Category: Salvage Decor

And then It Was Done

And then It Was Done

Garlands of peppers hang next drying herbs and hooked rugs.Here in my spot of Maine a switch has been pulled.  Summer tomato salads have given way to a pot of simmering lamb stew(with tomatoes).  Morning strolls to the garden are no longer barefeet and tank tops, but oversized sweaters and thick slippers.  Rest assured, no matter the season, there is always a steaming cup of coffee involved.   Almost to my horror at this point–not really, but really—the tomatoes keep coming, despite the blighted state of their affairs.  I’ve frozen, canned, jammed, and sauced them in every way I can think of.  The summer squashes are rife with powdery mildew even though we’ve had only scant rain and the garden well has run dry.  Even still, they keep fruiting.  There’s a basket of garlic in my studio that rivals my baskets of wools.  There’s a tsunami of hot peppers coming in that my husband dutifully strings to dry, even though he is a little scared of them.  But my studio feels festive and decorated for celebration with vegetal garlands hanging from my display rails along with drying herbs, my finished rugs and freshly dyed skeins of wool.

My garden always gives me solace.  Maybe more so this year than usual, but in equal measure to my work—which has taken wild turns into unexpected territories.  There is more to muse over on that topic, but for the moment I’m going to enjoy my hooking and the burbling of stew on the stove.

I hope you are all well in these tumultuous times.  Not only are my thoughts with you, so are my actions.

Be well,

Jess

An enormous basket of garlic holds reign in my studio along with baskets of wool.

Scraps and Anger

Scraps and Anger

Like many of you, mask making has become a significant part of my daily tasks.  When I finished yesterday’s allotment, I realized a low grade fury had been building as I worked over my sewing machine.  I grabbed discolored and worn antique flannel and a scrap of quilting cotton from the late 1800s and made my Vote mask.  Born of scraps and anger.

Vote written across a face mask.

1930s Singer Sewing Machine
I do almost all my sewing on an antique sewing machine. Now I can’t decide if it’s fitting or tragic that in 2020 I’m sewing masks on a 1930s Singer.

Stay safe.  Be well.

Peg Loom Rag Rugs

Peg Loom Rag Rugs

I first came across peg looms at one fiber festival or another a few years back and was immediately enthralled.  What I was seeing were gorgeous alpaca rugs and throws. My immediate thought, however, was that I might try my hand at peg loom rag rugs.  The idea simmered for a time.  And then a time too long.

I’m a tremendous fan of recycling and reusing.  Much of my work involves the repurposing of old wools, cashmere sweaters, vintage and antique cloth and other materials.  While my love affair with rug hooking is unequivocal, I’m always curious about other techniques, processes, and learning opportunities.  New ways to use materials I may have collected, but aren’t necessarily my go to’s—cottons for example, are a constant tease.  Weaving would seem an obvious destination for a girl with my fiber proclivities, but two things held me back:  the space requirements of a number of styles of looms and the limitations of a shoulder injury.  Here I circle back to my introduction to a peg loom and the possibility of it fulfilling  my dream of creating rag rugs.

The Appeal

Unlike most looms I’d known, a peg loom is compact and requires very little space, is portable, and could work with the stash I already have.  It is simply comprised of a wooden block  base drilled to accept pegs.  Each peg, in turn, has a hole drilled through the bottom diameter to accept your warp threads or yarns.  That’s it.  You can use as many or as few of the pegs as you like for a piece.  The more you use, the wider your weaving will be.  The length of your warp threads determines how long your weaving can go.  When I divulged my plans to my hubby, thinking I could give this a go with a scrap of 2 x 4 and some dowels, he surprised me with a beautiful, well thought out finished maple piece.  The pressure was on!

Getting Going

I had a few stops and starts with peg loom weaving.  And I’m going to insert here a big thank you to Anne at Cape Newagen Alpaca Farm for the confidence building time she spent with me!   The finished weave is a bit different than the more traditional under/over method.  Fabric created on peg loom creates a weave that leaves only the weft visible.  Rather than beating the weft into place as you go, the warp is cinched up at the end to create the density of the fabric.

My first few attempts found me experimenting with core spun alpaca, vintage flannel yardage, and recycled saris.  The latter two were torn into strips that I joined as I went.  I definitely have been bitten by the bug now and have more plans.  I want to experiment with chunky warps and, alternatively, more delicate wefts.  Visions of denim and antique silks are a tease.  The possibilities are enticing.  Rag rugs have always appealed to me, but different materials could make wonderful table runners or placements, window shades or pillows.

