I’ve been sitting and handstitching on the same artwork, Shagbark, for a couple of months now. By nature I’m not a person to sit in one spot and do one thing ad infinitum. And now the weather is improving and the great outdoor calls.
But I have come to think of stitching as an activity similar to portaging. If a portage is a boulevard, then you know the lake on the other side is bound to have a lot of people on it. The slippery, rocky, semi-dangerous portages are the ones that lead to silence and beauty. Sometimes it is just a matter of hanging in there and keeping your eye on the prize.
So here’s some tip to STICK WITH THE STITCHING:
1. Make sure your chair and lighting are just right. It’s worth experimenting to find a chair that won’t harm your body. I love my WittFitt ball (no affiliation) and have moved my table so I have natural, overhead, and task lighting. Overkill? Maybe, but too much light is better than too little.
2. Take a break every hour. I have my yoga mat standing by for a few downward dogs or I do some little part of the ever-thrilling domestic drudgery that never ends such as run downstairs and throw in a load of laundry, sweep a floor, clean a counter. The only thing to watch out for is mistaking a break for quitting for the day. That is why my taking a break does not include taking a walk (15 min. to gear up, 45 min. later I’m still outside :)), but you may be able to take a nice brisk walk and return safely. In any case, I always leave all my lights on as a visual reminder that there is still stitching to be done.
3. Rejoice in the small triumphs. Some days I literally only stitch a few square inches, but if they happen to be just right or particularly beautiful, I’m a happy camper.
4. Give yourself some things to look at that are on a longer view to rest your eyes. I purposely sit in this spot so a view of the shagbarks is before me. Nothing like looking directly at the inspiration for the artwork. You might wonder why I don’t transport the artwork elsewhere, but it has assumed sculptural proportions with layers of upholstery fabric, screenprinted paint, and stitching. In short, it is HEAVY and it works best to wrestle with it on a table.
5. Work the psych angle. That sounds weird, but here are three things on or near the design board where “Shagbark” resides each evening that I can study for inspiration as I stitch. First, I stitched together the colorful dyed piece of cloth so when Shagbark (in January colors) comes down, it’s Spring in my studio. Second is a photo pinned to the left corner that isn’t of bark, but reminds me of bark. So something to think about for the future. Lastly, in the shadow box is a handmade blouse of my Grandma’s. It is amazing (not only because it is about a size 0), but also because of all the handwork.
6. Bring the outside in. These lovely hen and chicks reside in this old enamelware pan on my deck all summer. But they have been happily multiplying this winter by the window. I checked the ASPCA toxic list and they are cat-safe.
7. When all else fails, go for the coffee and/or chocolate! Seriously.