Still around … but without my mojo (& March WIPocalypse)

Well, it seems my mojo has totally deserted me over the last month or so – I haven’t touched a needle, literally, in over a month!  Work stresses and personal stresses have just seen my head too cluttered to stitch … while normally stitching would bring me relief at times like this, it had reached the stage where the thought of stitching just felt overwhelming for some daft reason.  Instead I’ve been spending lots of time on my laptop checking out stitching websites and just being generally lazy and doing ‘nothing’.

As for work, I still have a job but there are lots of people who have been in the company for many years that I worked with really closely that have now left, and they still haven’t worked through all the levels of the company yet, so many more heads yet to roll.  Even though I know my job is safe, it’s still very disconcerting and upsetting while other colleagues and friends still wait for the decision affecting them.  They haven’t given me much time to ponder it, though, as I was given a new ‘project’ to work on with an exceptionally tight deadline, so it’s been back to working 14-hour days again over the last couple of weeks, and next week will be “the week from hell” where I’ll be planning to pretty much sleep there for the week!!  At least now we’re back working closer to home I know I can be home in 20 minutes at the end of the day, so that’s a blessing if nothing else.

And as for today … well, would you believe it, today I’m going to FINALLY break that mojo curse, and I’m going to pick up my needle and do some stitching to try and get back into my stitching routine.  I have a huge list of TV shows I need to watch on my DVRs (so much that one has stopped recording because the memory is full!!), seeing as I haven’t been keeping up-to-date with it much, so that’s a perfect excuse to chill out at home with the TV on and my stitching on my lap 🙂  It will be interesting to see how much I can get done this weekend after not doing anything for so long!!  Here is my skimpy progress on Fern since my last WIPocalypse post, which was done a month ago now in the last week of February …

One good thing, though, is that I’m being forced to take annual leave and long service leave before the end of June … as I can’t afford to go anywhere, that means having 3 1/2 weeks of leave between now and then … I think I just may enjoy a couple of 2-week leave blocks around the home lazing around stitching – there’ll be no excuses not to get my mojo back then, that’s for sure!!! 😀

UPDATED TO ADD:  Oops, I forgot that the question for the March WIPocalypse was where our favourite stitching spots were … I have to admit since my new flatmate moved in he’s pretty much taken over the lounge and my favourite stitching spot in there is no longer my favourite unless he’s gone out for the weekend … instead you will now only ever see me sat up in bed doing my stitching, so this is now my favourite (actually I’ve always enjoyed sitting up in bed stitching, anyway, so it’s no hardship!).

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My stitching mojo is AWOL

The last couple of weeks have been quite stressful … while there have been highlights that have been really positive, there is the underlying stress at work as the company I work for makes some big decisions on reshaping the business drastically.  This of course means a lot of jobs are about to get axed or restructured, and we’ve already been given the hard line to expect that our team is going to be hit badly along with everyone else.  While everyone is still continuing along with their day-to-day business, and taking on new work etc, there is still that underlying ‘tension’ that is ever-present as people leave and positions are not filled, and you witness numerous meetings being held with the most serious faces you can imagine.  This is the 3rd time I’ve experienced this since moving to Sydney, and this is perhaps the biggest one we’ve faced yet … and quite frankly it is a bit emotionally draining continuing to witness the events and still keep working hard and trying to ignore the atmosphere …  I keep trying to tell myself not to think about it, as the outcome will be out of our hands either way – and stressing over it isn’t going to change the outcome.  I guess either way, we’ll all find out over the next week or two whether we still have a job (albeit a very different one, no doubt) or whether the grim reaper has arrived at your desk and has come to help you pack up your belongings.  In no way do I feel badly towards my employers though, it’s something that they really do have to do, and probably should have been done a long time ago … and I’ll continue to feel proud to work for them and support them in whatever decisions are made … but from a personal perspective, it’s obviously unsettling for now …

