Tag Archives: creativity

One Year of Stitches: February

I’m still working on a post about my experiences at QuiltCon last week, but as March continues to skip on, I thought I should share February’s stitches for my 1 year of stitches project in the meantime. QuiltCon post coming soon!

My 1 year of stitches project is a personal challenge to stitch at least one stitch every single day. I am working with no set plan, I don’t mark the fabric before stitching; I simply stitch whatever wherever whenever. It’s quite fun!! You can follow along with my daily stitches at @NQ1yearofstitches on Instagram.

Even after a short month, it grows! As a reminder, here’s the hoop after the month of January:

night quilter 1 year of stitches month 1and here it is showing the progress from February:

february progress for 1 year of stitchesI guess 28 days can make a big difference!

erin from aurifil thread live at quiltconThe highlight of the month was getting the chance to chat with Erin from Aurifil on Facebook live while attending QuiltCon in Savannah. You can see my low key chat HERE on the Aurifil Facebook page. I talk about my process, how the project came to be, why I use Aurifil 12wt thread, and I show a quick demo on how to stitch a French knot. It was a really fun opportunity, and while a bit nerve-wracking knowing I would be live, Erin made it easy by being totally awesome and relaxed. Plus, she’s from Maine. Perfect! The whole experience inspires me to try a bit harder to figure out a way to video my stitches live each day, or at least some days each week. I’ll get right on that and will let you know if I figure it out!

1 year of stitches freestyle embroidery progress february 12wt aurifilBack to my embroidery progress! Here are some close up shots of the various sections of this freestyle hoop.

1 year of stitches freestyle embroidery progress february 12wt aurifilI am still stitching without a plan, deciding each day’s stitches the morning–or sometimes night!–of the current day. I have tried a handful of new stitches and look forward to trying even more as the year progresses!

1 year of stitches freestyle embroidery progress february 12wt aurifil1 year of stitches freestyle embroidery progress february 12wt aurifil1 year of stitches freestyle embroidery progress february 12wt aurifilThose little white three-petalled trillium flowers are the most recent addition. Time will tell where this will go from here!

Finn helping me with photographyThis month, I had a photography helper, so of course I can’t end the post without a few Finn cameos. I often use the photos on my phone as a reference, so I pulled up January’s photo to make sure I arranged the thread in a consistent way. Finn was please as punch that they matched.

Finn helping me with thread positioningHe also helped me put the thread back into the box, then arranged around the hoop, back into the box, then arranged around the hoop. What a helper!

Hmmm what shall I stitch today?

One Year of Stitches: January

As a full time mom of three little ones, but one with a strong innate need to create every day in order to maintain sanity, I feel like I do a fairly good job of creating opportunities for creativity and stitching, sprinkled throughout even the busiest of days. First, it was knitting–something I could carry with me and leave next to the couch to pick up while nursing or holding a sleeping baby in my lap. But as my children grew, their desire to turn yarn into spider webs, spy laser obstacles, leashes for stuffed pets, etc. also grew and knitting became quilt a risky endeavor.  English paper piecing helped and I dove into basting hexies and honeycombs. Then I felt like I needed something new. Enter: embroidery. It’s small, I can store it up on the counter out of reach, it’s clearly mommy’s–not simply a ball of yarn begging to be unravelled or little fabric bits to be tossed around–, and it’s something I can pick up and put down quickly.

AG stitched embroidery hoop aurifil 12wtLate last year, I kind of got hooked on the quick mental fix that comes with freestyle embroidery while I was creating this Alison Glass hoop. In late December, when some friends brought my attention to the 1 year of stitches project initiated by Hannah Claire Somerville, I was intrigued. After a bit of googling, I found this invitation by Sara Barnes of Brown Paper Bag, who helped spread Hannah’s open invitation for others to join, and I knew that I had to join in. Hannah’s specific personal rules and stipulations are here, but I chose to take a looser approach. The goal is to stitch at least 1 stitch every single day for a full year, 365 days.

night quilter 1 year of stitches beginningsI went into the year with a 10″ hoop of Robert Kaufman Essex linen in light blue, my stash of Aurifil 12wt threads, and no plan at all.

night quilter 1 year of stitches month 1Here is my hoop after 1 month of daily stitch-whereever-the-wind-blows stitching. Fun, right!? I created a separate account on Instagram @NQ1yearofstitches to document my daily stitches, and I am trying my hardest not to make any kind of formal plan at all.

night quilter 1 year of stitches month 1My basic strategy began as a daily google of “embroidery stitches” as an image search. I would scroll through, find a stitch that looked cool, and then find a tutorial on how to make the stitch.

night quilter 1 year of stitches month 1I began by learning bullion knots, so this whole project began with that little mass of turquoise squiggles and has grown organically from there.

night quilter 1 year of stitches month 1I love the texture that results when you stack embroidery stitches together. Those white floppy things are my first attempts at braided picot stitch, another fun one!

night quilter 1 year of stitches month 1This has been really fun so far, and as of the writing of this post, I’m already over halfway through February, too! (You’ll have to wait until March, or check the IG account, to see those additions, though!) I’ll plan to share an update each month, so that you can see how this grows.

night quilter 1 year of stitches month 1My personal guidelines include stitching at least one stitch each day, trying to plan as little as possible and simply stitch whatever feels right each day, and not remove any stitches no matter how much I dislike the final outcome (cough, cough, that octopus family, cough). I figure this way, the stress of getting everything *just* right disappears, and instead the thought that it will all work out somehow in the end dominates. No stress!

