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.

Half Chevron Stitch, TAST Challenge, and the Meditation Continues

I looked many places to find tutorials on the Half Chevron Stitch.  It is not a well documented stitch.  If anyone has any info on how this stitch was developed I would love to know about it.

I did, however, see numerous blog posts about the half chevron.  Most were in reference to the TAST challenges.  Interesting.

My approach to this stitch was to consider additional “notions of attachment.”  One person has commented on my play on words.  I’m not sure others understand the intended stitching pun!  I’m sure all stitchers understand sewing notions and things we use for attaching to fabric.  But I was also alluding to notions meaning ideas and the attachments I meant were the attachments that impede spiritual progress in Buddhism where attachments are considered the root of all suffering in life.

image of shakyamuni buddha

Buddha

For years, indeed decades, stitching has been a meditation for me.  It began when the only stitching I did was counted cross stitch.  I came to see that each stitch was the equivalent of one breath.  One half the cross is a breath in.  Completing the cross is the exhalation.  Maneuvering the thread and positioning of the hand and work is the space between breaths.  And in this way, each embroidered piece is ALIVE!  Then when you give that piece away, you are giving a very real part of your essence.

Part of traveling a Buddhist path is to look carefully for any impediments along the way to reducing suffering in the world and ultimately reaching a state of enlightenment.  There are so many ways of accomplishing this.  One of the things that is a chronic problem for me on the path is attachments, things that keep me stuck in one place, things that make me feel too strongly in one direction.  I have been successful to a large extent in giving up my emotional attachments to “things.”  For example, when the box holding my bone china collection fell in the storage unit last summer, Jeff apologized for a week as he had heard the tinkle of breakage when he grabbed the box.  I had a moment of profound sadness.  But only a moment.  I felt the feeling and then it was over.  Jeff was more upset than I was.  This summer we will open that box and toss out what is pointless to hang on to as we continue to downsize.  It will be work.  It will be a job.  That’s all.  No drama.

When traveling North and I thought that we were going to lose our truck and our lifestyle.  I was devastated.  Primarily thinking about the possibility of moving into a situation that would not allow me to keep my dogs.  I am INCREDIBLY attached to my dogs.  It is an extreme emotional response.  This is an Attachment that stands between me a living a life of Nonattachment according to Buddhist principles.  It is something I struggle with every day.

Safety Pins Attached via Half Chevron Stitch

Pinned: The attachment of addictions might look like this

Hence my TAST 2012 Attachment Quilt block that I have named Pinned, like pinned to the wall, pinned down. I began with the notion (and the idea).  Would it be snaps or pins?  With the half chevron stitch I decided safety pins would be the better choice.  After all the chevrons are spikey like the pins.  I tossed the pins and let them sit where they landed on my sketch pad within the six-inch square.  I traced the heads of the pins to capture the orientation.

Sketch for Half Chevron Stitch Safety Pin Attachment Block

Outline of how safety pins fell into place

Following the diagram, I attached the safety pins to the six-inch square of Aida cloth (14 count.)

Half Chevron Stitch Safety Pins Attached

Half Chevron Stitch Safety Pins Attached

Okay, now what?!  Color.  I decided to go with some approximation of primary colors since the attachments I have been meditating on are very basic, primal if you will.  Each of the three colors would follow a different path and end up where it began, the danger of all unexamined attachments.  See how messy it can get!  And those half chevrons, they look so prickly.

Safety Pins Attached via Half Chevron Stitch

Closer view of Pinned

Does any of this make sense to you?  Does it resonate with your connection to stitching?  Does stitching help you think or problem solve?  Or pray?

The Dark Night of the Soul Births Creativity

The Last Straw

Murder Hill claims another victim

Jeff, the girls, and I arrived at our summer camp on Sunday, April 22 having barely survived the trip from hell.  I have left it to Jeff to write about those experiences as I don’t really wish to relive the experience.  When he completes his documentation I’ll reblog.  It took me two days in bed to decompress once here.  Another couple days to begin to engage in life fully.  And two days ago I went to Pin Tangle to see what the stitch for this week was.

I have over 30 six-inch squares of 14 count Aida cut.  They were for Kissing Pillows, but I’ve slowed down on stitching them since there are fewer troops being shipped out (supposedly.)  So what to do with all those extra squares?

I pulled out my Studio Journal, and sketched out the wheat ear stitch to get a feel for it. (I also ordered a tin of pencils of varying density to aide my sketching from Blick Art Supplies.) Then I did some doodles beginning with a small sketch of a wisteria tree.  It was a little too fiddley for me to get into so I started putting some lines in a square.  Yup, a six-inch square.

Then I saw a zipper that I had salvaged from one of Jeff’s favorite sweat shirts that was no longer wearable, one of the mindless tasks I did while I was restlessly trying to put the trip behind me.  I liked the zipper a lot.  The pull is kind of cool and has a nice feel to it, a nice weight and shape.  A little different.  People are doing cool things with zippers these days.  I wanted to do something cool with a zipper.

I also need to have get some brightness, so lively color in my hands, in my heart.  So much so that I made Bar Sugar Cookies just to play with sprinkles!

Bar Sugar Cookies with lots of colorful sprinkles

Bar sugar cookies with bars of color

Bar Sugar Cookies Cut and Arranged

Bar Sugar Cookie Collage

I pulled out the brightest variegated DMC floss I had.  I was being lazy, my first thought was to use Caron’s Cranberry Water Lilies, my favorite Caron color—well, one of them anyways!  But that would mean I had to get up and dig in the overhead storage to pull it out.  I had my box of DMC 000 – 500 at my side.  So I went kind of random.

My doodles included lime green, orange, fuchsia, red, purple.  You’ll see some of those colors in the beginning of my new baby, The TAST 2012 Quilt!  Block One is not done yet, as you can see.  I’ll show it to you when it’s done, too.  And you’ll see the other limbs of this new baby as they develop.  Since TAST will most likely run over into January, this baby has the traditional nine months to go.  I’m sure there will be additional development once delivered!

TAST Week 17 Wheat -Ear Stitch

TAST Quilt Block One

TAST Week 17

Wheat-Ear Stitch

I’m thinking there will be a theme tin addition to TAST with this project.  Something regarding attachments.  For me Dark Nights of the Soul often involve my relationship to attachments and loss.  This trip from hell involved the possibility of loosing our home and the ability to fulfill our dreams.  We were also in life threatening situations a couple of times.  We had to spend everything we’d saved to live on for the rest of the year to make it home.  And my special puppy who I’m very attached to started with the symptoms that have erupted into a horrid flu-like illness that she is currently struggling with.

I have learned that such situations are part of the cycle of life and also the creative cycle.  Just as wild fires clear the brush to allow for new growth, human life crises lead to a kind of soul cleansing making room for new ideas, new vision, and a heart that is more open and available to input.  Humans are creative beings unless we get bogged down with minutia rather than process, routine as opposed to ritual, and habit instead of awareness and engagement.  Sometimes it takes a lot to clear out those barriers to be free to create.  Whatever gets us to that place is a blessing.  That is what I have experienced so that is what I believe!

What do you think?  What frees you to be creative?