Sunday, December 31, 2006

Happy New Year!

It's 59 degrees Fahrenheit outside (at the end of December!), and it seems really nice despite the mist that's almost up to drizzle. Somehow that strange warmth makes me really optimistic for 2007! Happy New Year, everyone! Best!

Saturday, December 23, 2006


Daddy bought an embroidery machine for me as a mom present while we were at the mall the day before my water broke the day before Karston was born. It is a Brother PE-180D, I knew it was well-liked, and it was an incredible price (1/4 the best price on Froogle, and 1/8 the best price I had ever seen in person) because it was the display unit. However, I've had to solve a number of open box problems. The first was that I didn't have the manual. Luckily the on-screen help covers almost everything. Then I found a link to the manual at SewForLess. (I couldn't find the manual with Google, and Brother's web find only wanted to sell me a printed copy. The kicker is that the link goes to Brother's web site!) The second problem was that I had the wrong hoop. Yes, the dangers of open box: not only are some components like the manual missing, others could be just plain wrong! After careful analysis of how the hoop went on the arm (don't forget, we're a two-engineer household!), we knew they didn't go together. There was no way to latch the hoop securely that also held the fabric flush with the bed so that it wasn't a hazard. (I broke two needles proving this before the careful analysis. The first needle break launched one shard just below my left eye, and now I always wear safety glasses when embroidering. I bet you didn't think safety glasses belong in a sewing room! but they do in mine.) I ordered the hoop from SewForLess since they supplied the manual link. But I still had a serious problem with a large snarl of thread on the underside of the fabric that eventually would break the upper thread. First I had to discover the name of this problem: birdsnesting. Once I knew that, I could troubleshoot with Google. At the sewing machine fault finder, I learned that birdsnesting is usually caused by improper upper threading. At first I scoffed, since I have a lot of machine threading experience. But I re-threaded it very carefully and slowly, following the on-screen directions, and the bird's nest disappeared. In this case I think my sewing and serging experience was part of the problem: I was sure I could just whip that upper thread through its path, no need to read the directions or to be careful! Now I know that I need to be very careful, and that following the on-screen directions helps. I still feel that I can thread the needle faster by hand than with the F.A.S.T. system, so I do let my experience over-ride that part of the directions. But slowing down vastly improved the results! Then my final problem, on my second test embroidery, the upper thread broke. When I grabbed the thread end, it was obvious: the large embroidery thread cone, 6 inches tall, wasn't unwinding freely. I was using my serger's stand and thread arm and reaching over to the embroidery machine, but it wasn't a good kluge. So Daddy installed the thread cone stand from my mom, the thread flowed easily, and the embroidery just worked. Ahh... since embroidery was part of our Christmas gift plans, the last two solutions were just in time!

I can now embroider when I want (OK, a year and a half later). The only remaining problem is that sometimes the bobbin thread pulls through to the front for a while. To keep it from showing up, I just wind a bobbin in the same color. Having equal weight upper and lower thread usually helps sewing anyway, and Singer Type 66 bobbins are easy to find. I might solve that problem in time, but for now I'm happy that I can now embroider what I want when I want.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Treo Tips: Gmail

Now if this isn't just the fastest way to join Gmail: SMS Signup for a Gmail Account. I'm teetering on that edge ... do I want to see email on my Treo or not? If it's good, I'll never be unplugged ever again, and I'm not sure that's good. (Then again, my cute kid can always convince me to play with him, so I do have that reality check. And I sure do enjoy relaxing with my fantastic hubby, so maybe I would remember the world outside of my Treo.)

(I don't need to point out that you can Gmail for the Treo, do I? I'd still install Google Maps first, though.)

Treo Tips: Froogle for Mobile

Ah, finally! One of the ways I use my Treo is to search Froogle while I'm in the store. It curbs regrettable impulse buys when I can check prices and reviews on the stop. However, Froogle isn't the easiest site to read on a Treo. So when I saw Froogle for Mobile, I had to take a look. Sure enough, is what I want to use instead! Nice.

Tuesday, December 5, 2006

'klet and kaboodle

I noticed why I like the Kaboodle service ... the bookmarklet. It makes seeing something (on the web) and filing it away (on the web) seamless. That's the leading half of why I use too. Plus I like storing web information on the web so I can use any browser from any location (say, from my Treo), and the similarity serendipity. The other half is that the combination of tags and search makes it easy for me to find links again; Kaboodle looks to have that promise too, but time will tell. If I'm still using Kaboodle after the holiday season then it's a keeper!

Friday, December 1, 2006

Today's Observation

You know you're driving too slow when ... a diesel passes you on the right and never makes it up to the speed limit. And I was driving an old diesel with power issues until the turbo waste gate hose gets replaced! At least it doesn't smoke.