Friday, 12 February 2010

I am your conduit

My day job is a conversation stopper. People ask me what I do, I tell them I'm a scientist, they press for more information, I revert to geek and they glaze over and start dribbling out of the corner of their mouths. You have no idea how many dates I've lost because of this. It's sad. People back away from me when I talk about work. I don't fit in the real world any more.

The worse thing is is that as much as I love my job, I don't exactly fit with the real geeks either. I read things other than JACS, my idea of a meal is not something that comes in a foil tray, I wash my clothes, I wear jewellery and I have an A-level in Sociology. I don't find jokes about Linux particularly funny and I do not have a binary clock on my desk. Geek is my second language but I've been here so long, I sometimes feel I've lost my ability to speak in my mother tongue.

I knew things had got bad when I got the sewing machine out to solve a work problem.

This is my problem.

It's an NMR tube - a fine and quite expensive thin walled glass tube with a little plasic lid. It's got some deuterated chloroform in the bottom of it, plus the stuff I made in the lab yesterday. The issue is that these tubes are fragile and expensive and I have to take them to another room to do my measurements. Because of the way this place works, anything that goes outside of the lab has to be in a secondary container to protect against spillages. These things rattle around and are generally a pain to transport. It's not that it's unsafe (she says, looking at the scars on her hands), I just don't want to lose what's inside. It took me three weeks to make that, you can't even see it and I'm storing it in a glass tube a couple of microns thick. It's the chemical equivalent of taking a rare birds egg to a student party and expecting it not to end up as a tequila sunrise.

Anyway. I bought this fabric in IKEA last year. I don't know why. I like fabric.

I have a lot of fabric even though I can't sew. I think in my head I'd love to be able to sew when in fact I'm cack-handed and impatient. I hate ironing, I don't do straight lines and me and the sewing machine - well - we called an armed truce after the tote bag incident but we still view each other with a mild distrust. Accuracy is the casualty of speed when I sew. That and my fingers. I also have this fabric for some reason, which probably used to be a curtain and appears to have corn printed on it. It doesn't win any points for design unless I'm taking up making up cushion covers for a trailer park in the deep south, but its one saving grace is that it's plain on the reverse.

I have a picture in my head. I'm glad you can't see it because later on when it all goes pear-shaped I can claim it's how I wanted it to look. My mum always tells me I should measure twice and cut once. I found I can by-pass this rule by buying a larger bit of fabric and drawing round something. My NMR tubes are seven inches tall - it just has to be a bit taller than that.

A lesson that I learnt through trial and error is that oil pastels, conte crayons, overhead projector pens and/or permanent markers are not suitable substitutes for tailor's chalk. Really no. They also go straight through the fabric and onto the tablecloth. Which to be fair will probably end up stitched to this anyway, so what the hell. Eventually - two bits of fabric much bigger than I need in order to compensate for the inevitable screw-ups.

Let me introduce my sewing machine. We don't get on even though we've been together many years. We're like a married couple that tolerate each other, but only just. It also appears to have red thread in it, which confuses me given the last thing I remember making was blue dress for a fancy dress party. So now we have the bobbin arguement. I'd just like to say, at this point, that I am *really* pleased you have no audio feed.

Cutting down the fabric gradually gives me two rough squares, a wide strip and a narrow strip. I'm hemming the strips - well, actually I appear to be punching a small set of neat holes in the fabric for fun at the moment, but it'll hem in a bit.

Arrange, sew, hem...

...then add the mother of all pop-studs by hand.

I'm also adding an itty bitty bag because sometimes I need to swap the lids, so having somewhere to put them will save me shoving them in my pockets then having to fish the damn things out of the washing machine.

And I'm done :)

*sigh* I guess I could have said it was a jewellery roll.


Cinnamon Jewellery said...

I view sewing and sewing machines the same way you do - they are the enemy! Your bag/jewellery roll looks fine, better than I could do. Hope it solves your problem at work :D

Nic said...

I think it looks great. If that is you not being able to sew, imagine what it would look like if you thought you could do it!! Well done!

Violetstone said...

I would like to award you the Sunshine Award

Top Floor T said...

Hi, I'm a new follower, and was going to leave this comment on the first post, but made the (enjoyable) mistake of scrolling just a bit further and so it's ended up on the second post. Found you on the Folksy forum. Found the first 2 posts I've read hilarious! Off to read some more.