Latest Postcard

ugly

I made this little postcard to commemorate Burda 8121.

thunderBird

This embroidery is a downloaded design AFTER about 8 hours of additional digitizing work. It probably would have been easier to start with the picture. I embroidered it with a Bernina 180E.

I ran out of pink thread.

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Burda 8665 on Buttina
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Butterfly Buttons

The lastest incarnation of Burda 8665. It’s almost done. I still need to hem the sleeves and do the button holes. I picked out the buttons. I almost didn’t have any that went with the fabric. I think I will have to go buy matching thread to sew them on.

I want a candy bar!

It’s all I can think about. I can’t do my work because it’s all I can think about.

I decided to see if the problem is that I’m hungry. I already ate my morning snack, 2 apples and a chedder cheese stick. I’m eating my afternoon snack, 2 apples and a chedder cheese stick. I have backup afternoon snacks in my office.

I went into the bathroom, sat down, and put my head in my hands. Deb, the ED nurse, is always saying, “Take it to the final outcome. How will you feel after you eat the candybar?” I’ll be pissed off at myself. That’s how. I’m not supposed to eat candybars. Candybars are empty calories and full of bad fats.

I love candybars.

I think this is progress. I think before I would have eaten the candybar, then been pissed off. I might have had a fight inside myself over it, but I’ve never said to myself, “Take it to the final outcome.”

Send positive vibes.

The Demise of Couture

The House of Tatterdemalion has been on a couture kick lately. She’s examined the meaning of couture, and on this, we profoundly disagree. Her slant is that couture is based on hand work, and I think that couture is anything that is custom made. She admitted that the allure of hand work isn’t just a fondness for sewing by hand, but also an abhorrence for many things mechanical. I’m a mechanical engineer by day and, alas, coutiere only by night and weekends, if my kids let me. I suck at handwork. I really do. It’s my attitude: It’s better finished than perfect. One of my ASG buddies, who was doing meticulous hand quilting at that moment, said, “I’m a process person.” I’m not. I want to point out that I can do meticulous hand quilting (I think it was 18 stitches to the inch) , but at some point I asked myself, “WHY? Why am I spending all this time on something that is better finished than perfect?” It’s not that quality of workmanship is unimportant to me. I’m just not into the little details. And that is part of the basis of our difference on couture.

Today, I found out, by reading her blog, that there’s more to it than our fondness/abhorrence for machine work/hand work. She asks:

Surprise, surprise (not), the couture houses are dwindling. There is a smaller and smaller market for hand beading, hand sewing, hand overcasting, expensive, extravagant dresses. Why? And what next?

and answers:

The “why” is easy. Why is because you have to make an argument for hand-sewing. Why is because what is “in” and “stylish” is changing so quickly. Why is because you still have to fly out to Paris to get it. Why is because a lot of people don’t know what couture is. Why is because the houses are known for their style, not their fit or construction, or unconditional guarantees. Why is because extravagant dresses are rarely applicable to current situations.

I think there’s a different reason. I think it has to do with the rise of the middle class. Couture garments were always for the upperclass, and they were made by the lowerclass. Just like anything else that requires a lot of manual labor, couture is something that can only be afforded by the rich when there is a large underclass to support the system. She finds it ironic that “back in the middle ages, everything was made to fit, and only the poor bought second hand clothes that came in someone else size.” Everything was made to fit for the noble and merchant classses, maybe. Those groups were very small. Most people were poor, and they only had a few different sets of clothing. It wasn’t like today where we all have a closet full to bursting with clothes.

Automation and a living wage are the two main supports to the way of life currently enjoyed by the middle class. Well, and affordable health care, but that’s another topic and tangential to this one. Automation makes lots of things cheaply; that’s why the middle class can afford lots of things. A living wage makes it possible for middle class types to buy those cheap things made by automation or partial automation. Because of those things, the middle class in the western world has grown, and while the ranks of the rich may have fallen, mostly, the growth was from the lower classes. Once the lower classes are gone, people aren’t willing to work for very low wages. Without the low wages, couture is impossibly expensive, even for the very rich (who have to pay income tax nowadays (there didn’t used to be income tax)).

I think those are the killers of couture. The masses, be they middle or lower class, have never known what it is to wear couture garments, unless we made them ourselves.

Bush and Torture

Note: Reprinted from Blog Sisters with permission.


A former CIA polygraph specialist who served in Vietnam, has tried to get the following Op-Ed piece accepted by several newspapers. They wouldn’t even accept it as a “letter to the editor.” Please feel free to use it in your own blogs.