Peg Loom Rag Rug

Discovering Rufus Porter

Discovering Rufus Porter

My recent design rabbit hole started with a desire to create a historic looking mural for our home. Somewhere in my search for folk art painting techniques I stumbled upon one Mr. Rufus Porter and the rug hooker in me took over. His motifs struck a chord. While I’ve yet to paint anything, I’ve been enjoying designing rugs inspired by his work. This little footstool is the first of many to come.

I’ve been dabbling with woodworking lately. This primitive little stool paired beautifully with my Rufus Porter inspired rug.
It took some trial and error to get the background colors just right for both mood and visibility, but I love how it came out.
The knot in the wood became the perfect little accent to the “legs” of the stool.
Nautical Stitching

Nautical Stitching

I had a wonky little scrap of antique linen, so I made a peculiar little nautical needle book.

Stitching has become calming and meditative for me.  I seem to be turning to it more and more.

I worry that over time my stitching will become too practices and regular, when what I love is the Wabi Sabi, Come as it May process.

Kantha Style Quilted Footstool

Kantha Style Quilted Footstool

A little blue footstool–a vintage thrift store find–became the newest fodder for my latest stitching obsession.

 

This cotton upholstery fabric finally earned its keep in my stash, pairing beautifully with the original paint of the stool.
I love the texture the stitching gives.
Boro Style Sashiko Stitched Pillow

Boro Style Sashiko Stitched Pillow

It’s a new year, and I’m trying new things.  Boro style textiles have captured my imagination, and sashiko stitching can easily be embraced by those of us who are daunted by the skill and precision of traditional American dainty little quilting stitches.  I’ve received such a positive reaction to my first piece and have gotten many questions, so I’m just going to lay out my process here.  And remember, I have no idea what I’m doing.  I’m just doing, and this was my first piece.  I have graduated to my second, however, for whatever grandeur that might lend to my resume.

I started by gathering a selection of fabrics—new, old, antique, quilt squares, etc. that I thought might work well together. I know this sounds easy, but I spent the better part of an afternoon rearranging, editing, and changing up the whole thing.
When it was time to go make dinner, this is where things were at. Then I walked away for the night so I could look at it with fresh eyes in the morning.  Still happy then, I pinned everything down thoroughly.
This is a wee bit out of order, but I layered all my random top pieces over a foundation fabric the size I wanted my finished piece to be plus seam allowance. I happened to be using a vintage cloth napkin my husband deemed unacceptable as it resembled a torn up sheet, but you could use anything in your stash including an actual torn up sheet… Just don’t make it too thick because you will be stitching through it in addition to all your other top layers.  It’s a little different than what I did here, but I would recommend first starting with a row of running stitches around the entire perimeter of the piece.  After that, anything goes.
Then I just started stitching. Imperfect running stitches based on whim or influenced by the piece of fabric I was stitching over. Sashiko means “little stabs”, so just go at it and don’t worry about anything. I jumped all over the piece, stitching where I felt like in no particular order.
So that’s really it. I finished the first piece there and made it into an oversized pillow. This piece is now my second venture into the technique.

Happy Stitching!

Primitive Trencher

Primitive Trencher

We are renovating an old farmhouse.  There is a lot of very cool stuff ending up in the dumpster.  So, yeah.  I’m the crazy lady dumpster diving in her own dumpster to salvage cool things.  I also needed a way to display a new yarn I’m designing with AND I was home alone with the workshop all to myself.  So I made a Primitive Trencher.  This is the first of several that ended up happening…

Doesn’t it look like I know what I’m doing??
Clamp-ons.

Wax on.
Complete. The perfect yarn trencher for Loch Lomond, a beautiful and very earth-friendly yarn by BC Garn. Both the Trencher and the Yarn are available at The Barn at Todd Farm in Rowley, Ma.
Bee for a Cause

Bee for a Cause

The next Bee in the Barn at Todd Farm will be a very special gathering.  Sewing bees have a long history of community gatherings for a common cause and in that spirit our next bee on March 19th will also serve as a collection site for handcrafting materials, tools, and supplies to donate to Syrian refugees.