Attachment to Guilt Can Kill Creativity

Cast On and Sheaf Stitch

Poppy Field

I’ve been feeling pretty guilty these days.  I don’t like feeling that way.  And why do I feel guilty?  Because I committed to participating in Sharon Boggon‘s Take A Stitch Tuesday at the beginning of the year and back on Week 24, I got hung up and have not been able to catch up.  Look at this list of stitches!  There are 12 of them!  Do you get overwhelmed looking at it?  I do!

(Note:  Click on the stitch name to go to Sharon Boggon’s Tutorial page for the stitch)

Not only that, I’ve started yet two more projects which means I’m adding insult to injury! (Project 1 & Project 2)
And then there’s all those UFOs!

It’s no wonder I’m having “bad food days” and “bad brain days”!

So how does one get past this block?  Well, my Mother, the inveterate no-nonsense Vermonter, would simply say, “Knock it off!”  The Buddhist translation is: “become free from your attachment to suffering!”  Begin by accepting that you have this feeling.  Then you are free to release it.

I’m releasing the guilt by taking action—by considering what I have accomplished and determining what I CAN do to accomplish what is left to be done.

First:  I have color coded the word “Week” in the following list.

RED= Completed, yea!
GREEN= Completed & posted about earlier
Black= Yet to be done

Here are photos of what I have been doing with the exception of a Caftan that I created for Jeff, a dress I’ve cut out for myself, and Blackwork Lessons details some of what I’ve been up to as well.

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And Second:

Wow!  There are only four more stitches to go on the list and I already know where I’m putting them.  I’m going to layer three of them along the Linked Double Chain at the bottom of the TAST 2012 Sample.  The Up and Down Buttonhole stitch will become the rays on the sun in the “Sunshine and Lollipops” piece.  How about that!

Finally, Third:

There!  No longer attached to guilt!   I feel so much better!  How about you?!

Return to TAST 2012

It’s been a while since I’ve done any Take A Stitch Tuesday stitching.  I’ve been designing my flag for the Prayer Flag Installation next month.  And working on a Christmas project for my youngest great-niece (a Shepherd’s Bush Stocking!)  I’ve determined it will take a minimum of 175 hours to complete this project for her.  I’ve never figured out my time in a project before, always just done an approximation at the end.    You should try to calculate your stitch per minute some time.  Your stitching will take on a whole new value for you!  You will be awed by yourself.  AND SHOULD BE!

While I have not stitched Sharon Boggon’s TAST selection for this week, the Pekinese Stitch, I have stitched it before.  And here it is:

Pekinese Stitch on CyberPointers Ruby Ribbons

The Pekinese Stitch
AKA
the Chinese Stitch, the Forbidden Stitch, the Laced Backstitch, and
the Blind Stitch

While I was a member of the cyber chapter of the American Needlepoint Guild, I participated in the project to celebrate ANG’s 40th (or Ruby) Anniversary.  The final, framed four panel piece will be auctioned off at the National Conference in Philadelphia later this month.  The project piece was called Ruby Ribbon and was based upon a ribbon patterned quilt block, something like  Celtic knotwork.

One quarter of the quilt block is represented in each of four panels to make a whole block when appropriately arranged.  (I’d show you the block but can’t due to copyright issues.)  Each of the four panels was divided into 144 squares (12×12 grid) about 1.5 inches each.  Participants were told what value of what color to use in each block.  Then it was up to each stitcher to decide what stitch to do (there were to be no duplicate stitches!) and what thread to accomplish the goal.  The colors were different values of red, white, grey, and black.  It was kind of nice because you could sign up for a block based upon what threads you had available in your stash so it would not be cost prohibitive to participate in the project. Last I heard, CyberPointers was working on compiling directions for the piece to be sold as a fund raiser for the group.  Keep an eye out on their web site store page to see the completed piece and to get the pattern if you like.

