First things first… I know you’re dying to know if I have continued my “workout” routine, which I posted about on Tuesday. Thanks to all who laughed along with me on that. I put the word workout in quotes because is it really a “workout” when it’s just for 10 minutes? I’m going to say YES! And yes, I have. Every single muscle in my body aches. How is that even possible after just 10 minutes? Seriously. What have I been doing for the last two years? Oh, right. NOT exercising. At all. So there’s that.
Next up: France!! I’m starting to get seriously excited, which is saying a lot because I was already excited before, but now I’m in a kind of twilight zone of over the top excitement.
The Chateau where I will be staying for two weeks.
There’s still lots of things to do, figure out what I’m taking, pack, figure out how I’m going to fit in a couple changes of clothes amongst all my stitching stuff, get some Euros. I’ve got packages to mail to people who’ve enrolled in various workshops. By the way, The Improvisational Stitching Workshop only has ONE spot left, so if you’re thinking about enrolling, do, before it’s sold out. And the upcoming Stitch Along has only a couple spots left as well. That’s the one where we use my improvisational stitching techniques with creating buttons of all kinds and adding them. I’m just starting to learn how to make Zwirnknopf and Death’s Head buttons to add to the Dorset Buttons and will be teaching both as well! Who knew buttons could be SO much fun?!
Combining Improvisational Stitching with Button Making!
This is an example of a Zwirnknopf Button.
I haven’t attempted a Death’s Head button, but will be learning how. All of these various things are things I’ll be bringing with me to France to practice and play with. And then there’s the big piece which I’ll be layering and painting on.
Did I mention that I’m going to be visiting the Catacombs in Paris? Now I don’t remember ever hearing about the Catacombs when I was living in London and visiting Paris more frequently, but something popped up about them while I was looking for thread shops that might be still open, and I thought – what? Catacombs? I’m all in! So I promptly booked a tour of them for the second day that I’m there. Death’s Head buttons, catacombs… I’m noticing a theme here.
And then there’s the Aiguille en Fête which will, miraculously, be going on JUST as I’m there. Aiguille en Fete basically translates to Needle Party and there will be all kinds of exhibits, demonstrations of thread, fiber art, etc. I am thrilled. Absolutely thrilled. Beyond thrilled. Pretty much beside myself with excitement. AND where ever and whenever possible I’ll be shooting video, recording and posting back to my Patrons, in my FB group and on my Youtube Channel. I’ll be busy!
I’m seizing this moment to explain the website and it’s checkout process since a few people have had trouble. I’ve broken this down into steps and highlighted things that need to be paid attention to.
So let’s go over to the website, shall we?!
First when you arrive you will be greeted by me! There I am, cheerfully welcoming you into my world of design, art, and hand stitching.
Do you see those two big red arrows? That’s showing you the navigation bar because I’m going to go over all of the items listed, but first let’s just look for a second at the bottom of this landing page, the page with me smiling at you. If you scroll down you’ll see a whole bunch of images and text about my past design work and then at the very bottom you’ll see this:
This is how you can get in touch with me.
Now you can also use the “contact” at the top in the navigation bar.
Either one will work. So if you get into trouble, just know we’re here to help answer any and all questions you may have. And most of you, who follow me elsewhere, know I’m pretty good about responding to you in a timely manner.
Okay. Now, let’s move on to “Workshops”.
Yay, workshops!! So much fun. This is what you’ll see. At some point I’ll change the large header image with my most recent piece, but until then this is exactly what you should see. Scroll down and you’ll see the calendar break down of all my workshops as of today. I’ll be adding a few more in the coming weeks, but for now, this is it.
Click on the blue link from the photo above (I’ve circled it in red). All those blue titles are hotlinks and when clicked on, they will open that workshop!
Here we are in the Stitch Along Dorset Button Glasses Case Workshop.
Look at the drop down menu! How cool is that?! That’s what you’ll see if you click on the button to the right of “Customize your experience”. This is where you can add stuff. Fun stuff like fabric kits and thread kits. If you don’t see a drop down menu it’s because no kits are available for that workshop. But for both my Stitch Along workshops you get to add kits!! One more thing about the drop down menu… when you choose one of the options, you’ll see that the price changes.
See how the price changed when you added the Fabric Kit? And can we just admire for a moment those fabulous linens? These include enough linen and lining for TWO cases – Pat Pauly’s hand dyed linens, my own ice dyed linen, a cotton lining AND a micro fiber lining, (you’ll get both) which is perfect for glasses lens, fusible fleece interfacing, again enough for two cases and enough wool for one. Same with the Stitch Along Scissor Case, but I’m getting side tracked…
So the price includes the workshop, plus the Fabric Kit, which also includes shipping and the design and the detailed instruction booklet. “What!” you’re saying to yourself, “that must be a typo!” but no, it’s just one of the perks you get for signing up for this Stitch Along. “But what about the thread kit?” you might ask.
Here you go!
This is the workshop and the thread kit. Please note that if you live outside the US you MUST order at least 4 weeks before the beginning of the workshop. Even so it’s dicey with customs and covid causing delays. Bottom line – if you don’t live in the US, hurry and enroll now!
