Monday, January 12, 2015

On Sharing....

These past few days have been fairly busy and unsettled...
many of you know that I am pretty new to actively participating on Facebook or even sharing my needlework through my blog.  My needlework was and continues to be something I love to do as a way to settle down and cherish the day and think about all the events... I usually carve out my time in the evening or early morning and do try to keep my hands busy every day... with some forms of needlework this is also a very meditative process for me.

My shoulder issues have hindered a lot of my activity these past months but as I evaluated all the activities of the recent past at the end of last week, I got word that my grandmother's younger sister was not doing well and had been admitted to a London hospital.  I had had a 'weird' feeling about her recently and so this news obtained from an email from my father and a post on Facebook from her granddaughter made me stay up all night - and stitch and think.

I may have bored many of you and perhaps even irritated many of you with my posts to try and assess what you wanted me to do with the little Schwalm bird design... and I do apologize if I did and for any faux pas I may have committed with posting them on various Facebook groups....
BUT this news reminded me of the support and love I always received not just from my grandmother but also from my grandmother's sister - she was closest to having the feeling that my grandmother was still around.  She was most interested in needlework and was always interested in learning about new techniques - she was doing Goldwork and taking classes not too long ago!  I used to send her pictures of my work and we exchanged many emails and phone calls with needlework being one of the points of discussion.  This past year she was not doing very well, was trying to make the best of it all but her physical conditions were starting to wear her down.  She was courageous enough to undertake the flight from London to Toronto to meet everyone... I of course talked to her on the phone and could hear her despair over the phone but in true form she was more concerned about my shoulder than her own issues!  She stated that she couldn't even access her computer because of arthritis anymore and apologized if she had missed emails and longed to see my needlework up close and personal.  When we hung up the phone that Sunday, we both knew that we had to meet her - we rearranged schedules (not hard, since I was not really doing anything) and a few days later we drove up there accompanied by my parents.
This is when I realized that not framing everything was a good thing in some ways - I was able to pack a lot of my recent projects into two portfolio bags and take them up for her to see.  In her haste to get ready and meet us for lunch at the restaurant, (her treat! and we couldn't talk her out of that... ) she had forgotten her glasses at her daughter's home but that didn't bother her - she borrowed her brother's glasses and then we spent a glorious afternoon 'examining' my needlework with glasses, without glasses, with my magnifier or just up close in the sunlight.... she forgot about her pain, I forgot about mine, she was not interested in resting in the afternoon or having tea AND this was the best example of sharing.  A few years ago, when I visited my grandmother in India, she too enjoyed an evening just looking at all the pictures of my work on the computer screen - in those days my grandmother hardly came out to the dining room and preferred to eat in her room...but both of them got ready, came out and both of them enjoyed seeing what I was up to and 'sharing my needlework' with them will be my last memory of them.
In retrospect, I am amazed at the similarities - both of them 'forgot' even if only for a short time about the trials of age, both of them loved hearing about needlework techniques and both asked detailed questions.  Interestingly both 'needlework sessions' with each of them had generations of family around us, and both times they had one of their brothers there...both times all the rest of the family, males and females, were all interested to see ALL of the things which absolutely amazed me!

So, if my 'blogging'  and showing my needlework has this effect on some of you 'out there', then I will continue sharing some of my work here on my blog.  I have however decided that I will restrict my Facebook activities - I need to guard my time and many a time I was too busy reading and following links etc. and spending too much time with all that. It is time to refocus my energies.

So here are a few pictures of my great aunt from that afternoon last summer - I will always be thankful to have had the opportunity to have met and known this extremely intelligent lady for most of my life, thankful to her for teaching us some of the chess moves in Wales and Germany, making excellent scones and many amazing dishes we had never ever even heard of when we were kids, thanks for all the love and support you showed each of us at all times... she shared a lot of herself... I will always remember her grace, her smile and all her amazing talents - from needlework to cooking to just living.... thanks for teaching us all the many ways of sharing!


Thursday, January 8, 2015

Thank you : Survey - little Schwalm bird design

Thank you all for giving me an idea as to what most of you prefer.  Some of you had difficulty commenting here (?)  so I appreciate you emailing me through the blog or posting things on Facebook.  You can continue noting your preference here on my blog...
I will tally things up in about 10 days and then research all the options, figure out the logistics and see how I can 'enable' all of you!
I truly appreciate all your compliments on my little design - it was just something I put together to commemorate a very nice Sunday afternoon I spent with a needlework friend 'in person'.
It may take me awhile to work out all the details because February, March and May are going to be very busy months for me on all fronts BUT I will be in touch with you all as soon as I have figured it all out.
Thanks for your help!   

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Need your input : my little bird using Schwalm techniques

This is a different type of a post - it is a request to all of you to help me.

I have received so many positive comments and 'likes' on my little bird and many of you have emailed me to request a chart, a kit or an online class!  I had never expected such an amazing response when I posted one of my own designs here and on Facebook groups and truly thank you all.

