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?

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?