STITCH + MEDITATION = INNER PEACE

STITCH + MEDITATION = INNER PEACE

It’s really a simple equation.  And I find whether it’s knitting, crochet, embroidery, or mending it holds true for me (unless I’m under a deadline!)  For me, finding meditation time is not just a desire, it is a necessity.  It is how I deal with the world. It is how I stay sane.  It is how I find answers to everyday questions.  When I’m stitching, answers come to me like some people find them in the shower.

When I saw a post about A Year In Stitches a 2016 endeavor by Hannah Claire Somerville, I was smitten with the idea.  Just a few days later a friend of mine created a Facebook group and invited a few friends to join her for A Year of Stitches 2017.  Of course I hopped onboard.  (I’ve recently joined a larger group on Facebook for A Year of Stitches. I’m looking forward to seeing more ideas and sharing there.)

I started on January 1, 2017.  In order to make this project “my own” I made a plan to create stitched Mandalas with a different thread color radiating for each day of the week. Each Mandala would represent a week with seven colors each. At the end of the year I would have 52 Mandalas.  My thought was that this would be a great way to ease into the studio each day. It would give me a “no pressure” way to get the creative juices flowing. I have completed week 11 as of today.  Here is the progress:

What I’ve learned so far:

  • I don’t always do my stitching each day.  For whatever reason I miss some days. So, some days I do several days worth of stitching.
  • Some days I do the color for that day and I would really like to keep going.  It feels like I just get started and I have to stop.
  • I have always finished up each week on time!
  • It has opened up some other creative ideas and projects.  You will see some of them soon including this….

Large Mandala

This is going to end up filling a 12 inch diameter embroidery hoop.  Right now it is just over 6 inches diameter. I am stitching this on a piece of ivory silk.  This project gives me the opportunity to keep going on the days I get on a roll and don’t have other deadlines to meet.  I’ve always been interested in taking on a “daily art practice”, but have either failed in the past, or hesitated taking on the challenge.  This one has been perfect for me.  Low pressure, stress reducing (not inducing!) and it has inspired my regular art making practice. I will keep you posted on my progress throughout the year. (Now that I’m almost 3 months in, I’m not so worried about “failing” my committment again.)

Pin It

A few days ago I got this message in my inbox from my friend Susan:

“Hey Pam –how are you? In circle today an idea came up to play off of the pussy hats and give women something else to create – that was a sign a marker of people in the movement. You came to mind. Is there a way you could design a pin that we could wear like a big safety-pin that had a miniature version of the pussy hat symbol attached to it? So my idea is that could you design something that people could easily make just like the pussy hat went viral? Thoughts?”

So I put my thinking (pussy)-hat on and thought back to my last post about collaboration.  I like the idea that this project could be a way to create a symbol of an alternate collaboration, one where like-minded souls looking build relationships with others who support human rights can easily spot each other. Like-minded souls can create something simple to share and show the way.

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Kind Kitty

And I had an epiphany (as usual, in my hot tub time machine).  I want to offer my Kitty Kollaborator in Kindness Pin. She is part pussy, part heart, with the symbol of safety and she is divinely feminine. Yes, I know, my name for her could be (k)controversial. But, I would love to see a day come when the 3 K’s stood for something positive. So, I am ***(k)co-opting them. (in my last post you learned of my intention to co-opt “collaboration” as building a coalition of like-minded supportive relationships) So, instead I would like to refer to this as the K3 pin. Because if you look at that closely and break it apart, it is like I < 3 ❤ (I heart).  And, I am offering her up as an idea to make and share with everyone on your Valentine’s List. You could even take a picture of her and put her on a few postcards. . .(wink, wink).

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Snow Storm Pin

And then I went further down this rabbit-hole.  The term “snowflake” has been thrown around as a derogatory term for a (bleeding?) heart liberal who gets easily triggered into melting at the actions of what is seen as “the opposition”. (It’s also been a label put on this generation of young adults viewed as being less resilient and more prone to taking offence than previous generations.) And recently there has been a false rumor that it was used by the Nazi’s. (See SNOPES.com for the facts) But, I also want to co-opt that symbol. Because we who live in the midwest U.S. know what happens when you get a lot of snowflakes together!  I call it the Snow Storm Pin.  I could call it an SS pin (I know where that is co-opted from too) but, that is too uncomfortable.  I would love to see it created in as many different ways as there are snowflakes. So, please take both of these ideas and CREATE!!!   As Princess Leia said, “take your broken heart and make it into art”.

