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!

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!