Friday, March 3, 2017

Freestyle Embroidery & My Instagram Addiction

Cinder And Honey
Cinder And Honey
Cinder And Honey

Sew And Saunders 

Sew And Saunders 
Sew And Saunders 

Sew and Saunders 

Sarah K. Benning 

Sarah K. Benning 
Sarah K. Benning 

Hello Friends! How have you been? Sorry I've been MIA from the blog for awhile. We all need breaks to recharge our batteries, right? During my hiatus, I was involved in helping a few homeless folks in my city. Together with that, I spent way too much time on Instagram swooning over the work of freestyle embroidery designers and other cross stitch designers. I bought some beautiful hand-dyed pink wool from my cross stitching buddy, Jacob, across the pond. I followed his Instagram page. But instead of concentrating on my own work, I was dazzled and bewildered with the amount of beautiful Instagram photos available 24/7. There was no end to my viewing photographs, exercise videos or glimpses into kitchens, gardens and livingrooms. Instagram was my addiction. I was distracted. I was annoyed by my lack of focus. There were a number of people who shared politics along with their arts and crafts. Like bitter pills, I take my politics in doses. Sometimes I avoid politics in order to stay serene and sane. I get enough of local politics in my work with the homeless here. All of this Istagram information was a very strange brew leading to burnout. One Instagrammer said she was getting death threats for posting her opinions on various subjects. I suggested that maybe she take a break from Instagram in case she might soon suffer from burnout. Ohmigosh did she (and her other family member) let me have it! They went bonkers. After using too many exclamation points and all caps in their responses to me, they suggested that I was the one with issues. How dare I share such a self righteous and ridiculous suggestion about burnout? How dare I lecture her or assume to know what she needs?! Did I know she had support? Did I know she was an athlete? Did Mother Teresa of Calcutta take a break?! Why should she?! She loves social media! It's her calling! She knows what she is doing. According to her, I had no clue whatsoever. Maybe that's true. I should have stayed in my own lane. I have done some pretty ridiculous things in my life too. Like the time I wore pink lipstick and my pink and white polka dot sweater for a social work job at a maximum security prison. The hardened interviewer took one look at me and said, "This interview won't last more than ten minutes." I was relieved. I had no business going on that interview in the first place. Needless to say, I didn't get the job. On the way out, I asked to use the ladies room. A woman with long gray hair was bathing herself in the sink. She was naked from the waist up. I count that prison job interview (along with the outfit I wore there) as one of the ludicrous things I've done in my life. The best part of that day was the gigantic chocolate chip cookie I bought myself at a local bakery on my way home. But back to my Insta-story... this gal accused me of other untrue things. It really went too far. But I didn't take the bait. I swallowed my self-righteous-pride and sheepishly wrote "I'm sorry." I felt like I was in internet crazytown. The encounter left me hurt, angry and confused. I didn't even know this person. What made me comment on her post about breaks and burnout? What made her react in such a harsh way? I mean, it was a bit over-the-top. She was right about me needing a break. I was burnt toast. I took this weird and tense interaction as a sign to sign-off for good. She did me a big favor. That's why it's important to pray for those who hurt us. I know it's hard. But often these difficult encounters are blessings in disguise. They can lead us in the right direction or teach us an important lesson. That instant, I deleted my Instagram page. I prayed for her. I prayed for me. I made room for more offline-time. When I told my husband I deleted my Instagram he said, "Thanks be to God!" My petite shop and blog are enough for me. I missed reading the sweet and generous blogs that I used to love to follow before the Instagram-craze hit. Pinterest still inspires me. It's a peaceful place. Thankfully, I have a steady stream of readers/business from Pinterest. I'm very grateful. I kept my Twitter account because I don't use it much. I don't get sucked into Twitter. Less time on social media means more time for prayer, reflection, long walks with my dog, quiet dinners, charity-work, daydreaming and stitching. My first day away, I was in Insta-detox-mode. I was cranky. I longed for my daily fix. But then I began to enjoy the things that make me truly happy. The activities (and inactivities) that spark my creative joy. Instagram wasn't right for me. Neither is Facebook. For some people, social media is a passion. For me it's a distraction. Different strokes for different folks. I find it hard to control how many brownies I eat. I can't seem to manage how much time I spend ogling Instagram photos or reading endless comments or watching videos of folks who exercise five hours a day or live in vans or eat vegan Australian food or journey around the globe. I'm rambling too long here. It's cathartic to write this. Thank you for your patience. I suppose everyone must find their own way in life, both online and in the real world. The journey continues....

Before I said goodbye to Instagram, I was drawn to the work of Cinder And Honey, Sew And Saunders  and Sarah K. Benning. Sarah is a traveling artist. Plants are her thing. You can read more about how Sarah quit her day job, at Whole Foods, to travel to Spain and pursue her embroidery passion on The Everygirl.  (As a side note, if you're looking for some cozy comfort food, The Everygirl also shared my Butternut Squash And Apple Bisque, along with many other delicious recipes here. Sorry for shamelessly plugging my recipe.)

But back to chatting about embroidery.... All these freestyle designers sell both their finished work and a rotating assortment of PDF patterns in their shops. I took the freestyle plunge and purchased a PDF pattern from Cinder and Honey and one from Sarah. Cinder And Honey offers patterns that appeal to the vintage-embroidery-lover in me.  Sarah's PDF's are full of photos, diagrams, details and helpful tips for beginner freestyle embroiderers. Since I try hard to create clear and easy PDF patterns, I'm picky about the ones I purchase from other folks in the biz.

I'm also eager to buy a finished piece from Sew and Saunders. I love the piece with lots of leaves done in beautiful teals, greens and golds (pictured above). The thing I love about all embroidery (from cross stitch to freestyle) is the texture. I hope you enjoy looking at the work of these talented ladies.  

After learning the basics, I designed my own freestyle embroidery pattern. I finished stitching the design with luminous pink and red silk thread on white linen. Then I washed it. Ugh! That was a big mistake. The silk thread stained the white linen pink and red. Eek! The upside is that I broke out of my cross-stitch-comfort-zone. It's fun to try something new, isn't it? Freestyle embroidery is faster than cross stitch but it requires a bit more skill. Transferring of the design to fabric is my least favorite part of the process. I invested in a LightPad to help me trace the design onto the fabric.

Until next time....Happy Stitching Sweet Friends! 
Thank you for your business and your continued interest in my work.
 xx ~ Jilly         

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