Friday, 29 June 2012

My new cutting table.

This Ikea table top (and Ikea's funny name is Vika Gruvan, it comes in black as well) is brilliant for our uses. The only thing in this shot actually on the top is the rotary cutter, the rest has been slid under the glass.
This June Taylor mat is a little slippy on it's reverse side (OK it is a lot slippy) so I placed some double sided tape on the back to hold it in place.
The trestle legs are Ikea Artur and allow quite a bit of storage underneath. (I have 3 domestic machines and one carry case, plus 4 wooden wine boxes full of ribbons and wool etc) I might run some Velcro round the outside to hide the storage. I have the legs set at the highest setting which is a little higher than kitchen worktop height.

Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Behind the scenes, Studio Habits

Lisa Call Has a wonderful insightful blog and this week she came up with this post. She is going to post a list all who respond on the 28th June.

Is your studio at home or at a separate place?

As many of you know we have been in the process of moving here over the last 6 months or so. My sewing room in our old house got moved here amongst the first rooms. (Notice it was a sewing room, now it has the lofty title of a studio.)  It is a downstairs room at the front of the house away from the living areas.

How big is your studio?

 It is only 13'9" x 11'2" (4.19m x 3.4m) or 153.385sq ft (14.25 sq meters). And it still is not completely unpacked and organised. You might not believe it from these photos but it is very nearly there. (Perhaps I should join some group where I start every meeting "My name is Sally and I am a .....")

Typically, how many hours a day do you work in the studio?

I would like to spend 30 hours a week in there but in practice 20 would be very good. As regular readers know, I haven't stitched anything except making curtains for the last six months or so.

Does all your work take place in the studio?

Not at all. Most of the design work takes place in the middle of the night or early morning whilst I am in bed. I have three large bookcases in the bedroom. In those I have books on art and quilting. I use these as a bouncing off point for ideas. I then work through the whole piece in my head. Most will be discounted at an early stage, often because the idea or concept is good but perhaps the amount of work involved for the result ratio isn't up there. I have a limited lifespan. 

How many days a week?

Looking into the near future, I imagine it will be about 4 or 5 days a week.

 Do you listen to music while you work?

Not often, but occasionally when quilting background work I will put on something I can sing along to. Anything from Opera to Leonard Cohen to old Beatles to Porgy and Bess.... (I never sing when someone else is in the house or the windows are open )

 Do you watch television while you work?

I did whilst piecing and appliqueing but not when things require 100% concentration. It is on but I only look up when I need to follow the plot. BBC Radio 4 is my main companion. It is speech based radio though lately it has dumbed down so far, I find little of interest. Strangely day time TV which has to be the ultimate of the 'dumbed down' media doesn't irritate me so much, but perhaps that is because I never expected it to stretch my mind.

Do you answer the telephone while you are in your studio?

Yes always. However engrossed I might be in what I am doing, people always come first. (This doesn't mean I don't cut calls short sometimes).

How often do you take breaks?

It depends what I am doing. Cutting out seems to make me take the most breaks. If fabric is short and I just cannot make a mistake, I will procrastinate for England before applying the blade to the fabric. Piecing and appliqueing mean I can go on for hours but to do so I would need intravenous tea. I probably get up every hour or so, let the dog out, put the kettle on etc. Machine quilting I find relaxing and can go on non stop for the longest but only if I am on my chair (infinitely adjustable) and at my table set up (with a table on the left to take the weight of the quilt). This is a case of don't do what I do but do as I say. It has taken me years to get to a point where I am so relaxed whilst doing it that I don't injure my shoulders or neck by continuing without a break.

 Do you have any over-use issues with your hands or any other body parts?

I developed carpel tunnel syndrome whist doing shasiko with the wrong needle in tightly woven fabric. That was the break point with the carpel tunnel syndrome, it really evolved hand milking a house cow. I have Fibromyalgia and doing almost anything for extended periods hurts me in some way or another. Cutting hurts my neck. 

 If so, how do you manage them or compensate?

I now have a neck brace which I only wear whilst cutting. So far my hands have not been badly affected and for this I am very grateful.  I have acupuncture for pain relief and I live on a cocktail of medications. If things are very bad and I am on the really strong painkillers, it is not a good idea to let me anywhere near my studio whilst under the influence  (but then I cannot drive either). They tend to make me a little 'off the planet', though sometimes I come up with really good ideas whilst taking them.

