Creative Dry Spells

I think I can safely say I have suffered from “Creative Dry Spells” in all forms of my artistic endeavors. It is like being in a depressed mood; you know it will pass but it does not make it any the less painful. They are not fun, nor can you talk yourself out of them; the best thing to do is ignore them for a day or two and then try to work thru them or just do something else like cleaning (ugh) or cooking. Cleaning should convince you to be creative real quick and cooking can be creative also yummy if you bake or make desserts.

I read somewhere (probably another blog but I forgot to write down whose blog) some ways to get the creative juices flowing again. I have adapted them to needleart thoughts:

  1. Spend some time with your stash
  2. Finish a UFO or several
  3. Practice a stitch/technique you haven’t mastered or would like to learn
  4. Look ahead to projects you must finish:
  • Designers/teachers have deadline
  • Finishing deadlines
  • Work under pressure
  1. Just keep active.

Sometimes any of these are easier said than done depending on how “dry” you are feeling.

Sometimes spending some “me time” with a cuppa and your favorite needlework books and/or magazines can help. I love my books and looking through them may give you an idea of something to stitch, a technique to try or maybe you will just relax and look at the pictures.

Sometimes no matter what you do nothing speaks to you; then it may be time for some artistic needlework enhancement. In other words, a trip to your local needlework shopS (sometimes it takes more than one). Going to your favorite places is good for two reasons:

  1. It may spark your creative juices with something as simple as a new thread for that project you saw in your stash. You may find a new canvas that speaks to you and if all else fails…
  2. You are at least spending time with other creative people and this is good. They may remind you of a canvas you have at home that you were really dying to stitch just a few weeks ago. They may show you a new technique they are working on, a new stitch, a new thread, or maybe just give you a smile that will brighten your day.

And if you are lucky enough to have more than one shop in your area you have that many more chances to get those creative juices flowing…whatever it takes to spark those fingers. And if you are really lucky, maybe you can sit and visit with others. You don’t have to be stitching something, you can just visit. I visit a group(s) and not everyone is stitching needlepoint, some are knitting, some are stash enhancing, and others have just come by to visit.

And we learn from each other and the more diverse and wide our circle of creative friends is the more we learn…there are no limits to creative thoughts. Attending guild meetings, having stitch-ins, maybe just going for a cuppa and stitching there. Just think for a minute about threading a needle; you know people who:

  1. Thread a needle with the end going immediately through the eye of the needle
  2. Bend the thread over the needle and then thread that bend through the eye of the needle.
  3. Pinch the thread tightly between their thumb and index finger and saw the eye of the needle onto the thread
  4. Wet the end of the thread and place thread through eye of needle … or
  5. Use a needle threader.

None of these are wrong, None is better than another…it is what works for you. But if some needle artist is having trouble threading a needle just being around other needle artists may give her the idea she needs to thread her needle. I know that is pretty simplistic but you get the idea.

If you don’t want to tempt you credit card, watch a love flick, visit an art gallery, visit a park, just take a walk. Anything will do to keep you from sitting and brooding about the “dry spell”.

I have two artist friends that seem to ward off  dry spells by drawing every day; they have notebooks of their works. I am not that disciplined and that’s probably why they make a living at their art and my art just keeps my sanity.

One of my friends tries to go out and about every day to see inspiration. He will draw and paint in his notebook people and places around him. Recently at an art fair, I ask him if I could see his journal and he shared it with me. He was in a mall at an art fair, yet found the time to capture the other artists around him. Each entry has the day and date of the week (he told me it was like his day planner). Not only was there an image of his fellow artists but a small drawing of the type of art they were showing. WOW! I spent several minutes looking through his diary and it was such a privilege; I felt like he not only trusted me very much. He had let me see into his soul; it really was a special moment. I did not read his thoughts but just looking at the pictures he had drawn. I left his booth maybe not inspired but feeling sooooo uplifted.