Add to that I’ve been just generally feeling really run-down thanks to my B12 deficiency, it’s lead to a very ineffective week’s worth of stitching – I’ve just not been in the mood to stitch whatsoever over the last week or two.  That mojo that was going great guns has just dwindled down to nothing … which is not good, seeing as I have my pixie that I wanted to give as a gift to my penpal in the first week of March … have a strange feeling that’s not going to happen, especially as I’m missing 2 skeins of Kreinik #4 braid and 2 packets of Mill Hill Magnifica beads!  I still have a couple of canvaswork threads that need to be posted by Nordic Needle (they were on backorder since before Christmas), so I’m going to ask for those to be added to my order seeing as I’m already paying an exorbitant price for shipping from them!  Then it really is a case of being really frugal with money for the rest of the year where stash is concerned … plus I’m going to go through and try and sell off a lot of my stash that I know I won’t stitch – I’ve already managed to offload some charts for a song through an Aussie Facebook group, but there is still lots left that I need to get rid of, so I guess I should finally learn how to sell on Ebay and get rid of them!

Anyway, enough of the doom and gloom … here is the progress so far on Fern by Nora Corbett … pretty sad really!  Here is the before photo from my WIPocalypse post, and how she sits now …

On a more positive note, however, I put my hand up to volunteer at a recent CEO Cookoff charity event – it was an amazing night and I really enjoyed the opportunity to help out and see the joy on the faces of the guests and feel like you were making a difference to their lives, albeit it for such a short time.  There were about 900 guests who are predominantly from homeless shelters etc, and some well-known local chefs donated their time to cook for the guests, along with some high profile CEOs (including our own) cooking as well and who raised funds through sponsorship for the event.  It was incredibly hard work, but incredibly and exceptionally rewarding – and I’d do it again in a heartbeat!!  I’d be happy to wear my red “Community Champion” shirt again with pride!!

February WIPocalypse

It’s been a reasonable month for both stitching and blog posts … probably the most regular I’ve been in quite a few years!  Who knows how long it will last for, but I’m enjoying it so far that’s for sure!

As for my stitching progress, here are the progress piccies from the last month’s efforts, and comparing how they looked last time vs this month:

First up is a new start, which is a gift for someone if I can get it stitched up quickly enough!  Unfortunately, though, I just noticed a mark on the fabric so it’s off to spend some time in a tub and hopefully it will come out … if not, I guess I’ll be ironing up some new fabric and starting again …

Fern by Nora Corbett

Fern by Nora Corbett

And my other WIPs/new starts were:

And then there were a couple of new starts that were also finishes:

All-in-all it was a pretty amazing month of stitching … my work department moving closer to home again is doing wonders for my productivity, that’s for sure!!

And now this month’s topic:  “Topic: How many projects do you generally feel comfortable having in progress at a time?  Tell us about your one-at-a-time or rotation habits!”

I have to admit the high number of UFOs I have has started to bother me in recent years, so I’ve been making an effort to slowly work through them.  I’m starting to become more of a one-at-a-timer, but then when I get bored with a project I tend to just stop stitching, or I put it down and never come back to it again because I feel burnt out with that particular project.  This year I’ve tried to be more disciplined and have gone back to a formal rotation once again, and it’s really working on the whole.  I have 10-11 project slots, with a Focus Piece slot every 3-4 slots so that I can focus on one project to get stitched up more quickly (generally assigned to one of my BAPs or SAL commitments).  I’ve managed to stick to my rotation really well so far, although I’ve just decided to start a new gift for someone that needs to be stitched up really quickly before we meet up in early March, so my rotation has been temporarily put on hold.  It’s funny, though, I already miss my rotation and the discipline I’d built up, and I’m almost ‘resenting’ this project because of it … isn’t it funny how our minds work?  So far I’ve managed to finish up one old UFO this year thanks to my rotation slot and being disciplined … I’d like to see another 1-2 of my UFO list joining the finishing pile this year, but either way I’m just doing to enjoy working through my stash pile on a regular basis! 😀

