Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Great Grandma's New Home Sewing Machine Gets a New Home

The internet, for all its evils, can sometimes be a wonderful thing. I recently made a Facebook post about the vintage sewing machine cabinet I received as a Mother's Day gift. A grade school friend's mother (who used to be my neighbor and also was the wife of the doctor who delivered me when I was born and cared for me pretty much all my life until his retirement) contacted me and said she had my Great Grandmother's treadle sewing machine, wanted it out of her basement, and asked if I would take it. Of course I said, "Heck yeah, I'll take it!" So, not even knowing what brand it was or what condition it was in, last night I dragged my guys over to her house and we hauled it up out of her basement. I'm thrilled with it!

It is a New Home Model A circa 1919. It belonged to Elsie Carlson, my Step-Great Grandmother. It would have resided at one time in the farmhouse I grew up in. By the time I met Elsie she had moved to a pretty house in town. I remember it had a beautiful south facing window with lace curtains and she had doilies all over her furniture. It doesn't surprise me that I'd remember the textiles. She passed away when I was only 14 or 15 years old. 

 Everything is still with it, even the manuals.

The decals are in excellent condition. The machine was used but not abused.

A little bit of elbow grease will clean her right up. 

I tested her out when I got home. Without even adding a drop of oil she sews like a dream.

I plan to just remove the 100 years of lint and start sewing. 

The cabinet on the other hand needs some work.

Like most of these machines, some of the veneer has popped off in places. 

And, like most, there was a plant placed on top of it at some point. There are larger chunks of veneer missing here.

Then there is the base. It definitely got wet at some point so the board is delaminating and the veneer on the left side of the cabinet is separating from the plywood.

And finally the bottom bentwood drawer on the left is broken, but we have all the pieces. 

That's all we need. As long as we have all the pieces, all of these things can be fixed. I've already started on the restoration. Just giving it a wash with soap and water proved how beautiful it will be once I'm finished with it. I'll get the engineer to help glue and clamp some pieces tonight and then I will start giving her a new finish tomorrow. 

The machine head also received a bath and is already starting to gleam. 

I'm excited to get this finished and reunite the sewing machine with the antique quilting frame that also belonged to Elsie. I cannot begin to thank Karen enough for calling me and asking me to take her trash but my treasure out of her basement.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Dabbling in Doubleweave

I have wanted to weave a doublewide herringbone throw using my handspun yarn ever since I first bought the giant bag of raw Shetland fiber. That wasn't yesterday. In fact it wasn't last year either. I'm not even going to say how long it has been and leave it at that. At least I know it hasn't been a decade.

The spun yarn has been patiently waiting for me to do something with it. I look at it often and think, "Okay, I'm going to do it." Then I panic. I've never woven double weave before. I get the concept - weaving two layers at the same time with a join on one side resulting in fabric twice as wide as what you see.  Seems simple enough until you go to actually do it. I finally gave in and decided to join Linda at Tabby Tree Weaver for a class. I figured it was better to make all my mistakes there rather than to mess up my precious homespun yarn. And oh did I ever make mistakes.

While there I used a nice inexpensive cotton yarn she had in stock. I liked it so much I decided to try making a throw out if it before I do the wool homespun throw. I was making enough mistakes to realize there was still a learning curve to get past. Now that I have the cotton on the loom, I'm glad I made that choice. This is a SLOW process. I'll be able to tie on the wool warp and keep on trucking. 

The hardest part, besides the ridiculously complicated threading, is getting the selvage edges to look good in addition to the fold. There is no mindless throwing the shuttle back and forth. You have to pay attention to every pic. And you don't dare stop in the middle of a treadle sequence. My studio assistants are not much help in that regard with their constant need for attention. At this rate it may actually be a decade before I finish it.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Making Progress in Home, Health and Family

My days are now filled with baby steps of progress related to home, health and family.  On the home front we've been busy with yard work and we managed to get the shelves above my sewing desk hung so the sewing room is now complete. I've been plugging away at this Love at Home quilt top. I have plans to sit down to hand appliqué the leaves this afternoon on the screened porch.

The porch has a lot to do with my health and wellbeing. I've started following Dr.Andrew Weil's 8 Weeks to Optimum Health plan. He promotes an anti-inflammatory diet, exercise such as walking and yoga, in addition to meditation and spending time in nature. Spending time on the screened porch feels like living in a tree house and it is good for my soul. I know living here, versus in the city, is making me healthier. I feel better. The constant noise in the city drove me crazy and had me always on edge. Here I can breath and relax.

The porch is also a great place to spend time with the family. My daughter and her husband adopted a son back in March so it has been nice to be in the area and able to spend time with him.

I am still adjusting to the idea of being a Grandmother to a 15 year-old given that my daughter is only 25 herself, but I wouldn't trade him for the world. Besides, it is kind of fun to get out to the track and watch other people my age who still have children in high school look at me funny when they realize he's my daughter's son.

The city here has a wonderful free zoo and park that we plan to take advantage of.  The groundhog exhibit is one of my favorites.

But the best part is the baby goats! I'm not sure why, but they don't have any sheep. I may need to make a donation so they can get some. Then I could visit them whenever I want.  Er, I mean the kids, yeah the kids could visit them whenever they want.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

All Things Need a Makeover Every Now and Then

So the stool that came with my new Singer sewing cabinet no longer had the original upholstery. Someone at some point had recovered it with a weird plastic the same consistency of those things you put under a rug to keep them from slipping. Practical perhaps though not my style. 

So I dug into my stash and pulled out this beautiful paisley fabric I had bought as a remnant several years ago thinking I'd make a carpet bag out of it. I ended up buying a carpet bag so I never used the fabric. I like it better on the stool. 

