Tag Archives: design

Hexed

I tend to get a little obsessive/fanatical about certain colors, textures, and shapes.  For a few years, I loved the diamond.  Not hard-assed sparkly rocks that people die for literally and figuratively, but the shape in a flattened geometric form.  I had some awesome diamond-shaped eyeglasses back in the late 1990s that I wore to dust; I have some argyle clothing, jewelry with diamond shapes, some great vintage diamond-shaped buttons I’ve yet to use, and I’ve sewn and knitted many diamonds.

Little did I know I had a thing for hexagons too.

I knew I liked antique hex tile floors.  I had an original one in my first roach-infested apartment (it wasn’t the first of several infested, it was the first and happened to be infested).  And I fantasize often about having one again (a tiled floor, not an apartment full of cockroaches).

I photograph tiled floors when I see them, including this one in the late 1990s, which also served as evidence in case I was brutally murdered or came down with an incurable STD or sudden Bukowski-like alcoholism from the seediest hotel I’ve ever patronized in Niagra Falls (I mean seediest ever, not one of many in Niagra Falls).

niagra falls seedy hex

And check out this awesome antique floor in a non-hipster cafe in Brooklyn I saw last year:

Hex - phone

(And yes, I have a cheap-ass pre-paid phone and can’t figure out how to email the picture to myself, so yeah…)

When we first started fixing up our former house, I was completely and entirely ecstatic when I found this in the bathroom:

hex3

However, my joy was short lived when I found other things:

hex4

And the absence of the tile throughout and/or layers of cement and other impenetrables that prevented us from salvaging the original floor.

I wanted to put down a new authentic porcelain hex floor, but the high price sent me to the big box for the cheap alternative:

hex2

Still porcelain hexagons, but not quite the real thing – the real deal is more flat and matte with thinner grout lines.  I loved that bathroom though, and I yearn for that giant cast-iron tub again…

But I’m still always on the look-out for hex floors and sometimes find them in surprising places:

hex1

Like out in the woods in the middle of nowhere.

But the fiber word is awash in hexagons as well.

One of the classic quilt patterns – Grandmother’s Flower Garden is all about the hex.

I found this in an antique shop last year:

quilt square-hex

Look how small the hexagons are!  The tiny little hexes are just a little bit bigger than a hex floor tile.

quilt square-hex-det

I wonder if the maker was sick of it after one motif, this was a leftover from a finished quilt, it was made to be a chair pad or other small item, or yeah, maybe she (maybe he but not likely) died.  I love the inconsistent greens as well – I wonder if it was made from old-time scrubs or nurse’s uniforms, or if the fabric was home-dyed.

For those of you in the knitting world, you’re probably expecting me to say I’m hip-deep in hexipuffs for the Beekeeper’s Quilt and that’s what this is all about.  Nope, though I like it a lot, and considered it for a little while, I’m going to pass for now (even though I may have purchased a few mega-sale skeins of sock yarn with this in mind).

I occasionally find myself designing floors for bathrooms, kitchens, and foyers of homes we don’t have.  In fact, one of the houses we purchased over the last year had a half-bath (I hate the name “powder room”) small enough that I could justify the price of the real thing and to my own custom design.  But alas, I must settle on non-floor hexagons for now.

But look at this!

63050463502674595_HcReHRQr_c

(Picture yanked from internet – no idea of its original publication)

Ok, so a floor again, but even though whatever house we’ll eventually get will eventually need to be re-sold, I’m really tempted to do something along these lines.  I don’t know if it is paper or fabric, but it would be fairly economical and a more interesting alternative to the paper bag floor (which I also sort of like, but can’t get past that leather crazy quilt jacket look of it).

But back to what I can do now, which really isn’t something I can do since I must finish other things first, but what I’m fantasizing about doing is a traditional hexagon quilt.  After a summer’s worth of basting letters for an appliqued quilt, and though at the time they often annoyed the hell of of me, I had the brilliant epiphany that a quilt can actually be as portable of a project as sock knitting.  Though that is probably obvious to all already, I’d never thought of making quilts outside of hours-long blocks of time at home.  And though my earlier thoughts of sewing a quilt by hand were along the lines of you’ve got to be f*cking joking, I now want to piece that bitch up one by one by one in airports, while visiting other people’s houses, in waiting rooms, and sprawled on the sofa while binge watching some mildly awful but addictive television series.

I haven’t decided whether or not to use my current stash and scraps or come up with something a little more uniform and floor-like, but I’ve sure as hell had fun playing with the possibilities – at least in my head, of course, since I really can’t be spending any real time on it.  (And I haven’ t yet printed off a bunch of blank hex sheets I found on this site).

