Getting back into it

Hey, did you miss me? I’ve been on the go almost non stop since my last post, and finally able to sit and take a breath, and think about my goals for the immediate future.

My first goal for today is to update my teaching pieces on the website, and hopefully where some of them are scheduled. If there’s something you find appealing, and would possibly like to ghost, let me know and I’ll put you in touch with the class organizers. Not every venue allows ghosts – for instance, the EGA Regional and ANG National Seminars do not. But usually the local chapters and shops do, and it never hurts to ask.

I’m home now until January, but that doesn’t mean I’m not busy. This is the time of year that I propose for the coming events, and plan new projects. I’ve been busy busy busy working on things I can’t share pictures of, but as soon as I can show what I’ve been doing I will.

Right now I’m stitching on my model for ANG’s Stitch of the Month for 2019. My partners with Needle Arts Mystery Retreat and I will be the featured artists for SOTM 2019, and it will be a mystery – revealed only one month at time. Each of us has selected a color way, but the great thing about SOTM is that you can select your own colors with the guidelines offered (i.e., stitch this with #8 pearl, or 2 strands of floss, etc.).

Speaking of the Needle Arts Mystery Retreat, I can reveal my project for 2018:This year I selected threads that were white, silver and very pale gray, but offered a choice of canvas colors. I stitched mine on blue canvas, and offered hot pink or purple as well. Since these colors are not available for canvas, I spray painted the canvasses to get the colors I wanted.

I picked a sunny dry day, painted the canvases, then hung them on a clothesline to dry. I think those were the last sunny days we had here in Arkansas!

Anyway, I’ll be posting more as I have something to share. Thanks for your patience!

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Shameless plug

I don’t do this very often but today I’m making a shameless plug for one of my teaching ventures, Canvas.

Canvas is a fabulous event hosted by Julia Snyder and Leigh Miller. I taught for the inaugural event earlier this year, and it was a very well-organized, delightful week of stitching.

For Canvas 2019 I’ll be teaching two classes, Adagio and Circle Dance.

Adagio features a Kitty’s double fan doubled, layered partial Jessicas, ray stitches, and others in a beautiful palette of blues and browns.

I had a lot of fun designing and stitching this class!

My other class is Circle Dance, which begins with students painting their canvases. Every project will look different after it’s completed, when stitchers put their own personal touches on the canvas. Circle Dance features lots of circles (obviously), including detached buttonhole, Jessicas, Rhodes, and other stitches.

I hope you’ll consider joining us for these, and other terrific classes in January!

I had so much fun last year that I’m confident you’ll enjoy it too!

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Stitching buddies

Today I’m off to stitch with friends! The third Wednesday of the month is one of my local ANG meetings, and I drive about 2 hours to get there. We stitch, catch up, have lunch, then I drive 2 hours home.

I started doing this more than a decade ago. I searched out local chapters at the ANG site, and this was the closest one. I really wanted to be involved with a local chapter, so the drive was the least of my concerns. By the way, it’s a great time to catch up on my podcasts, notably FiberTalk!

Since then I helped to start an ANG chapter closer to home, joined 3 more chapters (in Oklahoma, Illinois and Cyber Pointers), joined an EGA chapter, and try to make it to the local stitching gatherings at the local shop. Stitching with friends is a very important part of my stitching world!

I rely on their in person, face to face feedback about new designs and colors, thread choices and general input. I have a lot of confidence in my designs, but that feedback is so important!

So, I’ll gather all my stitching things, the current project, my podcasts and head off to see my friends. I hope you have as pleasant a day!

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Strip and Flip

Most of us are self taught in the needle arts. That is, we saw a kit in a big box store, liked it, bought it, brought it home and struggled through it. Some of us struggled more than others! But some of us thought, this is easy, and continued on. If you were taught by your grandmother or mother, chances are they were self-taught as well, so a lot of the tips and suggestions we pick up in classes were not a part of your initial instruction.

For instance, stranding threads. The instructions said to use 3 strands, so we separated 3 strands, usually all at once, and wound up with a huge knot as the strands would not come apart.

This is a much easier way – tap the cut end of the floss (this works for silk, cotton and rayon flosses) until you see some separation of the strands. Grasp 1 strand with your thumb and forefinger, and slide the remaining strands down the cut length. Do this as many times as needed to get the number of strands you need to stitch with. Then recombine the strands and thread the needle.

Take it a step further and reverse the direction of the strands before recombining. Say you’re stitching with 3 strands. Remove 1 strand and lay it aside. Remove the second strand and lay it aside. Remove the third strand, but this time flip it before recombining it with the other 2 strands. I think you’ll find that the strands lay apart better and are easier to lay.

Why is this? Here’s my very non-technical answer: the strands are pretty tightly twisted together to form the skein. The strands want to stay tightly twisted together, not lay apart. Flipping 1 strand forces the strands to stand apart from each other, since the twist is not the same.

Using a loop start does this same thing, reversing the twist of the threads. I usually find that loop start threads lay a little better that regular recombined threads.

Of course flipping and loop starting won’t work with over dyed threads, unless you want a heathered look. But try it with other stranded flosses to see if you like the result and it makes your stitching a bit easier.

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Finding a parking spot

In light of my last posts, let’s talk about something that’s in between starting a new thread and ending off – parking!

Parking a thread that you intend to use later is a smart idea. And it’s something we discuss in class frequently, especially when working with 2 or more needles, like a 2 color waffle stitch or double fan doubled.

I’ve heard it said that you should always park your thread on top of the canvas where you can keep your eye on it. It’s like teenagers – if you can’t see them, then they can wander around and get in trouble.

Learning to park your thread is not difficult, but takes a little getting used to. I always counsel my students to bring the needle up where it will be needed next, then park the thread. Once you learn how to do this it becomes second nature, and easy peasy to keep your thread handy for the next stitches.

But if you have difficulty with this, here’s something you can try: bring the needle up to do the last stitch with that thread, but don’t finish the stitch – park it at that point. Then when you’re ready for that thread again, finish the stitch and move to the next one. This is just as effective as bringing the thread up where you need it next, as it’s still parked on top of the canvas.

The reason why this is preferable to just bringing the thread up anywhere is two-fold. First, you may stitch over the tail and it require some undoing to avoid lumps or piercing the thread as you make the next stitches. Second, you have to unstitch or rethread the needle when you’re ready for that thread again.

So give it a try – I think you’ll prefer parking where you need it next!

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