As a matter of interest, here is my “rotation tub” … all of my projects are on their own scrollbars or Qsnaps, and sit in order of being stitched, along with their chart/threads in a plastic envelope or mesh project bag … this really helps me to keep organised during the rotation and I’m not running around each 10 hours trying to find the next project kit …

My rotation 'tub'

My rotation ‘tub’

More Angel of Love

I managed to finish my current rotation slot for Angel of Love today, after taking the day off work.  I was originally going to work from home today after having my latest cortisone injection in my foot, but it wasn’t particularly pleasant today and it started throbbing quite early on when I got home … I sent a note to my boss to tell her I was going to curl up in bed for the rest of the day, and ended up cheering myself up on and off with a bit of stitching.

Angel of Love by Lavender & Lace after 30 hours of stitching

Angel of Love by Lavender & Lace after 30 hours of stitching

Quaker Christmas II commences

I managed to complete my rotation slot for “BAPs”, and my project choice is Quaker Christmas II.  I’ve managed to finish almost 1 page of the design – considering there are 12 pages in total, it won’t be finished any time soon!  It would be nice to have it finished before Christmas, but it’s unlikely …  Here it is, though, at the end of the first rotation slot:

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It’s stitched on 35ct Parchment linen by WDW – can’t say I’m a fan of the fabric, and the silk thread doesn’t give the most perfect coverage, but it’ll be fine, I think.

My next rotation slot is m Focus Piece, so it’s back to Angel of Love for now … I still don’t have the mental determination to kit up the wedding sampler that I need to stitch, so I’ll just continue on Angel of Love until I feel motivated enough to finally suck it up and drag out the thread box and potential fabrics!

2nd Finish for 2014

In readiness for completing the hardanger band on my Crimson Fire Sampler, I decided it would be wise to do a ‘refresher course’ on hardanger first, seeing it’s been so many years since I did my actual beginners class!  I rummaged through my ‘small project’ rotation filing box and managed to find the appropriate Beyond Cross Stitch kit by The Victoria Sampler.  Added to that I also dragged out the book by Janice Love called “Hardanger Basics and Beyond” for some extra clear photos and descriptions.  This book is without a doubt an absolute god-send for the basics of hardanger!!

Anyway, I finally put needle to fabric, and managed to start and finish this little sweetie in a day (4 1/4 hours of stitching to be exact … gotta love the stopwatch function and a timed rotation!!).  My woven bars aren’t perfect, as I still need to work on my tension a tiny bit … but overall after not doing hardanger woven bars for about 20 years I can’t complain really, and I’m pretty chuffed with it!

Victoria Sampler-Christmas Heart Beyond XS 5-3
“Beyond XS 5-3 Christmas Heart” by The Victoria Sampler
Stitched on 25ct white Lugana
with kit threads and beads
Started 26 Jan 2014 – Finished 26 Jan 2014

I was getting a bit tired by the end of the day, so I opted not to do any more hardanger last night, but instead did an hour on another “small project” for my rotation slot … leaving me with another 5 hours to go.  This is the ‘pale colourway’ of the Thistle Needlerolls by M Designs (I stitched the vibrant colourway before Christmas).

"Thistle Needleroll (pale colourway)" by M Designs Started 26 Jan 2014

“Thistle Needleroll (pale colourway)” by M Designs
Started 26 Jan 2014

I forgot that I’d meant to stitch up Lizzie*Kate’s Cross Stitcher in Residence in my small project rotation slot this time round, so the poor old needleroll may end up looking like that until the next rotation.  I have to say I wasn’t enjoying stitching it last night, so that’s not necessarily a bad thing!!

Angel of Love progress

Last night I put a few stitches into Angel of Love, and today I managed to stitch the entire day and finished my rotation slot for this project.  She’s coming along quite well, I think.  I prefer to stitch her without the wings, to make her more like a ‘regency lady’ of some sort … but I’ll decide at the end whether to leave her this way or to stitch the wings on.

