Friday, December 29, 2023

Plans, Hopes, Dreams...

 Do you make New Year's Resolutions?  I don't -- any more, that is.  Haven't for years.  That said, I've often written in this blog about my susceptibility to "Startitis" -- both in September (the start of a school year) and now, as we move from one calendar year to another.

This year, for the first time, I'm going to try to corral that "infection" by jumping on the WIPGO bandwagon.

"What's WIPGO?!" you might ask.  It's...a process for working on ones WIPs (Works In Progress) in order to finish them -- or at least make some progress on them -- throughout a given year.  

It's 'founder' is Jessie Marie, who created it some years ago now, in order to manage her cross-stitch WIPs.  It's a flexible game, really, that's adopted from Bingo -- and uses a 25-square "board".  You assign either projects or processes or categories of project -- or whatever you want, really -- to each square.  Each month -- on the 25th -- Jessie Marie "calls" (posts) two numbers to be worked on in the following month.  They're called about a week before the end of the month so you can prep your projects ahead of time -- the better to accomplish whatever your goals are for the month.

You might be able to tell that I've put both cross-stitch and knitting on my 'board'.  No quilting?  No spinning?  No rug hooking?  Nope.  I don't have a plethora of WIPs for any of those crafts.

If you want company, or advice, or encouragement, there's a Facebook Group (you have to answer questions to join) and there's action on Instagram (but I don't do Instagram so you'll have to look for it there yourself).  

Here's a link to her "how-to" video from 2022:

I found both of these resources very helpful when setting up my first "board". 

The mantra for the process is "Your board; your rules."  Some folks discover it doesn't work for them, and that's okay.  If you're a first-timer, though, you're encouraged to try it for the year before you decide whether or not it suits your practice.

And of course, just because only two board numbers are called each month doesn't mean that's all you work on!  Heck, no!  Work on any and all of your other crafts, hobbies and practices.  After all, there are 28 to 31 days in any given month (and 2024 is a Leap Year so February has 29 this go 'round) -- you can decide to work on a project for "100 stitches" or "300 stitches" or "3 days" (and a 'day' is what you say it is -- five minutes or 12 hours!) 

I've decided that when a number is called, I'll work on a project in the designated category for 7 days during the given month.  I decided to use categories of project rather than get specific, because I have 19 cross-stitch WIPs and 16 knitting WIPs, and some fall into more than one category.  

For January, the numbers 9 and 22 have been called. 

Looking at my 'board' -- photo above --  "9" is designated "Full Coverage"!  I've only one of those, which I began...oh...some twenty years ago (give or take).  Entitled "Bag Ladies", it came as a kit from Sunset Counted Cross Stitch of Reading, PA.  The pattern cover indicates it was designed by Braldt Bralds -- or perhaps more appropriately, used a design based on one of his paintings or illustrations -- and was kitted up for stitchers in 1999.  It included a large two-page pattern, all the floss, a needle and a  piece of 16-count grey aida.  

When planning my WIPGO board, I dug it out -- only to discover some sort of weird rust-coloured stain on a portion of the fabric!  Having stored it carefully (I thought) in a cloth tote, and having no recollection of having spilled anything on it, I'm at a loss as to what it is.  I tried soaking it in my eco-friendly laundry detergent and warm water.  No visible change.  Tried again with blue Dawn in slightly hotter water.  Ditto.  Scrubbed with a soft brush and mild hand soap.  Maybe it's a bit lighter.

And then I took a close look at what I had left to stitch.  Lo and behold, I think the remaining stitching will cover most -- if not all -- of it up!  Here's what it would look like finished:

Photo source: Pinterest

The red bag with the feathery tail at the upper right will cover quite a bit -- as will the rest of the bags and cats therein!  And the background is only partly bare fabric -- there are stitches all along the top, creating shading and dimension.

With my love of cats, and the fact that I'm just starting the second page of the pattern, how can I not finish it -- or at least, try to?!

As for square #22 -- that's "Monochromatic".  I have two stitching pieces that fit that description.  One is the Holiday Countdown 2022 from Evertote and Modern Folk Embroidery.  I decided to stitch it on a piece of fabric in a gorgeous red, using a creamy perle cotton from Caron.  Both are from deep stash:  

That said, my start was so small that I didn't even photograph it!