FYI, this former CIA lie detector, John F. Sullivan, is the author of Of Spies and Lies: A CIA Lie Detector Remembers Vietnam He has another book ready for publishing that was held up by CIA censors. Here’s his thus-far unpublished Op-Ed essay:

Bush and Torture
by John F. Sullivan, former CIA polygraphy interrogator in Vietnam.

During Mr. Bush’s press conference on January 19, one of the correspondents asked the president to clarify his position on torture. “Americans don’t torture,” summed up his response. I don’t know if Mr. Bush was suggesting that Americans didn’t torture in the past, weren’t currently engaging in acts of torture, or wouldn’t engage in such acts in the future, but I do know that during my five years in the U.S. Army and 31 years as a polygraph examiner/interrogator with the CIA, I became aware that Americans did torture

Torture and prisoner abuse have been a part of every war in which America has engaged, at least in my lifetime, but was never a sanctioned policy. Torture has been to the U.S. Government, and police agencies which use it, analogous to what sexual misconduct on the part of Catholic priests has been to the Catholic Church: publicly denied, privately acknowledged, and occasionally tacitly approved. That changed with 9/11.

Vice President Cheney’s suggestion that in response to 9/11 we may have to go to the “dark side” of intelligence in our fight against terrorism, the administration’s declaring al Qaeda and other terrorists as enemy combatants, not POWs, in order to deny them protection under the Geneva Convention, and the Department of Justice’s memorandum of August 2002, which redefined torture, made it clear that “the gloves were off” and that in the pursuit of terrorists, “anything goes.” Torture went from being a “dirty little secret” to a condoned policy.

Of the aforementioned, the most insidious was the Department of Justice’s August 2002 memorandum which defined a coercive technique as torture, “…only when it induced pain equivalent to what a person experiencing death or organ failure might suffer.” This is an obscenity.

How does one determine when an individual being “coerced” has reached the point of being tortured – by the decibel level of the victim’s screams? I assume the person making that decision is the interrogator. If so, what training has he or she had in making such assessments? I would hope that no doctor would ever participate in such an exercise and contend that any doctor, who would, not only violates his Hippocratic Oath but is also right down there with the infamous Dr. Mengele.

In analyzing Mr. Bush’s “Americans don’t torture,” statement, I conclude that he based his statement on the DOJ’s definition of torture and that those pictured in the Abu Ghraib photos didn’t meet his criteria for torture. I would like to think that Mr. Bush does not share Rush Limbaugh’s view that what happened at Abu Ghraib was nothing more than a fraternity prank, but am concerned that many Americans might agree with Limbaugh.

My first reaction to those pictures was rage – rage at the sheer sadism depicted; rage at the stupidity of those who allowed the torture, rage at the lack of cultural awareness, and lastly, rage over the fact that those pictures were going to cost American GIs their lives.

The Abu Ghraib pictures make a great recruiting poster for al Qaeda, and I posit that more Muslims were recruited for the Jihad as a result of those pictures than GIs were saved as a result of information coming from torture victims.

It seems logical to me that an al Qaeda/terrorist fighting in Iraq, who saw those pictures, might be more motivated as well as more inclined to fight harder so as not to get captured. Do the battle cries “Remember the Alamo,” “Remember the Maine,” or “Remember 9/11” ring any bells? How about “Remember Abu Ghraib?”

What are the implications of those pictures for any American GIs who might get captured? Can anyone imagine the reaction in America if similar pictures of American GIs were coming out of Iraq? Were that the case, I don’t think our military would have to worry about recruitment shortfalls for as long as the war on terror is waged.

Senator McCain, in commenting on his ordeal in North Vietnam and in referring to his torturers, noted that one of the things that sustained him and his fellow POWs was their belief that, “We are better than this.” The Abu Ghraib photos seem to indicate that we are not better than we were back then.
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It would be great if you could mention — or even reprint — this essay in your own blogs.

Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue.

I’m not getting married. I’m already married. The theme for Studio Friday is something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue.

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Something old
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Something new
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Something borrowed and something blue

My husband had a fit when he saw the pattern cabinet. He thinks that it is ugly. Well, it is. But since we don’t have $3000 (US) lying around to buy a pretty one, this vintage pattern cabinet will have to do.

The new item is my latest version of Burda 8665, my favorite casual button down shirt. It’s still in process. I suppose the fabric could be considered old. It’s been aging in my stash for a few years, but the shirt will be new.

When I saw the theme, I almost decided to pass this week. I don’t have anything borrowed in my studio (our bedroom), but then I saw it and right next to something blue. I love C. J. Cherryh‘s books. And since I’ve had kids, I’ve rediscovered the library. We love the library.