Embroidery bliss

12 04 2010

Today was an early start, with a meeting at 8:30 am.  Little A took a nap yesterday with her daddy and so was up until 11:30.  She was not that interested in getting up.  However, after a thorough boob-rubbing session, she was persuaded to wake.

The meeting didn’t go well.  Or, at least, it didn’t go the way that I had hoped, and now, I am, again, stuck in a “funny” financial situation.  However, as soon as I got out of my meeting, E called me and we made plans to go to the “crazy store” (aka, the Len’s Mills Store) for fabric, transfer paper, and more embroidery floss.

The Len’s Mills Store is, as you may recall, the place that I got my sewing machine.  I was much more prepared this time for the insanity of it all.  But first, the Bibles for Missions thrift store.

Now, generally, I’m not too into supporting missionary work into African countries.  However, I am also not too into WalMart, who now own Value Village.  After Walmart bought them out, the prices became pretty rich for second hand items.  Bibles for Missions is the best selection in Guelph, as well as the best prices.  And, it just happens to be next to the Len’s Mills store.  So, now some poor Africans will have more bibles thanks to me.  It is my hope that they will find some universal truths somewhere in there. 🙂

Bibles for Missions revealed some fabric for sewing underwear and other fun projects (my list of projects is expanding faster than I can make them…) as well as a few bags of embroidery floss for $1 each or less!  SCORE!

There are so many things I love about embroidery, one of which is the affordability factor.  It is really a cheap hobby!

We then went to the Len’s Mills store and got more embroidery floss!  Bliss.  I have at least four projects planned after my current one, which I’m hoping will be done by the end of the week.  I bought floss for these projects which include: a hummingbird for my mother for Mother’s Day, a yoni design on underwear, a goddess/tree drawing that I did before I got pregnant and an earth on underwear too.

Yesterday, I went to a goddess gathering/clothing exchange at a friend’s house.  I got some amazing new clothes and met a wonderful goddess who also stitches.  She was telling me about her inspiration to embroider underwear, which, of course, inspired me along the same lines.  I also am going to start making my own underwear because I really don’t want to give my money to Fruit of the Loom or some other similar company.


E and I then had lunch together with our little ones, and headed to the park for an afternoon of stitching in the park.  It was great to stitch with E because we had been doing so separately, and this was our first opportunity to stitch together.  She’s making a beautiful heart design for her mother for Mother’s Day.

Another thing I love about embroidery is the ability to pick it up and put it down so easily.  You can literally so three or four stitches and then do something else, like push your toddler on a swing.  And while I’m rhyming off more things I love about embroidery, I love the portability of it.  It’s so easy to just bring a little bag to the park and stitch while little A is playing.

It is so nice for me to have an outlet and opportunity for creativity.  I find that writing, which I love to do, is hard to get into with fairly regular interruption.  Painting or other arts are generally also hard to get into with regular interruptions and require a certain type of space to get into (one that you can get covered in paint, specifically).  Cooking is fun, but also gets to be somewhat monotonous, as I have to do it everyday.  Embroidery is something that I can do anywhere, for short periods if necessary, and that I can express myself creatively through.

I have started a piece for little A from the embroidery book, for her meditation cushion.  She picked it out and every time she sees me working on it she says “awwww, that’s for me!” and smiles so dearly.  I love being her mother!

This is where it is at right now:

I started by basting the whole piece because the pile of the fabric is fairly thick, so other transfer methods were not the useful.  It is a little bit challenging because it’s sometimes to see the pattern, but it seems to be going quite well.  I have done all the green outlining and am now on the green filling part.

As a bit of an aside, while I was writing this post little A made a little “home” for Homie, our little dog.  The home is constructed of all the fabrics I picked up today, as well as a bunch of lego towers.  This is a picture of little A, Homie and his “home”.


Community craft day

10 04 2010

Today was a craft day in my basement, in preparation for the neighbourhood parade E and I are organizing.

It started when I was at a psytrance party a couple months ago: the first I had gone to since I birthed.  Someone there asked about the “next party” and whether or not there was a parade planned.  I thought “WOW! I love parades! I need more of them in my life!”

So, being the person that I am, I decided to consult E and see if she, too, loved parades and wanted to help organize one.  And, of course, she did!  So started the process of organizing the first parade for our neighbourhood: April 25th.  Of course, I didn’t take into account the fact that I was moving in a week, or the fact that I have about three thousand other things on my plate.  Parade’s are important things you know?

We wanted to do some craft days, to get the kids involved and helping create the experience.  So, we decided on some dates, put them out there and thought that whatever came of them was fine.

Today was the day of the craft day and it was great!  Not too many families showed up (in fact, only one outside E and my families), but we got a lot of painting done and had a ton of fun!

