I’ve mentioned this before; my husband and I start the morning off with a reading of some kind and then discuss whatever it is we’ve just read. Today we read about relationships using thread as a metaphor, which was kind of perfect for someone like me. This quote was particularly appealing for obvious reasons.
A strong rope is made of many threads. Looking at one point on the rope, we can focus on the detail of a single thread. But when we look only at a single thread we cannot see the big picture.”
The More We Find in Each Other by Mavis and Merle Fossum
And, of course, I immediately thought about my stitching and how I love using lots of different threads and other elements to enhance and add interest to a piece that I’m working on. In particular I thought of Gimp, Silken Chenille, and Viscose Ribbon, three threads that are challenging to work with, but that add tremendous texture and interest to a piece.
In a relationship it’s often the challenging parts that can bring growth and welcome change to both people if they’re willing to show up for the hard work that’s required. I thought of how the foundation of my marriage is our love and the threads are all the moments we’ve spent together, some more challenging than others. But like those challenging threads, they are woven into the fabric of our love, making that fabric all the more interesting and ultimately stronger. Oh, and a sense of humor helps!
Okay, I could go on and on about all of this, but then I wouldn’t have time to tell you about my ice dyeing experiment. This was all inspired by Nancy who was in my Improvisational Stitching Workshop. She had a really beautiful piece of fabric, which I asked her about and she told me that she had ice dyed it. Now I have to say that for the most part I haven’t loved the ice dyeing that I’ve seen, so I’ve never been tempted to try it, but Nancy very generously wrote out instructions and gave them to everyone in my workshop. All my ice dyeing attempts were using her instructions. By the way, I have urged Nancy to sell some of her beautiful ice dyed fabrics. When she gives me the okay I will post where you can purchase her fabrics.
So… my little foray into ice dying is ongoing and was somewhat successful. I say somewhat because some of the pieces came out nicely, but others were not to my liking at all. Those will need to be redone or perhaps I’ll paint on them, I haven’t decided yet. Part of the problem was I ran out of ice. As in right in the middle of sprinkling the dye onto the fabric. Now one could argue that seeing that you don’t have enough ice right off the bat is probably step #1, resulting in STOP WHAT YOU’RE DOING AND GO GET SOME ICE, however in my case it was more like – huh, I don’t have enough ice, then think about how that means I’ll have to put on shoes, remove my apron, gloves and mask (not the kind we’re now used to wearing because of the pandemic, but the kind used when working with toxic chemicals) and then go look for my son so that I can ask him to run out to get ice. Wait for said son to dutifully do my bidding and while waiting get impatient and sprinkle more dye on. Eyeroll. Impatience is NOT a virtue. I know this, and whenever I give in to it, I always, always, always regret it. So I skimped on the layer of ice and ended up with some not very attractive streaks of color before my fabulous son reappeared with 4 bags of ice, having had to go to a couple different places to procure it. What a wonderful son!
Another problem was that my disposable pans were way too small, resulting in more of a tie dyed look than I was hoping for. As in my husband’s comment when I unfurled the first piece and said the words every spouse hates to hear, “So what do you think?” And his response, “Oh yeah, you’ve got some seriously hippy dippy stuff going on there.” Needless to say this was NOT the reply I’d hoped for, but the bold, unvarnished truth is always difficult to hear.
I’ll post a video about all of this later, but for now here are a couple of photographs of the pieces that were sort of successful and a few that I really, really liked.
What will I do with all of this fabric?
I have no idea.
PS: For those of you who didn’t see my most recent Youtube video of Richard and my Mother’s Day walk and our surprise encounter, go watch this short video! All the reasons why I love living in this vibrant, wonderful city we call New York!
“What fresh new hell is this?” You might rightfully ask upon seeing the photo below. Okay, sure YOU might not ask this, however these were the exact words that came to mind when I set up my sewing machine yesterday afternoon, only to realize that when I traded in my Bernina 880, which was plagued with problems, for my 790, I didn’t realize I was getting a sewing machine that has a smaller throat and therefore my Koala Cabinet insert would no longer fit it. So I did what any sensible person would do, I gerry-rigged it and here we are. It’s in the “it will have to do for now” category.
I know, I know. But sometimes one has to make do. And of course the bigger question that all of you are asking is, “Why?” Not why did you trade in your Bernina 880, because it was an amazing machine and I loved it, when it was working, the problem was, about 60% of the time it wasn’t working properly. In the three years that I owned it, I had to take it in for repairs more than a dozen times. Once we even sent it back to Bernina and had them fix it, only to have another problem a few months later. So eventually I said, “enough!” and traded it in for this sleek, beautiful thing. Only I didn’t do my homework and just assumed the 790 had the same wide throat that I loved about the 880. And as I rarely sew on a machine these days, I haven’t spent much time using it until now, that is. Which leads me to the more pressing “why?” as in “Why is your sewing machine out and where are all of your threads and hand stitching?????”