Here we are with the Workshop, the fabric kit AND the thread kit. See all those beautiful threads above? Oh! And look! See that gorgeous hand dyed linen underneath? Yup that’s the whole package. One last thing – this workshop features Dorset Buttons. Not just your traditional Dorset Button, but really, really wild dorset buttons. Dorset Buttons like you’ve not seen before. Last year I gave a couple workshops called Dorset Buttons Gone Wild. It was a huge hit. This workshop and the other Stitch Along I’m doing in July will teach you how to create dorset buttons that are little pieces of art unto themselves. So even if you don’t want to make a glasses case or scissor case, you can still take this workshop and create dorset buttons for something else you’re working on. It’s all about thinking outside the box, using the dorset button as a jumping off point, but doing things you’ve never thought of doing. That’s what we’ll be doing in both of these Stitch Alongs.
Okay, let’s keep going with the website. So now you’re convinced this is just the coolest Stitch Along/Workshop that you’ve ever seen and you can hardly wait to sign up. So what do you do now?
Click on the “Add to cart” button and you’ll see the little, light blue, transparent box at the top that I’ve helpfully circled in red! And if you look at the navigation bar you’ll see the number 1 in your “cart”, showing you that you’ve added one thing to your shopping cart. And now you can do a couple of things: You can keep shopping and sign up for more workshops and/or designs or you can check out.
There are two ways to check out. The first is to click on the button that I’ve circled in red in the image above.
Or you can click on the the “Go to cart once all items are added?” button, which is right below the “Add to cart” button. Do you see it? ⬆️
Once you click on “view cart” or “Go to cart once all items are added?” you’ll be asked to login, if you haven’t already done so. This is for your security and this is what you’ll see
If you remember your user name and password you’re good to go. If you’ve forgotten your password, like everyone else in the world, you’ll need to click on “login” and you’ll see this image above. Do you see the dreaded “Lost your password?” No problem, we can help you with that. I can’t remember my middle name, much less every password I’ve created for different websites, oh wait, I don’t have a middle name, but you get the point… Click on “Lost your password” and you’ll get an email to reset your password. This is so that no one pretending to be you can get in here and make mischief.
Once you’ve created a new password and logged in, you’ll see this page above… wait, what? Coupon???? I want a coupon! I can help you with that too. If you signed up for my newsletter you will have seen that I give one to everyone who signed up. If you missed that, you can join Patreon where I also gave a different coupon just a few weeks ago! Lots of coupons, lots of different ways to get one.
Once you’ve entered your coupon code or decided you just want to get enrolled because the workshops are filling up fast, you’ll click on “Proceed to checkout” and voila, you’ll be taken to this page.
A couple things here – there’s yet another reminder to use a coupon, if you have one (upper left corner circled in red) and don’t forget to un-click “Ship to a different address?” unless your credit card info is different than your shipping address. For the kits, the shipping address is really important because this is what will be given to me to ship all that beautiful fabric and threads to, so make sure it’s correct. I cannot tell you how many times I go to the post office only to be told “that address doesn’t exist”. So please, please, please, double check and make sure it’s correct. And include you’re phone number so that we can call you to verify, if we run into problems.
Once you’ve filled out all the credit card info, you’ll get an email welcoming you to the workshop and then you’ll get another email from me asking you to choose which kit you’d like. Make sure you have my email address in your contacts so that your email security doesn’t block me, thinking I’m spamming you. I promise, I would never do that. ❤️
Congratulations you are now successfully enrolled in my workshop and the fun has just begun!
But wait! What about the rest of the website?
Okay, okay, here’s the Stitching Shop:
After that is the blog, which is where you’re reading all of this. But have you looked at the right hand side bar? You haven’t!? Well let me show you around because there’s some cool stuff.
So above the red circle there are all the social media icons which you can click on and follow me in various places. And then there’s the Subscribe to this blog! That’s where you enter your email address so that you never miss one of my blog posts.
But there’s more!
When you sign up for my newsletter you’ll get lots of other things stitching related. I wrote my first ever newsletter just a few weeks ago! And I’ll be writing another every month or so. I’m not really sure how often I’ll be writing one, but it won’t be daily or even several times a week, because I don’t have the time, but it will certainly be once a month.
So now that you’ve subscribed to this blog AND you’ve signed up for my newsletter, I want to point out something else: the Translate button.
If English isn’t your first language or second or third, you can have this blog translated to the language you’re most comfortable with. How great is that!
Okay, we’re in the home stretch… Along that top navigation bar after “Blog” and “Contact” (remember I told you about the Contact tab earlier?) then there’s “Account”. And if you hover your mouse over it, another drop down menu like this one will magically appear.
Click on “Account Details” and the image above will appear.
Lost Your Password is the next item on that drop down menu and where you can make a new password.
“Orders” is where you can see all the things you’ve signed up for and purchased and the next item “Downloads” is where you’ll find any and all downloads that came with anything you’ve purchased and finally there’s the “Logout” button.
So that’s it! You are now a pro at finding, ordering and navigating all the different things on my website!
