Up the color

I wish I could have captured a photo of the moon Wednesday morning as we drove to the gym. It looked huge hanging in the sky in this beautiful shade of red-orange. It won’t be full until Thursday morning and should be visible for a few days. [If you read this in time, maybe you’ll see it too!]

This week I was listening to a podcast about making YouTube videos and the guest casually said that when he looks at things his attention goes to counting what he sees (Example: 2 cars each with 4 wheels).  I found this fascinating and started asking myself what do I focus on. My immediate answer was color. The orange moon! The grey cat and the women with the blond hair wearing a green dress. And, is the color of the water in the ocean blue or green?

Another thing that grabs my attention is the fauna and flora. Bees, birds, dogs and cats catch my attention. I notice their color, too; like the great blue heron, that doesn’t look blue…but sure is great!

I wonder if I should be paying more attention to what grabs my attention. I use a lot of flora and fauna in my art, but I’ve not really pushed the envelope on the colors. I am most attracted to vibrant colors with stark contrasts, but my work tends to be more muted … safe. Just wondering if maybe its time to up the color!

 

 

 

Attention every day

My biggest take-away from the 100-day stitch challenge I completed last month was that 15-minutes is a very doable time to work on something and see progress. Everyone, including myself, is stretched with commitments. Sometimes they are self-imposed. Other times, they are obligations where someone else is expecting our time. With so many these things pulling at us, it is hard to add “just one more!” But, it is also frustrating to crave creative time and not have it. It may feel like a frivolous indulgence that doesn’t require priority in our schedule. So we put it off to another day when we have time.

I frequently have thoughts of projects I started. Especially those which I seriously want to complete, but keep putting off for another day. I get an overwhelming feeling that weighs heavy on me. When I think about the projects I want to work on, I feel stress and disappointment.

I don’t believe caring for our mental well-being is frivolous. So I’ve been thinking about these projects wondering how to get them done and letting go of the one’s that I’ve truly lost interest in. The 15-minute sessions in the stitch challenge seems like an answer to me. So, I’ve set priority on a project I’ve been working on for at least 10 years.

Its a hand-stitched hexagon quilt. I had the idea when I visited Ellis Island in New York City many years ago. I was taken by the 3″-wide hexagon marble tiles covering the floor. I was also feeling the spirit of my grandmother who walked on those very floors in the early 1920’s. After seeing the floors, I decided I would make a tribute to her … and .. it is still not done.

Late last year, I pulled out this project from its hiding place and starting working on it again. I’ve made some progess, but again, its been slow going. At this stage in the process, I’m hand-quilting the layers together big-stitch-style. I’ve decided I will finish this quilt this year. But, first, I need to get the quilting done. I’ve decided there’s no better way to accomplish this, then to give it 15-minutes of attention every day.

 

Calling your attention

Ann Wood’s 100 day Stitchbook Challenge is over and here are the last 4 pages. I had some doubt that I would complete 100 consecutive days of stitching. I think by posting to Instagram and here, I felt accountable to you. For me, feeling accountable to someone other than myself always seems to add just a bit more nudge to get something done, because of the fear of publicly failing.

There was only 1 day of the 100 where I “almost” didn’t make the commitment. I had a full day of visiting family I hadn’t seen in years. I was curling into bed late that evening and suddenly remembered. I got out of bed…stitched for 15 minutes and was able to sleep peacefully that night.

As I completed the stitched pages, I followed Ann Wood’s pattern to assemble the pages into a book. I posted a YouTube video of the completed book. As I flipped the pages during the video, a lovely cardinal had some commentary (Be sure to listen with the volume up). To me, at least, he sounded quite happy with the results.

When I finished the book, I decided I needed to keep the momentum going. I’m planning to apply this practice to some other projects that have been waiting for me for so very long. Fifteen minutes is a doable amount of time to do handwork. I wonder if you have any projects that are nudging you to complete. Is there anything you could commit to working on for 15 minutes a day? I bet there is something in your creative space that’s been calling for your attention.

See how this goes

There has been a lot going on for me the past few months. The stitch challenge kept my creative self challenged, but now it is time to work on some bigger projects. I’m trying to figure out which to start next. I have a bunch of video editing that needs to get finished, too. Although the editing has its own level of creativity to it, it doesn’t completely satisfy my persona that loves working with textiles.

