Just Saying

Are you participating in the Good Reads 2016 challenge?  I am.  And already I’m ahead of schedule.  Woohoo!  That’s good ‘cuz who knows what the year will bring to interrupt my love for reading.  Although so far, nothing has ever been able to do that!

I just finished a little book written by Austin Kleon entitled Steal Like An Artist.  It’s subtitled:  10 Things Nobody Told you About Being Creative.  I enjoyed it so much that I read several parts out loud to Jeff.  (He just loves when I do that!)  Especially the parts about having multiple projects going at one time.  Kleon calls this “Practicing Productive Procrastination.”  PERFECT!  I have this down.  I’m an expert in this and can teach others a thing or to about PPP.  Chances are good you’re an expert at this, too!

What I liked best about this book wasn’t even in this book.  It was Kleon’s promotional blurb about another book he’s written about self-promotion for those who don’t.  (If you’re interested, it’s called Show Your Work .)  Here’s what I liked:

Use your network instead of wasting time networking.

Share something new everyday (but don’t turn into human spam).

Be open, generous, brave—an artist others will steal from.

—Austin Kleon

I really like the bit about becoming “human spam.”  I have been deleting my subscriptions to blogs where the author has become that yucky (?)meat.  This especially includes blogs where so much advertising and self promotion makes the page time out!  Two bakers whose names I won’t mention (okay, one is something about Grandbaby Cakes) have almost no new content on their blogs.  Just information about book sales and book tours, yada, yada, yada.  Unsubcribed!  Same thing with White Threads (Vetty Creations on FB).  She occasionally has something useful, but if the content isn’t about her latest book, it’s a query about a topic that you can be sure is related to research for her next book!  Bye, bye!  I’ve even taken breaks from Mary Corbett at times when she’s promoting a new kit or doing an infomercial for some nice but not necessary product.

While I’m constantly considering whether particular newsletters represent human spam or not, I can tell you that there are certain bloggers who I will NEVER unsubscribe from.  I will not extol their virtues here.  Suffice it to say they are artists who I steal from to support my own creative engine.  If I’m just scanning my emails, I save theirs for later so I can savor every thought and picture.  They are the ones I dote on.  If these blogs aren’t on your list they should be:

I know I’m leaving someone out, but can’t think who right now.  When I think of it or more I’ll just post a sticky note and you’ll know what it’s about!  Which blogs or newsletters will never be cancelled by you?  That you think everyone would just love?  That isn’t human spam?  (By the way, I also have knitting, quilting, lace making and cooking blogs to live by as well.  I can list them if you want?  Would love to know about your other must read blogs, too!)

Oh, and I’ve been “working,” too.  I’ve started developing the schema and collecting ideas for images for the Confessions of a Pagan Nun sampler I want to make.  The author, Kate Horsley, gave me permission to use my favorite line from her book!  This is the line:

Use words to please, to instruct, to soothe; then stop speaking.—Kate Horsley

And, of course, stitching and knitting.  (The links are not showing up with the pics, let me know if you want to know where to find these free patterns.)  Started to tangle, too.  Take a look and maybe drop a line my way!

Name That Blog!

I’m participating in WordPress’ Blogging 101 class. The current task is “naming your blog.”

Of course, my blog has a name so I could just say that task is done.  Frankly, I don’t like my blog name any longer.  It doesn’t seem to fit, is too limited.  I do love the tag line “and other challenges.”  Maybe the tag line makes the space lacking in the “shop sampler” idea which was based on just one project defined one stitch/color/shop at a time.

So…what?

When I go back over what I’ve written about, the topics tend to fall within the realm of cross crafting, WIPs, mindfulness, and writing.  There is a connection to resources/community as well as some personal stuff.  I certainly have other interests.  For example, a very strong interest in black work embroidery, reading, and baking lower on the glycemic index.  I “suffer” with an “attachment” to food as reflected in disordered eating and really try to practice mindful eating and exploring a Buddhist (or Eightfold) path.  Right now while my Jeff is so sick, I’m learning everything I never did in nursing school about auto-immune responses and disorders.  (All these new Biologics!  Yuck!)  I have become almost an expert on Miniature Schnauzers.  I have taught Cameron’s “The Artist’s Way” (and the follow up) a number of times.

How do I sum all that up in a simple, memorable name and line?!

