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!

What Are Those New Buttons About?

If you’re like me, you are more likely to hit the button links on blogs than sifting through lengthy blog rolls.  In fact, some reading I’ve done suggests it’s not a great idea to have blog rolls on your site.  Why encourage people to leave your site, after all?!  That’s why you don’t see such lists on my blogs.  You will find references and resources as that is part of my mission with my blogs.

But buttons…they’re a bit different in my opinion.  To me they are links to community sharing and community building.  A good thing.  Blogging and computing can be such isolating activities so it’s important to find some connection to others, for your

            • sanity
            • creativity nurturing
            • perspective
            • education
            • giggles

With giggles in mind, let me tell you about the TUSAL button.  TUSAL stands for Totally Useless Stitch Along.  Yup.  Totally Useless!  I love it!  Once a month you post a picture of the container you store your orts in.  What is an ort you might ask?

ORT
noun
Usually, orts. a scrap or morsel of food left at a meal.
Origin:  1400–50; late Middle English;  cognate with Low German ort, early
Dutch oorete;  compare Old English or- out-, ǣt  food (see eat)

Stitchers use this term to mean the scraps and morsels of thread, floss, ribbon, etc left over when working a project.  They are typically thought to be totally useless.  So instead of “stitching along”  with one another on a project, this SAL is all about saving something thought to be useless!  Hence TUSAL!  Want to know more, click the button!

So, what about the other button?  WIPocalypse!  Sounds scary, right?

WIP = “Works In Progress”

a·poc·a·lypse
noun
3.  a prophetic revelation especially concerning a cataclysm in which the forces of good permanently triumph over the forces of evil.
Origin: 1125-75; Middle English   Late Latin apocalypsis   Greek apokálypsis  revelation, equivalent to
apokalýp (tein ) to uncover, reveal kalýptein  to cover, conceal) + -sis 

You’ll notice that Measi made a new word using WIP and apocalypse.  But what does it mean?

Most family members and friends of stitchers view the various works in progress and new starts as a kind of horror story.  It is not uncommon to hear, “but you haven’t finished x, y, or z yet” when a new project begins.  One’s home may actually look like a bomb has gone off when the stitcher sorts through the ‘stash’ of stitching patterns, projects, and paraphernalia.

On the other hand, per the dictionary definition #3 the forces of good (intentions) can overcome the forces of evil (stitching stagnation)!  Through WIPocalypse we stitchers can unit and REVEAL our WIPs and the actual PROGRESS part of “WIP”!
Not scary after all!  No, very exciting in fact!  Join the revelation, push the button!
I’m participating in both.  Here are my photo updates.
Ort Jar

My ort jar

Ort Jar close up

Stitching memories, almost as pretty as the completed pieces.

Blackwork Thread Sampler book cover

Should I redo the last line? Julie should go left, I think

Erna Scheppulius in Weeks Dye Works peony

Erna Scheppulius, CA 1900 to date, two more lines of text and two more borders to go!

New Year, Old Contract

Last month I was inspired by a post by Sharon Boggon discussing dreams and goals.  It reminded me of a time when I was incredibly organized having been trained to train others in time management and organization.  I have been feeling pretty useless and quite the underachiever since my injury in September.  Sharon’s post inspired me to pick up my old skills and think about what it is I really want to be achieving.  Sometimes when you do that, you find you are not quite so far from your goals as you think.

And for any creative person who feels they are spending too much time in mundane activities and not enough in the creative outlets that feed one’s soul, the activity suggested by Sharon and described here are good tools.

Dreaming Big

Girl Dreaming

It resulted in the resurrection of a Contract With Me.  What is this?  It begins with identifying dreams that I have in several aspects of my life.  For example:

Physical Health:  I will reach a weight I can live with for the rest of my life.
Emotional Health:  I will be “happy.”
Finances:  I will live within my means without a sense of deprivation while honoring my obligations to others.
Spirituality:  Ultimately —become enlightened.
Creativity:  I want to be a virtuosi in needlework, especially blackwork.  I want to publish a book that sells well to my audience.  I would love to have my creativity support me and Jeff.
Social:  I hope I can always have at least one very close friend with whom I can shared my Dreams and hopes.  And, yes, woes, too.
Community:  I want to be well respected and looked to as an expert and reference in the stitching community.  I want to be able to give generously to the world, to the causes that promote  peaceful coexistence.
Occupational:  I want to support myself with my creativity and never have to work for someone else again.