Through the challenge, I realized that I need something that I can work on in really small doses. Sitting and working on one project for several hours straight does not fit into my lifestyle right now. There always seems to be something that competes with my time. (I’m sure you can relate.)

Earlier this year, I created some printed panels to work on during times like these. These are just what I need right now. I’ve always found it is helpful to have multiple projects going at one time. This way I can switch into something that fits my mood (or time) for that time frame I have available.

My plan is over the next couple weeks, to take breaks from editing to work on the panels. We’ll see how this goes. 

 

What they were suppose to be

Pages 13-16 of a 100 Day Stitchbook Challenge 2024 (20 pages in 100 days)

I’m a little behind in sharing my progress with the 100 Day Stitch Book Challenge. I started the project back in January and, as I write this, I’m 3 days away from completing the 100 days. Each of the past 97 days, I stopped for at least 15 minutes to do stitchwork on a small piece of cloth. I spent 5 days working on each of the 20 pieces of fabric.

Pictured here are pages 13-16 which I’ve been working on the last 2 months. I’ll post the last 4 after I finish them and I’ll also share all the pages compiled into a little fabric book.

Over the last couple of days, I’ve been reminded to always keep learning new things. I have always loved learning. I’m also curious how things work. I took on this challenge mostly to see if I could be consistent with my work, but I also started it to see what it was all about. Why is it that there are so many 100 day challenges starting in the new year? Why would someone want to join one?

I’m personally learning more about my art. I use to do a lot of embroidery, but I never felt I was good at it. I’ve seen other textile artists make these fabulous hand-stitched creations and I would think I wasn’t good enough to try. What I realized is the “perfectionist” still lives in me. She wants everything to look “just so!” What I’m learning is that even though the perfectionist lives in me, I’m not one. I don’t have the patience for the perfect stitch. I have to tell myself that I like what I’m creating, even if it is not “perfect.”

This stitchbook challenge has reminded to let go of expectations. Even if things don’t start out (or end) where I expected, my creations always become what they were suppose to be.

Precious little things

Again, I’ve been pondering how we collect things. This time I’m wondering what it means to keep something that is precious. The Merriam-Webster dictionary describes “precious” as something with great value, high price or highly esteemed, cherished.

It is the cherished option that has me thinking. For example, I have several small collections of sea shells. They have great value to me but, they don’t really have any monetary value. To me something that is cherished usually has minimal monetary value but we have deep affection for the object.

I come from a family who tends to “cherish” the items they collect. Usually the item once belonged to someone they loved. Sometimes it just provides a reminder of a memory of a time or place. My sea shells collections usually remind me of the location where they were collected. Some remind me of the people who were there with me or the kind of day it was (e.g., sunny vs overcast) or even the reason I was at the beach (e.g., family reunion vs a day trip getaway).

As a textile artist, I have my mother’s scissors, yardage of cloth that my grandmother purchased, and 1950s era Singer Sewing Books. These are precious to me. When I initiate a purge session, I usually stop to think about the people who owned the items before me. And, usually, I quietly place them item back where I found them, then shut the drawer for another time. How could I get rid of it? It is still too precious. I’m not necessarily a “hoarder,” but sometimes it takes me a good long time to realize the item I cherish is no longer worth keeping.

A question I have is what happens to these things when I’m no longer here to tell their story or in other words “protect” them. Will the items become “stuff” again. Or, will they become someone else’s cherished treasure with a new story to share? And, how many will be pitched in a bag and set at the curb to await trash removal?

I’m not getting any younger. Maybe I need to make a plan…or maybe I shall just sit here treasuring my precious little things.

Positive changes happen

Did you get to see the eclipse this week? Where I live in North Carolina, we had 80% coverage. I wish I could have seen a full block out, or “wedding ring,” but it just didn’t work out this time. In 20 years, we’ll hopefully get another opportunity.

I took time off to watch the phenomena. Too many trees around my home to get a clear view, so I traveled to a nearby town to watch the sky from an apple orchard (and cider house) surrounded by strangers. I “try” to believe in astrology and ponder how this new moon will affect me. But I’m also a scientist by education who comes from the school “show me.” I need to see it to believe it.

