Dropped by to see a good friend today--she had major reconstructive surgery on one foot last week and will be in this position for a while:
There's nothing like a good dose of tangling to set off a cast. She can now be a fashion maven as she scoots around on her knee scooter. At least until she gets her new cast next week.
This morning, while waiting for news on The Big Project (which is dragging on and on...will I ever get a go-ahead?), I forced myself to tackle a Little Project I've put off for decades: Sorting through a huge pile of tangled, jammed-together embroidery threads.
I made a start. But it's a scary one.
I am now mired in "Lower Slobbovia," as my family used to refer to any wildly messy space. Have a look (but you may want to look away quickly):
And here's the scariest part: I could not fit all of Slobbovia in this picture. Even when using the "Panoramic" option on my iPhone, this is only HALF of its length! The rest of the mess is unseen and continues to the right.
(Slobbovia is a very large place.)
This was a first fast sort, using the ROYGBIV method (Red, Orange, Yellow, etc.) and dumping all the white, black, neutrals and un-categorizable color mixes on the far right.
Now I have to move on with another task, leaving the Lower Slobbovia thread-mess parked on my desk. I deliberately put it there because I know I cannot leave it there long. I'll be forced to deal with it. I've been postponing this for decades (yes, decades) and it's just ridiculous to have let it get so out of hand. Hopefully I can find a system that will enable me to store and find colors much more efficiently for future punch needle embroidery projects.
Speaking of which, my good friend Patt reminded me that I had designed and made this punch needle piece back in 2004 for her wedding. I'd forgotten it and appreciate having this photo for my gallery. Thanks, Patt, for sending this!
Anonymous quote which I should adopt as a motto:
"My room is not messy. It's an obstacle course meant to keep me fit."
Apparently I would rather do anything but straighten out the ghastly mess of embroidery threads crammed together tightly in a bag (my so-called "method" for "storing threads" for punch needle embroidery). See my last post...Hah! It's all catching up to me now, and I'm avoiding, avoiding, avoiding...hence I'm writing two posts in one day.
I just finished this embroidery last week, but haven't begun to think about the framing for it yet:
I bought the pattern around 2011 from the Paisley Studio in New York state, and completed the bird that same year--and then dropped it. As I've been saying for a while now, punch needle embroidery projects are keeping me sane while I'm waiting to find out whether I'm going to be starting The Big Project (stay tuned for more on that). Since The Big Project will take up all my time for months to come, I'm afraid to start any serious textile work so I'm basically knitting and punching tiny pieces.
Thus I am finishing up all the half-done work from the last several years. Two weeks ago I pulled out this piece and began to think about a background. Below is Sarah's initial photo that came with the pattern:
I admired her technique and colors. I stuck to exactly what she did, with none of my usual tendency to make changes. The big difference is in the eye of the birds--my bird looks a lot more surprised than hers! That's the difference in how we each handled the eye. Her bird looks meditative--mine looks a lot less settled, right?
The work was so much fun, but once I had it complete I could see it needed a background around it if I were going to frame it. So five years after finishing the bird, I finally punched the background using Valdani cotton thread. I'm pleased with the results, although in my own photograph above I notice that many subtle colors in the background simply do not show. It looks like a much "busier" background in the photograph than it does in person.
Sarah has an Etsy site HERE. I don't see any punch needle embroidery patterns on it as I'm writing this, but that doesn't mean she doesn't still sell them. Check with her if you are interested.
I loved her title for this piece, "Through My Window," and enjoyed thinking about being able to see a bluebird out my own window as I punched. It would never happen where I live now!
To round this off, here are some bluebird quotes. I particularly enjoyed the contrast between the last two...
A man who never sees a bluebird only half lives.
Edwin Way Teale
The bluebird carries the sky on his back.
Henry David Thoreau
An optimist is someone who figures that if it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it's the bluebird of happiness.
The Bluebird of Happiness long absent from his life, Ned is visited by the Chicken of Depression.
[While I am in an enforced rug hooking and tangling "lull" for a while, I've been working with punch needle embroidery because it's quick and most of the pieces are small. This is a post on rediscovering my first two pieces and on how I learned.]
Many years ago now--could it have been around the year 2000?--I learned to do punch needle embroidery from a very kind friend and teacher named Linda. I remember how desperately I wanted to learn when I saw her work! At the time, we were both visiting Shelburne VT for the Green Mountain Rug Hooking Guild annual show (still a fabulous, classic, not-to-be-missed show; it's huge and always has classes running at the same time).
I begged Linda for a quick tutorial and we met the next morning for breakfast at a now-defunct restaurant in Shelburne. While we were waiting for our food, she whipped out a sample and taught me in less than ten minutes. I will be forever grateful.
At the time she was running a small business and writing two books on the topic. I believe the books (superb) are now out of print but I've heard they may be coming back as e-books for Kindle. She had a number of patterns for sale and also made frames for punch hooking. I think some of her adorable patterns may still be available here. Although you will have to check to be sure. Fortunately, gripper frames and Morgan Hoops--which both work well for punch needle--are now widely available from other sources if you google them.
The above Crow Pattern--a lapel pin--was the very first punch needle project I ever did, and it's one of Linda's designs. Here is another one, done around the same time and also one of her designs. It's also a pin.
Linda's first book was called Miniature Punchneedle Embroidery and her second book was titled A Passion for Punchneedle. I highly recommend the first book for beginners and the second one for "experienced beginners" and intermediate-to-advanced punchers. Her directions are clear and well thought-out and you cannot find a better teacher in print. Secondhand copies of the books are often available. I would love to see them reprinted but at least the Miniature Punchneedle Embroidery (first book) is available as an ebook here. The instructions are superb, and it's packed with projects.
Meanwhile, I have continued punching away in spare moments, although my emphasis shifted to punch needle rug hooking for several years. Happily I reconnected with Linda recently. She's still punching, and is also a gifted rug hooker and calligrapher.
While I am waiting for a "go" or "no-go" on the Big Project (the one I'm not yet ready to talk about), my attention is scattered and I hesitate to start another rug. So, I'm working on punch needle projects on a tiny scale. After finishing several of these I was left with tools and threads in a mess and this morning I began a tidying-up process.
That's when I found these two pieces above. These tiny treasures I had completely forgotten popped out of a long-unopened box to delight me.
Big thanks to Linda for her teaching and friendship over the years.
And now...back to the challenging task of sorting out threads. Here is just a partial glimpse of what I'm facing. No wonder I can't find anything...Wish me luck!
I'm a textile artist (traditional rug hooking, punch needle rug hooking, and other textile arts), long-time meditator and coach, focused on learning about the interplay of art, creativity, and mindfulness every day.
NEXT INTRO TO ZENTANGLE CLASS:
No immediate group classes scheduled (I'm always open to hearing about a good venue in the Cambridge-Somerville area). I am always happy to teach 1-1 and/or in a small group in your home.
Come and amaze yourself!
SITES TO WATCH:
Insight Meditation Society
Oxford Rug Hooking School
Zentangle: The Official Site
Green Mountain Rug Hooking
Massachusetts Tarot Society
Skillful Meditation Project