Finding the Joy in Creating

Hello-January-2

 

I hope the new year finds you happy and well.  It has been cold here the past few days, although true to Texas weather it looks like that will change in a few days.  As is often true of December, I’ve spent some time thinking about what I finished in 2014 and what I wanted to set as a goal for 2015.  I feel like at the end of each year I seem to feel that I didn’t accomplish “enough” and I vow to do better in the coming months.  But maybe the issue isn’t that I am lacking, but rather I need to reevaluate my perspective.  One of the people I most enjoy following on Instagram and Bloglovin’ is Amanda from Ms. McPorkchop Quilts (@heyporkchop).  In September she did a blog post about quietly creating and what she’s learned about what she enjoys about creating and why she creates and it really got me thinking.

My December was really a lesson in what isn’t working for me.  In the first week of the month I had a number of deadlines I was trying to make – finishing up a handmade swap, making some gifts for the guild board, and finishing two stitched ornaments.  Add on top of that the realization that I had not finished any of the pieces I’d put on my MAGIC (My Annual Good Intentions Contract) list to finish in 2014.  So, because I’m a glutton for punishment I made the executive decision that I would finish And They Sinned by the end of the year (or technically by January 6th when the guild meeting is).  So, I broke up the remaining area I had to stitch into equal parts so that I could see what I needed to get done each week in order to finish.  Of course, I didn’t really take into account all that other stuff I had to get done, or the fact that I was trying to finish the most densely stitched part of the entire piece in one month – a piece that thus far had taken me like three years.  But hey, hope springs eternal, right?  So, I did manage to get the swap, the ornaments, and the board gifts done and mostly by their deadline – but I was an absolute wreck doing it.  Add in the normal stress of the holidays and I was wound so tight no amount of eggnog was going to help.  As for And They Sinned, obviously you would know if I’d finished it because there would be fireworks and a band.  And possibly the Goodyear blimp.

Over the past week or so though, I’ve had a good bit of time to think about all of the above and what I could do to alleviate some of the pressure and not end the year feeling like a big failure.  So here’s what I know –

  • I don’t like deadline stitching/quilting – I work full time (sometimes more than full time) so I have limited amount of time to spend on crafty pursuits.  I’m also a slow stitcher/quilter so hitting a deadline is tough for me.
  • Swaps/Exchanges stress me out – I love the idea of swaps, I don’t like the pressure of worrying about if what I’m making is good enough/my partner will like it.  Plus, deadline.
  • I tend to toss a project to the side if I make a mistake or come to some creative decision fork in the road.  This is a big reason why I have so many WIPs.
  • I do better focusing on one project at a time rather than attempting to work in a rotation or jumping from thing to thing.
  • There is a lot of guilt/pressure associated with my stash – there are things I loved when I bought but years later I’ve yet to get to them, some I still love but some I no longer have any interest in.  But the sheer size of what is essentially a ginormous to do list weighs on me.
  • Blogs and Instagram are great sources of inspiration for me, but can also make me feel like I’m not good enough, not creating enough, etc.

For 2015, I’m going to try to keep all of the above in mind as I set my intentions for the year.  I did have my customary New Year’s Day start, because that’s a fun way to kick off the year.  I then went back to ATS though.  Once I let go of the self-imposed deadline, I was able to actually enjoy stitching on it.  I am making good progress on it, mostly because I’ve had some time off work and no place I needed to be.  It feels good to just focus on one thing and not worry about all the other stuff waiting in the wings.  I am going to focus my attention this year on working on some of my WIPs – one at a time.  The other thing I’ve already started, that I intend to continue, is whittling down my stash.  All those charts, projects, fabrics that don’t speak to me anymore are going – some I’m selling, some I’m donating, some I’m giving away to good homes.  I want to enjoy my time creating and know that the stuff I have taking up space in my closet are things I’m truly excited about and love.  I already know I have some deadlines for a few projects this year, so I’m going to spend some time in January to determine when those deadlines are and plan/kit what I’m going to do for those deadlines.  99% of what runs me right up on a deadline is trying to figure out what I’m going to do and gathering the supplies to start it.  I know I’ll be in a better position to make those deadlines if I go ahead and get the planning done.

