Saturday, January 14, 2017

Design Always Evolves!

Recalling my posts last month about "Getting Started" and some of the realities of designing something for yourself, I had to repost this photo from our NING conversation board.  Janet Brandt has been working on a very original design for her double casket for a few years and is getting closer to completion (the back is in embroidery progress right now).

Janet Brandt's Amazing "World of Possibilities" Casket (copyright Janet Brandt).  Stare at the picture of the mockup and the finished piece for awhile and compare the starting design with the finished piece.
If you haven't been able to follow her blogging about it, now is a great time to catch up.  Janet is an accomplished professional designer, author and artist.  So 'a pro'.  So it is highly useful to look at her mock up for her casket which incorporates the design idea she was running with when she started.

Those of us who are used to starting at the point where the designer has finished the project and is now writing the instructions for us to make a copy are usually unaware of the extreme level of uncertainty of the design/working process.  Many think that those who design start out with a fully completed vision.

I have to laugh (a nervous one) every day as people who want to do the June stumpwork short box stitch-along pepper me with emails, asking for the 'materials list' so they can buy the threads now.  The answer from me:  I have no clue.  That is the point, it will be designed as I go.  Do I have ideas?  Yes.  Do I have a line design?  Yes.  Do I have first-run prototypes of new threads on my table this very minute trying them out for it?  You bet.  But I won't have a list for a panel until I finish it myself.  And I won't have a good clue until I finish that first panel which will be the basis for the 'scheme' for the entire casket.  I have ideas of what I want to do and want to use.  But it might just happen that when I place it on the panel, the color is too washed out or the texture is just too low.  And then I will have to figure out a new idea.  That is how it goes.

So that is the theme of this year's Stitch-Along - Just Start.  There is absolutely NO WAY you can have a plan that you can stick to.  None of us are that talented.  Janet is one of the most talented people I know and if you carefully look at the mock up of the casket and the final piece, you will see some huge changes - almost unrecognizable from the first idea.  And note that the side of the mockup is blank. I am sure that Janet had an idea of what she wanted, but hadn't yet put it on paper enough to paste it to the side.

Now go back to the first blogs about this project and start to follow along with her.  There are just some amazing pictures of the process and discussion of trying out ideas on her mockup that you MUST look at if you are working on designing your own casket.  You will hear of many abandoned and changed plans and how the piece grew - and I am sure it grew to encompass more than what she had envisioned at first.  In fact I know it did as I know what is inside.  Every baby step results in new ideas, new confidence, and exploration of new concepts.  You will see that sometimes the idea totally changed and sometimes the idea has modified scale and details.  And in some places, the idea was yet to come - but she STARTED.  Yes, you could be scared off by the dates (late 2013) and she is still working on it.  But I know if you asked Janet, she wouldn't at all say that it is a bother and she is tired with it - she is having FUN.  (When you see the know she is having FUN).  When I got the first full 3-D shoes done in stumpwork I was literally squealing around here! It can be both frustrating, challenging, time consuming and FUN.

It is likely that your piece will result in growth of you as a stitcher - you will look back on things you did before and love them - but you might just cross the line from stitcher to artist without even realizing it.  :-)

It has been gratifying to follow the progress of many of the people working on the Cabinet of Curiosities and remembering back to their early emails and postings and getting new ones now of their experimentation with thread X and stitch Y and their mastery of it, frustrations and what they now 'see' in the old pieces and can make very informed and educated comments about what was happening historically because of their experience.  Tremendous, tremendous growth.  It is just so cool.  And I see so much more 'playing' happening now too.  That is the artist in you all coming out.  Very freeing.

So with that - I am going to start showing everyone the entries into the Casket Toy Contest next week.  They are playful as toys should be!

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Winners of 12 Days of Christmas Giveaway

So I have had a chance to post all the winners of the Christmas Giveaways...

A. Hewett, NY
K. Cloutier, IN
K. Jenkins, Australia
R. Fields, NY
I. Barnett, New Zealand
J. Bawn, UK
M. Long, Australia
J. Carolane, Australia
A. Zemkajute, Lithuania
J. Wyatt, Canada
K. Hamilton, TX
M. Dillow, OH
R. Homiller, TX
L. Herrmann, CA
P. Fowler, TX
S. Lambiris, NC
B. Coffman, PA
C. Robinson, IA
D. Brower, MD
S. Goad, VA
D. Courchaine, CT
A. Hamilton, DE
T. Dove, DC
D. Autorino, NJ
G. Posnett, MD

Congrats, Happy New Year and a magazine will be showing up in your box soon!


Monday, January 9, 2017

Join Stitch Along with Trinket Box!

If you have been sitting on the sidelines because a full sized casket was just out of reach, perhaps a smaller Trinket Box (still a casket!!) is what you are looking for.  The Silken Tent Stitch Trinket Box is now in stock and available for order, as well as the scroll bar frames needed for it.

If you want to do one, I can add you to the NING site where we chat, share pictures and encourage each other!


