Mary Corbet

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I learned to embroider when I was a kid, when everyone was really into cross stitch (remember the '80s?). Eventually, I migrated to surface embroidery, teaching myself with whatever I could get my hands on...read more

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Diversions from Needlework: Different Needlework!


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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…)

Clothesline Rug

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.

Clothesline Rug

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.

Ut oh!

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.

Clothesline Rug

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.

Clothesline Rug

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.

Clothesline Rug

I’m making use of my marudai as a massive spool for the clothesline.

Hey! If it works…!

Clothesline Rug

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!


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(66) Comments

  1. Love your diversions! I too take diversions now and then. I am knitting, making a quilt, and doing multiple embroidery projects including bookmarks for schools.
    My question is: does the sewing machine have any trouble going through the rope and fabric layers? It would seem too thick! I am a needle worker and quilter but have never made a rope bowl or rug! Just asking.

  2. You may already know this, but My Lesson Learned about the sewing machine: the presser foot needs to be UP then threading the machine in order to seat the thread in the tension disks and not have a rat’s nest on the back of your work. 🙂
    Love your blog and all of your beautiful work.

  3. So loved this Very Winnie the Pooh-ish blog entry. I, too, have Interesting Discussions with my sewing machine when I haul it out of perdition where I cast it the last time I attempted anything with it…and of course I’ve wanted to make a clothesline rug for some time – how Do You Read My Mind?
    Wishing you well with all your Important Projects, and thanks, as always, for the Inspiration.

  4. If, as you’re sewing you lift the covered clothesline project a bit with your left hand you can make some attractive bowls that match your rug. The higher you lift, the deeper the bowl. Lovely on your bedside table or dresser etc…. Round, square-ish, oval…plain, covered…the fun is endless.

  5. I work too slow, but always have several projects going! Depending on what is going on, I work on one main project but I also have a travel project.
    I didn’t call it a diversion, but works!
    I quilt more so than do your kind of projects, but since crazy quilts require embroidery, I am enjoying your blog and tutorials!! You are a great teacher & have awesome tutorials

  6. omgosh… you crack me up! I just luv your posts, how your head works and how you entertain and educate us daily. I don’t often have time to post daily but I sure never miss your posts and luv when I can grab a cup of tea and read several at a time. You amaze me in so many many ways. Luv the rug! I am the same with that thing called a sewing machine… its so alien! anyway… Im glad your eyes are better and life is moving forward again… bless you!

  7. So totally agree, but maybe I’m just a “dabbler”!
    The pandemic has seen me embroidering ( for a local history wall hanging, knitting clothes and toys (for charities and for family), crochet (finished my Adinda shawl and some fine crochet, mats, christmas decorations, etc), beadwork, canvaswork, soft furnishings (curtains and cushion covers),doll’s clothes (granddaughter must have best dressed dolls in the area).
    It has kept me busy and has used up some of the stash but I suspect the stash has been breeding upstairs, because it doesn’t seem to have diminished at all. It has been great to switch from one technique to another !

  8. Yes, you were missed yesterday.
    I am the same as you about using a sewing machine. I have one and it is relatively
    simple but still! Not used as it should be.

  9. I just finished crazy quilt I started at the beginning of the year. I am really glad it is done it was very challenging.

  10. I enjoy pyrography, or wood burning. Like most kids I did it in the summer time and it was less than perfect. As an adult, it is still less than perfect but I still enjoy it. I prefer the wood burning on things without color so usually let the natural brown color speak for the subject. One day I would like to burn on leather. Animals and rustic scenes are especially wonderful.

  11. I’m a knitter, occasionally a crocheter. I recently unearthed my sewing machine after finding an irresistible pattern for summer tops. These three crafts are currently my happy diversions. There is also that cross-stitch project niggling at the back of my mind………

  12. I don’t often comment but wanted to say that I thoroughly enjoyed this post. Your whole presser foot learning curve made me chuckle and I can totally relate to the simple joy of finally not needing the diagram to thread my new sewing machine. I love all needle and fabric arts and have usually two or three very different projects going on at the same time. When I need a break from one, I jump to another, whether it’s from embroidery to needlepoint to quilting and back again. I try to limit my goings-on to three, else I get too distracted and not finish any. Thank you for another great write-up.