My Pekinese block was supposed to be a Dark Grey, akin to DMC 413.  So I just used DMC 413 for the backstitching.  Then I used Rainbow Gallery’s Fuzzy Stuff in #19 for the lacing.  It gave an incredible texture, fluffy and soft.  Here are a couple photos of the block in context with several other blocks I stitched near the Pekinese square to give you an idea of how textures and shades worked together.

Pekinese Stitch, French Stitch, and my own padded combination stitch

Padded Stitch Combination in Black…Watercolours Midnight and Kreinik black
French Stitch in Very Dark Grey…DMC # 3799
Pekinese Stitch already described

Fern Stitch in Grey done in DMC #414
(The smidgen of red was stitched by someone else)

I really enjoyed the effect of the stitch, but using the Fuzzy Stuff was a bit of a challenge.  I would, however, do it again.  This was a great choice for Santa’s beard or stuffed animal representations or animal fur.  I look forward to using it some more in some of the Buddhist images I’ve been sketching on muslin to embroider.

I wonder?  Is anyone else as far behind in TAST as I am?  I got hung up way back on the buttonhole wheel.  I’ll finish it, I promise!  It’s pretty bad when a stitching sample becomes a UFO!

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.

Antique Almost Crazy Quilt

Antique Almost Crazy Quilt

Almost Crazy Quilt

The fact that I purchased this quilt in a dark little antique store in Burlington Square in Burlington, Vermont does not make this quilt an antique. Many things sold in antique stores are merely old. What does make this antique is the fact that every single piece of fabric on the front is from most likely the 1940s according to Allen Fannin (my former partner) who taught the business aspects of Fashion at Syracuse University until his tragic death in a head on car collision.

The back of one square on the Almost Crazy Quilt

The back of one square showing the hand stitching

What makes this quilt interesting is that every single square is hand pieced. Quite a few of the blocks are put together by hand, but some are also machine stitched. I don’t think that detracts from its charm at all.

Four Pointed Star motif

While the Four Pointed Star Motif seems central, in fact it is created at the corners of four attached blocks

There is a very definite pattern to each square. The quilter used a four pointed star for the basis of each block. Then the 12½ inch squares were filled in.  All 56 of them!  It has been suggested that the fabric came from either dresses, shirts, or robes.

Fabrics are most likely rayon

Can you see the shine of the fabrics?

What makes this an “Almost Crazy Quilt” is the fact that there is not a single stitch of surface embroidery on it. That’s why I bought this little beauty. My plan was to do the embroidery and finish it.

The question is where do I start? What do you think? All suggestions are more than welcome!

A Chain Stitch Sampler

Chain Stitch Sampler or Ribbons, Ruffles, and Chains

Chain Stitch Sampler or Ribbons, Ruffles, and Chains

This past week TAST 2012 is taking a “catch up” or get crazy creative break.  I focused on my Attachments Quilt Blocks (and UFOs) to create a sweet little sampler. Something I call Ribbons, Ruffles, and Chains.

I’ve been pretty good about keeping up, sometimes at the expense of other projects.  But I have no other serious obligations.  And, I see the TAST Challenge as well as the Stitchers’ UFO Challenge as a means to reestablish  discipline that has waned since leaving the Social Services Rat Race.  I’m looking at it as “practice,” as in meditation or spiritual practice.  I really want to create my own designs and stitch them instead of always enjoying the fruits of other people’s’ creative endeavors.  As a follower of “The Artist Way” for decades, I know there are many ways to get to the creative source in one’s self.  One of them is to engage in play.  Another is repetitive activity that frees the mind from clutter.  A very important way is to lose one’s attachment to perfection or preconceived notions of what is good or bad, pretty or ugly, worthwhile or useless, and so on.