I’d be remiss in not mentioning the hexing possibilities with crochet in the form of hexy granny afghans – see this Flickr group for pics – but alas, I don’t crochet.  I don’t like the looks of it sometimes, but that’s usually the maker’s fault for choosing crap acrylic yarn, or poor colors, or having no general aesthetic sense.

But I’d like to learn one of these days…

Oh yeah, and my inner jukebox plays this every time I think of the word hex:

The 1990s infected me with a whole wiggling writhing wad of ear worms…

Leave a comment

Filed under collecting, hiking, home decor, quilts, sewing, thrifting

Meet (some of) my sewing machines…

I learned to sew (or rather I learned how to use a sewing machine) on my mother’s 1960s era Singer.  I made some shapeless elastic waist skirts, “Jams” style shorts, and a few odds and ends in my youth.  During college, I borrowed the machine to make hats to sell at raves.  You heard me, raves – and the real kind back in the day, illegal and last minute and fun as a bucket of monkeys.  I loved her machine – it was metal and solid and felt like well, a machine in the masculine sense.  A few years later I acquired my first vintage machine at my favorite thrift store for something like $6.99.

machines1I’ve had it for nearly 20 years and it is the machine I use most often, however I just had to put it on a time-out due to a tension issue that springs up after an unpredictable amount of time (sometimes after 3 days of use, sometimes after year or so) and it seems to always fix itself as long as I don’t use it for a month or so.

machines1-det

A partial repair tag still clings to the handle – perhaps this tension issue gave the previous owner troubles as well…  After finding this machine, I was on the lookout for more.  Why?  I think I figured it would be nice to have the same one to use for parts if need be, I wanted one with zigzag and other stitch functions, and I just really fell in love with solid things made of metal that could last lifetimes – yes, the plural form.  I hate everything about the objects of our disposable society these days, but then again, obsolete, near-obsolete, and old timey things weigh a ton and are a pain in the ass to move.  But after a few years, I had amassed a collection of around 15 sewing machines, not to mention several typewriters and boxes of cameras and film equipment.  I didn’t move much then and used much of the equipment as furniture in my cramped apartment, but eventually most of it had to go.  Since I used the sewing machines on a fairly regular basis, I kept a half dozen of them or so.

machines4This is the back-up machine for when the pink Atlas is being temperamental.  It too came from a thrift store and I gasped when I opened the box – I’d never seen one that looked so like an automobile of the same era and I loved the deep green.  It sews strongly and steadily but the needle needs to be coaxed into the fabric in just the right way each time that I tend to get a little impatient with it.  Its best use is for sewing long seams or quilting.

machines2

This is the prettiest and the oldest of my current machines and it works just fine.  The bobbin is a little fiddly to work with so I don’t like to change it as often.  When I had more space (and when I will hopefully have more space again) I’d leave it set up with thread in the opposite color of what I was using in the other machine if I needed to hop on it for something else.  I believe this was originally a treadle machine and motorized later, so I have intentions of trying to turn this back into a manual machine, but I’d rather find a treadle machine for a reasonable price (and I could fit in my car or have delivered) instead.  It is also in a re-purposed Morse case that is annoyingly without a lid, so at the very least, I need a new lid/container for it.

machines3

machines3-det

My brother found this lovely Singer for me, but it’s probably been a decade ago…  I have it nearby because I intend to try to find a couple of missing parts for it, but haven’t done much searching around for them yet.  Ironically, it also came with the manual and a few extra tools, so someone was meticulous about keeping it all together only up to a certain point.  This one is also a more compact “portable” model, so it would be convenient to get it up and running as soon as possible.  I’m also slightly afraid to plug in anything old, so the first time I like to be prepared in case of an inferno.

And then I have perhaps two more?  I’m a little nervous that I can’t find them at the moment, but I believe that they could be in storage along with the other third of our stuff.  Hopefully I didn’t get rid of them in the frustration of the move.  One of them is another Atlas similar to my old stand-by that I found left in the trash on the curb in my old neighborhood.  Its cord was cut, perhaps indicating that the motor was blown or that it needs to be re-wired so I can use it for parts, or get it up and running again.  I believe the other machine is another Singer with a bad motor?

The machines I had but sold years ago included a couple of really old ones that had been motorized but weren’t very functional, I believe yet another Atlas, a less attractive 70s machine, and a blue White that I still can’t understand to this day why I got rid of it – it had a zigzag stitch, WTF?  But I think I thought I’d find another…

Some days I’m a little envious of others with the fancy-schmancy machines that will practically stitch up a cup of coffee or an offspring  but mostly I love my hunky metal beasts and will continue to do so…

Leave a comment

Filed under sewing, thrifting