We painted a big banner that will be at the front of the parade:

and many shakers that E made before hand:

as well as some fun creature shapes which will be mounted on sticks for the day of the parade:

Little A got covered head to toe, literally, in paint as she refused to wear pants for the experience. The end result was a very messy bathtub and a semi-clean child. 🙂

One of the little girls who came, Juliet, made a sign that said “Come and Join our Parade!”, which I thought was lovely.

I am excited to see what comes of this parade.  I feel like it will be more than just E and my family for the actual date as some of the other parents didn’t understand why we would have craft days in advance.  (The answer, of course, is that it’s FUN!  They’ll catch on some day).  Some people are decorating their bikes (I have heard) and others making floats.

E and I are making costumes for ourselves and our children (ears, tails and wings are in order, I feel!).

Doing fun things in community is always a wonderful experience, even if it’s only a few people.  Everyone who participates will remember doing so.  It’s a way for people who may not have much in common to come together in celebration and joy.  It gives a sense of security to, not only know your neighbours, but play with them too!

I’m hoping that this will give some adults an excuse to play around, something that is needed more in “adult” life.  I’m hoping that it will be something we can do, if not seasonally, than annually.

I LOVE parades!

The fine art of patience (through embroidery)

7 04 2010

I decided at Samhain this year that I needed to learn more homemaking skills, and to incorporate my artistic expression into those skills.

One day, I was sitting with a friend while our children were playing and thought “here we are, just chatting, but our children are too young for us to be doing anything that useful.  Wouldn’t it be nice if we were just crafting something together?”

And so, through these two thoughts and intentions, my commitment to learning and expressing myself through embroidery came.

Now, I don’t generally relate to myself as a “crafty” person.  All through my childhood, crafting wasn’t a big skill set of mine.  Sewing has always been a challenge and I sometimes feel like my hands don’t really know how to communicate with my head properly.  However, I still feel like embroidery is well within my grasp.

Why?  Because I have centuries of female history behind me.  Women have been doing this sort of work for a long time, so there must be some sort of morphogenics happening somewhere right?  Also, my dear friend E embroiders, so there must be some sort of support I can gain from her.

Today, I took the top of one of my meditation cushions (still in pieces, because I want to sew it after I embroider it), and started the journey towards my first embroidery project.

For my meditation cushion I decided that I wanted an OM symbol.  Easy enough right? I just find a nice pattern, and draw it on the material.

I check into my Reader’s Digest Embroidery book from the 70s (recommended to me by E) and find that the stitch that I want to use is satin stitch.  This is described as an “simple” stitch.

It turns out that embroidery is not “simple” to me.  First of all, books seem to forget that the people reading them may actually have NO clue what they are doing.  It says, simply “when beginning, leave some thread at the back and stitch over it.” (paraphrasing here).

Nowhere does it tell you how much thread to use, how much to pull that thread through or anything else about the “pre-stitching” steps.  Maybe this is supposed to be obvious, but to me, it is not.  I start to feel like that scene from Zoolander where they are trying to get the files out of the computer by banging on it and hooting at it like monkeys.  *sigh*

I call E.  Our conversation goes something like this:

“I’m starting with satin stitch.”

“Don’t do that!”

“Well, I am.  How to I… start?”

She follows with an explanation of how to do the stitch, which is fine.  The beginning, I’m sure, seems pretty obvious.

“No, I mean, the really obvious part.  I mean, do you take the entire skein of thread and start with it?”

Blessings be! E actually understands how clueless I really am and informs me that I take a piece of thread the just over the length of my forearm and pull it all the way through, so that there’s a long part at the front of the fabric and a short end at the back.

This brings me to my first lesson in the fine art of Patience.  I am completely humbled by my inexperience, and decide that no matter what I make, it will be amazing, as I couldn’t even figure out how long to make the thread.  I have to be very patient with my learning curve (something that does not come easy for me).  Breathe.

It turns out that satin stitch is a very simple stitch, but not easy.  Semantics sometimes are lost.  It also turns out that the patience needed for even one stitch in satin stitch is incredible.

I didn’t realize this until I watched this video from an incredibly generous and talented woman named Mary Corbett.  Her satin stitch looks about 5000x better than mine, and I can tell this comes, not just from practice, but from the patience that she has in the placement of each stitch. It makes me truly appreciate every hand embroidered thing I’ve encountered for the patience that these women have to create such perfection.  It is such a meditation, and I am so glad to have found this fine art.  I feel like it is already teaching me so much about patience, presence, commitment and art.

After the day’s work, but before watching this video, my OM symbol looks like this:

I’m pretty impressed for my first attempt.  I also think that it’s super sloppy.  But, I am being patient with my process in this.  It is, after all, my first try.  Tomorrow, or maybe later tonight after my hot bath, I will try what Mary does in the video, and outline the rest first, so then I have a more distinct border to work with.  I will have photos soon!

