December 17, 2012

Unfinished Objects Day 68

I have finished a total of 7 ornaments, one sampler and am close to finishing the second sampler in my quest to finish my projects in 80 days. I have 8 sleeps until Christmas and 12 to finish my projects. Hopefully I can do a bunch of stitching while I am enjoying (exploiting for babysitting) my family. Here is a hand made, hand designed Christmas ball I did for the office.

In addition to working, chasing toddler, baking really bad gingerbread cookies, I am almost ready for St Nick's Day but we will see........

December 10, 2012

UFOs Day 61

So the work ornaments have CONSUMED me. I only did 8 but I had sewing machine malfunctions (end user problem), I had ribbon disasters and mostly free time at night after perfect toddler retired for the night.

I think I can say, with god's honest truth, that I am grateful for my job and I am expressing this gratitude in any way I know how. Thus it results in stitching. I know you have seen these as works in progress but I am going to present all 8 pieces when they are finished on one gallery with their ribbon accompaniment.

As far as Christmas stitching goes, I had an idea to do up a stocking for aforementioned perfect toddler but of course I bit off more than I could chew.  As I have finished only 1 UFO to date, and finished stitching 7 out of the 8 ornaments that side tracked me, I cant say I have a huge sense of completion yet. The original stitching stash is still organized, I am still inspired and I am working diligently everyday. I will take some time over the Xmas break to visit my LNS (local needlework store) which is a good hour drive away, and check in to see what is new in the way of classes or organized stitch alongs for 2013.

I think I will provide a picture of perfect toddler wearing her handmade seasonal reindeer headgear made from the shape of her hands in the meantime to hold us all over until the gallery is done.

This next few days will be great I just know it! Now go out there and make a difference!

November 29, 2012

Miss Me?

I have had a busy couple of weeks at work. I am in an accounting position and this is the end of the year for us and a lot of our working interest partners. The press is on to complete, adjust, and file everything that is important. I have been continuing to work on my Christmas ornaments for the office in our corporate team colors, and I have a few pictures of the work in progress:

We will see how the completed works look when I sew on a backing, attach a ribbon, and stuff with candy canes. I will definitely post the completed projects. 

this doesn't count toward my UFOs or WIP that I had on my spread sheet, and I am still holding my boundaries on my organization but we will see how the next 26 days progress before Christmas...

November 20, 2012

Unfinished Organization: Day 41 half way there

I have been looking through my back catalogue of magazines, reference books, and patterns for some tips on UFOs and they all say: the need for confirmation of accomplishment. I had to figure out how to tackle the obvious. The only thing I had begun with 41 days ago on my 80 day quest to organize was sheer volume. Volume of patterns, fabrics, thread.....

I seem to have it down to 13 or 14 projects to finish in my 80 days quest (started with 15 UFOs and countless WIP)  and I can confidently say I have only finished 2 since this quest began. The good news? Its kind of like anything you get in order: your pantry, your household, the laundry room, there is always something to work on to keep the accounts balanced at work, always something gnawing at you.

For stitching, I know that a big part of it is completion time, and I know that there has to be motivation to finish things and keep them from gnawing at you. I have been going through my informational stash and found a tip which HAS ABSOLUTELY WORKED! Here it is step by step:

1) I found an old UFO.

2) Found out that it hadn't been completely highlighted for some reason.

3) Dug out the highlighter and started going over what had actually been stitched, mistakes I would need to pull out.

4) Realized I had more done than I had thought so it was less intimidating.

5) Finished the project within two evenings of stitching! Imagine that

6) AND this is the most important part - started another TINY project right on the heels of the UFO. From scratch.

Then I realized that being driven on by the sense of completion and success makes me want to continue on the other 14 UFOs. I knew 41 days ago realistically I could not get all 15 done. 41 Days ago I had no idea how many I even had. 41 days ago I needed to sieve through all of it. Even then I knew there would probably be too much for 80 days, but I didn't think I would be this motivated in the middle of the game. I felt like a snake swallowing their prey - I would have to unhinge my jaw to consume all of these UFOs. What has come out of this project so far? I have actually been stitching more than I have been blogging which is not AT ALL What I thought would happen!

Pictures to come later...

