Gentle readers, a few days ago I went to check something on my site and found everything gone except for my blog. We don’t know what happened – an upgrade that wasn’t compatible? Some sort of hack job (I doubt they’d leave my blog though)? I would prefer the old superstition that gremlins or goblins came in while I wasn’t looking and wiped out my pages.
I am in the process of restoring and rebuilding what was lost but it may take a week or so to get everything back up to speed. If there is a silver lining to all this, it has prompted me to finally put some serious effort into finding a better gallery plug-in, one that I can actually use. In the meantime please bear with me as I stumble my way through this process. As I play with the different functions on prospective galleries, you may find some pictures under that tab; hopefully soon, there will be a ‘real’ gallery with ALL my quilts.
Sometimes I feel as though I’m being pulled in a hundred different directions – too many projects and not enough ‘me’. I could use about 6 clones but if they were clones of me, they would come up with their own ideas and not want to finish mine.
Christmas and New Year’s are a dichotomy – things slow down and speed up. Classes slow down at this time of year though that ’empty’ space is replaced with baking, shopping, decorating, wrapping and shipping. I finished the baking a couple of days ago (OK, not finished but I baked enough cookies to justify the purchase of multiple pounds of flour, sugar and butter), if I get the urge, I can always bake more.
Every year, I look to the holiday break as a time I ‘might’ just get some UFOs done. Once upon a time, I had about a dozen of them at any given time but they have multiplied and now I couldn’t say for certain how many I have. Part of the problem is that I get enthusiastic about each one as I teach the classes but then when I get home, it’s onto preparing for the next class or the next pattern deadline… things get filed away and I never seem to get caught up. Luckily, the enthusiasm doesn’t wane (for most but not all the projects) and it only takes me resurrecting the project like some forgotten vampire for it to take over my life again until the next interruption.
This week, I resuscitated a project that has lain ‘out of sight and out of mind’ for some time. I teach a monthly hand embroidery study group and in addition to learning an actual stitch or technique, I like to assign an optional little pattern or design for students to practice their stitching on if they so wish. About a year and a half ago I created a project with Sea Anemones to demonstrate Detached Buttonhole Bars. Everyone tried their hand at it and then moved on to other projects the following month but I became intrigued by the anemones. I started exploring them in more depth and along the way decided I would incorporate them into a larger ‘Tide pool’ project.
This, like many other projects, got shelved as I had to move on to other projects but I re-discovered it recently and pulled it out to continue work on it. Luckily, I had included my design idea sheets tucked into the ziploc bag with it. As this will be an ongoing project, I have sketches of other tide pool life – seaweed, shells, barnacles, starfish… along with notes on possible ways to stitch and embellish them. It’s been long enough since I last worked on it that I lost the little baggie of iridescent purple beads I used for the tentacles but I found a close substitute.
I am glad to be back on this project though I’ve no doubt it will have to be shelved again at some point before it’s done. After completion, I may just offer some classes on the various techniques I used and will use on the quilt..
Have Needle – Will Stitch… I am passionate about hand embroidery, not a shred of embroidery floss goes to waste in this house. Among my favorite projects are these little embroidered and stuffed felt ornaments; I crank them out like clockwork. I also love teaching them as a class and do so on a fairly regular basis; I had several classes this fall (though one was cancelled due to lack of enrollment).
My own story of how I got started in this goes back 30 years to when a Pier 1 Import store opened in my home town of Pacific Grove California. I’d always loved import stores – the scents and exotic treasures… It was around Christmastime and they were selling these lovely embroidered ornaments from India for around $6 each – a king’s ransom for someone on a budget of $100 for ALL my Christmas shopping (and I would have wanted more than one of these on my tree). My grandma taught me to embroider when I was a child and I figured I could make some of these myself. My first ones were birds, what could be more appropriate to perch in a tree than birds? Ultimately, I ended up with a whole menagerie, the bird population was starting to get out of control so I embroidered a couple of cats to keep them in check and then the cats needed something more than just the birds so I created some fish. Now I have parrots, peacocks, owls, Thunderbirds, flying elephants, even some Day of the Dead flowered skulls… and I’m nowhere near done yet, I’m still designing others and I’m thinking of publishing these as patterns.
There is an adage about not judging until you have walked a mile in someone’s shoes; the irony I learned from my exploration into making these ornaments is that there is no way I would or could make and sell one for $6, the materials alone to make one of these typically runs about $3+ and that’s if I buy the cheapest acrylic craft felt out there (I like the wool felt at about $15 per yard); add 6-8 colors of embroidery floss, fiber fill, beads, sequins and jingle bells or tassels and about 4-6 hours of labor… you can do the math.
One of the things I love about teaching this class is the way my students interpret their own embroidery styles, I see them combining and applying stitches that I would not have thought of and even when they opt to try and simply copy one of my arrangements, there is a uniqueness to each one. I have posted pictures of my own ornaments in the recent past, now I want to show you a variety of ornaments embroidered by my students.
And speaking of classes – it breaks my heart to cancel a class. Not only does it not benefit me financially but it also is a disappointment to the student(s) who bought their materials and eagerly anticipated the class. Though I try hard to hold a class even for few students, there is a break point where I cannot in good business practice do so. I recently had to cancel an all day class for one where I would have been paid about $30 but the IRS mileage calculation would have been $32, a big red flag to the IRS when business expenses exceed revenues. I do what I can to promote the classes and rely on the shops who see customers face to face to promote them as well but class attendance is down across the board for many other teachers as well as myself. If you have signed up for a class that you really want to take, please reach out to your quilting friends and suggest they register as well, we teachers will often teach for a small group but we just can’t afford to run our businesses at a loss – I haven’t had much luck convincing my bank to take embroidered ornaments in trade for the mortgage payment. By bringing along a friend or two, you may insure that the class you want will actually take place.