No post last week - I spent almost all my time sorting, and hauling, and reorganizing. We are downsizing our studio - as of tomorrow we are down to half the space we've had for the last couple of years--back to what we started with. When we're all finished with the clean-out and arranging, it will be cozy and efficient, but in the meanwhile it's messy and some of the piles reach almost to the ceiling. Pretty scary.
I got nearly everything into the space by the end of last week, but the shelves that will organize all this stuff were being used elsewhere until now. So Friday morning we headed back to the lake for some R&R - well work too, but even work is relaxing here. We'll go back on the 4th for a "studio holiday"--putting up shelves and organizing to be ready for Open Studios and Sonja's show reception on Saturday.
Yesterday we did our first "real" ride on our new bikes. We rode the first leg of the "Sebago to the Sea" trail. We rode the section that starts at the south end of Sebago Lake. Part of it goes along a road, but much of it winds through the woods. It was beautiful, but perhaps rougher riding than we expected. It is a multi-use trail; no ATVs though - thankfully. A few places were more appropriate for hiking than biking - at least my style of biking. I haven't mastered jumping foot-high logs or weaving between large rocks and roots. Those sections were pretty short and the walk was welcome. We managed quite well though and the ride was a confidence-builder. Next time, though, we'll try a paved section.
The trail end on Sebago is lovely. The view is spectacular with the lake and the mountains in the distance. The shore is sandy with intermittent large rocks. It is a nice place for swimming and a picnic.
Today is a work day - I've got a jacket to finish up and some free lace scarves to start, but my view while I'm working is pretty similar to the middle picture above, so it's a joy to be here and I love what I'm doing. What more could I ask for?
I've been playing with my new toys. Yesterday it was my new sewing machine - a Pfaff expression 3.2. I finally got up the gumption to figure out using my machine's capability to stitch letters and save a series of stitches. All the time that I used Sonja's machine, I never got myself to try any of the special features. Now that I have my own, I swore I'd try to make fuller use of things.
I decided to try setting up a signature file. It took me a couple of tries to figure out how to do it correctly and get a look that I liked, but overall it was very quick and easy. It won't replace my hand-stitched signature on everything, but it sure is fun to do.
I managed to save the sequence and even to edit it, but I never did figure out how to go back to just plain stitching without restarting the machine! That convinced me that I need to take the two free classes that Nashua Sew and Vac offers with every machine purchased. Manuals just never tell you enough...
Today I got a very different new toy - a new bicycle. As happens in so many cases, you don't realize how bad your current one is until you try a new one. My husband wanted a new bike because his was giving him a few problems. I thought we ought to wait to make sure we'd really get back into biking. But...before we could really start, we had to go to the bike store because we discovered that my helmet was broken. Of course, while we were there, we thought we'd find out about what was available so we could "plan." Plan, haha! All it took was a short test ride and I knew I didn't want to get back on the old bike. If we were going to get into biking at all, we'd have to have new bikes and we put in our order. We picked them up this morning and went for a ride after lunch. I have to say that it was great and I'm really looking forward to riding more.
While I'm talking about the bike, I have to give a plug to Ernie's Cycle Shop in Westbrook, Maine. It is hard to imaging that we could have had a better experience. Sylvia spent literally hours with us helping us get everything just right, offering suggestions, but never pushing; helping us figure out what was right and the best value for us. She made us feel like we'd been friends for years and her enthusiasm for biking was infectious. If you need anything bike-related and you're anywhere in the area, I'd definitely recommend that you go there.
My entry for the Loading Dock Gallery's August juried show - The Dog Days of Summer - is coming along well. In my last post I shared the centerpiece of the triptych I'm working on and the origins of the piece. The photos above share the left and right portions of the triptych.
The right section is embellished with hand couching. I've done herringbone stitches over hand-dyed 5400 rayon threads from Stef Francis. These rayon threads can be dicey to work with as they are very slippery and they unravel very easily, but the color and sheen they add are well worth the trouble to me. I often use them in machine couching, anchoring the ends with tight satin stitches. This time I tried the technique of threading them through a fat needle so I could plunge the ends through the fabric to anchor them on the back of the piece. They will not hold a knot, so I used the couching thread to do several overcast stitches to hold the ends to the backing felt. That seemed to work pretty well.