Once again, it’s a crappy photo taken with my iPhone at 1am … not a clever thing to do, really!!

AOL26Jan2014

WIPocalypse January

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Well that wasn’t a very good start to the WIPocalypse year at all, was it?  Already late with the first post for the year!!!  I need to update my calendar with all the dates, I think!  I also haven’t been doing too well over the last few days with my stitching either … although I managed to get through quite a bit last weekend.  I’ll get to that shortly … first I need to do my ‘official’ WIPocalypse introduction post … to be specific I need to “Introduce yourself, your projects, and any goals you have for the year!”

This is my 3rd year of doing the WIPocalypse, and in truth I don’t intend to spend the year just focusing on my WIPs … I DO intend to work from my substantial chart/kit stash, however, and will only buy additional stash this year if I’m missing threads etc to kit up my projects.  This year I’m also going back to a formal rotation, of which I have 10 rotation slots, and stitching allocations of 10 hours per slot (with the exception of the “Finishing” slot, which I’m allowed to just do 5 hours … but no less than 5 hours!).

The main projects I really REALLY want to finish this year are some commitment pieces, some UFOs, and those designs I’ve already spent a bucketload of money on to kit them up (eg specialty threads etc).  In particular I’d like to work on the following, irrespective of seeing them finished or not by the year’s end:

  1. Angel of Love – L&L (hope to finish this one)
  2. Quaker Christmas II – ByGone Stitches
  3. Egyptian Garden Sampler – Chatelaine
  4. English Garden Sampler – TW (hope to finish this one)
  5. Elie’s wedding sampler (hope to finish this one)
  6. Miss Valentine Fairy – Nora Corbett/Mirabilia (will finish this one easily)
  7. Christmas Elf Dairy – Nora Corbett/Mirabilia (hope to finish this one)
  8. Cross Stitcher in Residence – Lizzie*Kate (will finish this ASAP)
  9. Eiffel Quaker – Jardin Private (will finish this one)
  10. Poppy Pixie – Nora Corbett/Mirabilia (will finish this one ASAP)
  11. Crimson Fire Sampler – The Victoria Sampler (almost finished with this one)
  12. Christmas double flip-its – Lizzie*Kate (hope to finish this one)

Anything over and above those projects will be icing on the cake 🙂

My rotation is already making some great inroads into a few of these projects – Crimson Fire Sampler has been a sadly neglected UFO since the 2011 Crazy January Challenge … after 10 hours working on this one last weekend I was so close to a finish that I extended my rotation slot by another couple of hours.  Now I’m just left with the hardanger band left to do, and it will be my first UFO finish of the year … woohoo!!  Following is how it looks now, before completing the hardanger band … hopefully I’ll get a better photo over the weekend in daylight, and I’ll be taking the photo of the finished article!!

photo 1 (2)

The only other news I have is that I saw my GP today for the results of my nuclear scans … there is no stress fracture, however the heel pains that I’ve had for so long have been putting extra stress on the rest of my foot, and it showed more arthritis in my foot, which is exacerbated by the plantar fasciitis.  As my heel pain has been returning quite quickly again, I’ve got another script for a cortisone shot under ultrasound yet again … but my GP is also now referring me to an Orthopaedic Surgeon to review surgical options.  I’ve got to give my GP his dues, he’s really trying to get to the bottom of it all, bless him … which I’m not thrilled to have the potential of surgery in my near future, I WILL be thrilled to finally have an outcome that will see me walking normally and without pain every single day … will have to wait and see I guess …

More Crimson Fire

No stitching for the last few days, but today I’m making an effort to do a bit more on my Crimson Fire Sampler … geez this is such a pretty design when it’s stitched up!  The chart photo doesn’t do it justice whatsoever, and probably neither do my photos!!  It’s certainly challenging my stitching abilities at the moment, as it’s been such a long time since I’ve tackled tricky specialty stitches, but oh boy it’s so worth all the effort!  Thanks to Thea Dueck/The Victoria Sampler for such a stunning design!!

