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!

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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!

Ode to European Reproduction Samplers: Preparing for Papa

About six months ago I opened my big mouth and said, “Papa will be my birthday present to myself.  I will start Papa by then or on my birthday.”  Well my birthday is in just a couple days.  And I’ve been getting ready!

I purchased Papa probably four years ago when I discovered Sabine Taterra-Gundacker’s  website “Alte-Mustertücher-nachgestickt.”  Since then I have spent hours and hours looking at the patterns and at the gallery of Sabine’s works and collection.  I personally think everyone who stitches should have one of Sabine’s patterns in his or her repertoire.  Personally, I want them all!

Where do the ideas for these patterns come from?  Sabine finds interesting samplers in museums and in private collections.  She then sets to recreating the original works, documenting threads she uses, trying to match to the original as much as possible.  She includes the errors as well as the beauty and the history, counting every old thread.  I have come to respect her skill even more having been working on the Martha Stones Sampler.  I struggle with “do I correct the spelling or leave it as is?”  I’m leaving it.

Another of my favorites is Erna Schuppelius.  I love how Sabine’s photos included the finishing done on this piece and plan to add the crochet border and ribbon trim to mine.  The alphabet is charming and I will use it in work that I may design myself or for personalizing other works because I love it so.

I have learned so much about samplers from perusing Sabine’s online shop.  And I have come to love samplers from a variety of cultures and can even now begin to identify origins when seeing an unlabeled sampler.  I have several other patterns in queue from Sabine and another that I have started that is purely a labor of love.  (IFAKHS 1817)

Before I seek your input on my color choices for Papa, let me show you how Sabine packages her products for you.  It’s like getting a birthday present in the mail when you open it.

Now here is my dilemma.  I have the fabric it’s a 32ct Wexford linen in blue with grey and charcoal markings.  You’ll see it in the photo gallery following.  I had chosen Threadworx Deep Blue Sea to outline the “pages” of the pattern and Crescent Colours Lobster Claw to do the pattern design using the Threadworx for any accents.

I’ve been testing the Lobster Claw against the fabric in a blackwork SAL.  It’s not bad.  The problem is Jeff hates orange.  It’s not absolutely important that I avoid orange, but I do think he is more likely to help me frame and hang it, it the colors are pleasing to him, too!  And I don’t want to give this one away.  After all it’s a birthday present to me!

Jeff like brown.  He love the colors in my Quaker Virtues.  He has suggested a reddish brown, not too red.  I found a currant color that he likes.  I like it too.  But how will it look on the fabric?  I don’t want to have to wait to get the thread.  That means I’d have to start after my birthday has passed.  And then there is the question of what color should I use for the outlining?  I think the darker blue will be too much dark.  I thought about using the Lobster Claw.  But I don’t know.

What do you think?  Check these pics out and let me know what you think.

Stitching Busy

It’s that time again.  Time to assess where I’m at in my stitching life for WIPocalypse.  Time to share my Vierlanden progress with Dijn and the other SAL members.  Not to mention Quaker Virtues SAL progress and Cirque des Cœurs SAL progress.

I’m glad to say I have made progress!  I have even added a couple more SALs to my list (this one, and this one too), one another small blackwork SAL.  It feels good!

I think rather than describe my process in all the projects I think I’ll just post the pics .  You can always do before and after comparisons by searching for the appropriate names using the internal search.

As always feedback is more than welcome, so bring it on!

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P.S.  Jeff, Taz, and Jojo went for a walk on Mother’s  Day and came back with the flowers in the feature image.  They grow wild around us!  Mother’s Day is now also called Big Puppy’s Day!

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!

New Year’s Resolution: So Far So Good!

How are things going with your New Year’s resolutions or contracts you’ve made with yourself?  Good, I hope!  Things are going pretty good here, too!

Update on Contract With Me
  • My schedule is working!  There is structure, yet it is not so rigid that failure is even possible.  And I feel like I’ve accomplished lots every day.  In fact, I accomplish more than I even plan!
  • I have made the goals I planned to make.  I won’t bore you with the details, but I will be able to actually collecting data to monitor progress on January 15 as planned.  Loyal readers will find reports here about my Artist’s Dates in the future as well as news on how the schedule is amended as projects are completed and new projects added.
Project Updates

I think I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves, but here’s what’s included in this week’s projects*:

*  If you would like to see the model images you can check out the links included in the legend in the previous post about scheduling time for creativity. These links are just for the home pages of the copyright owners of the patterns.
†  I unstitched the the top larger heart motif once and the left upper square side once as I was off by one stitch.  I am pleased that the shadow from the previous stitching is fading the more I stitch over.
‡  This link is for the image of the stitching completed by me for Christmas this year.  Two more families need one!

Have you made any stitching resolutions for this year?  How’s it going for you?  Still on target?  Going to restart?  Given up?  Tell us your story!

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

NOTICE

Will everyone who complimented me on the Autumn sampler stitching Please Take Note:

I did not stitch this!  Now go to Janet Granger’s blog and compliment her.  I REBLOGGED her post because of the method she uses to keep track of the time she spends on projects.  I made a PDF of her method and filed it here under References so you can use it, too.

Now, I’m going to go finish my own posts.