1 year of stitches embroidery month 1This is a really fun, exhilarating project since it is pure spur of the moment random creativity. If you have any cool, unusual embroidery stitches to recommend, I’d love to add some more to my arsenal. There’s something about learning something new that makes my day.

If you are itching to learn embroidery, this is also a really fun way to do it. In the end, you end up with a hoop of many different stitches, as well as a visual story of your progress! Happy stitching!

I’m linking up with Beth at Cooking Up Quilts for MCM, since I’m excited to be blogging, and always excited to stitch!

Putting it in Perspective

Earlier this week marked two years since I first began writing this blog. That’s right… two years. It feels like such a short time, yet I feel like so much has happened here–sharing stories and inspiration, making friends, keeping on top of project progress (or lack thereof!), improving techniques together, and so much more. It has been a full two years, and I’m so grateful to you for joining me on my journey.

I’ve always been one to set my goals high, which often is a good thing. If there’s a technique or project I want to try, I just go for it. If I want to create my own patterns, I dive in. If I want to go to QuiltCon, I make it happen (at least last year!). But with lofty goals and high expectations comes that nagging feeling that I’m just not cutting it. There are bound to be deadlines that come and go without the project being finished (I’m still working on one such project). There are goals that I set that just can’t be met, not due to any lack of desire or drive, but because of the many hats I wear as maker, wife, and full time mom. My husband has often commented on how my daily to-do lists assume superhuman ability, and it is important to remember that I am only human. A thrice needed mama human, at that.

With a few missed deadlines and a couple looming ones, paired with the general excitement on social media from everyone attending QuiltCon this year, I’ve been feeling a bit overwhelmed and disappointed with myself. Seeing the reminder pop up a couple days ago that it is my 2-year blogoversary really helped me back up and put it all into perspective. I’ve been quilting and designing intentionally for only two years. Yet, really, I’ve accomplished a lot! Most importantly, I work daily to balance time with my family with my creative life and I think I’m more consistently finding that balance, and missing QuiltCon this year is a result of that. I would say that’s a win.

Plus, I found that my work is “out in the wild” in a couple of new, exciting places. It’s always fun to see that others are inspired enough by your work to share it, especially in big publications.

amy butler issue 3 blossomMy quilt photography appears in Issue 3 of Amy Butler’s Blossom eMagazine in an article written by Stephanie at Late Night Quilter about the Supernova Friendship Swap that happened last year.

typewriter and supernova swap block 1The above photo is the full title page spread, which is pretty awesome to see.

dropcloth color wheel rainbow quiltThe second fun appearance is of my rainbow embroidery sampler, which is included in an article on About.com. You can visit the article here, and be inspired by all sorts of fun rainbow embroidery projects. Maybe, just maybe, this will be the push I need to be brave, tackle circles, and finish this rainbow color wheel. But not until after I finish my deadline projects. Life goes on. The projects will be there.

I’m sharing my reflection on the whole maker-mom journey in the hopes that it may help you put your own life in perspective when needed. The next time you’re feeling down about the project you didn’t finish, or the technique you just can’t get (yet!), take a step back and look for the good. It’s there. It just has a habit of getting buried by everything else, at least for me. Keep on making with a smile, set your sights high, and take it one step at a time.

Enjoy the journey, and thank you for joining me on mine. I sure am enjoying it!

One Little Word for 2016: Nurture

I’m not one for making new year’s resolutions. Perhaps it’s the knowledge that there’s a really good chance I’d be setting myself up for failure, or perhaps it’s the fact that I make resolutions and goals for myself all year long, but I’ve never really jumped on the resolutions bandwagon. I do, however, love the reflection, reevaluation, and goal-making that comes with beginning a brand new year. Many have chosen a single word on which to focus; “one little word” to guide their year. As Ali Edwards explains on her blog:

“The premise is simple – choose a word to invite into your life for the coming year. You live with it. You let it speak to you. You might even follow where it leads. There are so many possibilities and no right or wrong way to approach the adventure.”

Last year, I chose “balance” as the word to guide my year. It’s hard for me to move my focus in another direction, since I know from the depths of my soul that balance is still very much at the top of my goals list, and most likely will always be there. In reflecting over the past year, I think I did a really great job of balancing quilting with family, friends, and the rest of life, at least up until the last couple of months. Toward the end of the year, I let my excitement at my success at making time to sew despite my full plate bubble over, and I bit off more than I could chew. I’m still floundering to get caught up so that I can feel that refreshed new year, new start feeling. I’ll get there.

