Thursday, December 31, 2015

Happy New Year...

I am not one to make resolutions--at least not at the onset of a new year. It just does not occur to me on December 31. My birthday is in January so sometimes I make a resolution around that time or most often I make a resolution in the fall as September still has the feel of the start of a new year for me just like it was when I was in school. But today I was just looking at a book on Amazon and added it to my "Wish List." I thought about wish lists. They are usually things we want but do not need. But how many people right now are wishing for freedom, safety, shelter, food--all of the things that every single person I know probably takes for granted. Maybe if everyone had these basics, society would be a kinder place.

I find American society to be rude, angry, oblivious to others, and entitled. I ask myself why am I so angry when I have everything listed above and more? I tell myself and my husband, who asks me the same question from time to time, I am angry because every time I leave my house someone does something that is rude, nasty, or just shows that they believe they are entitled to break the rules.

There is trash everywhere in front of my house, so much so that even if I spent the entire day cleaning up the properties to the left and right of my home trash from the other houses would blow right back to my house in a matter of minutes (I have seen it happen). There are clothes on the sidewalk one door over that have been there since before Thanksgiving, let alone fast food wrappers, uneaten food that is rotted, unread newspapers, broken toys, unmentionable personal hygiene items, etc. within my view. People double park daily when there are wide open parking spaces available because they are too lazy to parallel park. They honk their horn for people to come out of their homes instead of using the cell phone that they are normally so attached to that they can not look up from it at "stop" signs, green lights or to just drive safely. They allow their 5 year-old child to be supervised by their 9 year-old child and then are surprised when the 5 year-old is hit by a car racing down the one-way street. (The child's leg was broken, but is otherwise OK.)

I see this deterioration of the family everyday at home and at work where my office is located near a shelter. I want to find compassion in my heart for these women and children who have no where to sleep, but I watch them smoke their cigarettes and talk on their cell phones and scream and curse at their children and just think, "and so it goes." It will repeat generation after generation and nothing will ever get better. It only gets worse.

The cell phone has made some people so self-absorbed and oblivious to those around them. What is so fascinating that cannot wait until you are no longer walking or driving? Why are you texting and driving when everyone knows how dangerous it is? Are one's own thoughts so boring that no one is able to just think--or not think--or just be in the moment--walking, or paying attention to the road ahead? (both literally and figuratively)

Maybe you have seen the new commercial for Weight Watcher's that features Oprah Winfrey and she asks a great question that can be applied to any change one wants to make in their life: "If not now, when?" It has stuck with me--I have lived over half my life so what am I waiting for to really appreciate what I do have and stop wanting something that I will likely never have. I am wasting precious time. Now is the time that I am going to put a real effort into obtaining the most important things on my wish list:

I wish....
  • I was a healthy weight.
    • I would stick to an exercise and healthy diet plan.
    • I had more energy.
  • I took action to help homeless, abused animals (besides making donations).
  • I lowered my expectations of others.
  • I was more patient with certain people.
  • and lastly, but most important: I was not angry so much of the time.

I believe if I would grant myself the the first four wishes (the sub-wishes are part of the healthy weight wish) the last wish would be a natural outcome.

Today a new year is in front of us--a new start for everyone. I hope all of our wishes come true!

Baci e abbracci!

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

My First Show

One of my works will be included in a group show opening this Friday at 5:00 PM. I you are in the area I would love to meet you.

Baci e abbracci

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

tutto a posto tuesday

Still plugging along on the embroidery. This week I baked a cake which took up most of Saturday. It was a test for the same event the favors are for. Here are the finished sachets and a current pic of the embroidery.

The humid weather has started in Philadelphia, which just makes me feel tired all of the time, so being productive outside of the office is difficult.

bacci e abbracci

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

tutto a posto tuesday

This week I made progress on my current work, and I started using my sewing machine again. I have to make 11 party favors and thought pretty little sachets would be nice. I also wanted to make a prize for one random winner at the party, and decided to try the Purl Bee Quilted Zipper Pouch. I changed the measurements without considering the length of the zipper,  so I had a little problem with the ends of the zipper that made the finish a little less than perfect. This was the most difficult zipper I have ever sewn into a bag. I have two zipper feet and probably used the wrong one.

I also found the pattern for the Lavender Sachets on the Purl Bee. I usually make my sachets from patchwork, but just don't have the time so in my search for pretty sachets on Pinterest I came across this pattern. I am using "Nana's Pantry" from Connecting Threads which is now on clearance at $2.96/yard.

