October 08, 2007

Mumble Mumble Mumble Mumble

Apropos of nothing…

Since, as they say, you’re never too old to learn, TMK’s and my last coupla Saturdays have been spent taking a Web-design class. The biggest problem? On a good day, the teacher is a mumbler and, even worse, his voice drops precipitously away just at the most crucial moments. For example, “The most important thing you need to do is mumble mumble mumble mumble. If you don’t, then mumble mumble mumble mumble mumble and you’ll have to redesign your entire Web site from scratch.”

Or, “Unless you mumble mumble mumble mumble mumble, none of the graphics will show up. And every third person on earth will die.”

Or, “In order to get your Web site transferred to the Web-host server, you need to mumble mumble mumble mumble. Otherwise, mumble mumble mumble mumble mumble and mumble mumble mumble will explode, killing a basketful of kittens.”

Seriously. That's what it feels like. The lead-in and teaser followed by the unintelligible mumble followed by a litany of dire consequences that leave you pitted-out with anxiety.

As someone who was a technical trainer for many years, and has even taught professional train-the-trainer classes, I just want to walk up to the guy and mumble mumble mumble mumble.


Here as semi-promised, pictures of the Giant-Pants Sewing Disaster of Ought Seven.

First, the quasi-clown-like fabric I chose. It was either this or brown and green camoflauge—to go with the AK-47 I don’t own—or yellow duckies, more me than I’d like to admit but still too over-the-top for pair of pants in size Vast. Three duckies is fine; 400 duckies will make you go blind. So you can see why I picked the dots. And you can also see that these pants are never meant to be worn outside of the house. Even if just going between the house and the detached garage, I will run like the wind. Or make my way, twinkle-toes fashion, from tree to tree, like a villain in a bad cartoon.


Seam, Side 1: Looks good, looks normal, doesn’t it?


Seam, Side 2: What the mumble mumble mumble mumble is going on here? The bobbin side of the sewing machine is making an absolute forest of thread! I’ve checked the tension, rethreaded everything humanly possible, and this just keeps happening. I feel a trip to the Singer store in my future.



Hallelujah! The Steam Scarf is done, and I didn't cop out with 30 yards of yarn still to go. Unfortunately for our canine companion, I zeroed in on her as the model for this particular project and...have you ever seen a more pathetic, more accusatory look? She looks as if we withhold water, food and affection from her and beat her on a regular basis. I think she's been reading too much David Copperfield.


But she came around, and a couple of minutes later posed a little more happily. Now that's the karmic feeling I want to send along with the scarf! (While I may not believe in the power of Prayer Shawls, apparently I do believe in Finish the Project and Rub It on a Happy Dog.)


I so enjoyed designing the Transylvania hat that I’m plowing right into designing another hat, this one, hopefully, based on a Kente-cloth color and look. On this Web page, I found this design that struck me both motif- and color-wise.


Unfortunately, it has the evocatic but unromantic name of “Puff Adder Head.” Yowch.

Posted by Ryan at October 8, 2007 02:07 PM

I have seen that look on the bobbin side. I have seen that look on the bobbin side, when I have loaded my bobbin backwards. (I also have a Singer, so you might try this.) Rethread the bobbin holder so the thread is being pulled backwards, if that makes any sense. Then test on the same fabric you are sewing with. (I just try to remember to put the bobbin in backwards from how I THINK it should go in the bobbin holder.)

I like the fabric, it is fun and a bit silly, and who needs serious pajama pants? My 12 year old has some ducky pajamas (pink with yellow ducks) and on her size they are cute. I would not, however, cover my son in ducky jammies. He may only be 10, but on his football team, my oldest daughter and I have an easier time picking out his bottom, than his number. It is sad, but true. Too many ducks can be too much of a good thing.

Posted by: picadrienne on October 8, 2007 03:06 PM

I bought a sewing machine in February. Last weekend I took it out of the box. I read the manual and the diagram describing what all the bazillion parts are. I looked at the different sized needles, the different presser feet, and the little tools for "maintaining" the machine. I read the descriptions of each type of stitch and what they're for. I put the dust cover on it and walked away. Now that I've seen what happens when you just try to sew two pieces of fabric together in a straight line ... I think it's going back in the box. Two sticks and a piece of string is ... better.

Posted by: Jenn on October 8, 2007 03:19 PM

Beware the Puff Adder Hat Head. It'll getcha.
I am STILL LMAO over "size Vast".
You could have made the ducky pants, and then sewn little camo vests on each one. Then no one would have seen you coming at all.

