Wednesday, 30 December 2020

The Cross Over Project

Different people have different traditions for starting the new year - and some none at all. Mine developed over time and are based on setting intentions and practicing self care. This year, with the move, they won't all be possible and that's okay. Instead of rigidly trying to make them happen no matter what - as if I absolutely needed to do the magical thing in the correct order less danger befall me - I am being flexible and adjusting to the circumstances. This is good. At one time, needing to adjust would have been beyond difficult. I see growth. Again. And I'm glad. 

In the studio, I prefer to end one year and start the next with no UFOs. It's not usually a huge stretch since I mostly work on one project at a time, moving to a second only if I truly don't know what to do or because of a time constraint.

December is usually my finishing month. Near the beginning, I decide what will or won't get finished and then I put unused supplies back in stash and do the remaining work. Not this year. This year there are several projects moving on with me and that's okay. It is what it is. 





One of my favourite traditions is what I call the cross over project. This is the project I start on the 30th or 31st and finish in the new year. This year, I chose McCalls 8001 to help me find a way to learn to wear blouses again. It requires a soft drapey fabric that can be difficult to sew with, is a style I've never worn before but may like, and has enough details to make it a fun sew. 


 


The photo shows view C with the sleeve flounce. I will use the band shown in view A and B. Feminine appeals to me. Flounces I'm not so sure. My plan for the next year is to sew garments that I will wear and that are truly me and to sew garments that I might not wear but will be fun to sew. This blouse will be one or the other, hopefully both. 





Another option was Sandra Betzina's new coat pattern - Vogue 1756 - an unlined, loose fitting, duster with fabulous back details. Unfortunately, it was out of the running when our local fabric store didn't have the pattern in stock yet. It's definitely on the To Sew List so I hope it will be here by the time I finish the blouse... which I'll start tomorrow... using an as yet to be determined fabric. 

Do you have any new year traditions around creativity? What are they? 

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - trying new styles

Wednesday, 23 December 2020

The Finished Patchwork Purse

This patchwork purse was the last project I worked on in my previous home and the first one finished in my new one. My next post will be about the cross over project only I'll be talking about crossing from one year to another and not from one house to another. The concept works with moving too though. 
  




As mentioned previously, I haven't done patchwork for YEARS so the desire to make this piece really surprised me... but only the patchwork itself. I enjoy making handbags just for fun. To me, they are another blank canvas that can be filled in endless ways. The everyday bag that I use is a practical black tote and occasionally, when I want my hands free, I'll wear a cross body bag that I refer to as my walking purse. I imagine I'll be using it more next year since I'll have more time for walking. YES YES!





I wanted to make the handles from some recycled leather in my stash only it was still packed when it came time to finish the purse so I decided on strapping folded and stitched to create a firm but soft top. While it works for this project, I still want to try making leather handles. I think me-made would be the perfect way to both get handles the exact length and shape I want inexpensively and to recycle leather from the thrift store. 





The zipper is an actual purse zipper although I had no idea they were designated as such until I bought it. I think there comes a time in our sewing career when we need to - or at least I need to - peruse the notions aisles and see what's been invented since the last time we looked so long ago. A double zipper isn't new to me. Purse specific is. Maybe there's no difference but they seem much sturdier than a regular zipper and I like that. I used this exact one in two other prototypes while testing patterns before its final home here. 




Originally, I'd intended to use the backing as the lining only that meant binding the seams and that wasn't the look I wanted so, instead, I added a drop in lining in a sparkly turquoise print. 





In September, I started working with a coach/counsellor on some personal and work related goals. At our second appointment, I took in my 2020 collage and she was so enthused with it that she decided to make her own for next year. It was fun sharing and I realized that she enjoyed the show and tell and I enjoyed the accountability of having someone local to share my work with. A win, win. 





Now, at every appointment, I take in something to show her. This bag first went in when it was still in pieces and she loved the lining so much that I decided to give it to her when I finished it. Quite often, the piece tells me clearly who it is intended for. Other times, I'll be thinking constantly about a particular person and decide it must be for them. 