One other thing I intend to focus on this year is my blog.  You may have noticed that the blog looks different.  I’ve been planning to move my blog over to my own domain for some time now, and it is finally moved.  If you go to the old blogger address you’ll be automatically redirected to the new location, so no worries there.  You may want to update your feed if you’re following me through Bloglovin’ or Feedly, etc.  The new address is here.  I’ve still got some tweaking to do, so everything’s in a bit of a mess right now, but I’m really excited to finally have everything in one place.  You can go to my home page and then from there you can get to either this blog (Cozy Egg) or my lifestyle blog (Cozystyle).  And since I have a nice shiny new space to blog in, it only makes sense that I should, you know, blog.  I really and truly do love Instagram – it’s quick, it’s easy, it’s fun.  But, the reason I started a blog, and the main reason I keep a blog is that I like to tell the story of what I’m creating.  So, I hope you’ll continue to join me here and check in on what I’m working on and how I’m doing with my 2015 plan.  I still have several things from 2014 that I want to share with you too, so more fun things to come.

Wishing you a wonderful start to 2015 and igniting that creative spark.

I am grateful for Pitbull, stitching grass, and twinkle lights. 

Social Media

I’m finally getting around to getting my blog claimed over on Bloglovin.  After Google Reader went by the wayside, I looked around for a new way to keep up with the blogs I love and so far am liking Bloglovin.  Please zoom on over and follow cozyegg so you never miss a post!

As always, you can find me on Instagram and Twitter under my username cozyegg.

Thanks for checking in and reading!

Social Media

John Reed

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I barely know where to begin.  I’m so happy to finally be posting photos of this finish, but at the same time it’s a little bittersweet.  You may remember that I lost my dad last year, February of 2012.  And there have been a couple of pieces stitched in his honor, one by my sweet friends and one by me.  In fact I haven’t touched my Anniversaries of the Heart since completing his block.  But this piece, this sampler, is his memorial. 
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A while back I stumbled across the chart for the John Reed 1844 sampler by Forget-Me-Nots in Stitches.  And when I saw it I knew that one day I would have to stitch this sampler, because my dad was John Reed as well, but born in 1944.  It took me awhile to get my hands on the chart but I finally found a shop that could order it for me.  At the time I figured this would be one of those things I’d stitch and then show my dad and he’d launch into one of his genealogy stories, but be secretly thrilled that I’d stitched something for him.  Unfortunately, I never got the chance. 
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Last year on his birthday, even though I was sitting in a hotel room in Wichita, Kansas after a long day of meetings, I started his sampler.  I’d ordered the Au Ver A Soie silks that the chart called for and had tried a dozen different fabrics before finally deciding on 40 count Confederate Grey.  It seemed fitting.  And there was no way I was going to stitch this on the ivory or cream fabric that the chart called for.  It needed something richer, something to make the colors pop, something unique. 
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The house itself did bring about its own set of challenges.  The chart called for GAST Adobe for the house, but since it was the only variegated thread in the piece, I did want to go with silk if possible.  My friend Laurie graciously offered to take my skein of Adobe with her and choose a couple of options for a similar silk thread.  Out of the two she brought me I ended up using Gloriana Pecan.  And it really is almost identical to the Adobe.  
The other issue I ran into on the house was the color for the roof.  The chart called for an AVAS that is essentially “seafoam green”.  Not at all what I wanted as a roof.  Of course I scoured the internet hoping for a better photo of this sampler than what is on the chart, but try as I might the only photos that come up of this sampler that aren’t the chart cover are mine.  And that wasn’t going to help me.  I tried skein after skein of different silks but nothing worked.  Finally I pulled the DMC conversion listed in the chart and tried that.  (the DMC called for was not at all seafoam green but more of a greenish grey).  Unfortunately, with the color fabric I chose, that color wasn’t going to work.  So, I went about three shades darker.  And suddenly, I had a roof!
The final fork in the road I ran into was for the windows of the house.  When I looked at the blue chosen for the windows my only thought was no way.  I tried a lighter blue, I tried a pale yellow, I thought about leaving them empty.  But, when I finally got the motifs stitched on either side of the house I realized that there was no blue anywhere in the bottom of the sampler.  John must have known what he was doing, because it really did need that blue to balance everything out.  But, I stitched the windows in tent stitch to lighten it up a tad.  I’m really happy how it turned out. 
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When I started this piece I, of course, knew that I wanted to personalize it for my dad.  The designer had done her own personalization on her reproduction of the antique, but in the chart mentions that the original said “John Reed, Brendan, Aged 14, 1844.”  So, my own personalization has my dad’s name, the year he was born, and the city he was born in.  
I look forward to framing it, and showing it to my mom.  She hasn’t seen it in all the time I’ve been stitching on it.  As I mentioned, I started it in June of last year on his birthday and it’s been pretty much the only thing I’ve stitched on this year.  I put the last stitches in on September 26.  I will miss stitching on this piece, it has been a good way to work through my grief and to remember him with every stitch.  I hope that more people will stitch this sampler, I think it would be nice to know there are more John Reeds out in the world. 
I am grateful for a legacy. 

