Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Learning new skills...

Thanks for your prayers over my knee issue.
Apparently my knee is perfect; strong and straight, and seemingly doing better than most 55 year old knees.
However, there is something happening inside my lower leg that needs investigation, so I have an ultrasound happening in the next few days, which depending on the outcome may lead to an MRI. 
I have painkillers now, and have been advised by my wonderful doctor to spend time up and about moving the leg each day, between frequent rests. If you have a spare moment I'd really appreciate more prayers - specifically that the issue is diagnosed correctly and swiftly, and that healing is fast approaching. xx

Now, because I have pain meds and can regularly get back on my feet for a while every day, I think today I'll finally get to that op-shop fabric I shared about here and start making blocks. Photos and a project to be shown tomorrow if all goes according to plan!

Today, however, I'd like to show you one of the stitchy projects I've been enjoying whilst off my feet over the weekend and Monday.
Back here I showed you the lovely pattern that Vikki Collumbine of "Sew Useful Designs" released in Melbourne at Let's Get Stitched in March. It's been on my to-do list since she first showed me, but time to make it has eluded me, especially lately with my current obsession of piecing quilt blocks - until this weekend...

I'm using just two colours (as I love to do!) and chose a dark red and an aqua/blue...

There's something rather comforting about adding your own personal 'stamp' to someone else's design.
I chose to make a few very tiny tweaks to the stitching; like writing my name simply and stitching in backstitch instead of the cross-stitch Vikki had directed in the pattern. 
The 'My Patterns' wording is also backstitch instead of cross-stitch, and I've only done a single row of running stitch around that sweet little cross-stitched heart. The line under the heading was also changed, from Vikki's use of chain stitch to my choice of stem stitch...

But what I love is that the design is still so very obviously Vikki's and my own small tweaks did not alter that!
I almost decided to omit the hexie appliques too, and replace them with vintage buttons - but then I looked again at Vikki's design and realised they added to the vintage feel of the overall pattern, and that 'look' is what made me fall in love with the design in the first place. So hexies were made...

The finished design is a folder to store printed PDF patterns - a wonderful idea in this age of technology and downloadable patterns.
The morning sun was rather bright this morning when I took a photo of the block on my 'design door' (next best thing to a design wall!)  for you, but I wanted to give you an idea of the size of the cover stitchery design so far. I've got a little piecing to do today and then add another couple of hexies before I actually complete the PDF Folder project...

Can I encourage you, as you start a pattern - any pattern - that you look at it through the eyes of your own style or level of competence? Don't just think "that's too hard or complicated for me", but look at the aspects you can do first and foremost.

I remember Vikki and I having a conversation back in March about this design of hers and she spoke of concerns she had that people may look at it and think it was too hard because of the little extra embellishments and presentations she'd added - like the tiny cross-stitched wording, the way she'd chosen to 'bind' the front and back cover of the design with rings, and edged one spine with pom poms (see how the rings join the covers in Vikki's photo below?)...

Too many times, especially when I first taught myself to hand stitch and quilt back in 2005, I balked at projects that looked beyond my abilities and experience. Even nine years later I've still avoided some techniques because they seem like too much effort or my mind can't grasp the steps needed to accomplish them. That's why I haven't done much in the way of quilts and quilt blocks, free motion quilting, or hexies. 
In the past month or so I've finally begun working my way through these techniques, and putting on my 'student' cap have started to study and apply the 'hows' to achieving them in the long term.
But I also gave myself permission to alter a pattern to suit my style and proficiency if it keeps the integrity of my original reason for purchasing it. Does that make sense?
I think the care and planning that went into Vikki Collumbine's "My Sweet PDFs"  Pattern Folder is amazing, and very much epitomizes her unique design style, but for me the part I most want to capture as I make it myself is the cover, the hexies, and the purpose of the project, so I will make this beautiful stitchery/applique design into a cover for a store bought binder to house my personal PDFs.
You may choose to purchase her pattern for the same outcome, or perhaps you're looking at it and thinking "I love all her special touches and want to make it exactly the same!". Whatever way you make it (or any pattern you have that has challenged you)  let me encourage you to ask these questions first:

* Look at the pattern and decide what it was that first caught your attention; why did you purchase it?
* If it's been on the shelf for a while now is the time to be honest and ask yourself what part of this pattern has you holding back from making a start on it.
* If there are techniques, stitches, or skills required that you don't currently have, is there something different you can do to the design that will allow you to make it your 'own' and therefore achieve the outcome of a completed pattern you purchased because you loved it?
* Is there a course, tutorial, or 'how-to' you can access online (or through local guilds or friends) to learn the skills you feel you lack? 
* Are you staring at the pattern confused as to what made you buy it in the first place? If so, this one needs to be given away.

I hope I've been able to encourage you today. 
Sewing, embroidery, quilting - it's not as easy as it first looks is it? Yet it's no different to learning any skill!  Like becoming a proficient bread baker, honing your riding skills on a new mountain bike, or simply learning how to change a car tyre - practice and a desire to learn is the key, though occasionally necessity steps in as well.

