Tuesday, March 05, 2019

A Cautionary Tale - My Trusty 1974 Bernina Record 830 Sewing Machine Almost Burned Our House Down

I think I have written about my good old dependable Bernina sewing machine that I purchased in the 70's. I earned the money for it sewing for friends and neighbors when I was in high school. The machine is my pride and joy and has moved with me so many times. The amount of hours I have sewn on it has got to be in the thousands. 

Last Sunday, we were scared out of bed by the sound of our fire alarm going off at 5:15 a.m. Our farmhouse came with a professional (like a school or hospital) fire alarm system. When it goes off, it can be heard from far away much less it will scare the bejesus out of you if you are in the house.  Lights flash and the sound is monumental. It is also quite sensitive and I frequently set it off with my cooking prowess.  

But last Sunday, I was so glad that we had this thing. Mark and I ran all over the house trying to figure out why the alarm was going off. By the time we got down to the basement to turn it off, I discovered that my 1975 Bernina was smoking. And I mean smoking. It was so hot I couldn't touch it and smoke was pouring out of every orifice. I ran to grab some potholders and took it outside in the snow. 

When I lifted the machine, the wooden table I sew on was scorched and smoking too. I dumped some water on it and pulled the table leaves out and took them outside too. 

The problem was taken care of and we were left with smoke and nasty smell and no sewing machine.

By this time, the fire company was on the way. It was too late to stop them. An hour later, due to incredibly icy roads and no sand on them, they arrived. I don't want to think about what would have happened if we didn't have our fire/smoke alarm. We were so lucky to discover the source of the smoke and possible fire and to remove the machine and table.

The fire chief and two firemen came. The Chief was an electrician so he was able to show me the electrical source of the fire in the motor of the machine. 

He said I should have been unplugging the machine all the time and that I should have used an extension cord with a 3 prong outlet (the cord that came with my machine only had 2 prongs). All good advice that I will heed in the future. I have had this machine since the 70's and it has remained plugged in whenever it was set up on my sewing table.

I researched on-line to see if anyone else has had their Bernina motor catch on fire. I didn't find anything so think it is important that I add this here. (Vintage Berninas have problems with their foot pedals catching fire and I replaced mine with a safe pedal years ago.) From what I read, any of the older sewing machines of any brand do not have On and Off Power buttons so they are always on if plugged into electricity. I did not realize this. 

I sew a lot and really depend on my machine for my business and for general mending and household sewing. I knew I wanted the same exact machine I had (a Bernina 830 Record) - it has mostly all metal parts and is a real workhorse. Luckily I found one on Ebay. It has arrived and the new machine is as sturdy as the old one. It came with a recent service record, a thermal safe foot pedal and a 3 prong plug for the wall. I will keep my old Bernina for parts and now I will ALWAYS unplug my machine when I am not using it. Lesson learned.

Thank goodness for the fire alarm. Thank you to the little tiny fire department of Leyden for bringing the truck and to Tina, the policewoman, for getting the road crew to sand the icy road so the fire truck could get here. We were just lucky that we were able to put out the machine and table quickly and that we had the fire/smoke alarm to wake us and that it was working and tied into the central station. It made me think about all those cellar holes that are around our town and so many New England towns that used to have houses on top of them. Farmhouses in the old days were frequently lost to fire before there were fire companies and trucks and fire/smoke alarms. People just had to let them burn and around here, many did not rebuild. 

I hope this post helps someone else who owns and sews on an old machine and might not realize the potential of the fire hazard. 

Monday, February 18, 2019

New Fabric Designs + A Fantastic Spoonflower Promotion

Last year I shared with you my continuing interest in designing fabrics. I have continued to develop some new surface designs and they are now available in my Spoonflower shop. How it works is I design a repeat pattern and I upload it to their site. Then I do a test print to make sure it will print correctly. After that, I make it "for sale" on my Spoonflower Shop

Anyone can then order one of my fabric designs on any of their 25 different fabrics, wallpaper and gift wrap. It is really very cool and lets me flirt with the concept of being a fabric designer. I have had several of my designs printed onto fabric for myself and then made things for my home out of my own textile designs. The quality is very good. Here are some of the projects I have made with my fabric designs.

