Stitch Journeys

Exploring life with needle and thread.

Be Brave

Be Brave Journal Cover



I woke up this morning thinking about being brave. I frequently find myself telling my students to Be Brave when I am guiding them down new and sometimes scary paths. This happens most often in my Stitch Journeys class where we bravely adjust our tensions and sew with the most difficult and dangerous threads and my Metal Explorations class where we courageously stitch metal to fabric and paper. I also tell myself daily to Be Brave! My newest journal cover pictured above is a reminder to be brave. Be Brave has become a motto of sorts, a mantra to repeat when I need some extra strength to conquer fear.

There is a lot of fear that comes with the task of making art. Fear that it isn’t good enough, fear that everyone will know that I don’t have formal art training, fear that no one will like my work, fear that I won’t like it, fear that my work won’t convey the feelings, thoughts and ideas that I want it to, fear I will be laughed at…an endless stream of fears! It would be much easier to take on some other daunting task like climbing Pikes Peak, training a rattlesnake to do tricks or start an art retreat business in a recession!

It seems a little silly sometimes to be fearful when making art. After all, there are many things in life that we need to be brave for that are much more life threatening; disease in ourselves or a loved one, war, protecting our family from harm, the loss of a job, or the death of someone special. Our country was founded by brave men and women who wanted to make big changes in our world. I am so thankful that they found the strength to be brave enough to create a new type of society that has become our wonderful country.

When we make art we are sharing part of our heart and soul with the world and that can be a very scary thing…maybe even scarier than creating a new country! When we make art, we lay out our emotions for the world to see and trample upon if they like.

Being Brave doesn’t have to be a solitary endeavor. I have a lot of help when it comes to being brave. My coach, mentor and friend Laura Cater Woods helps me by asking the questions that reveal the excuses I put in my path so I don’t have to be brave. My closest friends help me to be brave when they tell me what is good and bad about my work and when they cheer me on. My family helps be to be brave with their unquestioning support of everything I do.  My students help me to be brave when they willingly pull on their own brave super stitcher capes and plunge forward onto the tasks I assign them. I also have my groups! I belong to 3 different fiber art groups. These groups, which I co-founded, all focus on exploring fiber art and growing as an artist. How can I possibly fail with so much support?

The reality is I will fail at some things. But, one thing I have learned in this first 50 years of my life is that while failure may sting at the time, in the long run it is not really a bad thing. Failure teaches us valuable lessons and makes us stronger, kinder and more compassionate. Failure helps to make us braver. With each failure we realize that we can survive, we can grow and we can improve. Be Brave~Make Art!

We gain strength, and courage, and confidence by each experience in which we really stop to look fear in the face... we must do that which we think we cannot." Eleanor Roosevelt
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To Market To Market

threads key fobs

I am headed to Spring Quilt Market in Minneapolis. Wow, has it been a crazy busy month. Two weeks getting ready for market and final edits on Threads: The Basics and Beyond. At market my Fabric Embellishing co-author Ruth Chandler and I will be offering a great Take and Teach class for store owners.  Ruth and I made great little embellished pins as a present for those who take the class. We will be demoing in the Landauer Publishing booth so stop by to see us if you are there.

I am offering a class for Threads also but solo as my co-author Debbie Bates won’t be able to attend. We are really excited to be presenting our new book at market. This book covers everything about thread and is a whopping 176 pages. You all are going to love it! I made these winged heart key fobs for my students who will earn their ‘thread wings’ in the class.

Don’t feel sorry for me because I have been working so hard…after all that prep work we headed east for a real vacation! Of course we hit some great homeschool history sites such as Old Bent’s Fort CO, part of the Santa Fe Trail in OK, Fort Smith AR, Hot Springs AR and the Great Smokey Mountain National Park in TN. Our final destination was Charleston SC to see my oldest son graduate with distinction from Nuclear Power School at the Navel Weapons Station. We also got a chance to welcome in the newest Kettle family member in person. We are so proud of him and his family!

We spent 5 days exploring Charleston and hanging out with the family. We saw enough forts and cannons, battleships, airplanes and traffic to fill us up for a while. One of our favorite sites was the Fire Museum. K-Man who is 3 loved their virtual ride in a fire truck. He got to be the driver numerous times. Baby Z is a delight and perfect.

We met up with my friend Carol Sloan and her husband for a kayak adventure in Charleston Harbor. We had never been kayaking and it was so much fun. We will definitely do that again. Carol will be teaching two great classes at Textile Evolution. We will have to find a Colorado style adventure for her when she is there for the retreat.

I will post photos from market this weekend so check back to see what great stuff I find.
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What a Blast!

Market and Festival were such a blast! Exhausting and exhilarating at the same time. Not only are the quilt shows amazing but it is wonderful to be surrounded by so many people who love the same stuff I do...fabric, thread and stuff! Lots of fabulous stuff!

Here are some photos of the fun.

me at open studios_edited-1

Here I am demonstrating needle felting during Open Studios. I love participating in Open Studios because I get to meet people from all over the world. This year I met a woman from Russia who didn't speak any english but loved the silk paper I was working with. We traded a piece of silk paper for a sweet handmade doll. How cool is that?

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susan brubaker knapp

Susan Brubaker Knapp chatting in Open Studios. We shared the same times and it was great to get to know Susan a little.

making art pins in miu

Students working on art pins during my MIU class. Make it University classes are fast and fun. I love the variety of students from kids to adults. They all just jump in to learn and play.

artistic artifacts booth

The Artistic Artifacts booth...look at all that incredible stuff! Those hand dyed fabrics are truly luscious! A few had to come home to live with me. A little paint, some charms, just a few packs of lucite flower beads, a couple packs of hand dyed vintage trim...thats all I will admit to bringing home!
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