Thursday, December 10, 2015

When Inspiration Strikes

Why does it always seem that the best ideas come at the most inconvenient time such as when you are in the shower or on a long drive?  For me it's driving.  I have about a half an hour commute to work.  Typically I listen to a podcast or sometimes music.  After awhile if the topic doesn't hold my interest, my mind starts to wander and that's when inspiration strikes! I hit on an idea and I can feel my pulse quicken. My mind goes from idea to idea with excitement and its all I can do to pull over and write down some notes before it disappears.

This past Saturday, I was hit hard with a solution to an unfinished idea that had been tossed around in my mind for the past several weeks. Luckily I had a supply of napkins in my glove box for exactly this moment...

So how can we get our ideas to flow when we want them to?

It's all about getting yourself into a relaxed semi-meditative state. Showering and driving are all routine events that your body is used to.  Your mind is free to wander while your body is set on repetition mode. Try other similar repetitive tasks such as cleaning, going on a walk, or my favorite- stitching! Keep yourself open to ideas without trying to force them to come. As with driving and showering, ideas most often happen when you are not looking for them. Keep a notebook handy so when the ideas start to flow- you are ready!

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Yes, you DO have time!

Throughout my day, I get into a lot of conversations with people about crafting and making art.  And the common phrase that I hear is "I don't have time." Or sometimes there is a lofty promise of the future, "When I retire..." or "When my kids are grown..." My question is What are you waiting for?

We are all busy.  All of us juggle many different hats and often feel like there are not enough hours in the day. If you really want to make art, you need to make it a priority. By putting yourself and your desires first, you will find that it will actually help you in the rest of your day. You will be a happier person to your family, you will be more productive and it will help you think more creatively throughout your day.

While it seems impossible, I am willing to bet that you can find 15 minutes in your day to treat yourself to some therapeutic craft time. According to Neilson's Social Media report, the United States spends six and a half hours per person on social media a month. Wow, think about what you could get done in that time!

I am not immune to the busy excuse but I try very hard to make it a daily morning practice. I know that I am a better person because of it!

Here are some tips on how I am able to squeeze in 15 minutes a day to craft:

1. I set a specific and constant time of the day to do it. (Morning works the best for me and I look forward to it when I wake up!)

2. Find a spot in your home that is comfortable and quiet that is always available to you.

3. Set a timer- this way you don't have to look at your phone and be tempted by your instagram feed or email notifications!

4. Always have a project ready and waiting.  I keep a nearby bowl which has all of my stitching supplies for my current project. The project itself is an easy, mindless piece which does not require creative decision making. (Stitching a pattern, coloring, knitting...these are all examples of good and easy things to pick up.) You will find that by doing a mindless craft, you will keep your creativity flowing and you will be more likely to make more time later to devote to a project that may require more depth.

5. Treat your time as sacred. Put yourself first. Give yourself this gift.

Treat your time as sacred. Put yourself first. Give yourself this gift.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Stitch it Out

Life is unexpected and with the good can come the bad.  I am finding myself realizing this even more as I get older.  They often come overlapped rather than compartmentalized which is how they always seemed when looking back over the years.

But not so, two years ago I had a grandmother and a friend pass while at the same time trying to keep on track with my business to get my shop Christmas ready. In May when my other grandmother passed I was also trying to settle on our house that same week.   And now.... coming home from my honeymoon and having to say goodbye to my sweet 14 year old canine companion, Jasper.

This is real life where you have to take things as they come. We all share these same experiences- the good/the bad and often both at the same time.  We all need to have some kind of outlet to get our feelings out.  To heal, to express, to mourn. What I turn to is stitching.  It allows me to express what I am feeling without saying a word.  I can sit in silence and immerse myself in the stitch. Everyone deals with things differently but what we all share is the need to deal with it in some way or another.  And for me- the answer is to stich it out.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Lend a Hand

I often talk about how stitching is a powerful form of therapy.  It can lower stress, help you find focus and create personal satisfaction. The power of crafting is not only good for your well being but it can also be used as a way to help others!  Money is not the only thing that can help a charitable organization. Many organizations are in need of knitted or quilted blankets, winter accessories, baby items and other daily needs.