My other artist friend is a former art professor and he lives close to his former university. You can visit him anytime he is in town and he will listen to you and then in his own magical way give you some thoughts to ponder. He never gives you “his answer” because then you would not be working through your problem. Once a week, when he is in town, he holds “tea time”; an open date to just visit with others of like mind, have tea and discuss whatever comes up, such an enlightening way to give so much insight into so many things. It is no wonder all he asks is for you to RSVP your attendance; these events are attended by friends, former students and students who have heard about him through their professors. And even though it may be a crowded place on occasion, you always come away feeling inspired and more than that hopeful, optimistic.

So, I think I will be off to look at my stash and maybe it will trigger something.  I hope you are not having a creative dry spell but if you are, join me by going through your stash and let’s see what happens.  I really hope you can just go stitch and have fun.

Thank you for stopping by, I hope you have time to stitch today.




I have had notebooks on my mind these past few months.

15-03-05 a J. Pollen notebookIt all started with the Jason Pollen exhibit and lecture last fall. In the second part of his exhibit he displayed some of his notebooks and in his lecture he said he draws two hours every day in these sketchbooks. I would love to spend a pot of tea going through these note/sketchbooks; it would be like climbing into the mind of the artist. Oh heck, I’d just like to sit in his studio as he worked and have him think out loud…I think you would learn so much.

And then last week on KCPT, Bob Holloway, another of my favorite artists was profiled and he said he has kept a journal/sketchbook for the past 40 years. He has 40 of these journals…incredible! Ditto on the sit in his studio.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWell if I didn’t feel inadequate before I did after watching this show; I want to journal and sketch too. I want to put my thoughts down on paper so I don’t lose them. I was feeling pretty uncreative and I started straightening up the office, stitch space and library. And what to my surprise, I had an epiphany: OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI do journals, notebooks and sketchbooks and have for years. I have 2 Master Teacher Notebooks, I have a value and color notebook, I have a notebook of another favorite artist, Fritzi Brod and I have a notebook of finished stitched projects I have completed to mention a few.

And then I found these blue notebooks I made and carried. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI drew stitches in them whether it was a new stitch I saw on another canvas, in a book or magazine or whether it was just something that popped into my head, I drew it in these notebooks. I also kept noted on the canvas I was stitching and when I made the page for my finiOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAshed stitch project notebook I would turn the pages up of or remove them. These notebooks are dated so I have an idea when I did them.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI don’t know why I stopped using this method but I have a feeling that this is what has been missing in my life. I think I thought that the larger graph paper in a larger notebook was the answer for me but now I am not so sure. I don’t carry this notecase everywhere and therefore have fallen out of the habit of keeping good records/notes for myself. And I seem to have acquired a large amount of pieces of graph paper that are not contained anywhere. I think maybe I thought I needed a larger area for diagrams but maybe I just need to have that at hand in case and carry my little notebook everywhere.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI also have two other note/sketchbooks that I keep. One is ideas that I see or think of that I want to remember for that “ah-ha moment” of inspiration. This notebook contains drawings and pictures of other art works, just stuff.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Every other page is numbered and I put a month and year date on the  page too. When an idea is forming I will look through these books (there are only three so far) for ideas that relate or that I might want to incorporate. This has happened and I go OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAback and find the reference and it usually sparks more creative thoughts.  The flower in upper left of the picture became a Sunflower Temari ball with French Knot center.

15-03-05 j sktbk pg 4-15-13My other notebook is the frustrated artist in me. I want to be able to draw like Jason Pollack, Bob Holloway, Fritzi Brod, Mary Englebreit, Joan Walsh Anglund to name a few. I want it to seem as effortless as they seem to make it seem. But I struggle with this OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAartist within me; I read books, take classes and still do not feel I am neither a sketcher nor an artist. My drawings in these notebooks are all dated and vary from geometrics (which I love) to just a sketch of my coffee cup or dot pictures. I can create a geometric needlepoint, I can pick stitches for a painted canvas (and yet I struggle with these sometimes too) but I OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAdon’t think I will ever be an art show artist, nor is anyone going to ask me to have a showing of my artwork. But some of these drawings will hopefully become needlework too. I just saw a geometric in drawing #1 and the pumpkins in drawing #2 are drawn from a picture my daughter in law sent me of two pumpkins she made last year for a contest at work. I want to stitch needlepoint canvases, finish them as stand up baskets and have the hair and flowers planted in them…I see Sundance Sparkles for the hair. (see I am incubating a new ideas as I write this)

