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Taking out my autumn quilts has awoken in me a desire to sew. I know, I know… I have enough going on right now, what with blogging everyday for NaBloPoMo and working on a novel for NaNoWriMo, but I really want to stitch!
The table I write at is also the table I sew at. It’s situated perfectly for both activities. I can easily see who’s coming in the room since the table sticks out from the wall. That was a requirement so the fabric has somewhere to do once it’s gone through the sewing machine. Sewing at a table pushed against a wall is impractical and frustrating.
Behind my table is my stash of fabric. Most of it, anyway. I have a low wall of cubbies under the window (so sunlight can’t fade the fabric) and it is full of flat-folds of fabric. They’re sorted primarily by color, but also to a smaller extent by type. The hand-dyed fabrics are together as are the plaids, for example. This colorful assortment greets me each time I enter the room, and it makes me happy.
Long ago I was a cross-stitcher. I created many lovely projects, and I had some of them professionally framed at a small cross-stitch shop that I loved dearly. Each time I was in the shop I would pick up more patterns, knowing full well that I already had more than I would ever stitch in a dozen lifetimes. I lamented this fact one day as I was paying, and the kindly woman who owned the shop said, “It’s as much about collecting as it is about stitching.” How wise she was. Permission granted to keep on collecting.
I’m a collector of fabrics, of patterns, and books. I may never use them all. In fact I’m sure I won’t, but it doesn’t matter. I enjoy my collection, and adding to it from time to time. But really, I’d like to dust off my machine and take a few stitches. Maybe come December.
I’ve loved to work with fibers and textiles for as long as I can remember. When I was in second grade I made a challah cover out of purple felt. I think my mother may still have that project, somewhere. Over the years I’ve tried my hand at lots of different types of stitchery projects, and some I’ve truly loved. Here’s a trip down memory lane via needle and thread (or yarn or floss or something)
1. Crewel embroidery. I was a child of the seventies and one year for my birthday I received a crewel embroidery kit full of burnt orange and avocado green threads along with a giant embroidery needle. I think I made a mushroom or something.
2. Needlepoint. At summer camp we would make our own designs on the canvas, then tape up the raw edges with masking tape and go to town. I remember one particular bargello (zig-zag) pattern that I especially enjoyed.
3. Macrame. So maybe this doesn’t really belong in this category, but it is made with fibers. I made dozens of tiny twisted bracelets at summer camp over the years.
4. Stamped Cross Stitch. You just follow the lines printed on the fabric. What could be easier? Still, I wasn’t super impressed with the finished products. My mom still has her stamped cross stitch challah cover, though.
5. Counted Cross Stitch. Now this was a pastime I loved. I stitched on linen, I stitched on cotton, and I stitched on baby clothes. I found it soothing and I liked the end product, especially old fashioned looking samplers.
6. Garment Sewing. I learned to sew in seventh grade Home Economics class. Next to typing and junior year English, it was the most useful class in school. I made two prom dresses, a velvet and tafetta gown for a ball, children’s clothing for my little cousin, and numerous other items.
7. Rug hooking. Again I’m not sure this really counts, but I did it. I did one project, and I found it tedious. Of course it was an ugly pattern with ugly yarn, not the type of beautiful project that crafters make these days.
8. Knitting. I tried. Really, I did. So not my thing.
9. Quilting. My love. I don’t do nearly as much of it as I would like, but I have made hundreds of quilts over the last couple of decades, and I adore my fabrics, patterns, and volumes of quilting books and magazines. By the way, I designed the Bubble Fish pattern in the photo above. It ran in Quiltmaker Magazine in 1995, and they made it into the kit you see above. I never actually sewed that quilt, I just drew it out on graph paper and mailed it in (remember mailing?). It won their ongoing design contest, and the rest is history.