 I really like Connecting Threads quilting fabric and thread. The fabric has a nice hand, and you cannot beat the price. It is much nicer than the quilting fabric you get at JoAnn's, which has a lot of sizing that when washed out leaves a thin cheap fabric. If you knit you might know about Knit Picks. Both companies are owned by Craft Americana Group. I have been shopping at Knit Picks for years and have never had a problem with anything I purchased there with the exception of a couple of knitting needles, which they replaced immediately.

Baci e abbracci

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

tutto a posto tuesday--change

First: I thought I posted this at 6:30 this morning. Sorry for being tardy!

I've mentioned an injury that has gotten me off schedule. I fainted in the bathroom while standing at the sink and fell against the bathtub hurting my upper right back and rib cage. I was unable to do anything for myself for the first 3 days and was out of work for a week. I could not stitch, knit, draw, nothing. The first day I fell was really scary, I also had a headache and nausea and spent the day trying to sleep it away and thinking. I started thinking that I might be seriously ill and if that was the case would I really care about my needlework? What am I doing? Is it worth it to try to sell my work? Why can't I be happy just making things for me? I made some decisions and then realized I am just not ready to give up yet. But things need to change.

I need to loose 15 pounds not to look better, but to feel better. I need to start working on accepting the world for what it is and stop letting people get me down. I have to learn compassion for everyone, not just animals and people who appear to be innocent or helpless--everyone--including the person who is mean, rude, lazy--everyone. Why am I telling you this? Because tutto a post tuesday will change a little. I will still post work every Tuesday, but it may not be finished. I am not only still off schedule, but find that with my new exercise program I don't have as much time to work on my projects. (Isn't this why I gained weight and still cannot speak Italian in the first place? Because I would rather spend all free time on whatever creative thing I want to do?)

So this platform, tutto a posto tuesday, will still be the debut of new work, but it may not be finished. For example, I finished the brown embroidery that I showed last week, but decided to try something different for the finish.

Doesn't it look like one of the doilies that people set out on their table with their pretty little trinkets on top? But now how do I frame it? Do I frame it, or do I mount it on stretched canvas? Do I make a small quilt to support it? Hmmmm.... This will be explored over the next week or two.

Meanwhile I have started a new work. This part is not so free-form, but a little planned out as I drew the ovals and circles to embroider and will do the remaining part freehand. I know this is just a peek and not so much is completed, but I am working on projects all of the time and that is what is important to me. I have many ideas too which is so nice because I have had months and even a couple of years in my past where I did nothing creative. It was depressing. And the best thing is I like what I am producing and it is original.

After years of designing knitwear for machine knitting I started hand knitting and stopped designing which always bothered me. Now I am back to designing my own work in embroidery and quilting and I hope that other people out there will like it too.

Baci e abbracci

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

tutto a posto tuesday

Since my injury I have been a little behind. This one is not completely finished because I am not sure what to do next. I remember being really great at composition, but all of those years of knitting and not having to deal with composition has made me not so good at it anymore.

Baci e abbracci

Saturday, May 23, 2015

tutto a posto tuesday...four days late

Due to my fall on May 7 I was not able to embroider for a week or so. This one was finished on Wednesday, but I was not able to post it until now. It is about 4 by 5 inches and sewn onto a piece of 140 lb. hot press watercolor paper. I will be sending it out with a note of thanks inside.

Baci e abbracci 

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

tutto a posto tuesday

I love the colors of this one. I don't know why but orange and yellow are so pretty. It was done in the same genre of the others, using crocheted lace as the inspiration.

Baci e abbracci

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Competition and Rejection

If you are familiar with Sherri Lynn Woods's work you know she is an improv quilter. I love her work and consider my style of quilting improv as well. So, when she posted on her blog that she was writing a book and had an open call for people to submit test quilts to be included based on "scores" I thought, 'why not?' This was my first competition. I thought I followed the "score" and was happy with my quilt. I did not make it into the book. I was really disappointed.

I still thought my quilt was rather nice and hung it on my office wall. I have received compliments on it, which always makes my day, and am particularly happy when a member of the faculty compliments the quilt because they are all successful artists that show their work in galleries. The thing that really perturbed me though was the rules and regulations about where I can show my quilt and who got credit for the design of my quilt that came with the rejection. I felt the direction (score) for the design of my quilt was so open and basically asking me to design my quilt, that the request to give the author credit for the design if I showed the quilt publicly or entered it in any competition was not fair. I was also asked to not post a photo of the quilt on my blog, even though it was not accepted to be included in the book, until the book was released. I also thought that was unfair since the author really had no rights on my quilt as it was rejected. Whether I was right or wrong about thinking these rules were unfair, (because I don't understand the world of publishing) that was the focus of my hurt for being rejected. That way I did not have to deal with the fact that my work was not good enough to make it into the book.

