Saturday, March 16, 2013

Queen Elizabeth's Sitting Room

There are certain refrains that seem to run through my life: I love to stitch and I try hard to understand MacSoph, my little laptop.

And right up there along with stitching and MacSoph is -- alas --- too much stash. Too many threads, too many beads, too many papers. Clutter. Yes, fussing about my clutter is almost as constant as loving to stitch and working through my frustrations on MacSoph. Year after year, it never seems to resolve itself.

If de-cluttering isn't at the top of my list of New Year's Resolutions each year, it is always close. From year to year, hope springs eternal in January, tapers off in February and by this time in March is usually a hopeless return to stashes of threads, beads and papers everywhere I look.

But this March was different. Do I mean that I succeeded in cleaning up my mess? No, not at all. So what was different?

I have a favorite English tabloid. From my London years, when DH read The Guardian and the Independent, I read the Daily Mail. I remember the year when Sarah Ferguson had her toe indiscretions. I collected all the English tabloids and brought them home to EGA's seminar. My students that year had a particularly tedious project to stitch  in class and I thought a dose of the English tabloids might prove a worthwhile distraction.

Now I am home in the U.S. permanently but happily MacSoph provides me with continuing dose of Daily Mail amusements. I think the Daily Mail has not improved in the last few years (too many exhibitionist actresses in too little clothing), but this March I was glad I still kept in touch with my old  tabloid favorite.

For the Daily Mail recently had an article on Queen Elizabeth's private sitting room at Balmoral, and guess what...

Queen Elizabeth's just like me!

Here's a link to the article and I hope, if you are like me and you have too much clutter from too much stash, this little article will help you feel a tad bit better.

I have no idea whether the report is accurate and as I don't know the Queen of England, I don't suspect I'll ever know.

But for a little while this month, accurate or not, I took time off from worrying about my stash clutter. If Queen Elizabeth can live that way, well,  so can I.

Gay Ann

Friday, March 08, 2013

Midnight Star, My Needlepoint Geometric

At E-Week last October I sold a geometric design of mine called 'Midnight Star'.  It is a design on dark blue canvas, in blue, silver and white threads, and I think it looks very much like its name.

It is a simple design with a lot of overstitching, and I think it would lend itself well to a lot of improvisation.

So this spring in my general classroom at Shining Needle Society I have issued a 'Midnight Start' challenge. I would love for people to play with the design and see what they come up with. The improv could be as simple as an easy color change, from, say blue to red or green. It could be a more complex color change also, and with all this in mind, I have begun a new series morphing Midnight Star on Queendom Website's home page.

The series has just begun and so far you will find what Midnight Star might look like in the aforementioned red and green, and also all white and silver on a black canvas, and then an inverted version of all black and white on a pinkish taupe canvas.

I plan to continue the series hopefully throughout March on Queendom Website. I've taken to posting a new color, leaving it as the 'headline' for a day or two and then moving it to a slideshow. When I finish, I should have a huge slideshow.

So far the color diddlings have been fairly  tame, but in the next bit of time they will grow wilder, in fact quite wild indeed!

So how have MacSoph and I diddled with the colors of Midnight Star? In PhotoShop of course. Not long ago my Apple tutor Andy taught me about an adjustment layer I'd not tried before; he also had quite a few work flow suggestions for using it. So when MacSoph and I sat down and spent a bit of time diddling with Midnight Star, the results grew quite wild and very inspiring to me. Made me want to pick up my needle pronto and start trying some of them!

Is it possible to stitch a PhotoShopped creation? Not stitch by stitch, but certainly by inspiration. I have often colorized designs of mine and then gone down to the needlepoint shop and picked out threads and colors inspired by my colorizations. They don't ever come out just like the colorizations, but the colorizations are such a great starting point. In my design life, I have always found it much easier to start with an inspiring idea than simply stare at a blank piece of canvas.

Here's the best part: often the results come out so much better than the colorizations because threads and canvas are ever so much more wonderful than pictures of threads and canvas. That's the magic of needlework: we all know that the pieces is always better than the picture.

The difficult thing about needlepoint is that so many of us are in the habit of 'stitching everything exactly the way the designer did it'. That's OK, that's the way our field goes, but I do promise this: life is ever so much more exciting if you branch out a bit and try even small changes. Since Midnight Star is basically a simple pattern, it is a great place to start.

Gay Ann

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