15-03-05 o FA ntbk 2And last week after cleaning, I went to the opening of a new show at the Nelson-Aitkens Art Gallery for a special exhibit: Ferran Adria Notes on Creativity. They are the drawings of this chef and his staff on food, history and creativity. While I creatively 15-03-05 p FA ntbk 2understood these drawings & notebooks, I wasn’t sure I understood his method (but I am not a chef either). 15-03-05 q no peasMy favorite was this graphic: I saw it from across the room and was sure I knew what it meant…I was wrong, it represented seed but to me it was and is “no peas.” There were parts I liked and other parts I am not sure I understood, but that’s okay because at the bottom of one page that had been blown up was the explanation of it all…

15-03-05 n FA ntbk

Result(in box): everybody has his,her own creativity process.

The “ah-ha” moment of the week for me. The artist understood these notebooks and sketches and each meant something to him and he became more creative because of them and helped his students to be more creative also. I did another tour of the exhibit with a new and greater understanding of the beauty he had created and given us a brief glimpse. I’m sure to the major chefs that see this exhibit it has my more meaning to them than it will to me, but we both have come away with our own moment of creativity.

It was ah-ha moment for me and I realized that my notebooks do not have to appeal to anyone but me. Notebooks are a glimpse of the artist who creates them and do not have to make sense to anyone but that artist. (I still would like to spend an afternoon with the artist I admire and their notebooks. Just to listen to them and see how their creative process works I think would be inspiring.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASo I have decided to go back to my little notebook for stitches; I made myself a new little notebook about 50 pages and will keep it with my stitching. I will still keep my ideas notebook , I will sketch (but maybe never 2 hours every day)  and I have also decided to start another long overdue type of journal…I am going to start keeping a stitch doodle canvas. It will have no rhyme nor reason to it, it is just going to be OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAstitches. I plan to keep a log of which stitch is used, the thread and I might even add where I used it if I do use it. Stay tuned as I finish a canvas (the first page)  I will share it with you.

Thank you for stopping by to visit, I hope you find time to stitch today or do whatever helps you be creative!




Do you read magazines in different ways? I had never thought about this until the other day when I had a stack of magazines sitting together and I noticed I treat my magazines differently.

Most new magazine arriving at our house get a quick once over, I peruse each issue to see if there is something I must read immediately and then I usually set it aside for evening enjoyment. If there has been an article that I can’t wait to read, I flag it (and this is different depending on the magazine…more about this later) to read in the evening.

15-01-29 mag aBut all my magazines are not created equally. Some magazines are family magazines and they will eventually end up in the family room for everyone to see. Midwest Living, Missouri Life, Better Homes and Gardens, Good Housekeeping, etc…are all in this category. If there is a recipe or creative idea that I wish to keep in these magazines, I have dog-eared a corner of the page. So when a new issue arrives, I quickly look the old issue over to see if I have dog-eared a page to keep, I tear it out and out goes the old issue.

15-01-29 mag bOther magazines like Flee Market Finds, Vintage Collectibles, Ornaments, FiberArts Now do not get dog-eared and may stay around longer that some of the other monthly/ quarterly issues and they live in the family room too. But when these magazines begin to pile up the older ones get one last look for inspirational ideas that I tear out and then out they go too.

15-01-29 mag cAnd then there are what I call the inspirational issues: Needlepoint Now, Cloth Paper Scissors, NeedlePointers, Inspirations… They are treated with tender loving care and I even read these differently that the previous magazines. I don’t give them a quick once over but rather keep them for my evening reading.  The first pass through this magazine is to look at every page (wouldn’t want to miss that special canvas, new product, or technique); then I start at the front cover again and while I may not read every word I spend time on every page. I love the ads; they are colorful and give lots of color combination ideas, not to mention the stash enhancement opportunities. I always read the editors notes; she has labored over this magazine to bring the best of articles to each issue and she usually highlights why some articles have been included. Sometimes, when the editor mentions a specific article I will take a sneak peak at the article, but mostly I try to read the magazine from front to back just like a good book. I look at the stitch diagrams very closely, and if there is a numbering of a stitch or stitch sequence different from the norm then I will read to find out if this is an author preference or if there is a specific reason for the new numbering I try not to mark up these magazines (although I think older issues I was not so careful about this), if I want to mark an article I use a post-it note. Sometimes I will write on the post-it note what I have flagged (i.e.: goldwork, new product, stitch…)

