Category: Hobbies

Arts & Crafts

Reading Time: 7 minutes

I don’t watch a good deal of commercial television anymore. We do have a cable connection through Spectrum (the old Time Warner) on one of the boxes in the house, but the 42″ in the den isn’t connected to the system. On that television, I have a ROKU stick and use it to connect through YouTube, Amazon, Netflix, Hulu and a host of other services that cater to that particular streaming option. Since we do still have the Spectrum account, I can even use the logon for the online service to connect to commercial stations like FoxSports, ESPN and even MLB to watch baseball occasionally. So I don’t need to spend the extra $60/month for another cable box.

Lately, I’ve been watching YouTube more than anything else, and my videos have been a collection of wrestling recaps (I may not be watching the WWE in Mondays & Tuesdays anymore, but I’m still keeping up with the gossip and random inanity they generate), how-to videos, and other accumulated pap just to keep myself entertained after working all day. About two weeks ago, I happened upon a video where this fellow from Utah was making a wallet from scratch, from leather. It was pretty fascinating. And intriguing. And I’ll admit, it looked pretty simple the way he was doing it. The caveat is that he’s been doing it for about 8 years now, so his movements are fairly practiced, still precise and he makes it look easy, although something of that quality rarely is. If I were standing next to him at his drafting table, making one right alongside (without coaching or tips) I can imagine my wallet would look very different from his. After watching the first video, I watched another. And then another. I didn’t subscribe to his channel, but I did start looking at other crafters videos, trying to get a handle on my interest. Was it just fleeting, or might there be something here for me? I’ve been looking for something to bring in a little extra money, and a bespoke business, even if it just sells a few somethings might be an interesting side gig. Of course, the initial outlay would be a slight impediment, since leather is a pricey commodity to be working in. The tools, for the most part, aren’t extremely expensive, but if you choose to do your stitching with a machine rather than using needles, nylon thread, and a saddle stitch, then you’re talking something in the thousands of dollars. Certainly way out of the budget of a hobbyist or sometimes crafter.

Unless you already have something on hand that would do the work in the meantime.

As it just so happened, my mother-in-law owned a Singer sewing machine.  As did my own mother, but hers is a 221 Featherweight, which I still have.  It’s definitely not designed for leather work, just mending, or making clothes.   In fabric.  It has a belt drive and the motor is very under-powered, on purpose, because of what it is, and what it was designed for.

My mother-in-law’s on the other hand, is a larger machine, with what’s called a a gear drive.  The wheel on the right side is turned by a gear on the inside, and it’s directly driven by the motor that’s attached (people have coined it the ‘potted motor’ because the housing on the motor looks like a small pot) giving it more torque and the ability to sew through heavier materials like denim, canvas or leather.  It took me a little time to figure out what model it was, as there was nothing on the machine that told me that directly.  Fortunately it still had the serial number plate, and with that I determined that the machine is a Singer 15-91 made in 1941.

Quizzing my wife about the machine, she informed me that her mother bought it new, and used it for all sorts of repairs on clothes, much as anyone that had purchased that model would have done.  It was colloquially referred to as the ‘Farmer’s Wife’ in that it was essentially ‘over-built’ in that it could do just about any repairs or duties that a rural wife would need done on a farm.  No Wal-Marts in those days.

It’s enclosed in what Singer called a #40 cabinet, where it would be attached to a plate and could be dropped down and the work surface folded up and over, making it into a small cabinet when it wasn’t being used.  My mother had one like it for her Singers, but her main ‘go-to’ machine when I was growing up was a little bigger than the 221, and it was partially computerized, in that it had stitches in memory, that could be produced on demand.  Even so, my Mom never got rid of her Featherweight, she’d had it since she had gone to college, and I was glad she kept it, as she taught me how to sew with it, and I still remember her lessons.

Getting back to the 15-91, my wife informed me that her mother kept it in good condition, but it really hasn’t seen any action in the last 30 years.  I’d actually completely forgotten that we had it, since it’s been in its ‘storage’ mode ever since we’ve been in this house.  Over the ensuing years, we’ve used the top of the cabinet for that purpose, and a lot of stuff had been piled on and the contents underneath left to the spiders.  It was pretty cobwebby when I finally pulled it up a couple weeks ago.  Even so, 30 years of inactivity hasn’t been unkind to the old girl.  I wiped it down, and did a little inspection on what it might need to be workable again.  Asking my wife again, she informed me that we apparently didn’t move her mothers’ sewing supplies, so all of that was lost to the auction when her parent’s house was sold back around 1999.  A loss to be sure, but not a completely insurmountable one.  The manual I found online, and there are a wealth of websites and videos that talk about this model, and since it is a rather popular model, there are a lot of places where one can get original as well as quality replacement parts.  Even motors, if it came to that.

