Monday, January 30, 2012

One Thing at a Time

Most fairy tales begin with 'Once upon a time...' my work seems to start with 'One thing at a time...'   How I envy those who have one, two, three or four projects going at the same time.  I would love to walk into my studio and say 'eeny, meeny, minee, moe...' and choose between this one or that one.  Am I in a 'blue' mood - okay let's go with the blue today; am I feeling like I need to work with silk threads - okay let's go with this one.  But I have learned, especially over the past couple of years that I am hard-wired to start work on one piece, work it until it is finished and then move onto the next one.

This doesn't mean that I don't think about what I'm going to be doing next.  I do gather colors and textures, threads and embellishments for future pieces as I work on the current piece.  But for the most part that is all I do.  While I might have a few ideas in the back of my mind - a picture I want to convey or a feeling I want to translate it doesn't really come to the forefront until I have finished what I'm working on at the moment.

I guess if there is one thing I've learned through years of fiber work it is to accept myself and my work habits for what they are - it increases my creativity to not have my mind wandering off on all sorts of paths.  That doesn't mean I won't have 'creativity envy' for people like Loralei at Whimsical Mermaid *smile*!

"Remember life's magic by the trail you've already blazed." - The Universe

Thursday, January 26, 2012


I'm up to my wrists in very small cords - which I'm attaching to my current wall hanging - "Balancing Act".  Several years ago I took a wonderful class that included all sorts of fiber techniques - including making my own cording.  Using different fibers, intertwined around each other I slip it into the sewing maching and make a zigzag stitch binding all of them together in a wonderful mix.  I love this process and have used it on ever so many pieces, including the petite pockets and hearts of last year.

I once bought a Japanese cord maker but I've never used it.  I prefer my old-fashioned way. I like to dig through my fibers, twist them and stitch.  I can make them as thick as I want, as thin as I want and as long as I want.  They are wonderful even when not used for cording but as an addition to the surface of a piece of fabric or punchneedle.

For "Balancing Act" I have used the cording for loops at the top and am now in the process of adding cords (11 for each attachment) to connect all three sections.  This isn't easy for me as I am a terrible measurer!  In order to hang straight I must make sure that they are spaced properly and stitched top and bottom evenly.  A hard task for someone who is a free spirit when it comes to exact measuring *smile*.

"By concentrating on precision, one arrives at technique, but by concentrating on technique one does not arrive at precision." - Bruno Walter

Monday, January 23, 2012

Threading the Needle

For those of you who don't use a punchneedle, let me introduce you to the 'dreaded' threader!  This contraption is used to thread the punchneedle.  First step is to insert the threader through the length of the punchneedle.  Next step is to put a length of thread through the end of the threader and pull it back through the punchneedle.  Once that is done the threader is used to thread the needle by pulling the thread through the eye of the needle.

The threader is made from incredibly thin wire - and therein lies the rub!  The wire tends to bend, to curve, to become totally useless after a certain amount of use.  I have discovered that using the thicker thread that I'm using for my current work makes a needle threader buckle under the pressure.

Anyone who 'punches' will agree that the most interruptive part of the job is threading the needle.  I purposely cut very long lengths of thread -- of course then I often have the problem of the thread tangling but nothing is perfect *smile*.

I have just received 12 threaders -- hopefully that will last me for awhile...

"Laughter and tears are both responses to frustration and exhaustion.  I myself prefer to laugh, since there is less cleaning up to do afterward." - Kurt Vonnegut

Thursday, January 19, 2012

One Step, Two Step

I have never made a three-part punchneedle piece.  I have made multiples of the same design - but three different designs to be used on one wall hanging is new to me.

Each section must somehow blend with the other, while each having its own identity.

Exploration must be made of stitches, ways to combine, design and texture.

At this point it is two down, one to go.

"It's not just a question of conquering a summit previously unknown, but of tracing, step by step, a new pathway to it." - Gustav Mahler

Monday, January 16, 2012


As I young child I regularly visited my local library.  This library was in an old building located near the pier in a small town along the coast in California.  Walking into this building I could smell books, paper, old wood and the salty air combined.  This was a building of 'possibility' for me.  To see all of those books lined up neatly on the shelves just waiting for me was almost overwhelming.  I still get that same feeling as I walk into my far more modern library here in North Carolina.  Each visit is a thrill - there is so much there for me, too much for me to ever read in my lifetime but still it waits. 

