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!

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.

Remember in a previous post I mentioned how interesting and worthwhile it is to track your time on projects. Janet Granger has come up with a brilliant method. I have followed her lead and created a PDF of her grid format. You’ll find it in the Reference section here.

And look at her Celtic Autumn piece.   35 shades of autumn in the lettering!!! Incredible!

Janet Granger's Blog

This past weekend, I made a start on the Lavender and Lace Celtic Autumn design, in the alternative colours. I stitched all the hours I had available, and, including a couple of weekday evenings, I’ve managed 10 hours of stitching so far, and it now looks like this:

I’m stitching it on Zweigart ‘Platinum’ 28 count linen evenweave from Sew and So, with DMC stranded cotton (two strands). There are 35 shades in this design altogether, so the shading is really subtle in places, plus gold thread (I’m using Petite Treasure Braid PB03), plus five shades of Mill Hill seed beads. It’s very tempting to add some beads now, ‘just to see how they’ll look’, but I mustn’t get tempted too much, as I’m stitching this with the fabric on a rectangular rotating frame, and adding beads now will mean that I can’t roll the fabric up properly later. When…

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Theft of Copyrighted and/or Confidential Internet Materials on the Rise!

http://www.copyrightauthority.com for more info on copyright!

http://www.copyrightauthority.com for more info on copyright!

Do you have a copyright statement on your blog or website?  Something like this:

“Copyright Notice:

Copyright © Julie J. Castle 2012 – 2013 Please contact author for permission to use material from The Shop Sampler, including pinning images.”

According to the article I received from The Blog Herald today, more and more people are reading these statements and saying, “So what?!”

 According to this article, close to 6 million requests were sent to Google to have information removed immediately from search results.  This represents an increase of over 1.3 million in the same time period compared to data from last year.

Amanda DiSilvestro writes: 

“What This Means to Online Marketers

This spike in requests is significant because it proves that copyrighted or confidential information is being used improperly. This means that online marketers need to be on high alert about when their company is mentioned online. “

Amanda DiSilvestro suggests some safeguards, too:

“This means that online marketers need to be on high alert about when their company is mentioned online. You can do this by setting up virus tool such as McAfee and Copyscape, and even creating a Google Alert for your company name to screen for any potential duplicated content.”

What’s your take on this?  Does it concern you?  How do you protect your creative property rights?  Does your concern keep you from sharing your art online or otherwise?  I would really love to hear what you think and I’m sure others would, too!

Orts

A couple little bits (hence title!)

  1. To help you know if there’s anything new on support pages, check the bottom as I always note the update date!
  2. I have just updated Photography Tips in the References Section.  Don’t know where I came across him, but Timothy Adam of Handmadeology is a successful craftsman selling his art on Etsy.  He has created this blog to help others be successful on Etsy, too.  I just like his tips for success in general and for photography in particular.  He has done some research and posted a “big list” of photography tips that you bloggers out there might appreciate.  Check him out and subscribe if you like what you see.  I do!
  3. My thread storage system is going to get tweaked.  I can’t close the photo album, so I’m going to either create my own book using rings and foam board for covers or I’m going to the old fashioned ledger with expandable pins so I can grow my “thread book” as needed.  I upload some pics when I get it moving along.

Thread Storage Is Not For Sissies!

Whether your passion is embroidery, quilting, knitting, or mixed media, storage is a problem for any fiber artist .  But when you live in a space that is 27 foot long by 8 foot wide, the issue of storage is a problem whether you’re a fiber artist or not!  From the beginning of our time on the road I have been searching for the perfect solution.

Initially I had  been “alotted” the space under the bed (queen sized and 17 inches deep) and one half of the cupboard area over the couch (about 8 ft wide and 14 in deep by 14 in tall).

Since Jeff and I have consistently been trying to decrease the weight we carry in the trailer, I am now using about ½ the under the bed space and ¾ of the living room cupboard space.   This has taken a lot of work and a lot of honesty, not to mention a fair amount of growth in the realm of non-attachment—for both of us.  (The dogs refuse to make any changes at all!)

A couple of things have helped to make this downsizing possible.

  • I decided what projects I really want to have done in a year that could realistically be completed given my stitching history.
  • I picked a couple UFOs to focus on, keeping in mind if I finish them before the end of October I can always pull out a couple more.
  • Given these choices, I picked out which reference materials would be critical to carry with me.
  • Everything else was put in  the front of the storage unit and labeled very clearly for ease in sorting next spring.
  • I found a way to store all the thread that doesn’t fit neatly on floss cards (without spending a small fortune for some fancy new “System.”)  Yup!  I did!
My new thread storage system

My new thread storage system for items that will not fit into my DMC floss card boxes.