Donating a hand made piece to an auction is another way of giving. Currently The Muse is in its fourth year of their Lend a Hand Art Auction. Every year I create something for it which is then auctioned off for a local charity. This year's theme was based on the Chinese Proverb of the Red Thread which states that we are all connected by an invisible red thread which can not be broken.

I chose to interpret this by focusing on women.  When you remove our outer shells, at the base of it we are all connected.  We all have our roles; our struggles and our celebrations. This is a theme which I have explored before and is always a topic of interest for me 

I started out by creating a background fabric of fused pattern pieces to muslin. I added some color but muted most of it out. I wanted a monochromatic piece to echo my intention of sameness and commonalities.
Then my favorite part- the stitching. As each slow stitch was created, my mind was free to wander and my relaxation set in. Creating this piece for the benefit of others was also for the benefit of me. When you create as a form of giving back, your rewards to yourself are two fold- the joy of the creation and knowing you have helped someone else.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Treat Yo Self-Meditative Stitch Workshop!

There has been a lot of positive feedback to this blog and to the idea of meditative stitching in general.  As a shop owner selling handmade items and facilitating craft parties, I often hear from a lot of customers that they love making things but they just "don't have the time".  I think that is what is so appealing about my morning stitching only need 10 minutes!  (Often you have so much fun that 10 minutes turns into 15...20...)

Doing my morning stitch work has helped me in so many ways- I am more relaxed, self satisfied, and ready to start my day!  I want to show others how this can work for them too!  On Wednesday August 5th from 7-9pm I am teaching through The Muse! My friend, Heather Stang, owner of The Frederick Meditation Center will guide us through a meditation practice to begin the class.  I will then help people pick a mantra or favorite word or quote to transfer onto vintage linens.  We will then learn a backstitch to create a beautiful embroidered piece.

Treat Yo Self and take time for stitching! Registration is at The Muse, 19 N Market St or by calling 301-663-3632!

Thursday, July 2, 2015


Moving day has come and gone but the boxes remain.  As a creature of habit, I thrive on routine, organization and everything in its place.  For someone like me, moving and change is a huge challenge to my sanity.

To feel at home and less restless, my first priority is to organize my sewing room.   The very last thing that I packed besides the obvious essentials was my trusty Bernina sewing machine.  I had not even used it in the last month but just knowing that it was available was a source of comfort. 

For Nick, I noticed that his favorite drum set was the last item to be packed.  As a drum teacher, he plays everyday however, that specific drum set had not been played for some time either. His drums mean to him what my sewing machine means to me. They both represent a huge part of our identity. We all have our "thing" whether it be cooking, gardening, reading, writing or whatever. I can't imagine a life void of a passion. It is that "thing" that keeps us going, keeps us grounded and makes life rich.  Embrace that item that you can't bear to pack in a box- it is what makes you who you are.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

A New Project

There is a brand new project in the works!  Several posts back, I was waiting on news to see if we won the contract on our dream house. After waiting on pins and needles, we received the good news! A gorgeous home with plenty of unique details...and plenty of work!

I'm so excited to make this house our home. I will share some of the progress as we make the transformation.  Aside from my daily morning stitching, it seems as though most of my art time will be consumed in renovating the house.  With new life milestones comes inspiration.  But unfortunately I think I will be painting more walls and wood trim than fabrics to stitch on!