Dreams are pretty vague, pie in the sky sort of statements.  It’s important to give yourself permission to dream and dream big!  

But to quote Thoreau,If you have built castles (i.e. dreams) in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be. Now put the foundations (i.e. goals) under them.”

cloud castle wallpaper

Free Wallpaper at this address

The next step is assessing your dreams.  How do they fit together?  Do some areas reflect the same dream?  Do themes run through the dreams, like money or health or art or connections to people or your Creator?  Make note of such factors.  They are important messages from your subconscious.  So, on to the step that comes before making goals or my…

Overview:   Most of my dreams dovetail from one or several of the others in the list.  Prioritization and flexibility will be key.  Hence review periods of 4 to 6 months should be set to see if it is time to introduce new goals, while maintaining previous progress.

  1. My ability to manage my money is integral to a positive relationship with Jeff and with creditors, so Financial goals are a priority.
  2. My ability to do anything at all depends on my physical health.  My RNY post-op behavior affects my physical and mental health.  This is a high priority to set a right.
  3. Creativity is not just an outcome, it is like a tool for me.  It is a “medicine” for my mental health.  It is a catalyst to spiritual growth.  My community is founded in creativity and this ties me to them, makes a place for me.  It is the zeitgeist in which I want to live.  It is how I wish to make my “living.”  Because of how integral this aspect of my life is to my being, I cannot just “be creative.”  I must exercise and strengthen the creativity muscle.  I must have a “workout” plan for my creative muscles.  I must first identify what those muscles(skills) are and develop the appropriate workout schedule.  Something that has always been useful in the pas that must not be forgotten is the Dreaded/Craved Weekly Artist’s Date with myself.
  4. I tend to be an all or nothing sort of person, no halfway measures here.  This is nowhere more clear than in my community/social connections.  I have many blogs to read.  Three e-mail accounts that are quite active.  A number of virtual groups I belong to.  I tell myself that each is a tool for growing my potential business and connecting my potential audience.  This is true.  But, how much is enough?  Which connections are critical?  Which ones contribute to my overall growth?  Which ones are really creating connections?  I need to figure out how to evaluate these questions and more.  Then assess the situation and simplify to give myself more time for the critical activities that will truly lead to my overall well-being and making dreams a reality.

Summary & Recommendations:

  1. Develop and implement a plan to improve eating behavior.
  2. Outline a daily routine that will meet all goal implementation needs.
  3. Research ledger types and pick one that will make it easiest for me to monitor financial transactions.
  4. Look at financial transactions and define which are needs and which are wants.  Decrease spending on wants and give that money to reserve fund.
  5. Develop and implement a plan to meet needs to exercise all my creative muscles and develop those less often used.
  6. Data collection and research to create these goals should be completed by January 1, 2013, with goals to be written and implemented by January 15, 2013.
  7. Review periods should be set at one month (2/15), four months (5/15), six months (7/15), and nine months (10/15).  Annual review to begin 10/15 with recommended plan for following year by 10/31.

What do  you think?  Is this something that could work for you?  Would you like to see what the next steps look like?  Would you like help doing this for yourself?  Let me know and I’ll do what I can, including coaching you to creating your own Contract with Yourself.

Where, oh where, has Julie been?

It might seem like I have dropped off the face of the Earth.  It might have been easier if I had!  So what’s been going on you ask?  Welll…

I’ve been getting settled in our winter campground

Frame Cage for trailers of all sizes

Betsy in the Frame Cage

We finally made it to Azalea Acres in Robertsdale, Alabama after sitting in a motel for one week while the trailer frame was repaired.  During that week we lost all our food that was in the fridge as the repair people kindly plugged the trailer into the electric and didn’t turn the fridge on.  Then we hit bad weather.  

Behind the garage for one night

We camp in some of the most interesting places!

When the weather got better, the radiator sprung a leak.  So we camped overnight behind a service station where the radiator was replaced the next day.  Several days after that we made it to Alabama.  It takes us a week or two to get settled.  