20170130_2222342Need help creating one of these?  Here is are PDF‘s for the K3 Pin and the Snow Storm Pin with pattern shapes and notes.

 

 

***kōˈäpt/ (verb)
1.  appoint to membership of a committee or other body by invitation of the existing members.

  • divert to or use in a role different from the usual or original one. “social scientists were co-opted to work with the development agencies”
  • adopt (an idea or policy) for one’s own use. “the green parties have had most of their ideas co-opted by bigger parties”

A New Beginning

It’s finally here. I can feel it. It is palpable. I felt it in such an amazing wave on Saturday at the Women’s March in Chicago where I walked with friends and strangers. Over 250,000. The peace and love and optimism in the crowd was medicine. And that medicine spread out to even those who could not attend. I had lunch with a friend after the march and the waitress thanked us for being there for HER!  And that is why I marched. For all of my SISTERS. And their children. And for RESPECT (which goes both ways and is earned, not demanded) And their access to affordable health care. And their right to choose the best options for their own bodies. And for protections to our natural resources. And for funding and support for our Humanities and Arts. And for the right to worship. And the right not to. And for the right to free speech. And especially for the right to gather in peaceful demonstrations, to express the beliefs and issues we find important as individuals and as a collective.

photogrid_1484963966407The positive energy for the Women’s March came in early December when a friend of mine who lives out east sent me a message that she wanted to know if I would make a pussyhat for her and her daughter, as they would be going to the March in D.C. Of course! I also made one for myself as I knew I would be Marching in Chicago and one for my daughter who would be in Minnesota.  And then I just kept going. I put a message out on Facebook which led to many more requests for the pussyhat. I loved the grassroots enthusiasm of that project. Women using traditional women’s skills and craft to make a statement. A statement of unity, feminism, and “can do” spirit. It is exactly the call out that I expressed in my RESISTANCE post that I will continue to use my talents and actions as my voice to support what I believe in and act against what I oppose. I also spent an afternoon knitting with a friend of mine and wished I’d had the time to participate in more of the pussyhat knitting meet-ups that were occurring around the Chicago area. I ended up using up all of the pink yarn I could purchase or scrounge from my own stash and made 20 hats in total. One friend asked if I was making them all “by Hand”. Yes, that is how I get things done…ONE STITCH AT A TIME (SAVES!) Each one was given away with a tag that stated: “In appreciation of this gift please consider a donation to the ACLU or Planned Parenthood. Several of the hats traveled to our nations capital (I saw a photo on Facebook of my friend’s husband wearing her hat on the bus ride Friday and it made my day!) Many stayed in Chicago and I saw some at the March and almost all of them in social media posts. Some even stayed “home”, but helped those wearing them feel they were a part of the historic event.  My favorite was seeing the text from my daughter in Minnesota with her pussyhat on and the message, “hat made it to the MN rally”. I had wished we could have been marching together, sharing this historic event. And then when she sent that text message I realized we were. UNITED.

So now we march forward. When I wrote this post RESISTANCE right after the election I felt at that time like this was the best or only answer to holding our elected officials accountable and to protecting the rights of ALL citizens. But after a couple of months reflection I have come personally to the conclusion that Carl Jung was right when he stated “what you resist persists”. And when I wrote my post on resistance I discussed the options that were put forth in the Dutch Resistance Museum, Resist? Adapt? Collaborate? or Persecute?  In their displays the option of collaboration meant collaborating with those you disagree with for the sake of “moving forward”, to keep the peace and make progress even if not in the direction you would like to see it go. But today I offer another option. The option I am choosing to move forward with. One of Collaboration with those who do hold your vision for the future. With those who do cherish the hard-fought battles for Civil Liberties we have established as a nation. With those who do believe in the scientific studies that have proven that what has been done by corporations and big business in the name of economic development and prosperity for a few, is actually harmful to our resources and to our WHOLE.

