This week I was able to move some projects along, which, while not particularly glamorous, did feel satisfying. Weeks in which I release new designs always have a celebratory feel, so weeks like this one in which I'm taking and editing photos, proofing patterns, and getting stuff on the website can feel a bit underwhelming, so I have to remind myself that each week a design progresses along its path is a good week.
I've been working on photographing Penelope's Garden for the kit version and I have to admit, it's been challenging. I'm very short and this baby is very BIG, which means I've got to use a ladder to get it photographed on my dining room table. But, this absolutely stunning design is just so much fun to photograph due to its bright color palette and jam-packed motif-a-palooza! I was delighted when two Avlea stitchers provided samples--Maria stitched it on 30ct Mikini and Cindy on 32ct Porcelain linen--so I can offer it in two versions for the kit. And, I'm going to have the kit come with 35x35" fabric so you can choose to have either a narrow or wide hem border.
Much easier to photograph was the Antonia basket cloth. When my daughter visited last week, we sent my husband to Trader Joe's to pick up "pretty" bread, and we loved this loaf he brought back! For awhile now, I've wanted a kit that would be a "next project" for new stitchers who had finished a BitKit and wanted something more advanced, but not too advanced. At about 5000 sts, this works up really fast and would make a great gift (maybe for a wedding?). The sample took me about a week and I loved stitching the fresh, modern colorway of soft teal, blue-green, and golden olive. I'll proof the pattern and then we'll make kits. Luiza will be another basket cloth kit in a traditional Romanian black-and-red colorway on natural Traditional Groundcloth.
Also in the works is preparing for the Sewing and Stitchery Expo Mar 2-5 at the Washington State Fairgrounds. I spent last Friday making my new display background, which I was pretty proud of (you can see it on IG Reels). A few yards of grosgrain ribbon, some S hooks, and square dowels, and I was able to create a pretty nifty trellis that I can hang loads of embroideries on. And, it only weighs 2 lbs!
To be honest, I have a love/hate relationship with trade shows--I love, love, love the energy of a trade show and I always come home pretty creatively fired up. But, they involve so much planning and prep work that I find myself waking up at 3am thinking "Did I remember the display boxes? Did I pack the needleminder magnet board?"! I'm always grateful when I finally get there and can just groove on that happy trade show energy.
Speaking of creative energy, this past week I picked up Rick Rubin's "The Creative Act: a Way of Being" and I couldn't wait to read the musings of this very famous creative (he's a music producer for many musicians, not the least of which in our house is Johnny Cash's American Recordings). This book does not disappoint! The short, 2-3 page chapters are really easy to dip into and I find myself wanting to linger over each section. Here's one of my favorite quotes so far:
By conventional definition, the purpose of art is to create physical and digital artifacts. To fill shelves with pottery, books, and records. Though artists generally aren’t aware of it, that end work is a by-product of a greater desire. We aren’t creating to produce or sell material products. The act of creation is an attempt to enter a mysterious realm. A longing to transcend. What we create allows us to share glimpses of an inner landscape, one that is beyond our understanding. Art is our portal to the unseen world. Without the spiritual component, the artist works with a crucial disadvantage. The spiritual world provides a sense of wonder and a degree of open-mindedness not always found within the confines of science. The world of reason can be narrow and filled with dead ends, while a spiritual viewpoint is limitless and invities fantastic possibilities. The unseen world is boundless.
Rick Rubin, The Creative Act: a Way of Being
I found myself really connecting with this as I considered both my stitching and designing: I've come to delight in the experience of working a tiny stylized bird or puzzling over how to mirror a complicated geometric motif and suddenly being drawn into that "mysterious realm." It's that sense of the unseen world being boundless that keeps me coming back for more. He's also got me really thinking about nature and its connection to art--I took some photos while we were skiing this past weekend and I can't wait to turn the sunrise mountain below into a new palette.
Ah, yes, skiing...my best friend and partner in life is a very (did I say very?) avid skier and we've skied as a family for many years (here in the Pacific NW, skiing is what outdoorsy people do in the winter because heaven forbid we should sit indoors). And....I'm not very good at it! I don't like bombing down a hill, I hate the cold, and I have poor coordination, so skiing is not a natural fit for me--fifteen years in and I still struggle to get down blue (intermediate) runs, which can leave me feeling frustrated and discouraged as my husband and daughter go gracefully down a slope looking like they're in a commercial. Last year, I realized that I needed to either lean in or let go and I decided to try leaning in. I got better clothes (no more cold toes!), got properly fitted for boots (more control going downhill!), and signed up for some lessons with an instructor that specializes in teaching autistic skiers (have I mentioned I'm autistic? more on that in later posts). And, Oh. My. Word. what a difference all this made--for the first time this past weekend, I went down a slope gracefully and in control and I felt such a rush of excitement that was all the more sweet for being such a long time coming!
There are several reasons I've kept at learning to ski despite it being the most challenging thing I've ever done--among them are spending time with my family and taking time to recharge in nature--but not the least of them is helping me to experience what it's like to try new and challenging things. When I have a new stitcher reach out to me, I can easily remember the frustration and difficulty of learning new skills because I probably just went careening down a hill barely in control within the last week. I can assure them, don't worry, you've got this--it might take a bit longer than you expected, but stick with it and good things will come about.
Gliding gracefully down that hill this past Saturday, watching the sky turn from pink to blue as the mountain glowed ethereally, reminded me that I've got this, you've got this, we've got this. Things will turn out, and in the words of a book I recently read, if they don't that means they aren't done yet. So wherever you're at in your crafting journey, you're on the right path and headed in the right direction. Stick with it, give yourself lots of grace and compassion, and enjoy the journey!