My favourite part is still the shape of the bag. This is what first attracted me when I saw the pattern in Yoko Saito's book Bags I Love to Carry. Now that I've made it, I'm debating changes to the construction methods and how to make it bigger at some point down the road. For now, other projects are tickling. 

At the beginning of the book, Yoko talks about the bags she uses most frequently and - like me - they are basic and practical. I found that funny. We are all alike and we are all different. How amazing is that!

Have you ever found yourself wanting to sew something you thought you'd never sew again? What was it?
Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - creativity just because

Wednesday, 16 December 2020

My New Studio

When house shopping, I was looking for the Goldilocks feeling of not too big, not too small, just right and this condo was perfect with exactly what I needed and nothing extra. 




My studio is in what was formerly the master bedroom. It's a large room with lots of wall space, a beautiful window overlooking the creek, and a half decent but definitely not spacious closet pretending to be two. On the inside, it's all one. 





This turquoise cabinet is one of my favourite pieces. It was custom built for my previous kitchen but there was no way I was leaving it behind. Now, it's the perfect storage piece for the studio BUT... what a bear to get up the (sixteen) steps. The movers said they could do it, and they did, but it was definitely a stretch. I'm grateful. 




Once the flooring was removed, I painted the walls white and set up a temporary sewing space that was too noisy, dusty, disjointed to get much done. What I did sew, I can't show you just yet since it's a gift for a friend who may be reading this post. 




This past weekend, the flooring was done, the furniture went in, and I could start to unpack and set up. Just as predicted, many things came out of their boxes and went exactly where they belonged. The things that needed new homes included yarn, fabric, and patterns. 





The antique oak dresser in the far corner is the only piece I bought mid move hoping it would work in the new studio... for patterns. It works... not for patterns. Instead, purse making supplies and some surface design supplies are in there along with a half drawer of office supplies. The oak desk at left matches perfectly and is where I put my jewelry pieces together. In this image, the wall above is blank and in...




... this one, four shelves have been added to hold jars of findings, beads, and cabochons. Considering the relatively short time that I've been making jewelry, I seem to have collected quite a stash. This isn't everything. Over the next year, when we are still more home than not, waiting for whatever normal will look like, these supplies will come in handy. There are no local sources and I'm avoiding on-line purchasing as much as possible. I like to use what I have and I like the stretch of trying to make what I have work rather than popping out to buy yet, still, another thing. And, sigh, being completely honest, I do like shopping, especially for potential. I am addicted to potential. This is, maybe, not a good mix. 




The painted desks look fresh. The white wall behind them looks blank. As soon as I figure out where all of the stash goes, I'll start adding d├ęcor to pretty it up with colour. When asked, whenever I told someone I was painting everything white, they'd look at me rather stunned and gasp white with a great deal of shock in their voice. I have become known for my rather eclectic mix of colour and apparently - LOL - that's not supposed to change. There will still be colour, differently, and later. 

My sewing machine is a Bernina 1020 that I bought used and have had for a really long time. Before I moved, I took it in for a tune-up and then picked it up again once the studio was ready. It came back with a note attached saying that a new control foot would be about $200 online which was rather confusing since I didn't need a new control foot. Except I did. When I set the machine up and plugged it in, nothing happened. Somewhere between when I packed it up and when I picked it up, the foot died. 

I've ordered the new foot from a shop an hour away, on a day with horrendous weather, when it would have been irrational to drive, but I needed to know for sure that I had a foot, so I ordered it. It's coming in the mail which appears to be slower than a turtle moving backward but really is an old system simply and completely overwhelmed by Covid's impact on online shopping. 

Waiting is not a problem except that it's put the project I'm sewing for my friend on hold. I have the correct presser foot for the Bernina but no control foot and I have a control foot for my back-up machine but not the correct presser foot. And, so I wait. I did send her some swatches as a teaser. They may or may not arrive before the gift... depending on the mail. 




