First things first… Pat Pauly! I just posted my interview with Pat Pauly on my YouTube channel. For those of you who may not be familiar with Pat, she is a brilliant, multi-talented artist, who also hand paints and dyes fabrics that she sells on her website, is a sought after teacher and does the most beautiful art quilts.
Pat’s hand dyed linens are what I’ve been using exclusively for my latest improvisational stitching pieces. They are unlike, and far superior to anything I’ve found anywhere else and are endlessly inspiring.
My improvisational stitching using Pat Pauly’s hand dyed linens.
Improvisational Stitching piece using Pat Pauly’s hand dyed linens and inspired by my Africa trip.
If these pieces are interesting to you, you should consider enrolling in my Improvisational Stitching Class, which meets for 5 consecutive Saturdays beginning Saturday, September 25th. In this workshop I cover the elements of design, use of color, incorporating other elements into the background, using things that inspire us and making them apart of our work, creating abstract as well as representational elements into a piece, finding which threads and stitches to use to create different effects and so much more.
As I mentioned in my last post, I put my hand stitching aside in order to take a Pat Pauly virtual workshop. It was all about line, setting, composition and boy did she pack a lot into those two days. So much fun!
I’m not a quilter. I just have to say that. I mean I love quilts and I love seeing what others do, but I cannot sew seams so that they meet perfectly, nor can I manage to make those points that people do with ease, and a 1/4″ seam on any kind of regular basis baffles me. If I manage to get one, it’s a gift, and I appreciate the beauty of it, even when using a 1/4″ seam sewing foot, I still don’t seem capable of it. The fabric bunches up, the little guide line gets in the way, oh right, it’s there to help me, but it never really does. Anyway, the whole thing ends up as a disaster, but Pat… Pat’s work is much more fluid and isn’t exacting, it’s improvisational and she talks about how the various parts need to speak to each other. This is exactly what I say and do when I’m hand stitching. Is this area having an interesting conversation with this other part? Is this thread bossy and taking over? This is a language I speak!
But then there’s the whole using a sewing machine aspect to this sort of work. I get the appeal, it’s a whole lot faster than hand stitching and one can do things that you just couldn’t do hand stitching, but it still comes with its own set of pitfalls. At least it does for me. On day 1 of Pat’s workshop everyone was racing ahead with the next set of instructions on setting a shape into another piece of fabric and things seemed to be going well. I mean the whole 1/4″ seam thing continues to elude me, but I’ve made peace with that, so all was well.
And then my machine ran out of bobbin thread. Now normally this wouldn’t be cause for great distress, but in my case, this is a newish machine, having traded in my Bernina 880 (which was in the shop more than it wasn’t) and so here I was with my new Bernina 790. It’s a beautiful beast of a machine that uses different bobbins and a different bobbin case than I’m used to, so after a little struggling I managed to wrestle the bobbin out of its little case and then tried to put it onto the bobbin winder on top of the machine. Except that it didn’t fit. I could hear Pat in the background giving valuable information that I would no doubt desperately need, and yet here I was with a bobbin that I couldn’t figure out how to refill. No one must ever know, I thought as I desperately tried to make the bobbin winder work. Finally in a moment of panic I jammed the bobbin onto the winder and then manually held the little lever so that it would wind. Sort of. I then yanked the thing off, put it back into the machine and tried to sew, only now I started getting an error message.
Having now completely missed the last important instructions from Pat, something I knew was vital information to have, but never mind, getting the bobbin to work was taking all my time and energy. What to do? So I did what I do when my computer or phone starts behaving oddly, shut the whole thing down and reboot. Every now and then Pat would say, “So how’s it going _______________” and I would say a silent prayer that she wouldn’t call on me and then I’d have to confess to everyone that not only was I incapable of sewing a 1/4″ seam, but I also had no idea how to refill the bobbin. I could hear everyone else in the background, machines purring happily as they created tiny works of beauty, while I, in all my shame and humiliation, couldn’t manage something so simple and basic!
As I waited for the machine to turn back on, I went in search of my instruction manual, only I’d done a very thorough clean up just the day before and so who knows where that thing was!? Finally I located it and saw that I’d put the bobbin upside down onto the little bobbin winder. It’s a wonder I didn’t break the machine! But never mind, eventually I got the thing working and off I went, making tiny skinny lines in various places. cutting up new pieces, placing shapes within shapes and having a blast. Even better, no one seemed to notice that I was having a tiny crisis!
