My New Janome Sewing Machine

The drawing I made after getting my sewing machine while Jon was food shopping.  (I spelled Janome wrong in the drawing.  Thank goodness for Grammarly, I’m not the best speller)

I watched the video that Jan had sent me about Linda J Mendelson, an artist who has been making wearable art since the 1970s.  At the end of the video, Mendelson is working on a new piece using a free-motion sewing machine.

“I learned this on YouTube” she said.  I loved her openness and willingness to learn something new.

When I saw her sewing machine and how sturdy it and the platform she was working on were, I thought that I should have sometime similar.

This was unusual thinking for me and I noticed it right away.   I was equating myself to this successful artist.  In the past, I wouldn’t have done this.  In the past, I would not have thought myself worthy of having what Linda Mendleson had.

I got my Brother sewing machine in 2010, two years after I started my blog and business.  I don’t remember how much it cost.

At the time it was a remarkable upgrade from the 20-year-old Singer that I had been using. It was the first time I heard about free-motion sewing.  When  I realized that I could draw with the sewing machine, I knew my sewing life was about to change for the better.

Four years later, I launched a Kickstarter to raise money to buy another sewing machine.  This time a Viking. It cost around $2000.  I loved sewing free motion on my Brother, but it wasn’t as good for straight sewing.

The Viking had some really nice features, like the automatic tension control, auto threader, cutter and bobbin feed.  It also had a lot of features, like hundreds of stitches, that I’d never use.

Lately, my Viking has had its problems.

The self-threader no longer works I’ve stopped using the automatic cutter because when I do the mechanism often randomly engages, and will cut the thread when I’m still sewing.

And there are some things I never liked about the machine, including that it stops sewing when the bobbin thread gets low leaving a bunch of tread on the bobbin that can’t be used without a lot of trouble.

And when I saw the setup that Mendelson has, I realized how rickety my Brother sewing machine had become over the years.

The extension is so wobbly it no longer fits correctly onto the machine.  The switch to allow it t be used for straight sewing broke long ago. And other parts of the machine are loose and ill-fitting.

I can still use both sewing machines.  It’s not as if they no longer work.  They just don’t work as well as they used to.

And honestly, since I went to Gee’s Bend, Alabama, and saw the sewing machine that Mary Ann Pettway had,  (if I remember correctly it was a mechanical Juki) I’ve wanted something similar.

So a month ago I ordered an extension for my Viking Sewing machine so I could use it for free-motion sewing.  The extensions are custom-made.  They’re big and sturdy.  Mine cost $125.  At the same time, I started thinking about getting a mechanical sewing machine as opposed to a computerized one for straight sewing.

I wanted something simple and straightforward.  I knew I’d miss the automatic tension,I’ve never been good at adjusting the tension when sewing and often work with different types of fabric at one time, but I was willing to give it up.

I feel like after years of sewing, I’ll be able to figure it out.  It’s actually not that complicated.

It took a month for the extension for my Viking to be made, and I got a call this week that it was in.  So on Saturday, Jon and I took a drive to Glens Falls to pick it up.

On the way, we stopped at Patti’s Sewing Machines and More.

Over a year ago I  went into the shop to buy some needles and the husband and wife who own the shop were very helpful.  Our conversation about needles led to sewing machines and when I began thinking about getting a new machine they came to mind.

I remembered that Patti and her husband sold Janome machines so I did some research online.

But I didn’t want to buy a sewing machine online. I wanted to see, touch, and sew on it before buying it.  And I wanted to talk to someone who I trusted to make sure I was getting the right machine.

When I bought both my Brother and Viking sewing machines, I didn’t really know what I was doing.  I didn’t know what I needed and didn’t need in a machine.

This time I knew exactly what I wanted.

Once again Patti and her husband were extremely helpful.  Jon sat patiently and quietly as we talked machines.  He only spoke up when he saw that I was interested in the Janome and offered to buy it for me.

I decided on the Janome Sewist 725S.  It was $400 and they had one in stock.

The shop where I ordered the extension for my Viking was closed for the Easter Holiday, so I didn’t get to pick that up.  I’ll get it next week and am eager to try out free-motion sewing on my Viking.  I have a really good feeling about it.

I  can do free-motion sewing on my new Janome, but I’d have to buy an extension.  And  I  like having two separate machines for the two types of sewing.  I sew so much it will cut down on the wear and tear on my machines.

Usually, when I get something new, like a sewing machine I’m nervous about opening it up and using it.

Right now, my Janome Sewist is in my studio, still in its box.  But not because I’m nervous about it.  I was busy this weekend and I don’t want to rush it.  I want to savor opening it up and getting to know it.

Getting this sewing machine is different for me.  It’s not that I need it because my sewing machine doesn’t work anymore. Or because I feel like I’ve worked hard and deserve it.

I got it because I wanted it.  Because I believe it will help me do my work better.  And because I could.

