Hearts in linen

Valentine’s Day 2016.

hearts in linen
  
This day marks the time when my love for making art results in the Spirit Cloths that are in my hands most days. 

Several hours daily are going to embroidery and hand stitching. The machine comes in to do some laborious tasks. There is less quiet time, but the movement of my hands is slow and there is a zen to it nonetheless. 

Once the embroidery was completed, the batting and backing attached, the machine quilting is being completed.

at the bernina 820
  
top down view at the machine
  
side view show depth of quilting
  
front view
  
up next
  
center completed
  

The Calyx Eye

When machine stitching I end up with a lot of extra threads on the front surface of the fabric. Its commonplace and happens to everyone. I’m often asked how to resolve this problem. You could choose to snip them closely but the ends fuzz up and look mussed. Instead of snipping I choose to pull them through to the back. When presented with thread ends too short to pass through a needle eye the solution is an easy to thread needle.
 

Once I started to use the calyx eye needle it became my preferred choice for all thread pulling. 

The Calyx Eye needle provides the best solution. 

The Calyx Eye Needle

This needle is commonly known as an easy threading needle. It is made with a small slit above the eye so you can pull the thread through the top. By inserting the needle in the fabric first you can pull the thread through to the back with ease. See the step-by-step tutorial below. 

 

Right side of fabric with excess threads

 
The Calyx Eye Needle
  

Choose a thread that needs to be pulled to the back:

  

Insert the calyx eye needle as close as possible to where the thread comes out of the fabric. 

  
  
Pull thread firmly down into the eye.

 

Push the needle through to the back: pulling the thread through with it.   

Repeat until all the excess threads are pulled through to the wrong side of fabric. 

Wrong side with all threads pulled through

Once finished the right side looks smooth without clipped threads. 

 

Right side completed
  
  

Found. In my hand. 

Lately I’ve been admiring reverse appliqué and thought it might work for a piece of fiber art I am planning.
You see this piece of fiber art exists loosely in my mind, it sort of has a little film attached to it that I play often. The colors change. The fabrics change. But the foundation of the work is essentially the same. It consists of many modular pieces that are similar in size and hue. The black square below is an example.

 

reverse applique batik example

I’m eager to get the work started and get the film in my head into real world action. This Saturday past I started playing with reverse appliqué sewing. After several pieces were finished the results were different than expected.

About midnight – my creative witching moment happened. Cleaning up the perle cottons and re-organizing threads, dropping scissors into their cases, needles neatly arranged in the drawer…I passed by the stack of recently completed art quilt studies.

recently completed Pennsylvania farmland art quilts

The studies are of my beloved Pennsylvania farmlands which are rapidly disappearing.
New housing and commercial structures are chowing down the land for 3 solid meals daily.

I know this land. Its of my people, my youth, my later adulthood. I’ve come back to the gentle hills that my grandfather held in reverence.

No reference photos are needed. I’ve walked the dusty dirt roads by the farms with my dogs, rode my horses through the brown-green-gold fields, tilled the ground with my hands to plant native species and cut flower gardens. Moonlit nights resplendent with fireflies, moths and bats while seated behind the farmhouse in the deep of night are treasured moments for me.

As I passed by the studies I saw the round shape I have been slow stitching for weeks.

dark of the new moon

 

The familiar round moons or suns  are exactly what I’ve been planning but I couldn’t know that. Instead of the reverse appliqué, this embroidered style that has been my meditative practice for weeks is it!

The search over, the technique was in my hands all along.

sunny hillside

 

Broken Threads

A long night of breaking threads at the machine.

Tea dyed muslin under the presser foot

Needles breaking. Threads breaking. Again and again. Adjusting tension and trying little tricks to keep everything running smoothly.

It happens with hand stitching too. Knotting up, catching a thread on the back, tangling. Sometimes it’s that kind of stitching: tangling and knotting.

Learning to wrestle wrought threads.

wound tightly.

Unbound.

Loosened. Breathing.

Softness.

This is the nature of thread work. It teaches me to allow anger in and out—no withholding of breath. Letting it be its own nature. Turn off power and tidy the sewing room. Go to relax and read a bit

morning. opening the sewing desk and do my morning ritual of preparing the machine with basic maintenance. Open the bobbin case. Get the dust remover, brush and oil. Ahah! The culprit exposed in the sunlight streaming through the window. A tiny speck of shredded rayon thread is barely visible under the auto cutter. Another fine long strand is found at the bottom of the case

I remove the threads, flush with air, brush well, oil bobbin and put it all back together.

Last night I did that twice. But I couldn’t see the small specks of thread. Even with my Ott Light.

Under light of day everything is exposed and seen with clarity.

Learning balance and timing, during fatigue and frustration was not the time to problem solve. Bernina sews like herself again.

Prayer Wheels

jonas kept me indoors and stitching while the white flakes were flurrying furiously out of doors. stitching while drinking copious cups of constant comment tea. time to think while i stitch. stitching and staying present. the needle keeps my mind fresh and fingers nimble. watch the thread, like a bell, a prayer wheel, staying with it. mother reads and cleo snores gently. rory guards our home while we sit out the storm.

Prayer Wheel – spokes

 

Prayer Wheels

moving through the piece

Prayer Wheel – Edge

 

Top Down

sharing the process

overview

time for more tea. Thoughts come. Go. Pass through the wheels.

 

Where does it begin

where does it begin.

lost in the thought
of movement
needle rocks through cloth.

pulling perle cotton over
strands of colored floss and yarn.

textile. machine fingers wove the linen I am tasked with working my threads into.

Jonas. 2016 Artstorm.
  
—– stay in the moment.
watch yet

don’t look. long crewel needle stabs into my hand.
no blood. small punctures. they happen. often. 

the small pain I feel takes me tumbling down cobbled paths of wondering whose labor made these items in my lap.

woman. child. Machine.

bring me back to purpose. stay with the beginning. waiting for the end.

foundation.
 

what is my desire for speed doing here!
! slow !

it down. relax fingers. stretch. back. go again. not so tight.

relax. lost in the motion again.

building my web.