Thursday, April 22, 2004

Of Harmony and Discord...

Choir practice ran late last night at church, so there wasn’t time to really jump on and blog. I am going to be singing the very low notes of a trio piece on Sunday and it was great fun to hear my voice blending with 2 other women, but whenever one of us would hit a sour note (as does happen now and then) I was far more obvious of how discordant it sounded than when I was singing with the whole choir. There were also moments when all three voices blended so well it was a pleasure that gave me goose bumps.

Funny how little things like that get the gerbils in your head going (you know... the ones on the squeaky wheels that are always churning ideas around back there even when you are trying to fall asleep?) I found myself thinking about how stitching projects can be like that... moments when everything flows so well and you see a design really coming to life that you get all caught up in the magic of it... or times when there is a mistake to unpick/frog, something goes wrong or an accident happens to the piece (grape juice, pet accident etc.) and what had been a symphony of colour and design feels more like a howling chaos or noise and notes.

Designing can be like that too. There are some moments when a design jumps to life as if it was meant to be and others that require far more work to be birthed into the world. I am working on some fun ones right now, lost in the harmony of watching new things come to life, but it doesn’t help when one of my favourite authors drops a captivating tidbit in my lap to distract me!!!

I devoured my way through Mercedes Lackey’s JOUST in the past 48 hours, moments snatched while e-mail was downloading, files were saving, bank lineups were moving like molasses etc. This book made me fall in love with taming dragons in a way that hasn’t happened since I first discovered the Pern books by Anne McCaffrey. Since most of my collection is in paperback, I’ll have the frustration of having to wait for the second novel to finish its time as hardcover... but I know it will be worth the wait. What fun to wander into a world of someone’s imagination and see all the detail they have come up with.

Now back to creating things from my own imagination!

Tuesday, April 20, 2004

Stitching to Barry Manilow....

OK... I have a confession to make. Sometimes I love the fact that I can “work” while watching a favourite show, such as American Idol, and still feel like I am accomplishing something. One of the reasons that I think I ended up being such a crafty person (as in making things... not as in sneaky) is that I loved to have something to show for any time spent in front of the television. From drawing and quilling to macramé, beading, stitching or knitting, I need to be able to see that what select time I do spend watching television still has something tangible accomplished.

Tonight’s theme was the music of Barry Manilow which I have always loved, despite sometimes being teased royally by friends in high school and later in Fine Arts. One sitcom back then even featured a stern English butler muttering the line “There are two things in this world I cannot stand... a woman’s tears and Barry Manilow!”

I considered myself LUCKY to see him in concert at the Montreal Forum in my late teens and still remember what a great show he put on. Hearing the new spin put on some of his classics tonight ranged from thrilling to painful (depending on who was singing) and a real nostalgia trip.

Hmmmmm... I guess since my old cassette tapes are getting pretty worn out, it will be time to hunt down some CDs of his music to add to our collection so that I can introduce Bethany and Erin to his timeless music. One thing I know for sure... I will NOT go on-line to download any of those classics, because I respect the man and his musical gifts enough to want to make sure that I don’t cheat him out of any money he has rightfully earned!!

Monday, April 19, 2004

The Magic of Retreats...

I’m back from a truly wonderful weekend up at Camp Wildwood with the most amazing bunch of ladies. This was the 28th retreat (they are held twice a year) and though our numbers were smaller than the fall version, 57 of us still had lots of giggles, stitching and fun!

Friday’s weather was horrible with snow and sleet. It certainly wasn’t as bad as anything the brave gang heading to Myrtle Beach this year faced, but since the fresh snow was covering up some of the muddy areas, a few cars got stuck on the camp roads or getting to the cabins.

The main lodge was toasty warm with a fire going by the time we all got our chairs, tables and lights set up in our little circles. My friend Sue and I were up on the stage again this time. It’s a fun place to site because you can look down and have a great view of what people are working on. It’s only about 8 inches higher than the floor...but I’ve always known that a few inches can make a BIG difference!

The food was fabulous again and WAY too tempting! One of the best parts about being away at this retreat is that the meals are all prepared for you, so you can just concentrate on stitching, napping, relaxing, going for a walk, chatting, reading or all of these whenever you feel like it.

I often get a chance to sit at one of the picnic tables and do some designing. This retreat was no exception. When I design up at retreat, it hardly feels like work because I am surrounded by such creativity and laughter. Many of the ladies had fun peeking at what ornament will appear in this year’s JCS Ornament Issue ahead of time. I also finished one of the designs that I plan to launch in Columbus, so that needs to get off to a model stitcher as soon as I transfer it into the computer! It was also wonderful to see how far one of the ladies has gone with her own dream. Tracey had some marvelous button embellishments for the little craft sale we had at the fall retreat and has since gone on to not only produce buttons to sell to shops, she has even designed two amazing patterns that feature her products. I’m sure that stitchers outside the Maritimes will be hearing about Fiddlestitch Cottage as she continues to build her dream. Now if I can just get Debbie to put her gorgeous cross stitch bags on Ebay....

Saturday and Sunday were gorgeous weather. The sun and warm temperatures melted the new snow and I got out for an hour long power walk. Saturday nights are fun because we all try to stay up as late as possible to get stuff done before the “last day”. That’s when we do all our door prize draws and get into silly things like glow-in-the-dark glasses or bad jokes. Sunday mornings are bittersweet. We share a time of fellowship and stitch almost frantically, knowing that after lunch we will all pack up and head home. Just before lunch we do a gift exchange and it is always amazing to see how creative stitchers can be. The fall retreat is an ornament exchange, but in the spring, it is a stitched item, so we had everything from pillows and bookmarks to scissor fobs and candle wraps. We even raffled off a stitched bag that many of us had worked on to raise almost $200 for Cancer research.

It was such a restoring and recharging weekend. It is almost impossible to describe a retreat experience to someone who has never been to one, but I know that I always come back feeling more in love with stitching than when I left, more inspired than rested and more thrilled that this is actually part of what I do for a living! If only it weren’t 6 months until the next one!!!