Stitching Resources for a Productive Year

Maybe you had time over the New Year to reflect on 2015 then plan and set goals for 2016.

Maybe you got a good jump on 2016 by starting new projects and embarking on your clear, thoughtful plan for the year.

Maybe you need a New Year do-over.

Whichever camp you call home—or if you live in the ‘burbs outside a camp— I, Queen of Fresh Starts, grant you a clean crafty slate and a nudge in a creative direction.

 

Stitching in the Bush, Jen Funk Weber, Funk & Weber Designs

Stitching while out and about increases productivity. Bring on the grab-and-go projects!

 

In my perpetual quest for maximum creative production, I’m making a concerted effort to produce this year. “Produce” is my word of the year. The multiple meanings of the word are relevant to my quest: Come July it will literally mean lettuce, kale, peas, etc. My Word of the Year is inscribed on a plaque (or scribbled on a Post-It) on the wall above my computer, a constant reminder to get off the computer! Well . . . unless I’m producing creative writing.

I’m pleased with my crafty accomplishments in January, but I’d still like to shift my produce vs. consume balance a bit further. (That’s produce more consume less, in case you need that clarified.) I was very conscious of how I spent time this past month; I set more realistic expectations about what I can accomplish in a day; and I scheduled daily creative time. Actually wrote it down on my to-do list. It seems bonkers that someone whose business depends on creative output must schedule time to create, but so it is for me. Time to own it.

I came up with five ways to consciously up my stitching game this year, and I thought I’d share because if you’re not already there, I’d love to see you in some of these places. So without further ado (too much ado, not enough a-doing), here are some stitching resources for upping your (my) creative output.

 

Connect with Other Crafters

In the past few months, I’ve joined a number of stitchy Facebook groups. There are bunches of them! These are great places to share progress updates, get creative suggestions and answers to questions, and to be cheered on by crafters who totally get you. Here are some of my favorites; maybe I’ll see you there:

Needlepoint Nation
The World of Cross Stitching
Cross Stitching, It’s My Thing
Embroidery, Cross-Stitch, & Needlepoint
Blackwork Needlework
All About Smalls

 

Funk and Weber Designs on Facebook

Funk and Weber designs is on Facebook.

 

Since I’m hanging out more on Facebook, I’m actually posting on the Funk & Weber Designs page. Come like the page and play with me there!

Another fantabulous group is the Stitchin’ Fingers forum. I would like to get more involved here.

It’s important to note that social media can quickly become a source of mass consumption rather than production. I limit my time here. The focus of the Groups gives me more of the pluses and fewer of the minuses of social media.

 

Get Daily/Weekly Inspiration

I subscribe to a number of crafty blogs and newsletters that inspire me and give me endless creative ideas. These are some of my favorites:

Needle ‘N Thread
Nordic Needle’s Newsletter
Pintangle
Tones and Tints
Mr. X Stitch (I have a monthly column here, remember?)

 

sharon b, Pintangle

One of sharon b’s doodle cloths where she played with different chain stitches. If you don’t know sharon b, you should!

 

Take a Class

If you’ve been here for any length of time, you know I love classes. I love to explore and learn new things, and I appreciate the discipline of classes. I’m a dedicated lifelong learner.

The Embroierers’ Guild of America (EGA) and the American Needlepoint Guild (ANG) offer classes at national seminars and regional events, as well as online and through the mail.

I still dream of attending the Royal School of Needlework in England; I just haven’t made it a priority yet. It’s in my future, though. They offer a degree program, but they also offer shorter programs and day classes. They even bring classes to the US—but I plan to go to England when I take my classes with them!

My favorite online craft class source is Craftsy. (Heads up! Remember, I’m a Craftsy affiliate. If you make a purchase through one of these links, I may earn a commission.) I am currently enrolled in five classes and will be working on them throughout the year. I’m still gathering supplies for some—a lengthy process from rural Alaska. I would love to have you join me in one of these classes:

Goldwork Embroidery
Embroidering Texture and Dimension by Hand
Zip It Up! Easy Techniques for Zippered Bags I envision stitching the fabrics for these bags.

 

Craftsy Hand-Embroidery Classes

 

Craftsy offers a handful of hand-embroidery classes and 900+ classes in other, sometimes related, crafts. If you’re a multi-crafter, sit down with a cuppa and enjoy a look around!

And don’t forget there are Funk & Weber classes, too. After you’ve taken an embroidery class, sign up for one of our four DIY Embroidery Finishing classes and learn to frame your work, hemstitch it, piece it with other fabrics for wall hangings and more, or sew it up into a cozy pillow.

