lost’ online basket and read everything back to me. I was a bit indecisive but he was very patient and let me make up my mind without hurrying me. He apologetically explained that we’d missed that day’s shipping deadline so it’d be dispatched the next day. The next day! I didn’t feel the apologetic tone was warranted, but I appreciated it nonetheless. Oops. I’ve strayed from my original intention of writing about my sewing adventures into the murky world of customer service. I’ll try to refrain from doing that too often. That’s a whole other blog. But have won my business for now.

Hopefully in the next couple of days the nice post lady will bring all the bits and pieces and I’ll put some pictures up of the process of fitting them.

The only thing I didn’t order which I will need is a patchworking foot. I wasn’t entirely sure if the snap on kind would be compatible with my machine so I’ve not ordered anything yet. I can measure out the seam and pop a bit of masking tape on the base initially – there are tape marks on there to be cleaned off so I won’t be doing any harm.

I’m very excited to get it working!

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Right then, let’s get started

So. Here I am. Online. And not in the safe confines of the 140 character world of Twitter. Or Google+. Or even the dreaded FB (which I state I hate, but apparently not enough to stop using it…).

I want to create a record of sorts. You see I’ve just acquired a sewing machine. It was a gift from a very generous and dear friend. It needs some work, as do I. I hadn’t used a sewing machine in years, until yesterday.

The sewing machine came from a charity shop. I saw it in the window when I was walking past one day. I was on my way somewhere and didn’t really have time to stop and look. I couldn’t resist stepping in for a moment and taking a look: an old treadle Singer, on what looked like the original table. There was a couple standing there looking at it as they discussed the layout of their house. I assumed it was already sold and continued on with my day. The next day I was walking by with my friend and to my astonishment the sewing machine was still there. I could hardly believe it. We took a look at it and before I knew it it had been bought and paid for. How lucky am I? Very.

I had to ask the taxi driver to help me to get it in the back of his car. He was so kind that he offered to help me carry it up the path. He even helped me to carry it up the stairs. More generosity than I could of hoped for but I was very grateful – I hadn’t quite worked out how I’d get it upstairs when I was looking at it through a misty rose tinted haze in the shop.

As I looked at it more closely I realised that it wasn’t in too bad a condition. The finish on the wood is worn, could probably benefit from some kind of restoration. The machine itself folds down inside the table. The table top hinges are sound. The drawers are in tact. The treadle and mechanism look to be original. There’s even a belt on it, although it’s old and worn. The mechanism on the machine works ok – the wheel turns and drives the needle and bobbin. As far as I can tell it looks like a good buy, at least for someone who actually wants to use it rather than look at it. The paint on the sewing machine is a bit dull and damaged, but the original decoration is still visible. It’s beautiful.

I looked online to find out the age and model. The age wasn’t hard. From the serial number stamped on a plate on the machine I dated it from the information on the Singer website. It seems to have been made in 1938. The model I’m still not exactly sure about. I’ve looked at pictures and videos of other people’s machines, but as yet haven’t found one that looks exactly like mine which is accurately identified. The closest I got was one ebayer selling ‘what I think is a model 66’. I also looked at old copies of manuals (for free online). I suspect that I have a 66, but am not entirely sure it’s not a 99. I wanted to be sure before ordering the parts that I would need (bobbin case, needles etc). I emailed Singer UK to ask for their help. Unfortunately they weren’t very helpful, suggesting I look at the model plate near the electricity cable. When I pointed out that my treadle machine has no need of an electricity cable and is also lacking a model plate I received the answer that they couldn’t help me further and that they only part they stocked anyway was a treadle belt, which is universal. I was a bit disappointed.

It doesn’t really matter so much, I’ve found an online store from which I can order bobbins, needles, oil and the other sundries required to maintain the machine.

Until I receive the oil and bobbins and belt there’s not so much I can do apart from clean the machine and the wood. I don’t know where it has been stored but I suspect it was either not very clean (garage/shed) or in a house with a smoker as the dirt that lifted off was quite surprising in quantity and colour. I gently cleaned it with a damp cotton cloth to remove as much dirt as I could and took some beeswax to the table. I cleaned the treadle mechanism with a dry cloth and removed the cobwebs from underneath the table top. It looks a lot more loved, although there’s still a long way to go.

I’ll put some pictures up soon.

So begins my adventure into treadle powered patchwork quilting and dressmaking.

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dinner at Carneval

Ate here. Tasty halloumi but non-vegetarian parmesan. Shame.
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The art of procrastination

I love this article…


To see this story with its related links on the site, go to

Leave it till later
There’s an art to putting things off
Marc Abrahams
Tuesday May 15 2007
The Guardian

Critics say modern philosophy is a useless waste of time. They are wrong. At its best, modern philosophy tells us how to waste time usefully. Philosophy’s great recent achievement, in this respect and perhaps overall, is the theory of structuredprocrastination.

In a 1995 paper, Structured Procrastination, John Perry, a professor of philosophy at Stanford University, explains: “I have been intending to write this essay for months. Why am I finally doing it? Because I finally found some uncommitted time? Wrong. I have papers to grade, textbook orders to fill out, a National Science Foundation proposal to referee, dissertation drafts to read. I am working on this essay as a way of not doing all of those things. This is the essence of what I call structured procrastination, an amazing strategy I have discovered that converts procrastinators into effective human beings, respected and admired for all that they can accomplish, and the good use they make of time.”

Eventually, Perry comes to the point: “The key idea is that procrastinating does not mean doing absolutely nothing. Procrastinators seldom do absolutely nothing. They do marginally useful things, like gardening or sharpening pencils or making a diagram of how they will reorganise their files when they get around to it. Why does the procrastinator do these things? Because they are a way of not doing something more important … The procrastinator can be motivated to do difficult, timely and important tasks, as long as these tasks are a way of not doing something more important.”

Perry’s notion is to channel an ostensibly bad habit … “Structured procrastination means shaping the structure of the tasks one has to do in a way that exploits this fact. The list of tasks one has in mind will be ordered by importance. Tasks that seem most urgent and important are on top. But there are also worthwhile tasks to perform lower down on the list. Doing these tasks becomes a way of not doing the things higher up on the list.”

Perry is a major philosopher, and he can name his writings as obtusely as the profession requires. His studies include: Indexicals and Demonstratives, Fodor and Lepore on Holism, and Predelli’s Threatening Note: Contexts, Utterances and Tokens in the Philosophy of Language.

But two, at least, of his papers look like stepping stones to Structured Procrastination. Perry’s very first published philosophy paper, in 1963, was called Paradoxical Logic. And in 1994, just months before Structured Procrastinatio” appeared (and, who knows, maybe as a way of holding it at bay) came one called Intentionality and Its Puzzles.

Perry points out that “structured procrastination requires a certain amount of self-deception, since one is, in effect, constantly perpetrating a pyramid scheme on oneself … This is not a problem, because virtually all procrastinators have excellent self-deceptive skills . And what could be more noble than using one character flaw to offset the bad effects of another?”

· Marc Abrahams is editor of the bimonthly magazine Annals of Improbable Research and organiser of the Ig Nobel Prize

Copyright Guardian News and Media Limited

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Ellen sends Dennis Quaid into Starbucks

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