I would show you the whole thing, but that will have to wait until another day when I have something that’s not quite so “work in progress”!
I have this dream that one day I will be able to keep my sewing machine out all the time AND have my hand stitching and threads all out in another part of the room so that I can seamlessly move from hand stitching to working on the machine and back to hand stitching without having to put everything away each time!
I know, I know. You’re wondering if you stumbled upon the wrong blog. You’re thinking – what has she done? Where are all her beautiful threads that I so covet? What’s going on around here?
Never fear. My threads, and everything else hand stitching related, are all, somewhat, neatly stacked on the floor out of view and then not so neatly shoved into various corners, like just to the left of my sewing machine.
It kind of reminds me of Santorini where there’s one view that one can capture by photograph that is exquisite and magical and just beyond beautiful, like a fairy tale, really.
But then, if you turn just a little, you get a very different view where things aren’t quite so glistening and white, there’s garbage, the houses aren’t all pristine, and the land isn’t landscaped, but rugged and without flowers.
That’s what my studio looks like right now. There’s only one shot where everything is neat and tidy. Everything else is pretty haphazard.
The reason for all of this is that I’m taking a 2-day workshop with my friend, Pat Pauly, who is fabulous and a really wonderful teacher! I’m not much of a quilter, so this is definitely a stretch for me, but I love her work and she’s pretty terrific, so here I am, preparing for her workshop, which will begin in just a couple of hours.
Pat Pauly is also the one who sent me this piece of linen, which I’m working away on…
My husband and I read and contemplate a philosophical reading of some kind every morning. Every now and then there is one that is so helpful it stays with me, like this one from The Daily Stoic:
“A long To-Do list seems intimidating and burdensome – all these things we have to do in the course of a day or a week. But a Get to Do list sounds like a privilege – all the things we’re excited about the opportunity to experience.”
Yesterday I was again reminded of this powerful reading as I sat waiting for my husband to be released from what we both had thought would be a minor surgical procedure. Until it wasn’t. Until things went wrong. Until this minor medical procedure turned into an all day long nightmare for him. A day in which I kept saying to myself, because of modern medicine he gets to have this procedure done, no matter how awful it is. Because of the times we live in, we get to call a car in 95 degree heat and have someone drive us to where we need to go. When stuck in traffic we get to consult WAZE and take the most expeditious route. And while waiting in the waiting room I get to have uninterrupted hours of stitching to calm my nerves.
He is home now and recuperating, for which I am extremely grateful. A big thanks to all of you who reached out to me and wrote such nice comments in my Stitching Circle.
And now I get to go do some work with my daughter and then I get to do a whole lot more stitching on my current project!
I’m sitting here in my workout clothing sans sneakers typing this as I didn’t dare put on my regular work “uniform” for fear I would never honor my Spin Class reservation that begins at 11am. And while we’re on the topic, I just have to say, workout bras are truly a form of torture. You just haven’t felt discomfort until you’ve shoved yourself into one of those. Yes, yes, I understand the need for keeping everything in place while exercising, but seriously, I’ve become so used to comfort this past year, this feels positively barbaric. Curious about my workout routine, you’ll have to watch the video I’ve posted one paragraph below this one. Spoiler alert: I don’t have a “workout routine.”
But I am not going to get side tracked. I’m not. My friend Pat Pauly has posted a brand spanking new workshop to her already busy schedule. It’s a Line, Shape, Setting virtual workshop, which I’ve signed up for and it is July 20th & 21st. If you want to sign up for it, hurry! As it will most definitely sell out soon. Click ‘here‘ to learn more about it and to sign up. To see more of Pat’s fabulous work, click ‘here‘. She’s pretty fabulous. By the way, those scarves I always wear? Yeah. Those are all from Pat. As is the gorgeous linen fabric that I’m doing some improvisational stitching on in the video below. Oh, and by the way, that fuchsia colored cording that I’ve couched? That’s silk sari strips from Stef Francis. I just adore all their products.
I am keeping my fingers and toes crossed that I will be able to announce something fabulous in my next blog post. I thought I would have been able to announce it last week, but alas life got in the way of my best laid plans. I’m just hoping all falls into place in the next two days. We shall see.