In the earlier pictures, you could see the sun shining into the studio. That's how it looks in the morning and into the early afternoon on sunny days. A few days after those images were taken, the trees had this lovely coating of snow. Both are beautiful, especially when accompanied by the gurgle of the creek below that doesn't seem to freeze over. My window will be open often.

Practicing the new studio layout in advance did make the transition much easier. Occasionally, I open the wrong drawer or walk in the opposite direction of what I'm looking for but mostly, it's good and I'm adjusting to the new flow. The space is lovely to work in - not too big and not too small - and will be just right as soon as I figure out where to put pieces in progress now that the edge of my computer desk is no longer available. I'll find a system/surface as I work in here more and more. It is good. 

If you move frequently like I have, do you shop for the house or the studio first?

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful
- my new studio set up with the stash out of the boxes, onto the shelves, and available. 

Wednesday, 9 December 2020

Bye Bye Brown

When I first started looking at real estate, this condo was not on my list. Along with three "fatal" flaws, it was in a higher price bracket than I wanted so I passed it over at first except there wasn't much on the market and what was for sale was selling fast. So fast in fact that I lost out on a couple possibilities in the four days between listing and selling my place and by that time, this unit was looking better and better.

What's funny is that in the end, it's been the best of all the choices and was obviously meant to be mine since it had sold and then the deal collapsed and it was back on the market just when I was able to make an acceptable offer.  I love when God does that. And I love the calm comfortable feeling of knowing I'm moving in the right direction. 



I've never been a huge fan of vaulted ceilings but worse than that was the monstrosity of a fireplace. It was just too ugly for me to live with and I was trying to avoid any major renovations beyond paint, flooring, and cabinets.  However, for me to live here, it had to go!




Luckily, the construction crew I'd worked with before was available to take it down and replace it with a smaller, narrower, shallower one without all the niches. When it's finished, I will like it a lot better. It's nice to have a fireplace again. My house didn't have one but the condo before that did so I'm reacquainting myself with flipping the switch and watching the flames while drinking my morning coffee. It's such a lovely way to wake up. 




The living room felt squashed and heavy with a partial wall along the upstairs hallway instead of a railing. Another unit in the complex that I'd looked at had a railing and I much preferred that. In fact, it had a railing, a white kitchen, and a few other things I much preferred but it was also one more floor with an additional 550 square feet that I didn't need and priced at $40k more with higher strata fees and property taxes. I decided I would just have to live with the wall until...



... my contractor told me that it was 6" too short and not to code for the drop below. My immediate thought was of my grandsons jumping up to look over and falling and my second one was oh bliss, oh joy, it will HAVE to be changed. Even with this temporary railing, the space is far more open and approachable. I'm glad that it had to be done. 




The third thing was all the brown. It's not anywhere on my list of favourite colours and the entire house was shades of brown. Light brown. Medium brown. Dark brown. And even darker brown. That would totally have depressed me. If I wanted to stay sane and happy, the brown had to go starting with the paint and the flooring. The crew pulled out all the flooring before starting work on the fireplace and I'm painting the walls white. It's a mess right now but even so, dust and all, it's going to be fabulous. Hopefully before Christmas. 

What is your least favourite colour? What is your favourite colour?

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - bye bye brown

Wednesday, 2 December 2020

Cozy Boxy Structures

I moved on Friday but I didn't really move in unless you count a completely stuffed garage. All of my studio and most of the household stuff, including at least half of my furniture, are stacked in there because on Monday the work crew showed up to start renovations. December is not the month I'd have chosen only renovations before unpacking are far better than after.

With renovating, I need to be available to answer questions and give direction but I can't really do much except sit in the middle of the room, stay out of the way, and try not to talk too much while paying by the hour. Only, as my oldest grandson once said, I talk a lot so I absolutely need keep busy work like knitting. 

In terms of creative outlets, sewing was first. And then, in my early twenties, I learned how to knit from my co-workers at a hair salon. We'd sit side-by-side in the narrow back room and knit between customers. After I left that job, there was a long break between projects until I started knitting again about ten years ago as a way to get out, be with other creatives, and socialize. And to keep busy.