My initial investigation and inspection informed me that it’s in pretty good shape for being set aside for as long as it’s been.  Its lacking in oil for lubrication and in order to do leather sewing it’s going to require a little assistance in moving the material.  An industrial specific machine would employ what’s colloquially known as a ‘walking foot‘ mechanism, but Singer never made such a thing for their domestic machines.  Fortunately, there’s an aftermarket walking foot available for about $20, and I found a website that caters to the 15-91 (as well as other models) and I can get not only that but the thread spindle that’s missing from the top of the machine.  While I’m at it I went ahead and got some leather specific needles, just to have on hand.

In the intervening week since I started this entry I received the items I ordered, installed the new presser foot, put in the thread spindle and was able to successfully wind a bobbin and thread the machine.  I even put in a leather specific needle and tried sewing on a scrap of old leather from an old restraint that I had laying about.  It worked pretty well overall.  About five minutes into my test the machine started to squeal a bit under load, so it definitely needs a shot of oil in certain spots.  But it was able to sew the leather adequately, and it didn’t shirk when asked to do so, even though I was using cotton thread instead of the nylon that’s recommended for leather work.  I made a side trip to Joann Fabrics last weekend and was able to get the specific oil for Singer machines and will be making use of it in the near future.

Needless to say, unless I lost interest in the near future, I might have something to keep me busy in the interim.

Hello, 54.

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Another birthday, another year older.

My birthdays anymore are either ones when I work, or I have the day off and I don’t necessarily do much of anything. Certainly nothing like a party here at Casa Leathers, or any sort of organized celebration. Another milestone achieved really. I may get a present, I may not, it depends a lot on whether I mention there’s something I’ve desired, and just haven’t gotten around to purchasing for myself, and the wife gets it for me (except for a motorcycle….not going to get one of those. At least life-sized).

This year, we’ve been needing a new wheelbarrow and we’ve been off and on shopping for it both online and locally. It has needed to have certain aspects to make it good for both of us (not too big, not too small, dual wheels and so on) and not cost $500. Believe it or not, we’ve spent over two weeks looking at prospects and dismissing most of them as either being too expensive, too cheaply made too many bad reviews, or a combination of those. Home Depot, Lowes, Amazon, all have nice offerings, but none have really checked off all the correct aspects.

The wife suggested the local Tractor Supply as an option. I went there after work one day and scoured the store, but didn’t find any! How odd. I left without checking with a salesperson (should have known better) and came home to report my findings. Going to the online store presence, I discovered apparently in their ‘stock’ it was listed they had several. So we decided to go back on the ‘day’ of my birthday, to check it out further, instead of ordering one online and having it shipped specially to the store.

Parking outside, we headed towards the door, but my wife stopped us to look at something on the wall, and sure enough, there was the beastie that had eluded me so successfully yet days before. But it was HUUUUGE! Way too big for our purposes. Heading inside, I made my way to the Customer Service counter and spoke to the employee there, informing her that we were in the market, but the one she had outside was too big, and did they having anything similar, but slightly smaller? Looking through her computer terminal, she determined that indeed she did, and someone was in the back assembling them.

Horrors! An assembled ‘barrow won’t fit in the new Murano. Would be way too big. Is it possible to get one unassembled? Sure enough, it was. Although admittedly it surprised her that I asked, most of her customers wanted theirs in one piece, not forty. Up stepped the wife (once I corralled her from the far side of the store) and paid for my present. Transported it out to the vehicle, loaded it up and headed for the ice cream stand/greenhouse to celebrate our victory!

I managed a birthday present and ice cream on the same day! I’d say that was a pretty good score. And I had a project to complete when I got home. Which I did. The wheelbarrow is all together, and sitting in the backyard now…with no pieces missing!

I done good. Happy 54th, Leathers.

Stay on topic!