    1. Hi, Eileen – I have to limit myself, too, or I would never get back around to the first thing I switched from to be diverted. I tend to want to jump into every type of interesting art or craft that comes along. It was probably about ten years ago that I finally put the brakes on and set some parameters. Not counting embroidery (which I do for a living, so it does get varied and I always have several projects going at once), I never have more than two projects of any kind at all going. That’s my “Policy” and it has helped me from diving into far too many diversions!

  13. Mary,
    I so enjoy the stories you tell about yourself, your mishaps and your successful adventures! They always make me smile.

    My son likes to sail…in the winter. He says he is too busy in the summer so he crews for a skipper and loves his days on the water (even if it is very cold) . Last year he brought me a surprise. An old sail to repurpose! Now, I love to repurpose things…old jeans, t-shirts, the neighbors plants, etc; but I have never thought about reimagining an old sail. Honestly, I have not been looking forward to it because I don’t want to use my good quilting machine for an old sail. Every day I walk into my garage I see that sail…and every time my son comes over he says how is my duffle bag coming along (his idea for the sail). So, I have been looking for patterns and thread, directions and advice. I think I am ready to give it a try. As a prelude, I re-upholstered an old ottoman and it turned out pretty good. I drug out my very old sewing machine from the attic and fashioned it with a heavy duty needle and it may just work. I love your rug…maybe you want to come to Little Rock and help me with the sail???? Enjoy your day and giggle as you imagine me wrestling an old sail and magically coming up with a waterproof sail bag.

    1. Oooooh, I like the idea of the repurposed sail! I hope that the bag comes together well – I’m sure it will! What a great idea!

      I’m still trying to get my head around preferring to sail in the winter, though. Aaack.

  14. Thanks so much, Mary! Diversions, YES! We all need them. Sometimes, I put aside my ongoing projects and just knit a dish cloth or two ! I use them, and friends like them. This gives my mind the opportunity to relax and redirect. Blessings!

  15. Hi Mary and all fellow embroiderers,

    Delighted to read that you have diversions from your embroidery: my diversion is embroidery from quilting – although I started as an embroiderer. I quite often make Dorset buttons as a break from anything that is very intense as light relief.

    I have also been reminiscing to myself about sewing stump work dragonflies. Have done quite a few – as well as big bumblebees. So was intrigued to read your method of creating a 2D dragonfly – including the wings – as I haven’t sewn using this method.

    I was wondering whether you have read Jane Nichols books on stump work for insects – absolutely delicious.

    I always look forward to receiving your emails – the level of research and details are very satisfying. My starting place for embroidery has normally been calico (principally because of the stump work method of creating your 3D embroidery and then attaching to a fresh piece of material) so your detailed knowledge of material is really useful.

    Enjoy the rest of your day – the days are drawing in now that our clocks have gone back in the UK – winter is here at last.

    Kind regards.

    1. Oh, yes – I love Jane’s books. I’m sure I’ve reviewed that one here on the website. 🙂

      I prefer this time change to the one in the spring, for two reasons: we seem to gain an hour (in fact, we just go back to what time it should be) and … I love fall and winter! LOL! Enjoy the cozy days ahead!

  16. I started out at less than 10 yrs of age sewing on my dad’s industrial machine, sewing my finger once in a while. Moved on to hand work, but never gave up my first love of the machine. Today, I move from hand work, to beading, to the machine, and then on to all sorts of crafty things to keep my biggest love (my grandchildren) amused and using their own creativity! I like the idea of keeping a notebook, but never seem to stop long enough to write anything down. Of course, that leads to my brain racing all the time to remember the last great idea I had! Maybe I will slow down enough to start that notebook! Thanks for the great article today!

  17. I like to have different projects going, maybe a knit project, an embroidery one and perhaps a quilting project. I go from one to another as the whim strikes me. But I usually reach a point where I just have to finish something. I also like to try something different. Right now I’m doing a punch needle piece. For travel I like a small project, especially on planes.

