Stitch Journeys

Exploring life with needle and thread.

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It is always weird when something one does so naturally is sought after by others or when you find out that friends, especially close friends don’t do what you find such a basic part of your day. It makes you feel a bit like a freak! 

I have recently realized that I naturally do the ‘check-in’ on a consistent daily basis in one form or another and that many other people rarely do the 'check-in'. This boggles my mind! 

I thought everyone did regular check-ins.

The realization came to me as two more people asked me to help them do the ‘check-in’ in their studio space to help them be more orgnaized, professional and creative. Conversations with friends made me realize they don’t check in with their bodies or their spaces either.

You may be asking what is a 'check-in'?

A check-in is simply that…taking time to check in with why something is working, isn’t working or could be improved. I guess it could be a form of mindfullness. Maybe it is just an awareness.

When I walk into my studio, my office, my house, the Thread Lab, and even Cottonwood Center for the Arts I do a quick mental check-in to see if things are working well or if there is an annoyance that can be improved. What has been undone for so long that I no longer see it? 

I started this when I was managing a Pier 1 store way back in the day. It takes a bit of mindfulness to remember to do this and to be able to look at a space you enter every day with fresh eyes.

As an artist it is an excellent skill to cultivate!

Sometimes it means taking a look at why I am not doing something I want to do. Recently, I realized that I was spending less time with my stitch meditations. I checked-in and saw that the space wasn’t working for the inward focused task. You can see that quite clearly…

stitch meditation space 1 of 3

What a mess...there is stuff everywhere. Piles on all the windowsills, on the plant stand, and on the floor. Where did I put those scissors?

stitch meditation space 2 of 3

Fabrics and cool bits are all jumbled in a basket getting all smooshed and wrinkled, threads are everywhere! 

I did a little reorganization and now the space is welcoming and makes me want to sit and stitch.

stitch meditation space 3 of 3

All the fabrics are sorted by size-no longer a wrinkled mess, papers and cool bits are in a separate bin, I can even find my base flannel pieces! All the threads are on the top shelp with my scissors.

I do the same check-in with my body every day. What feels good, what feels less than great, am I tired, achy, how is my energy level? I don’t stop there though. I question why. Did I eat right today? Did I exercise enough? Did I get enough sleep?  Maybe this is because I was so sick for so long and it is partly by asking these questions daily that I was able to figure out what foods make me sick and which ones don’t.

I do the same thing with my emotional state….how do I feel? Am I on top of things or feeling overwhelmed? Why might I feel that way and what thoughts do I need to look at changing in order to get back to happy?

Check-ins are a huge part of self-care whether we are talking about your space or your health.

Have you done a check in lately? The winter solstice is a great day to schedule a check-in!

My check-in today is telling me I need to clean out my email in-box. :-) 

I have a gift for you to help increase your mindfulness and gratitude practices in 2016. 30 days of Gratitude texts from the gratitude coach, Terza Ekholm. 

Tagged in: check-in self care
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stitch meditation1

Today is day 100 of my friend Deb Prewitt's 100 Days to 100% challenge! I took on the challenge of doing a stitch meditation every day. If you have been following along you know I didn't stitch every day and have not achieved my 100% goal.  I did make great progress towards my goal of taking time to slow down and stitch or just be every day.

The progress is what is important more than the 100%. 

I pushed through some layers of excuses along the way. 

stitch meditation3

I discovered ways around some stumbling blocks like not having everything ready to go ahead of time. I created a stitch basket and box that have lots of bits and leftovers that I find when I clean my studio up. Now, I have lots of ingredients for my daily stitch at hand so I can just sit down and grab some things and stitch.

I did not beat myself up when I didn't meet the daily challenge. Life is about flexibility and forgiveness.

stitch meditation

I did fall in love with the process of stitching small bits of things together. When I am not able to make the time to stitch I miss it! That means I am well on the way to making my stitch meditation practice a non-negotiable in my life. 

On some of the days that I couldn't stitch I did use a traditional guided meditation. Yay for me!

Tomorrow starts another 100 days. I will continue my stitch meditations and will add another challenge to myself. 

stitch meditation4

I think my new challenge will be a daily sketch. That will be challenging for me. Actually trying to do something every day consistantly..day in and day out...is the real challenge. :-)

Want to play along? What will you challenge yourself to do during the next 100 days? Eat better, walk more, create something, love more? 