I do feel something is shifting. Maybe I’m just fed up with some life patterns I’ve fallen into or maybe the moon energy is telling me to change. Or maybe it is just the overall feeling of imbalance in the world right now. What I know is my art is important to me! I also know I love to share my knowledge through teaching and encouraging others in finding their creative outlet!

I’ve already started (or maybe its “re-started”), to address some of the things that I feel are holding me back. Whether, the astrological changes from this week are real or just wishful thinking, I hope (for both you and me) that only positive changes come our way.

 

[Have you noticed any changes since the eclipse?]

Who I’ve always been

Pages 9-12 of a 100 Day Stitchbook Challenge 2024 (20 pages in 100 days)

Back in January, I made a commitment to myself to follow along with Anne Wood’s 100 Day Stitch Book Challenge. At the time, I thought 100 days was a lot to commit to. But, the requirements were only 15 minutes a day and I felt I could handle it. I also wasn’t going to lose anything if I skipped a day or happen to not complete the full 100 days. The only person I would disappoint is myself. Since, I wouldn’t be letting anyone down, I decided to go for it.

Here I am 76 days in and I’m surprising myself that I’m still meeting the requirements. There was only one day so far (this past weekend) that I almost missed. Yet, in the wee hours of the evening I remembered, pulled out my stitching, put in the 15 minutes and then went to bed.  I’m learning a lot about myself during all of this. Namely, I’m learning that if I make a commitment, I will do my best to complete it.

I’m also re-discovering that I like hand stitching. Hand sewing was one of the first sewing skills I learned. I remember the little sewing cards I had when I was a child. They had designs (like a puppy, goose or clown) printed on stiff cardboard with holes punched into it. I remember threading yarn through the big-eyed needle and pulling the needle up and down through the holes. When I was done, I’d pull all the stitches out (or maybe mom did) and I’d start again.

It doesn’t seem like very long afterward, that mom had me sewing by hand on fabric. Then, shortly after that came crewel embroidery, needlepoint and, later, machine sewing. I’m realizing I’ve been hand sewing almost all my life. No wonder this comes to me so easily. It is just part of who I’ve always been.

[What is your sewing story? I’d enjoy hearing it.]

As creatives

Creatives are collectors and I’m wondering about how we collect.
This week I got to see a dear friend’s collections. I could only laugh when I saw the neatly folded, color coordinated stacks of fabrics in her closet. I have a similar fabric collection, but mine isn’t so neatly organized.

She had organizer bins filled with beads, buttons, sewing tools and threads. Everything had a place. I too have a system of keeping like things like this together. However, as I noted last week, my system definitely has a flaw, because I can’t find things when I need them.

My favorite thing in her creator’s room was her embroidery thread containers. She spent a great deal of time unraveling the hanks of floss and re-winding them onto the bobbins. I especially loved seeing the colors grouped so beautifully together in the thread organizer. For years, I tried doing this, but very recently unwound my collection and put them on clothespins. I think my lovely friend had the better idea; they are so beautiful to look at.

I’m realizing it is not only about what we collect, but also about how we acquire and care for our treasures. I know for many of us our families and friends don’t understand. So much “stuff” we have. Yet each itsy bit is an integral part of what we do and what we create. Ultimately it describes, in a hoarded fashion, who we are as creatives.

 

 

Except for the faeries

The other day a friend posed a question, “What does your perfect day in your studio look like?” On the fly, I came up with an answer, but I have been thinking about the question ever since.

My quick answer had something to do with faeries visiting overnight, putting away what I used that day and neatly setting everything up so I could quickly get to work on my next project.

Reflecting on my answer, I know I said this because getting started is the hardest thing for me. Countless time is wasted looking for the tools or materials needed for a project…almost any project. I try to keep track of things, but I have a habit of putting something down and not remembering where I put it. For example, yesterday I literally spent 30 minutes looking for some paper that I recently purchased for a project. I knew I “had” it in my office somewhere. I kept looking in the same places.  There only a few places I would/could put something like that. I eventually found it, in a drawer that I had opened at least 4 times before I actually saw it. Yes, I really do want that faerie assistant!!

The conversation caused me to reflect. I realized that my “perfect” day is very close to my every day.  It pointed out that I’m living the life I’ve dreamt about … well, except for the faeries. 

 

(P.S. What does your perfect day look like?)