Friday, January 6, 2017

Vice President of Logistics, Paper Division

I opened my email this morning over a groggy cup of tea as my husband rushed to drive a child out to the bus shouting instructions to the other about what to add to his robot control system logging once he got home from school.  And yes, I didn't find that out of the ordinary.  But then I found the following in my email as a uncommented note from said husband, who other than being the Head of Waste Management Receptacles and Lead Driver for Transportation of Second Child, is the Division VP of Blockage Removal.  Not to be confused with his very important job of Large Insect Management.

Consumer Reports ratings on toilet paper efficacy.
Romantic.  A few years ago I must have laughed until I cried driving home listening to a NPR segment on parenting and romance.  The guests were discussing the transition from deep, meaningful conversations as soon-to-be engaged partners to screams down the staircase holding out a naked soiled child on 'where the heck are the baby wipes!!!'  She went on to describe how being married with kids turns you into the CEO and COO of Family, Inc.  Conversations and text messages become terse discussions about logistics, supply chain management and how to make your 'employees' less whiny.  Sexting...PLEASE...just say you will pick up milk and get the kid from tutoring and I will swoon!

Yes, that is my life.  Add to it the robotic teams and we are not only the Executive Team for Family, Inc. but Board Members for a very-young, energetic and slightly disorganized product team at a new 'start-up' in our basement.  My sister-in-law brought people over here on Thanksgiving to watch us like we are the 'Nerd Show' as we inter disperse pleasantries to our guests while cooking with advice to the kids who were running around the Turkey trying chaotically to develop a control system for their robot while taking short breaks for 'street-rules' Twister (don't ask).

So it comes back to his romantic email on toilet paper.  As head of blockage removal, he has been quite frustrated with the physical plant we purchased a few years ago and has been lobbying for the purchasing department to make serious changes.  A change in ceramic throne to a more powerful model still didn't seem to change the issues too much.  A load of golf balls - yea - total fantasy advertisement!

There was a very short lived investment in new Japanese technology to eliminate the need for paper.  But as I pointed out - don't give these kids a device they can hack to play tricks on each other.  I was overruled, but vindicated.  Very quickly the 'What is this?! and What does that button do?" phase resulted in many walls being wet.  So it was moved to a very private bathroom on the third floor in the Executive Suite.  Yes - don't automate too many tasks for the minions, they rebel.

And the professional blockage consulting team we brought in yesterday now warned that we might have to dig up part of the basement if their camera system found a serious problem in the pipes.  Seems that the basement has an added bathroom that might be at the wrong elevation.  Combine that with 20 kids using it several times a week, and well, you have a continual problem now resulting in shower backups as well.

Hense the experiment.  The professionals claim to have been here a dozen times in 2016 and since said professional now politely asks about the progress of our team, I am thinking - yea... I know him too well!  Either that or he is secretly thinking he can retire early if this robot team keeps advancing in competitions - extending their seasons and the number of times he gets to visit us a year.   So, they routed the system again and last night the VP of Blockage Removal officially took over on Paper Procurement to see how many days we could last before professional services were again required.  Hence the email to choose reasonable products to store in each rest room based on use profile.  I mentioned that I didn't study all those years to get my Ph.D to be reduced to cardboard.  So I played my 'key to the Executive Suite' card and chose something a bit more refined to be squirreled away for private use.

The last meaningful email he sent to me was one that I really did appreciate.  It was sharing a Quora essay on picking a spouse.  The writer said that marriages are severely tested when you get into this Family, Inc phase as the stresses either break you or make you stronger (i.e you learn to laugh at all this crazy stuff).  He suggested that no couple be allowed to get engaged until they have gone camping or backpacking somewhere for two weeks.  No resort.  Real backpacking.  Stuff will go wrong, really wrong.  You will get wet, have blisters, be exhausted, and look or be ugly.  The author said how his girlfriend (now wife) and another engaged couple went on said trip in the Rockies and how the other guy was so ugly and disparaging to the woman about not keeping up, wouldn't carry her pack and did nothing to help her cook over the fire.  They are now divorced while he and his now wife managed to get along while deciding not to be friends anymore with the jerk.

My husband and I took a backpacking trip to Europe in grad school with a friend (over the protestations of my father of me traveling with two guys) and yes, it was full of big time stresses.  Especially having the friend along.  The day after I had the car and managed to get it stuck in an intersection on a bridge over a river next to a walled city - totally stopping traffic in this bucolic Welsh town with my limited manual driving skills, we were barreling down a country road as the friend, driving, was desperate to keep on his three towns a day schedule and we were missing all the heather.  My husband screamed STOP THE CAR from the backseat and ran from the car with his camera, needing 30 minutes of peace in the field taking pictures to recompose himself.  Nightly we roamed the restaurant menus trying to find somewhere to eat to keep us on our $15/day budget.  We lost a lot of weight.  I went home after a month as I couldn't afford to stay and he stayed with our friend for another two months...and promptly asked me to marry him when he got back to the USA, saying that it was so much more fun when I was there with them.

