Sunday, 27 January 2013

Venezuelan Book Mobile

 It took awhile for this article to make its way around the web, but I think it is great!! 

I grew up in a rural area with the closest library being in my school, almost 45 km away, and closed in the summer. I took advantage of the University of Manitoba's extension library. Selections were made from a catalogue and mailed to you in a canvas bag. It was wonderful!
 If the link doesn't work, here is the story.

Last Updated: Saturday, 4 August 2007, 10:20 GMT 11:20 UK
Venezuela's four-legged mobile libraries
A university in Venezuela is using a novel method to take books into remote communities and encourage people to read. As James Ingham reports, the scheme is proving a great success.
The village children love reading the books that the mules bring

Chiquito and Cenizo greet me with a bit of a snort and a flick of the tail.
Mules are too tough to bother being sweet. They do a hard job which no other animal or human invention can do as well.
But these mules are rather special.
They are known as bibliomulas (book mules) and they are helping to spread the benefits of reading to people who are isolated from much of the world around them.
My trek started from the Valley of Momboy in Trujillo, one of Venezuela's three Andean states.
These are the foothills of the Andes but they are high enough, especially when you are walking.
Slow but steady
The idea of loading mules with books and taking them into the mountain villages was started by the University of Momboy, a small institution that prides itself on its community-based initiatives and on doing far more than universities in Venezuela are required to do by law.

Spreading the joy of reading is our main aim
Christina Vieras, project leader
Accompanying us was local guide Ruan who knows a thing or two about mules.
He was their boss, cajoling them carefully as they started up the hill at a slow-but-steady, no-nonsense plod.
The deeply rutted, dry and dusty path snaked its way up. The sun beat on the back of my neck.
We were all breathless, apart from Ruan.
Diving for books
A break came when it was my turn to ride a mule. I enjoyed a great view of the valley but held on tight as Chiquito veered close to the edge.

Map of Venezuela
Hot and slightly bothered after two hours, we reached Calembe, the first village on this path.
Anyone who was not out working the fields - tending the celery that is the main crop here - was waiting for our arrival. The 23 children at the little school were very excited.
"Bibilomu-u-u-u-las," they shouted as the bags of books were unstrapped. They dived in eagerly, keen to grab the best titles and within minutes were being read to by Christina and Juana, two of the project leaders.
"Spreading the joy of reading is our main aim," Christina Vieras told me.
"But it's more than that. We're helping educate people about other important things like the environment. All the children are planting trees. Anything to improve the quality of life and connect these communities."
Internet plans
As the project grows, it is using the latest technology.

Mountain children reading
I love reading books and we get told some really nice stories
Jose Castillo
12 years old
Somehow there is already a limited mobile phone signal here, so the organisers are taking advantage of that and equipping the mules with laptops and projectors.
The book mules are becoming cyber mules and cine mules.
"We want to install wireless modems under the banana plants so the villagers can use the internet," says Robert Ramirez, the co-ordinator of the university's Network of Enterprising Rural Schools.
"Imagine if people in the poor towns in the valley can e-mail saying how many tomatoes they'll need next week, or how much celery.
"The farmers can reply telling them how much they can produce. It's blending localisation and globalisation."
Local enthusiasm
The book mule team played noisy games with the children, listened to them read and lunched with the adults, discussing over a hearty soup and corn bread how the community can develop the scheme.

This four-legged mobile library is not just keeping this place alive but making it thrive
One idea was using the mules to transport medicines which can be so hard to get hold of here.
Everyone I spoke to - both adults and children - was full of enthusiasm.
"It's great," said 12-year-old Jose Castillo. "I love reading books and we get told some really nice stories."
Looking up from reading her book about Harry the cat and his trip to the vet, Gesenae Guerdo told me she loved reading too.
"We share a lot of these books," she said.
Javier Sulveran, a young, bright man in his twenties, tells me that the village is very supportive of the project:
"The children are really motivated to read and we are too. A lot of the adults are reading more. It's great that they come up here."
The university has acquired a new mule. They are going to keep it in Calembe under the care of the locals, something Javier really approved of.
The mule will be able to get further into the mountains and spread the word to more villages that so far remain too remote.
With fond farewells we left Calembe behind. It was clear I was leaving a place with a strong sense of community.
This four-legged mobile library is not just keeping this place alive but making it thrive.
From Our Own Correspondent was broadcast on Saturday, 4 August, 2007 at 1130 BST on BBC Radio 4. Please check the programme schedules for World Service transmission times.

