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’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!

Scheduling Time For Creativity

If you read through my last post, you’ll know I’m on a mission to be more organized and focused on what is important to me this year.One of the tasks I gave myself was to create a schedule that allows me to take care of everyday living ‘stuff’ as well as attend to all my creative babies.

DONE!

For a week I timed my normal daily household chores.  Actually there are still a couple things to add to the list, but they shouldn’t grossly impact on the schedule I’ve come up with.

Schedule your stitching time!

Schedule your stitching projects!

To see what I’m working on, click on the names in the following ledger.  Next week I’ll show you my progress.  I spend 2 to 3 hours on the pilot and at least 1 hour a day on the other project.  I’d say about 4 to 5 hours total stitching time per day, whether it be in the car, in bed with leg up, at the laundry, or in my seat.  As soon as I get my materials, I’ll have to add my Stitching Buddhas class to the schedule, but I’ve got that penciled in in my head for now.

Presents Presently is a year long project to complete birthday and Christmas projects in a timely, organized, and enjoyable manner and speed.  This is what I’m working on currently.

  1. Christmas Countdown…I want to do two more this year
  2. Erna Schuppelius…I wish to complete this just as Erna did with crocheted edging done in thread and ribbon weaving.  This is to be a birthday present.   I’m using Week’s Dye Works # 2271, Peony, 1 strand over two threads of  almost sheer Irish linen.
  3. Keyhole Shawl…This will be either a birthday or Christmas gift depending on when It is completed.  I am knitting it in Red Heart Collage yarn in Rose Dust color.

Pilot is a pattern in progress that I’m stitching for a designing friend.  When I have permission, I’ll show you the work.

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

The Beat Goes On

Blue Button Badge of Courage

Stitching this week’s Take a Stitch Tuesday challenge was a challenge, for me, until I got the rhythm and then, as the song says, the beat goes on.  It could go on and on.  I should have taken pics of all my attempts so you might not feel as dense as I did while getting the lovely Beaded Hedebo Edging down.

Here are some tips I gathered while unstitching:

  1. Most important—Don’t just look at the pretty pictures, read the directions!
  2. Use a thread that does not “shed.”  I did one swag in Kreinik Braid.  It did not go well.  The frequency that you are pulling the braid through loops is excessive and pulls the metallic thread from the base thread leaving you with something that looks old and worn out.
  3. Sharon’s directions say to pull snug.  They do not say strangle the base threads!  You can see in my photo that the section on the left has that strangled appearance.

I need to practice this stitch more and really focus on conformity from one section to the next.  But I like the stitch and can see the Beaded Hedebo Edging becoming an old, faithful, friend.

Close up of beaded hedebo edging on the blue button badge of courage

I need more practice. The bottom left looks like the neck of a chicken I strangled for Sunday dinner!

While looking for other information about “Hedebo,” I found out that

“Hedebo Embroidery is the common name of seven different embroidery variations which were developed sequentially and used in Denmark in parallel from the end of the 1700s to the mid 1900-century. Hedebo Embroidery is named after Hedebo area, where they were sewn.

Hedebo Region is a geographical area of Copenhagen, Køge and Roskilde, Denmark, where the soil is very fertile.”

You can find this information at the Greve Museum website featuring Hedebo Embroidery, A World of Variations.  This site includes video instructions for doing six types of white work affiliated with this Danish fiber art.  Spend a little time looking at all the info on this site.  I’m sure you’ll find the practical application information inspirational to your own work. Especially if you do any historical re-enactments.

When you’re done there you might be interested in the PDF Classic Books title:  The Needlecraft Practical Journal of Danish Hedebo Embroidery, 1st Series.  This booklet was published around 1900 and has some really cool motifs you  can master and use in  your family linens done in Hedebo.  One day…

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.

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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