Tuesday, August 29, 2023

Summer of Invention #3: Toe Bugs


The Problem

First let me say this isn't about the cost of a sock. This is about fighting back against the throw-away, out-of-control consumerism that has brought us to the brink of the apocalypse. It is also about combatting the emotional embarrassment of finding yourself at someone's house or, worse yet, a spiritual retreat in Ojai, where it becomes clear that the exception is that everyone is expected to remove their shoes. And it is about cute little bugs. It is a win-win scenario. Part of the Summer of Invention has been about tuning in to quotidian, annoying little problems that generally go unnoticed and figuring out how to fix them. 

A graphic take on problem identification: sock toe holes

The Solution

I have always wanted a darning egg for purely aesthetic fondling possibilities. I have never known how they are actually used. I ordered a cheap one online that came with darning needles and a set of embroidery thread. It arrived within 24 hours. The kit cost less than a good pair of socks.

The solution: a darning egg kit

I then spent about twenty minutes watching online how-to videos regarding darning and felt I had grasped the general idea.

The Toe Bugs

As a rank beginner when it comes to darning eggs, I found my first toe patch looked scraggly and had a couple of random bits sticking out. It looked sort of like a bug. This was the "aha" moment; I rethreaded the needle, went back in, and added a couple of legs and antenna. 

The first wonky toe bug

Colors that pop make for happy toe bugs

This is admittedly an invention far behind the times, a recycled invention from yesteryear. Which may be a lesson about thinking twice before you dispose of anything, including ideas.

Wednesday, August 9, 2023

Summer of Invention #2: Hot Water Bottle Babies


The bottle babies

I have felt an affinity for the late Queen Elizabeth ever since I read years ago that she would wander the cold and drafty hallways of Balmoral Castle clutching a hot water bottle to her tummy. Even though I live in Oakland, California, which has what Rand McNally has declared the best climate in the world, the foggy, rainy winters can chill you to the bone if you live in a 1920s apartment building with one iffy radiator. I have been cuddling hot water bottles during the winter months for years, but they weren't doing much for my sense of aesthetics, leaving me feeling like a frumpy old queen.

The bottles need a cover to be both safe (protecting you from a scalding hot bottle), removable, and washable. The covers they arrived in from Amazon do the job, but they are neutrally ho-hum at best, and quickly become tired and worn looking after multiple washings.

The bottles

Original covers

The solution? Upcycled thrift store infant onesies, scored for $1 each and adapted for use.

The end result

The hot water in the torso and fiber-filled arms and legs make the bottle extraordinarily comfortable, and the onesies can be easily removed using the front fasteners and tossed in the wash.

The how-to:

Click to enlarge

And there you have it, a pleasing and practical solution to a problem of royal proportions.

Official royal portrait


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