Author: Nanette

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?)

On priorities

Pages 5-8 of a 100 Day Stitch Challenge 2024 (20 pages in 100 days)

I’ve been thinking a lot about focus lately. I’m not sure how you’re managing, but, for me, it feels harder to focus. There are so many distractions. We carry our phones with us and when they ring we answer them and our attention gets side-tracked. I try to check my email at least once a day, but it seems to take an hour to get through it. What’s important? What is junk mail?  What needs immediate attention? And, what can wait until a later time? Then how do I remember to get back to the one’s that I put off.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I’m working on a stitch challenge that has me stitching on a “page” (aka a small piece of fabric) for 15 minutes a day. Every 5 days, I start a new page. (I’m nearly half-way through this 100 day challenge.) It is proving to me that I can find time (at least small increments of it) to focus. It is also making me question my focus skills in other areas of my life. How do you let go of what doesn’t work and find more time for what does work? When do you find time to stop and make a list of priorities? These are some of my thoughts as I stitch each page.

I’ve always included creativity in my life, but I’m realizing that the results are beyond the final product. These focused sessions help me to evaluate the other parts of my life. Much like meditation, indulging in our creative passions can center us and provide clarity. I’m learning to pay attention to my thoughts as I create. This challenge clearly has me focused on priorities? 

A kick to your creativity

I ran away from home last weekend, but only for a day. It has been a long time since I’ve been to a quilt expo, especially one the size of QuiltCon. Presented by the Modern Quilt Guild (MQG), Quiltcon is considered the largest quilting event in the world and this year it was held in Raleigh, NC  which is just an hour drive from my home. I’ve heard about it over the years, but it was never an attainable opportunity for me. Last weekend was the exception.

It is hard to describe the energy and enthusiasm that fills the convention hall. The MQG has a style of its own. They are mostly pieced designs with dense quilting. Not something I do, but definitely I can appreciate. I took several pictures of quilts that caught my attention. I posted 2 here that really made me think. The elephant was displayed in the “youth” category. I don’t know how old Tucker is, but my goodness his elephant is fantastic. After all the hand stitching I’ve done lately, the small piece by Jessica Rundlett really caught my eye. Her geometric design is created by hand and machine stitching. The precision she has with drafting the straight lines demonstrates so much patience.

After seeing the work of all these talented artists, I was inspired by their dedication to produce their concept. I think that’s where the energy and enthusiasm filling the expo comes from. It is good to be alone and focused on our art, but we also can get stuck in our heads. Being around other people with different points of view, can trigger ideas. I believe that even if you can’t get to a big exhibit, it is important to step out and look what’s happening around you in your local art community. Maybe consider visiting a local quilt or art show, I bet it will give a kick to your creativity.

Clutter in my life

I’m in a phase of wanting to use and repurpose things I have. Two weeks ago, I shared how I was working on a 100-day stitch challenge and set restrictions that I would only use materials that I had on hand. There will be no purchasing any other products for this project.  I’ve also been creating fabric postcards which are made from repurposed scraps from my quilted projects.

I use to be a traditional quilter and made my quilts to specific dimensions and then quilted and bound them. I still do that occasionally, but usually my art quilts are made larger than the finished design. I either piece my fabrics or start with a whole piece of fabric, then create my design on top. After creating the design, I’ll quilt it with the batting and backing, then cut it to the finished size.

The trimmings from the quilt are waste, but I hated throwing them in the trash. So I saved them. After a couple years of saving (hoarding?), I came up with a way to repurpose them. I cut the quilted trimmings into strips and randomly piece the strips together into a rectangular shaped block. Once I have enough of these patched blocks, I cut them into 4 inch by 6 inch rectangles, which I use for the background of my fabric postcards.

Sometimes, I create practice quilts and occasionally there are “failures” where I just can’t save the design I was working on. I use these larger pieces for my postcards, too. I might hold onto them for a few years hoping I can save the project. Eventually, I’ll decide I can’t save it, that’s when the rotary cutter comes out and I chop it into strips for my postcards. It takes a lot of guts, but I like that I’m repurposing the trimmings and “failures.”

At first I just used the “postcards” for my own personal gifting and thank yous. This past year I realized I had so much of this patch-worked quilting, that I decided to make the cards available for sale on my Etsy store.

It feels good to let go of things. Although, repurposing has always been an important part of my creative practice, for some reason it feels more important this year. Maybe I’m just feeling the need to let go of the extra weight that appears as clutter in my life.