Wednesday, January 28, 2009

I wrote a little while back about the CPSIA and how it affected small businesses and crafters. As I've continued my research I've learned that it goes way beyond just that. Books are included in the new bans. Not just new books for sale (that's bad enough) but ALL books for kids - so we're talking libraries and schools here.

Here is a little background about the book issue from a writer at Forbes.com. http://www.forbes.com/2009/01/22/cpsia-waxman-cpsc-oped-cx_wo_0122olson.html Just click "Skip this welcome screen" and you'll be taken to the article, you don't have to sign in or anything. There are 2 other parts to the Forbes articles. Type CPSIA into the search bar on Forbes.com if you want to read all 3.

At first I really thought congress couldn't be THIS insane. I mean, who is approving closing down children's libraries? That's just stupid. Then I visited the American Librian Association's website. It's real.
http://www.ala.org/ala/mgrps/divs/alsc/issuesadv/cpsia.cfm
http://www.ala.org/ala/newspresscenter/news/pressreleases2009/january2009/wocpsc.cfm
http://www.ala.org/ala/aboutala/offices/wo/woissues/governmentinfo/cpsia/index.cfm

If the librarians of the country are mobilizing, I'm kinda worried. We have a huge stack of children's books checked out right now. We rely on our children's library so much as homeschoolers.

Another aspect of the law that's causing lots of confusion is how it applies to thrift and second hand stores. The CSPC recently exempted thrift shops from testing requirements, but not from any other aspects of the law. So they do not have to test, but if they are caught selling something with lead in it, they will be subject to all the penalties. Since they don't always know where the toys and clothes they get in donations come from, many are choosing not to carry children's items anymore so they won't have this huge risk. I know of at least 2 children's consignment shops being forced to close by their insurance carriers who won't cover them anymore.
In this economy, I hate that people who rely on thrift shops for clothes for their kids are going to be so hurt.

So I urge everyone to write to your representatives in Congress and ask them to postpone implementation of this act until it can be amended and fixed. It just is too far reaching and full of unintended consequences. I don't believe they will have the problems worked out by the Feb 10th deadline.

My optimistic nature really wants to believe that someone in Washington will come to their senses and rework this thing to be logical, but so far they aren't giving me a lot to feed that hope with. So my cautious brain parts wrote this post. And to make things even easier for you to contact your reps., here ya go:
http://www.usa.gov/Contact/Elected.shtml

Thanks all.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

A Little Sci-Fi for Fun

The Geeky Quill asked about my writing. I realize I haven't written much about it here in awhile, so I dug out an old story. I wrote this for a contest over at Writing.com The first paragraph was provided, and we had to finish the scene. I won. I think because I was the only person to put a positive spin on the story.

Aftermath

Roaches. Thousands… no, MILLIONS of roaches came streaming out from under the old refrigerator, the rusty stove, and the broken-down cabinets. They scuttled over the countertops, and from beneath the peeling wallpaper. We looked on in horror and absolute disbelief as the tide of insects swept unerringly in our direction.

Disgusted beyond words, I turned to flee when Greg grabbed my arm, stopping me.
“Sandy, get a grip. Don’t you see what this means?” He actually sounded excited. Was he out of his mind?

I once saw a group of ants attack and kill a live grasshopper. The gruesome scene was very much in my mind as I watched the advancing insects.

“It means we need to get the hell out of here.” I tried to pull my arm away, but he held firm.

“No. There must be water here somewhere.”

That beautiful magic word pushed my fears back just far enough to listen to him.

“There’s no way this many roaches could live here without a water source. Think about it. We’ve seen them before, but nothing like this.”

I knew he was right. He was always right, damn him.

Since the fighting stopped we’d been waiting to find out what happened, and what would happen next. We assumed the government, one of them anyway, would tell us what to do. But no one ever came. We knew by now that no one ever would. Survivors and stragglers, all wandering lost, we found each other.

Every day Greg and I had been scavenging together. Looking for food, supplies, anything we could use, but always, ALWAYS needing water. Our small band of survivors would be even smaller if not for some of Greg’s ideas. As repulsed as I was, I had no choice but to follow him. He felt my resistance drop, and released my arm.

“All right, let’s find it.” He marched into the sea of bugs.

Taking a deep breath and imagining a big glass of cool water in my mind to block out the crunching sounds, I followed.

Greg pulled open the cabinet under the sink, which came off in his hand. There was nothing inside, no pipes, not even any roaches.

To me it looked like most were coming from behind the fridge. I opened the door, and fought down the bile that rose into my chest.