Thursday, 24 January 2013

Two Types of Trousers

 I have lacked trousers for awhile now. Finally, around Thanksgiving I decided to take action.

This pattern is from Schnitt Vision

Schnitt Vision allows you to customize patterns to your own measurements. The only problem, it is all in German. Thankfully the Geek is German, so she talked me through the process.
The fabric is a wool blend I bought at a garage sale up the street. I chose not to add the pockets. I wasn't sure I would like the pants -they have such a low rise and I am not used to that.

They fit well (as you would hope) except for a small little ...pouchy area... about three inches below the waist.
More visible from the side.

I modified the pants and the pattern and the 'pouch' is gone.

No, I'm not praying.
See? I've never worn pants with a zipper shorter than my little finger!

I might make these again; perhaps in a heavy weight knit or in a fabric with a bit of stretch. These pants tend to get a bit baggy during the course of the day and the 'sliding south' feeling is a little distracting.

On the other end of the spectrum, Eva Dress 3322.

I cut out this size according to my measurement. There is a LOT of ease in this pattern.

So, I took the pants apart, cut them down by three sizes, and took an inch out of the rise.

Of course, that meant they were about an inch to short (which works with my beat-up Birkenstocks, but not with most of my other shoes.

I have no idea what I was doing with my belly sticking out. And ironing would have been a good thing.
I added cuffs to compensate for the lack of length.

Unfortunately the cuffs are cut across the grain but I'm considering that a design feature.
I like both pair, but they could not be more different. (How's that for stating the obvious?) I have another pair in the queue -more middle of the road.

The Madly-Off-In-All-Directions* Skirt

I found a number of posts that weren't published (for some reason). This one is from the spring of 2010.

I seem to spend a lot more time reading blogs about sewing that I actually do sewing. I admire those people who can do both - and so prolifically!
I had lunch (leftover basmati rice and samosas from potluck the Geek attended the night before), tidied the kitchen, read a little, learned a few more chords on the ukulele and then went back downstairs. I studiously ignored the serger, instead applying the interfacing to the waistband and working on other projects.
Even tho' I know the serger is a diva, there is only so much nonsense I am willing to accomodate.

I bought this fabric because I like the colours, even tho' I had no clear idea of what I would use it for. don't remember where or when. I must have paid very little for it because while I can be impulsive, I am also very frugal. There was a lot of it on the bolt and while others may have liked it, they didn't know what they would use it for.

I saw Maelle's skirt,really liked it, and filed the idea away for future reference. However, when I saw Sal's skirt, a little ping went off in my memory and I went to search my stash.

The skirt itself is a bit of a disappointment. I still like the colours and the idea, but something has gone dreadfully wrong in the execution. This will require some more pondering.

*Madly Off in All Directions was a CBC radio show.

Sunday, 13 January 2013

Things I Don't Do

Lately, one of the things I don't do is sew. 2012 was a rather dismal year; two tops and two pair of trousers, as yet largely undocumented. But I have been thinking about sewing a great deal.
And I have plans.
1) My sewing room needs tidying; I have purschased a large plastic container in which to hold my stash until I can use it.
2) No new stuff until this is used up.
3) I have a pair of Thurlow trousers and a Renfrew top queued up as well as these EvaDress trousers I have alread made once. (slight problem; I've been sick for a week with some wretched bug and have lost close to ten pounds -what size to I make now?!) I hope these projects will inspire me to really get back into the swing of things.

I rarely make test items (the rest of the sewing world calls them muslins or toiles), I simply fiddle until I get the first item to fit. Then, if I like the results, I alter the pattern. I suppose that is like making a muslin, but there are times when I never make that item again, so maybe it's not.

I don't trace my patterns -I cut out the size I think I need. I think if I were to start tracing my patterns before cutting them out, I would stop sewing altogether. I cannot be bothered and would rather buy a whole new pattern that trace one I already have. Is that lazy, or a good use of my time?

I rarely look at the instructions and I take shortcuts whenever I can. I had orignally considered calling this blog Quick-and-Dirty Seams, but I figured that would get me entirely too much of the wrong sort of attention.

I don't set out to learn new things with each project. If I do learn new skills, great. If not, I have something else to wear. And in a world where the fashion industry does not design clothing for curvy girls (I am like Sarah, who  recently described herself as a mash-up of pear and hourglass), that is a bonus.

As this is a negative sounding post, I will end it positively.
4) I will get over this "'flu", and make friends with food again so I can get back to doing what I love to do. Sew.