Now, a year later, the book is out. I received an email that the blog tour is beginning and it has come up again. It is funny that just yesterday I was going through old blog posts from Chawne on Completely Cauchy (see sidebar) and started reading posts on rejection. I know if I want to sell my work I will have to deal with a lot of rejection so I better get used to it. From Chawne's blog I was led to Bill Volkening's blog who noted that if you work from the heart you cannot go wrong.

Although I am facing daily rejection now that I am selling my embroidered pieces, I am working from the heart. I love making these pieces. I love stitching by hand. It is different than knitting by hand where I was always trying to knit faster, as if there was some clock I was racing against. With embroidery I love watching the stitch form and really have no other choice than to stitch slowly. Of course I want to sell my work because like it or not I want that validation. I would rather get a compliment on my work than on how I look on a given day. I really like the work that I am making and hope that others out there do too--enough to want to own one.

"Comparison is the thief of joy," a quote from Theodore Roosevelt is my mantra.

I was just looking for Chawne's name to note in this post and in my search saw an embroiderer praised on someone's blog. As soon as I saw the work I knew whose work they copied. All three works shown were copied from two different embroidery artists. This person's work was praised as if it was original. I was upset by this as the one doing the praising obviously has not seen the work of the artists that were copied but I must remember my mantra., and know that with hard work my time will come.

Anyway, here is the quilt that was rejected...

Baci e abbracci

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

tutto a posto tuesday

On the first tutto a posto tuesday--rescheduled from April 21--I am showing a piece that is a little different than the others I have been working on. As I said in my April 21 post, this first piece for this blog series took much longer than I thought it would. Not only does the chain stitch take a lot of time, but when I finished what I had planned I wanted to add my signature "lace scallop-picot" edge. I am hoping that this is the first of a series of works that incorporates the look of quilting into the embroidery by using some of my “strings” (scraps of fabric) in a patchwork/block style type of arrangement, but instead of embroidering a running stitch as in quilting, I am using the chain stitch. I think the little "v's" of the chain stitch not only remind me of my beloved knitting but are soooo pretty! Again, analogous colors, this time with the addition of complimentary colors as well.

Sorry, these photos are not the best...

I decided to set this series aside as I am not really sure of where to go next. Look for my next piece to be more in line with the other work I have done.

I recently started reading Tanis Gray’s blog (you can click on it on my sidebar) who is doing a series of posts on Color Theory. She is a fabulous knitwear designer, author, and sewer, and she makes beautiful project bags that are for sale in her Etsy Shop.  Her April 21 post discusses Color Psychology. It was interesting to see which colors convey which emotions. The color wheel at the top of the post made me think about my color choices. It is interesting to think about why an artist may have chosen a color or group of colors to use in their work, even if it was something in the subconscious that made them make the choice. I personally love orange, but thought it was interesting when I saw that color could convey frustration and being nervous and anxious. It is something to think about next time you are picking out colors. I personally know someone who always works with the same colors either together or separately. Does that mean she is always in the same mood? Now that I actually think about it, I always tell my husband that she is the most even-keeled person I know. She and I have never argued about anything. Mmmm...

This work will be available in my Etsy Shop after I take better photos.

Baci e abbracci

Monday, April 27, 2015

Looking for Inspiration...

I am sure you have heard that if you are ever stuck on deciding on colors for a project, one idea is to find inspiration by looking at the work of artists that work in a different media. For instance you could pull the colors from a painting that you love to coordinate yarn for a sweater, or take a skein of variegated yarn that you adore and use those colors for a quilt.

If you are looking for inspiration for amazing color or just want to see beautiful paintings, check out the work Bill Scott. He currently has an exhibition at Hollis Taggart Galleries in New York.

One of my favorites, City, Country, Sea, 2011

I just noticed that these colors are quite similar to the colors of the quilt I made a couple of years ago that is pictured in my header. No wonder I love this painting.

Remember to stop back tomorrow for tutto a posto tuesday...

Baci e abbracci

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

tutto a posto tuesday

I know how bad this looks, especially on the first post of a new project, but the first piece to be completed in one week is still not complete. I started a new series which is taking more time than I expected, which is OK except that I am missing the first deadline I set for myself. I will show two finished pieces on April 28.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

How Exciting!

I won!! Thank you Rebecca Ringquist for this fabulous giveaway!!! This giveaway is in celebration of the launch of her new book, Rebecca Ringquist's Embroidery Workshops: A Bend the Rules Primer. There is another giveaway at STC Craft, Melanie Falick Books going on right now!

WOW!!! When I saw my name I let out such a gasp that my husband asked me if I was OK. Then I thought I won one of the items in the photo, not the whole cache! This was the most fun I have ever had on the internet. Anyway, I am really grateful. There are a lot of fabulous things in this swag bag, including a few that I have wanted to purchase. 