Steep hills in Tennessee

Ups and Downs

We have to reorganize cupboards, put the kitchen back in order after storing everything that is breakable.  Then there’s all the laundry and all the leaves and sand on the floor compliments of Taz and Jojo.  (Yes, and Jeff, too!)  And this time we had to gradually restore our food stores.  

Ramps, hills, and trucks! Oh, my!

Ins and Outs

While we were headed South everyone we knew was worried we were driving into Frankenstorm Sandy.  When we got here, we had to worry about family and friends back in New York instead!  

My leg wound is far from resolved.  

I finally gave in to Jeff, and made an appointment to be seen at the Wound Care Center in Mobile, Alabama at Providence Hospital.  It was a smart move.  Currently, I’m only out of bed for about an hour at a time.   If you want to know more about this, brave souls can read my Note from the Doctor.

As promised, now that we’re in Alabama Jeff has agreed to see a Gastroenterology specialist to help him figure out what his problem might be.

Of course, who knew we would end up driving to the far side of Mobile.  Once last week.  Three days this week.  Once next week and we don’t know about after that.  Yet.  But Jeff is getting an incredible work up, complete with breath testing for all kinds of digestive gases that occur with different sensitivities.  He’s had all kinds of blood work and other labs.  The bigger tests are coming up.  If there is no answer after all this then there is no answer anywhere!  We will be happy with any answer that is not spelled C-A-N-C-E-R.  He’s been there and done that, not going to do it again!

I’ve joined three more stitching groups.  (Yes, I am a certifiable idiot!)

Yup, three of them.  They are Face Book groups, one of them is a closed group.  I must say the people in two of these groups are nuts!  (But in the best way!)  The name of one group should give you a clue:  The Superstar Serial Starters & Divine Disciplined DivasClub.  Guess which one I am!  Yup.  I’m a Serial Starter.  I have more to add to my UFO list as a result of connecting with these women (and men, too.)  I’ve signed up for a number of really cool and sure to be fun Stitchalongs.  There are oodles of choices right through 2014 and new possibilities whenever someone finds a wonderful new pattern. You can check the groups out if you’re interested.

And you can stitch along with me on the patterns I’ve committed to stitch along with others:

2013 Start Dates:

        • 1/27          Any Heaven and Earth Design will run Sunday thru Saturday. (We’ll stitch for one week or per choice on the last Sunday of every month.  I’m doing Buziak’s Tree of Creation.)
        • 2/14          Cirque des Couers (Ink Circles) SAL
        • 5/29           Papa SAL
        • 10/15        Quaker Christmas  (ByGone Stitches)
        • 12/1          Our Neighborhoods/Village (This is a design your own community project)

2014 Start Dates: 

And these are not the only choices.  I want to do them all, but maybe another time.  For now I’m limiting myself to these.

I’m in the middle of Sharon Boggon’s GIMP online class.

GIMP is a open source software program that allows you to manipulate and enhance your image files.  In other words it’s a free software program for playing with your photos!  Sharon’s class teaches the basics of GIMP and takes you to the point where you can create designs for textiles from your photos or other images you find.  I’m finding it to be an excellent course and an incredible opportunity.  It’s not often one gets to have someone hold your hand through a free software program.  In the future I’ll share some of what I create from these lessons.  I’m not able to spend as much time online as I like so the class is a bit slow going for me right now.  

I’ll close with an image of what I’ve been stitching while in bed and waiting for Jeff at the doctor’s office.  And try to get back sooner!

Christmas Countdown by Durene Jones

Christmas Countdown Stitching by me but Durene Jones’ design in Cross Stitch Gold, 12/12, issue 33. Just needs the numbers and a frame!

Hurricane Sandy Embroidery Pattern Giveaway

I’m slowing but surely getting back to regular life given traveling, the leg injury, and frozen shoulder—just like those effected and affected by Frankenstorm Sandy.

I have purchased an extra of a charming pattern created over at The Floss Box to help support the financial efforts of recovery from Sandy.  This is the image:

Pattern from The Floss Box

This pattern is being sold as a fund raiser for Frankenstorm Sandy survivors.

I will give my extra copy to the 13th person to like and/or comment on this post.

For those of you who would like to do the same on your blogs, here is the link to the page at The Floss Box.

http://www.theflossbox.com/store/pattern/sandy-cross-stitch