One Local Summer

I remember seeing the One Local Summer blog posts when we were getting settled into our new home that is conveniently located within walking distance of our local farmer’s market.  We have some really fantastic vendors and it’s a thing I’ve grown to love in the two years that we’ve lived here.  SUCH a wide variety of goods from bison to chicken and pork to all sorts of vegetables and some of the best bread I’ve ever had.  Having never participated, I figured this would be the year!  Admittedly, I’m not much of a cook, but I can do the basics when I have to and this gives me a fun summer goal and a way to eat better and eat locally grown goods.  So, here’s to the start of one local summer!

Just a pretty picture

On May 12th, the husband and I went over to our town’s Dogwood Festival.  It was just past dinner time and the sky was starting to get dark, so I brought the camera and the crappy little tripod, itching to get a few long-exposure shots of the nutty carnival rides.  She shoots, she scores.  I like this one, and it’s gathered a bit of interest on flickr too, so I’m sharing it here too.   🙂

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Customer Service

Today I took a trip out to the Pottstown Sewing & Crafts store with my late grandmother’s Singer Athena 2000 sewing machine (circa 1978).  It had started making this awful grinding noise when sewing and I knew something was really wrong.    I called the store the other day to check and see if they did repair on site which they did, so I hauled the machine into the store and was greeted immediately by a staff member.  The repair tech was on the phone, but the woman who greeted me started poking around, trying to see what was going on, finding the same unpleasant ‘clunk’ that I had found when turning the hand wheel.  The repair tech came over and, no joke, in a matter of seconds, had a solid hunch of what was going on which was confirmed when he brought the machine over to his work area and popped open the bottom to take a look.  He was right.  Incredible.  I just love seeing that kind of knowledge from any kind of technician or repair person.  The tech explained the costs involved in repairing the machine, pointed out the parts, showed me the 30 year old circuit boards, and advised a course of treatment.  Fixing the whole shebang would be $300.  Fixing what needs to be fixed to make it functional would be about $120.  His caveat was that even if I went the high road, the machine is so old that something else that’s not replaceable could break the day after I get it back home.  If I went the low road, it would  be funcional for light work, but wouldn’t be able to hem a pair of jeans (something my vertically challenged self does OFTEN).  He did encourage me to keep it regardless since it was the first computerized sewing machine and has historical value as well as the obvious sentimental value.  Still gabbing about the sewing machine, he smiled and said that the Athena was the first sewing machine he ever sold and even told me the exact year that particular color came on the market.  You could just tell that he loved his job and enjoyed knowing everything there was to know about sewing machines.

I was sort of ready for a grim diagnosis.  I know grandma used the machine a lot, and I put a good deal of time into it as well.  The $300 estimate is pretty close to a new machine anyway, and I immediately thought about the stack of pants sitting on the cabinet and the husband’s last set of patches that need to be applied.  Yeah, going without a sewing machine isn’t really an option.  The woman who initally greeted me took me around to a few machines and gave me demonstrations of the features I used often – button holes, straight sewing – and even a few of the new bells and whistles that have come about in the last thirty years.  (Dude, sewing machines cut the thread for you now and there’s no foot pedal!)  She was incredibly sweet and patient with me and I think she had more fun that I did, showing me all the neat features of each machine in my price range.

In the end, I walked out with a new sewing machine, left the old one for the basic repair (at half price since I bought the new one), and got two free classes with the machine on basic use and maintenance.  While I was checking out, in case I didn’t love these people enough already, another woman came in with a vacuum cleaner that she said was smoking when she used it.  The tech came over, flipped the vacuum over on the counter, replaced the belt, pulled some hair and fuzz off the beater bar, and tested the vacuum.  THEN, he showed the woman how to do the very same repair at home and only charged her for the belt he used.

I walked out with a smile on my face and feeling really spectacular.  I think all the big-box and chain stores have destroyed that good-customer-service ideal with their bureaucracy and metrics, but the little local mom-and-pop stores still get it.  The folks at the Pottstown Sewing & Crafts store were just doing what was right because it was the right thing to do – that’s just SO hard to find!  I know I look younger than I am and am sometimes treated like an idiot teenager (hi, I’m almost 30), but I didn’t feel like that at all today.  Their honesty and friendly attitude was really refreshing, and if you live in the area, I would suggest that you go pay them a visit.  I know I’m going to be a loyal customer from now on!

Maryland Sheep and Wool

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(Center and then top left to right)
1. Koigu Mill Ends. Yum., 2. 4oz Rambouillet/Bamboo roving, 3. Merino/Sillk roving from Cloverleaf Farms, 4. Alpaca Lace from A Touch of Twist, 5. Cashmere/Merino Blend, 6. Merino Lace by the Drafting Zone, 7. Sweet Sheep light Fingering, 8. Wensleydale Roving by Flying Fibers, 9. Wullenstudio sock, 10. BMFA STR, “Koi Koi”, 11. BMFA STR, “Scum Bubble”, 12. BMFA STR, Unidentified Mill End, 13. Aisha Celia Designs sock

The Haul from Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival 2009. Three of us gals (myself, Abbie, and Debbie) piled into a car and drove the 2.5 hours down to a rather soggy MDSW. Luckily for us, going on a rainy Sunday meant less crowds, less being bumped, and a relaxing time, even if the rain never really let up and we missed a few things that sold out on Saturday.  There was even no elbowing involved while getting into the booth with Koigu Mill Ends and no line at The Fold.  Incredible.  While I’m sure the vendors were thoroughly disappointed by the lack of business on Sunday, I was completely thrilled by the lack of human traffic.  Last year, I went as a non-knitter and then promptly decided that Abbie had to teach me how to knit when we got home after being thoroughly exhausted by the amount of bumping and shoving and human claustrophobia that those packed little barns can inspire.  So, this year was officially my first knitaversary and I really can’t believe how much I’ve done in a year.  Managed to set a budget and pretty much stick with it, finding a variety of fibers that I haven’t spun before and stocking up on more Socks That Rock.  Of course, that doesn’t mean that I haven’t already begun thinking about next year.   🙂

Pea Pod Sweater

I suppose it comes with the age group – a few years ago, everyone was getting married.  Now?  Everyone is having babies.  That means a lot of pint-sized knitting projects that fly off the needles and make me all happy with the instant gratification.  The latest project, which I can now reveal now that I know it has been received.

Pattern: Pea Pod Baby Sweater
Designer: Kate Gilbert
Needles: US 5 (3.75mm)
Yarn: Cascade Cotton Rich DK
Ravelry Project Link
This was a pretty quick knit! The yarn is a great cotton/nylon blend which is, IMHO, a great summer/baby yarn since it’s easy to wash and maintain. Blue for the baby boy who was born a few weeks ago, and naturally, I didn’t want a girly sort of lace and figured that the leaves provided just enough interest without going overboard.  Buttons were acquired from Philadelphia’s Fabric Row, specifically the Pennsylvania Fabric Outlet.  It really looks fabulous in person, and I can’t wait to get photos of the little guy wearing it!
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There was a trip to the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival this weekend and I still have yet to photograph my precious acquisitions since it’s been raining for what, nine days straight?! So, I’ll hold off on the update for that and you’ll hear about it when there’s sun again. 🙂