So far everything I’ve come up with has been an active domain name owned by not me—even when translated to French.  Well, there are two translations that are available domain names:  Parcours Créatif (Creative Journey) or Le Chemin Créatif (The Creative Path).  But should I really confuse folks with  accents aigus?!  And do they fill the bill adequately?

I kind of like:

  1. Creating.  Living.
  2. Living.  Creating.
  3. Creating = Living
  4. Living = Creating

But then there’s Ivory Castle Creations.  I used to make music tapes for friends to introduce them to my favorite music, mostly women musicians (long before Loreena Mckennitt and Sarah McLachlan were mainstream) , classical guitar, and real Celtic music (Nahoo, Mouth Music, etc.)  I labeled them “Ivory Castle Mix 1 or 2 or…on and on.”  So Ivory Castle Creations is like an off shoot of that.  Someone even created a logo for me based on the tag line, “it’s not the drop so much as the ripple.”  This quote came from one of my Artist Way students who saw THE Point of how one change in one’s world changes everything via the ripple effect!  The Ivory Castle part came from a fellow nurse who would tease me about slumming in the real world (acute psych unit in a local hospital), when my real existence was the Ivory Tower of academia while I was pursuing training in Marriage and Family Therapy in College Park, Maryland.

So…what do you think?

I can’t find the poll function on the tool bar (and what happened to spell/grammar check?!), so I’ll have to outline the current options I’m considering.  Tell me what you think is fitting!  I just can’t decide!

  1. Creating.  Living.
  2. Living.  Creating.
  3. Creating = Living
  4. Living = Creating
  5. Ivory Castle Creations
  6. One of the french choices
  7. Keep it the same

Happy 2016!

happy-new-year-2016Here’s a question for you.  If I write it will you read?

I’m thinking about blogging regularly again.  Been thinking about what I want to accomplish and what purpose blogging serves me.  Initially I had grand plans to design patterns and maybe even go into business.  But smarter artists than I are struggling and even quitting.  Back then my writing was about connecting with others and offering something to develop a potential business base.

To that end, I used to compulsively check my blog stats, just like checking my weight (yeah, I’m eating disordered, too).  I would get soooo disappointed when my numbers wouldn’t go up (or my weight would go up!)  Or people might look at a post that I worked really hard on and not offer a comment.  I even started to read some of the spam comments! (Really, really horrid.)

I’m not there anymore.  Writing is for me.  Something I enjoy.  Just like all the crafts I do.  I enjoy it.  It relaxes me.  It speaks to my desire/need to be creative.

I’ve decided I’ll write when I have something to say.  (See “blogging without obligation.”)  If  I have nothing to say, maybe I’ll just post a picture of where my needle(s) are sitting and what string is attached, like the following:

Cecelia Baby Blanket

Cecelia is a center out baby blanket pattern by Berroco. I’m adding rows and making it as a shawl.

Dimensions Ornament

An ornament I did real quick this year.

That’s my goal for the year. 

I’ve lost my dogs.

RIP my babes

See you at the Rainbow Bridge, Taz and Jojo

 

 

 

 

 

Our Vet not only sent sympathy cards, but made these paw casts, and made donations to Auburn Vet School in our girls’ names.

 

 

 

 

 

My Jeff is sick.

He has this rash everywhere—palms, bottom of feet, in his nose, and most likely internally, too.

Not Jeff, but like Jeff
Not Jeff, but like Jeff’s (Jeff has better legs!)

It’s called Leukocytoclastic Angiitis

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In 2016 I WILL be calm and submissive to my needs for creativity, health, beauty, peace, and loving-kindness.

I hope you’ll read what is here.  I hope you’ll like it.  I hope you get something out of it.

TSS Mission Update

Mini Schnauzers with liver disease and diabetes

Julie holds Taz (diabetic) and Jeff holds Jojo (liver disease)

Once upon a time the 27 foot  travel trailer I am living in actually traveled!  Sadly, the person who sold it to us was a crook.  We told him what we wanted to do.  He sold us this trailer.  This trailer was actually meant for the weekend camper, not for traveling in a trailer!  We learned this from repairmen and others who had had similar experiences.

What does that have to do with the TSS Mission?  Everything!

Since we are no longer traveling I’m not getting to visit anything but online shops.  It’s not the same.  At all.  I’d rather spend my time stitching.

I’ve given this quite a bit of thought.  I have played with changing the name.  I don’t want to do that as it has become part of me.  I have decided to develop a questionnaire for designers from around the world who participate in some of the lists that I belong to.  I will ask the questions I ask when I have visited shops.  And more.  The questionnaire is currently being developed.

