Not Necessarily The News In Hoke
By Ken MacDonald
Guess who knows how to load a bobbin, and what a bobbin actually is? Yup, me, and that’s because my woodworking hobby took a somewhat strange turn when my daughter sent me an email asking me if I could build a “learning tower.” Those are two words you don’t normally see together, and the only mental image I could conjure was of those skydiving training towers I used to pass on Fort Bragg as a kid. I “learned” from watching the soldiers jumping from 200 feet off the ground that I didn’t ever want to be a skydiver.
A learning tower in new-mother-speak is a piece of furniture, sort of an enclosed stepstool with adjustable platforms, that elevates a child to the height of a kitchen counter so he or she can “help” cook supper, bake Christmas cookies or operate an easy-bake oven.
Not so ironic that my daughter would fancy one because she knows from experience that employing simply a chair is not such a good idea. When she was two, she employed a chair to try to reach a bottle of aspirin, fell, and broke her leg in two places. It was not such a good scene. It was just a couple of hours before guests were to arrive for her brother’s birthday party; it caused me to lose my father-of-the-year award for 1987, because after she cried in my arms for a few minutes, I picked her up, brushed her off and instructed her to “walk it off”; and the hospital staff nearly called DSS.
Nurse: “You let her reach for aspirin!?”
Me: “What. It’s got a child-proof cap.”
So, yeah, let’s not let that happen again; I’m on board (no pun intended) with the learning tower.
Just so you’ll know, you can buy these contraptions for $199, but you can build one for about $275. (Shhhh… don’t tell her grandmother.) My version cost a little more because I built it from oak lumber, not the sissy-fied pine or plywood that most people on the internet use when they copy the store-bought model. And because when my daughter said there needed to be more protection so that Hollyanne didn’t crawl out of the structure, my solutionwhich needed to be low-weight since I’d used heavy oak woodwas canvas fabric, and that meant I had to buy a sewing machine.
It also meant I needed to learn how to use one.
And that is how Saturday I was in the old pressroom with a six-foot bit of canvas stretched out ready to be subdued by a $50 sewing machine.
First, let me report that in regards to sewing machines, you get what you pay for.
Second, let me advise you to use hemming tape or sew a hem, but not try both. Fortunately, when the sticky from the tape kept gumming up the needle, I had a can of WD-40 nearby.
Third, don’t ever, ever, and I do mean ever, put a sewing machine needle in your pocketeven if it’s wrapped in paper towelbefore riding your scooter to Walmart for sewing supplies.