Making Kitchenware Potholders

Ten Kitchenware Potholders

Back from our Pedicure, I went right to my studio and began designing my new Kitchenware Potholders.

What fun that was.  A pure delight!

I think both teapots and one teacup is already sold, but the rest will be going into my Etsy Shop sometime next week after I finish making them into potholders.

Wish I had more of these little faded silhouettes so I could make more.  But the upside is, now I get to figure out another new potholder to make.

Although I don’t remember who gave me the red and white clover fabric I used in this potholder, I do remember the wonderful story about it.

The woman who sent it had to bring fabric to school to make an apron.  Her mother gave her the red and white fabric which came from a flour sack.  She was embarrassed because all the other girls had special fabric they bought just to make their apron.

She told me she didn’t do a very good job and it was the last thing she sewed.

But I loved her apron and the fabric as much as I loved her story.

Paint My Nails Blue, Jon’s and My First Pedicure

Jon getting a Pedicure.

I’m not sure why I wasn’t surprised when Jon told me he wanted his toenails painted too.   Blue, of course.  We both love to watch Drag.  Pose is one of our favorite TV shows.  I can see a bit of a Queen in Jon.

I chose a deep red polish.  I’m an old pro compared to Jon.

The first and last time, before today, I got my toenails painted was four years ago when I went to India.  It was something the girls and women at one of the homes for orphaned kids that we were visiting were doing, so I did it too.

I thought it was a great idea when Jon suggested he get a pedicure.   I enthusiastically encouraged him. It was a good way to take care of his Diabetic feet.

But when he suggested I go with him, I literally had a panic attack.

Intellectually I wanted to go with him for support.  But emotionally, the idea terrified me although I wasn’t sure why.  “Give me some time to get used to it,” I said, trying not to freak out.

We were on the edge of an argument when Jon realized what was happening before I did.

Jon’s suggestion triggered something in me.  It felt too much like coercion.  I took his suggestion as something I had to do, not something I had a choice about doing.  And because it had to do with my body, I was extra sensitive to it.

I’m still not completely sure where my aversion to getting a pedicure came from, but a part of me knew that whatever the source, it had little to do with who I am now.

Today was a month since Jon first talked about getting a pedicure and when he asked if I wanted to go with him this morning I said, “Sure” like it was the most natural thing in the world.

But it wasn’t. Not for either of us.

For years Jon wouldn’t let even his doctor look at his feet and now he was sitting next to me with a grin on his face while someone he never met before clipped his nails and scraped and rubbed his bare feet with warm stones.

We were both a little giddy with how new and strange it all was.

I did my best to communicate with the woman treating my feet, though she spoke little Engish. But we did find a way, signaling and smiling to each other through our masks.

Jon said when he saw my nails being painted he knew he wanted his done too.  He had to ask a few times before they took him seriously and the woman at the front desk brought him a bright blue nail polish.

I was happy to see a group of girls having their nails done when we first came in.  I envied them a little.  How easy it seemed for them, even fun.

But by the time Jon and I were sitting with our feet under a drier, I realized that we had had fun too.

I never would have imagined I would be getting my first pedicure with my 73 year old husband.  And I never would have imagined it would feel so good.  Even now, nine hours later, my feet feel softer and lighter.

Later, in the car on the way home, Jon and I laughed about our painted nails.  “I’m going to get you a pink boa,” I told him. “And I could see you in one of those manly skirts like David in Schitt’s Creeks wears.”

“Next time” he answered, “I think I’ll paint my nails bright yellow”.

Little Kitchenware Potholders

The little silhouettes on the linen towel

I was excited to make some potholders this morning.  I got to my studio and started looking around at all the fabric in my stash waiting for something to inspire me.

I’d been thinking about it,  running through the fabric I know I have in my mind.  But I didn’t have any ideas till I spotted the yellow and white checked fabric with red cherries and little flowers.

It just grabbed me.

I’ve always loved red and yellow together.  I still remember a drawing I did in elementary school with a red and yellow pinwheel.  Even though I chose the colors,  seeing how they   worked together surprised me.  It was the early 1970’s and they seemed kind of old-fashioned to me.  But still, there was something about them that I liked.

And I still do.  So much that I have this postcard of  Gee’s Bend Quilter Arlonzia Pettway’s quilt hanging in my studio.

The postcard of the quilt made by Arlonzia Pettway in 1982. I love all the pattern on pattern set off by a few solid red lines.

It was when I was searching for more fabric to go with the yellow and red print that I found the linen towel with the silhouettes of kitchenware along the border.

The details long faded I got the idea to do a little drawing of my own on the little teapots jello molds, and sugar bowls.

One of the teacup silhouettes with my stitching.
Making a Jello mold into a Potholder.

I had no idea what some of the silhouettes were supposed to be.  And some that I did know still weren’t recognizable even after I stitched on them (my fault for not doing a good job).

But I made enough to get a good start on some potholders.

