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.

ttfn…sue

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Love your canvas

While I am getting my thoughts together for blogging I am also in charge of our local guild stash sale. I like to think of it as we are sharing our stash…I’m sure some of the canvases will come back to visit us at another stash sale down the road…wouldn’t it be funny if the original owner re-purchased it 😉 . We have these stash sales to fund outreach programs. A couple years ago we funded an exhibit to bring in new members.  These funds will go toward another exhibit or possible paying to have a website built for our guild.

Folded Canvas

Folded Canvas

While going through the stash that is accumulating at my house I came across a canvas that has not been treated with loving care; it was stored folded. Please do not fold your needlepoint canvas and especially if it is congress cloth; the folds will not come out. I have unfolded the canvas, but as you can see in the picture the canvas has been stored this way so long that the weave of the canvas is distorted. I have heard people say they iron canvas to get the wrinkles out but this poor canvas has been folded away so long that I am afraid the folds will never disappear. It will be like a badly distorted canvas that has been stitched without a frame and after some years no matter

180216 needlepoint folded with outlines

how well it is finished will revert back to the distortion. And maybe this wouldn’t matter as much if it were a decorative piece you were going to move to another less viable place after the décor of your house change. ( Oh please don’t tell me you would send it to a thrift store…my heart would break after all the time and love you have put into the piece.) But if you stitched a chair seat that was to be a family heirloom, a folded canvas could be a disaster. It might revert to the fold and heaven forbid, the canvas threads might be weakened enough that after repeated use the canvas would break (Another heartbreaking issue.)

The preferred method is to store your canvas is flat in a box so it is protected from dust and dirt until its turn to be stitched. I have a friend who hangs her canvases on skirt/pant hangers with plastic over each; she says it makes it easier to look at them. I even heard a story that one stitcher stores her large canvases between the mattress and box springs of her guest bed (maybe she doesn’t have a lot of visitors.)

rolled canvas

Another method to store large canvases is to roll them; canvas before it is painted comes in large rolls. I think I would occasionally unroll and re-roll from the opposite end so one end does not become a tight roll or even crimped.

So my message for today is: Please treat your canvases with TLC. Don’t fold or stuff them in a bag for a later time. Canvases, especially painted canvases are expensive, so please treat them carefully.

And I won’t get started on whether you should stitch your canvas on stretcher bars or not…that’s a whole other blog.

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

ttfn…sue

Olympic Rings

While watching the Olympics this week-end I remember I always stitch the Olympics rings for someone during the Olympics…guess I’ll stitch a couple of these for my two great grandchildren.

I have a chart for this. I will post here but if you can’t get a good copy send me an email and I will send you the PDF files. I can’t sell the design but I can give it away.

 

 

Hope you like these and if you want to read about the other posts I have written on the Olympics…here they are:

https://sudukc.wordpress.com/2014/02/20/olympics-needlepoint/

https://sudukc.wordpress.com/2008/08/26/olympicrings/

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

ttfn…sue

 

I’ve Done it Again…

The reason you haven’t heard from me is I’ve done it again…I’m expanding my needlearts learning.  Last week I took a knitting class, kumihimo with beads class, a beading class, made another temari ball, wrapped 3-4 more to stitch in the next couple weeks, and yes I needlepointed too. I know I should concentrate on one project at a time but I love them all and can’t pick just one…so I’m just going to have to figure a way to sleep less, cook less (love these too), general household duties (don’t like these so much)  or maybe I could just clone myself.

And I am sorry but I think my blog suffers the most. I really am going to have to get in a habit of stopping here. Last week in a magazine I finally had time to read there was an article on how to have a successful blog and I guess I’m never going to have a successful blog by their standards. I am supposed to find a niche and stick to it…and we all know that isn’t going to happen. I have too many things I want to learn and do. Then I looked at the name I gave my blog nine years ago “sudukc’s needleart & other musings… A place to see what I am doing or not doing”; I must have known then that this is an eclectic place. It is mostly about needlepoint because that is my primary love but it is also about any kind of needle art because they are all fascinating to me. So, thank you for finding my musings interesting even if they are all over the place and sporadic at best.

