The Sewist

I sew, knit and crochet hats. (Not all at the same time. Whaddaya think I am - a machine?)

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Yellowjackets: A Sewing Hazard?

On Sunday I was a woman on a mission to escape my hot apartment. So I filled a Nordstrom's bag with yards of black batiste, reams of matching fabric trimmed with white lace and rickrack, a pattern, notions, and made like a female bandit for Vogue Fabrics in Evanston. Not before stopping at a nearby Starbucks for their reduced-fat turkey bacon breakfast sandwich. But I didn't leave with a frappucino in hand. No, I kept my hands busy knitting my summer sweater. When the hands of the clock inched toward 12 noon, I made a beeline across the street for you-know-where.

As soon as I paid my $5 at the business desk at Vogue, I got this nicely typed out gift certificate for $20. Yes, after using the store's classroom 10 times, they reward you for all the money you've given them (not to mention the countless yards of fabric that you've taken off their hands for forever and three days). So the happy, sweaty camper I am, I gleefully stash the certificate in my purse for another day and promptly got down to having fun.

It took me a while to get started. At least an hour before I slice my fabric with scissors, during which assorted employees came through to take their break. Pat, who mans the notions counter, noshed on a sandwich in front of one of the many Viking sewing machines, while I studied instructions for my pattern (Simplicity 4179).

I'm finally cutting the fabric when I feel this pain in my finger. I look down. Did I cut myself? No, I see a bug on my digit. It stings me and flies off to land on the rim of a nearby garbage can. "A bee just stung me!" I cry, holding my poor little hand. "It's over there on the garbage can!"

Pat leaps up and smashes the bugger with a wadded piece of paper. It turns out it was a yellowjacket, not a bee, which I really wouldn't want to kill since these insects make honey, which I really like on my daily bowl of oatmeal.

My extremity is throbbing with the stinger still visible when I walk out to the notions room. I see Pat's colleague, the raven Avida. She tells me she killed the stinger's friend earlier in the ribbon room. Great. She encourages me to go upstairs to get ice. I'm not a store employee, but it's ok for me to the second floor, which I've never explored in all the years I've visited this shop? That feels going into King Tut's tomb.

Even so this is heady stuff. To go where no shopper goes? Wow. Avida shows me the way - a narrow staircase off the main room. Even though my finger is swollen and pinker than a watermelon, I soak up my surroundings. Unfortunately, the break room is very ordinary. A beaten-up microwave, a basic white refrigerator, faux wood paneled walls and fiberboard tables. Typical lunchroom furnishings. Somehow, I expected thousands of swatches on the walls, a bounty of dress forms, rare buttons and fashion designers hiding out from their day jobs. But it was ordinary. Now at least I can say I've seen the top floor!

With a wadded piece of brown paper towel and ice, I returned to the classroom. I finished cutting and started sewing.

Yesterday when I returned to the premises at least three people asked how I was feeling. I'm certain they want to make sure I could buy more fabric. If I died from a yellowjacket sting, I can't reduce their stock one iota. I'm sure my swift recovery was an answer to their prayers. While I was there, I saw Ace Seamstress Mac Berg in action (she did a demonstration on how to create chenille strips; see the above photo). I also used my gift certificate. More fabric for my collection, of course!

Enough about me. Have you ever gotten hurt sewing?



Blogger Knitting Mom said...

Last winter while altering some pants for a friend who had gastric bypass, I sewing through my finger and fingernail. My husband had to pull the needle out the fleshy side of my finger with pliers.
The next day the doctor x-rayed it to be sure there were no pieces of needle in there and gave me a tetanus shot. It healed well and really gave me very little trouble, but I have a new respect for my Bernina 1130 (and all machines). Trust me. This is an experience you can live without!

8:15 PM  
Blogger Kate said...

Yup! I sewed thru my finger while working in a costume shop in NYC - fortunately not the nail part but right next to it. I was so shocked I didn't feel it until much later. Nearly fainted tho'. These were industrial machines. Hopefully, never again.
Kate Q:-0

11:46 AM  
Blogger mamafrog said...

Hoo Boy--been there done that too! I've sewed through my left thumb twice now. Different times, fortunately. I have to learn to watch how I push fabric through the feed dogs. My father was bad about cutting the same thumb when he used his power saw, oddly enough. Guess that means we can really concentrate on a job!

6:55 PM  

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