Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Great Grandma's New Home Sewing Machine Gets a New Home

The internet, for all its evils, can sometimes be a wonderful thing. I recently made a Facebook post about the vintage sewing machine cabinet I received as a Mother's Day gift. A grade school friend's mother (who used to be my neighbor and also was the wife of the doctor who delivered me when I was born and cared for me pretty much all my life until his retirement) contacted me and said she had my Great Grandmother's treadle sewing machine, wanted it out of her basement, and asked if I would take it. Of course I said, "Heck yeah, I'll take it!" So, not even knowing what brand it was or what condition it was in, last night I dragged my guys over to her house and we hauled it up out of her basement. I'm thrilled with it!

It is a New Home Model A circa 1919. It belonged to Elsie Carlson, my Step-Great Grandmother. It would have resided at one time in the farmhouse I grew up in. By the time I met Elsie she had moved to a pretty house in town. I remember it had a beautiful south facing window with lace curtains and she had doilies all over her furniture. It doesn't surprise me that I'd remember the textiles. She passed away when I was only 14 or 15 years old. 

 Everything is still with it, even the manuals.

The decals are in excellent condition. The machine was used but not abused.

A little bit of elbow grease will clean her right up. 

I tested her out when I got home. Without even adding a drop of oil she sews like a dream.

I plan to just remove the 100 years of lint and start sewing. 

The cabinet on the other hand needs some work.

Like most of these machines, some of the veneer has popped off in places. 

And, like most, there was a plant placed on top of it at some point. There are larger chunks of veneer missing here.

Then there is the base. It definitely got wet at some point so the board is delaminating and the veneer on the left side of the cabinet is separating from the plywood.

And finally the bottom bentwood drawer on the left is broken, but we have all the pieces. 

That's all we need. As long as we have all the pieces, all of these things can be fixed. I've already started on the restoration. Just giving it a wash with soap and water proved how beautiful it will be once I'm finished with it. I'll get the engineer to help glue and clamp some pieces tonight and then I will start giving her a new finish tomorrow. 

The machine head also received a bath and is already starting to gleam. 

I'm excited to get this finished and reunite the sewing machine with the antique quilting frame that also belonged to Elsie. I cannot begin to thank Karen enough for calling me and asking me to take her trash but my treasure out of her basement.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Dabbling in Doubleweave

I have wanted to weave a doublewide herringbone throw using my handspun yarn ever since I first bought the giant bag of raw Shetland fiber. That wasn't yesterday. In fact it wasn't last year either. I'm not even going to say how long it has been and leave it at that. At least I know it hasn't been a decade.

The spun yarn has been patiently waiting for me to do something with it. I look at it often and think, "Okay, I'm going to do it." Then I panic. I've never woven double weave before. I get the concept - weaving two layers at the same time with a join on one side resulting in fabric twice as wide as what you see.  Seems simple enough until you go to actually do it. I finally gave in and decided to join Linda at Tabby Tree Weaver for a class. I figured it was better to make all my mistakes there rather than to mess up my precious homespun yarn. And oh did I ever make mistakes.

While there I used a nice inexpensive cotton yarn she had in stock. I liked it so much I decided to try making a throw out if it before I do the wool homespun throw. I was making enough mistakes to realize there was still a learning curve to get past. Now that I have the cotton on the loom, I'm glad I made that choice. This is a SLOW process. I'll be able to tie on the wool warp and keep on trucking. 

The hardest part, besides the ridiculously complicated threading, is getting the selvage edges to look good in addition to the fold. There is no mindless throwing the shuttle back and forth. You have to pay attention to every pic. And you don't dare stop in the middle of a treadle sequence. My studio assistants are not much help in that regard with their constant need for attention. At this rate it may actually be a decade before I finish it.