Happy 2016!

happy-new-year-2016Here’s a question for you.  If I write it will you read?

I’m thinking about blogging regularly again.  Been thinking about what I want to accomplish and what purpose blogging serves me.  Initially I had grand plans to design patterns and maybe even go into business.  But smarter artists than I are struggling and even quitting.  Back then my writing was about connecting with others and offering something to develop a potential business base.

To that end, I used to compulsively check my blog stats, just like checking my weight (yeah, I’m eating disordered, too).  I would get soooo disappointed when my numbers wouldn’t go up (or my weight would go up!)  Or people might look at a post that I worked really hard on and not offer a comment.  I even started to read some of the spam comments! (Really, really horrid.)

I’m not there anymore.  Writing is for me.  Something I enjoy.  Just like all the crafts I do.  I enjoy it.  It relaxes me.  It speaks to my desire/need to be creative.

I’ve decided I’ll write when I have something to say.  (See “blogging without obligation.”)  If  I have nothing to say, maybe I’ll just post a picture of where my needle(s) are sitting and what string is attached, like the following:

Cecelia Baby Blanket

Cecelia is a center out baby blanket pattern by Berroco. I’m adding rows and making it as a shawl.

Dimensions Ornament

An ornament I did real quick this year.

That’s my goal for the year. 

I’ve lost my dogs.

RIP my babes

See you at the Rainbow Bridge, Taz and Jojo

 

 

 

 

 

Our Vet not only sent sympathy cards, but made these paw casts, and made donations to Auburn Vet School in our girls’ names.

 

 

 

 

 

My Jeff is sick.

He has this rash everywhere—palms, bottom of feet, in his nose, and most likely internally, too.

Not Jeff, but like Jeff
Not Jeff, but like Jeff’s (Jeff has better legs!)

It’s called Leukocytoclastic Angiitis

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In 2016 I WILL be calm and submissive to my needs for creativity, health, beauty, peace, and loving-kindness.

I hope you’ll read what is here.  I hope you’ll like it.  I hope you get something out of it.

SAL Silly

What have you been up to?

Me?  A bit of this.

Ruby Marie rescued from traffic in Loxley Alabama area

The Min Schnauzer Sisters think about letting the little rescue join the pack.

A touch of that.

Soon the beads will sparkle between green leaves and white lilac like flowers of Myrtle!

We moved to an RV Park where we actually get a tree to hang our Mardi Gras beads on!

 

And more SALs!  Yup, I’m SAL Silly!

I’ve completed three.  You can see pics in this post at my other blog, Blackwork Lessons.

And I’m participating in three year-long SALs currently.  You’ll find pics of two of them also at Blackwork Lessons.

So I can get this post published and get back in the swing of things now that I finally have a working computer again, I’m just going to post the links to the SALs I am participating in.  If you are working them, too, please leave a comment or a link to your pics so we can all enjoy them, too.  If you aren’t working them, get your gear engaged and get going!  They’re all year-long SALs so there’s plenty of time to “catch up!”  Let’s work together!

  • Blue Dogwood Designs, Shashiko Sampler...this is a fast working canvas project playing with blackwork type stitches.  I caught up four months worth of pattern in less than a week and I re-stitched it all when I put the colors in the wrong place.  So you can easily get up to speed, especially if you do like I did and create your own colorway.
  • Elizabeth Almond, Save the Stitches…this is a wonderful blackwork sampler with pattern updates at the first of the month.  It takes a bit more time, but is fun and challenging and guaranteed to become a family heirloom.  I’m not the only one who wants to do this one twice−once in traditional black and then again in bright colors.
  • Soed Idee, Randje per Week…this is also a year-long project.  Every week a new band or two or three are posted.  The site and FaceBook group are predominantly Dutch, but using Google Translate makes it easy to understand and participate.  Frankly, all I do is post my pics.  After all, a picture is worth a thousand words, in any language.  Right?!  The patterns are about 100 wide x 10 stitches long.  So another easy weekend project!  And after a year you will have an incredible sample of borders and bands to use as a personal reference.

Here are two shots of my Randje per week sampler.  I’m organizing mine into two columns as I didn’t want to buy more fabric and wanted to use stash only for this project.  It’s a lovely project, relaxing, easy, fun.

 

Soed Idee SAL

My work to date. I’m really behind with the other projects and class I’m taking.

Randje per week

Close up of work to date

So, which one will you do?  One or all?  Tell me!  I’m gonna show you mine, so please show me yours!

 

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!

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!

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!

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!