Next post, what is the difference between a UFO and a WIP?

November 16, 2012

UFOs: sidetracked with Mittens

I have decided to temporarily shift my projects to stitch mittens for the office. We have a colleague who is leaving at the end of November for greener pastures and I thought I would stitch him a little memento of his time here. I have done it in our company colors but here is the little sample. It took about one evening and it is approx 3.5 in x 4.5 in so its a quickie but not on my organizational list....

November 12, 2012

UFOs: Day ?? Counting the stitches

Today I thought I would look at the smaller projects I have which, coincidentally happen to be of the Christmas direction. I have an annual tradition of jumping on the Christmas bandwagon immediately after Nov 11.

The thought of soldiers worldwide giving their lives for their cause is a tremendous sacrifice. They deserve remembrance; but they would also want us to focus on the freedoms we enjoy because of their sacrifice. Whether you believe in war, that is not the point, these men and women deserve our respect and gratitude. My grandmother knitted mittens for those in soldiers in World War II. Today I will solemnly finish a chart of Christmas mittens I had started in that same spirit. These are the project I want to finish this week:

November 10, 2012

UFOs : The Organized Stitch Day 31

As you may recall, I am working through 80 days of organization.

In the first few days I cataloged my unfinished objects (approx 80), cataloged my patterns (approx 200) and have inventoried my thread. I procrastinated, I read books, magazines, tried to pick up a project or two but I just didn't feel into it. 

I took a few days away from it and read everybody else's blogs and websites and thought I should take another stab at it! 

Enough with the needlework jokes, I picked one randomly out of the bag and started running my favorite highlighter over the pattern and realized I was about 80% done and I only had 3 colors left to stitch so I just got on it. Now I only have 1 hours left at best, this is the back of the design and I am just so thrilled with its organized intensity. When I complete it, it will be the first if the 15 UFOs I will have completed in the 80 days to organization...

November 9, 2012

UFO : Unfinished Day 30

What is the coolest tool you use for your stitching?

I have my favorites mostly my scissor magnet(seen on previous post),

my fancy German highlighters:

and probably my awesome coffee mug. But I found this graphic yesterday and I felt it was appropriate:

November 8, 2012

UFOs Day 29 of 80 days

Soon I will be contributing as a guest blogger for a site called Stitching The Night Away: see if I come up with anything interesting that you would like to discuss.....

Day 29 UFO
Here are the reasons I decided to get organized and finish some, any or most of the 80 pieces I have "on the go". I have marked them in a spreadsheet in Excel on my computer, and I am tracking their progress by photo. What would be your reasons for getting organized?

1) Don't want to spend money on a duplicate pattern - I have invested  tons and tons of money into magazines, books, photocopies, internet patterns, Etsy patterns, and grid paper.

2) I have limited square footage. I am an inner city urban dweller who doesn't have a basement, lives with a husband and toddler, so I have to keep my stash down to a dull roar.

3) Keeping track of lumps or tubes of fabric swatches and lengths takes up space and I want to make sure I don't have 700 yards of white 14 Count white Aida when I need an 8x10" swatch of  aubergine linen.

4) The people I live with don't want to damage my hard work. My husband would see piles of stitching and fabrics etc and worry about knocking them over or spilling coffee on it.

5) Most of all for myself. Just so I can show a sense of accomplishment. I tend to bore easily - thus the reason I have 80 pieces on the go. The oldest dates back to about 2007 - time to get it sorted out and finished.

November 4, 2012

Baby Girl & Organization UFO:Day 25

I find the only reasonable distraction from my stitching is my lovely little girl. My Baby Girl is too small to coexist properly with my stitching, so I find a tricky balance ensues. Mostly I stitch when she is asleep, but occasionally I can break it out when she is toddling around the house.

Today in the spirit of protecting my projects from her and vice-versa, I have my stitching categorized in Ziploc bags for every project that I have unfinished. In each bag I have the 1) fabric project 2) the pattern 3) sometimes the hoop and 4) the thread.

I always leave my magnet with my needles and scissors separate.