Reading Time: 4 minutes

I don’t as a rule spend a great deal of time on Facebook, but the times that I go there, I check on a few things, then leave again for the better part of day or more.  I’m a member of quite a few diverse groups, and yes, some of them are kink related.  Though I do my best to relegate the ‘kink’ portion of my life from the interests of vanilla people who I’m related to, friends with on Facebook, simply because it’s a conversation I really don’t think I need to be having with them.

One of the groups that I have been a member of for many months is ‘Friends who like Steel Restraints’.  It’s mostly a picture sharing group, with an occasional post from someone detailing their interest with the topic.  So far as I can tell, there’s one Admin, she’s submissive, but is fairly active.  In the last week there’s been a couple of members that have been posting pictures that are most definitely off-topic.  Yes, they have references to BDSM in them, however none of them have steel restraints, which is the topic of the group.  The member that keeps reoffending is from the Middle East, so I can pretty much guarantee that English is not his primary language.  Seeing as I’ve been berating him for his pictures for the last week, he’s been on occasion messaging me asking what my problem is, and why I’m so irate over his pictures.  I keep explaining over and over that his pictures are inappropriate for the group.  But he just doesn’t get it.  Too, up until yesterday, I was pretty much the only one in the group (of over 4,000 people) who has said anything negative.  Usually there are comments like “Nice” and “Wish it was me”  and so on.  I suppose many people are just too polite to mention that he’s not following the rules of the group.

Late last night, someone in the group had ‘liked’ my comments and observations, and then the offending pictures disappeared by this morning.  I had found one of the original posts by the Admin and asked if she was interested in sharing duties as Admin, if she was feeling overwhelmed.  I never got a reply from her, so I guess she feels that she’s got a good handle on the situation.  Which is fine, it’s her baby, let her deal with the brouhaha.  Also this morning, someone posted a series of pictures that were dead on with the topic of the group, so not only did I thumbs up it, I also commented thanking her for posting it.  She replied while I was at work, and I answered.  She hasn’t replied to that reply, but that’s ok.  I posited some theories about Gor, as her username started with ‘Kajira’, and I have some knowledge of the Normanian universe.  Read the books at an earlier time in my journey.

Chained-together20180627_233225.jpgThe few pictures that I’ve posted to the group have been well received, and even now a couple of months later, people are still commenting and liking them.  So I know I, at least am on the right side of the angels.  I really didn’t want to leave the group, as the topic is something I’m very interested in.  Just want it to be good for everyone there, without being tainted by either bad apples, or clueless figs.

Kink wherever I go

Reading Time: 3 minutes

We’ve had guests of the vanilla persuasion here this week, so my kinkified living situation (ha, I made a funny) has been on vacation as well. Even so, my BDSM addled brain continues unabated and I can confirm that due to something that happened yesterday while we all were out running errands.

After visiting a strip mall to get cat litter (Petco has a deal where one can get 35 lbs./15.87 kgs. of litter for $10) and discovering a women’s clothing store was closed/vacant that one of our out-of-town guests had intended to shop, we jetted down to the local Kohl’s and shopped there instead. Having finished that errand, we still had some time to kill waiting for the appropriate hour for going to dinner.

We have a Hobby Lobby here, and admittedly I’ve never been in one. It’s an experience to be sure. Similar to Michael’s (coincidentally there’s one of them nearby) in that they sell all sorts of items from picture frames to knick-knacks, baking supplies, model kits, painting supplies and so on. The owners of the company are religious, so the store is closed on Sundays (like Chick-fil-a) and they have religious Muzak playing over the sound system. At least its not so annoying you’re going to wish you were deaf. The staff are friendly, even to the point of ebullience.

While we were all there, we pretty much went our separate ways. I just flitted from one area to the next, looking for things that appealed, always keeping an eye out for bargains. Even so, my kinky underpinnings were having a good time. There were plenty of crafty items that could be repurposed, though a Lowes or Home Depot would make many things easier. Wrought iron bars with accompanying elbows could easily be transformed into restraints or even tie down spots on a bed or chair or even a floor or wall. For many years Kink.com and Insex made a mint showing how simple items could be bastardized into something very kinky and extremely versatile. Just have to possess the right imagination and see beyond the original intended purpose.

In the end, I only bought a couple of things. A trivet for my personalized cutting board, and a dual 5×7 picture frame with matting board at 75% off. I can print my own pictures on my inkjet printer and they come out pretty flawless, especially on glossy photopaper. I know a photographer would be able to tell the difference, but I’m not opening a photo gallery anytime soon. I opted not to get the wooden or steel letters that could spell out BDSM somewhere in the house, that’ll be a project for another time.