The left section I'm embellishing with seed beads in a pattern to echo the couching on the right section. it has been quite a while since I've done any beading. It feels good to get back to it again. I found I had several colors in my bead stash that went very well with the fabric colors in this. I hope to finish this beading today so that I can work on mounting the pieces when i get back to the studio tomorrow.
Here's another installment in my "keep me going" series--this process of creating yardage from my scrap bin. As I was working on this batch of green scraps, my mind wandered as usual. I was thinking about a couple of things that came together in this project. I noticed that many of the scraps I was using included a lot of brown and that I'd need to pay attention to how I put things together so that my final piece would read more green than brown.
The other thing I was thinking about was the upcoming juried show at the Loading Dock Gallery and what I was going to submit. The theme of the show is Dog Days of Summer. I've been stumped about that for a while, but a phrase that popped into my mind while I was doing this piecing helped me figure it out.
The green/brown balance in my piece brought to mind the way the grass in fields and lawns often turns to brown in August if the summer is dry. This thought gave me the idea to turn this particular fabric into a piece called "Keep Watering that Garden." It will be the center panel of a triptych. The other two panels will use smaller creations from the same fabrics.
The piece is about how you have to keep working at things, even just a little, even when it's hard, or you're hot and tired. This central panel includes embroidered words--my musings as I put this together. The other two will be embellished differently.
After a bit of a rocky start to the day (couldn't take a shower at the Y after my water fitness class), things totally turned around for me. At this juncture I'm walking on air.
Even the lack of showers couldn't keep me down for long because my plan for the morning was to go to Nashua Sew and Vac to buy a new sewing machine. It would be my first new machine since 1971, so I was very excited. I have been using borrowed machines for the last several years. Recently I decided that I really should break down and invest in my own machine. I stopped there last week to see what they had and what it might cost for what I would need. I made a tentative decision on one then, but didn't have the time that day to actually purchase it. Today was my day to go back.
I had a little time between my exercise class and when the store opened, so I stopped at Michael's to buy canvases for the next wall art project I have in mind. It turned out that the only multi-pack of the one size I wanted had a damaged canvas in it. The little hole didn't render the canvas unusable for my purposes, but still I thought I should see if maybe they'd discount it a bit. I hoped for maybe 20% off since it was just 1 of 6 canvases that had a problem. Boy was I glad that I asked - they gave me 70% off. Needless to say I was delighted, but I didn't realize that it was a good omen for the day.
My luck got even better when I went to Nashua Sew and Vac. I discovered that since I went in last week, they had started a new promotion that meant I got a $200 "shopping spree" when I purchased the machine I wanted. I immediately ordered a new Sew Steady table for it and still have money left to spend. I know it will burn a hole in my pocket and I'll be quite ready to spend it when I go back to pick up the table. I can't believe my luck. I wonder what else will happen today.
For right now, I can't wait to set up my new machine and start sewing. First though I need to cut out my next project, so I need to remind myself to have patience...
In my last post (the first in this new blog), I shared my recent "keep me going" piecing project. I have been making yardage from my scrap stash. This project is satisfying in and of itself. I love seeing how you can put together bits of widely disparate fabrics to make something that works as a unit. I find that these projects provide a challenge to one part of my mind as I select the individual pieces--how to put them together so the colors work while using as much of every bit as I can. At the same time, the process can go ahead on autopilot enough to allow inspiration to bubble up.
Two sets of fabric have already made their way into specific projects and two more are in the planning stages. Here's the first project.
I called this vest "Treasured Gems" because nearly all the scraps I put together were from yardage created by my friend Judy Robertson of Just Imagination Hand Dye Fabrics. Her fabrics are so gorgeous that I can't bear to throw away even the tiniest bits.
Here's a second project - another vest created from my blue scraps. Since blue is one of my favorite colors, I had lots of scraps to work with. I'll be in my Western Avenue studio this Saturday afternoon for our monthly Open Studios event. I hope you'll stop by to see these in person.
Ann M. Lee