  18. I love your rug but can not get my head round how will my sewing machine work with the thickness. I have the material as I am a quilter but can not really see how thick the rope is.
    I will take your advise and look on line for the details.
    Beryl (South Yorkshire UK)

  19. Machine sewing isn’t a problem for me. I make everything from undergarments to over coats. However, I couldn’t sew a button on by hand to save my life. Embroidery is slowly teaching me this skill. I find that embroidery has more in common with knitting though. The floss is sold in hanks just like knitting wool. The stitches can be remarkably the same i.e. the chain stitch (which overlaps with crochet) and there are different sized needles for the task at hand. I suppose they all overlap in some ways. I’m intrigued with your rug. I’m going to sit on my hands and not start yet another project until some of mine are finished. The rug will give me something to do over the winter months. Happy you could put your day in perspective and I am looking forward to listening to your podcast.

  20. Mary, I read and I stitch, mostly, but I do like to binge-watch long series on one of the streaming services. Right now it’s The Crown, but I have Indian Summer on my list and then a repeat watch of The Jewel in the Crown.

    Like you, I love to change out my needlework. I go from needlepoint to crewelwork to tea towel embroidery to a spate of knitting. A change is as good as a feast, as the saying goes!

    Thank you for your wonderful website and all the resources you so generously provide. Best, Charlotte

  21. Eek! I LOVE your rug, Mary. In fact … I want it. You’ve made it in my favorite color combo ever. (I have some similar French fabric that I believe you gave us the link to.) When you’re done, I don’t suppose you could ship it to upstate New York? I’ll pay the freight charges. 🙂

    What I do when I need to get away from embroidery is flowers and plants. I used to go backpacking in the Adirondack Mountains in search of such, but these days I drive around and/or grow some myself. I take lots of pictures to capture light angles and shading. So what do I do with all the pix? I embroider said flowers and/or plants. They’re my favorite things to embroider.

  22. I live this article. I just about cried, laughing at your description of the pressure food and threading the machine ! It brought very vivid memories, only I was in my early teens.
    I have always been attracted to this type of project. Made a rug out of old jeans – similar technique but by hand with a large paper clip noted of needle. (My poor hands). Then got onto baskets coiled the same but again, by hand and mostly smaller. Recently I bought a little block piece and book for making calico rugs – haven’t used it yet but it’s ready when I am, which may be sooner after reading your article ! I like that yours is folded over and so very clean and tidy – mine have the fraying ends and much more of a “laid back” look. So I’m going to be neater, look up You Tube directions and play soon ! Needlework is still my all time favorite tho.
    Thanks for all the fun and informative things you pass on.

  23. Hi Mary,
    I like the word diversion, it sounds better than ADHD, which I seem to have. Sometimes I go looking for something I need for a project and end up starting something else in another room! That’s why my home looks as it does. Hodgepodge Lodge style!
    But, the rug looks quite nice, and since I do have several jelly rolls that looked so pretty I had to get them, perhaps I will give it a whirl.
    Thanks for the inspiration, as always,

  24. I bake!
    Last spring, with my husband’s encouragement, I bought a bread machine. The bread we liked from the grocery store bakery was going up in price and getting smaller in weight. It has been more fun experimenting with recipes than one could imagine. Sourdough bread, Italian, farm style, English muffins, New England hotdog buns and hamburger buns, gluten free bread and Italian Christmas cake Easter version, all were learning experiences! Happy ones most of the time with an occasional whoops especially with the sourdough. The latest one this week was Chinese steamed pork buns which were a great success but I still need to refine the technique of forming the buns around the filling so that they stay closed.LOL

  25. The Embroiderer’s Guild of America defines embroidery as anything done with a threaded needle including machine embroidery and sewing (I’ve been a member for over 25 years). So, you could call this an embroidery project too. I love the colors! I fell in love with that collection too but I resisted. I have to use up some of my various stashes (spinning, weaving, embroidery, quilting, crochet, tapestry) before I can buy anymore “Ohhh, that’s pretty! I’ll get it now and then figure out what to use it for later” things.

    1. I think that is a stretch on the definition. Needlework can be anything done with a needle. But the term “embroidery” has, historically, always had a decorative connotation. General sewing for construction doesn’t really fall under the embroidery umbrella, technically, though embroidery could fall under the more general umbrella of sewing.