In fact, I liked it so much I decided to finally recover the world's ugliest ottoman with it. I picked this little gem up for a few bucks several years ago with the best intentions of recovering it immediately. Then my life derailed and here it sat. So I decided I'd try to find a similar fabric to what I used on the stool. 

It's hard to believe but I was able to find the exact same fabric four or five years later. AND it was 50% off. What are the odds? I have enough now to make a valance and recover a decorative pillow. I've decided to add a trim so I'll wait until I pick that up to start that project. 

Ethel has inspected it and is quite pleased that I splurged for new 2" foam. The old metal springs popping up were hard on her bones (not to mention my feet.)

Sunday, May 10, 2015

The Bigger, Better Sheville City

We decided to move for many reasons: to be closer to family, to live someplace quieter, to have master bedroom on the main floor near the laundry, and I'd be lying if I didn't admit the basement of our new house combined with the screened porch sold the place. 

I'll start by giving you a tour of the basement - the bigger, better Sheville City. (Mike says it's a city now that I've annexed multiple rooms.) We'll start in the sewing room. The previous owner was also a sewer so she had all the lighting set up and ready to go. I just had the whole house painted in neutral colors and moved in. The laminate flooring makes for super easy cleanup. The color is correct in this first photo. All the different lighting caused my camera to freak out in the other rooms. 

One of my Mother's Day gifts was this beautiful vintage Singer cabinet to house my Singer 201-2.  I love it! I plan to change the fabric on the stool but other than that it's in great shape. 

They sure don't build them like this anymore. The knee lever to substitute for the foot pedal is very cool. It is a shame that to get anything of quality now days you have to shop on Craigslist.

I desperately needed the huge closets in this room. I had no closet space at all in our last house. And I do mean huge. It's a walk-in at least 4 feet deep with deep shelving to hold lots of fabric. The previous owner and I differed on decorating taste but it seems we both understood what was a priority.

I still have two long shelves that will be hung above my sewing table that I haven't moved from the other house yet. Other than that I'm calling this room done. 

Just outside of the sewing room is a large multi-purpose room. I have my looms and all my weaving supplies here, a sitting area to watch TV, my spinning wheels, my antique quilting frame and even my old treadle sewing machine. 

I tried using it yesterday and the belt was slipping. I need to figure out how to adjust that. 

There are more enormous closets in this room where I store my coned yarns, warping boards, etc.  

I even manage to do my yoga in this room since this room has carpet. The door on the right side of the next photo leads to a large storage room and the mechanicals. Isn't that a weird color? The previous owner tried to do a faux woodgrain finish and missed it by a mile. I can't decide what to do about it.

It's a really big room which helps to give me plenty of elbow room around the looms.

The log cabin quilt I bought in an antique store at Cambridge City, Indiana right after we signed the offer for this place. I knew I would have lots of wall space to fill.

Just off of the multi-purpose room is my office space. There's also a refrigerator and freezer behind the bifold doors and the other door leads to another storage space that I use for food storage soon to be /wine cellar. There is a full bath on the left as well as the stairs leading up to the main floor. It's hard to believe I had all this crammed into about a third of the space at the last house.

If I need a break from working I can just step outside to the patio and swing awhile or enjoy a cup of tea.

The view from the back of the house is of a ravine overlooking a creek. You can't see the creek from here. You can, however, see all the wildlife that use the backyard as a superhighway. There is always something back there. 

In celebration of Mother's Day this gal had her babies on our grilling porch. It seemed like a strange place until I thought about it. 

She was up there on the second level deck in the following photo. It does kind of seem like a tree house. I'm happy to report she has moved on. She was tearing up the cedar siding. Labor pains must have been intense?

Monday, May 4, 2015

I've Got a Screw Loose

Not everything survived the move unskathed. I had tied a warp for a series of hand towels just before we got the wild idea to move to our new home. Then, after moving in I was busy with quilting projects so I didn't bother with dressing the loom until recently. I managed to get half way through the first towel when I realized there was something seriously wrong with the loom. Shaft 8 wasn't going up and down like it should. So I fiddled some and kept on weaving the best I could.  By the second towel I started noticing little metal parts laying on the ground behind the loom every time I removed a warp stick. Hmm…that's not supposed to happen. 

Further investigation by towel number three revealed one of the chains that attach to the lams was broken. There is no way to fix this until the all the warp was woven off the loom. I had nine yards of warp. NINE yards of fiddling to get the shed to open enough to get the shuttle to pass. So these towels are not perfect. Not by a long shot. But I managed to get them done and they served their purpose of testing different twill and crepe patterns so I could decide which would make the best baby blankets. I've decided I really like the pattern on the left of photo number two for a solid color blanket. 

Now I just need Mr. FixIt to take the loom apart and repair the chain. Hopefully while he does that we'll figure out where that loose screw goes. I feel it might be important.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

A Bench Basket

Every once in a while I have a good idea. Like this one. I wanted to hang a basket on the side of my bench to hold my weaving supplies but it had to be just the right size in order to attach it to the bench. So when I found this bicycle basket last fall I knew it was just right. Only I needed a way to secure it around the handle of the bench. I figured I'd just weave something on the tape loom only I never seemed to get around to it. Finally the other day I was fussing around while weaving, looking rather discombobulated, and wishing I had that basket attached. I announced, "If only it was attached all my problems would be solved." My hubby took one look at it walked into his workshop and came back with the cherry dowel you see here. "Oh, yeah that will work." He's a problem solver which makes him a keeper.  If I ever get this weaving project finished I'll throw some stain on that dowel and pretend like it was my idea all along.