Thursday, May 21, 2015

A Memory Through Cloth

We said good bye to this beautiful lady earlier this week.  My Nana Dot, as she was called by everyone including my friends, lived to be 95! She was a happy, positive person who never complained.  She loved Big Band music, coffee with sugar cakes and her whiskey sours! As far as crafting and art were concerned, I never saw her take an interest in any of it but she always proudly displayed my gifted hand made wares.  It sometimes even surprised me when I would come across something I made and gave to her so may years ago... Something I had forgotten about would be proudly sitting on her side table or kitchen counter.
My mother found a box of vintage handkerchiefs that had been in my grandma's house. She gave them to me knowing how much I would appreciate them.  It's indescribable but there is something about a cherished piece of cloth that holds so much meaning. Opening the box and touching the pieces of fabric, I felt close to my Nana Dot.  I could smell her house and imagine her folding and pressing the handkerchiefs.
These pieces will sit with me for awhile.  I will give it time until I know how to use them. I know that eventually I will figure out the perfect way to stitch into them and create something that will honor her memory and help me heal as well.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Coffee & Stitches

When you really get into the practice of your meditative stitching it becomes something you look forward to each morning. And for me this means coffee and stitches.  The smell and sounds of the coffee brewing against the quiet of the morning is my favorite part of the day. No matter how rushed I am, I find that giving myself the time to slow down helps me better manage the fast pace of the day that lies before me.

My sweet dog Jasper also appreciates this morning routine as it means that he gets a rare chance to be up on the couch!  It also really feels good to have this time with him before I have to leave to go off to work.
Currently I've been working on a morning mantra piece.  This is going to be a class sample for a workshop that I will be giving later in the summer.  I love the look of beautiful script created with a simple backstitch.  The word I chose was Grateful.  I have so much to be grateful for and it helps me remember that as I stitch out the word on a beautiful vintage handkerchief. Getting lost in the word and what it means becomes easy.  You focus on each stitch and with each stitch is the reward of creating a beautiful mark in the cloth. A great way to begin the day.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015


In the tale of Rapunzel, the allure of the root plant, Rampion was impossible to resist. It was ultimately this temptation that led to the ill fate for baby Rapunzel.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, the idea of home has been at the forefront of my mind for quite awhile.  So when I heard the story of Rapunzel being retold on NPR several months ago, I could not help but have a new perspective on the tale. Rampion, otherwise known as a root vegetable, was the source of desire. We can all identify with this...roots and in its more basic form, shelter, is a fundamental source of human need.

With this piece, Rampion, my series into the home has begun. I have so many different ideas and alternate ways of looking at this topic that I can't wait to begin.  However, life imitates art imitates life.  The next piece might take a little longer...We are moving into a new home, one that we plan to stay in for a very long time. Our own roots are being planted and we will watch them grow!

Saturday, April 11, 2015


What does Home mean to you? Is it a white picket fence with a perfectly manicured lawn, a status symbol of accomplishing all of your goals? Do you think of the home as a symbol of security, domesticity, family?  Or is it an essential form of shelter? For the past two years I have become preoccupied with these ideas.

And this is how my work comes to life. It all started with a trip to Washington DC during the coldest night of the year. I saw so many homeless makeshift beds over the sidewalk vents.  It was not a new sight but for some reason on that particular night, I was haunted by the image of these beds across the backdrop of the DC capital skyline.  That skyline which represents power, money and prestige grossly contrasted against a living visual of  poverty.

Flash forward to my own personal life in the past two years.  I went from living a comfortable independent life in my own home to happily moving in with my fiancĂ©. Despite the joyous reason for my home upheaval, there was a lot of adjustments to work through. I'm a creature of habit and love to be settled- not to mention have all of my sewing supplies in their place and out of a moving box!

Now happily settled into my new home, more exciting changes are on the horizon- a wedding, once again a new home to move into, and more decorating!

While all of these changes are wonderful, the haunting image of  the disparity of my own selfish complaints of home versus the need for home as a source of survival has spurred a series on the home. My first piece is nearly finished as I gather research and thoughts for the next few. I look forward to working through some of my feelings as I explore the various implications that Home represents.