  26. I just made a bowl using the same technique. It matches the rug and lets you use slightly thinner cord if you like. Love that fabric collection.

  27. Loved your post. I have been quilting for 18 years and am burned out now, but have projects (2 UFOs) to complete from some 7 interrupted years that broke my schedule of quilting many times.

    Now all that time is over with I have taken the last week or so to just “do whatever”. I am working on cross stitch! When I finish my 2 UFOs I will continue to “quilt” during the day and hopefully at night I will become more productive with my cross stitch and knitting, and lap hooping. Aren’t hobbies great! Hugs

  28. Actually, I have been embroidering as a diversion from knitting and quilting, but it is becoming its own obsession. Maybe I need to get away from all things fiber.

  29. I Mary! I’m still here, plugging away on a French goose ccs kit from the ’80’s that was in the bag with the slippers I finished for a neighbor. So hokey, I couldn’t resist. But your rug: I always wonder how those pretty things get washed. . . . Another neighbor’s daughter cleaned her place and left a hug bag of thick cotton yarn on our “free table.” I sorted the colors and knitted a couple of pretty little rugs. Big needles and use the yarn double, tying on new yarn as needed and leaving the knots and 1-2″ ends. This made a beautiful bath mat and a good-sized throw rug for the new apartment I am waiting to move to. The colors can be seg-wayed quite artistically.

    1. These are supposed to be washable in a machine, but mine is a bit big and somewhat stiff, I think, for my washing machine. No problem – I will beat outside, and when it needs washing-washing, I have no problem hosing and hanging to dry…. when the weather’s warmer!

  30. Since the beginning of the Covid lockdown I have spent my afternoons quilting (I make ‘cuddle quilts’ for Foster Children. Then in the evening after dinner, I knit hats also for charities. This week I need to change my after dinner project to Bobbin Lace, I am planning to make a lace ornament for my Christmas Card and will include the same ornament for ‘real’ for my family members and a few special friends.

  31. At any given time I usually have about 10 “needle” related projects and jump from quilt piecing on my featherweight to needle-turn hand appliqué to free motion machine quilting to thread and bead embellishment and back to my leafy tree stitching. Variety keeps me from getting bored with any project.

  32. Machines hate me too! Impressive that your first attempt is a rug! I, for one, am starting with a bowl to hold all my scrappy balls that I’m currently working on. Good luck, your colors are beautiful.

  33. Making chain rosary’s is as exciting as embroidery for me so one is just as gratifying as the other I can use the beautiful beads on both and I have used a sewing machine most of my life but it’s not the same as totally working with my hands

  34. Great job Mary, I love your colors and congratulations on mastering your sewing machine. Your pressure foot story is priceless. Besides my embroidery and cross stitch I quilt, I just finished a quilt for my son’s theater room. I have been sewing on a sewing machine since the age of ten learning on a treadle machine, wow, have they changed. Happy stitching, can’t wait to see your finished rug.

  35. Embroidery is my escape from everything. Free form work lets me stitch whatever crosses my mind, wherever it may seem to fit and the results always please me. My distraction is gardening. A Master Gardener course in 1981 opened my eyes to this passion. Playing in soil offers another tactile pleasure.
    I have attempted to “learn to sew” a few times. No success so far. A pair denim slippers intricately embroidered for a niece got sewn into there final shape by a talented sister in law. I mend, hem, patch & do buttons, by hand, easily. The racing hum of the machine could be what makes me uncomfortable. Embroidery stitching is therapeutic and soothing. It can be 100% silent yet produce loads of positive sounds when viewed by others, whether the project is complete or only just started. Gardening, too, wins by being silent then gaining praise from passersby.

  36. I’ve been teaching machine sewing lessons for 40 years. If I can help, just ask your questions. I am finally, for the first time in months, going to get to sit today and hand stitch instead of work at my machine. I’m hemming the binding of a queen-sized quilt getting it ready for delivery. While I hand stitch, I will ponder how to put flowers onto my next project which still needs to be delivered before Christmas. Appliqué of some sort, maybe a bit of stumpwork, but a huge bouquet of purple and lavender flowers onto a pale pink background to create a wall hanging.

