Tuesday, January 6, 2009

doing it wrong: down pillows

I'm sure that if I had bothered to google "how to make a down pillow" one of the more important instructions would have read: "Stuff your pillow outside on a dry day."

But it's winter in Western Oregon and I wanted to knock off at least one unfinished project. Last time we had a goose slaughter, which was three summers ago, Ronan wanted to save all the down and make pillows. At the time of the dirty part of the deed I did at least look up something somewhere about down and so I knew to wash the breast feathers in knotted pillow cases and then put the pillow cases in the dryer. That worked great. ... And then four pillow cases of goose down
sat on some shelves for a very long time.
I sewed the pillow ticking by hand over the course of several meetings (if you can't knit at meetings, sew) but got bogged down by some neighborly advice that I would need to sew the pillow around twice to keep the down from escaping. I had already used maddeningly tiny stitches; twice just got to be more than my attention span could handle. So there the project sat, acting just like an abandoned project and popping up from time to time like a revenant - always at times when I'm doing something else, like making space for the Christmas tree, and don't have time to finish it off and lay its restless unfinished-project soul to rest.

But Ronan (wasn't this her project?) started nagging me about the pillow the other day - probably because I was nagging her about something she had left lying around unfinished. As if an enchantment had been broken I suddenly didn't care if the damn down escaped, or that, as I said, it's rainy and wet. I stuffed the pillow in the house, better yet, I did it next to the wood stove. Soon enough, the room looked like the aftermath of a pillow-fight scene in a feel-good movie. Ronan enjoyed pretending to walk slowly through the middle of the room so as not to stir up the fluff but not really doing it and then saying "Sorry," as the white down danced around in clouds in her wake. For me, it did feel good to finally get that pillow done. Wasn't that my New Year's resolution for last year ... to get projects finished? It was. Also I have a Compac vacuum, which is the most unkillable and therefore awesome vacuum short of a shop vac, especially when you get it for $10 dollars at a yard sale. I will someday do a product review on the thing. The Compac had no trouble at all hoovering up all the feathers.

The down side to all this? I have still have down left over. Fluffy dregs of down in four pillow cases that may never be down free. I'm keeping the stuff around for a while longer, cluttering up the shelves, to see if the pillow crushes down much with use.

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