ROSES AND DIAMONDS GOLD printed on Linen/Cotton Canvas 

printed on linen/cotton canvas

printed on Kona Cotton and used for a quilt backing

Last winter, I translated many of my handprinted fabrics that were featured in my newest book Crafting A Patterned Home into digital files. The idea behind that was that someone could have the same fabric as shown in my book but need not handprint it themselves. You can see all of those designs in this collection page on my Spoonflower shop

Yesterday, I got an email from Spoonflower saying that they are having a big sale on their site. I thought I would let you all know about it in case you wanted to try out some of my fabric designs on a project for your home or wardrobe. You can purchase any fabric design on Spoonflower - not only those from my shop. There are literally thousands of fabric designers selling their designs on Spoonflower. 

Below are three of my newest designs - Vines and Flowers, Hand Drawn Paisleys, and Suzani Wide Stripe. Many of my designs are available in multiple colorways. Check out the Spoonflower sale and see all my 91 different fabric designs on my Spoonflower shop. If you order, I will get a small percentage of the sale. 

The sale runs from the 18th of February until the 24th of February. 




Sunday, February 17, 2019

Lambs + Big News! with Reflections

I'll share the Big News first. After a month and more of working tirelessly, I have a new website! Ohhhhh - I have been dying to share it with you all. It went live this weekend. Hop on over and check it out here

I hope you like it, find it somewhat informational, and also easy to navigate. I have known for a while that I needed to do something about my website. This is the 3rd iteration of kristinnicholas.com - the 1st was in 2002, the 2nd was in 2013 and now the 3rd is in 2019. Boy have things changed. 

1. My first website was mostly an info only site built by my friend Lori Gayle. It had a couple of patterns for sale via something called Payloadz. This was before Ravelry came along. The first site lasted a very long time -- eleven years! - I am amazed to reflect on that for sure. 

2. My second website was built by my friend Mary Hager. She did it just before my Craftsy class launched in something called Cold Fusion. The purpose of the site was informational and also commerce driven. I would be able to sell the Crewel Embroidery Supplies for my Craftsy (now Bluprint) class on-line. That site was built just before everything went mobile and it was very serviceable but I couldn't easily change things myself. That site lasted six years. 

3. This third website was built by ME! on a platform call Big Cartel. I interviewed 3 different shopping platforms - Shopify, Squarespace and Big Cartel. I went with Big Cartel because it seemed to be artist friendly. Also, when I sent them questions, they answered sometimes within an hour. There were several themes to chose from and I chose one that I thought was easily navigable. They also have a sliding fee scale so that if my number of products changes, the monthly fee can be adjusted. 

So that is my big news. Check out the new site here and if you have any comments or critiques, I am glad to hear them. The website has categories and you can search by "newest" and "most popular" items. At the bottom of the left hand column, I have added several pages that are informational. 

Now - on to the lambs....... They are still coming - maybe not as fast as a couple weeks ago but still being born. We had snow and ice this week so it is a bit treacherous at the barns now. These photos were taken when the last batch of snow had melted. I'm not sure if you have noticed but many of the lambs still have tails. The Farmer decided to only "tail" the females. We have many Muslim customers and they will only purchase male lambs. Last year we discovered that they prefer lambs with tails. Always learning. 

Just born that morning outside in the sun.

This little lamb has the craziest ears - they curl backward. Never seen anything like it. She is very vocal too.

Nice set of twins with a very attentive mother.

Outside on top of ye olde manure pile. 

This little guy was loving the sun. 

Mama and one of the older lambs on top of ye olde manure pile.

I hope you all are having a nice weekend. Maybe you have the day off tomorrow. Lucky you! I have some more news to share tomorrow so pop on back then. 

Thursday, February 14, 2019

More from Lambing 2019 + Happy Valentine's Day

Here are some photos I took over the last couple weeks at the lambing barns. 

There is something so reassuring about little lambs and mamas together - watching the mamas take care of the new ones.... watching them grow and flourish and become teen lambs... moving them out onto pastures to see them grow larger and figure out the world they are born into.  

Enjoy everyone and I hope you all have a Happy Valentine's Day!

Brand new twins. 

Another brand new lamb.

Getting ready to feed one of the big bales inside the barn. 

Gotta be careful with that big tractor. 

Those twins from the first photo outside on their second day. 



Nice cushiony bed.

