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!

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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!

 

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?

Over the Hump vs. Into the Slump

Everyone knows Wednesdays are Over-the Hump Day.  We have made it to the half-way point.  It’s mostly downhill for the work week from Wednesday on.  Mondays aren’t so bad because you’ve just had a couple days off to refresh your mind and body.

By the time Tuesdays come you’ve lost that burst of energy.  And if your work involves any kind of bureaucracy, Tuesdays are often meeting days.  They really suck the life right out of you.  Mindless posturing of bureaucrats wasting the time you really need to be doing your actual work that you will now have to squeeze into shortened breaks and later departure for the rest of the week until you can crash again in preparation for the next week of meaningless  gainful employment.  But Wednesdays are a day of hope.  Only two more to go!

Januaries are the Mondays of the year.  We get so energized with the lights and love and hope that comes from that last week of celebrations in December that in January all things seem possible.  And we make plans to improve our lives and our selves.  And we mean it.  The things we plan are things we’ve been thinking about, the things we know will make us more of who we truly are.

And we do pretty well with these plans, these things we have resolved to accomplish.  But Mondays end.  Then comes along comes life-sucking Tuesday.

I’m in the Tuesday of the year.  I actually think there are two Tuesdays in the year.  August is the next one!  I’m not following my stitching schedule regularly.  I’m not logging my food.  I’m not eating right.  I’m not walking.  I’ve frogged more than I’ve stitched and I can see the totally useless nature of TUSAL!

I’m not whining.  Just speaking the truth.  But the joy of truth is that it is not constant.

I can get back on schedule.  (Or I can accept that the schedule is meant to make life easier, not lock me into deadly time-trap.)   I can start logging my food.   (Even if I have to start a new account because I can’t remember my password.)  I can be mindful of my eating in any minute.  (Without becoming the Food Gestapo.)  I can always go out and walk around the trailer and that will be more than I’m doing now.  (And the next day do it twice, then thrice, etc.)  As far as frogging goes—c’est la vie!  (My TUSAL jar really is pretty and the more orts, the more impermanence prayer flags I’ll make!)

While things look bleary it’s not the end of the world, but I do have to mention WIPocalypse as this is the Show and Tell portion of this meeting.  I have had one Finish.  So, that’s something, even though it wasn’t a UFO!

A few more orts for the jar.

I’ve done more frogging than stitching. And more to come.

Side by side monthly comparison of Ort Jar for TUSAL

Feb is on the left and March is on the right.

Needlebook cover, pattern Ink Circles stitched in Caron Waterlilies Cranberry

Needlebook cover, pattern Ink Circles stitched in Caron Waterlilies Cranberry

Detached Buttonhole Stitch closure

I used a detached buttonhole stitch to create the closure to match the vintage button.

Needle sheath in its own place on the front inside cover.

Jeff made this leather scissor sheath as a value add for me. He’s so sweet!

Personal touches added to the needlebook.

Added a little pocket in the back for packets of needles or whatever else the end user might like. And a special place for a threader!

Center top of Cirque de Coeurs by Ink Circles

No more frogging!

Cirque de Coeurs by Ink Circles using Caron Black Cherry

Another view, tried to edit to get more realistic color, closer.

Cirque de Coeurs variations evident but not the richness of the Caron Black Cherry color

Unedited Cirque de Coeurs, wish you could see the real color.

Into the second page of Bygone Stitches' Quaker Virtues

Slowly making progress. I love every minute stitching on this.

Close up of Quaker Virtues

I love the colors in this piece. I done good with Shanghai Nights and Turkish Red!

February TUSAL

It doesn’t seem like it’s been so long since I posted my January Ort photos for the Totally Useless Stitch Along (TUSAL).  No matter—I still have added quite a few snips and strings to the container.

Remnants of stitching history

Kind of pretty aren’t they!?

And then I dropped the container in the dogs’ bed, so everything got shaken up and turned around!

February TUSAL

What was the top is now the bottom!

But here’s a new one for you.  I have a good number of orts still on the fabric!

Orts in progress

All the color you see represents orts not yet in the jar!

I was working so diligently on a model that Sabine Taterra-Gundacker will soon be posting as available at her sensational e-store, European Reproduction Samplers.  This one is a reproduction of the sampler created by Martha Stone in 1840  when she was young, but exact age not certain (that I know of.)

It is a simple but charming design representing two young girls in their fancy dresses with what were typical toys of the time.  A couple cupids add to the charm.  And the whole thing is surrounded by a continuous strawberry border.  I’m thinking the girl didn’t clean and cut up too many strawberries because her color gradation is backward.  And the right side and the left side are not symmetrical—that kind of bugs the perfectionist in me.

But for heaven’s sake she was just a kid!  Imagine yourself at 7 to 9 years old and no pattern to stitch from.  You sit down with some fabric and thread and “color.”  When you think if it that way, this kid was a prodigy!  Shoot, many of us adults don’t do as well!