What a game!

Reading Time: 5 minutes

4480f44b5cbf28cd0fe3bf11b58529dbI’m an unabashed Boston Red Sox fan.  And no, I didn’t just recently come to rooting for them, I’m not one of those.  I’ve been watching and enjoying their successes (and lamenting their downfalls) since about 1975.  When I was growing up, my parents were avid New York Yankee fans.  To me, rooting for the Yankees was easy, since, during most of the 20th century, they managed to have incredibly good fortune getting to the post-season, amassing 20 World Series titles by the 1970’s.  By contrast, the Red Sox were mired in a slump dating back to 1918.  So, not quite the ‘loveable losers’ like the Chicago Cubs (who hadn’t won a World Series since 1908) but they were most definitely the underdogs, and who doesn’t want to root for an underdog?  Of course, considering my parents were rooting for one team, I felt I needed to give some love elsewhere.  And it created a rivalry of our own.  The other team I rooted for was the New York Mets and even managed to get to Shea Stadium a few times before it was demolished.

Over the years, the Sox have gotten to the World Series, only to be denied again and again.  Even in 1986, when the Mets & Sox were in the Fall Classic, I was a bit torn, wanting both teams to win.  I even managed to score tickets to see a couple of the Series games in Queens, I was in college and one of my housemates’ father was on the umpiring crew.  So we took the train from Poughkeepsie to Grand Central in NY, hopped on the subway and headed out to Shea.  That was amazing.  I’ve never been to a World Series since, and probably never will. But at least I have that memory in my quiver.

Getting back to the topic here, last night the Red Sox were playing the LA Dodgers in Game 3.  The Sox were up two games to none, having won both games that were played at Fenway Park in Boston.  I’m absolutely certain that no one was expecting what happened last night, certainly not me.  I was fully expecting to get to bed after the game (I did) and get a good night’s sleep before picking up where I left off in the cleaning process for my mother’s visit come Monday.  Only, that’s not what happened.  The game was a seesaw battle from the beginning.  The Dodger pitchers had been hammered pretty hard in Games 1 & 2, and they put a 24 yr old kid on the mound to start Game 3.  As it turns out, it was a great move by Dodger manager Dave Roberts.  The kid was stellar.  Completely unfazed by the array of hitters that came up in the Boston lineup, and he sent them down either by strikeouts or by getting them to pop up or ground out (mostly pop-ups).  Los Angeles (LA) managed to draw blood first this game, connecting for a solo home run off the Boston starter, Rick Porcello. After that, it became a bit of a boring game, the innings started to blend together, at least until Boston managed to tie the game in the 8th on a home run.

Once the game went into extra innings, it definitely took on a life of its own.  And got weird.  Boston went ahead in the 13th, on a crazy play, and then the Dodgers tied it again in their half of the inning.  The two teams were going through pitchers at a terrible pace, and one of the announcers even mentioned at one point that the game had used 23 dozen baseballs by the 15th inning.  Considering in the early part of the 20th century, both ball teams would only use ONE ball in a game, that was a mind-boggling statistic.  Just a little historic nibble for you, that changed after a player was killed by a pitched ball. After a rule change, as soon as a ball got even a little dirty, it was replaced by a clean one.  Which is why nowadays the major (and minor) leagues go through so many baseballs.

The game had started at 8 pm Eastern time.  By 3 am, it was still going.  I made a pact with myself that at 3:30, win or lose, I was going to head to bed. I had things to do here today, and couldn’t be sleeping until noon because they were still playing baseball at 6 am.  Of course, once I had shut off the game, it ended.  Certainly, that was to be expected, since, after about the 15th inning, both teams were just trying to hit the ball as hard as they could, to attempt to get a home run.  So, there were a lot of strikeouts, a lot of line drives and very little strategy on the parts of either manager.  Boston had managed to go to the pitcher that was supposed to start Game 4.  He managed to throw nearly 100 pitches in relief, clearly 40+ more than the guy that started the game did!  It was little wonder he gave up the game-winning home run.  I expect in a way it was almost a relief.  That game definitely needed to be over.

While I’m sorry that the Red Sox lost the game, it’s not the end of the world.  They’re still ahead 2 games to 1, and with two more wins, will have clinched the World Series.  I remain optimistic!

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