And I see that action coming together in my small circles and my larger community. And for the skeptics who say the Women’s March was a one day effort and we will all go back to our kitchens and computer screens and televisions (and our knitting!) and our privileged lives, I say “what YOU resist, PERSISTS!”  ***We will persist*** You obviously were not one of the Millions who attended the March on Saturday January 21, 2017. Because you would know the joy and enthusiasm and HOPE that is medicine. It is the drug of CHOICE, for me. And I am NOT ALONE, as you can see the Women’s March website has already transformed to 10 actions for the first 100 days. The first action: “Write a postcard to your Senators about what matters most to you – and how you’re going to continue to fight for it in the days, weeks and months ahead”. Get ready, I make beautiful postcards. Really great postcards. The best postcards ever. And I am ready to use them.

1.26.2017 UPDATE: And now this from my favorite local coffee shop BUZZ CAFE. The collaborations begin!

Postcard from the Edge

About a week ago I got an email from a friend and fellow artist, Gina Lee Robbins. At the end she posted a link to a call for artists with the comment: “a challenge for anyone who has time and needs a distraction in the coming week”. I am always looking for a creative challenge and needed either a distraction or an inspiration to get into the studio this week.  The Visual Aids 19th Annual Postcards from the Edge Benefit was the perfect little project to jumpstart me.

And in looking for worthwhile projects that are “a Stitch In Time Saved” this called out to me as worthy. From their website:  “By participating in Postcards From the Edge, artists and collectors support the mission of Visual AIDS to utilize art to fight AIDS by provoking dialogue, preserving a legacy of those we lost, and supporting HIV+ artists, because AIDS is not over.”

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My Postcard from the Edge: “Ginkgo”

So if you happen to be in New York City on January 13, 2017 think about attending the Preview Party. For just $85 you can own a piece of original artwork and give to a worthy cause. Sometimes that’s all that is needed to motivate an artist to get to work in this crazy world.

And once I got rolling in the studio this week I found myself well into the process of a larger work.  Earlier this week I painted and did the free-motion machine stitching on this piece (working title is) “Two-Gether :: Uni-Tree”.  I like where I am headed with it and that motivates me to get back to work on it. Today I am starting my “french-knot” therapy. I find the repetitive hand stitching soothing and theraputic. Perfect for today this first snow day/Sunday!

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Work In Progress: “Two-Gether::Uni-Tree”

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My View from the Studio today:  The (first of the season) Snow Day Inspiration!

Relax.Enjoy.Create

Hot tub time machine. Tonight. Takes me downstream (no more going upstream to work out old karma, unless I want to paddle against the current). So, I go with the flow. Toward a beautiful waterfall. (I’ve had this lucid dream before. The first time I had enough faith to go over the edge, was quite an adventure. But now it’s easier. No more clinging to the rocks at the top, in fear.) When I land in the gorgeous pool at the bottom of the falls I notice more souls than ever before are there. (It is so lovely you all could join me.) It is peaceful, yet exciting. And the pool has seemed to expand to contain so many of us, without feeling crowded. AHHH. Well, back to the message….

I ask, What have you got for me tonight?  I hear it LOUD. Repeated. “Relax, Enjoy, Create”…”Relax, Enjoy, Create”…”Relax, Enjoy, Create”.  Then, “R.E.-create”… “recreate”…”recreation”…”RE-creation”… “Get it?”  Yeah I get it.

Now let me explain so that you can “get it too”. My thoughts the last few days have been on setting my new moon intentions for November. I scanned through my journal from the last few months and a word jumped out at me. “Productive”.  As in, “I wasn’t very productive today” or “I really accomplished a lot. It felt good to be productive”.  But a month ago I made a major life shift for myself, on purpose. And it is giving me an opportunity to take a new look at what it means for me to be “productive”. So, that is what I am setting as my intention. Re-define what it means to be productive. (Does floating

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My new studio

in a hot tub, talking to the stars counts as “productive”. Well, yes I think so. I just need to get used to thinking of it that way!)

I moved my art studio/gallery out of a public location (the last 13 years) into the privacy of my home. I moved from a 800 square foot space to a 7 ft. x 12 ft. space. Yet It feels more expansive as I can look out continuous windows on three sides from a second floor space. I call it my treehouse. I am adjusting. I am settling in and getting ready to get “productive” again, but in a new way.

So, today I also “played” in my new studio space in a way that was relaxing, enjoyable and creative.  I salvaged a pile of old cashmere sweaters that I had washed, and cut apart. By stitching them together, I RE-created a new “up-cycled” cashmere afghan, throw blanket. This is a technique I have used a lot in the past. But, it has been awhile (because of the studio move) since I’ve had time to enjoy creating and have fun. Soon I plan to get several of these cashmere blankets posted to my Etsy Shop. They would make a lovely holiday gift for someone. Something to snuggle up in and Relax, and Enjoy! Something a Stitch In Time Saved!

