Sunday, March 8, 2015

Stitching for Literacy!

When the opportunity affords itself, the members of StitchMAP enjoy participating in philanthropic efforts that involve needlearts of one form or another.  Our group Mom recently received of an opportunity that allows us to join her in Stitching for literacy, which serves a worthwhile purpose and promotes needlework.

Each of our members who wishes to participate will stitch 1 or more bookmarks in the style or technique of their choice for the Literacy Program at Mountain View Elementary School in anchorage, Alaska. 

The school mascot is the Mustang and the school colors are blue and yellow if you want to make your book mark in their colors, but it is not necessary......any color combo in any technique will be appreciated.

We would like to invite our stitching friends to help the staff at Mountain View honor the students who completed their required hours of reading, by gifting them with a new bookmark. In years past they have had the help of a local EGA Chapter but their membership numbers have dwindled and they closed their chapter. The staff has depleted their available supply of bookmarks and are in desperate need. 

Do you have hand-stitched bookmarks looking for homes? Would you be willing to stitch one or more? The bookmark can be of any age-appropriate, non-religious pattern. It can be made with any embroidery technique: cross stitch, needlepoint, crewel, Hardanger, or something else. 

We need the finished book marks ASAP. The distribution ceremony take place in April. We need to mail them by the last day of March.
We would like as many people as possible to use this opportunity to share their stitching talents and reinforce to these young children how rewarding reading can be. As adults we realize it is vital to their future successin life! Yes, the timing is short but . . . you might possibly have a stitched bookmark laying around that is in good condition and not being used. The children would greatly appreciate the reward they have worked so hard to earn. If you have time to put together some bookmarks, anything done in some type of needlework, patchwork, crochet, knitting, etc. will work. Let's work together to help the kids at Mountain View Elementary.
Here are some links to simple bookmarks to help inspire you and get you started thinking: 

Recycled Markers  This is just a button and some scrap fabric...really easy. You could easily adapt it with some embroidery and/or embellishment on a solid fabric.
No Sew Fabric Bookmark  No sewing, just iron-on interfacing, also easily embellished with stitching, buttons or beads.

 Fun and Easy Bookmarks   For CQ fans, a link from a previous Fun Friday Tute

Or, do you enjoy crochet?  Crocheted Bookmark

Bookmarks need to be received by March 28 so they can be mailed to Alaska on March 30.  This will ensure they reach the school in time for their distribution ceremony. Are you up to the challenge?!!  If you can make a bookmark (or 2 or more) in time and you're NOT a StitchMAP member, please leave a comment with your e-mail address so mailing instructions can be sent to you.
If you have a literacy program near you that you would like us to support, let us know in the comments and we can do this again. In fact, if you have a personal favorite charity that could use some assistance from our group with needlework or the collection of something sewing/stitching related, please let us know that in the comments, as well. Projects like these are a great way to send a positive message to the communities we live in that women with needles and thread really care.

Saturday, February 28, 2015

One More Reason

Still not convinced that filling out the StitchMAP questionnaire is something you want to do? Let me clue you into one more enticing tidbit of information . . . 
Those who do take the time to return the questionnaire become eligible to win prizes and surprises!! Quite often fun, stitching-related prizes are offered up for those participating in the Fun Friday Tutes, the Teasers, and other activities on StitchMAP.  

Just this past week, several StitchMAP members, including myself, received a little something in the mail, for participating in the Weaving FFT:
We each received a vintage set of  alphabet transfers and a little something more personalized to our own needlework tastes.  I'm thoroughly pleased with the contents of the envelope I received - it was right up my stitching alley! How'd the "powers that be" know what would be perfect for me? The responses I gave on my questionnaire!  But guess what? No completed questionnaire, no prizes!  What'cha waiting for??!

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Who's Asking?

Long time members of StitchMAP all have one thing in common besides their love of needlework . . . they have completed and returned the Membership Questionnaire sent out by the group's owner when they first applied to join the group.  Why is the questionnaire so important? I'm so glad you asked!

