Did you miss me yesterday?
I meant to be here, but I got held up by a wee problem: to wit, I was stuck on the phone with my insurance company after someone attempted to break into my car, ruining the window in the process. These little things! (I live in a comparatively tiny rural town, so a rare and odd occurrence.)
Then, I spent a much more pleasant rest-of-the-morning recording a chatty podcast with Gary at FiberTalk, which will be up sometime soon.
So, not an all-unpleasant morning, the first part being one of those little life glitches that, in the scheme of things, is not that big of a deal – after all, it could have been worse – and the second, being a pleasant distraction and escape from normal routine. (An excuse not to work? Hmmmm…)
In our discussion yesterday, Gary brought up a question about learning, and I ended up digressing on one of my current diversions, which I had planned on blogging about eventually.
Needlework is my livelihood, so you’d think that I’d find diversions that weren’t needlework-related when I need a diversion. But no, that’s not how it works.
You’ve already been introduced to my hand-pieced hexie quilt, which I’m still plugging away on. It’s a diversion, and it’s the perfect travel project.
My other current diversion – a much quicker diversion – is this: I’m making a rug. A clothesline rug, to be precise.
This particularly diversion started by looking for a small area rug for my bedroom. And you know, there are a gazillion ways to come by a small area rug for a room, from a trip to TJ Maxx or Target or God’s Storehouse (that’s a local thrift store), to strolling through Craig’s List, Facebook Marketplace, visiting garage sales, or going online and finding The Perfect Rug at whatever cost. It all depends on what floats your boat, shopping-wise, I suppose.
I was looking for ideas for “blue” area rugs, when I came across a video for making a clothesline rug.
I liked the look of the clothesline rug, I liked that fact that it was more of a mat than a proper carpet rug, and I absolutely loved that you can really customize the color combos for this type of rug. It can be totally scrappy, or it can be planned.
Of course, if you’re an avid quilter and fabric stasher, you’ve got it made! You’ve got stash.
I’m not, and I don’t have fabric stash.
But I am drawn to fabric collections sold in packs – the “jelly rolls” and “layer cakes” and whatnot put out by companies like Moda. If I happen to be particularly twitterpated with a color collection, it’s hard for me to resist that kind of collection if I’m in fabric mode and looking for something to make.
This particular fabric collection has been on my radar for a while, because it matches my bedroom so thoroughly with its blues, whites, and yellows.
So I succumbed to the infatuation of the clothesline rug and the twitterpation with that fabric collection, bought some clothesline, and started cutting the strips from the jelly roll into smaller strips.
I sewed together the strips and rolled them onto a tube left over from my printer labels, so that I could more easily wrap the clothesline.
The only thing I decided to do a little differently from what was shown on most of the tutorials that I came across (if you search online for “clothesline rug,” you’ll find plenty of tutorials) was to fold under the exposed edge of the fabric as I wrapped the clothesline.
This results in a much neater look to the finished rug and it helps avoid the fuzzies from the fabric’s edge.
I’m making use of my marudai as a massive spool for the clothesline.
Hey! If it works…!
Obviously, the project requires a sewing machine.
I might be crazy enough to piece together 5,200 one-inch hexies by hand to make a quilt, but I’m not quite crazy enough to pass a needle and thread by hand through fabric-wrapped clothesline, over and over and over again. Ouch.
The problem is, I’m a dolt when it comes to a sewing machine. Good grief.
I decided recently that I need to learn how to use a sewing machine efficiently and confidently. The sewing machine has always been a huge mystery to me, and this year, I decided it’s time to overcome that.
My machine, which was a gift from a friend whose mother – an avid quilter – passed away, is Too Much Machine for someone who is not inclined toward sewing machines.
So I invested in a very simple and affordable two-knob, non-computerized, heavy-duty Singer to learn on.
And I’ve been learning! Lots!
For one thing, I’ve learned the presser foot being down is not really optional for most sewing.
And if you leave it up, you’ll spend more time trying to figure out what’s wrong with the machine and why it’s not working properly than you will actually spend sewing. And you’ll spend a lot of time ripping out. Repeatedly. Again and again. Just because you forget that the presser foot Must Go Down.
I think I’ve figured out the presser foot for now – at least until the next time I sit down at the machine.
And – wonder of wonders! – I can finally thread a sewing machine without looking at the diagram every. single. time.
This Diversion Project has been a perfect way for me to build confidence with a sewing machine, and the rug is Extremely Satisfying to make. I can do all the stripping and twisting of fabric one evening, and then the sewing together of cord the next. And the next evening, more strips, and the next, more sewing. The rug grows and grows, and soon, it will be finished. It’s something to do, it’s fun to see the progress, and I’m learning something. Yay.
And I’ll have exactly the area rug I want when I’m finished! Double yay.
So, this is one kind of diversion for me: not entirely needlework in the same way, but a kind of needlework nonetheless.
I have other interests, of course, but I like to find a project like this one that that I’m enthusiastic about, that helps me build some skills I didn’t have, and that fulfills other needs, too – like the need for an area rug.
These types of projects also help increase my interest and enthusiasm in my regular needlework. They give me a break for thinking. The whole time I’m working on the rug, I find myself thinking ahead on projects for Needle ‘n Thread. I keep a handy-dandy notebook on hand to jot ideas down, and once I’m back at work, I’m excited to start fleshing out new ideas.
I subscribe to the notion that change is sometimes as good as a vacation. Sometimes, a change in what you’re working on can rest the mind and rejuvenate interests in other areas of life, too, don’t you think?
So that’s another needlework-ish-related thing I’ve been up to.
What about you? Do you find that a break to dabble in other interests helps rejuvenate your needlework pursuits now and then? What other types of projects do you enjoy working on? I’d love to hear! Feel free to chime in below on the comment form!