And here-in lies a big problem…I have inspirational magazines from years ago. I have Cross-stitch magazines from my days of working for a cross stitch company and I subscribed to these for business references. I have needlepoint magazines stacked by year; I have a complete set of the Mary Engelbreit magazine, Home Companion (this magazine was so great…it was full of creative ideas and the color combinations were wonderful.) And I have needlepoint magazines that are no longer published. The magazines are taking over… and I have finally decided that I have to do something about this. One of my goals for the year is to look at these magazines and decide the best thing to do with them. Any ideas? I am open to any and all suggestions, it just seems a shame to send them to recycling but I need to do something.

But until I make a decision…I will keep on reading and stitching.

Thank you for stopping by, I hope you find time to stitch today! ttfn…sue

The Art of Machine-quilted Quilts

Now, I must confess, I was a purist! I have always thought machine quilting was the easy way out and if you truly wanted to be a quilter, every stitch needed to be hand applied. Not anymore! Machine quilting is an art to its self! Last Saturday I went to the IMQA quilt show and expo (  ); there was not a quilt in this show that I would not gladly have called my own. I took lots of pictures, but I’m sorry that I did not take the time to note the names of the quilts of because I don’t feel I can share them without the quilter’s permission unless I find references online.

I went to this show with a purpose; I wanted to Janet Stone’s quilts. My friend Vicki had talked about these quilts and I knew I had seen another one once before (it was featured in a quilting magazine.) Vicki is Janet’s friend and has first hand knowledge about these quilts and so I was fun to have her tell me what she knew about them. The other people around us were happy to have Vicki there too; she was a one man insight into her friend’s quilts.

I probably would not have seen the alphabet in two of Janet’s quilts without Vicki. I would have seen the blocks in Red Letter Daze first probably missed the alphabet. This quilt was inspired by a cross stitch sampler which I thought was very interesting. See we can be inspiration to each other, no matter what our choice of media.

And “Nouveau Quattro Alfabetico” I might have recognized by the name but the first thing I saw were the design elements made by the letters before I saw the alphabet.

“Mutton But Letters” was just too cute for words. I could have stood and looked at this quilt forever and found something new every time.


You can read about Red Letter Daze and Janet here too:

I think I remember reading somewhere about quilts that a young girl was suppose to make 12 quilts (maybe it was just the tops)  and then when she got engaged the women of the community got together and helped her make a 13th wedding quilt. Well Janet has loftier ideals; she wants to complete 26 alphabet quilts. I think she should name one for each letter of the alphabet and produce a book…“A-Z of Quilts.”  I’ve seen 4 of the 8 she has completed and can hardly wait to see the rest.

Vicki and I walked every isle of the quilts displayed and they were all beautiful. I saw quilts that were traditional to modern, plain to embellished; everyone was lovely in its own right. I was amazed at the hand stitching used as embellishment on many of these quilts as well as the use of beads and other embellishments.

The special display of six hand painted pieces that were quilted to celebrate the 30th year anniversary of Domestic Abuse Intervention Program inDuluthMinnesota. These quilt piece were painted by Lee Zimmerman and quilted by Karen McTavish ( You really felt the impact of these pieces as you looked at them.   

Another display that I thought was interesting and I am mulling over in my mind how to adapt to needlework were the sunflowers. The Fabric Chicks fromDuluth,Minnesotadid a sunflower project that was “to think outside the box.” A group of four teamed up to make a quilt block of an appliquéd sunflower. The block was stitched, quilted and embellished but no binding. Then the block was cut into fourths and each member of the team stitched her four different blocks together and finished the piece into a wall hanging. There were three completed sets of four the four sunflowers, each different yet the common factors were the same. It reminded my of a friendship sampler…quilt style.