Thursday, April 2, 2015

Too Many Choices

Sometimes, when digging through my stash of threads there are just so many choices!  It makes it hard to make a decision. But yet, every time I go into a quilt or craft store I'm so tempted by the beautiful colors of embroidery floss that it's hard to resist not adding to my collection! Truly, for the projects at hand, the colors that I need are already within my reach.

In life as in stitching, sometimes what you think you need is something you already have. We can spend our time adding to our stash or we can use what is already there. We can make the simplest of decisions become the most difficult tasks. We can stop searching for the answer and instead, let our intuition guide us.  The thread choice after all is only part of the larger piece of art.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Enjoying the Mundane

Sometimes moments of peace and tranquility can be found in the most unexpected of places.  Meet Tippy, the sweetest, most precarious dog I know.  She is owned by my dear friend and jewelry artist, Chrissy Gemmill.  Aside from making her beautiful jewelry, Chrissy has a fun blog that chronicles her business as well as her family adventures and life with Tippy.  Recently, Tippy happily destroyed Chrissy's favorite mushroom pillow!  She looks quite proud of herself doesn't she? 
I offered to repair her beloved pillow.  After pinning it back together I began stitching.  The repetition was relaxing and I enjoyed what might typically be considered a task.  The simple act of mending can be a meditative process if given the right mindset.  Folding the laundry, washing dishes, even sweeping the porch can be an opportunity to get yourself into your head and focus on the task at hand.  In a life filled with constant overstimulation and interruptions, the simple act of  vacuuming can be a pleasure in itself. Another part of the joy is the immediate satisfaction of a positive result from your productivity. Let's not underestimate the benefit of a clean and tidy house!

Visit Chrissy's blog at here, to read more about her and check out her jewelry!

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Feeling Overwhelmed

This week has been a little extra stressful for me.  I'm a keeps me on track & it helps me feel like I can get what I need to get done within the time I need to do it.  On the alternate side of this- when I can't complete my to do list and things go off schedule I can start to feel overwhelmed.

There's nothing like planning a wedding and buying a house to throw a wrench into your already busy schedule of life and work!  This week we started arrangements on our wedding and have put in two offers on a house that we love.  As I write this, the anticipation of the answer is looming over me.

So this morning I woke up feeling completely overwhelmed and unwilling to get out of bed.  I forced myself up and started on my morning routine.

On a busy morning when you feel like there are a million things you should be doing and you already feel behind, that's when you need your meditative practice more than ever! Since I recently finished a project, I didn't have anything specific to stitch so I have been working on a scrap piece that I have been slowly adding to over the past year. 

Today I picked up a new color and didn't give it too much thought and just got right into it.  The pink design was what I added today- no plan, no stress...I just followed along intuitively.  It wasn't long until I got lost in the pattern and repetition.  Exactly what I needed. I know the day will bring chaos and I will forget to stop and breathe but I had my 15 minutes of  complete "me" time and that's what it's all about.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Stitching through Loss

Growing up I always had dogs in my life.  When each one of them passed I was either away at college or already moved out and on my own.  Their absence was felt and it was hard to say goodbye. It was not until my own dog, Banyan's passing this past summer when I actually felt the true devastation and loss.

Banyan was my 15 year old miniature pinscher who I had with me through many stages of my young adult life. He was with me as I got my first adult job, slept on my many sewing projects, lived with me in various apartments, and finally accompanied me into my current stage- meeting my fiancĂ© and moving into his home. He was with me through it all.  In July he quickly became ill and I had to give him the gift of letting go. 

So many of my artist friends were so kind and offered to sculpt, paint or draw Banyan as a way to commemorate him. I appreciated their generosity but nothing seemed exactly right. I had to honor him in the best way I knew cloth.