Up until January 2015, continued membership at StitchMAP was dependent upon completing and returning the questionnaire. It's not a test, nor is it terribly long or probing. The information asked for allows the group owner (Shari) to better understand the proficiencies and interests of each member.  There are a few technology-related questions about internet connection and blog/photo stream ownership, as well as a some questions that provide helpful insight  (like are you right or left handed) so that apprentices can be matched up with the best possible mentor.  All personal contact information is kept private, stored offline rather than on the group site.  It is never given out to anyone without your permission, not even your mentor!  
At the beginning of 2015, the decision was made to try dropping the requirement that each member of StitchMAP complete the questionnaire and return it within a certain time frame in order to remain a member. While lurking is not encouraged on this group, Shari hopes this new policy will allow more needleworkers a chance to participate in group discussions that will help them with various aspects of their stitching.  In turn this should encourage them to take the actual Courses.  She thinks that having additional time to enjoy the eye candy in the photo albums and having more chances to see the work that is done in the classes will help everyone realize that there is a lot to be learned by taking a mentored course at MAP.  Shari believes true learning comes from actually stitching and completing the projects done in Courses, LABS and Challenges. With one-on-one mentoring you can expect to receive honest assessments of your work while being offered constructive solutions if problems arise. However, in order to participate in Courses, Swaps, LABS and Challenges (as well as to be eligible for any of the fabulous prizes for FFT's and Trivia Teasers), you must have returned a questionnaire!!

And, for all current members . . . have you moved, changed your e-mail address or phone number? Remember that this is the time of the year that we need to double check and make sure our information is current!!  As any member who has taken a class at MAP knows, Shari does contact class members personally prior to making the final mentor/apprentice assignments for all classes.  Often, it is by phone. How many groups do you belong to where you actually get to talk directly with the group owner to get insight about the group?  It is a personal and private opportunity for members to learn more about the purpose of MAP, how classes are handled and to get any questions they might have answered by the lady who can best explain the StitchMAP philosophy.  She also encourages members to call her or email her whenever they have questions about a technique or project they are currently exploring or working on.  She welcomes input on the quality and content of the classes that are offered.   

So, what are you waiting for??  If you haven't already done so, return that questionnaire and receive *ALL* the benefits of membership!! The only excuse to not turning in your questionnaire is if you're having a . . .
Caroline H.'s Bad Hare Day bookmark - FFT project

Sunday, February 1, 2015

FFT - Progress

Some amazing photographs have hit the Fun Friday Tute (FFT) 2015 photo folder over on StitchMAP!  It's fun to see the results when a stitcher puts his/her own spin on a project!

On this mini-weaving, Caroline W. pulled her colors from Scripture, and then she backed the piece with a long piece of black felt so she could use it for a bookmark in her bible!
Isn't that clever?  Love the color combination!

Ann S. didn't make just one . . . she got really creative and  made THREE!  
Check out the detailing with the beads.  Isn't that nifty embellishing and a good way to use up an odd bead or two from your stash? Ann was also very gracious to walk our members through her process, pointing out the things she did differently as she moved from piece-to-piece. It's always educational when a member shares this way.  It really helps some of us to better understand an artist's process.

And speaking of process, check out this darling adaptation from Suz C.:
Precious, no? The tiny tatted lace flower, the buttonhole lace edge trimming, and bullion handles make this little weaving a darling handbag for a special doll!  If a chain were slipped through the handles it would even make a sweet pedant.

There's still time for you to make your own woven piece! The instructions can be found HERE. If you're a StitchMAP member, make sure you upload a photo of your finished project to the group's FFT 2015 folder. If you're not a member of the group, send a photo of your finished project HERE so we can feature it on the blog. Or better yet, why not click on photo of the little girl stitching on the sidebar and join us at StitchMAP?

Until next time, remember:  any day spent stitching, is a good day!

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Let the Fun Begin!

A famous author once wrote, "What's in a name?" A valid question, especially if the 'name' in question is an acronym like FFT!

Fanciful Fabulous Teapots?  

Frightfully Famous Terrapins?  
Uh, no.

Frivolous Fortunate Terrestrials?  
That would be a big N-O!

How about Fun Friday Tutes?!?  Yes, yes, yes!  It's time for the first Fun Friday Tute of 2015!

This first FFT is a miniature weaving project and everyone on StitchMAP can participate in the making of the project and sharing their photos. If you are not a member of MAP, feel free to participate and share a photo of your finished project with us by emailing it HERE. We would love to share your photos, along with those of our member's, here on the blog after the closing date.  The instructions for the project can be found HERE.