Posted by: Carrie on October 8, 2007 03:29 PM

Oh. My. God. Bobbin gouting. Seen it meselves MANY times. Mom says that when the *mumble*mumble* machine does that, the bobbin is in backwards and you have the wrong tension on the bobbin casing. *I* say the machine is hideously evil. End of story.

Frankie is the most divine model. Furry smooches to her!

And I'd have gone with duckies. Nothing says comfy like duckies. And with a size Mega-Vast, I gets me lots of duckies! :)

Posted by: Nancy O. on October 8, 2007 03:31 PM

I absolutely have faith in the power of happy dogs.

"Puff Adder Head," eh? You could slant that into something else. "Striking" comes to mind. It's a pun, sorta, but I suppose that's alright.

Posted by: Erika on October 8, 2007 04:43 PM

It looks as though the feed from the bobbin isn't being tensioned properly for some reason, so the thread is whipping off the bobbin willy-nilly and creating lovely little tangles. Since I don't have a Singer, I can't comment beyond that on the subject.

The one thing I can comment on, though, and have commented on before, I believe, is *ahem* Frankie's figure. I do believe that is her belly falling in a roll over her knees. Tsk. Tsk, tsk, tsk, tsk, tsk.

Posted by: Mel on October 8, 2007 05:11 PM

Mel: Are you saying my dog is fat? ;-) Actually, the photo is at a funny angle and she was sitting kind of weird. She weighs in at a trim 29.5 pounds and you can see her little waist when you look down on her. She always gets an A+ in conditioning and fitness from the vet. TMK

Posted by: The Mysterious K on October 8, 2007 05:16 PM

Frankie is adorable! I love Corgies :)

Holy Cow the tension!! I think your Singer is upset with you... could it be that you knit too much and it is jealous? I think mine does that occasionally. I would suggest that the bobbin could have been in the wrong way, but if you rethreaded, then you probably tried that. I think it must just hate you.

Good luck!

Posted by: Crafty Coug on October 8, 2007 05:38 PM

Well cripes, for a lot of people who made me feel better about my sewing, you all know which way the bobbin goes in? Who knows things like that? Just by looking at the seam, no less!

And since I spent the weekend helping to edit some technical training, I'll just say that some technical trainers mumble when they write!

I'm going away now to imagine a corgi book club, where they gather to discuss Dickens...

Posted by: Tee on October 8, 2007 07:08 PM

My machine does that on occasion... and usually I can get it to stop if I put in a new sharp needle and make sure there aren't any dust bunnies growing under the presser foot.

Making sure the bobbin is in correctly is always a good idea, but quite honestly, a little bit of voodoo never hurts.

Posted by: Rete on October 8, 2007 07:40 PM

Oh god. That mumbling instructor story guarantees that I will never go back to college. Or at least, not until I'm deaf enough to require an interpreter.

Posted by: lala on October 8, 2007 08:02 PM

I don't think I can recover from the image of you tippytoeing, Sylvester-sneaking-up-on-Tweety style, to the garage in those pants. Dude, I can even hear the tippy-toe cartoon music.

Posted by: Lee Ann on October 8, 2007 08:16 PM

Will Frankie now want a scarf of his own for Christmas? Maybe with a matching jacket? Red does seem to be his color.

I haven't sewn much in the last couple of decades and never was good at it, but as soon as people said "Singer" and "backwards bobbin" the memories flooded back. Tee, the people who know these things are the ones who've done them themselves enough time to finally remember.

Posted by: KarenJoSeattle on October 8, 2007 09:24 PM

Check to be sure that the thread is threaded correctly topside. Usually when my machine does this, it's because the thread isn't in the uptake lever--the little thing that goes up and down at the top front of the machine (no, not the needle).

And when you're done with the PJ pants, you can sew the Dulaan patch on your sash!



Posted by: Saralyn on October 8, 2007 09:33 PM

Aw, I have SUCH an adoration for corgis; they look adorable regardless, and yes, I'd have to say red IS Frankie's color. If I didn't have kitties I would SO have a corgi. (Or a Papillon, I fell in love with a Papillon this summer.) Regarding sewing machines: they ALL hate me. Mine mumbles when I approach it - mumbles in Croatian. Sheesh. Where did I put my knitting?

Posted by: dale-harriet in WI on October 8, 2007 09:47 PM

Your mumbling instructor sounds just like my Criminal Law professor who did that on PURPOSE because she was diabolically evil!