I used to think I knew my limitations, and I do know that I love quilts but I am never going to make my 13 quilts…For those of you who don’t know; history or folk lore says that before a girl got married she had to make 12 quilts, the 13th quilt was made and quilted by friends and family when she was about to get married. And anyway, I’m already married, too late. But I know too that I am not a large quilt maker; I tried it, and even though I love them and they are beautiful but it is not me. I like smaller projects and there are plenty of them for me to try.

Last week I was beading at Florilegium with Gretchen and I said I wish I were as creative as she is. Gretchen tried to convince me I am and just need “to do”… After I got home I really thought about this and I think I am creative…just maybe spread too thin. No matter what project I pick up I can think of 4 or 5 other things I want to do in the technique I am working at the time. I have decided to write them in my Stash Idea book, or if they are in another book or magazine to mark and keep for after I catch up. It’s like stash…only I’m not buy the canvas and thread (well I still am buying needlepoint canvas and threads but that’s a paragraph or two down.) I’m going to think of this as stash ideas and when I want a project I will just look at my Stash Idea book, purchase the supplies and go for it. I probably could check around the stash already purchased for some supplies, but we all know I’m going to be short something.

So here’s what I’ve been up to these last few weeks…

These are the beading projects I have in the works…several fobs, a herringbone learning piece, several other projects to start…I also have marked my books with more stash ideas…I do believe my bead stash is growing.

 

Now I am combining my kumihimo with beading and starting that too.

 

 

And I am bound and determined to learn to knit…no Peruvian sweaters in my future but I do want to learn how to knit. I can crochet and have tried knitting several times before but I never seem to get the hang of it. I am bound and determined to learn this; it will not get the best of me. And I know practice is the best teacher so I try to do 5 minutes every day. I don’t go back to classes for another week, but I hope then we start a project and I have a goal in site.

Like I said last post, I belong to two Temari discussion groups online and they are having stitch-a-longs. And since I have been a lurker for these past few years I have decided to try and participate. I’ve done two so far and have two more in the works. I also try to keep an info sheet on every Temari I make (another to do), never know I might want to make another. I think it is difficult to write exact instructions for Temari because each ball is a unique size. I can only approximate the size of the balls I make and I like them about 30 cm, give or take and larger. I find for me the larger balls are easier to work on.

And I have been needlepointing too. I have a secret project in the works…I’ll show it to you soon. It is a gift and I want it to be a surprise. I am finished stitching and just have to get it finished and given then I’ll share. I am also working on a small take-a-long project but just haven’t taken pictures. This project I only stitch on when I go to a guild stitch-in, stitching with friends or to my weekly stitch-in at local shop.  I also am gathering stuff for another nest project. Nest projects seldom leave home; they are larger projects and require a stand and light.

You know I was just thinking, if I ever win the lottery (guess I should buy a ticket) I’m going to have a studio and call it Stash Studio or Creative Corner. I am going to have all kinds of my favorite stuff. I’d really like to live above the studio and whenever I want (day or night) just go down and play. When the lights were on, my friends or anyone could drop by to stitch too. I would never want for any stash, it would just always be there…okay so this is a dream but wouldn’t that be great.

I hope you all are staying cool this summer. To my Canadian friends, “Happy Canada Day” yesterday and to my USA friends have a safe and happy 4th of July. I’m off to redo my herringbone sampler, then I think I may tackle another beading project or two and then I’ll stitch and watch a movie this evening. And oh yes, NeedlePointers arrived today ; so I need to stop and look at this too.

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

ttfn…sue

 

A new book: Raised Embroidery by Kelley Aldridge

So last week I spent sorting books and the same week received a new book.

I love books. They are like friends to me; some are close friends and I wouldn’t part with them and some are acquaintances. And like friends they have different interests; some friends like goldwork, some like stumpwork, some ribbonwork, others like beading and color or design. But even with their differences, they all have creativity in common.

And my newest friend is from the Royal School of Needlework (http://www.royal-needlework.org.uk/) libraries, Raised Embroidery by Kelley Aldridge.  Kelley’s first statement in this new book is: “There are already a number if excellent books available on this subject, written by some very talented embroidery artists, but this book is about exploring new possibilities.”  I like that!