I have taken a few Creative Bug classes with Rebecca Ringquist and learned a lot. She shows good technique and offers great tips. She even has a free Creative Bug class to make a needle holder. Her classes are probably responsible for me moving away from Sublime Stitching kind of embroidery to a free-form style. (Sublime Stitching was the first embroidery book I purchased.) I still want to stitch my own drawings, but I definitely like "embroidering as I go." 

Remember to stop by Instagram for the progress of my "one embroidery a week" project and "tutto a posto Tuesday" for the finished piece. (Starting April 21!)

Baci e abbracci.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

A Year's Worth

Thank you so much to everyone who has visited my blog and Etsy shop to check out my new work! I admit to being a little addicted to checking my “likes” and stats… it is a real confidence and morale booster. I will have a new work in my shop by Sunday (with any luck).

I was listening to a podcast of Lisa Congdon being interviewed by Monica Lee on Smart Creative Women, which got me thinking that I should strive to start and finish one work per week. This could be a great way to hold myself accountable and motivated when I am not in the mood to embroider. I have many ideas I would like to work on and this could keep me moving along at a good pace. Best of all by next April I will have 52 works!

I would love to work on improving my drawing skills and finish a crochet blanket, but there are just so many hours in the day!

I will try to post daily pictures on Instagram that show the progress with a finished work by Tuesday night. The name of this series will be tutto a posto tuesday.

Baci e abbracci

Saturday, April 11, 2015

New Work for Sale in My Etsy Shop

I am pretty excited to announce that I have re-opened my Etsy shop with some new items. After knitting for more than half my life I started doing other needle arts and came across embroidery again. I even had my floss and hoop from my teenage years when I embroidered “Elton John” down the legs of my jeans. I had the opportunity to enter two works into a staff show at work recently, and a member of our faculty, Michael Moore, and his wife, Jo-Anna bought one of the two pieces. (This was truly amazing as I love this person's work and nothing in the show was for sale!) Michael is an artist whose work will be exhibited at Cerulean Arts Gallery. This really boosted my confidence so I decided to see if I could put a few in my Etsy shop. It has taken me over a month, but I have just listed 4 new works--all framed--in my shop.

I really do love stitching by hand and working with color. My mind is peaceful when embroidering. Instead of counting rows and stitch repeats I am making design decisions. It is the closest thing to drawing I can do and I believe it is the perfect way for me to make art.

The inspiration for these works comes from knit and crochet stitches and the way they appear in doilies and table runners. I like to do the stitching improv style without a sketch, but with a design in mind and build upon the stitches as I embroider them. 

There was a nice, young man at the AC Moore where I purchased the mats and frames who knew his merchandise and helped me find the best matches for my work. Thank you Keith! Another young man who graduated from the PAFA Post-Baccalaureate program also gave me great advice for my frames. Thank you Matt! They both are artists and they both take their day jobs seriously and know what they are doing. The work that is for sale arrives framed (and most are matted) and there are additional pictures of the finished items in my Etsy Shop.

In celebration of the Grand Re-Opening of my Etsy Shop there is a coupon code (GRANDREOPENING) for a 20% discount. Please take a look--more will be coming!

This is not for sale at this time
This is no longer available

Baci e abbracci!

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Improv Embroidery

Improv: adjective, \ˈim-ˌpräv\, short for the act or art of improvising.
Embroidery: noun, \im-ˈbrȯi-d(ə-)rē\, the process or art of sewing a design on cloth: cloth decorated by sewing : embroidered material.

Improv Embroidery (#improvembroideri on Instagram): the process of embroidering without a pattern or instructions: free-form embroidery: as Rebecca Ringquist puts it "embroidering outside the lines"drawing/meandering with needle and thread.

What do you think it is? Do you think it is a movement in the making like Improvisational Quilting. Or is it already in full swing? Is there a history of this type of embroidery similar to Gees Bend to quilting? Let's talk about it.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

I was commissioned to make a baby blanket. The person is a friend of my husband and her daughter is having a baby. The sex is unknown and the request was for a green, gray, and cream or white blanket. The rest of the decisions were designer's choice. I am in the middle of a Ripple Blanket by Lucy at Attic 24 and decided that I would go with that pattern. The yarn is from, StyleCraft Special DK. I think it ships from the UK, but if you purchase $50 in yarn shipping is free, otherwise it is $4.95--can't beat that! The yarn is $2.95 for 100 grams and it comes in a pretty large color selection. It is 100% acrylic but is soft enough and of good quality.

This was a fun project and I love, love, love the colors together!

I gave myself the stipulation that I could not work on anything else at home (did not include projects worked while on the train) until this was finished. It is done 2 months early!

Baci e abbracci...