Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Commenting on the Comments

In my giveaway celebrating my 500th post, I asked people to suggest things I could do to improve and develop my blog or to ask a question.

The most frequent responses involved photos: more of them, larger photos, adding slideshows, etc. Now, I thought I used a lot of photos but that appears to be a minority opinion. So I shall try to add more in future. As to the size of the photos, I have always used the small size [gotta leave room for my golden prose] but they are clickable if you want the larger version. However, I will start using the medium size every so often, especially for finishes. As for a slide show: that's something I have really wanted to try for ages now. Maybe this will be the year!

Rachel asked about my favorite finish ... I tend to live in the moment and usually, I can claim that my favorite finish is the most recent finish. I have done some lovely samplers and some Teresa Wentzler Faeries that have been wonderful stitching experiences. But for the most part, I just love whatever I am doing NOW. There have been some very rare duty stitches [two spring to mind] that bored me to tears and were true labors of love undertaken solely to please my husband. But, for the most part, I only buy what I really want to stitch ... so it's all good. But if I had to pick just one thing, it would be a Halloween wall-hanging that I stitched years ago ... very much as an impromptu project ... because I had seen a very retro poem [typical of my 1950s childhood] in one of the library books in the Catholic school where I was teaching at the time. On impulse, I stitched the poem freehand and then stitched a border of Halloween motifs from Prairie Schooler and Homespun Elegance around it. I then sewed it up as a banner for my office door. Very rustic and quite simple really but rather nostalgic. And at 60, I am allowed to be nostalgic.

Requilt wanted to know about a piece that held a particular significance for me ... and the one piece that holds deepest significance for me wasn't even stitched by me. It was stitched by my daughter when she was a very young Junior Girl Scout [she's now a lovely young 30-something]. At the time, I was both her GS leader and a docent at the local historical society. I assisted the education curator in putting together a local council badge called Little Women of Early Rockland and one of the activities was stitching a small sampler I helped to design. It was one of the very first pieces I had professionally framed and it has hung in my bedroom for two decades now. Ange will have to wait till I die to reclaim that piece of her own past. It is one of my treasures.

Dani suggested that I broaden my range a bit and share photos and thoughts that reflect both my day-to-day activities and my surroundings. I guess I should really take some photos of my surroundings ... I live just three blocks from the western shore of the Hudson River ... a more beautiful spot would be hard to imagine. The birds are amazing, the shoreline is breath-taking in all seasons and the smells are so fresh and clean and invigorating. And I am just 40 miles north of NYC [I was born a city kid in Brooklyn] and that's a very different but equally exciting venue for photographs. The problem is I am just not a very good photographer. I blame this on a physical oddity of mine: my green eye is near-sighted and my brown eye is far-sighted which gives me a somewhat skewed persepective when I look through a lens. As to my day-to-day activities, I run a religious education program for nearly 500 children in a suburban Catholic parish ... a very satisfying career but not exactly the stuff of drama. And, a word of warning, be careful what you wish for ... I might start posting some of my poetry ... based on religious themes seen from a feminist perspective ... and not particularly photo friendly!

Hillery wants me to design a spot sampler of my Bride's Tree ornaments ... frequent visitors will remember that I stitched my set using Quaker designs exclusively ... but not all of them were my own designs. I only charted my own designs when I couldn't find something to suit one of the monthly themes. And I just don't think I'd be happy with a sampler that involved such a mixture of my own amateur designs and the designs of true professionals. And, of course, there is the been there, done that element of the whole thing ... I don't know that I'd want to revisit those charts anytime soon. I am flattered that Hillery thought so highly of my work but I have so many other projects calling my name ...

Hillery also suggested adding a labels gadget to my sidebars ... done.

Kittycat wanted to know my most significant job of stitching ... I don't know that I have done anything significant ... I do have some ambitious projects in the planning stages ... but I'd have to say the only thing significant about my stitching is that I have been at it for over three decades now and have enjoyed myself thoroughly and have given some small pleasure to others by sharing the talent through gift-giving. One of the most satisfying gifts I ever gave/made was a series of seasonal classroom banners, one for each month of the school year for my niece and god-daughter who teaches a middle school special education class. I used a lot of Secret Needle Night kits for that project and some Erica Michaels free charts from the Rainbow Gallery website ... so there was a lot of texture and color and plain old metallic glitz. I gave Sara the gift when she qualified for her teaching certificate and got her first job. But what gave me the most satisfaction was that she later told me her students really loved the banners, stroking them and doing an awful lot of oohing and aahing over them. It gives me a great deal of pleasure to know I helped to brighten the day of some kids who deal with academic challenges in this often intolerant world. Significant, maybe not ... but certainly satisfying.

Kimberly R wanted to know about my stitching dream: My dream stitch if time or money were not an issue would be to go on the next Sue Hillis Stitch Ahoy cruise ... but my real dream stitch would be to resurrect the Mississippi Queen [alas, impossible, since I believe it was sold for scrap] and organize a two-week stitching cruise up the length of the Mississippi River on that lovely steamboat having three or four of my favorite designers teaching classes, stopping at the Quilting Museum in Paducah and any other stitch-related museums along the way. I'll have to check and see if any real steamboats are still plying the Mississippi and maybe suggest to Sue Hillis that she think about that instead of an ocean cruise.

And to all those who commented that my blog was fine as is ... thanks so much for the kind words. I have a fairly healthy ego/self-esteem but it is always nice to know that others enjoy my stitching and writing.

On another post, the recent weekend progress report, several people commented favorably on a frame I am in the process of customizing for a mermaid piece I stitched last year ... Rachel went so far as to say she envied my ability to incorporate so many textures in my work ... all I can say to that is I seem to have a quirky perspective that was further sharpened when I did a 4 year stint as an Art teacher back in the early 90's. [Just an aside: I taught in Catholic schools. And anyone who has experience with them knows that it is perfectly in accord with the internal logic of a Catholic school that I, trained to teach literature to Grades 6-12, was assigned to teach art to Grades K-8. It's a holdover from the whole Sister Superior mentality.] When you have to create a curriculum for such a broad range of ages and abilities, with a very limited budget and still meet State guidelines ... well, you just start seeing possibilities everywhere. Very often creativity is just a matter of opening your eyes and using what is right in front of you! However, I'll take the compliments happily ... you are all much too kind but I enjoy the positive reinforcement.


mainely stitching said...

Woohoo, Riona, everything looks utterly fabulous! :D

requilt said...

Riona, thank you for sharing the story about your daughter's lovely stitching. I convinced my daughter to try cross stitching her first year in college and she did a wonderful chart of St. Francis but assured me she would never do another. I am watching and waiting to see if that is going to be true :)

Kttycat said...

Lovely post. Thanks for sharing all the information.

Vicky said...

Great post loved all the information that you shared :)

mbroider said...

This is a very nice, well thought, loved and hugged post-it post!!!