I am learning a lot about that through the TAST Challenge.  Taking the Studio Journal As A Designer’s Workhorse really helped, too.  There are a lot of ugly images in my journal, but the images represent something quite beautiful in my mind’s eye.  I don’t draw well, nor do I have a whole artist’s studio at hand.  So my journal is full of reMINDers of things I want to stitch.  And some of my embroidery is not necessarily pretty either.  Case in point is the TAST 2012 Attachments Quilt Block I did with safety pins.  Even though no one will say, “Oh, that is so gorgeous, I must have it!,” the piece communicates exactly what I meant to say about attachments to unhealthy things.

Same thing with my Ribbons, Ruffles, and Chains sampler and/or Attachments Quilt Block. It is a reminder to myself that an abiding affinity to ribbons and ruffles and a pretty world is not only living with blinders on, but will keep your heart chained from the experience of compassion and the opportunity to relieve any suffering in the world.  Attachments make it hard to have a heart that is open to full life including true love.

The layout of the stitches on Chain Stitch Sampler

A schematic of the stitch layout
(click for larger view)

This block is also about practicing a stitch in an array of its variations. The Chain Stitch.  I had A LOT of fun with this.  And learned a great deal.  I even have a couple new favorite stitches.  I especially like the stitches in the lower right corner of the sampler.  Overall I used 11 chain stitch variations:  chain, twisted chain, barred chain, butterfly chain, wheat ear stitch, braided chain over one stitch, braided chain over two stitches, open chain, heavy chain, raised chain, and cabled chain.  I especially liked the tutorials at Sarah’s Hand Embroidery.  She has a section of nothing but change stitches that you can find in the right sidebar.  I’m thinking I’ll do another sampler with the variations that are not on this block.  Here is a schematic of the stitches I did use.

I hope these close-ups help you pick a few variations you might like to try.

Ribbons, Ruffles, and Chains Close Up Left

Close up of upper left corner of my Chain Stitch Sampler

Scan of lower right of my Chain Stitch Sampler

Lower Right Corner of my Chain Stitch Sampler

My favorites are the raised chain, the braided chain, the cable chain, twisted chain, and wheat ear stitch.  Which do you especially like?  Which one have you never done but will now try?

Stitchers’ UFO Challenge Update

I know it’s been more than a month.  Like every other stitcher out there, been busy.  It’s like you have a choice.  Blog or stitch.  I’ve been stitching.  Well, not true, I’ve also been updating two of my other blogs as well as this one.  (Relatively Ryan and Site Sniffing)  Sadly, my favorite blog is the one that gets the least attention.  That may be about to change though.  Thanks to the Stitchers’ UFO Challenge.

Followers know that I have been very busy with Take A Stitch Tuesday, the Pin Tangle sponsored weekly challenge.  In spite of this, I have been very actively working on two UFOs and a Pilot Project that I’m completing for the American Needlepoint Guild.  Although I’ve done all that I really need to for the Pilot evaluation, I’m enjoying the piece so much that I want to complete it.  I don’t need another UFO to add to the stash!  I’m writing the designer to see if I can post pics of the piece because it is such an incredible design, I think people would be excited to see it.

I am close to completion on my Blackwork Chess Board!  When it is complete I will get back to my Mystery Blackwork Sampler designing.  At this point all I have to do is  launder the piece and fringe it.  Jeff plans to actually use the chess board, so I’ve personalized it to his specifications.  He’s as excited to see it nearing completion as I am!

The other piece that I’ve almost completed is a Shepherd’s Bush Christmas Stocking.  I was going to make it for my new grand-niece, but decided to make it for her mother instead.  Of course I had to purchase another stocking pattern for my grand-niece!  The stocking front is complete except for adding hair.  I will do that when I add the other embellishments.  Before I add the embellishments, I want to stitch the front and back together, so it lays flat as I push it through the sewing machine.  As soon as it stops raining here I can do that as I use the picnic table for my sewing machine wherever we are camping.  Not a lot of room in this travel trailer!

Do you like the gallery type of photo display or the slide show in a previous post?

So, by next month I will be able to cross these off the list and mark another UFO as picked up again!  Look at the list.  Is there something you’d like to see in its completed form?  Tell me, help me make up my mind what to pick up next!