My Decadent New Sewing Machine

Okay, I just got back from QuiltCon, and that was a VERY interesting experience. But that topic will have to wait. Something more pressing must be discussed!

I did it! I got the Juki Sit Down Long Arm machine! I went to Quilt Con with the idea of looking at it again (remember, I tried it at Houston and loved it.) But in the intervening months, I wasn’t quite as sure that I “needed” it. In addition, I have had quite a few expenses this year, and that made me even more unsure about it. So I spent three days at QuiltCon waffling about whether or not I needed to get it right now. In the end, after many phone discussions with my BF, a discussion with my brother (he’s the one who named it my decadent sewing machine, and he gave me an “out” for spending that kind of money by pointing out that he has collected 30 pairs of exotic cowboy boots!,) checking and re-checking my finances, spending a long time trying out the machine, and an unexpected and delightful call from a blog buddy, Jeannie, I decided to get it. Well, I decided to get it if they would accept my offer.

They did accept my offer (I didn’t want to pay the expensive So. Ca. taxes) and they threw in the open toed foot. They had the machine (in five boxes!) at the show, and so I didn’t have to pay shipping either, which I didn’t want to do.

After spending the better part of a day and a half putting it together, with an assist from MLG (master landscaping guy,) it was ready to go! Yahoo. Oh, part of the putting it together was moving furniture out of the studio to make space for it. In the end, I moved the bookcase, and I banished the big cozy chair (which it turns out I never sat in–it was just a quilt-holder) and one other piece of furniture, there was plenty of room to put its table under the second window in the studio. I actually have a little more room than before in there.

Here it is. I am going to get a second table to put next to it, just to support larger quilts. They had attachment tables available, but they were ridiculously priced IMO, and so I will get a small commercial table at Costco or Amazon.

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Another view! Look how big it is!!

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The computer screen. Its fairly simple for the sit down model. More choices if you are using the stand-up machine. Oh, and this machine can easily be converted to the conventional stand-up long arm machine, if I should ever choose to do that. That will only happen if I get both knees and hips replaced, and there is a miraculous back recovery 🙂

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My practice quilting. I made this sandwich, and asked them if I could come when it wasn’t too busy and spend a longer amount of time on the machine at the show.

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My practice at home. I’m planning to fill this sandwich up with practice quilting, and then get busy finishing some tops!!

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As time goes on, I’ll talk a little more about my experience with the machine. And I’ll come back later in the week (if I can stop quilting long enough!) to tell you all about my QuiltCon experience.

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In The Studio

Usually I only show you pictures of the studio after I’ve cleaned it up a bit. Right now I’m in the middle of SO. MUCH. FUN. and creativity, I don’t want to stop to clean. In between the rug hooking frenzy, I’ve allowed myself to play with a box of leftover pre-cut fabric strips.

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I’m enjoying this project quite a bit. Its tempting to add more fabrics in, but I’m making myself stick with the strips that are already cut in that box. The only fabric I added is that blue and green print. I think it adds a lot of focus to the piece.

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And, at the other end of the room–rug hooking central! Oh, and you can see in this picture that I got a large cutting mat that I cut to fit the entire desk top! Super good purchase–got it at Joann’s with a 60% off coupon! Before now, I’ve only worked with a 15X20 cutting mat!

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I am so enjoying working on this big rug. Its hard to stop!

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Close-ups. I added white “coral” on one side, and coral colored coral on the other side.

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I took a break from quilting to concentrate on the rug hooking, but of course, I never completely stop stitching! These are two “travel projects. I started this one when I went to PIQF last October. Just an excuse for obsessive stitching. And as you can see, its not finished yet. I’m trying to think of some creative way to finish off all those bendy borders.

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Close-ups: I had a little french knot obsession going on!

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And of course, had to add a few words:

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This next was my travel project for the recent rug hooking trip to Anaheim. I hook all day at these retreats, and I like to have a project to hand stitch on in the evening in my hotel room. I saw something that made me think of making circles that weren’t circles, and that appealed to me. I didn’t have anything  in mind except adding one big off-center circle. Then I took some of the leftover pieces and added them on to one side. And then I thought, well, it would be more balanced if there was a third element added. By then I realized that it was starting to look like tide pools.

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I stitched obsessively on the motifs. But before I was very far, I knew I wanted to experiment with adding a second layer of stitching to indicate water ripples.

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And then I thought about adding “barnacles” using yo yos. Now it has a dimensional element, so I am feeling like I need to add another dimensional element. NOT an octopus 🙂 Maybe a starfish. And a lot of beading. But before I can do any beading, I will have to clean my studio. So for now, it will stay on the design wall awaiting inspiration.

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Rug Hooking at the California Getaway!

Last week I headed to Southern California with my rug hooking buddy, Mary Lynn. This is our second year to attend this getaway at Gene Shepherd’s studio, and it is just a delightful experience all around. I wrote a little more about it on my other blog. Mary Lynn and I go a day ahead of time to go to Crystal Cove and visit the tide pools (and eat beignets by the shore 🙂 )

This year, I wanted to take a break from the intensive detailed work on the rug I’d been working on. I had the idea to do an “improv” rug–not drawing a design ahead of time, but having a rough idea of what I wanted to do. I simply wanted to use the “dull” primitive wool that I had been collecting as the background, and add splashes and lines of the bright colors that I like so much. I had knitted a couple of scrap rugs like this, and I liked the way they looked.

I had the idea to make a larger rug than I had ever worked on, so I laid the linen backing out on the living room floor. I decided to try to make it 4’X6′.

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When we got to Gene’s studio, the first item was to get a brief consult on this rug. I needed a color for the background below the elephants (that bird won’t be there,) and it had to contrast well enough with the lion, the cross, and the green leaves. Right away, Gene came up with the idea of purple. Perfect! I have some dull gray-purples that will work well.

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As I started work on my “improv rug,” Gene mentioned that my ring and my bracelet were great design sources. Hmmm. I liked that idea. Already I was growing a little bored with the wonderful straight line hooking that I had envisioned. I had also had an idea the night before of adding a big spiral to the rug.

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So that night I went back to the hotel and added some circle patches and three big spirals to my sketch (that previously had only had blotches and lines to indicate the colors I would add.)

The next day, someone came up with the idea of adding “seaweed” and I added the triangles, because I like triangles, and also because one of my favorite shells is triangle-shaped. So I added these to the sketch.

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Then it was time to put pen to rug, and I drew in all these motifs. I really like it. Its funny, because before I left, I spent a lot of time drawing a “tide pool” design. Mary Lynn really wanted me to hook the tide pools, but I did not want to hook something that “complex.” So this has turned out to be an improv, stylized tide pool rug. I am very happy with it, and have had a lot of fun hooking it so far.

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