    1. Thanks, Debbie!! I will definitely keep you in mind when questions arise! I finished the rug, and I’m going back to hand piecing my hexies at night… unless I decide to start another rug. That was such a gratifying project! LOL!

  37. Congratulations Mary, It looks like you found a perfect project as a distraction and you will end up with an adorable and useful rug as a bonus. You were wise to pick up an inexpensive sewing machine for this kind of project as this is pretty hard use. Now you have me thinking about making a clothesline rug with all my fabrics (a quilter). Your rug is turning out beautiful like all your projects. Keep us posted on your progress.
    Sorry to hear about your break in. Unfortunately, we live in a scary time.

  38. This week I have made a cover for my husbands piano – its an electric one and does not have a keyboard fall/cover. It entailed using the scary bitey sewing machine. This is a big deal for me, I would much rather sew everything by hand, but I would have been there a very very long time trying to do that, so out came the sewing machine. We are getting better acquainted but its still scary. Even more so since my very experienced friend got her finger caught under the needle of her sewing machine and despite a couple of trips to the hospital still has some sewing machine needle fragments in her finger…

  39. I guess all my hobbies are textile & fiber related, even my reading. Well, other than gardening, but lately that’s become more of an activity that’s expected of me, not that I enjoy it any more.

    Didn’t you have a little Bernina sewing machine? May I suggest you do not get rid of it – the chain store sewing machines seem to be fine for learning on and light duty, but long life is not their strong suit. OTOH, given your lack of love of sewing, your Singer may well last you the rest of your days. A sewing machine tip – while the presser foot down is not optional for sewing, it must be raised while threading the machine :-). Both of these were learned by bitter experience, and sometimes I still repeat those mistakes when too much is on my mind or in too much of a rush.

    Your rug came out great! You can also make baskets and boxes using the same technique, except instead of keeping it all flat, start curving up as you sew.

    1. I had a smaller, non-computerized Bernina, and I passed it off to my niece when I received the more advanced one from my friend. My niece still uses it. Little did I know there was such a thing as “too much machine.” LOL!

  40. Hello, Mary. Glad you are enjoying sewing. I also love sewing and have been since I was a girl. I also like to embroidery, crochet, tat, and knit. I have too many WIPs, projects that I plan to do, and projects that I want to do. I am ready to retire and tackle them. Love your rug idea. I do have a ton of fabric and scraps and would like some small rugs in my bathrooms and I think this would be a good thing for them.

  41. Re: Sewing machine threading
    Within reason, home sewing machines are basically threaded the same way. Thus, when you master one, you can usually do others. Last thread guide before needle will indicate thread direction. Make sure upper flat part of needle goes to either back to side of machine as manufacturer designed.
    I taught 7 th and 8 th graders how to use machine and made it an “A or E” assignment to thread machine in 30 seconds or less! The students liked the competition but ingrained the method. Garbled thread? Four questions I asked: Threaded right? Flat part of upper needle to the machine back? Bobbin in right? Presser foot down? As teacher, I could often tell from across the room what the problem was! Students had to work with a partner so I encouraged fabric choice/ thread color to be same to save time. I tie on a new thread by cutting the thread being removed near the spool and pulling thread thru the machine. This is what is done in factory situations. Not sure what color to use? Grey is neutral and will work in many situations.

  42. I found a picture of a Hedebo (doily?) and I would love to make it but can’t find the designer. I have tried to send her a message but I got not response. I wish I could send you a pic but I don’t see that I can on this comment site. 🙁

    1. Hi, Dawn, you can email me. This reply should arrive in your email and just reply to it. You can attach a photo to your reply. I don’t know if I’ll be able to help you, but I don’t mind trying!

  43. Dear Mary,
    This is embarrassing but I have large and small needlepoint projects on stretcher bars.
    Just finished a knitted hat for a grandson and started one for myself. Have two coffee themed mug rugs on the sewing machine ready to attach binding. In the planning stage of Christmas Cookie Aprons for the five grandchildren in hopes of resuming our annual Christmas Cookie Decorating event. Those are just some of my NeedleArts projects. I support your delving into other areas 100%. Staying curious, open-minded, learning new techniques keeps our neural pathways challenged and growing. Thank you for keeping it real and supporting the journey.

