In 2006 I bought a new sewing machine. I didn’t sew but I had dreams of stitching things. When I wanted to turn some of my rug hooking into pillows it was a good impetus to take the plunge. I was eager to explore the wider world of my new found passion for hand made textiles so I opted for a basic mechanical workhorse I hoped would take me into more creative explorations down the road. It’s 2015 and my machine has served me well in the pillow making department and that’s pretty much all I’ve done with it. I used it sporadically so I’m always a little intimidated when I set it up. I still relied on the owner’s manual just to get it threaded. It seems my sewing machine and I have been driving on the straight and narrow together for a long time yet we’ve never really gotten to know each other well enough to deviate into the wilderness or go on a spontaneous adventure. I didn’t know what I needed to tap into this unfulfilled potential until an artist friend invited me to stay with her in Calgary where she was bringing the knowledgeable, talented and daring Karin Millson to her home for a small group session on how to abuse your sewing machine. It sounds like we might be running around like reckless rocks stars smashing our machines but in fact the session was about taking every mechanical sewing machine variable and breaking the rules to stretch and mine them for creative effect.
Ironically, I finally got to know my sewing machine by playing around with what I wasn’t supposed to do with it. Karin led us on a methodical, thoughtful, progression of experimentation with tensions, threads, stitch lengths, widths, you name it. It provided me with a view into the full potential of my machine to really understand how it works and responds. I felt like I was driving my sewing machine like my standard car with all the knobs controlling stitch length, width, etc. becoming different gears I could change on the fly. What I explored is but a small sampling of possibility but I already feel I can create stitches with character and free motion sew where my hand is in the stitch work even though it’s articulated through a mechanized machine. At the end of the session we had to put our machine back to a factory setting. I must say I found a great sense of liberation in taking things to the brink and then coming back to a perfectly balanced straight stitch. Suddenly my sewing machine looks far more inviting that intimidating. I think it’s about time we went for a spin and had some fun.
By the way…. I’m scheduled to teach 2 workshops based on my combination rug hooking/ knitting/crochet work at the Fibre Arts Newfoundland Conference this fall! Here’s a link for more information. It’s an international gathering to be held in the beautiful Gros Morne National Park. It should be a spectacular, inspiring event- hope to see you there! (If you’re interested in any of the conference workshops, please keep in mind that it’s better to register sooner rather than later to ensure the workshop you want has the registration numbers needed to run. ) Thanks for stopping in!