Sunday, January 29, 2012

Happiness Today!

You wouldn't think today would be a great day in my life. That's because I have a terrible cold, the kind where you have to sleep on your face so everything doesn't drip down your throat, make it even sorer and clog up your lungs.

I slept on an off all yesterday evening, then, naturally, was wide awake in the middle of the night and miserable. What's there to do if you're too miserable to sleep, but get up and tackle something to take your mind off the misery. Or in my case new misery to help convince me that the old misery wasn't really that bad after all.

Misery these days = new website.

I've been struggling. I've struggled with my attitude (I'm still angry at Apple for ditching iWeb), I've struggled with finding a new website program (they're all too fixed for me -- I don't like living my life in a box -- or they're too difficult).

I chose my new one based on no templates, ie I could do it all from scratch, down to all my drawings in Illustrator, everything else in PhotoShop, and to boot it was supposed to be easy.

Only guess what: it wasn't all that easy, and I've struggled and struggled, almost to the point where I thought I can't do this and was ready to quit, yes, pack it in.

But the Apple kids reminded me it's not like me to give up. They pointed out that I conquered PhotoShop (sort of), learned some code (operative word there is 'some'), etc.

So complete with weary spirit, basically to save face with a bunch of 20- and 30-somethings, I've soldiered on.

Last night in the middle of the night I decided, what's to do to cope with the misery of a bad cold? Find a counter irritant/misery and work on it, and right now at the top of my misery scale is a bunch of computer stuff I don't understand.

That's what I did.

Who knows why sometimes the forces of the universe unite at certain times and make life sweet!
Whatever and whyever, that's what happened to me: I rounded the corner today, it finally made sense to me (FINALLY!) and in a matter of hours I finished my navigation bar, drop down menus and all, and constructed enough pages to know for certain that Queendom Website will indeed live on after the demise of iWeb and Mobile Me's hosting service.

Even if I am dripping at every pore and sneezing and coughing and wishing I could chop my head off, it is a grand day and I am full of celebration. Am I dancing around and cheering? Nooo, not quite up to that. Instead I am on my way to steal a small glass of port from DH's supply, then have a nap and hope I feel up to stitching for a while late this afternoon. Celebration enough, and besides that, what's a better way to celebrate than place a needle in one's hand?

A memorable day indeed.
Gay Ann

Saturday, January 21, 2012

The 'Work' in NeedleWork

In my last post I wrote about painting and needlework and I mentioned needlework as ‘work’ for me.
After the post, I received this note:

...your 'work' is most people's hobbies. Nobody pays you to work on MacSoph like you do. And also a hobby for most. It is work for you because you enjoy designing needlework.

Yes, you make money doing your work, but do you do it for the money or because you love it?”


Sally’s post made me chuckle and I decided I would enjoy writing an answer.
Here’s my answer to Sally's post:

The parts I love about my work:
I love drawing and designing and stitching and waiting to see if what I plan works out.
I love fitting all the parts of the puzzle together.
Most of all I love the dream of what the design might become.
What's not to love!

I've enjoyed all the people I've met over the years; even now online, I think of how many people I have met through emails and classes at Shining Needle Society, and in some cases the friends I've made online are thousands of miles away from me, yet here we are, connected by computers and a mutual passion for our needles.

In my E-Week sale last October, to my surprise, I sent patterns to people right round the globe. It is an awesome feature of the internet, how small our world has become.

MacSoph and Little MacSoph, my two MacBooks, have become my nearly constant companions. I love going to Apple University (as DH calls it) and I've decided I have school-girl crushes on the kids, Andy and Cody, who teach me, and I think my tutor Julia is beautiful and clever and smart. I so enjoy learning what these clever, smart, sweet kids teach me.

Most of all, I love the actual stitching. I love that my needle makes me relax and helps the stresses of life recede. My needle allows me to curl up into my own little fantasy world, dream the dreams of creativity and watch them unfold.

All these parts of my job are terrific, but mistake not: needlework is ‘work’ for me. It is my job.

Here are the parts that account for the 'Work' in 'Needlework'

Deadlines. They're self-explanatory. When I was a travel-teacher, my deadlines kept me awake at night.
It's not the same now, but I still have deadlines. I say I will do something, I'd better do it. Consistency is part of any job.

Last fall, for example, in preparation for E-Week, Kate and I got behind. we started on the morning of E-Week Annex Eve, at 4:30 a.m. and we finally finished at 7:30 p.m., Kate at her computer right along with MacSoph and me for the whole time. It was a very long work day for us both.

Instructions. It takes me longer to write the instructions for a piece than it does to design and stitch the piece and correcting the errors that the proofers find is just plain tedious.

Kit Hell and Bead Mania. These days Kate does much of my Kit Hell; I still do the beads.
To understand Bead Mania, you have to have the experience of spilling 10,000 beads.

Right now I have a special brand of Bead Mania: one of the hearts for my upcoming sale has over 100 beads on it.
I have to count most of them into little baggies and keep from spilling them. The first few hearts' worth aren't bad; by the end it can grow very old.

Organization. The bane of my existence. I have too many beads, too many threads, too many rolls of canvas, and way too much paper! I try to keep some order; every year I make it my main New Year's Resolution. I made the same resolution this year, it lasted for 15 days and I've already fallen off the organization wagon (in the last few days I am happy to report that I have climbed back on the organization band wagon; maybe it will be better by the end of 2012).

Mail Jail. Most of my followers know all about Mail Jail, so I don't need to add anything.

Take a piece of paper and draw a line down the center. Mark one side 'JOY' mark the other side "WORK'. The lists would be about the same length, but Sally is right: the joys far outweigh the tedium.