Mostly the projects storage can be standardized, but the threads are always the tricky bit.Sometimes on the projects, the thread can't be easily managed on a thread sorter. On the larger more complicated projects, I use Floss-Away rings with the baggies. If it is more convenient, sometimes DMC threads compactly intact in their original skeins, sometimes I have them on a DMC Floss Bobbins.

This is how I do it:

November 2, 2012

Unfinished Oktoberfest Day 23

So I am not the most consistent blogger in the history of bloggers. I can make excuses about Halloween, my daughter, my day job, yadda yadda yadda. It is in my nature to jump from one thing to another, I am not in the habit of doing one UFO at a time, but rather fulfilling a list....

The truth of it is I am working on my 14 unfinished object projects daily. Not all at once. But they are all getting attention in one way or another. I have stitcher's block I guess. I am working on one particular object and I am struggling with a font. I am working through it and the best thing I can find is a sampler designed by Jane Greenoff that I can draw some inspiration and details from. I don't limit myself to cross stitch or embroidery, or pulled thread, satin stitch or confetti pieces.

Here are some examples of my remaining UFOs:

October 20, 2012

Unfinished Objects Oktoberfest Day 12

Ok so I have been diligently working on my lists bags, markers, materials etc etc. Here is the work in progress from my most urgent project, The Rooster Cat Commission:

This project will be completed on 11 x 17" 16 count white AIDA in DMC 414 Grey with three DMC variegated thread colors orange variant, blue variant, and a possible red variant. There are two distinctive blackwork patterns, and the font work. I am at the point where I am stalling out, getting side tracked, and procrastinating.

I have sharpened my stork scissors, organized my thread, bagged projects with floss, arranged & rearranged the 15 UFOs in order of priority, and rearranged storage.

I have been consumed by the designing process for the other million projects I have seem to be floating through my head which haven't been morphing into concrete projects but will eventually be completed.

Finding yet another stash of patterns, I revised my project list and get this; coincidentally we are slightly short of 80 projects. There is no way in my mind that I thought I had 80 pcs I could work on. And in no way had I thought I would 80 in 80 days. By my estimates I have over 350 hours of stitching and 15 UFOs (unfinished objects). Impossible to complete with a full time job and a toddler at home. Tomorrow I will be further cataloging by photo on this blog the top ten most urgent projects so I can set my goal and complete my UFOs in the next 68 days.....

Until next time.

October 12, 2012

UnFinished Oktoberfest, 1-2 skip a few 99-100

So I missed a day! So what?

I did do some evaluations and continued my stash list. According to my calculations, i have 55 patterns I can potentially complete without having to buy or download anything else. 14 of which are UFOs. Unfinished Objects are the scourge of my stitching basket(s).

I also figured out that with a reasonable time estimate that if I stitched everyday for 3 hours, I could easily stitch for 2+ years without buying another new pattern. I would have to refill on supplies, but not a new pattern. 

Being an avid stitcher and saving it for mostly when my baby girl is asleep, 3 hours a day is actually achievable. But I think I would get sick of stitching and its tricky to do on a transatlantic flight.

I will focus on these first 14, make sure I have the supplies and go forward. I will have a work in progress on Twitter @stitchybrachel and here on this blog.

October 10, 2012

Unfinished Objects Oktoberfest - 80 days to organized: Part II Day 2

As promised, I began to collect and sort my stitching. There were some "A-ha!" moments and "Oh Right!" moments but mostly I am concerned about my commitment to my hobby. In part to save money in this terrible economy, but also to streamline my modest living space.

When I initially began to learn to  stitch, it was a vision I had in the manner of older ladies sitting around a patio or dining room table together drinking tea, eating scones & finger sandwiches, and some would be knitting, and others stitching. Not necessarily Victorian doilies and lace surrounding us, but a community of women that wanted a completed product to show for their time other than watching television. I soon learned that food and stitching didn't really work, and that I get nervous drinking tea as I am clumsy and it stains the work badly. Thus my fantasy was destroyed.

At the time, I was newly married, childless and about 29. I had a difficult time trying to find peers that stitched (still do have a problem) so I settled for anyone who crafted in general. I was teased a bit by my family about pursuing a hobby that didn't include fitness/sport, a hobby for old ladies, and overall that there was only "ducks and bonnets" type results from these projects. I laughed over and over but devoted my energy despite their misunderstanding of my intentions. I never took it personally, it just motivated me to look for projects I was deeply interested in.