Friday, 22 June 2012

It seemed like a Good Idea at the time....

I thought this a brilliant way to store my threads given my new studio is small. Right behind the door, the thread racks fit wonderfully with the door stop protecting them from being smashed. At the old house I just hammered a couple of nails directly into the wall and hung them up. This was good enough as they were in a position where they didn't get knocked. This time I got DH to drill right through them to make them secure. This worked for the first four you see at the bottom.

But he was not around when I opened the box with the rest of them in it. I also found a reel of high strength double sided tape. This stuff is really strong, it will take up to an 11 kilo load, far more than a few reels of thread. I carefully measured where it was going and made sure there was a pencil wide gap between it and the one below. Lined it up very carefully before pushing it once into place.

Can you spot the deliberate mistake? And if you have any idea how I get it off without removing the plaster, let me know.
And joy of joys I found some low energy 45w light bulbs. They might even be too bright and I shall have to replace a few with lower wattage ones.
The little camera on the iPhone has compensated for the light. Each one of these is packing out the equivalent of 300w and believe me it is seriously bright. I will have to replace about 3 of them with lower wattage bulbs. They might not be the prettiest thing on the planet but I am overjoyed not have shadows from my ruler.

Sunday, 17 June 2012

Important Facts about Blogger

This is important. I don't know whether to get my own domain name and migrate this blog to my own url or to change to another blog system.
Google famously has responded to China's lack of free speech. Now it can use this to enable censor (or any other government anywhere )

Saturday, 16 June 2012

Settling in but still no stitching

I might go mad. Even making curtains is starting to seem wondrous, I must be desperate.
Our kitchen was dark, well not really dark but because the other two ends of the L shaped room have huge windows eyes perceived it as dark. So time to get the electrician in.
I felt this looked a little like an art installation.
It got better but we bought out the local electrical wholesaler of his LED downlights so we will not have full light until Tuesday.
I have been into the local town once so far and discovered The Gourmet butcher shop. Apparently they are famous for their faggots, but rather like haggis, I like to be able to identify what I eat. This is their rear customer collection point. Love the painted windows.
Frank appreciates their bones, whilst we are very impressed with their human food.
Colin and Fliss ran into these ponies whilst out walking the dogue. They are semi wild Exmoor ponies bought in to help with the management of the Forest. They were very shy of Frank and kept their distance. I have found a wonderful woman who walks Frank when Colin isn't here. It is her job to look after the ponies. Once she had been up there with Frank and her dog, they trusted him and came up close. This might not be a good thing as they have a reputation of being a little over friendly.
We have been having serious rain. I am very glad we live at the top of this very high hill, I dread to think what is happening at the bottom.
It was more like living in the tropics (though the temperatures do not correspond). The gutters just could not cope as this very short video shows.
I have to believe I will get into the sewing room soon. When the electrician comes back with the kitchen lighting he is going to install five lights so I can have some serious bulbs in there.

Friday, 8 June 2012

It is nearly a month since I blogged

And so much has happened. Toad Hall is no longer ours and a new family are starting their lives there.
It was a whirlwind move with us exchanging contracts on the Wednesday and moving out on the following Tuesday. I arrived at our new home (well not entirely new we bought it 7 years ago) and I was shell shocked. I hadn't expected to feel the loss of Toad Hall quite so keenly. I hadn't taken on board all the happy memories which would rise to the surface but these I can (and have) take with me.

Now we are here in the Forest of  Dean in a small village of about 85 dwellings, a pub and  a church dating back to 1100. Though these are both outdated by a standing stone going back to 1700BC. We have a Saxon Well too. Even the standing stone was painted white to honour Lord Nelson.

But back at our new house all is chaos. I just want to get into my studio and the end is in sight perhaps in a couple of weeks, I can take time out and just sew. I need it so badly.
We couldn't even enter the sitting room for five days.
This was the dining room after we got rid of half the boxes. (notice the broken Ikea bookcases standing in as storage until I manage to organise a large dresser for the large wall on the right).
The landing.
The sitting area at the other end of the kitchen. Oops it's not as large as I thought and these two sofas just don't fit, so one will go into the sitting room (hopefully with the other one already in there, but this room will double as Colin's office as well so space might be tight in there as well). I saw a super little pink velur sofa in Ikea today which WILL fit.

Even the little garden is strewn with debris.
Our Dogue wasn't too impressed to begin with but he has settled down nicely now.

Stay with me, normal service will be resumed.... I need my life back.