I found a photo album that has archival quality photo pockets.  The pockets are divided by acid free paper.  They are supposed to hold a photo that is about 4 X 6, so are perfect for perle cotton weight thread.  I labeled each pocket front and back with the thread company, thread weight, and color number. (Each pocket will hold two skeins.)

Photo album for 4 x 6 photos, perfect for Perle Cotton weights

Ends close to rings stapled to prevent escapees!

I also found archival quality pocketed storage sheets meant for the older, smaller baseball cards.  The little pockets are perfect for Rainbow Gallery thread cards, Weeks Dye Works flosses, and other smaller skeins of thread.  Again, I labeled each pocket with relevant info.

Smaller pockets for smaller threads

Intended for smaller baseball cards but perfect for my smaller thread skeins and cards.

I like this because it’s flexible.  As I add a color, I can take off the labeled info and rearrange as necessary.  I have loads of extra pages so I can add as my inventory changes.   And it’s easier to maintain my Excel inventory of threads.  Most importantly,  I can easily pull colors from different companies to create my color palette.

There are still a few oddball items, particularly spools.  Those I have in two boxes, one a tin for metallics and the other is a Shaker box (made by Allen Fannin) that I use for my balls of Perle cotton.

A Tisket, A Tasket, A Satin Stitch Easter Basket

I had so many ideas for what I’d do with Satin Stitch, the 13th stitch in Sharon Boggon’s Take A Stitch Tuesday challenge.  First I was going to do some musical notation for the song “Here Comes Peter Cottontail,” but found it was copyrighted.  Then I was going to make a band of bunny ears in various states of awareness.  But that seemed kind of boring.

I also thought about not stitching at all because I have so many projects that have Satin Stitch in them.  But, this is not just about learning the stitch, it’s about challenging one’s self.  And truth be told, I hate Satin Stitch.  I’m always worried about coverage and pulling too tight.  I want it to be perfect.  I like using it in needlepoint on canvas or congress cloth because I use a laying tool.  For some reason using a laying tool seems kind of heavy-handed on linen.

Satin Stitch Easter Basket with Eggs
Satin Stitched Easter Basket

So, I challenged myself.  I tried to do a design that was 100% Satin Stitch.  I almost did it.  But then the handle and rim of baskets are often different in texture than the basket (or so I rationalized.)

I used DMC 3858 (2 ply) for the basket.  I wasn’t happy with the coverage so I increased it to 4 ply for the rim and handle.  The eggs were done in four different Caron Waterlilies.  The two furthest back I’m not sure which Waterlilies—leftover threads from other projects done long, long ago.  The one on the right front is 013 Peach Sherbet.  The one to the left of that is Tropic Seas.  The directions for Waterlilies says to use 1 ply for 22 count linen.  Since the Sampler is done on 32 count linen, I used 2 ply for the first egg I stitched, the one in the very back.  I didn’t like the coverage, so I used 4 ply on the egg in the front right.  That seemed kind of puffy, so I used 3 ply on the remaining eggs.  I think that was the best coverage.

What do you think?  What would you do to improve this little design and my Satin Stitch?  Please do leave a comment as I think I need to do more work on this, but am not sure what exactly is needed.  Help!

Pinterest: Shining Some Light on Possibly Shady Practice

I was planning on doing another post regarding Pinterest given what I have found out in the past few days.  But this comment from Kim Salazar of String Or Nothing has moved me to action.  She says:  “I have a love hate relationship with aggregators of all types, including Pinterest. I am not happy when pattern scraping Pinterest collectors repost the graphs I offer up on my site, for exactly the reasons you mention. It’s just a visual rehash of the same parasitic problem that About.com posed – reuse of the target’s intellectual property without recompense or permission. Thanks for surfacing the problem again.”

When I have pinned things on my Boards I have given serious thought to creative property rights.  But Time Thief (my favorite Blogging Tipster) pointed out in a recent post that there is another issue with Pinterest.  Have you ever wondered how such sites make money?  It has been the topic of discussion for savvy bloggers.  The shady practices of Pinterest have even got the New York Times talking.

I am removing my Pinterest links from my blogs.  And as soon as I book mark the sites on my Boards, I’ll be terminating my relationship with Pinterest.  I don’t do business with companies lacking in integrity.