Embroidery Adventure: Um . . . What Is That?

In planning the first Stitch In Alaska Tour, I thought long and hard about what kinds of stitching activities to include. For months. Actually, the better part of a year. And by “thinking,” I mean “wrestled with a tenacious and unrelenting beast.” I wanted the stitching activities to match the Alaska experience in excitement, surprise, and satisfaction, and that is a tall order. Maybe an impossible order. But, to quote the owner of the Alaska lodges we visit on the tour: “The extremely difficult is no problem . . . the impossible takes a little longer.”

As embroiderers, we understand what it means to “take a little longer.”

My first thought for stitching activities was a class. Of course it was. That’s the norm. We go to a stitching retreat or seminar and what do we do? We attend classes. Classes are adventures; anytime we’re learning something new, we’re adventuring.

I went so far as to design a brand new Alaska Souvenir Sampler that brought together multiple techniques and ideas, some of which I hoped would be new for our intrepid traveler/stitchers. It was nice; I liked the Souvenir Sampler, but I wasn’t over the moon about it. I wanted to be over the moon. Alaska, after all, is an over-the-moon kind of place.

My second thought, then, was I don’t want to do a class. Everybody does classes. Classes are everywhere, a dime a dozen. Alaska is unique. The stitching activities should be unique, too. I wracked my brain. Unique ideas are rare: It’s hard to imagine something we’ve never imagined.

I went to the dictionary for inspiration. I looked up “adventure.”

Adventure Definition, Funk & Weber Designs

Definition of “adventure” at dictionary.com.

My brain pulled out the third and seventh definitions: “a bold, usually risky undertaking; hazardous action of uncertain outcome” and “to take the chance of; dare.” I boiled it down to this:

  • bold
  • risky
  • uncertain outcome
  • take a chance
  • dare

Hazardous? I don’t think so. I have a really good imagination, and I can’t see embroidery being truly hazardous. Plus, hazardous ain’t my thang. The rest, however, is what I wanted our stitchy activities to be, how tour activities would be different from what we usually experience in embroidery classes.

“Uncertain outcome” pretty much excludes a pattern, wouldn’t you say? And aren’t most classes based on a pattern?

So I decided to scrap the Souvenir Pattern. That felt risky because I knew such a project would be expected, but risky seemed right. I embraced it. Instead of having a pattern we all followed in the same way, I decided we’d focus on techniques and challenges, letting individuals and circumstances determine outcomes. Further, I would manipulate circumstances to force and ensure an element of challenge and uncertainty.

What might that look like? Well, the two project photos in this post are results of the same project adventure.

Becky's Bookmark, Stitch In Alaska 2015, Funk & Weber Designs

Becky’s bookmark adventure from Stitch In Alaska, 2015.

I made a list of techniques, challenges, and activities, more than we could possibly do. I laid out a tentative plan for when we’d do what, fitting stitching bits in between known tour bits. Of course, a tour such as this has changeable options, so flexibility was essential, which is yet another very good reason to jettison the “class” idea. Different traveler/stitchers would participate in different activities: Becky might kayak while Cathy hiked while Paula journaled while Harriet and Ruthie stitched. My plans would have to be flexible and customizable. Another tall order. (Refer back to the quote about “extremely difficult” and “impossible.”) My goal, then, was to always have a stitchy activity available and ready, but not overwhelm anyone with too much to do and the reality that no one could possibly do it all.

Imagine packing for this trip. Gah! I struggled with it. Really struggled. I would have to schlep these supplies between three lodges. They’d travel in a car, van, boat, and bus. This proved a bigger challenge than I expected. It was stressing me out. So I threw everything in the car and drove 2 hours into town where Arctic Needle Karen took the stitchy-supplies bull by the horns, set some harsh limits:

“Practice what you preach, Jen,” she said. “Limitations foster creativity.”

Karen had me straightened out, organized, and packed in under three hours. Phew!

The last piece of the puzzle fell into place. My stress was gone, and all I felt was excited. Oh, there was certainly uncertainty, but I trusted Alaska to dazzle, the tour company to be thorough and awesome, and visiting stitchers to embrace adventure. And they did.

Harriet's Bookmark, Stitch In Alaska 2015, Funk & Weber Designs

Harriet’s bookmark adventure from Stitch In Alaska, 2015.

Having tried and tested several ideas during Stitch In Alaska 2015, I now have a better sense of what I want to achieve with a stitching adventure and how to do it. I started planning for the next adventure even as I undertook the first. I’m not compelled to share details of planned activities because I adore surprises, and I think they add to the sense of adventure.

My favorite quote from Stitch In Alaska 2015:

“The hardest part was deciding to do it.” ~ Ruth Hubert

Boy, isn’t that the truth?!

If you’re coming to Stitch In Alaska in 2016 (dates to be announced in the coming week), know that the stitching will be an adventure as defined above. All you need bring are basic tools (scissors, hoop or stretcher bars or the like) and any glasses, magnifier, or small light you wish. Oh, and please bring an open mind and a willingness to try despite an uncertain outcome.

The trip we’ll take is the Alaska Wildland Collection. Visit that link to read a detailed itinerary (minus the stitching parts), see pictures of the lodges, and get all the details from pricing to policies.

If you’re interested in this and future trips, let me know, and I’ll put you on a special mailing list. If you leave a comment here, I can pick up your email on the back end. Or drop me a line at mail [AT] funkandweber [DOT] com.

So who’s ready for an adventure?

And what is your idea of a “stitchy adventure”?

4 Responses to “Embroidery Adventure: Um . . . What Is That?”

  1. Rita Weinberg

    Am interested in more information about your next stitching adventure

    October 18, 2015 @ 7:02 am
  2. Jen

    You got it, Rita! I put you on The List, and I will be in touch via email when dates are confirmed.

    October 18, 2015 @ 7:56 am
  3. BeckyG

    My bookmark! Yay! Everyone reading this should sign up for the trip. It was so awesome and fun! I did kayak and hike, and I had time to stitch, too. Maybe not as much as the others, but it was a fantastic way to see Alaska. Jen, you go, girl!

    October 19, 2015 @ 1:41 pm
  4. Jen

    And such a gorgeous bookmark, adventurously (and speedily) made! Thanks, Becky!

    October 20, 2015 @ 4:23 am

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