A Rainy Monday in September

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I don’t know about you guys, but I’m ready for Fall.  While I hate the fact that this year seems to be going by so quickly, yesterday’s 105 degree temps had me yearning for some cooler days.  I know it’s been awhile since I shared any stitching progress with you, and lest you think I am only sewing I thought I’d show you my progress on John Reed.  I am really pleased with how it’s turning out despite a few challenges along the way.  The chart is handwritten, and at times makes it difficult to discern what the designer intended.  I also had a few issues with the roof color for the house.  The called for AVAS was really more of a seafoam green.  And I was for sure not putting a seafoam green roof on my house.  I ended up going with the DMC equivalent she’d listed on the chart (was definitely not seafoam green, so not sure what was going on there) but had to go a couple of shades darker due to the fabric I’m using.  It’s kind of a grey green. 
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But, I’m getting closer to finishing this sampler up.  I’d intended to finish up the grass last night, but I ran out of thread!  So frustrating!!!! So, I’ll be out picking up another skein of AVAS as soon as possible.  And since I need that green for the grass, the border, the trees…I was a bit frustrated last night.  
So, I started something new. 
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I have spent all year working on just John Reed for the most part, granted some months my stitching was almost zilch.  So I decided at the spur of the moment to start my second start for the year – and I wanted something appropriately fall-like since it was September 1st after all )and I’d been looking at eleventy-billion Instagram photos of Pumpkin Spice Lattes).  I just happened to have this little beauty in my stitching bag, and it was already kitted with threads, fabric and even a needle included.  It’s like the universe was enabling me to start something new. 
This is a sweet little sampler a friend of mine designed and gifted me with last fall.  I’m excited to finally be starting it.  And today’s rainy overcast day seems like the perfect day to snuggle under a quilt (with the A/C on – because it’s still 98 degrees outside and I’m not stupid) and stitch on this. 
My birthday was a couple of weeks ago, and it has been so fun finally getting some time away from work and spending time with some friends.  Speaking of my talented friend who designs lovely things, I got to spend an afternoon stitching with her the other day after we had a fabulous lunch together.  I also had the chance to meet up with another friend for dinner one night and then we went to see the City of Bones/Mortal Instruments movie – so good!!!  And I have to share a couple of beautiful gifts I received for my birthday too.  
This little pincushion is a design by Little House Needleworks called Heart and Home Sampler.  It was stitched over one and finished into this adorable pincushion.  And she finished it with these beautiful ribbons and trims that she brought home from her trip to Paris.  I love it!  She and I had a lovely day out together last weekend and went to lunch and hit a couple of quilt shops.  So much fun. 
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And a package also arrived from Sylvia.  She made me another stitch wallet and look at the fabulous sugar skull fabric she used!  Reminds me a bit of the birthday gift my friend Lori gave me last year.  Sylvia also knitted this beautiful Honey Cowl for me.  When she was here in December last year, we went over to Madtosh Crafts and I showed her this cowl I’d been coveting made out of Madeline Tosh Tannenbaum yarn.  And she made me one!!!  She used a different, lighter weight yarn (since I do live in Texas), but in the same beautiful green I fell in love with.  I cannot wait to wear it!
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If you look closely at my John Reed sampler, you will see some unfortunate holes in the linen.  Luckily the house covered up the worst of the areas.  Months ago, my scissors got loose from their sheath in my stitching wallet and poked some holes in my linen.  None of the threads were cut, but the holes of the fabric were horribly pulled out of shape.  I’ve been joking with Sylvia that my scissors need to have their own “scissor jail” to keep them from causing more trouble with my sampler.  And guess what!  My new stitching wallet comes complete with an attached scissor jail!!!  Perfect for my scissors and threads.  How cute is that?!
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Sylvia also kitted up this chart for me.  Don’t you just love her thread drops?!  We’d gotten to talking not too long ago about Americana samplers when we saw this post on Laura’s blog.  And look what she sent me.  Love it so much!!
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Thanks as always for continuing to stop by to check in on my blog, especially since I’ve been so awol this entire year.  It’s been kind of a rough one so far.  But, I’m feeling like I’m finally getting some time for myself back and boy it’s a wonder what a difference sleep makes!!  
I am grateful for a wonderful birthday and some wonderful friends who helped me celebrate it!

