Friday, November 14, 2003

Enjoying Someone Else’s Designs...

Last night, after a full day to myself to get some work done and sort through the piles that are trying to take over my office, I decided to get out the piece that I took to retreat last weekend. It is called SNOWMAN, by Sisters and Best Friends, featuring a cheery snowman in a cap, some garlands, patterns and the words “Just Add Snow”.

As I write this, the first few flakes of some snow are falling outside after torrential rain yesterday. Funny how temperatures can change so quickly, isn’t it?

I think that one of the reasons that I am enjoying this design so much is that I am like most stitchers now... I have all the pleasure of seeing how much better it looks in my hands that in the photograph. ( Designers have to deal with the frustration of knowing that you can never get it to look quite like the model!) I am also enjoying this piece because the colours are so very different that the ones I normally use in my designs. There is a certain fun and wildness about stitching the teal next to the purple and red to see something jump out at you. I am feeling like I did when I first started stitching “I’m just going to see what this next little bit looks like....”

Yet, having watched the incredible speeds of some of the stitchers in Toronto, and some who work for me, there is also the knowledge of how slow my hands go some days. Since I am a slow stitcher, I tend to take comfort in being neat and taking pleasure in what progress IS made , rather than how fast I am progressing. Thank goodness for talented model stitchers to help! I think the only way Nick and I ever turned out the designs we did was to stitch stuff in tandem and for me to stay up until midnight on a regular basis for me to get the models done!

I almost felt guilty stitching on something “just for fun” last night... which made me giggle. Though I come close sometimes, I hope I never see designing as a J..O..B! Hard work perhaps.... but never just a job!

Wednesday, November 12, 2003

Why are Good-Byes Always Hard?

The house seems so empty now. I had to get everyone off today, including my Mum and John as they headed home. Erin was almost in tears at the bus stop... Bethany was a little easier to coax because their Cairn Terrier, Maggie, came in to see her class at the daycare when we dropped Bethany off and gave sloppy puppy kisses to the kids.

No matter how grown up I am, part of me wishes my Mom lived in the same city as me. I am lucky enough to have a great relationship with her and my stepfather, John, has brought so much love, music and silliness into our lives that I wish it could happen more often.

Yet, I also love this city and where Nick and I have chosen to raise our family and be part of a community... just as my sister has done in Vancouver and my brother with his wife in Switzerland. When you love a place, it is hard not to want to stay there... but I can’t help wish that all my family were closer. At least on a day where I have just had to say goodbyes.

I am sure that there will be some “Nanny Hangover” with the girls over the next few days, but I will just try to be more patient with them, struggling to keep that post-retreat glow and serenity about me.

Today there are orders to ship, orders to pack, a model to get to the framers, a publisher to contact, paperwork to handle and a nice, quiet house in which to do that... at least for the next few hours. I’d better go make a dent in the piles!

Monday, November 10, 2003

The Sheer MAGIC of Cross Stitch Retreats....

It’s like a magic potion... getting away to the cross stitch retreat this weekend has put so much bounce back in my step that I have to be careful when I go through the doorways! (bonk! bonk!)

I don’t even know when it really began... as I was picking out a project that WASN’T mine to stitch on for the weekend and packing up my stitching box? When I got into the car with my friend Sue to drive up to retreat and the two of us just had a chance to talk on the 35 minute drive out of town? When I stepped into the cozy lodge and saw so many familiar faces already stitching and chatting away? I could literally feel the tension drain from my body.

Friday night is fun because the possibilities are endless...there are old friends to see and chat with that I only get to be with twice a year at these retreats. (Some drive over 14 hours to be there!) Since most of the “stitching circles” had already been set up by the time Sue and I got there, we put our stuff up on the stage. I faced out towards everyone, because as a tall, nosy dragon, I like to see what it going on. At one point in the weekend, one group got the giggles and told me later that they suddenly realized if aliens had landed among us to observe the scene... they would have though I was the Leader! LOL!!! Sue and I were tired enough from our weeks that we headed off to bed before 11 pm... but at least we’d set up our “nook” and started on some stitching.

Saturday is my favourite day of the retreat. I get to sleep in until at least 7:30 or 8:00. Since the accommodations are all bunk beds and I tend to hang over the end a bit too much, I take one of the mattresses and put in on the floor with my cozy sleeping bag... but by that time of day, someone usually trips over me getting up or I have to pee! When I wander up to the main lodge, there is the smell of a breakfast that I don’t have to cook and the pleasant sound of chatter as we all try to squeeze in some stitching time before breakfast.
This year, there was not only a craft sale at the nearby craft hall, we also held one amongst ourselves. What incredible talent in one small group!! Not only did I pick up some wonderful Christmas presents early, I even ended up with a stuffed animal for myself! The knitted bunny was intended for Bethany...but I tested it out Saturday night and now it is mine. (Mine! Mine! Mine! à a seagulls in Finding Nemo) Amid all of this on Saturday morning, there was also plenty of time to stitch. Many of us braved the icy wind after lunch for a brief walk... some took naps... some of us took a “make your own cards” workshop after supper.. drew names for fabulous door prizes... stitched some more... nibbled on the delicious late-night snacks etc. The evening was even capped off by the fact that there was a lunar eclipse of the full moon that was visible right outside the main lodge (we kept running in and out because it was just so darn cold out there!!) Saturday night ends up being jammie night too... as everyone tries to stay up and get a lot of stitching and giggling done. (can you say “Milk Factory”? Do you have a pink flamingo on your Dazor? Were you in the “fruit n’ toot corner”?...sorry.... just inside jokes for those who were there) By the time we all head off to bed on Saturday, the twinge of regret has started to seep in. Tomorrow will be our last day together for 6 months.

Sunday mornings are actually a little bit earlier than at home. There is a time of fellowship in the morning that I never want to miss. After breakfast, there are door prizes to finish and a wonderful ornament exchange to draw for. Most of us are still stitching on the fabulous “quick 20 minute project” that Elizabeth has created for all of us with our registration goody bags. As usual, I complicate my life considerably by trying to design my own thing. Thank goodness when I mess up and twiddle with it, no one else knows what I thought it was going to look like! Lunch comes all too quickly and then by 1 pm, most of us are packing up and heading off after many hugs and “see you next retreat”s.

What is the single, magic ingredient? I’m not sure it is only one. There are so many stories of courage among the women who attend. Tragedies and triumphs... chances to smile at shiny engagement rings... moments to hug in sympathy and support... time to miss those we have lost to cancer.. Retreat is like a wonderful piece of needlework with all its special stitches, dark and bright colours, and magical threads. We may only see the one thread that we bring to the event, but it weaves into a beautiful design when everything is combined.

Even with all the e-mail to answer this morning and tasks to do, I am refreshed and restored by the weekend and that will linger with me, along with the fun memories, for many weeks to come!