 

 

A Case For Pillow Talk

20160511_094018In his heart he said: 
     I love her so very much

In his head he said: 
     I hope she loves me too.

From his mouth he said: 
     Can we eat dinner early tomorrow? 
     I have an evening meeting.

And then he fell asleep.
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In her heart she said: 
     I will love and care for him forever.

In her head she said: 
     I hope he will always care for me.

From her mouth she said: 
     Early dinner tomorrow?  Sure!

And then she fell asleep.

A Case For Pillow Talk
©2016 Pamela Penney

 

Inspired by a recent Broadly article, Mark My Words: The Subversive History of Women Using Thread as Ink, I transformed a couple of vintage pillow cases I acquired from my grandmother.  I am pretty sure she did the decorative stitching with the rick rack trim.  I created this piece for the group exhibit, “She Said | He Said” which opened this weekend at the new Groshek Art Gallery in Chicago.  After 30 plus years of sleeping with my husband I can attest to the fact that what comes out of the mouth is rarely the “important stuff”.  I thought the use of grandma’s pillow cases was perfect for this sentiment.  My grandparent’s were married over 70 years.  I wonder sometimes about their “pillow talk” over all of those years.
I also coincidently came across a New Yorker article from a 1996 interview with the Obama’s.  I found it sweet that our current President once said this about his wife, Michelle…..“but at the same time she is also a complete mystery to me in some ways. And there are times when we are lying in bed and I look over and sort of have a start. Because I realize here is this other person who is separate and different and has different memories and backgrounds and thoughts and feelings. It’s that tension between familiarity and mystery that makes for something strong, because, even as you build a life of trust and comfort and mutual support, you retain some sense of surprise or wonder about the other person.”

Tonight, before I “fall asleep” I think I’ll try to express something more important than what is planned for tomorrow, or what happened today.  I will  share from my heart, even if I can’t find the right words….

Saving with Stitches

Today was just one of those days when several things came together to fulfill my mission of Saving the World with my Stitches!  (Or at least with my assistance.)  I had two lovely new students come in to the studio this morning for their first sewing lesson.  Two women, friends who decided to take a lesson together.  We covered the basics of threading, winding the bobbin and trouble shooting a sewing machine.  They also learned to pin and sew a seam with fabric “right sides together” and how to turn corners and sew a curve.  We covered trimming and pressing our seams.  They are now ready to take on a pattern to create a basic garment over the next few weeks with me.

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When they left I had a friend/customer come in to pick up a garment that I had finished for her.  Bonnie brought me several old cashmere sweaters a few months ago that she had grown tired of, or they had some minor stains/holes in.  She requested that I create a vest for h2016-04-08 12.02.10-1er that was “long” and “drapey”.  I loved that her colors were limited to ivory and black.  I loved the final piece so much that I wished I could keep it for myself.  And even though it took me longer to get it done for her than I hoped, it is still very cold here in Chicago this spring, so she will probably get some time to wear it before warm weather hits.  (There have been snowflakes in the air for the last several days and it’s April!)

2016-03-11 15.00.03This afternoon I had another longtime student/customer come in for an appointment to finish up a project that she has b2016-04-08 14.21.23-1een working on with me for the last couple of months.  Carol brought in an old grey sweater, a few pairs of corduroy pants and a photo of a bird drawing from a Leo Lionni children’s book.  She wanted to use the bird image as inspiration for a pillow cover.  We appliqued the corduroy fabrics onto the grey wool, she used blanket stitch and overcast stitches to finish the edges of the fabric and it turned out just adorable!  The “piece de resistance” was the vintage buttons she had in her stash to use as the eye.

After all of those activities I had a little quiet time in the studio late this afternoon, so I pulled out my own “mending”.  A couple of days ago my son mentioned that he had a hole in the underarm of a favorite “Agave” shirt.  He wondered if I could fix it for him.  I said, “Why yes!  That falls well within my mission statement!”  And within two minutes his shirt was back in service (well it may need to go through the wash, but otherwise it’s in as good as new shape!)

Any day that I can stitch, salvage, create, relax, enjoy, mend or teach the skills and help another to do so is a very fulfilling day!  A Stitch In Time Saves……Friday!