Bathing Suit
Dance Bags

Retro Collar
Skirt Rayon

Window Quilt


Sewing and Knitting with Sue Robishaw

Sewing and Knitting
sewing window quilt

How-to  ~  Ideas  ~  Inspiration
 More than forty years living a happy sustainable life in Michigan's Upper Peninsula






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One simple word - sew - knit - but it contains a whole world and many lifetimes of projects. Large, small, simple or mind-boggling complex. Practical or fanciful, for yourself or for others. Each project may take a few minutes or hours or days/weeks/months/years.  They are both handy skills to have or learn. And no matter how long you've been sewing or knitting, there is always more to learn! And an unending variety of ideas. So much fun.

SEWING - I don't remember learning to sew, though I likely did get some beginning instruction. My mother sewed (a lot!), my older sisters sewed, as teenagers most of my girl friends sewed, as well as some of the boys. We had a class in sewing at some point in school, though I don't remember learning much there. I think much of my, and my friends, learning was by experience. You found a pattern, got some fabric, sewed up whatever, then did whatever you could to make it fit. Since my Mom sewed so much, and was certainly faster and a better seamstress than I was, I didn't make much until after I left home. I must have gotten my first sewing machine, a basic Kenmore, for a graduation or wedding present. It lasted for many years and sewed a lot of things it likely wasn't made for.

When Steve and I moved north to our homestead in the late '70's my sewing skills were honed on a lot of mending and odd jobs that hardly ever included patterns or new fabric. Steve can sew as well and he made use of that hard working machine. It plain wore out at some point and we went on to a used, old, sturdy, basic Singer. It was more suited to the projects we asked of it, such as making a fur-trade era canvas tent. I didn't do much fine work in those years.

But that old Singer did finally get to the end of its life and after struggling toSteve sewing bucket sew things like high-tech Sil-Nylon backpacking tent and light-weight clothing on this old machine it was retired and we went to the sewing machine guru in Escanaba (Tebear's) and bought a brand new low end but adequate basic Viking-Husqvarna Emerald 116 sewing machine. Oh my, was that ever the cat's pajamas! Compared to my previous machines this was truly a gem. It sews anything from canvas to lycra and does as good a job as the person sewing can do. It fits our needs just fine without being complicated.

Sewing projects on the homestead are really varied, from mending to altering to making clothes, to odds and ends like kayak spray skirts, boat covers, camping gear. I certainly don't pretend to be a fine seamstress but I do appreciate having, and expanding, the skills to make what I want to make, alter what I want to alter, and create what is in my mind.

I'll share a few projects as they come along (see left menu above), and various hints and ideas that have been useful to me. Hopefully you'll glean some ideas and inspirations for your own creative journeys into sewing.

KNITTING - My mom knitted, my sisters knitted, my friends probably knitted though it wasn't a big part of our teen lives. Like sewing, it was just mildly taken for granted that most young women knew how to do. I don't remember learning, but I do remember as a teen picking out a pattern from the stack of small booklets my mom subscribed to (mmm, what were they called? Lots of patterns in small print, black & white.). I chose a baby sweater set, in yellow, found some acrylic baby yarn (there was always yarn and fabric around in our house), some needles, and proceeded, on my own, with very little knowledge (though I did know how to knit at that point) but with enough enthusiasm and confidence and maybe a how-to-knit article or booklet. I deciphered and learned as I made my way through the sketchy instructions, making up what I didn't understand. I recall I did end up with a sweater, though I doubt it ever fit a real baby. Gauge wasn't part of my knitting world at that time. 

I didn't knit a lot but did make a few baby sweaters and later a knitted wool vest for my Dad and one for Steve. Eventually some hats and mittens came along after we moved to our homestead in the Upper Peninsula with long cold winters. They should have been my first projects I suppose, it would have been easier, but that was never a consideration. I followed whatever interested me at the time, and figured out how to do it as I went along. Guess I still do that, as well as following my own designs and ideas, making up my pattern, then often changing it as I knitted. That's my knitting road and I doubt it will change even though it may involve much raveling and re-knitting. Though I'm a practical knitter, always going for a specific item of clothing that is wanted, it is the creative aspect that draws me, moderated a lot for those who don't want fancy. This is why I knit.

You won't find complete instructions here, there are plenty of books, many very good ones, with great instructions written by more experienced and knowledgeable knitters than I, on how to knit a particular item. But I'd like to share with you my designs for the sole purpose of inspiration and ideas, as I've gotten ideas and inspirations from others. And just for the fun of it.

Copyright by Susan Robishaw

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