Our March Studio Hours session was another social get-together. We shared our experiences sewing our Nécessaire pouches, talked about Digits & Threads activities and the newly added webpage forum capabilities, and then finished with show and tell.
We learned about a few new tools. Kim suggested trying rubber finger tips from an office supply store as an alternative to a traditional thimble. She found the soft, squishy rubber molded well to her small fingers. She also shared two thread conditioning products: Thread Heaven/Thread Magic, a synthetic option, and Sew Fine Thread Gloss, a Canadian-made beeswax-based product. Another suggestion from the chat was another Canadian-made product, The Knotty Thread Tamer, available in Vancouver at The Learnary. One member shared that she has attached rare-earth magnets to one of the pockets of her pouch as a place to catch sewing needles.
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Several members commented that they sewed with contrasting thread, partly so they could more clearly see what they were doing, and partly as a design element, celebrating the hand-made stitches. They also noted how their stitches became more uniform as they worked through the project. People shared their mistakes, from accidentally cutting the binding piece in half to sewing the pockets incorrectly. We were reminded that nothing is perfect and in many making traditions, from Persian rugs to Amish quilts, mistakes are required.
For one member, working on this project was the first time she had ever done hand-sewing. She has some hand tremors and was concerned about her ability to work the project, but she reported that she’s enjoying the process, though overdoing it at times! She found that the subtle fell stitch called for in the pattern didn’t work for her, so she learned the backstitch as a substitute. Other members used that substitution as well. Overall, people found the project to be surprisingly strong, making them appreciate how hand sewing can produce strong, long-lasting, heirloom textiles.
Kate commented on her appreciation for learning a new skill and how her need to focus on the stitches made her hand-sewing sessions more meditative than her knitting ones. With knitting, she doesn’t need to use her full attention, but with this project, she needed to look at every step, at every stitch, and to be careful with placement and positioning and finger pressing. Kate and several other members commented on the refreshing, restorative, and meditative nature of this all-consuming activity.
People plan to use their Nécessaires in a few different ways, for sewing notions, for knitting notions, or to hold jewelry. One member plans to make two, fill each one with supplies and give them to her children.
We asked Josiane what project she would suggest as a next step in hand sewing, and she counselled us to choose something that excites us, because that is what will maintain our interest. We have the tools and knowledge we need now, and even large projects can be completed, stitch by stitch.
Show and Tell
Patricia shared her finished Spring Storm Hat (Ravelry link), designed by Nicola Hodges, and published in the From Sheep to Hand pattern e-book. She modified the pattern to use four colours and worked her version in Rauma Finullgarn in muted natural greys. Her current project is the Radicle Shawl (Ravelry link) that she is working with assorted souvenir yarn skeins. She’s tempted to work all five projects from the book!
Danielle shared her socks project: She will be outfitting a friend’s family in hand knit socks as a thank you gift for helping her through a challenging time.
Another member shared her in progress project, the Sundry Shawl by Jennifer Dassau. The shawl uses slip stitches for the colourwork, and the pattern is a delightful houndstooth.
Our discussions today prompted Michelle to tell us about one of her prized possessions. When she first moved out on her own, her mum gave her a tin full of sewing supplies, and in amongst it was a little folded needle case that her mum had sewed as a little girl. It reminds her that the small things we make travel forward in time—the things you make today might be somebody’s treasured possession tomorrow.
And on that note, Kim reminded us of the discussion forum for Studio Members on the Digits & Threads website. There’s already a thread in the Forum about heirlooms and antiques to build from the conversations that began with Julie Rosvall’s presentation in January. We’re also talking about hand sewing and sharing finished projects. The forums provide a wonderful space to get to know each other between these sessions.
Nécessaire photos by Kate Atherley.