Should I have led with that? Yeah, probably, but then my first question wouldn’t have worked and I wasn’t willing to let that go. 😳 So, here’s the thing… I signed up for one of my friend, Pat Pauly’s workshops that I’ve always wanted to take. Seriously for several years, I’ve been wanting to take her “Take Two” workshop and then I saw that she had added one to her schedule, so I signed up. And today is the first of the two-day workshop, which I’m really, really looking forward to. The thing about Pat is that she’s just so much fun. Seriously, the woman could make cleaning out a gutter seem like a blast and you’d feel as though you were lucky to be able to do such a thing with her guiding you. So this workshop is guaranteed to be a fun two days, even if it means that I had to clear my table of all evidence that I’m really a hand stitcher. Do you think the ill fitting machine is a give away? Never mind. I’m sure no one will notice.
And then, of course, there’s the whole mess that I’m not even going to photograph and show you, but suffice it to say that for the next two days, I’ll be knee deep in fabric and sewing on a sewing machine. I’m just hoping I don’t trip over the little piles of hand stitching stuff that I’ve wedged into various corners of this already small room.
On a separate note, if you haven’t watched my A Spring Stroll in New York City’s Meatpacking and West Village video, go take a walk with me. I included old photos of some of the places I visit to show what they looked like back when I first moved to NYC, as well as lots of stories about my ill spent youth in New York City. I can say that now that I’m over 60.
“So in a lot of ways, what has happened over the last several weeks is challenges and structural problems here in the United States have been thrown into high relief. They are the outcomes not just of the immediate moments in time, but they’re the result of a long history of slavery, Jim Crow, redlining, and institutionalized racism that too often had been the plague, the original sin of our society. And in some ways, as tragic as these past few weeks have been, as difficult and scary and uncertain as they’ve been, they’ve also been an incredible opportunity for people to be awakened to some of these underlining trends, and they offer an opportunity for us to all work together to tackle them, to take them off, to change America and make it live up to its highest ideals.”
President Barak Obama – June 3, 2020
“Race and racism is a reality that so many of us grow up learning to just deal with. But if we ever hope to move past it, it can’t just be on people of colour to deal with it. It’s up to all of us – Black, white, everyone – no matter how well-meaning we think we might be, to do the honest, uncomfortable work of rooting it out. It starts with self-examination and listening to those whose lives are different from our own. It ends with justice, compassion, and empathy that manifests in our lives and on our streets.”
“Dehumanizing people debases us all; humanity is beautifully and almost infinitely diverse. The bonds of our common humanity must overcome the divisiveness of our fears and prejudices.”
New York City prides itself in being on the forefront of whatever is going on. Right now that means being in the middle of the collective outrage and heartbreak of much of the country. It is impossible to write about anything right now and not say something about what’s going on right outside our front door, the same thing that’s been going on for centuries. So I’ve compiled a list of resources that I’ve found helpful and that perhaps others might find helpful as well.
“I refuse to accept the view that mankind is so tragically bound to the starless midnight of racism and war that the bright daybreak of peace and brotherhood can never become a reality…. I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word.”
For seven days I did not step foot outside our loft. Since the pandemic became known as such, I have ventured out only occasionally. So it shouldn’t come as any surprise that I tested negative to having COVID19 antibodies, and yet, weirdly I was. And perhaps even odder, I felt both relieved and disappointed simultaneously. Disappointed because knowing that I’d been exposed, and weathered it, would have given me some degree of comfort, but now, knowing that I have not, makes me even more inclined to continue my #stayhomestaysafe poster girl endeavors.
Of course there’s always the possibility that the vile of blood I gave was switched mistakenly with someone else’s or the test itself could have given a false negative or… But if I’m being reasonable, chances are I have not been infected. Which is a little surprising considering that I live in New York City, with a population of over 8.5 million people, making each and every one of us likely super spreaders simply by going about our daily routine. A routine that might include, depending upon how active we are, all, or at least a few, of the following: gym, errands such as the post office, grocery shopping, work related meetings, entertainment related outings such as a Broadway show, dance performance, music concert, museum, art gallery, walking the High Line, having dinner with friends or any number of other things one might do in this vibrant, beautiful city I call home.
Everywhere one looks, spring is on full display, inspiring me to think of designs and stitches and colors and shapes.
The beauty of our world continues even as this pandemic rages on. And so does the artistry and creative expression of our fellow humans. My mother sent this to me the other day… Evidently a librarian arranged these books to be read from left to right.
And here are a few of my latest circles that I have been designing, using Sue Spargo’s #Instastitchwithsue project as inspiration for a wool applique 1″ circle and the stitches and threads that embellish it. As Sue will be removing her videos from instagram once the 90 days are over, I have been using my videos to explore threads, stitches and the creative process.