I felt then, as I do now, stitching is an art form. I started with a stamped bib kit for a newborn child of one of my friends. Finished it and promptly gave it away. I cringe now at the result and am glad I haven't seen it at anytime in the last 9 years. I realized the product wasn't necessarily interesting to me but that I could expand my skill level and interest and  do some research at my local library. I purchased expensive British stitching magazines because they seemed to have a better design selection than the American counterparts at the time.

To consoled myself with my independent hobby, and lack of information about the stitching community around me. During my next visit to London, I looked around at the Victoria & Albert museum on my own one day. I was thrilled and in love with their collections of costumes (including embroidered details) and fascinated with the tapestries which I knew would be way beyond my capabilities.  At the time they had several former dresses of the late Princess Diana on display. Most had tremendous details up close. The bead work! Not typically interested in beading I could still appreciate the fastidious work. Unfortunately, the textiles wing was under renovation so I was unable to look at any of the embroidered samplers that have been restored and maintained in their collection from hundreds of years of the embroiderers before my time.

After I left the museum, I walked down through the neighborhood and came across Harrod's. It happens to have a memorial to the late Diana in the basement, and not really being a fan of hers or the royals in general, but just having seen her dresses I thought I would visit it. And next to this, is the gift shop that carries the bags. I found my first of many that day, and it was the green and cream toile one on the left in the below photo. Thus the tradition began of Visiting the V&A and off to Harrod's on every trip.

Last night, as promised, I began my 80 day quest to organize and complete as many projects as I could as a personal goal to finish my UFOs. I found 3 of my special stitching stash bags, I know there are more, I just have to find them.... 

I realize my tradition is a bit weird and costly. It is something I take satisfaction in these, much like those who travel far and wide to attend World Cup every four years. Nevertheless, I began to rummage through to re-evaluate my unfinished projects. 

In what I would consider 1/3 to 1/2 of my current stash, I started pulling things out and the catalogue spreadsheet. I discovered about 30 projects in varying states of completion and here is the result of my first night of spreadsheet work. This list is intentionally blurry as I am trying to keep the recipients names somewhat confidential. Laughs! I still have to categorize them under the four items but at least I have started estimating stitching times and have a better idea of what is available for me to complete. And how much work I have in these three little bags.

Until tomorrow...

October 9, 2012

Unfinished Objects Oktoberfest - 80 days to organized

Today I am going to take stock of my stitching life... even though we should probably leave our livestock alone.

Taking Stock of my stitching stash. I am going to catalogue my unfinished projects. Like most stitchers, I accumulate. We are crafting hoarders of a sort. 

This is becoming a problem because I have a toddler and her and I are competing for activity space. I have Tupperware containers full of projects, large Ziploc bags, projects still in the QSnaps, in towels, in envelopes, in drawers, I have counted, stamped, iron on, hand drawn personally designed patterns, everything, but the real treasures are in my stitching bags. 

Every so often I visit my sister in London, England. During those visit I make a point of visiting Harrod's. For two reasons, one because the area in London (Knightsbridge) is beautiful and ritzy, and secondly always for a new stitching bag which I find in the basement. Those are the laminated bags they sell to tourists for outrageous prices and they change the design frequently to reflect Harrods' history and elegance. It is a way for the plebs to get a shot at something brand named. They always remind me of tea and clotted cream. Which I think goes well with stitching. Alas I stash a lot in those bags. I think I have 4-6. Ill get the full count in my stash catalogue.

In following posts I will post photos of the stash bags.

As far as the actual stash is concerned, I think I will categorize them in the four following ways:

1) Work in progress (WIP)
2) Unfinished Objects (UFO)
3) Not Opened (NO)
4) What Was I Thinking? (WIT)

I am certain I will become overly ambitious and try to take a picture of each project and make a spreadsheet with color complexity, material availability, and estimated hours of completion but I know that is a long term goal to work toward. 

When I come up with recipients and or deadlines I will post my progress on those also... hopefully

I have recently seen a blog that had 365 days of stitching, and I want to see what I can accomplish in the next 80 days.