While the material in this book is basic, the inspiration just jumps off the pages. The photographs are clear and concise and the information is presented in a clear and orderly fashion.  I learned how to wrap an embroidery hoop which I have never seen in any other book and I love the little blue boxes with hints…hints always make a task so much easier. And I have always referred to this technique as stumpwork but Raised Embroidery is more accurate as it incorporates more techniques to give a three dimensional look to your needlework.

But my favorite thing about the book is the new needle artists she introduces with pictures of their work, and in one area she mentioned a ceramic artist that inspired her.  I spent some time google-ing these artists and was introduced to more artists that will inspire me to continue my study of Raised Embroidery.

 

I have toyed with Raised Embroidery over the years; my first attempt was my stitching doll. She has all sorts of techniques on her: her hair is couched doll hair that I added after I put her together. Her apron is needlelace and her hands are stumpwork and I added sewing embellishments for her to hold.

 

 

 

Many years later I did leaves for the cherries on my heart (https://sudukc.wordpress.com/2010/02/12/a-heart-for-all/), the feathers on my shuttlecock on my Nelson Art Gallery piece (https://sudukc.wordpress.com/2015/12/08/nelson-atkins-museum-of-art-needlepoint/) and most recently several different areas on the Wicked piece (https://sudukc.wordpress.com/2017/05/05/melissa-shirley-wicked-fun-stuff/) were raised work.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

So with my new book and new ideas fermenting in my brain (Thanks Kelley for the idea of small projects in a large glass bowl) I will pursue one of the techniques on my thimble (instead of bucket) list.

And if you would also like to add a book to your library for inspiration I recommend Kelley Aldridge’s Raised Embroidery. It has techniques and projects but the pure inspiration is the best! The title says so and it’s true. And be sure and Google the people mentioned in the book too; they have more inspiration to share.

 

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

ttfn…sue

Books, not worth the effort

Don’t you hate to waste time? I do. I spent the morning sorting books, taking pictures, cataloging them, and researching them; only to find that 1/3 of them are worth my time to list online and that is no guarantee they will sell. I’m thinking about just putting them in a neighborhood garage sale this weekend and then what’s left taking to Half Priced Books for credit…I can always spend money here.

Since I have the list assembled, if you are interested in seeing just drop me an email (sudu@kc.rr.com) and I’ll shoot a PDF list back to you. I am not going to put a lot of effort into this but if there is something you can’t live without, let me know. BTW, this is first come, first serve and after Thursday they are garage sale bound.

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

 

Catagories: Books, etc,  life in general, needlepoint

Tags: books, needlepoint,

Melissa Shirley Wicked: final thought

See what happens when I get busy or distracted. I had been writing this post for the week of May 15-20 and I got distracted or sidetracked and now here it is almost Memorial week-end and I am just coming up for air. So here is the final thoughts on Wicked…

After the stitching is completed then the piece has to be finished. I know I have been showing how to finish needlepoint but last year I was not up to the task of finishing. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it…Seriously, I can do ornaments and some other little stuff but really haven’t had the time to try the biggies. One day I am going to try a pillow and a purse but for now I’m going to send big pieces to the finisher. I can’t even find time to sew a button on, let alone make a blouse or finish big needlepoint or for that matter any needlepoint.

 

I knew where I wanted to hang “Wicked” and how I wanted it finished. I drew a picture for the finisher and once the material was purchased I sent it to her to do her magic.  I was very pleased with the way it was finished and I love to see it hanging at Halloween.

To some people finishing a piece of needlepoint is easy; they take it to a trusted shop and have it finished. Not me, I agonize over finishing. As I am stitching I can see the finished piece, I get these pre-conceived images in my head and then I feel like I need to look for the material to finish the project. Nice for me I know the finisher and I can as her if my idea will work. If she says yes, then I’m off to look for material.

 

Now, let me give you the advice I seldom ever follow but every finisher I know will tell you is the truth.

You should buy the fabric for finishing before you ever start stitching.

I know, seems illogical to me too, but remember we are limited by out thread choices and the fabrics we choose to  finish our pieces are limited by their color choices. Now I will admit if you go to Hamilton Mo or any large quilt shop, you should be able to find a fabric. But what if you want a velvet or moiré for that Christmas stocking you are spending hours stitching? There is a world of difference between DMC 666 red and DMC 321 or 498 red. And fabrics only come in certain colors. And yes, you could use green for the backing and lining, but there are different greens too. So, if you want as perfect a match as you can get; sometimes it is important to buy that fabric first.

