Stitch Journeys

Exploring life with needle and thread.

Are you Doing the 'Check-in'

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. 

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The First 100 Days ~ Stitch Meditation

The First 100 Days ~ Stitch Meditation

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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Ubuhle Women and their Beadwork

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.

IMG 7519 edited-1

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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Looking for July

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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6 Miles of Seperation

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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Spring Quilt Market review-Art Gallery Fabrics

Spring Quilt Market review-Art Gallery Fabrics

Ruth and I both adore Art Gallery Fabrics! The hand of these fabrics is simply amazing. The patterns are unique, cutting edge and the colors incredibly yummy! We did a video--correction LIZ did a video Ruth will not be held responsibile for this---of the beautiful Art Gallery Fabrics booth at Spring Quilt Market in Portland.

 

Vendors spend an incredible amount of time, energy and money to create a unique booth at quilt market. We thought you all might enjoy seeing it. Apologies for the video! Liz kept thinking she could re-orient the camera. She blames it on her enthusiam for showing you all how awesome their booth is.

 

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Creative Silk Challenge ~ Chase Away the Winter Blahs

Creative Silk Challenge ~ Chase Away the Winter Blahs

Liz Here ~

Are you ready to get back into the studio to play but find that you just don't have any ideas or motivation? That is what happens to us after the busy fall show season followed by the holidays. Ruth and I get the January creative blahs. We were thinking about this problem when we visited Treenway Silks recently where we became totally enamoured with their Creative Silk Packs. Such delicious colors and textures! Thus, our Winter Creative Challenge was born.

treenway berries     treenway green    treenway coastal

 

treenway midnight    treenway peach    treenway fields

Do you want to play with us? You can get your own yummy package of goodies from Blue Twig Studio or Treenway Silk.

The rules: In the spirit of keeping this totally fun and playful we don't have any rules! We do have a due date so we don't procrastinate forever...you know how that happens! Due by March 15. Get your Creastive Silk Pack and make something. Make a couple somethings. Share your photos with us and we will feature you and your work on our blog and Facebook. e-mail either of us: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Ruth picked the Wild Berries pack and of course I choose Eat your GreensI started playing with mine yesterday. When I opened my package it looked like this:

treenway silk pack green

So much possibility!

A few hours later it looked like this:

treenway silk pack phase 2

I added in some Treenway hand dyed silk ribbon. Then I started stitching but don't have a photo of that yet. I have to say I barely made a dent in the contents of the Creative Silk Pack so I know I will get at least 2 projects out of it. I wish the photos really showed how awesome the colors are.

We will both post photos of our progress.

So, come on...Jump in and play with us. Let's chase away the winter blahs together.

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Needle Felting Winner!

And we have a winner! The random number generator picked #3 That would be the lovely and talented  Jan DeBellis!! Jan and I first met IRL at Art and Soul in Virginia Beach. That was pretty funny since we both live in Colorado. I have e-mailed you Jan and your goodies will be in your hands very soon.

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Metal Play

Spring is a busy travel season for me and it seems like forever ago that I was in VA and taught my Metal Mesh Magic class at Artistic Artifacts. In fact it was exactly a month ago. We had so much fun with creating patterns on metal, using patinas, embossing an

d torching.

We made a bit of a mess everywhere as we learned how to transfer images and emboss. But what is creativity without a mess? We played with thin metal shim-colored and natural too.

We took full advantage of the amazing warehouse space to spread out our work as our patinas developed. It is much easier to work with Liver of Sulfur indoors when you have a really big space...not quite so stinky!

Most of the students had never used a torch before but once they tried it they were hooked! Many thanks to Carol Hamilton for allowing us to use her torches and for the safety lesson for everyone. Carol is an amazing jewelry artist. Check out her gallery.

I have a new piece that features metal mesh but it is for a special exhibit so I can't even give you a sneak peek yet. You will have to take my word that it is beautiful. :-) I am off to Barcelona Spain tomorrow to teach my three day intensive thread class, Stitch Journeys. When I get back I will catch you up on Art and Soul as well as my trip to Spain.

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On-line Classes--Tell me what you think...

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Fabric Embellishing Additions

The other project I spent finishing up last weekend was putting the edge finishes and tabs on some new pages for my Fabric Embellishing sampler. When we were writing the book Fabric Embellishing; the Basics and Beyond we didn't have time to make pages for some of the techniques that one of the other author's was writing so Ruth and I have been going back and creating some of those with variations from the originals in the book. A lot of the pages that I didn't get done previously were in the 'foundations' section of the book. This one featured above is weaving.



Here we have tucks. Don't you just love the mini pom pom trim? I had a lot of fun with this page seeing how this striped fabric would look tucked.

This is my Stitches and Bits page. I skipped the stitch part and just inserted lots of bits. The yellow strip is plastic kitchen lace (you know the stuff your produce comes bagged in). Just remember not to iron it!

This is my vintage take on the Fashion a frame page. I used a beautiful piece of silk paper in the windows and some vintage bits that seemed to be treasures the young woman in the photo would have kept. I used a hand dyed vintage tea towel for the base and added quite a bit of hand stitching.

This page was a sample that didn't make it into the final cut of Fabric Embellishing. It is a combination of paper, fabric and kitchen produce lace layered. The strips on the left are from a piece of sequin waste that I cut, overlapped and stitched down by machine. The edge finish is pieces of purple produce lace couched down around the edge. I love the little top piece that sticks up straight on the top.
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CHA Market Happenings

Journal dress detail



I have not been to CHA in Chicago in a few years (probably 6) and was sorry to see how much smaller it has gotten...a sign of the craft industry's struggles in a sluggish economy. But that doesn't mean the show didn't have some interesting offerings and beautiful visuals.

I really enjoyed the keynote presentation by Dr. Jeffrey Brown...who knew a Harvard Psychologist could be so funny? Dr. Brown's book, The Winner's Brain is on my reading list.  I am a bit of a brain and body function geek as most of you know and I fully believe that you can change both to create the life you want. The Social Media Boot Camp presentation by Gini Dietrich was full of great tips for getting started in social media. We were not able to take any classes because we procrastinated too long and they were all full...note to self for future...avoid procrastination!

On the show floor we were treated to a great Designer Challenge; Crafty Couture. Designers created unique mixed media garments that were fun and wearable! Here are some photos of a few of my favorites. I apologize that I neglected to write down all of the designers names so if you know one I missed let me know so I can add it.



Numen Trace Power for Paper and Cloth



Numen Trace detail



Because of the bright lights in the convention center we couldn't see the effects of power on this paper and cloth creation. I will be interested to see where this goes in the future. Numen promises to electrify our craft. I will be following them for sure.



love this resin paper skirt



Faber Castell make and take



Faber Castell was on my must see list. I was able to experiment with their new products at their make and take. I brought home some of their new gelatos and the big brush Pitt Pens. I love my small brush Pitt Pens and these big brush markers are great! Easy to use and great colors. I can't wait to get down into the studio lab to play. Blue Twig studios will be carrying these soon!

Of course every booth had great ideas, creative samples and lots of demos to teach about their products. Deb and I left the show floor every day foot sore and with brains swimming in ideas. Now we just need time to implement!
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