 

DIY Embroidery Finishing by Funk & Weber Designs

 

Challenge Yourself

Take a Stitch Tuesday logo

TAST logo, designed and stitched by Annet from Fat Quarter.

If you’re looking to expand your stitchy creativity, the best way I know how is to play with stitches and patterns. Forget creating a final product. Just play. My favorite playground for this kind of play is Sharon B’s Take a Stitch Tuesday, aka TAST.

Every week, Sharon posts a stitch with a tutorial on how to work it. Then participants play with the stitch and, if they want, they share photos of the result.

Sharon repeatedly reminds folks in the TAST Facebook group that photos should be of the stitch and how you played with it, not of finished items. A lot of people don’t seem to get this, and Sharon is super patient and kind about it, but there’s a reason for discouraging photos of finished projects: It takes the focus off the real purpose, which is simply to play with the stitches. Lots of groups exist to share photos of finished pieces. That is usually the focus of needlework. Sharon’s trying to shift that focus because playing, with no vision or requirement for the outcome, is the source of creativity. Sharon’s doodle cloth pictured earlier in this post is the kind of thing you create in TAST. It’s lovely, no? And it can certainly be made up into something after the doodling.

I applaud Sharon’s efforts, and I encourage you to join me on the TAST playground.

ANG has a Stitch of the Month club with wonderful archives, and there are other stitchy challenges out there. Pick one! TAST is my choice right now.

 

Treat Yourself

For the ultimate creative inspiration, travel. There is nothing like a change of pace and a change of scenery to ignite creativity.

My first choice for your creative travel is (three guesses, and the first two don’t count) our own Stitch in Alaska tour, August 31–September 6, 2016.

 

Stitch in Alaska, Funk & Weber Designs

 

But there are other options, too. To browse a wonderful collection of embroidery-based excursions, request to join the Stitchers’ Escapes Facebook Group.

Stitchers are doers. The year is young. There’s lots of time to explore and create. What are you doing to make this a fun and productive year?

8 Responses to “Stitching Resources for a Productive Year”

  1. BeckyG

    Yes, go on the Stitch in Alaska trip. I went last year and we had a blast, both with stitchy stuff and with seeing Alaska. I’m also going to do the ANG stitch of the month this year, and I”m not a needlepointer but thought it would be fun. Woot!

    January 31, 2016 @ 5:08 am
  2. Jen

    I’m pretty sure you know this about me, BeckyG, but I do lots of the specialty stitches used in needlepoint on soft, floppy fabrics. I just exchange heavier threads that work well on canvas with lighter options.

    Yay, you! That’s going to be fun! I look forward to seeing progress pics.

    January 31, 2016 @ 5:42 am
  3. Becca

    Our minds work alike, Jen. My goal for this year is to get off the computer and back to crafting. I was making great progress on The Green Man (WIP for several years), but am now completing a small project as a going away gift for a co-worker.
    I’ve gotten the fibers and pounce for the Goldwork class. Beautiful, just to look at! Still need fabric.
    Mr. X is a daily inspiration- so much so that I now have 4 books on needlefelting and some supplies. (OK, I’m doing a bit of consuming here.) This is something I have never tried and is “uncharted” territory. Pun intended.
    I have even organized (to some degree) my stash!
    I love the idea of playing with stitches. Sharon B’s doodle is beautiful!
    Stitch in Alaska is at the wrong time for me- I will be teaching 2 classes again in the fall and classes start mid-August. But I can dream.

    February 1, 2016 @ 4:56 am
  4. Jen

    I’m eager for you to be able to frame The Green Man. I want to see it! I have some wool roving, too . . . . 😉 I still need to get the goldwork supplies, but I’m set for the other two classes. When are we starting?

    February 1, 2016 @ 6:59 am
  5. Tim

    I recently made an online stitching purchase and when i put my new projects in the duffle bag it was kinda hard to zip closed. So…after the bookmarks for Alaska are done I am gonna create some open space in my duffle bag. My goals for this year is to finish all the things that are started, lose 140 pounds (already down 24) and make Christmas ornaments for the for teacher gifts.

    February 1, 2016 @ 5:46 am
  6. Jen

    Those are great goals, Tim! I made a big push to finish things in 2014, and it feels great. Cheers on the 24 pounds shed!

    February 1, 2016 @ 6:57 am
  7. I just posted this on my Owl Stitchery Facebook page.

    February 1, 2016 @ 2:50 pm
  8. Jen

    Excellent, Mary. Thank you!

    February 1, 2016 @ 4:08 pm

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