My first Teapot Potholder with the yellow and red fabric that inspired it all.

Hope Quilt

I feel like it’s become a thing now to show how much quilts look on a bed as well as hanging on the wall.

Since I lay each quilt on our guest bed to cut off the loose thread and run a lint roller over before folding it up and putting it in a box to send off, it’s the perfect opportunity to get a picture.

So this is what my “Hope” quilt looks like on a bed. I do create the quilts on my floor, so it’s not a complete surprise, but not being flat makes a difference too.

Curating My Etsy Shop

I Am Enough poster, postcards and magnet and my Rainy Season Potholder.  All for sale in my Etsy Shop.

“I do enough, I have enough, I am enough. All is well.” ” That’s how my yoga teacher starts off each class,” Susan wrote to me.

Susan sent one of my I Am Enough posters to her teacher and I’ve adopted that mantra.

At night, when I can’t sleep, I close my eyes, put my hand on my belly to feel my breath move in and out, and repeat those words over and over.  Sometimes, I imagine writing them with my sewing machine. The grand up-swoop of the cursive “I” the repetitive mounds of the “m”.

This morning as I was packing my “Hope” quilt into its box, I noticed I had only three potholders in my Etsy Shop and decided to spend some time this week making more. But I also noticed how the three potholders I did have went so well with some of my magnets and postcards.

It’s the curator in me that wanted to see them together.

So I arranged them on the floor and took some pictures.

They make a nice little package I thought.  And remembered how Jody bought one of my magnets and a Flying Vulva decal as part of a gift for a friend who was turning 50.

I’ll have some new Intuitive Patchwork Potholders in my shop sometime next week.  Until then I do have it stocked with reproductions of my fiber art in a few different forms.   With each order, I send one of my Shield of Words Postcards and an Owl Woman sticker.

And I’ll leave you with a message from Stephanie about Mary Kellogg’s book This Time Of Life. A five-star review in my opinion…

“I received Mary’s book a couple of days ago and was moved to tears by her poems. Please tell her thank you from me and how very much I could relate to them.” Stephanie

My I’m Not A Ghost Postcards and Magnets and my Pothotholders, Ins and Ions and Thinking of Spring for sale in my Etsy Shop. 
Mary Kelloggs Book This Time Of Life for sale in my Etsy Shop. 

Offerings From The Spring Earth

The little metal fence stuck in the Rosa Multiflora.

It was over a year ago that the dead tree fell on the fence in the far corner of the south pasture.  But even though the tree was on the fence, there were so many brambles the sheep and donkeys couldn’t get through it.

Yesterday we had someone come and cut up the tree for firewood and repair the fence.  It was when I went to look at the work Mike did that I saw the little metal fence with a  Rosa Multiflora growing through it.

The fence was a little rusty, but otherwise in good shape.  It’s like the ones I use in the beginning of the growing season to keep the hens out of my gardens.  Only it looked older, sturdier, and had more character.

It was obviously a part of one of those garbage dumps that are often on old farms, revealed beneath the decaying leaves by the melting snow and spring rain.   I picked up a broken flowerpot to throw away but left the rest of the garbage for another day.

This morning I took the clippers and freed the little fence as the thorns from the sticker bush grabbed at my clothes.  There were two sections of fence about ten feet long total.  I straightened the bent legs that stick into the ground as I walked back to the barn.

I’ll be using the fence soon enough.

On Saturday I noticed the hens did some “raking” while looking for insects in the Backporch Garden exposing green shoots.  So on Sunday, even though I know it’s still early in the season, I finished the job.

Yesterday I saw that my Naked Ladies had popped up seemingly overnight.

My Naked Ladies

They get nice and green this time of year, but only flower in the fall.  They were here when we bought the farm, an old and hardy plant.

Today the soft green buds on the Lilac greeted me on the way back to the house.

The earth is pushing up all kinds of things this time of year.

Lilac buds taken with my macro lens.

My “Hope” Quilt, All Done

“Hope” and Fate

I tied the last knot on my “Hope” quilt this afternoon after getting an email from Kathleen asking if it was still for sale.

“Hope” has been my “word” for years now with deep meaning for my life.” Kathleen wrote me.

Once again I’m struck by how when I’m making a piece of art, even though I’m not aware of it, it seems as if I’m making it specifically for someone who is reading my blog and watching the process unfold.

I have no doubt that I was making this quilt for Kathleen.

But this quilt is really a collaboration.  It wouldn’t exist with Emily’s paintings which inspired, not only the quilt but the name, that word “hope” which has great meaning for Kathleen.

Emily Gold’s hand-painted “hope” on linen.  You can see and buy more of Emily’s art here on her website 

It’s also a collaboration with the women, who I don’t know, that made the quilt squares I used all those years ago.  I see that quilt circle on the bottom as a wheel eternally turning, like hope itself.

The back of my “Hope” quilt.
Full Moon Fiber Art