“So what?!” you might ask.

So, I would like your input.  Specifically this:

  1. What are the questions you would like to ask your favorite designer?
  2. Who are your favorite designers?
  3. What is YOUR favorite stitch—either canvas or embroidery?  And what color should it be in?  What fiber?

Just note your responses in a comment.  Or if you wish to offer your thoughts more privately, you can use this contact form which will be delivered to my email.  Thanks for your time and your help!

ps  I remain quite busy with health issues…my Jeff needs to have rotator cuff surgery and to have an internal electronic defibrillator connected to his heart.  One pup has developed chronic liver disease and the other has just been diagnosed as a diabetic .  One is settled in her new diet, but the diabetic is really struggling.  I worry she won’t make it, but she’s a tough little Fraulein so I’m betting on her.

SAL Silly

What have you been up to?

Me?  A bit of this.

Ruby Marie rescued from traffic in Loxley Alabama area

The Min Schnauzer Sisters think about letting the little rescue join the pack.

A touch of that.

Soon the beads will sparkle between green leaves and white lilac like flowers of Myrtle!

We moved to an RV Park where we actually get a tree to hang our Mardi Gras beads on!

 

And more SALs!  Yup, I’m SAL Silly!

I’ve completed three.  You can see pics in this post at my other blog, Blackwork Lessons.

And I’m participating in three year-long SALs currently.  You’ll find pics of two of them also at Blackwork Lessons.

So I can get this post published and get back in the swing of things now that I finally have a working computer again, I’m just going to post the links to the SALs I am participating in.  If you are working them, too, please leave a comment or a link to your pics so we can all enjoy them, too.  If you aren’t working them, get your gear engaged and get going!  They’re all year-long SALs so there’s plenty of time to “catch up!”  Let’s work together!

  • Blue Dogwood Designs, Shashiko Sampler...this is a fast working canvas project playing with blackwork type stitches.  I caught up four months worth of pattern in less than a week and I re-stitched it all when I put the colors in the wrong place.  So you can easily get up to speed, especially if you do like I did and create your own colorway.
  • Elizabeth Almond, Save the Stitches…this is a wonderful blackwork sampler with pattern updates at the first of the month.  It takes a bit more time, but is fun and challenging and guaranteed to become a family heirloom.  I’m not the only one who wants to do this one twice−once in traditional black and then again in bright colors.
  • Soed Idee, Randje per Week…this is also a year-long project.  Every week a new band or two or three are posted.  The site and FaceBook group are predominantly Dutch, but using Google Translate makes it easy to understand and participate.  Frankly, all I do is post my pics.  After all, a picture is worth a thousand words, in any language.  Right?!  The patterns are about 100 wide x 10 stitches long.  So another easy weekend project!  And after a year you will have an incredible sample of borders and bands to use as a personal reference.

Here are two shots of my Randje per week sampler.  I’m organizing mine into two columns as I didn’t want to buy more fabric and wanted to use stash only for this project.  It’s a lovely project, relaxing, easy, fun.

 

Soed Idee SAL

My work to date. I’m really behind with the other projects and class I’m taking.

Randje per week

Close up of work to date

So, which one will you do?  One or all?  Tell me!  I’m gonna show you mine, so please show me yours!

 

Ch…ch…ch…changes!

Way back when, I remember making a Contract With Me.  Maybe you remember it, too.  Maybe you did something similar.  Mine’s not working for me any longer.  How about yours?

I had set things up so I could work on every work in progress each week.  I did that for about four months.  I liked the fact that nothing was being set aside.  What I didn’t like was the feeling that I wasn’t making any progress on any particular project.

Bygone Stitches Quaker Virtues

Quaker Virtues to date

Ink Circles Cirque des Coeurs

Cirque des Coeurs—moving along. Love working on this, too!

And, I found myself resenting projects.  I’d just feel great about getting to a point in Quaker Virtues and have to set it down to move on in the schedule to Cirque des Cœurs.  I found myself hating Cirque because it was taking me away from something I really was loving working on.

Then some people (i.e. those wicked stitchers at Superstar Serial Starters and Divine Disciplined Divas Facebook Group) mentioned a SAL they read about in a blog.  So I had to do that. Then I found out about another at one of the numerous blogs I follow.  That one led to another.  You get the picture?!  Those little SAL are delightful—quick, easy, small, fun, achievable.  How can you not participate?!