Although my knitting skills are quite developed, my preference is for simple pieces and my favourite stitches are ribbing and seed stitch. When I say that, most knitters cringe. Those are typically their least favourite stitches. I think the difference is that my knitting style is continental with a twist which is not only a quick method but one that makes the purl stitch so much easier. 





Lately, I've been drawn toward cozy boxy structures like the Sugar On Top pullover. The pattern sample is knit with three different colours and it's lovely however...




... another Ravelry member, Cat Reading, knit her version in one colour and that seemed more me plus I had enough Cascade 220 in stash to make it work. YES YES!




My style of knitting makes it near to impossible to achieve the required gauge on most projects so rather than stress out, I tend to take the more organic approach of knitting a swatch in the chosen yarn, using various needle sizes, until I achieve the hand I like and then I recalculate the math to work with the shape of the garment. In this case, I also widened the front and back to match the measurements of a similar pullover I already had in my closet so, in the end, my piece is more inspired by then knit from the pattern. Cozy, boxy, with the same stitch pattern. 




This detail image gives you a better idea of how the stitches look. The ribbed band is 3" on the front as shown and 4 1/2" on the back for a softer hemline. The board I'm using is unfortunately no longer available. I got it twenty-eight years ago at the International Quilt Festival in Boston as a sample from a supplier when writing my out-of-print book Setting Up Your Sewing Space. I loved the surface so much that I bought another this size for the studio and a smaller one for travelling. Designed for sewing, they are also perfect for blocking. I'm holding on tightly to the ones I have. 




My too large and more suitable for plants spray bottle is somewhere in a box in the garage as yet to be unpacked so I went to the drug store, looked through the beauty and cleaning supplies, and chose a bottle the right size without even looking at the contents. This one was perfect especially as that shade of green is one of my favourites. It turned out to be a product for eliminating smoke odors which I didn't need and to have a fine mister which I do. With the label pealed off, it's now my blocking bottle, also useful for damp pressing.

Only one side of the pullover fit on the board at a time so I have the other side and two very short sleeves to block before sewing the parts together, adding the neckband, and finishing the pullover. I'll post that picture when it's done. 

Do you knit? What are your favourite stitches?

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - out of the box thinking

Wednesday, 25 November 2020

The Eating Out Stage

Friday is moving day. Other than the essentials which, of course, include projects to work on, everything else is in a box at the ready. It's the eating out stage of moving. So familiar. Although my intention had been to stay in this house until I went to the old, old, old people house rather than to flip it, that's what I used to do, flip houses, for fifteen years, so I have a LOT of moving experience. Waiting to go is much easier with something to do. 





The segments are layered with backing and batting and I'm at the stitching stage with the patchwork purse, stitching each of the four segments as well as the gusset individually before putting them together. I started by drawing a 30-degree chalk line and then used the edge of the presser foot to evenly space the stitched rows across each segment. A slightly longer stitch length creates - IMHO - a better look. For seams, I use a 2.5 stitch length and for topstitching, I use 3.0. 





Visual clutter sits on my nerves, irritates me, and can actually prevent me from getting anything done so in every other area of my life I'm more of a minimalist than not, except in the studio. There, I like to stash plenty of potential although if you asked some of my friends, they'd say I'm a minimalist in there too. I don't keep what I don't need however, by my measurement, this is the space where I have the most stuff and that becomes even more evident when I take it all out of its place and put it in boxes. Many boxes. The ones above all need to fit into the new and smaller studio. 





I decided to paint my sewing desks before moving just for a bit of a change. They will go in the studio as well as two desk chairs and the oak jewelry desk you can just see peaking out behind the chair. Jewelry is a relatively new medium. I am learning how to create it by combining textiles, beading, wire weaving, and metalwork. The jewelry desk is where I put the parts together. I was wondering where in the new house it was going to go and then, when I set up the practice studio, was surprised to see that it fit in the studio. And glad. 