Visiting the quilt show was learning experience; I always thought machine quilting was done using one of those free arm or long-arm big quilting machines and to find out that some quilters use regular sewing machines (Janet included) about blew me away. I also thought machine quilting was pretty plain too, but were my eyes opened Saturday.  I remember a docent at the SpencerGalleryof Art at KU ( ) telling a tour one time that you should always look to the back of a quilt to see how well it is quilted. If from the back you can tell what the front subject looks like the quilter has done a good job. I found this true of many of these machine quilts. And the quilt that won best of show you could not only tell what the subject of the quilt was from the back but you could also tell the colors used on the front too. The back of the quilt was a study of color using thread and stitches. I found this reference online: The quilt that won Best of show: The magical Mermaid’s Castle ( ); Claudia Pfeil;KrefeldGermany. This quilt was an eye stopper! I could still be still standing there finding new things to look at.

I went to this quilt show to see Janet’s quilts but I came away with much more. It was truly a learning experience for me.  I no longer have pre-conceived ideas about machine quilting; it is truly an art form to itself. I walked up and down every isle of this show & expo and was completely blown away. Thank you Janet, Vicki and all the people at the IMQA quilt show and expo for teaching me a new appreciation of another form of needleart.

I hope everyone has time to stitch today no matter what media you choose! ttfn…sue

“Miracle of Miracles” hear the music?!

I really do have good intentions…just not enough hours in my day, OR I’m a scatterbrain, OR I suffer from ADHD in the worst way, OR I am just getting old and slow. How about a combination of all…”an old slow, tired ADHD scatterbrain”… that’s me! I can see the sculpture now… head with threads, beads & wire for hair; the body would be a computer and a box (with all sorts of projects stored inside); Scissors for one hand, paint brushes, pens, pencils, needles and a computer mouse for the other hand, I think it should have rollers for feet and a broken watch attached somewhere…oh no another project!  Can you tell I’ve been to the Art Fairs around town and the 3D mixed media art really speaks to me?  And there are so-o-o many things I want to do… needlepoint,  jewelry making, needlepoint, art journaling, needlepoint, beading, needlepoint, drawing, needlepoint, painting, needlepoint, scrapbooking, needlepoint…and that doesn’t even include reading, needlepoint, sleeping, needlepoint, eating, needlepoint, …and all the other mundane things in life.  

But I am right braining again….my goal for this morning is to post a blog so that if anyone out there in blogdom still looks at my blog they know I am alive…notice I did not say and well.

I have been productive this summer… I computed 5-6 projects for a couple needlepoint teachers. Remember, I don’t compute and tell…never know what will happen in the life of a needlepoint class. I’ve blogged about this before: and .

So that said we will move tight along to what I can share with the world…

I lost a very dear friend (more about that in another blog another day), I have crocheted a blanket (will show that another day too).  I also played with art most of the summer…I bought a journal and color washed about 1/3 of the pages… . Then I started art journaling as such…sort of a controlled art study. I used the book: Drawing with Children; Mona Brookes; St. Martin’s Press; New York; 1986 as my catalyst. From there I discovered Zentangles and more Art Journaling; which lead me to Sarah Whitmire and her website and blog: and

And on Sarah’s blog I learned about a new book & toy I needed: The Spiral Draw Book; Doug Stillinger; Klutz; California; 2003. Although my son’s tell me we had a cooler version of this when they were growing up call Spirograph. I don’t remember this, so I did do some research and I sort of remember this being around the house. But I may have to ask Santa to bring us another for my amusement this time.

Then I was off on a Zentangle and Art Journal tangent and have added another 20 or so blogs to my reading list. Yes I try to read all your blogs I have bookmarked at least twice a week.

And I have stitched; completed another Eagle to be framed at later date. Did some finish finishing, bought material to do some more and still have a huge pile of other unfinished completed needlepoint. Finished Sue Reed class piece and will post a picture when I get it back from friend I let borrow it since she was unable to attend class. And am doing computer work for a year long guild project…and I have even completed stitching all the areas I have on the computer (the only thing I am ahead of the pack doing). I also keep the ort box canvases handy for something to stitch on the road and when I have no other project in hand (that means I was too lazy to go to the workroom and pull a canvas or chart and threads from my stash.)

And that’s my summer in a nutshell.

Hope everyone has time to stitch today!  ttfn…sue