Could you all help me? - I know there are surveys etc. I could look into and send out but may I ask you all just to leave a note as to what you might like in the comment form below?  You could just note your preference : chart - kit - online class/online forum.  

It will give me a general idea what most of you prefer... thanks so very much!
Please help me figure out what you all want by leaving a comment below

Friday, January 2, 2015

A New Year... a new approach

New Year's Day : a start and finish...
                             one goal...  

Over the past few weeks the whole world seems to be focusing on new resolves in the coming year...
 in the stitching world lots of people are poised with needle in hand, ready to ring in the New Year with a newly acquired project, a new sampler, a new technique they have always wanted to try.  The excitement surrounding this new start is readily evident when reading all the blogs and Facebook comments, stitchalongs etc.
I have been sorely tempted to join in and start yet another project but have decided not to let the general fervor and the 'new year - new project idea' get to me this time and focus my energies on working on projects I already own and research things I have put on the back-burner for far too long.

With that said, on a whim,  I did start a small new project last night about five minutes after midnight, and finished it this evening... the little snowman design was posted on a blog I follow(thank you Renate) a few days ago as a Freebie - it was one that made me smile... so last night I picked up my needle, got some of the materials/threads that were on my mind  'to try'  and I spent some time on this first day of the New Year stitching my little adaptation of the design - over one, using Pearsall's silk (white thread) contrasting it with Soie d'Alger (black thread) and cotton DMC and Coats tatting cotton #70.  I decided to add a little saying that will remind me of my only wish and goal this year on the back side.  In addition, I decided to use one of the little Plexiglas stands I had bought earlier last year... so, I ushered in the New Year with a new start and finish while using many things that were new to me and gained some idea about Pearsall's silk - it is a beautiful silk that is sadly no longer in production.

The serendipity of this unplanned project struck me as I was  stitching the little snowman.
In the past weeks I have been thinking about all the events this past year... the painful frozen shoulder times had made me wonder about all the stash I had accumulated over the years - it had been bothering me for quite a few years because no matter how much or how fast I stitch I will never be able to stitch all the things I really do want to ... AND I really still want to explore some areas for which I hardly have the time!
I was not able to work on my silk embroidery at all because of the pain and limited movement  of  my shoulder and arm - it was most worrying and frustrating until I decided to just try and work on some of the 'other' types of projects in my stash.  Interestingly enough I have learned a lot from this experience and come to be at peace with many things.  A lot of people who do Japanese embroidery have decided to 'let go' of all the other types of embroidery and only focus on Japanese embroidery.  I had put everything else aside when I was focused on learning the techniques (Phases 1 -10) for a year and a half but then realized that I just could not walk away from other embroideries that intrigue me still.  The frozen shoulder episode made me embrace all my needlework projects again - I was/still am not able to work on my silk embroidery thanks to my shoulder but I was able to work on so many other types of needlework and finish a lot of projects.   My shoulder made me abandon all my plans and deadlines and literally stopped me in my tracks for a few months on ALL my activities.   I have gained some new insights in how much energy it takes to override the 'pain' and focus your thoughts, learned a lot about the benefits of acupressure, learned a lot about embracing each day and making the most of each moment we are given.  I am thankful for so many things I learned, grateful to all the people who helped me, and most of all I realize now that I am 'okay' with not having deadlines and goals relating to my needlework hobby... so my goal for 2015 is a 'simple' one: I want to be mindful of each moment I have ...  I will continue to focus my energies on all the needlework techniques that interest me AND continue to refine my techniques BUT I want to spend my time focusing more on the 'NOW', this very moment, and not be distracted by all the sensory distractions bombarding us at all times each day.  And yes, I include blogs and Facebook as one of the main sources of distraction for me recently... because even though one can learn a lot ... it can also be a source of 'wanting more stuff'... and then at some point this becomes futile and robs me of the little time I may have to work on my own projects.

As  I was stitching the little snowman I realized why this design had appealed to me when I first saw it;  the image of snowflakes is instantaneously there when I read the word; and yet,  I find that many times the essence of something is lost in the clutter of words and we forget to marvel in the beauty and uniqueness of the moment/snowflake. I have always found it is better to sit quietly and spend some time figuring out a stitch and enjoy and understand the materials and techniques instead of looking for instant 'fixes'... in my profession there are many times you can experience this 'being in the zone' feeling;  Japanese embroidery is also that way but what I realized this past year was that all needlework can be that way too - it is up to me to switch off all the distractions and go beyond the pain and be mindful of each moment, each stitch.

So, I wish you all the Best in 2105 - thank you for all your support and kind comments especially on the Little Bird project I designed and posted recently - I am overwhelmed by the 'Likes' and comments and requests to teach ...  I am thinking of many things BUT for now I am happy just 'savoring this present moment'  ... here is today's start and finish - an adaptation :
Original Freebie design -  stitched over one thread of linen

My additions to the design

Front of my adaptation

Started and Finished project on January 1,2015

Backside of project - reminding me of my new approach in 2015
Backside of project showing the little plexi glass stand