The metalworking supplies will go in half of the garage. It'll mean limiting my working time to the warmer months and that's okay. For the past five years, the warmer months have been spent working on the yard. Going forward, I'll be happy to spend some of them in the garage, at the bench, working with metal. I have a project in progress that I'm looking forward to getting back to. 

Have you ever had a practice studio? Did it help you transition well to your new space?

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - plenty of potential

Wednesday, 18 November 2020

Mostly Mindless Sewing

I wanted a moving project to fill the seven weeks between buying the condo and leaving here. Waiting is not my strong suit and there is only so much packing that can be done in advance. I have a busy brain. Unless I give it something to think about, it will get into trouble starting with being upset and resentful before moving into creating unnecessary drama. Que the patchwork purse!





SUCH a surprise. Although at one time I designed, wrote about, and taught patchwork, I haven't actually done any in a really long time. And then I found myself in a quilt shop, buying a selection of black prints, looking forward to the gentle calm of cutting and stitching and sewing strips. It's mostly mindless sewing that lets my hands move with ease while my mind bubbles with creativity. LOTS of bubbling. I'm very good at thinking! 





I bought two fat quarters of each fabric and cut one of each into 2 1/2" strips before sewing them together. The design has four side segments so I then cut and stitched the strips into....
 


 


... four different configurations not worrying too much about carefully matched seams which is hilarious because one of the books I wrote was on exactly that topic. It's at times like these that we see how much our life has changed over the years. At one time, precise was absolutely important to me and now, I'm far more interested in things being organic. 





While I was working on these segments, a friend came to stay and sew together in my studio. Having company in the studio is something I never used to do, ever, and now it is something I really enjoy. But not always. Just every once in a while.

Luckily, we both live fairly isolated lives so we were able to get together within the covid protocols. Without workshops and road trips this year, it was a real energy boost to share creativity and conversation. I'm grateful.






The pattern is Swirling Shells from Yoko Saito's book Bags I Love To Carry although I'm not actually following the pattern, just using the shape of the bag and doing my own thing. A lot of Yoko's work is done by hand; mine is done by machine. She uses a lot of applique; I rarely do. That said, the architectural style of many Japanese designers is one that I really appreciate and I especially liked the curved sides of this bag. I'm imagining it larger. 




These are the remnants from cutting up only one each of the fat quarters. I not only have six more fat quarters but these scraps to evolve into something else. I enjoy working with remnants whether they are from clothing or quilting. I've become addicted to their free potential. 

What is your favourite type of mindless sewing? 

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - the gentle rhythm of mindless sewing and shared creativity with a friend

Wednesday, 11 November 2020

The Practice Studio

The last time I saw the condo was mid October when I signed off on the subjects. While there, I measured my new studio space - formerly the master bedroom - to set up the practice studio for a least a month before moving. The new space is smaller. Before moving, I wanted to know what would fit and what wouldn't and to become familiar with the flow to make the transition easier. 

The spacious studio I have now has been the envy of many and a real luxury that I am grateful for however, if I'm completely honest, it has also subtly pressured me with the feeling that I somehow had to live up to it. Ten years ago, my career in textiles suddenly ended and I've struggled off and on ever since trying to find my feet again. Of course, I didn't need to feel pressured but even so, its subtle presence still existed.

I've always been a small group, small space, kind of person. Moving to a smaller studio feels like less is more, like I'll be more focused and more engaged and those are definitely two things I want to feel.

Moving is making me think not only about how I will work in my studio but also about what I will work on. It's good to stop and evaluate the how and the what every once in a while and make the big or subtle shifts necessary to enhance our creativity.  






The white cabinets at the back of the room in the image above are spaced to measure the distance of one currently in my kitchen that will be moving to the studio. Right now, the white dresser holds patterns and office supplies but it's not the best choice so I'm looking for something to take its place. The work island and the desks have been with me for a really long time. They are invaluable surfaces, like a good friend I can't bear to be parted from. They also make it easy to move. Each desk has three baskets underneath it and the contents of the drawers and the shelves in the island are predesignated. I won't have to think about what to put where, just take it out of the box and put it where it belongs. 




