I headed out to Bernina first thing this morning for the first day of training for my sewing machine. The joining instructions were clear: there would be just half an hour for lunch so sandwiches should be brought en route and allowing plenty of time for two stops on the tube and a seven minute walk, I rolled up with ten minutes to spare.
I was surprised to find I was the first to arrive.
I was even more surprised to find I was the only one booked in for the class!
Even so, there was a programme of instruction to be followed, starting with essential maintenance – cleaning and oiling. Hannah and I were already acquainted having met at the Festival of Quilts, where she’d offered some support when my hero was upgrading the Bernina software. So, it was more of a friendly run through the details rather than formal tuition which was particularly enjoyable for me.
It meant I could ask specific questions too, without fear of taking up valuable time from others who might have more pressing needs. I’d had difficulty adjusting the bobbin tension when using some 30wt thread to stitch denim recently but all became clear once it was demonstrated at close quarters. The changes from my last Bernina are many and the new bobbin system has taken some getting used to, being not so immediately/obviously/conventionally adjustable (until now).
The day was spent mostly on the basic functions of the machine and the practical applications, many of which were already familiar. However, Hannah had a few new tricks up her sleeve to show me and I was glad to have had the time to explore some of the things I hadn’t discovered so far.
With such focused attention, the programme for the day was complete by 2.30pm, so we called it a day so that I could follow up Hannah’s recommendation of a visit to Raystitch. I was pleased to have had chance to take a look around this amazing emporium where the stock was so much to my taste, I could have selected it all myself! The Nano Iro Japanese double gauze is lovely but needless to say as soon as I stood in front of it, I couldn’t remember what it was I had thought of using it for. Some lovely linen here too plus an amazing range of basic haberdashery including the irresistible Merchant and Mills pins – I had to have a box of entomology pins!
Anyway, the 205 bus is my friend and to-ing and fro-ing during the last couple of days has become second nature – I’ll always take the bus in preference to the tube.
After a quick wash and change, I was off out again, taking the chance to sneak in a quick look in the National Portrait Gallery before meeting Edward to go to the opera. There wasn’t enough time to do anything serious; I reckoned I had thirty minutes at the most, so I simply visited a few favourites, of which I’m not sure this sentimental monstrosity counts!
I much prefer the completely unsentimental pose of the handsome Albert Ball, born in the same year as my Grandad and whose story is told beneath the smallish bronze on a simple plinth. I don’t recall the full sized monument in Nottingham at all, but I think it must make an even more striking tribute to this young man.
I smiled as I passed the Grayson Perry exhibits dotted around the gallery, having enjoyed the TV programmes. But what really caught my eye was a small exhibition of Catherine Goodman’s portraits. All worked from life, these heavily encrusted paintings were so skilful in capturing the personalities and each one had layers of stories built into the final portrait. I wished I’d had longer to spend in these two rooms alone.
I particularly liked Emma Freud’s statement alongside this portrait of Stephanie Pierce, The Headmistress:
“I have yet to understand how some particles of pigment suspended in linseed oil are able to reproduce a life lived long and fulsome”.
Sadly, I was turfed out of the gallery shortly afterward – not for bad behaviour but because it was closing time!
Just time to meet up with Edward then, to take our seats for The Marriage of Figaro and to enjoy a really outstanding performance at the Coliseum. The production was super, very funny in parts and beautifully sung. We both declared it to have been a great choice.
Another late night then, and another day at Bernina tomorrow to look forward to!