Leave a comment and share your goals.

Use the hastag #100daysto100% in your social media posts so we can cheer you on too.

 

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I have been in Northern VA the last 10 days teaching at Artistic Artifacts and getting ready for spring quilt market in Pittsburgh this upcoming weekend. On Mother's Day, me, Ruth Chandler, Judy Gula and her sister's family all trekked into Washington DC to the Anacostia Community Museum and were treated to a unique and amazing exhibit.

ubuhle women header

The exhibit is titled Ubuhle Women: Beadwork and the Art of Independence. Ubuhle means 'beauty' in the Xhosa and Zulu languages. We found both the beadwork and the women creating the art to truly be beautiful in every sense of the word.  I know my photos barely capture the details so if you get to the DC area before Sept 21, 2014 be sure to put this on your list.

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ubuhle cross detailmagnificent panels joined to create a wall size installation.

Ubuhle is a former sugar plantation that has been transformed into a center of independence for rural women where they can learn traditional beading skills to support themselves.

ubuhle abstract sm1

ubuhle lg abstract

The beaded textiles are completed with simple Czech glass seed beads as whole cloth artworks. The artists call their pieces ndwango which translates loosely as rag or cloth. As is with the case with much textile art, these pieces take months complete and become imbued with the life joys and sorrows that each artist experiences in that time. You can feel their happiness and sadness as you soak in each beautiful piece.

ubuhle bull sm

ubuhle horn bull

The bull pieces were about 4' wide by 3' tall. We kept wondering how much each of these pieces weighed. Sorry about the blurry photos. The museum light was low and I didn't want to use a flash.

ubuhle water

As a fun little bonus there was a listing of beading resources available for the public and my book: First Time Beading on Fabric was among them! Me at the Smithsonian!

I am inspired to pull out the beads and get to work! How about you?

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Anyone seen July around? I remember turning the calendar page to July but the next thing I knew it was the middle of August already! School starting? Really?

 

Ruth and I both had tons of company...grandchildren on both fronts and a few other house guests too. It was lots of fun and much laughter was heard at both our homes.

 

We did get some great work done too!

I finished this piece which was accepted into the Standing on the Shoulders of Cowboys exhibit at Cottonwood Center for the Arts in Colorado Springs. That was an honor because of the amazing number of pieces that were submitted. This piece, titled Rust 'N' Dust is composed of rust dyed fabrics and machine embroidery on an organza layer.

 

rust n dust liz kettle

 

Ruth finished the final pieces for her new book Modern Hand Stitch the evening before she had hand surgery! Talk about a hard deadline. Her samples will amaze you and we will give you some sneak peeks over the coming weeks. Her book will be out later this fall.

 

Ruth has a bit of recuperation ahead of her so send her lots of healing energy. I know she can't wait to get back to stitching again.

 

 

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I once again find myself living 6 miles from the edge of a major wild fire.

Yesterday the fire spread 8 miles is a few hours.

6 miles is too close.

6 miles is scary.

 

There is nothing between me and the edge of the fire but hundreds of acres of trees. Trees stressed by years of drought.

 

This is the photo I took yesterday at 3:30 just a couple hours after the fire started.

 

This is the photo I took when I picked my son up from his colleg class. Just 3 hours later.

 

Of course when disaster strikes close to home you make plans for evacuation. Photos and family history are packed. Actually, they have been packed since the Waldo Canyon fire last year. We didn't get enough snow or rain this last year to warrent unpacking. My art work is at the studio in Colorado Springs. We have talked about what things are the most important to bring. We have a plan.

 

A plan doesn't help with the helpless feeling as you watch homes being turned to ashes in minutes.

 

I went down to my basement studio to finish up some packing for a trip to the mountains this weekend and I had such a wave of sadness hit me. Sadness that all of my 'stuff' my art supplies, vintage fabrics, vintage papers, art papers, bits and bobs could all vanish in an instant. Totally out of my control. There would be no way to replace any of it. Insurance wouldn't even begin to cover the precious bits I have collected over the years. 

 

My sadness didn't last more than a couple minutes. I started sorting through some fabrics and quickly realized that it is all just 'stuff'. What is

 

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