The Story of a Sewing Machine

22 03 2010

For the past several weeks I have been really wanting to get back into sewing my own costumes.

Before I birthed, I created wonderful garments.  Eccentric creations of all sorts, mostly sewn by hand (as it is rather tricky to backpack with a sewing machine and backpacking is what I was doing before I birthed).  I transformed boring value village scores into creative, adorned garments fit for the Goddess herself.  This is a picture of me in one of my favourite maternity outfits, my womb dress.

Then, I had a baby.  I was lucky, until about 6 months ago, if I washed my hair once a week.  If my clothes had easy access to my breasts and were comfortable, they were approved as part of my wardrobe.  Most of my clothes came from my mother, who handed me down some wonderful garments, which were more suited to the middle-aged woman that she is, than the spunky 20-something I am.  But, I accepted them with gratitude and grace, because honestly, I had NO time to think, much less care, about how I looked.

But now my daughter is weaned, and sleeping through the night (!!!!!) most nights and I have a little more time and space to think about how I look.  And I don’t want to dress like a middle-aged woman anymore.

However, I do not have the time to be sewing by hand anymore.  There was a day in the winter where I tried that, and quickly stopped as little A spread the contents of my sewing basket around the living room and unraveled most of my thread.

I knew it was time for a sewing machine.  This thought somewhat daunted me, as I have had strenuous relations with sewing machines in the past.  However, my dear friend E, a wonderful seamstress, assured me that if I got a new machine, it would be easy as can be.

So, today, I ventured forth into the world, with the lovely lady E and little A, and bought a new (actually, factory refurbished..) sewing machine.

The journey started with arriving at Len’s Mills Factory Outlet, a discount fabric store.  Now, I have never been to this store before, though I’ve wanted to for a while.  It is a BIG box store, full of fabric, notions, yarn, clothing and a random assortment of other strange things that you find in discount factory outlet stores.

This is one aisle (where E and little A are hanging out):

One thing that you need to know about me is that I am NOT a consumer.  I am overwhelmed by the thought of shopping in big stores and most of my things I make myself, freecycle, or find at thrift stores.  This picture is half of one of hundreds of aisles, exploding with THINGS.  New things.  Places like this get me thinking in terms of resource use/depletion, social inequity (what were those workers paid who made all these things in China?) and general dismay with the overconsuming gluttony of our society. Little A is screaming “more orange mama” and “Me love yarn mama” and laughing hysterically.  When I ask her if she’s feeling a little overwhelmed too she shrieks “YA!”

Unlike her glorying in the feeling, I feel more like this:

E, seeing my expression quickly offered an out. “We can leave if you need to.”  She said.

But, I am on a mission to find a sewing machine, so, I centre myself, breathe and accept this too, as part of Divine reality.  Look at all these amazing things that we as humans have created!  We are such inventive and creative beings, that we can come up with all of this to exist in our worlds.  And, I feel that at least this isn’t in the garbage and has ended up at an discount factory outlet store.

We find the sewing machine, a simple Brother brand, factory reburbished for the low price of $119.99.  (ouch!)

I have come to learn in my travels through this life that money doesn’t have to limit us, if we don’t let it.  The key is, not letting it, which is most of our default setting. I have no job (yet!), no source of income (yet!) other than the pittance that the government gives to women who have borne children.  Though I am grateful to our government, it’s hardly compensation for mother’s work.  Yet, I believe that sewing will be the start of something abundant, something I can acquire more resources with.  It is an investment, not only in my creative expression, but in my financial abundance.

Somewhere along the way, we have lost little A’s stuffed platypus

which she carries around inside her jacket.  At this point we have been on the bus, walked through a thrift store, ran to the Len’s Mills store and have been inside for about 15 minutes.  It had fallen out but little A kept a pretty good cool about things.  “It’s OK mama,” she says “me get new one with daddy.”   I’m glad that kids (and specifically mine) can be so resilient and accommodating at times when a freak out just can’t be handled.

We eventually find our way to the cash, after E has bought some amazing purple and blue veil material for a tutu (which I am going to beg to borrow when it is finished!) and take a final look around for platypus before eventually piling in a cab.  I didn’t bring my rickety cart because I overestimated the size of sewing machines.  Next time (though I hope that’s not for a long time, unless it’s a present for a friend) I will take my cart.

Here she is (in her current resting place, my kitchen table… working on that one!):

It took me just under an hour (with toddler negotiations of: 2L of water spilled on the floor under the fridge, 4 spools of thread unwound and the removal of all but one piece of clothing) to thread the bobbin, the needle and have my machine ready to go.  I think I will save my first project for tomorrow.

Tonight I will eat organic chocolate and relish in the first day of my moon cycle.

Tomorrow, we can learn to sew together.

Good night!