I used the background as my morning meditation.  As I stitched each row, my mind wandered. Sometimes it put me at ease, sometimes it brought back memories.  The piece to honor my friend Banyan ended up being a piece to heal my loss. Now as I'm finishing up the piece I realize, I don't want to finish this piece.  It feels too final.  I'm not exactly sure how I will feel when the time comes to bind it and frame it up.

This kind of piece is not typical for me. I usually tend to be less obvious with my subject matter.  But I felt the need to use his picture and write the text. This was not a piece that I will enter in a show or use as a representation of my art.  This piece is for me. I created it for myself and for Banyan.

Sunday, March 1, 2015


According to artist Anahata Katkin, there are five stages to the creative process:
  1. Bloom- the early stages where everything comes together easily in a project
  2. Resistance- the point in which some people stop with frustration due to the inner critic causing self doubt
  3. Ping Pong- bouncing to a new perspective to work through the resistance stage
  4. Full expression- the moment you get through the struggle, when the project seems to come together
  5. Completion- knowing when it's finished
I recently remembered her stages during my current project. I was really enjoying the process until it came to the background.  I thought I had the perfect plan for it but after I started it, the idea no longer seemed to work.  I became frustrated, and stalled out. But instead of letting that overcome me, I pushed through by creating different patterns to audition for the background.  Finally it came to me, I went in a different direction- stenciling a repeat pattern of a tree to mimic the machine stitched trees that I already had done. I loved the way it turned out!  I found my solution and worked through my resistance to get there.  That alone felt like even more of an accomplishment! As I stitch the outline of the stenciled trees, I feel strong and excited to see what happens next knowing that I have the answers within me...I just have to keep creating and they will come!

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Snow day!

There is something about a snow day that makes me feel creative!  Maybe it's the weather giving me a guilt free pass to stay inside...when the weather is nice, there is an unspoken obligation to go outside and enjoy it. Aside from a few mandatory dog walking trips outside, I spent the day in the comforts of my home.
Without anywhere to be at any certain time, I allowed myself to spend more time with my daily practice. It was extra relaxing today because I am at a point in it where I'm making rows of running stitches. I found myself focusing on the stitch length and the width between the rows. This relaxing focus had me starting a new row of running stitches long after my usual 15 minute time period was up. Here are few pictures of my progress from today.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Daily Practice

Almost a year ago I began a practice that has transformed the way I begin each day. Typically my day would start with dragging myself out of bed, pouring as much coffee into my system as possible, and rushing through my morning only to grab some food to eat in the car on the way to work. Hectic, crazy, and usually accompanied by multi tasking with social media and thoughts of my to do lists.

Now it begins a little differently.  After waking and taking care of the necessary tasks such as walking the dog and preparing my coffee, I curl up in the corner of my couch and enjoy 15 minutes of mindful stitching.

I stitch without expectations or a plan. I allow myself the freedom to just enjoy the process of the repetitive stitch.  It is in this time that my mind is able to relax and sit in stillness. Once my time is up, I feel satisfied and ready to start the day.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

You have to start somewhere...

I can't remember how I was motivated to create my first art quilt. A recent college graduate, I was living in my first apartment and decided to take a basic rotary cutting class. I always had an interest in fact, I attended Parsons School of Art and Design for fashion design in a pre-college program. But back then, I enjoyed making clothing- something USEFUL. After college, I again decided to make something USEFUL, a quilt.  Fast forward 15(ish) years and I no longer have any desire to make anything of any kind of practicality. I love the look of the new modern patchwork movement that is currently on the rise but damn if I can motivate myself to cut and sew a bunch of blocks together to form a pattern!

For me, I feel a strong need to express my feelings through my art. I need to tell a story. 

My first experience in using my art as my communication came from an unlikely source- a Tom Cruise movie. I remember watching Vanilla Sky and completely identifying with the social issues presented in the film.
Burning holes in some of the fabric, splattering paint on chiffon, unraveling the was the process.  The process of the piece was synchronized with the theme of the piece. I was feeling what I was creating. I had found my release.