Summertime Flyby

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I hardly know what to make of the fact that it’s almost the end of August and of summer.  The past few months have been a blur of late late nights and 60-70 hour workweeks.  I have been stitching, although very slowly, and hope to have some progress to share soon.  I’ve been spending a little bit of time on quilting when I have a free Saturday afternoon.  You saw in my last post, the little mini Swoon quilt I made as a gift.  Well, I also made another mini quilt as a gift and since it’s reached its destination I can finally share.  
Many years ago I made this pinwheel quilt for my soon-to-be Goddaughter.  I wanted it to be bright and cheery and gender neutral, since we’d yet to find out whether the baby was a boy or girl.  So, I gathered up a variety of yellow fabrics and combined them with muslin to make the alternating blocks. I pieced and quilted it on my machine and it was one of the first quilts I ever made.
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I recently found out that the quilt, along with her other special things, had been lost during a recent move and she was heartbroken about it.  I decided that a new quilt was definitely in order, but I would make it larger so that she had something she could actually use as she grew older and I would make it in a variety of more modern fabrics.  But, seeing as my time lately has been very limited, I wanted to make her a mini quilt that would serve as a reminder of her baby quilt. 
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 I still actually had the same yellow fabrics I used in the original quilt, so I pulled those out of my stash along with some muslin and went to work.  I’m very happy with how it turned out and hopefully it will make the loss of the original quilt a little easier to bear.  
I was also determined to use the embroidery function on my sewing machine for what it was intended, and after reteaching myself how to use it I made this little quilt label for the back.  
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I hope she loves it, and until I can get her new quilt made, I hope it mends her heart a bit.  It was fun to make and a fun reminder of where I started with my quilting.  
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And in case you’re wondering what I’m up to now with my quilting, I made a little start on my Hex on the Beach quilt.  I’ve got one row sewn together completely and I’m almost done basting row 2.
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I even got my kit organized so that everything’s together by color.  I’m really enjoying working on this when I have a few spare minutes. 

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Anyway, that’s all for me today. Like I said, I’ve been stitching along on my John Reed sampler and hope to have a good progress photo (or maybe even a finish to share) soon. Thanks for checking in even with my sporadic posting over the past few months. I intend to be more on top of posting going forward. Of course, you can always check in on my other blog, or follow me on Instagram – links for both are on my new homepage Cozyegg Designs.

I am grateful for a much-needed vacation from work.