With all of that in mind, I’ve finally settled on a word to guide my 2016: nurture.

nurture one little word 2016Even beyond the obvious–the nurture of my three kids–this word is one that I hope will guide my year in a positive way on all levels. Yes, I will aim to care for and encourage the growth and development of my children first and foremost. That almost goes without saying. But I will also use this word to guide other areas of my life:

  • My relationship with my husband–so easy to let slide as our family grows
  • My family as a whole–family fun time all together!
  • Myself–making time for self-care IS essential
  • Relationships with friends–mommy playdates even when the kids are in school soothes my soul
  • My piecing skills–I want to master curves, and always keep learning
  • My quilting skills–more free motion quilting practice, hand quilting, stretching my quilting style 
  • My handwork–I want to sew all the things! embroidery, visible mending, applique, sashiko…
  • My creativity–regularly sketching and developing new patterns helps exercise my creative mind
  • Quilting community–I love this community and want to continue to share inspiration, ideas, and creativity with you. YOU nurture me!
  • The business side of quilting–finding a balance of business commitments that nurtures my creativity while staying true to my ideals and working toward my goals
  • The garden–I let the garden go last year because of Finn’s birth, but this year I want to nourish our bodies with homegrown food again

I suppose it’s a good thing that my biggest problem is wanting to say yes to everything, and wanting to create even half of the ideas that inspire me. But balance is key. This year, I hope to let NURTURE guide my creative, personal, family, and business decisions and continue to let my creativity shine.

I’ve been letting my blogging slide a bit so far this year, but plan to get back into the rhythm of sharing inspiration here. As I mentioned above, I bit off more than I could chew at the end of last year, so I’m still working hard to catch up and meet some final deadlines. I miss you, and will share more soon! Thank you for following along with my creative process, and I look forward to many inspiring conversations in the year ahead! May this blog help nurture your creativity as well!

 

Inspiration is Everywhere {Giveaway Winner}

Inspiration is everywhere. It is clearly decided that we creative folks pull our inspiration from just about anywhere.

inspiration is everywhereThere were 478 comments on my Sew Mama Sew Giveaway Day post, and I truly wanted to respond to them all. I asked you to share what inspires you to create, and the answers were inspiring in and of themselves! Thank you so much for sharing your inspiration. Many of the inspiration sources resonated deeply with me, since I, too, seem to find inspiration just about anywhere. I’ve decided to share some of the top sources of inspiration, as shared by you, my readers.

random number generator resultsBut first, a winner! Mr. Random chose comment 362 as the winner of the fabric bundle and two patterns of choice from Quilting Jetgirl. Congratulations Amanda! Please check your email and get back to me with your mailing address and patterns of choice!

winner comment

Here are some of the top sources of inspiration pulled from your comments:

Blogs, Instagram, Pinterest, and other online inspiration

Many of you find inspiration in the beautiful things that others have made. Our extensive online community of creative souls makes it possible for us to draw inspiration from such a wide world of creativity!

Color and Texture

Color and texture is literally EVERYwhere, and you creative folks can see it! Many of you said that color, either in nature or in general, and texture were top sources of inspiration for you.

dahlia color palette
A palette created for my Color Inspiration {22} post. Color in nature!
Patterns in Life

Whether a gorgeous miracle found in nature, or a man made structure, patterns in life inspire many of you to create. Some of the top sources are:

Nature
Geometry
Tiles
Architecture
Art

People

People in our lives inspire much creativity. Some create for charity, so the knowledge that someone in need will be gifted a quilt filled with love drives the sewist’s inspiration. Some create for their family and friends. Children, especially, seem to be a big source of inspiration. Sometimes, it’s the people in our lives who have passed, or the one who taught us how to quilt who inspires us most.

Learning New Techniques

Some of you are inspired by the desire to learn new techniques, or experiment with different mediums.

Peace & Quiet

The ability to escape to a place of silence and peace is inspiration for some. I can certainly relate to this as a mom of two-soon-to-be-three rambunctious and spirited children. Life is busy, loud, and often chaotic. Moments of silence and peace are inspiring indeed!

Photograph by Xisco Bibiloni from Flickr; Quote taken from comment by Angela from Lil' Angel Stitches.
Photograph by Xisco Bibiloni from Flickr; Quote taken from comment by Angela from Lil’ Angel Stitches.
History

The amazing quilters of the past, and the creativity of the ones who first began to sew scraps of fabric together to create quilts are inspiration.

Materials

The materials themselves are a source of inspiration for many. “A lovely hand-dyed yarn or fetching pattern on fabric are my starting points and then I go from there to find a pattern to use them with.” shared Laura aka aprilshowers.

The NEED to Create

This is my favorite, and also a strong source of inspiration for you creative folks. Many of you mentioned that the root of your inspiration is simply a need to create. Afton from Quilting Mod nailed it with her comment:

“I am inspired by an innate desire to create and make beautiful things.” – Afton from Quilting Mod

I’ve discussed this feeling before, and agree that for me, while inspiration truly comes from everywhere–family, friends, nature, texture, color, blog and IG posts, people who need or request quilts, architecture, pattern, fabulous fabrics and threads–my sewing is driven by an innate desire to create.

Thank you for sharing your sources of inspiration, and most of all, thank you for creating. Each of you makes the world a bit more beautiful with every stitch!