Sometimes It's Simple...

Here on the island there is no electrical grid. People have everything from solar to windmills to waterwheels to gas generators to provide electricity, but whatever the source, most have to drastically scale down their usage.

Being conscientious about the use of power is a always a good thing, but one electrical appliance has been the bone of much contention in our house. I sew, hence I use an iron. And you wouldn't believe how much power the average electric iron draws - usually 1200 - 1400 Whs.

After a particularly unsatisfying episode of trying to construct a Mariner's Compass quilt square without the ability to press the seams, I thought I would have to resort to using old fashioned sad irons. These are big hunks of cast iron with a handle that one heats up on the wood stove - but fairly hard to come by these days. I told someone who grew up on the island about my problem. He said his ex-wife used to use regular old clothes irons with the cord removed.

Aha! I went to the thrift store over in Parksville, and scored a lovely heavy iron that probably dates from the 1960's. Expensive at $5 - it was verging on the collectible side of things. But last night I used it for the first time and it worked like a hot damn. The heavy steel plate absorbed and held the heat from the top of the wood stove. With mist from a spray bottle it flattened seams in a way I haven't experienced since the days of my beautiful old Rowenta.

These days we have the stove going most of the time for heat, so ironing can be done without drawing a scrap of precious battery power. I feel so smug!! (And in the summer I guess I just won't sew - oh wait, there's lots of sun then - solar galore!)


  1. There has to be a better word than smug for coming upon such a great solution. I'm grinnin' for you.

  2. That is so great!

  3. Hot damn what a great idea! I'm busy finishing 2 quilts for Xmas gifts. I'm glad I have a Rowenta, but the wood stove sounds much more charming :)
    Happy sewing!

  4. Anonymous7:18 PM

    Well, you're light years ahead of most of us, excavating the past for solutions to present day problems. I used to think that the future would look like Blofeld's lair in one of the early James Bond movies. Everything was slick and heavy on the minimalist brushed steel. Monorails would zip by and we would all be dressed in polyester turtlenecks. Was I ever wrong! Now it looks like the future will look something like the mid-19th century. We'll be making more things by ourselves and using and re-using everything instead of just throwing them away once they go out of fashion.
    Lead the way Heather! We will follow you into the future!! Jean-Pierre

  5. I have a kerosene iron for ironing. You can get one out of a Lehman's catalog...but not for 5.00. (smiles)
    They are quite intriguing to use with a blue flame always aglow inside them. It feels daring to say the least.


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