These days I get the very same joyous feelings of 'possibility' as I walk into a fabric store, a bead shop, a needlework shop and as seen above a fiber show.  Oh my -- the wonders of color, texture... the softness, the flow, the patterns, the ideas.  Oh yes, the ideas! 

Ideas are what possibility is all about.  Whether its a sharing of knowledge through a book or a sense inside me that with this yarn I might be able to do this, with that stitch I might be able to do that.

Isn't this world, this life I'm living beautiful?!

"An intense anticipation itself transforms possibility into reality; our desires being often but precursors of the things which we are capable of performing." - Samuel Smiles

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Beginning Anew

As the new year begins so does a new wall hanging.  This one, in its infancy, will be in several parts.  I have designed and drawn four different sections. In my mind's eye they will hang from cords one upon the other.

There two somewhat disturbing feelings to conquer with each piece that I create.  The first comes at the very beginning.  Anyone who has worked with punchneedle knows that those first loops look awful!  They stand there alone, with no apparent design in evidence.  It isn't until many punches later that they start to look like something.  So I have that moment of doubt at the beginning, wondering if this design will 'work', wondering if I've chosen the correct colors or the proper thread.  Oh yes, the wondering goes on and on until I've made enough punches to see the results.


The second 'worry time' for me is at the very end.  I'm not sure what it is about me and endings but I don't do well.  I'm either very worried that I'll make a major mistake right at the end, ruining hours of work, or I'm worried that I won't like what I've done when all is said and done. 


Part of my 'self-improvement' program for this coming year is to banish these worries from my mind.  I know that the beginning of a punchneedle piece is no time to judge it -- there's not enough there to worry about.  I know that in actuality I have rarely if ever 'ruined' a piece at the last minute (for that I'm very thankful).  As to whether I truly love it or not when its all finished is not something to worry about unless I can see as I go along a way to improve the piece and then the solution will come well before the end of the process.

I shall try to give myself the gift of creativity this coming year, without the baggage of worry.  Now that will be a refreshing change for me.

"You have freedom when you're easy in your harness." - Robert Frost

Monday, January 9, 2012

At a snail's pace

That's me, working at a snail's pace these early winter days.  The holiday with a wonderful whirlwind trip to Nevada has left me feeling tired.  It hasn't helped that I developed a cold and am working with ears, nose and head stuffed.

There are year-end administrative things to do around here and yesterday we received the tax-man's questionaire so that is one more paper to pile upon the other seemingly endless pieces of paper.

It is cold and damp outside which makes me want to just curl up and sip a hot cup of tea.  If I were truly a snail I believe I'd be pulled into my shell right now.  I do know however, that the very best medicine for this type of lethargy would be punching designs on fabric.  So perhaps, just for today, I'll try to ignore winter, my not-going-away cold and all those papers sitting there.  After all isn't stitching the very best medicine.

"A man's work is nothing but this slow trek to rediscover, throught the detours of art, those two or three great and simple images in whose presence his heart first opened." - Albert Camus

Thursday, January 5, 2012


I admit that my feet are firmly planted on the ground -- carefully taking life one small step at a time.  Sometimes I'm running, sometimes I'm walking and sometimes it feels like I'm crawling.  But this coming year I have determined to take flight -- even it only means starting out by hopping or skipping.  Perhaps I'll actually graduate to soaring before the year is over.

This wall hanging is my first attempt with no boundaries.  The name "Earthbound" came to me as I was working on it because I can see that I myself am still earthbound. But it seems a good first start on my quest.

I take a moment to thank  Barbara at PinelandsTreasures for gifting me with this lovely charm.  The brushed metal seems to go quite beautifully with the colors on this piece.

Okay, I'm off to polish up my wings and see what happens next.

 "Only from the heart can you touch the sky." - Rumi

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Joyous New Year

As we begin a new year I'd like the share the following wishes for all of us in this brand new year.
May your coming year be filled with magic and dreams and good madness.
I hope you read some fine books and kiss someone who thinks you're wonderful
and don't forget to make some art.
Write or draw or build or sing or live as only you can.
May your coming year be a wonderful thing in which you dream
both dangerously and outrageously.
I hope you'll make something that didn't exist before you made it.
That you will be loved and you will be liked
and that you will have people to love and like in return.
And most importantly because
I think there should be more kindness and more wisdom in the world right now.
I hope that you will, when you need to be, be wise,
and that you will always be kind.
And I hope that somewhere, in the next year,
you surprise yourself.

~ Neil Gaiman

Happy New Year!!


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