Try as I might, I just could not get comfortable stitching the past week or two. Maybe it’s returning to the ice and snow in Ottawa that’s exacerbating my pain, or maybe it’s something else. Whatever it is, I needed to figure out a new way to stitch because I just couldn’t do it for long without pain. I was particularly finding it hard getting to the edges of the frame as I’d have to stretch my arms for quite a while (I couldn’t move the frame over too much on my lap or else it would slide off so I had to keep it relatively centered). I did design a little stand for my frame (read the post here), but it just wasn’t working as well for me at the moment. So, I decided to come up with another solution.
The first thing I did was I looked around the house for something I might be able to rig up or use to suspend or clamp my frame. I bought a cell phone holder that has a long gooseneck and a clamp on each end, but it wasn’t quite sturdy enough to be able to hold the weight of the frame. So I did what I always do next when faced with a problem I need to solve – I went to the dollar store to see what I could find. At one I found some plastic trellis, and I figured I might be able to rig something up to the back of my couch to attach that to, and then attach the frame to the trellis like an accordion. I wanted to be able to swing my stitching out of the way when I wasn’t using it, so the trellis seemed like a potentially good solution.
I cut the trellis in half so it wasn’t too long, and I used zap straps to attach it to an impromptu frame I’d rigged over the top of my couch (made out of dollar shop wire cube sides I’d also zap strapped together). It held well, and it seemed like it would do the trick. I slung the string I have tied to the top plastic nuts of the frame over parts of the trellis, and it worked for a few minutes. Then sadness re-entered my world when the trellis started folding in half from the weight of the frame – it turns out the trellis wasn’t solid plastic bars, but hollow rectangular tubes. They just didn’t have enough strength to do what I wanted to do. Back to the drawing board.
I decided to check out Staples and see if they had anything that would be stronger and do what I wanted. Ideally I was looking for an extendible arm that could swing out of the way but had the strength to hold the frame high enough for me to work on. After perusing the shelves, I came to the lighting department, and they had a lamp with an extendible arm and a clamp for $25. By this point I knew I wasn’t going to find anything better (short of spending at least $60 for a proper scroll bar frame base which wasn’t really what I wanted). I wanted the frame to be suspended, not supported from the bottom. I had a look at the lamp structure and figured I could either clamp the lamp to my laptop stand or to the back of my couch or bed (my apartment is a bachelor so the bottom of my bed is right behind my couch). After getting the lamp home I realized I wouldn’t really need to take the whole thing apart like I thought I might have to, I could just not install the metal shade and then basically I had just an extendible arm.
Unfortunately, the design of the lamp wasn’t overly well thought-out, as the clamp could barely hold the weight of the lamp itself without tipping over (and that was without the shade or lightbulb). I tried to make the clamp more secure, but no luck. I finally decided to bite the bullet and screw the base of the lamp arm (and remove the actual clamp section) to my laptop stand. Now it’s secure and strong enough I can hang the frame from some of the tightening nuts at the elbows of the extendible arm. It may not be the most elegant of solutions, but it can swing out of my way very easily, and now I can stitch away without having to support the frame myself (and I can keep the frame at eye level to make it easier on my neck). It took several hours, some frustration, and a lot of staring and thinking, but I finally came up with a solution I’m happy with. Yay. 🙂