My second monochromatic WIP is the one I really want to return to, especially seeing as the 'holiday' season is drawing to a close.  It's a Carolyn Manning design from her "One Color Wonder" Collection: "Peace":

I'm stitchiing it on a piece of 28-count pearl grey linen that I got from a sale table somewhere.  It has no identifying maker, but it also hasn't the trade-mark orange stripe in the selvedge that would say "Zweigart".  It's perfect for this project though, and suits my choice of thread perfectly, to my mind.  I'm stitching it with a single strand of a hand-dyed tencel yarn (!) that I bought at the vendor's market at Olds Fibre Week last June; it's in a variegated purple:

Dyer/vendor: Trail Yarn
Colour-way: "Badass Babe"!

Preparing my WIPGO board gave me a great opportunity to track down all my WIPs -- including some which were tipping into the UFO category.  The  Mystery shawls fit that bill, along with a pair of socks that had succumbed to Serious Second Sock Syndrome:

One piece that's probably not going to get on the board is "No Winter Lasts Forever" from Silver Creek Samplers.  That's because I'm planning to finish it this weekend!  

I'm not following the "12 x 12" event closely, but I'm going to stitch like I am.  For one thing, I won't get home from church before noon on December 31; for another, I'm in bed by 9 p.m. and sleep through the entry of the New Year!  But I expect to have a good six or seven hours in which to stitch, and "No Winter" will be part of that (if it isn't finished even before that!)

All I have left to stitch is the snow, my initials and the year at the bottom!

Pattern: No Winter Lasts Forever
Designer: Silver Creek Samplers
Fabric: 28-count Pewter from Picture This Plus
Floss: DMC and a bit of Weeks Dye Works

Another item that probably won't make the WIPGO board is a sweater I'm knitting for a just-turned-18-months-old little girl  -- the granddaughter of a long-time friend, who lives in Ontario.  

Pattern: "Wee Lima"
Designer: Taiga Hilliard
Yarn: Berroco "Vintage" in "Black Cherry"
(from stash)

As you can see, I've only a portion of a sleeve to knit -- and it'll be finished except for sewing on the buttons (See the large stitch holder, shaped like a safety pin? That's where the buttons go!), sewing in the ends, and washing/blocking it.

Now little Sophie -- the future recipient -- also has a new baby sister, Ivy (2 months old).  She'll be getting a little crib quilt.  I made the top last March and when I learned of her arrival I decided to quilt it up for her.  Here's a photo of the top:

Pattern: "Chandelier"
Info: see my post HERE

Note that neither of those projects is on the WIPGO board.  That's because I've classified them as Priority Projects because they're gifts -- and will be finished come heck or high water, WIPGO or no WIPGO!

Speaking of gifts...being who I am, and being who my friends and family are, I received some lovely yarny and stitchy gifts for Christmas and "just because"!

My son's partner gave me a gift certificate for a southern Alberta indie yarn dyer -- Arcane Fibre Works.  His colours are fantastic -- but his yarn base is all extra-fine merino.  His prices are reasonable but I was hoping for a skein of fingering for socks.  And y'all probably know by now that unless colour palate is an issue, I won't make socks from high-grade merino.  They don't wear well.  They might stretch/slouch more than other socks.  They pill.  And they might felt -- even if they're super-wash treated.  Oh -- and feet don't need socks that soft.  Never test sock yarn on your face or neck. Your feet aren't that fussy!!

So...I've got a colour-way in mind but will reserve a purchase until I can afford (even with the gift cert) two skeins for a shawl.  (And yes; two skeins will equal free shipping -- at least in Canada.)  I'm willing to bide my time...

My friend Mary W. gave me two balls of yarn.  This is admirable, because a) she doesn't wear wool; and b) she doesn't knit!  (True friendship: supporting a friend's passion even when you don't share it!)

She gave me a lovely ball of German sock yarn (NOT 'extra-fine merino' -- the Germans know their sock yarn!) in one of my daughter's favourite colour-ways.  And my daugher?  She's always up for a pair of sturdy, well-wearing, hand-knit-by-Mom socks!  So...her January birthday prezzie is taken care of!

She also gave me a ball of 80% acrylic (!)/20% wool yarn from James C. Brett -- a lovely UK-based company.  The colours are similar, but the yarn is clearly for a shawl or something cozy; it has a 'halo' that makes it look like mohair but there's no mohair to be found in it.  And...I have a friend who suits this colour palate (she has auburn hair and complexion) maybe this will become something for her.  Hmmmm....or given to her -- because she knits.  She knits shawls (and I found a pattern for this yarn).  Prayer shawls, even.  Hmmmmm....the possibilities!