  44. Mary…I have a question when you said you’re using a two knob sewing machine. This sounds like the machine I want. Nothing fancy just to do basic sewing for on my crafts. I don’t sew clothes. I’d be putting the sleeve in the leg whole and then backwards besides. LOL.
    Can you suggest a machine that’s not expensive and will do just the basics?
    Thank you. I love your ideas.
    Pamela Ann

    1. Well, I bought the Singer Heavy Duty 6380. It was on sale at JoAnn’s. The reviews seemed pretty good to me, and I liked the fact that the internal body is metal and not plastic parts. So far, so good! I like it!

  45. You are so incredibly cute to talk about a sewing machine being too much for you. That was just fascinating to hear. I’ve been sewing since age 10 and I’m 60 now and have been embroidering since then too but am far better at sewing via machine than I am doing the detailed embroidery that you do. Satin stitch and other fill-in stitches are just too much for me (ha ha). Anyway, you are adorable! I just love seeing your emails in my box. I save them all. Bless you.

  46. I’m like Mary — when I seek a diversion it is still close to my primary interest of quilting. I find diversion in making a tote bag, a table runner, cute little what-not baskets, etc. I also find diversions in doing embroidery-type work. I currently have a blackwork piece from an Inspirations pattern that will be a pillow when done. Sashiko provides a very nice diversion as well; it is particularly nice for stitching evenings while the TV is on. I love it all — too bad I only have two hands and one so-so brain.

  47. Oh my gosh! I love the rug! But I was more impressed with your Marudai! I do kumohimo and like the rhythm and zen moments that can occur. I’ve not seen a marudai in person, and I would like to and try it. I’m happy sitting and creating colorful braids, that someday I will find a use for. I am a fiber collector, love surface embroidery, cross stitch, and I also sew. I love to collect and use thread…thanks so much for your webpage and teachings. I’ve learned so much from your videos, being left handed, they are a Blessing!

  48. Dear Mary

    Oh I had to laugh at your struggles with a sewing machine because I am exactly the same. The Sewing Machine is a complete mystery to me I used to have panic attacks when I used it because I had a horrible sewing teacher at school who didn’t like my elder sister and took it out on me, needless to say I did not learn much in needlework class at school. But when I got interested in needlework and other projects I felt it was tine to get to grips with the dreaded sewing machine, so like you I bought a simple small easy to use sewing machine and I can finally thread the needle, (the bobbin was a complete mystery to me and it took loads and loads of practice before I got the hang of the darned thing) but I can now say I am just beyond beginner stage and quite enjoying it. By the way the rug is lovely. Thank you so much for sharing with us your problems with the sewing machine and for the tips on the rug. I’m glad you have got to grips with the sewing machine.

    Regards Anita Simmance

  49. I made a rag rug a few years ago. I remember sitting on one in front of the fire at my great aunt Elsie’s house when I was a child in the 1960s and had always wanted to have a go. After my mother died I kept her huge tee shirt collection, some I used as they were and the white ones I dyed. I used my black ones to make the outlines both round the edge and for random lines across. Then I filled on the gaps with colour. It was a lovely project although I found it hard on my hands as I have poor grip and strength. But it makes me smile whenever I look at it and is a lovely reminder of both my mum and great aunt Elsie and great uncle Jack and the tiny cottage with outside toilet that they lived in.

  50. Mary, you never cease to inspire me! Having recently moved into a house with ALL hard floors, I need a LOT of rugs. Finding rugs I like has been a bit, shall we say, troublesome. This sounds like just the ticket for at least some of them. (I also have the advantage of having learned to sew when I was four years old, so the sewing machine is almost second nature to me.)

  51. Love the colors you are using for your clotheline rug. I can see your bedroom as bright and cheery. I cant imagine that YOU are not proficient in using a sewing machine. LOL Here’s a tip – always start sewing with your needle in the UP position.
    Thanks for sharing.

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