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Friday, December 30, 2022

F³ Innovation

            Sewing took longer than everything else, even the making of the box. At first, I tried to freehand it, working my fingers through the bristles to pass the twine through, but that failed, instantly.

            “You need a needle,” Evelyn chuckled.

            “You have one?”

            “Not for twine, and not long enough to get through that.”

            This was a fair point. I wasn’t about to go hunting down the needlemaker—whoever that might be—to have a custom broom needle made at the moment. So we improvised with a stick. I used my dagger to whittle down one end to a pointy-ish end, and carved a little notch all the way around the other end where we tied the twine in place. An eye would probably have been better, but I wasn’t going to try a delicate operation like that with my dagger. I would’ve loved to have had the knife and pliers on my multitool for this kind of work, but they were back in my apartment. In Brooklyn. In an entirely different universe from what I could tell.

            My stick worked well enough, and we passed it back and forth through the wedged bristles. We pulled them tight with each pass, straining the twine as we pulled and looping in a little knot to keep it tight. I had no idea what kind of stich it was we tied—Grammy would’ve gladly told me—but Evelyn picked up on it right away, and taking the lead by telling me whether the loop should go over or under, and where exactly the needle should go.

            For it not being something she wanted, she sure took over, fast.

            We added a second row of stitching. I couldn’t remember if there was only one row of stitching or two on Grammy’s broom, but thought it better safe than sorry. For that we pulled the broom up out of the box a little bit, then started again. By far this was the most labor-intensive broom Evelyn had ever made, but she worked silently, getting into a rhythm where she really didn’t need me.

After tying the handle on, she didn’t need to really hold it upright, just make sure her feet and calves held the box firmly. Our improvised needle was long enough to get to the other side of the box, easily, so it was just repetition. In a few minutes, she had finished tying off the second row of stitching.

With that, we unboxed. The natural bristles did fan out a little more than I had wanted, but they kept tight, for the most part. A third row of stitches much lower down would probably do the trick, but for a prototype, this was good enough.

“It’s a broom,” Evelyn declared. “Why did we go through all that extra work?”

I grinned, and passed her one of her original brooms, and we had a contest. She swept the dirt and loose bristles out of her little shop. I went through with my broom, and got all of the dirt that her broom had missed, which was a significant amount, and I didn’t have to work as hard at it, either.

That convinced her, but she looked the new design over as if it was magic.

“Now, tomorrow can we make some brushes for me?

“That depends?”

“On what?”

“On whether you’re going to show me a better way to make them, too.”

Friday, December 23, 2022

F³ Labor Saving

            Back at Evelyn’s shop, we spent more of our time talking about the open box I brought back than eating. In the end, talk was cheap, so we went to work with it.

            “First, we put the box on the table so it’s at an easy height. Then, we pack our broom bristles in there.” We stuffed handfuls in vertically until the box was almost overcrowded. It became apparent very quickly that the bristles were way too long, too, but we kept going. Figuring out the ideal bristle length would come later as we progressed.

            “The box will make it easier to tie them to the handle, but why didn’t you make it round, like a cask? That would have better.” Evelyn jammed in two last strands of bristle straw.

            “I’ve got a plan. Now we need the stick, and your twine for tying it to the stick.”

            She passed over the stick, but I had her keep the twine and sit back down in her chair. Once sitting, I pulled the box over and stick it between her feet so she could grip it in place. I worked the stick through the loose bristles to the top of the box.

“Okay, now wrap and tie the twine as usual. Good and tight. Really bend the bristles to the handle.”

She wrapped it a few times, then made to tie the knot.

“A few more wraps, and tighter,” I said.

She shrugged and wrapped it tighter, then tied the knot.

“Well, done. And a neat way to do it, that will make things easier for me. I think I prefer a cask, though.”

“We’re not done yet, I smiled. We’re going to sew the bristles into place, there, so they stay in this shape.”

“And who would want a broom in this shape?”

“Everyone. When we’re done, if you don’t like it, I’ll buy you a cask to use, instead, but I think you’re going to like it.”

“I’m not sure what land you come from, Shamus, where they make such strange brooms. Very well; you did buy me a good lunch, after all.”

Friday, December 16, 2022

F³ An Idea

            Working for Evelyn the broommaker was not glamorous, but at least it didn’t involve the harsh chemicals of the tanner or the messy powders of Ernst the apothecary. Most of what was involved was simply holding things in place while Evelyn tied the straw, which I found out was not actually straw but just random grasses from outside of town.

            I couldn’t help but think that the old-fashioned witch brooms—as I thought of them—were wildly inefficient. The broom bristles would have been much better lined up in a flat row like what I could pick up from any home goods store or bodega. Only, I knew injection-molded plastic frames and machine inserted synthetic bristles were not possible. Still, I remembered the old-fashioned bristle brooms from growing up, and thought there could be a way to make it happen.

            I offered to pick up lunch for the two of us, and went back to the bazaar with Ranger. On the way, I stopped by a carpenter’s shop, and described what I wanted, gesturing the dimensions with my hands. He nodded and said it wouldn’t take but a few minutes, and I gave him a few coppers.

At the bazaar, my sausages were still not ready, but I was able to pick up some salted meats. I picked up some cheese, some fruit, and fresh-baked bread from Marion, who gave me an odd smile—I was going to have to deal with the rumors of me and Caitlyn, soon.

By the time I had the food, the carpenter had finished the tall, open rectangle frame.

This ought to do the trick.

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