The charm of making this project is simple . . . use up some scrap floss and make a darling piece of jewelry (or a zipper pull, scissors fob or maybe even a book mark), while learning (or reviewing, as the case may be) some basic principles of weaving. It doesn't take much time or effort to make the small version demonstrated, but you could expand upon the idea and try these variations once you have done the small one:
  • Change the width and or length of the weaving
  • Change the fibers to some other type - larger weaving should equal heavier fiber perhaps
  • Mix the fibers up - one for the base and one or more for the weaving
  • Add additional colors in the weaving
Four things Shari recommends when taking on the project (in deference to the needle-arts): 
  1. Strip your floss and lay it back together before threading your needle, so it doesn't twist and will lay fuller and smoother.
  2. Specifically use a tapestry needle so you don't pierce the loom threads as you weave.
  3. Whip that closing edge before adding the jump ring.
  4. Use the proper jeweler's pliers to open and close the ring if you have them. Here is a wonderful YouTube video on opening and closing rings of all sorts:

Now that you have all the information you need, try your hand at one (or two, or three)! Closing for this FFT is February 6, 2015, so you have two weeks to upload your photos to the 2015 FFT Album located on StitchMAP.

Happy weaving!

Monday, January 19, 2015

Farewell to Tom Russell

photo credit
It is with tremendous sadness that we report the loss of StitchMAP member and mentor, Tom Russell. Tom passed away suddenly on Sunday, January 18th, in Arizona.

The Quilt Show, on which Tom was once featured, shared the following:
Tom was a shining star in our midst, with abundant creativity and kindness.
His show #1101 is now open for all to view this beloved artist and man. He will be greatly missed.
Tom was an active member of the StitchMAP design team, always willing to help and offer his talents.  His contributions and advice will be greatly missed.  His love of color, texture and the movement in his designs brought life to the projects he worked on for "his ladies". We were blessed by his generosity, imagination, kindness, inspired by his zest for needlework of all types and graced with his friendship.

Our condolences, thoughts and prayers go out to Tom's family and friends. He will be missed but never forgotten.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

A New Year

January, the first month of the year, seems to be the month for self-evaluation, resolutions, goal-working and change. I'm sure many of us have gone through (or are still going through) that process with regard to our personal lives, so it should be no surprise that some of those same processes are going on in the life of StitchMAP!

First, a major change in the membership approval process. No more will new members have only ten days to complete and return the group questionnaire before having membership revoked. Settings have been changed so that completion of the questionnaire is not required for you to view group photos, participate in chats, join in with your opinion on Talk Shop Thursday topics, peruse the links, files and such. However, in order to participate in StitchMAP Classes, Challenges and Swaps, the completed questionnaire must be returned. You may also participate in Fun Friday Tutes and the Trivia Teasers (but you will NOT BE eligible for the associated prizes unless your questionnaire has been returned and your contact info is on file). Not a member of StitchMAP? It's easy -- click on the picture of the little girl stitching on the sidebar.

Change 2 comes in the way of a more complete Course Catalog! A brand new catalog has been prepared for 2015, filled with Courses, Challenges, LABS and Learning Modules -- all of which are designed to help grow and broaden your stitching skills and abilities! 

Connie K.'s finished journal cover
Fabric Weaving Course
Courses cover the fundamentals of the technique being offered. Each course consists of multiple lessons, with several exercises built into each. With Courses, one-one-one mentoring is assigned and the apprentice submits completed exercises to their mentor prior to moving on to the next. Several StitchMAP courses are prerequisite courses, teaching foundational stitches and techniques. Courses generally last 8 - 10 weeks.

Shari's Victorian Pin Cushion Challenge
Challenges are mini-courses that almost always result in the completion of a fun project. They consist of no more than 5 installments, and generally last 2-4 weeks. The purpose of a Challenge is to give a bit more in-depth attention to a specific technique, overall project concept, a series of stitches or finishing methods. 

Shari's Hex LABS - Celtic Knot
LABS stands for Learning to Build Skills. These StitchMAP offerings consist of multiple, more in-depth lessons on one or more combined techniques. Work done in LABS will result in a finished project(s). Lessons are presented one per month with subsequent lessons provide only if the prior lesson has been satisfactorily completed. LABS generally last 8-15 months.

Modules are a single text of instruction. They result in a finished piece of embroidery, but the project application is left up to the individual. Modules are self-paced. However, like the LABS, subsequent Modules will only be provided if the prior Module has been completed. 

One-on-one mentors are not assigned for Challenges, LABS, and Modules, however, mentoring advice is is available upon request to help you through any difficulty you might encounter with the new stitches, etc..

The 2015 Course Catalog, with details of all of the incredible opportunities available through StitchMAP, is posted in the "FILES" section on the group's site. 

A third change definitely worth mentioning is the blog! We plan on making weekly posts, keeping members (and would-be members) apprised on the happenings of the group and perhaps offer the occasional Teaser--and freebie--or two! We hope you'll check in often, making the most of all that StitchMAP has to offer. Your comments are always welcome -- what do you think of StitchMAP's changes?!