And while we are talking “you buy the fabric”; remember that if you want self-cording you need extra fabric. Self-cording is cut on the bias of the fabric and will require more fabric. Just as local needlepoint shop or finisher how much fabric you will need to finish your piece.

 

And some shops stock fabrics for finishing, so ask before you head all over the countryside looking for that perfect fabric. Some finishers have fabrics stockpiled and if you ask the shop you use, they probably can tell you which red would be best on that stocking or they can ask the finisher for you.

 

I’m lucky we have several very nice fabric shops in the area. Sarah’s in Lawrence (http://www.sarahsfabrics.com/), and several quilt shops in the area, plus Hamilton, Mo (https://www.missouriquiltco.com/). I’ve been to Hamilton twice now and while it is both eye candy for the imagination it can be overwhelming also. Hamilton is quilt town in northern Missouri, aka Missouri Quilt Co; Google it or read my post from last year…

 

A word about finishers… Have you ever wondered why so many shops guard their finisher’s name so closely? The real reason is that they are not trying to keep her a national secret, they are trying to protect her from the thousand calls she would get during busy times of the year asking, “Is my ornament finished yet?” And that is why finishing deadlines are so early. I think a finisher told me one time she finish over 1000 ornaments for Christmas and that didn’t count the stockings. Keep in mind blocking boards can only hold so much and sometimes pieces need to be blocked more than once and sometimes needlepoint even needs to be cleaned before blocking may begin. (This is another blog…but stitching in the hand vs stitching on a frame does have its drawbacks as well as its advantages…I will put this on my list of things to write about.)

 

Back to “Wicked”… I found the fabric and Batik at Hamilton and bought it. Brought it home and took it to the shop for my finisher to pick up (No, just because I know her doesn’t mean I don’t have to take it to the shop. My finisher will not accept pieces except through the shops she does finishing.) I took the piece about mid-May and I got it back about mid-August.

 

What took so long? Mine was not the only finishing in line. Mine had to be blocked, just like the rest and maybe twice I didn’t ask; and it’s a pretty big piece so it took up some real-estate on the blocking board. Mine also only had the green material supplied, so my finisher had to get the black for the inset, thread and even the interfacing. I could have purchased the black but I didn’t think about it at the time and she suggested this after she saw the piece…that’s another reason you use a finisher…She’s seen enough pieces to know what looks best even when you limit her by you pre-conceived finishing. And I had no idea what interfacing she would recommend. So see, Finishers do more than finish; they make your needlepoint look just like you want, and they know from experience what works best.

When “Wicked” returned home, it was just what I envisioned and more. I hung it and hated to see Halloween come to an end. I sometimes think I stitch long hours for a piece that only is displayed for a short time but I like it and it brings a smile to my face. And I hope it will be around for many years to come, maybe even one of my Grandchildren will want it when I am gone. Sometimes I get it out in it’s protective bag, and hand it on the door of my office just to look at it…it makes me smile.

Oh and before I forget; what do I do with the stitch guide after I complete stitching the canvas? I destroy it; it is a copyrighted piece of work.  And in my opinion, stitch guides should not be bought or sold without the purchase of the canvas! I have done two or three stitch guides for canvases and I will not sell them to individuals only to shops where I assume the canvas is purchased.

I know a stitcher who saves her stitch guides as a reference and that’s fine but I don’t want all the extra paper. I might make a note in my computer or my stitch notebooks I keep about a technique, stitch pattern or stitch but my stitch guide goes to the trash. I do not share it with my stitch friend who bought the canvas only because she liked mine. I destroy it. Enough said…my soap box stand for the week.

On another note…my family is having a garage sale…no needlepoint but I do have needlepoint books I have accumulated over the years. I will list them here next week with cost and then I will put them on Needlepoint Nation Stash after that.

Thank you for stopping by, I hope you have time to stitch today and over the holiday week-end. AND please don’t forget to honor those you know who are serving or have served in our military. Without these brave men and women we would not enjoy the freedoms we take for granted.

ttfn…sue