Original Martha Stone sampler

Photo from European Reproduction Samplers.
This is the sampler Sabine is creating the chart from.

The hard part, well actually two…

The first hard part was not correcting what I perceive to be her mistakes—changing the gradation of the berries and making the border symmetrical between berry groups.

The second hard part was realizing after 17 hours of work that I made a mistake back in hour two of work.  I was off one stitch.  It affected the left and bottom borders, one that I had already completed and the other had a good start on.  So, I started unstitching.  (Some call this frogging because you “rip it, rip it, rip it!”)  The more berries I ripped out, the more uncomfortable I was with the idea of continuing with the fabric.  The red thread (DMC 304) was discoloring the white fabric slightly.  Because I really thought it would show, even just a little, I started over completely.

See how red runs

See how they run!

But the new work is looking beautiful and I am happy with how it looks.  I am triple checking my count because I don’t want to go through this again.  And I want my piece done when Sabine is ready to post the finished instructions.  So, I’ve set all my other work aside temporarily.

Martha Stone coming along

So far, so good.

Don't like running colors or threads.

I don’t like running colors or threads…this is the back

So why did this happen and how can you avoid doing the same thing?

Let me say that most of my stitching during my stitching life has been when I lived alone with no television and no pets.  NO DISTRACTION!  It’s a lot like meditation.  Very easy to be peaceful and calm when you’re isolated and have no interruptions—when you have total control of your environment.  Not so easy when you’re folding clothes in the laundromat on a Sunday afternoon.  Not so easy when you’re walking down a sidewalk of Washington D.C.  when all schools in the country have sent their school children for their spring trips.  Not so easy when your dogs are barking (i.e. screaming) at strangers walking by or jumping on your knee indicating it is time for a walk in the wilds.  Not so easy when your partner decides—just as you get that empty mind thing going (i.e. counted the 30th  stitch of 42)—it’s time to talk about where we want to retire!

It is time to learn to meditate/stitch in the middle of living.  It is an incredible challenge.  But that’s living.  It’s a challenge to walk and chew gum.  It’s a challenge to move from left to right brain in milliseconds.  It’s a challenge for a vegetarian to live with someone who doesn’t eat beans, cheese, or rice!  These are the sorts of things we choose to and that also that we must do sometimes.  And we do it.  And I will learn to stitch with distractions, just like when my monkey brain jumps into the calm pool I can get it to sit still.

In stitching terms, this mean I must:

  1. recognize I’ve been distracted
  2. determine when the distraction began
  3. go back to where I was at in my stitching when the distraction began
  4. recheck my work
  5. when I pick up my work anew, recheck from the beginning to ensure dealing with my distractions didn’t distract me further previously and contribute to unrecognized mistakes!

It’s all about recognizing, accepting, and assuming one’s place at the baseline to continue.    Pretty simple.  Right?!

Until then, there’s the Totally Useless Stitch Along.  Which is a lovely piece of art in progress.  (And so, not so totally useless!)  And when my jar is full, all those scraps will be turned into Prayer Flags!  More on that later!  Until then love the froggy green!

Scheduling Time For Creativity

If you read through my last post, you’ll know I’m on a mission to be more organized and focused on what is important to me this year.One of the tasks I gave myself was to create a schedule that allows me to take care of everyday living ‘stuff’ as well as attend to all my creative babies.

DONE!

For a week I timed my normal daily household chores.  Actually there are still a couple things to add to the list, but they shouldn’t grossly impact on the schedule I’ve come up with.

Schedule your stitching time!

Schedule your stitching projects!

To see what I’m working on, click on the names in the following ledger.  Next week I’ll show you my progress.  I spend 2 to 3 hours on the pilot and at least 1 hour a day on the other project.  I’d say about 4 to 5 hours total stitching time per day, whether it be in the car, in bed with leg up, at the laundry, or in my seat.  As soon as I get my materials, I’ll have to add my Stitching Buddhas class to the schedule, but I’ve got that penciled in in my head for now.

Presents Presently is a year long project to complete birthday and Christmas projects in a timely, organized, and enjoyable manner and speed.  This is what I’m working on currently.

  1. Christmas Countdown…I want to do two more this year
  2. Erna Schuppelius…I wish to complete this just as Erna did with crocheted edging done in thread and ribbon weaving.  This is to be a birthday present.   I’m using Week’s Dye Works # 2271, Peony, 1 strand over two threads of  almost sheer Irish linen.
  3. Keyhole Shawl…This will be either a birthday or Christmas gift depending on when It is completed.  I am knitting it in Red Heart Collage yarn in Rose Dust color.

Pilot is a pattern in progress that I’m stitching for a designing friend.  When I have permission, I’ll show you the work.