So, I gave up the schedule.  I’ve been working on the little SALs as they come along.  If I don’t finish when the SAL is done, that’s okay.  I’ve been working them with materials I wanted to test or using fabric scraps.  And as tools for learning finishing techniques new to me.

Claire93 SAL project

Seba Freebie stitched

I’ve also picked up whatever I wanted to work on.  I determine how far I want to get to feel like I’ve accomplished something.  While I’m working on that I decide what I will pick up next.

Almost done with B. Blok sampler

I still have to finish the borders. This is waiting room stitching.

And so it goes.  WIPocalypse is at hand!

Calling Mission Control…

Jeff, Jojo, Taz, and I have revised our “Mission.” Originally we were going to travel all over the US and maybe Canada, “boon-docking” where we could utilize our solar panels to provide the juice for whatever propane couldn’t energize—things like putting out the slide to give us living space and what few lights we might need beyond our lantern.  The fridge and hot water can be run on propane.  So anywhere we could be a defined distance from the road (per National Forest regs) we could just park and play.

For me, play was to visit needlework shops in the areas we traveled.  By talking with the owners/managers I would come up with favorite threads, colors, and stitches of the owners.  Using that input I would design a sampler.  Describing that process was the original Mission of this blog.

Well, shit things happen, times change gas prices skyrocket, and Wal-Mart the economy pushes lots of small shop owners out of business!

We are into plan Z-19.

And this blog is all over the place, but not where it started out.

Map of Baldwin County

The yellow dot is where we are camped in Senate District 32 of Alabama

I can’t really tell you what we’re doing outside of sitting in Alabama where the weather is great and the rent and utilities are real low.   We know we’ll be here for a year unless a hurricane  forces us to evacuate.  We will re-evaluate our plans a year from now as to whether we head back north or stay another year.

Unfortunately, there are no local needlework stores outside of the chains and I am back to my old faithful internet stores.  I really miss the joy and inspiration that comes from walking into a shop and seeing all the geegaws and whatsits.   And picking up the patterns and books, reading a bit before I create my priority list.  But that’s neither here nor there in terms of a Mission Statement or description.

When I look back upon the past several years, most of my posts fall more under the subtitle of this blog—”And Other Stitching Challenges.”  Completing the “Shop Sampler” is going to be an incredible challenge, one that may need to go to the bottom of the “To Do” list.

But I’m wondering.  If the Mission changes and the Shop Sampler is not the focus, should the title of the blog and mission statement be different?

I think not.  I think I may need to reconsider how I gather the Shop information.  I’m thinking that I may enlist readers to help me.  And I’m thinking I may create a challenge to make it work.  Maybe something like this:

  • I write a formal challenge asking for the shop name, the shop web and/or email address, the shop owner/manager’s favorite thread and color and the favored stitch using that thread and color.
  • Readers email me or make a comment on the formal challenge post with the requested info.
  • I add each submission to a page under the Sampler Shops button (at the top of the page) after I send a note to each Shop so they can check out the link.
  • Once a month I choose one submission randomly.  That poster will receive a token of my appreciation…maybe a small, a tool, a bit of fabric…nothing major, just a token.
  • Start all over again the next month.

Sewing basket

So…that’s what I’m thinking.  What do you think?

July 2013 TUSAL

For those who don’t remember reading about this before, TUSAL stands for Totally Useless Stitch Along.  For me it is a way to mark time.  Another way to examine my progress, or lack thereof, in my stitching.  Once a month, more or less, those of us participating share images of our ort collection jars.

I collect my orts in my folding ort box and then transfer them to my jar according to the TUSAL calendar.  As you can see, I’ve been frogging!  But I must admit that some of the orts are from sewing two pair of shorts and a summer shirt.

Since we decided to stay in Alabama for the summer, I found my wardrobe was sorely lacking for temperatures that stay above 90 constantly.  I have fabric to make another pair of shorts and three slip style dresses.  I don’t love making clothes, but I appreciate Home Economics in Junior High School where I picked up the skill to be able to do this for myself.

I am typing on someone else’s computer with a baby keyboard as my monitor died.  That’s why I’ve been MIA.  But I’ve also been participating on a couple of mystery SALs.  Two have ended, even though I’m still stitching on one.  And a third started on July 1.  I will start Camille as soon as I finish B. Blok.  Check out the links for the patterns.  And next time I’ll share my photos!

These are all lovely patterns, fast and satisfying to finish.  I hope you enjoy them!