My Singer (and every Singer I've ever used, for that matter!) does that loop de loop all the time and it's NOT because the bobbin is in backward or the tension is wrong. It will go along fine for a while, and then, WHAMMO, a mess! The bobbin did not suddenly jump from being correct to being backwards and the tension did not change. I don't know why the heck it does that, but it's one of the reasons I hate sewing! Knitting needles will never play nasty tricks like that (though they do have their own repertoire!).

Posted by: Janknitz on October 8, 2007 09:52 PM

I say irritate the hell out of the instructor by going, "What?" every time he starts to mumble. He'll snap out of it. You're paying for the class, after all, so you should get what you came for!

I have the opposite problem. My students are often reminding me that I don't have to shout. I'm not shouting, I'm just, um, loud by nature. Poor dears!

Love the pants fabric, BTW! I'd definitely say take your machine in for a look-see if you've already checked tension and such.

Posted by: Kristen on October 9, 2007 01:04 AM

Frankie is the cutest in that scarf. That photo would make a cute holiday card. It also gave me the idea for a dog sweater, to incorporate a short scarf sewn on, (so the doggy won't trip) for that wintry look. Can't you picture a tan sweater with a jaunty red scarf for accent? My sister walks her Corgi faithfully, no matter what the weather, all winter. On windy winter days, even a corgi with all that fur, appreciates a sweater on a long walk. And for the less fur-endowed breeds a sweater is a necessity.
(Sorry I'm blabby, but allergy medication does that to me.)

Posted by: Lydia on October 9, 2007 07:37 AM

The mumbling instructor story had me in stitches! I agree with Kristen -- tell the instructor you are missing the most important parts of his lecture. Maybe it will help. If nothing else he'll be flattered that you're paying attention! LOL

Ryan, I think the PJ fabric is neat. Sure, it's bright, but how many people are going to see it besides you and TMK? Wear what makes you smile.

P.S. Frankie is adorable in the scarf. I actually thought the first picture looked more devil-may-care than annoyed...

Posted by: Denise in Kent, WA on October 9, 2007 09:04 AM

I know *exactly* what your machine is doing, and I can't explain it in type. Grr.

In addition to making sure the bobbin isn't backwards, make sure the bobbin thread hasn't come out of the little slot you feed in in the case. (You put the bobbin in, snap it down, then thread it around an almost imperceptible slot before feeding it out the back. Make sure it's still in it's little slot. Really.)

Also, make sure you're winding your bobbin at a consistent tension. You can go slow or fast, as long as you're always going the same speed. The bobbin thread comes off at the same speed. Think of it like, um, stretching the yarn while you knit, the giving it tons of slack. It's going to make bubblies ... just like your thread.

Posted by: Colleen on October 9, 2007 10:27 AM

Re the Singer Madness - another tip is to always hold both threads with your fingers snugly behind the presser foot as you are starting a new seam. The sudden jump as the machine lurches into motion will often yank the bobbin thread back down through the hole and gnarly itself up in a ball or loose loops under the fabric. Once you've gone 4 stitches or more you can let go. Do you wanna borrow my serger to finish off the seams? Also, er, eh, dudette...did y'all wash and shrink that fabric before starting?

Posted by: Linda "K" on October 9, 2007 11:59 AM

Linda, you would be so proud of me. Not five minutes after I arrived home from the fabric store, the flannel was in my washing machine getting a good washin' and thumpin', and 40 minutes later it was in my dryer getting a good dryin'.

Posted by: Ryan on October 9, 2007 12:28 PM

Good GRRRRRLLLL! That's the way I always do it!!! Also, what they said about the slot thingee up above is crucial - the slot thingee on the uppie part of the bobbin case - don't you love the problem solving of the blog community?

Posted by: Linda "K" on October 9, 2007 05:22 PM

Don't have a Singer (have a Viking) but I think what Collen and Linda K said is what the issue might be..... Those dumb little, inconveniently placed slots and/or "thingies" to direct the thread are crucial. Love the fabric! Good luck.

Posted by: Beebs on October 10, 2007 10:27 AM

I haven't read all the comments, but sometimes the problem with the sewing machine needs a BRAND NEW NEEDLE. Don't ask me why, or how, I just know this works to clear up the problem when I have it.

I keep a selection of needles on hand all the time (they're relatively cheap) for various fabrics and weights.

Sweet Caroline

Posted by: Sweet Caroline on October 11, 2007 10:55 AM
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