29 September 2015

Stitching: An Essay

What is your favorite aspect of being a stitcher?

I've been pondering this lately, and I've come up with my answer. While I love the creativity, the color, the "play" aspect of being a stitcher, I think the most valuable thing to me is that as a stitcher, there is always something to look forward to, to plan for, to work toward. 

Looking forward is so important in life. It's so easy to get bogged down by day-to-day concerns, and to start being hyper-focused on those concerns to the point of being unable to enjoy looking forward. Life has problems that need and deserve our attention, but life is our most important WIP, and for me, stitching is one of the things that keeps me looking forward to what's next, instead of down at what's now. 

We joke and tease each other about "stash enhancement" but really, there is something very positive and healthy about looking forward to, and being excited about, our next project, a new design release, the markets, a special magazine issue.  That forward-looking attitude filters through to the rest of our lives, I think. And I sometimes wonder, does the stitching mo-jo leave us because other aspects of life are getting us down, or do other aspects of life get us down because we've (temporarily) let go of our creative, forward-looking outlet? It can be both, at different times, and in different situations, but I wonder if it's the latter more often than we suspect. I think it is, for me.

I'm a planner. Planning makes me happy, and no planning makes me happier than stitchy planning. Although I don't "kit up" projects, I understand why a lot of people do it. It's fun to make plans. We enjoy planning vacations, parties, surprises for loved ones, holidays. Planning for stitching is no different. Whether you kit up projects months (years?) in advance, or whether you put your supplies together right before your new start, it's a pleasure to sit down with your stash and pull threads, choose fabric, change colors. 

I have a yearly tradition that I treasure. Years ago, I started using the week between Christmas and the New Year to plan my projects for the coming year. I call it my "Stitchy Planning Week" and it's one of my favorite parts of the holidays. In that lull between those two holidays, I pull out all of my charts and spend several days deciding what I'd like to stitch. I have a three-ring binder with folders in it, each labeled for a month of the year. I choose designs for each month (I'm a seasonal stitcher) and place them in the folders. Do I ever stitch everything in my binder? No. Do I change my mind throughout the year? Yes. The point is, I'm making plans. Looking forward is an attitude, and planning is an action. They're two sides of the same coin.

And then there is the actual stitching. The value of work cannot be underestimated. No matter what you're doing, work equals forward movement. If you're scrubbing toilets, you're working toward a clean house. If you're selling shoes, you're working toward feeding your family. If you're stitching, you're working toward a completed project to grace your home or someone else's.

We were created, we were built, for work of all kinds. Physical labor, mental labor, creative labor; they all serve different and vital purposes. We suffer when we neglect any one of those types of work. For many of us, modern conveniences have removed much of the need for physical labor, and modern forms of entertainment have removed the need for mental and creative labor.  The results of these "advancements" are self-evident. We need to work. With our bodies, our minds, our hands, we need to work.

Needlework--like other creative pursuits, like painting and sculpting--is a unique combination of all three of those types of labor: physical, mental, creative. It isn't physically taxing, but it requires a certain level of dexterity. It isn't mentally taxing, but it requires concentration. As for creativity, it is unlimited. It is work, but it is work that soothes, instead of tires. And being that it is work, it moves us forward to an end, to a finished product, an accomplishment.

Looking forward, planning, working. Those are the aspects of stitching that I find most valuable, perhaps because they are valuable aspects of a life well-lived, too. 

28 September 2015

Look what the mail lady brought!

My order from the annual Picture This Plus fabric sale arrived! Yippee! Just in case you're not familiar with this sale, every 25 July PTP has a Christmas in July sale and ALL of their fabric is 25% off! Wow! I order every year because... well... because fabric. And yes, it has taken all this time for me to get my order, but that's because this is a huge sale and a small business with just a few employees. They are very upfront that filling the sale orders can take quite some time, so if you're in a hurry for a particular piece of fabric, best order it at another time. To me, the savings are worth the wait. Every year as the sale approaches, I carefully go through my stash and pull out a few designs I'd like to stitch on these fabrics over the next year (dreaming!). So let's check out my stuff!

Here are this year's choices, all 28 ct. Cashel linen, from top to bottom: Rosewood, Pampas, Valor, Haunted, Legacy.

The Rosewood is for this beautiful kitty freebie. I haven't decided on the color of thread to use. I do know it will be DMC and not something hand-dyed, as I want the fabric to shine on this one, and I don't want the thread to compete with it. I think the mottling of the fabric will look so cool peeking through those unstitched swirls.

The Pampas is for Trick or Treat by Lena Lawson Needlearts. At first I thought I would stitch it on a neutral similar to the model, but I thought it might be fun to stitch it on green so the orange-y tones would really pop. I was trying to match the green in the scarecrow's trousers, and although you can't tell from this picture, the Pampas is perfect!

This Garden Sampler is available as a very inexpensive download from Herrschner's. I thought it was so pretty... this photograph really doesn't capture the beautiful colors. The model is stitched on PTP Valor, one of my favorite greens, so that's what I chose for it.

Here's a classic: Judith Kirby's Victorian House #9, the Halloween house. I've chosen Haunted for this one, and I'm thinking about doing a color conversion on the house. Now that I have the fabric, I'll have to do some floss tossing to decide what, if any, changes I make.

And finally, Legacy for Fox Forest by The Workbasket. 

Last week, in my wanderings around the interwebs, I stumbled across this darling little Santa Fox needle minder at Down Sunshine Lane. I ordered him instantly. Isn't he too much?

It's been a good mail week around here. If you missed the PTP sale, don't despair. Get out your little pocket planner and mark it down for 25 July 2016 so you don't forget!

Happy Stitching!

26 September 2015

Woodland Sampler: August Block

I'm still alive, y'all! Just finished this adorable little green-eyed skunkeroo for August. 

And here's my favorite girl, supervising my slooow progress.

I'm having delusions that I can get the September block whipped out before the end of the month and be back on schedule. 

13 September 2015

Seize the Night

Just finished up a small design that Mr. Wonderful chose. This is "Carpe Noctem" by Elizabeth Spurlock, from the 2015 Just Cross Stitch Halloween Special Collector's Issue. This is a brown conversion stitched on R & R 30 ct. Irish Creme linen. The model in the magazine is stitched in shades of red on a grey sweatshirt, but I wanted a more aged look. The browns I used are DMC: 3371, 938, 898, 801, 433, 434.

Pretty spooky!

01 September 2015

Goodbye, Summer

Did you know there is a difference between astronomical seasons and meteorological seasons? If you look at your calendar you will see that 23 September is the first day of fall. But that's the autumnal equinox, the beginning of the astronomical season of autumn. According to meteorological seasons, 1 September is the first day of fall. Here's a short explanation of the difference. 

Since fall is my favorite season, I'm happy for it to arrive three weeks earlier, so I observe the meteorological seasons. I'm also a weather nerd. So goodbye, summer! 

Here's an old La D Da freebie I whipped out last night.