Where I will have to think is with fabric and yarn storage. In this studio, they were stored in six of the white cabinets. Two of the cabinets will go inside the closet in my new studio with a bit of extra room to one side and four are not coming with me. They are moving to a friend's studio. The under-the-stair storage I have now will disappear and there is no equivalent to replace it meaning that there will be more downsizing in my future. I prefer to have my studio stashed at 80% capacity to allow for more creative flow and although I'll sift and sort while packing, I'm pretty sure I will still have too much. We'll see how that goes. 

Meanwhile, the flow of this new space is making sense. The wall to the left of the island will be the wall with the window in the new studio. When I'm working at the island, I'll be looking out the window. The space between the island and the wall is the only tight space. It's about two feet wide and I wish it were three. Maybe that will change in the actual space. If not, I'll adjust. 

I started sewing in grade eight home economics when I sat down at the machine and fell in love. I've sewn ever since, everything from lingerie to outerwear, and I made a career out of sewing. It's how I breath. I've had a designated sewing space ever since graduating and while it has varied in size, it has always existed. I believe that in order to be our most creative self, it is essential to have that designated space and that having it says something important - to ourselves and to others - about how much we value ourselves and our creativity. 

What is your studio like? Have you ever had a practice studio?

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - the practice studio 

Wednesday, 4 November 2020

The Only Thing Constant Is Change

While this is a new blog, I am not new to blogging. In fact, if calculated correctly, this will be my sixth blog in almost twenty years. Who knew blogging had even been around that long. At one time, they were popular, and then not so much, and now it seems they are making a resurgence. I hope so. Of all the platforms, this is by far my favourite way to share my creativity and to support and encourage the creativity of others. 




To say that 2020 has been an interesting year is a HUGE understatement. As the saying goes, the only thing constant is change and there have been plenty of changes both globally and personally. The last post on my last blog was in May. It wasn't meant to be the last post however, with some of the upheavals going on in my personal life, I needed a chance to figure out which was was up and which, of all the possible new directions, I wanted to follow. 




When my youngest son, who was also my tenant, told me he was moving, my first thought was me too. Suddenly, it was exactly the thing I felt called to do after saying I would never leave my pond house. It went up for sale on a Friday afternoon at the end of September, had fourteen viewings over the weekend, and was sold on the Tuesday morning. I bought a condo four blocks away. 




I moved to this city five years ago but even before then, when I wanted to live here but didn't, I would drive around and think about which neighbourhood I might live in. When I did move, I admired this complex only it wasn't the right time in my life for a condo. Now, it is. I've always been a fan of Craftsman style architecture, front porches, and the overtone of slow country living. My style is eclectic, colourful, farmhouse. 





My unit is on the left. It backs up to the same creek that runs through the pond at the house I'm selling and connects to the same walking paths that meandered behind that house and throughout the city. The window in my new studio will face in this direction and when it is open, I'll hear the creek gurgling even while I'm sewing which is different than looking up to see the pond and equally good. Such a blessing. 





The front yard is a postage stamp and the back is not much bigger only, it's ugly. At the pond house, I spent five years moving dirt, creating curved gardens and meandering walkways, and building wooden decks and rock retaining walls. I may have been holding yet still another rock when my son said he was moving because I definitely wanted a break from that.

This summer, I turned fifty-eight which is getting close to sixty, a number that is still just a number but one that does make you think. When I thought about what I wanted to do over the next decade, yardwork is not what came to mind. I wanted more time to walk, to ride my bike, to visit with friends, to make new friends, to take road-trips and workshops, to play in my studio, to lean even further into creativity, to be my best self, and so much more. It's exciting to now have more time to go in that direction.  

Next spring, I will make the postage stamp pretty but it will be another year or even longer before I fix the back yard. Apparently, it was professionally landscaped. Hmm... I'm an amateur. I can do better. But not right now. For one summer at least, I'll sit on the deck, enjoy the sun, and listen to the creek. 

What changes are you dealing with? What choices are you making?

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - new beginnings