A few skills I may be able to help you with can be found by visiting my Tutorials page here
For others, Pinterest is a rather wonderful resource.

See more photos of Vikki's original "My Sweet PDFs" folder here.

What's a skill or technique that you haven't yet conquered?
What holds you back?



Anonymous said...

Jenny take care of yourself!
I love what you have done with this pattern. You did make it your own.
You do beautiful work!
Love you and many prayers coming your way!

BillieBee (billiemick) said...

Prayers for you from Texas.:)

Cindy said...

Jenny, I do hope things go well and you heal up quickly! I really like that pattern and will add it to my ever growing list of things to make:)

Larissa said...

Definitely getting in some time to move your leg should help, but don't over do it sweetie!!! I'm glad to hear it's not your knee that's causing the issues though!!!!

You've done a lovely job making Vicki's pattern your own! When I saw it the first time, I fell for it too, though I too have thought about small changes I'd make when I get to it - including adapting the writing script, and changing a stitch choice too, lol! It is a really lovely pattern though, and yours is gorgeous!!

So glad you're finally challenging yourself with some of these things you haven't attempted/tried until now!! It widens your repertoire and allows for more creative thinking, which is fabulous in my opinion!! This was one of the reasons why I decided to throw myself into the crocheted doilies I've been working on over recent months!! When I began, I knew only about 3 or 4 basic - BASIC - stitches ... now, 5 doilies in, it is all coming together so well, so quickly, and sometimes without much thinking past starting the rows :) I've even had people ask if I was interested in selling them - including one order already in a particular colour (still tracking down the thread colour, but I think I'm close :) ... good thing it's not a rush job, lol!) Learning something new is always daunting, but it can teach us so much about ourselves through the process - and not just about the craft we are learning :) Keep it up gorgeous - the world is your oyster!!! xxx

Karen said...

All the best Jenny. I hope the issue is resolved quickly for you. Take care xx

retdairyqueen said...

Hi Jen i have done Vikki's pattern folder too
Also did a few changes and made it into a cover for a store bought folder with her permission

Winifred said...

I'm lighting a candle for you this weekend Jenny!Hope you have a speedy recovery. Take care of yourself.

A great idea to put your own mark on a pattern. As you say just a few tweaks to make it yours. Love it!

KimM said...

I love the pattern and your tweaks. So cute.

Chris said...

Jenny, as always continued prayers for you. Love what you done with the pattern adding your own little design just makes it more personal. Hope you get batter, hugs XXXXXX
from WI, USA

Anonymous said...

Olá Jenny sou fã de seus bordados . E cada dia me surpreendo mais com tanta beleza. Esse novo bordado é um dos meus prediletos. Beijos.

Judy1522 said...

I will say prayers for you that they will quickly find out what is wrong with your leg. I love how you made the pattern your own.

Anonymous said...
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Patricia said...

lindo de viver. estou daqui encantada com tanta formosura

Patricia said...

lindo de viver. estou daqui encantada com tanta formosura

Carrie P. said...

Praying for you.
Love your pick of colors for your pattern book.

Farm Quilter said...

Challenges on more then the creative front going on for you right now. So glad your knee is great, praying that they figure out your lower leg issues quickly and that their treatment gets you back on your feet in no time!

Anonymous said...

Your version of Vikki's pattern is terrific. It's just the small things, done your way, and the result looks wonderful. I might not even have noticed all the changes, if you hadn't pointed them out, since I'm not sitting with the pattern and your piece in front of me. I often change things. I have been known to go to a class and do a part of it my way, instead of the teacher's, because it works better for me, but that doesn't mean I don't appreciate the time and effort the teacher puts forth. Great post, Jenny, and lovely piece you're doing. I'm glad for the news about your knee, now I'll pray for your diagnosis on that leg and quick healing.

miss~nance said...

Praying for wisdom and fast healing and for ALL of your family.

I too love Vikki's design, it's drawn up and all fabric cut,the only thing that is keeping me from doing it is time....

Hugs & blessings

Gail xx

Tammy said...

Sending prayers your way love. Love the new project. It looks fabulous.

Anonymous said...

Hope your leg injury is resolved soon Jenny and that your Dr's recommendation has helped, love your version of Vikki's pattern, (and with the two colours), both look good and I am one to make my own changes and also with recipes. Wishes for a full and speedy recovery for you,
Judithann :-)

Little Penpen said...

I love your red/blue version of the pattern!! Hope your knee improves quickly.

Christina said...

Very cute finish. I try to avoid backstitching in my counted cross stitch. For some reason it really makes me confused and I get somewhat dyslexic with it.

When I first learned to quilt, my friends (who are very experienced) kept telling me I was picking out hard patterns. But since I had never made a quilt before, how did I know it was hard. It made no difference to me and I made what I liked. Now as for actually quilting my quilt, no way. I have the worst time with stencils, free motion, you name it. I am all to happy to pay someone to do it for me. =)

I must say that it has been over 7 years since I have made a quilt and you are inspiring me to take it up again. Thank you!