So he told me he would take me on the rest of the trip I missed for our honeymoon,  where we promptly had enough misadventures to make any listener pee-their pants laughing and would make an awesome travel disaster book.  Think Amazing Race but a bit more hilarious, no camera crew and worse accommodations (yes, he had stand and plop quarters into my shower to keep the water running at one).  After my father picked himself off the floor laughing once we returned, he got all sober and said if he had known - he wouldn't have let us go.  As a parent, I can concur as the summons I got a few years later to appear in court in Prague to testify against the mob would say that we had a few adventures...  And yes, we survived all the stresses and finally got promoted to CEO and COO of Family, Inc where we repeat said stressful adventures but with whiny kids in the backseat and talk sweet nothings about the qualities of toilet paper.

My oldest just started dating and informed us he has a girlfriend.  I slyly invited her over during robot work while we had guests and were running around crazy to get ready for the little teams competiton so we would be at 'our best' to see if she could handle it.  Already thinking about college girlfriends joining us on trips to see how it goes.  Like an early job interview for CEO of Family, Inc - cause with my son and our family, it won't be all roses and diamonds I can tell you!


P.S.  As I blogged this, I got a call.  Typical.  A simple Uline order of cardboard boxes for the next kit pack has turned into another stressful day of supply chain management at Family, Inc.  Instead of being sent by UPS, the new trucking company asked me what loading dock I wanted my pallet delivered to.  Ugh...the lady on the other end pretty much freaked when I told her they were going to a residential zone and I have no forklift.  Time to call the electrical company to see if their truck is legally allowed down my street as I don't know the answer to the question 'how tall are the electrical lines there'.   One solution as the semi won't be going down my driveway is to leave it all in the street for the Robot Team of strong teens to bring in for me.  So I gotta now think of a clever ploy to get them to carry it - something like seeing who is 'man' enough, that often works.

Ah....if it was just roses and diamonds.  Sigh.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Casket Toy Entries

I have gotten many entries into the contest and have set them aside for about two weeks as I clear out the backlog of orders for everyone - since so many are doing the Stitch Along, there are many who are getting things they need right now!  I know in about 1-2 weeks I will be able to set aside 1-2 days to carefully read the entries (being dyslexic I have to set aside calm and quiet time to digest things correctly) and the entries are so stunning that I want to give them my undivided attention!  With kids around at night preparing for this weekends competition - I haven't seen 'quiet' since before Thanksgiving.

So I can't wait to start sharing the amazing pieces and pictures with you all soon - such a creative bunch out there!


Saturday, December 31, 2016

Casket Toy Contest Entries Due!

The entries for my Casket Toy contest are due tonight at Midnight!  So if you are almost done - get an entry in... you have many hours to get the pieces done!

I am enjoying seeing the entries as they come in and they are about as opposite from each other as you could ever imagine, making my job tough!  I can't wait to share the entries with you all on the blog after I have time to digest them and make my decisions.


Friday, December 30, 2016

Making Your Own Graphs

Top design printed at 133% so I can trace it onto 18 count graph
paper to make a 24 count design to scale and fit
on the casket.
For those who want to work the Five Seasons Casket Design on a different count of linen or a different design entirely, but counted, I have pictures of the process of making a graph to share.

The first is the scaling of the design and the use of graph paper.  You need to get a set of graph paper to use.  The best is using one that is either equal or half of the linen threads/inch of your linen.  An example is 20 count graph paper for 20 or 40 count linen.  18 count graph paper for 36 count linen.  It is pretty hard to use graph paper once it is smaller than 20 count, so that is about as high as you can find.  StitchPoint has graph paper as useful counts that you can print.  

Taped together pieces of 18-count
graph paper.
So say you like my design but want to stitch it over 1 on 36 count.  Print out the 18 count paper on the site and then scale each of my designs by 200% when printing.  (36/18 = 200%).  Trace the design on the graph paper and you have the right scale.

In my case, I already had 18 count graph paper I owned and I wanted to do the lid top for the flat casket, but on 24 count graph paper.  24/18=133%.  So I printed out my top design at 133% on several sets of paper and cut and taped them together to make one large design.   I then taped it to a light table.

Graph paper over the enlarged design on a light table
I then took the 18 count paper and trimmed it and taped it together to make a large piece of graph paper.  I carefully aligned it on the design on top of a light table and taped it down.  At this point, I traced the outlines of the design on the graph paper as well as the inner grey border to find the perimeter of the design.  I will likely add 2-3 stitches to each edge to help
compensate for the skew when stitching.

Traced design on the graph paper
Once the design was traced onto the graph paper, I could start filling in the outlines of each motif on the graph paper where the traced line crossed a graph square.

You could continue like this with colored pencils, making yourself a master graph or you can enter it into a computer graphing program of your choice.

Starting to fill in the squares where the traced design crosses
a graph square.