“Over here.” I managed to squeak out, turning away from the sight of cockroaches in various stages of development coating all the shelves of…well, who knows what it used to be. There was a powerful smell of rot and decay. Beyond all that I’d seen a large hole rusted through the back of the fridge, exposing a mossy pipe with a slow drip.

Rushing to my side, Greg gaped at it, and whispered, “We’re saved.”

________________________________________________________________________

And this isn't A Sci-Fi piece, but I'm proud of it because someone else liked it enough to publish it:
A Thief in the Night

Now writing this entry has inspired me to do some work on my sad, neglected alien cuttlefish story. I'll let you know how that goes if I ever finish it.

Monday, January 26, 2009

A pocket quilt



This is a project that I'd wanted to make for a long time and never seemed to get around to. I decided to make it a Christmas gift to force myself into a deadline. Luckily the kiddo loves it.

For awhile we were spending every morning searching for some tiny lost plastic animal. I'm not a morning person, so moving furniture is not what I'm hoping to do as soon as I roll out of bed. So I made the rule that only stuffed animals are allowed in bed at night. Then we started a ritual of carefully lining the "hard critters" as they are affectionately called up on the dresser at bedtime where they could be seen from bed.

The pocket quilt has saved the day!

Now it hags next to the bed. Each critter gets happily tucked into their own pocket at bedtime, and they are still there in the morning. No searching through blankets. No dragging the bed far enough from the wall to get an arm down there. Yea!

Plus, it's cute - if I do say so myself. Decoration and storage all in one. Maybe I need one for my room now. . .

It's super simple. I did it without a pattern, but I could probably write instructions up if anyone is interested. I just figured out how big I wanted it to be and worked backward from there for the size of each block and pocket. I know I've seen more elaborate versions out there too.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

More on Making a Quilt from Baby Clothes

The friendly quilters over at TheQuiltShow.com gave me wonderful advice about how to begin my quilt made from baby clothes. I was concerned because almost all the baby clothes are knits, and will be easy to stretch during sewing. Their advice: Use a fusible interfacing as a stabilizer to prevent stretching.

It's worked wonderfully so far. Here's the first block I made:



I wanted the quilt to use a variety of traditional star blocks. I picked this block to start with because it had a nice big center square where I could fit one of the cute applique embellishments from a toddler shirt. A lot of the clothing has appliques like this that I want to include, and I can this way. The fusible interfacing worked great. I bought the lightest weight interfacing I could find. The clothes are already a heaver fabric than the normal 100% quilting cotton I normally use, so I didn't want to add any more weight than necessary.

I bet this will be a very nice soft, warm quilt by the time it's done. I still can't quite close the drawer that I'm storing old baby clothes in, plus the little one is about ready to go up a clothing size again, so I'd better get going on this project!

Have you ever made a quilt from baby clothes? If so, share your tip in the comments. I'd love to hear your thoughts.

Foundation Paper Piecing Quilts

I've recently started learning how to use foundation paper piecing to make quilt blocks. I can see why it would be really helpful for making some kinds of blocks, very complex ones, or ones with very tiny pieces especially. However, I think I still enjoy traditional piecing. I haven't done a ton yet, so maybe more experience with the technique will change my mind, but I don't think so. When I started traditional quilting and piecing, I fell in love with it right away. That didn't happen with foundation piecing.



I did a few tries on my own with only online tutorials for help and they had some problems. In some cases, I didn't use big enough scraps so I didn't have enough seam allowances. Also I had problems with my stitching getting torn out when I tore the paper off the back.

Then I followed the instructions from Sue Garman for the 2009 Block of the Month Project over at The Quilt Show, and I did a lot better. This little house is made from her tutorial that she recommended before beginning the bigger, more complex feathered star block. The best advice was to use a super-short stitch length. My stitching didn't tear out when I tore the paper off at the end, and that makes a big difference.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Rick Woldenberg and the CPSIA

Regarding my previous post about the implications of the new act on small manufactures: I found this other blog post by Rick Woldenberg that says everything so much better than I can. He doesn't think the act should be amended, he believes it should be repealed altogether, and makes some damn fine points as to why.

The main point he makes is that lead paint was already illegal. So the problem was never that we didn't have laws preventing the problems with the lead contaminated toys of 2007, it was that we didn't enforce those laws. A new, more complicated, vague law that will be even more difficult to enforce and put thousand of American manufactures out of business even though not one American manufacturer caused a problem makes no sense.

To read his wonderful post on the subject, please see here:
http://learningresourcesinc.blogspot.com/2009/01/cpsia-emperor-has-no-clothes.html

Also, to help bring this issue to the attention of the Obama administration, please take a moment to vote here:
http://www.change.org/ideas/view/save_handmade_toys_from_the_cpsia

Thank you.