Crimson Fire 18Jan2014

My nuclear scan on Friday didn’t seem to reveal a stress fracture, so it’s back to the drawing board again and back to my GP again next week … but in the meantime I’m enforcing myself to put my feet up for the entire weekend to rest my foot up … which means lots more time for stitching!!! 😀

It’s been a quiet week stitching-wise this week … it’s been too damned hot most days, even with the electric fan blaring … although I did manage to get a sum total of 3/4 hr stitching done on Tuesday night.  This is how Crimson Fire is looking now, at almost the half-way point in my rotation slot for it.  I did the teeny tiny (but quite pretty) gold sheaf stitch band with red beads and the lettering … oh well, every stitch is one step closer to a finish … slow and steady as she goes … 😉  This is a better photo colour-wise than the previous one, as it shows the fabric and threads more true to life 🙂 Crimson Fire 14Jan14

I’m hoping to get another hour done tonight if I can stay awake long enough!  I didn’t get much sleep last night – once again probably partly due to the heat, but also I was really quite anxious about having a bone scan done today at the Nuclear Medicine lab.  The scan was to check for a stress fracture in my left foot, as it’s been very uncomfortable since having my last cortisone injection in my heel … although the inflammation and discomfort has all been at the front half of the foot.  I needn’t have been worried, though, as the injection I had to have before the first scan was really similar to giving a blood sample (although perhaps a bit more uncomfortable) – and the scan was nothing at all compared to the MRI I had to have the last time at that hospital.  They did one set of scans before sending me away for 1 1/2 hours and coming back for the final set of scans.  It seems they didn’t find any clear stress fracture at all, which is good in one sense as it means not having to have a plaster cast or moon boot for 6-8 weeks, but it does of course mean that we still don’t have an answer as to the cause.  Oh well, back to the GP I go again next week – next stop (unless he thinks of something else) is to go speak to someone about special orthotics and/or special shoes … but I guess I’ll know more next week!

In the meantime I thought I’d share my rotation system that I use for my rotation – I’d mentioned this in a Facebook group I belong to, as someone asked what I did, and one of the ladies asked if I could do a PDF version so she could print it off and use it herself.  Anyway, I thought someone might find it of interest if I post it here too (I may have posted something about it years ago, but perhaps it’ll be useful to someone … or not … haha).  Zeb had also been asking questions about how people organise their lives, and I guess this is just part of my own organisation (my Day Planner is a different story and would need a post of its own, if I ever get around to that!!).

Rotation 2014 example

I have one document (on the left in the above photo) where I plan possible future projects that I’d like to stitch within a set rotation slot (obviously I had to decide on the 10 rotation slots first, which is the number I decided on this year).  Then the page on the right is what I use to actually track my progress within each slot.  I found this easier than using a spreadsheet, which some people prefer to use … I have different sized ‘blocks of 10 blocks’ on different pages, aimed at the different size of the projects in my rotation slots.  For example, I only have 3 blocks of 10 for the small-medium sized project slot, as most of those projects should be finished in under 30 hours of stitching.  I have a separate page printed for each rotation slot, and record the details of the project at the top of each group of blocks (I’ve also started scribbling the fabric type and stitch count of the project too in the side margin).  Then each block of 10 represents 10 hourly slots – I mark a “X” in the box once I’ve completed an hour of stitching … or just “\” if I’ve stitched half an hour.  Once I’ve got a block of 10 boxes with crosses I pack up that project and put it at the back of my rotation project tub, and put the rotation page to the back of the pile, then pick up the next in the pile/in the tub.  It may not work for everyone, but it certainly works for me 🙂 You can download my blank pages if you want to try it yourself … just print the page that you think would suit you the best … I put the rotation number and heading at the top of the page when I complete mine.

And on that note I guess I’d better pull my finger out and stop being lazy, and I should get another hour done on that rotation slot so I can move onto something less taxing on the brain cells … 😉