Isn't it delicious?!

Yarn: "Shhh" DK (but it's more like fingering)
Supplier: James C. Brett
Fibre: 80% acrylic, 20% wool

I'm not lacking in stitchy gifts, either.  Today I had lunch with my friend C. (we do this every 2-3 weeks -- two-hour lunches at Mae's Kitchen here in Mirror, AB.  Food and friendliness par excellence!)  She had a major reno to her home this past summer (don't ask; it wasn't planned!) and now is putting things back where they should go.  In the course of doing that, she's sifting and sorting her "stuff" and gave me this beautiful book: Sampler & Antique Needlework: A Year in Stitches.  It's available on (and probably "dot com") for a pretty reasonable price but oh!  The treasure of it!

I managed some years decades ago to procure a couple of the original magazines by that name, which used to be published quarterly, but I wasn't aware of this book.  The publisher of the magazine is/was Phyllis Hoffman, and she published the book under the company called "Symbol of Excellence Publishers, Inc."  That title is appropriate -- even as I gaze on the cover of the book, having yet to open it and go through it.  C. is a stitcher too -- but she knows how I've fallen in love with reproduction samplers, and so this is a very special gift honouring that affection for this genre.

And then...the piece de resistance!  My friend A. is a quilter known for her album quilts and the beauty of her applique and hand-quilting.  She also knits and stitches, and is a lot of fun to be with.

This year, she gave me the most delightful, exquisitely executed gift for Christmas.  I have it out on the table in my living room, where I hang out to stitch, where I can see it.  It's useful, yes, but the artistry and detail make it so very special.  The pattern is from the "Block Party Series" from Hands On Designs; this one is "Meow".  A. knows I'm a Certified Cat Person...with an Elder Grumpy Cat and two 6-month old she paid tribute!

I just had to show you the top and all four sides (the bottom is plain but for her initials and the date):

Her stitching is par excellence, because she never does anything by halves.  💓

And now, my friends...I've spoken of plans and gifts -- but what about hopes and dreams?

My hopes for 2024 are too numerous to list, but in the main consist of these:

  1. "They will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war anymore." -- Isaiah 2:4 -- that the lust for power and dominance globally, nationally, regionally, locally and within families disappear and be gone forever.
  2. That the US doesn't fall into fascism; 
  3. That in all times and all places we can -- as Fred Rogers' mother instructed -- look for AND FIND the Helpers.  May there always be helpers.
My Dreams? a concrete sense, I've only one.  It's far smaller than my plans or hopes.  I long to return to Scotland...just one more time.  I have a friend -- Anne H. -- who is willing and eager to come with me.  Both of us knit.  She crochets; I do a bit.  She weaves; I do not.  I spin; she doesn't.  We both walk.  And we are on a wait list to be notified for the registration to sign on to a Knitting/Walking Tour of the Shetland Isles in 2025.  

I may never go home (to Quebec) again this side of heaven (though I'd like to do so too) but if I get to walk the isles, experience the sheep, the scenery, the skills of the knitters there...oh!  That's my Dream.

All that said, I told Anne recently that if I never made it there, I'd not die disappointed.  Sometimes the Dream is enough.

And so, Gentle Readers, I close this with a message of thanksgiving, and hope for you all: that you will find your space, your purpose, your calling.  That you will know the peace of God (however you understand that) that passes all understanding.  May that Peace enfold you, enable you, inspire you, encourage you and bring you to where you need to be for your own equanimity and for your giving of who you are and what you are to others -- a light in the darkness; a safe haven in the storm; a quiet centre in the whirlwind; a refuge.  May you be given the resources to do and be so -- and may you know that you are held in love in the Everlasting Arms -- however you understand that to be.

A bientot!



Kate said...

I love that pin cushion with the cats. The top with all four little faces is the cutest parjy, I think. There is love in every stitch.

Have a lovely new year.

Barwitzki said...

Great projects you do in handmade...I especially love your beautiful cross stitch...what great patterns you create. I'm excited.
I got the knitting needles out again for a while now... I've been sewing a lot lately... I'm looking forward to finishing a UFO :-)))
I wish you all the best for 2024... and most of all I hope you make the journey to Scotland. We have Scotland planned for 2025, but I live just around the corner - in Germany.
All kind wishes to you from Viola