Now, next time I spill the beads, or lose paperwork, or simply grow tired of Mail Jail, will someone please remind me of this post?

Gay Ann

Friday, January 13, 2012

My Newest Needlepoint Adventure

My newest needlework adventure isn't a real needlework adventure at all.

My friend Natalie told me that my life is too narrow, that I work and I go to computer classes, and that's about it.
She said I needed a hobby, something that broadened my horizons and got me away from (1) work and (2) MacSoph.
(This is a false dichotomy since work and MacSoph these days are inextricably linked)

On my way home from the Village where I live, I drive by a small shop /artist's studio and one day I stopped by.
To make a long story short, I signed up for a painting class.

Now I haven't painted on anything other than needlepoint canvas for at least 45 years and I remember squat about painting. I mean, in school I took 5 years of Latin (a fetish of my father's) and all I remember now is 'arma virumque cano, Troiae qui primus ab oris'. Anybody remember this, the first line from the Aeneid? Now why I would remember that one thing after all these years is one of my life's great mysteries.

I remembered snippets of painting also, but not much. Not much more than the painting equivalent of a single line from the Aeneid.

Remember, I decided to do this as recreation, not as a part of work. Well, I lasted less than 2 hours into the first class before I had an idea how to incorporate it into work (aka needlepoint), and I have been painting up a storm ever since.

My teacher is a very sweet very young woman who has a great artistic way of seeing the world, ie she is open to almost anything. Together we are concocting a sunset and it is quite an adventure. I love the idea! I don't know that I love painting: after my first 2 hours I came home with paint from one end of me to the other, and all over everything surrounding me.

I just went to my 6th class and I've made progress. I am back to painting on needlepoint canvas after a beginning on canvas and a segue onto paper, and it is great fun, indeed a bit of a wild adventure for me.

But after 6 lessons, I still have paint from one end of me to the other.

Does anybody know how to paint and keep the paint only on the painting? Or is that one of life's mysteries also?

Gay Ann

Monday, January 09, 2012

Missing Callaway, My Favorite Needlework Seminar

It is January, almost time for Callaway School of Needle Arts, and I won't be there this year. For the first time in 20 years I won't spend 10 days at Callaway.

I've been on a clean-up campaign, a sure sign it is January, for organization is always at the top of my list of New Year's Resolutions. This year 'clean up' includes not only my physical space, ie all the nooks and crannies of needlework and bead stash that overwhelm my house, but also MacSoph. Poor little MacSoph struggles under the weight of too many disorganized computer files and photos. And Queendom Website isn't exempt either. Last count I have close to 650 pages of Queendom Website, past and present.

As I have been deleting MacSoph's files, I have come across all my photos from Callaway, reminders of the good times and friendships from my years there. I was planning to delete many of them. It was my assigned 'clean up MacSoph' task for this morning, but in the end I couldn't do it. Not any of them. Maybe next July or August, but not as my friends prepare to leave for Callaway. It's all too close.

So why did I stop going to Callaway? I retired from travel-teaching last January simply because I couldn't do seminar preparation and online commitments. I had to choose, a tough decision, but in the end I chose Queendom Webstie.

There were lots of reasons for my choices, but one reason was at the top of my list: I felt I could spin a little magic on MacSoph that I couldn't spin in person. I have a little dream of making my own little online community with a drift toward creativity in needlework. I've had the dream for 4 years now and I still hold hope that I will be able to do it.

First MacSoph and I need to build a new castle for Queendom Website. Happily the blue prints for the castle are underway and soon it will be time for an e-hammer and e-nails.

So I will miss Callaway, I will miss the early breakfasts and the jokey classes and the evenings up in our classrooms stitching with friends, but I have to look ahead. More time at Apple University and more steps toward a little dream, that's what it's all about.

That and time for my needle in my hand.

Gay Ann

Friday, January 06, 2012

A New Year, A New Castle, and Eight New Needlepoint Hearts

I see that it has been almost a month since I posted on my blog; a month almost and now it is the New Year.

This year promises to be a very busy one for me, as MacSoph and I are busy building Queendom Website's new castle.
Yes, in just about 5.5 months, Queendom Website is moving, and moving is always stressful. I am hoping MacSoph and I can hang together and it will be easier than I think.

For now I am working on the blue prints for the new castle.

And I am working on hearts for my annual February hearts sale.

I did 8 new hearts this year and I played an interesting game in my general classroom at Shining Needle Society: I gave a hint about each of the first 5 hearts: I gave the dominant thread and the dominant color and asked people to use their imaginations, concoct an idea for the heart and vote on one.

They did, and I posted the heart on Queendom Website on Christmas morning.
I took it down on Christmas night -- it was meant as a little present, but I didn't intend to leave it there.

My friend Natalie told me she thought I should repost it on Queendom Website, so on New Year's morning I did just that -- and if you want a peak at it, it is still there: and click on 'Surprise Heart'.

It isn't made into a heart yet -- Sandy is going to do that in the next month, along with its 7 sisters, and then hopefully they will look super and I will photograph them and add them all to Queendom Website.


I didn't intend to make 8 hearts; I intended to make only 5, but in the midst of my Christmas Game on Queendom Website, one of class suggested a set of three hearts with pink roses and pearls, the hearts graduated in size. How could I resist! So that's what I did.


One of the hearts turned out to be of particular interest to my classroom: the one where the dominant color is charcoal. A charcoal heart?

Yes, a charcoal heart.

But that heart is still a secret. We have to have some surprises in life, don't you think?

Gay Ann