Join Janet on her adventures as a designer, writer, maker, and farmer in montana. no two days are ever the same. you might even see a bear or two.

Descent Into Mediocrity

Descent Into Mediocrity

I got peas planted yesterday, just in time for it to snow.


The forecast is for 4-8” above 3500’ Saturday night. We’re at 3250’ and no doubt will get something. I know it won’t hang around long and there is nothing in the garden that can’t survive a bit of wet and cold, but I was enjoying the nice weather.

The countdown to graduation has begun in earnest. I need to make a day trip to Spokane next week to take some suitcases and boxes over to DD#2 so she can start packing up. It looks like she’ll be living and working in Seattle—probably at a Nordstrom store—at least for the summer. I see many road trips in my future.

[As a side note, I may be blogging less in May because of my schedule. Please don’t be alarmed if there is a stretch of time without posts. I expect to be posting regularly again in June.]

I also finished a batch of grocery bags. It certainly does help my poor addled brain if I only do one color combination at a time. I’m less likely to screw up something.


Wal-Mart is not a store I frequent, although there are some products I can get there and only there. And when I am in Spokane and rarin’ to go at 6 a.m. (because I gain an hour and I’m usually up early anyway), I’ll often wander around Wal-Mart to kill time before the rest of the city wakes up. The last time I was in Spokane, I found this:


It’s a 60” x 70” blanket that zips up into a rectangular shape for storage. Yes, I bought it. It was $9.97. I bought it because I was equal parts intrigued and horrified—intrigued, because I wonder if I can reverse-engineer it and make something similar (that falls under “product development”), and horrified because it is so poorly constructed. The “fabric” is some polyester weave similar to that fake paper-like “fabric” that features in a lot of reuseable grocery bags. The “quilting” isn’t real quilting; it’s embossed into the polyester at regular intervals. And then there is this quality stitching:


I could probably sew straighter blindfolded.

We could have a long discussion about the damage Wal-Mart has done—and I won’t disagree—but this is indicative of a much larger problem. We’ve destroyed ourselves as a country. I do most of my sewing on a machine that is 70+ years old. How many modern sewing machines do you suppose will still be operational in 70 years?

[On a related note, I had the chance to sew with some 100% cotton fleece recently, and I am going to switch to that instead of minky for my minky-and-flannel blankets. It’s a bit more expensive, but at least I won’t be contributing to the problem of microfibers accumulating on the floor of our lakes and rivers.]

I have a black 100% wool dress that I bought at Target eons ago; I think DD#2 was probably 3 or 4 at the time. I still have it and I still wear it. It’s a reminder of the days when stores didn’t specialize in disposable clothing designed to fall apart after several washings. And no one seems to understand basic sizing and drafting principles. Last week, I checked out the Liz Claiborne section at JC Penney. That has always been a brand that fits me well, but I’ve decided that all their clothing designers now must average about 5’ tall, because everything is too short. (At 5’7”, I am hardly a giant.) Even the higher-end stores are not immune—last fall, I found a hot pink wool coat at Nordstrom that I really liked. I could tell from the model in the store that the sizing ran small, so I ordered an XL for myself. When it arrived, I couldn’t even get it on. I had to send it back (with a suggestion that they find a different supplier).

Even without a background in fiber arts, I think I would still be able to tell what is good and what isn’t. My mother sewed a lot of clothes for us when we were kids and we were raised with a basic understanding of what makes quality clothing. I can’t find it anymore. The fibers are shoddy, the workmanship is even shoddier, and the sad part is that most people now accept this as normal because they’ve never known anything different.

When I am done figuring out the construction of this “blanket,” it’ll get thrown in the car for emergency picnics and the like, although I don’t expect it to last more than one or two uses.

A Weekend of Surprises

A Weekend of Surprises

A Rolling Stone

A Rolling Stone