Yesterday I released a new Youtube Video with the same title.
Go check it out!
There are a few other key factors to interpretive hand stitching, improvisational hand stitching, expressionist hand stitching or whatever else you might want to call it. I think all of these are good descriptors of my process when taking a piece of linen and starting to stitch on it.
The first few stitches
However at a certain point, composition plays a key role in how the piece evolves. It’s not enough to just stitch and hope for the best. Without a good composition it can look like a bunch of disparate parts, each might be lovely taken on their own, but they aren’t necessarily interacting well with one another.
More stitching added…
Another common issue is that one part can take over, drowning out everything else; this brings its own set of challenges. Or perhaps the whole thing is stagnant. There’s not a great deal of movement, so it’s important to know when these things are happening and why. Without knowing why, it is nearly impossible to remedy.
Once the large X was removed the two half moons in the upper right and again in the lower left began to dominate
The trick then is to resolve the “divas” and figure out how to turn the volume down or remove them. In this case, I had to remove it. Between the shape and color it was too much. Except that when it was removed, I was faced with a new challenge.
Piece without the darker shapes
So that’s where I am right now. I’m sitting with the challenge of having removed three domineering shapes. Taken on their own, they were fine, but when seen as a whole they were dominating. Except now the piece isn’t grounded. It’s lost some of its vigor. Partly that’s due to the removal of the color, which lended a great deal to the overall piece. So now I have to figure out how to pull it together, give it some excitement. And this is how it goes. There’s a kind of ebb and flow that inevitably happens when working on a piece like this. Take away some aspect and suddenly there’s a new set of challenges.
The key is to not give in to discouragement. To keep going no matter what. To keep trying new things. Thinking out of the box, pushing the boundaries of what I know how to do, trying something I’ve not tried before, test out other colors or reintroduce a color I’ve removed and see how that shifts the conversation.
This is the process that is interpretive hand stitching. Where one idea leads to another and another and another and on it goes.
I know, I know. You’re wondering if you stumbled upon the wrong blog. You’re thinking – what has she done? Where are all her beautiful threads that I so covet? What’s going on around here?
Never fear. My threads, and everything else hand stitching related, are all, somewhat, neatly stacked on the floor out of view and then not so neatly shoved into various corners, like just to the left of my sewing machine.
It kind of reminds me of Santorini where there’s one view that one can capture by photograph that is exquisite and magical and just beyond beautiful, like a fairy tale, really.
But then, if you turn just a little, you get a very different view where things aren’t quite so glistening and white, there’s garbage, the houses aren’t all pristine, and the land isn’t landscaped, but rugged and without flowers.
That’s what my studio looks like right now. There’s only one shot where everything is neat and tidy. Everything else is pretty haphazard.
The reason for all of this is that I’m taking a 2-day workshop with my friend, Pat Pauly, who is fabulous and a really wonderful teacher! I’m not much of a quilter, so this is definitely a stretch for me, but I love her work and she’s pretty terrific, so here I am, preparing for her workshop, which will begin in just a couple of hours.
Pat Pauly is also the one who sent me this piece of linen, which I’m working away on…
I’ve always worked with my hands. As a child it was embroidery with a hoop and sewing my own clothing. At around nine years old my mother taught me to knit, then there was a brief macrame obsession in the 70’s where I decorated my bedroom with intricately knotted macramé pot hangers into which I hung plants of various kinds. Later, when living in LA I worked for a tailor and watched how he would transform yards of material into the most elegant suit and was taught how to assist. Hollywood’s finest came to him.
Later is was fashion design, draping was particularly appealing because you could manipulate the fabric to hang in interesting ways on the human body, and then I began designing knitwear. Jewelry design and learning to solder and manipulate metals of various kinds, then hand stitching and now textile art, improvisational stitching, and all along the way there were forays into other things such as origami, painting, collage, throwing clay onto a wheel; always there’s been something to occupy my hands.
And then this morning I saw the following on my facebook feed:
“Grandma how do you deal with pain?”
“With your hands, dear. When you do it with your mind, the pain hardens even more.”
“With your hands, grandma?”
“Yes, yes. Our hands are the antennas of our Soul. When you move them by sewing, cooking, painting, touching the earth or sinking them into the earth, they send signals to the deepest part of you and you calm down. This way she doesn’t have to send pain anymore to show it.”
Are hands really that important?”
“Yes my grandchild. Think of babies: they get to know the world thanks to their touch. When you look at the hands of older people, they tell more about their lives than any other part of the body. Everything that is made by hand, so it is said, is made with the heart because it really is like this: hands and heart are connected. Think of lovers: When their hands touch, they love each other in the most sublime way.”
“My hands grandma… how long since I used them like that!”
“Move them my love, start creating with them and everything in you will move. The pain will not go away. But it will be the best masterpiece. And it won’t hurt as much anymore, because you managed to embroider your essence.”
By: Elena Bernabe of the wall of San Arte
Our hands. A friend of mine told me that she met a man who could tell the age of anyone who came to him. She said he didn’t look at her face or her eyes or her body, he looked at her hands, held them in his and then announced her age accurately.