Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Spool Hands

Has this ever happened to you?

It looks like the spool dropped its drawers, doesn't it.

Well, look what I found at the fly fishing store...

These little elastic spool huggers.

They're called Spool Hands and they were invited by a guy named Bob Sutherland in 2003.

Not only do they keep unruly threads and wire from running amok, but they also have this nifty grommet opening which allows you to dispense a length of thread or wire as you need it.

No re-winding spools or trying to secure your thread while you work.

It really is a time saver and the best little invention ever!  It's right up there with the Uncle Bill's tweezers I posted about the other day.

I bought mine online from J. Stockard Fly Fishing and they're currently on sale.

Maybe Bob and Uncle Bill knew each other!

I'm getting ready to go into mass leaf production for Mrs. Rose's roses...

My leaf palette of Gloriana Tudor Silks arrived the other day from Needle in a Haystack so I'm all set.  I'll be away from my Japanese embroidery frame for the next few days so I'll be leafing instead.

Maybe the trees around here will get the message and push for Spring.

Happy Nifty Gadget Day!

Monday, February 23, 2015

Mid-Winter Matsuri

Nothing gets my adrenaline going more than finding a group of people who are just as passionate about something as I am...

Then partying with them while surrounded by the objects of our passion...

In this case...lots and lots of Japanese embroidery!

My teacher Tonie held a Mid-Winter Matsuri (matsuri means "festival" in Japanese) at her home and studio...

Where we all brought our embroideries to share...

Both finished, framed pieces...

As well as works in progress...

Some upper level students stitched in the morning...

Imagine an embroidery art show where you can actually pick up pieces, spending as much time as you'd like studying how they are stitched...

Honestly, it's enough to give a girl heart palpitations!

I'll just be quiet now and let you drink in some of the details...

I'm sorry I don't know the names of all the pieces but they are all designs from the Japanese Embroidery Center in Atlanta.  If you'd really like the name of one piece, send me an email and I'll find out for you.

And I haven't even shown you one third of all that was there...

The picture below shows a cover of Nuido, the Japanese embroidery journal published by the Center four times per year...

Did you notice that the embroidery in progress below the journal is the same as the photograph on the cover?  Don't worry, I didn't either until I was uploading the pic today.

My favorite pic of all from the whole day is this one...

This is one of my fellow hope-to-graduate-in-October classmates, Dianne,  and she's holding the completed Sake Box embroidery in her hands...that's the same piece I'm working on now but it's finished.  

I've printed out the pic and put it at my workspace to inspire me toward greatness.  

That's what being surrounded by folks who are better than me does.  It lifts me up and spurs me on.

That's good because my goldwork has been slow going.  Worth it, for sure, but still slow going.

Happy Inspired Monday everyone!

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Tracking Time

I am long on ideas and short on time.  I only expect to live 100 years.  

Thomas Edison said that but it might as well have been me.  I have been trying to create more time in my creative life... 

Deadlines help.  Alot.  I have three pieces of Japanese embroidery to complete by October which is no small feat.

I've committed to stitching two hours per day to accomplish that goal.  The intention alone has helped to improve the total amount of time I spend stitching.  I wake up early on days when I know I'll be busy or I stay at the frame longer one day if I know I won't be able to find time to embroider the next.

I also got myself a buddy...a fellow student in my class who is also trying to graduate in October.  We text each other to support one another and help keep ourselves on track.

Both of those things have helped my productivity but the tool I started using over the weekend has been a total game changer.  I am loving it and I just have to share.

It's a time-tracking app on my iPhone called Toggl.

You can download it for free from the App store.  Like many apps, they have a more robust application that you pay for but the simple one is working quite well for me.

Many of my fellow Japanese embroiderers track the time it takes to stitch their pieces, some for insurance purposes.  I am often asked by friends how long a project takes me to stitch and I usually have no good answer.  Well folks, those days are over!

Over the weekend I went looking for an app that could keep track of my time across all my projects.  I found this article which reviewed a number of apps...many of them were for tracking billable time or invoicing...neither of which I needed.  I narrowed my choices down to two, ATracker and Toggl, and found that I liked Toggl best.

When you first open the app, you press the timer "Start" which takes you to a screen to designate your project.  Below I have Sake Box listed but I could add a New Project if I was starting one...

Once I touched Sake Box, I'm asked "What are you working on?"

I've been entering "Goldwork" because I would eventually like to know how long the Goldwork takes me.

Here you can see the cumulative totals I've spent on Sake Box - Goldwork over the course of a few days...

Toggl will track your total time by week, month, year and its reports feature lets you look at total time spent by project.

I am absolutely thrilled with this new tool...I just might have to add my iPhone to my list of essential needlework tools.

I hope this helps you find time for your own projects.

Have a good Time!

P.S. Thanks to onthevergeofsnapping and Andrea D for finding these two articles about Uncle Bill and his tweezer invention: here and here.    I found it fascinating in this story that Uncle Bill's tweezers almost didn't get made.

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