Thursday, February 07, 2019

New Life Here at the Farm

We are almost mid-way into February. Since I have posted here, we have had THE weather. First below zero for several days....... two snowstorms..... then a big melt-down. All through the weather events, life goes on. The lambs keep coming. Lambing started out rough this year but things have gotten better over the last few weeks. Here are some recent photos from the barn. 

The earlier born lambs are starting to pick at the hay. 

They love to snuggle down into the hay. With the rain and melting snow, it is difficult to keep the barn dry so the remnants of hay bales help dry things out a bit. 

So sweet this little one.

This black mama actually had a set of twins. The white one is hiding behind her. We have been waiting for a couple weeks for her to lamb - she just kept growing bigger. She is an awesome mom. Do you see her bug-eyes? That is because she was being protective of her lambs and didn't want me anywhere near them. We let her out of the pen and they are doing great. 

Another sweet one - probably about a week old. 

In this photo you can see the size differences. 

Here's The Farmer feeding one of his bottle lambs. This little guy's mama doesn't have enough milk for twins so she gets supplemented with a bottle and lamb milk replacer. 

More cuteness.

At the end of the day the sky was turning a pretty pink. 

That's it for today. 

Friday, January 25, 2019

A New Crewel Pillow for My Sister's New Condo

I've been meaning to share a project I just finished. It is a hot pink crewel work pillow for my sister Lynn who just moved into a new condo. Lynn is a real color lover and artist in her own right. I wanted to make something punchy and happy for her new home. 

I used a Hot Pink Linen Fabric Square that I sell on my website - links at end of post to purchase. I made a foam stamp in the shape of an ogee with pointy ends and printed the fabric all over with dark brown Jacquard Textile Paint. Unfortunately I didn't take a photo of the linen before I started stitching. Oooooops. 

For stitching, I used the Crewel Wool that I sell on my website. I always travel with an assortment of colors so that I can pick and choose as I go. My process is very improvisational. With an assortment of colors, I just pick and choose as I go. I keep my PDF pattern - The Circles Sampler - on my phone so that I can refer to the 26 stitches that are included in case I want to try a new stitch. That pattern is available for download on website here

My first step was to outline all the ogees with yellow stem stitch. Above you can see that in progress. 

After getting that bit of mindless stitching done - which I personally love doing - I worked on each ogee separately. Some were more complicated than others. I love improvising like this with needle and thread - it is so free and easy and totally fun. 

Below I am sharing each ogee with the stitches I used. All stitches are taught by illustration in the Circles Sampler PDF Download. 

French Knots • Palestrina Stitch • Straight Stitch • Fly Stitch

French Knots • Laid Stitch • Cross Stitch

French Knots • Chain Stitch Packed very close

French Knots • Fly Stitch to create diamond grid • Chain Stitch up middle • 
Running Stitch on top of Chain Stitch

French Knots • Chain Stitch Stripes with Running Stitch up each stripe •
Diagonal Straight Stitches with Couching to anchor them to fabric in between Stripes

French Knots • Fly Stitch worked in Stripes leaning opposite each row. The Fly Stitches were worked in 3 colors. 

French Knots • Chain Stitch Stripes with Running Stitch up each stripe
Lazy Daisy Stitches worked perpendicular to each stripe

Here is the pillow top before I sewed it. 

Here is the back side of the work. 

And below is the pillow finished. 
To make the pillow, I use a technique that makes a easily removable pillowcase with no zipper. You can find a tutorial on the Blog HERE for that

On the right of the photo, you can see my Hexagon Afghan. There are Free Instructions for that project HERE on the blog

The super fun thing about a project like this is - 
It travels well!
Each little ogee can become its own bit of experimentation.
You never get bored because the combination of stitches is endles..

Here are the items that you can purchase from my web shop. The linen comes in many colors - including new shades of off white, flaxen, sunflower, coral, fawn, and grass green. 
The Circles Sampler Kit - includes thread, yarn and a chenille needle - If you would like an alternate color from the Turquoise linen featured, leave a note on the order. - $46.00
You can take a Crewel Embroidery Class with me over on Bluprint (formerly Craftsy)

Hope everyone has a great weekend!

A Cautionary Tale - My Trusty 1974 Bernina Record 830 Sewing Machine Almost Burned Our House Down

I think I have written about my good old dependable Bernina sewing machine that I purchased in the 70's. I earned the money for it sewi...