Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Summer Improv

Let's face it. Life is something we all make up as we go along.

No matter how much we try to control it or script it, our life has a way of throwing us curve balls and challenges...and often people...that we don't plan for or expect. So why not be realistic and, instead of thinking of bigger and better ways of planning, WE get better at improvising.


I love this book...Improv Wisdom. It's a quick read, chock full of wisdom on how to master the art of improvisation in our own lives...how to loosen up, think on our feet, and say yes to the unexpected...all of the skills needed for living an unscripted life.

I think it was serendipitous that I re-read this book while thinking about my stitching plan for the Summer.

What about no plan? Nothing is better than when we have the opportunity to let Summer take its own course.


Why not drive to the Ocean at the last minute to swim in the waves? Or drop everything to go hear a concert in the park...make a picnic...have a water gun fight...blow bubbles?


Sounds great but how about my stitching routine? I still need to wake up every day to a needle and a stitching ritual...

Last year I came up with Summer Charm School and I enjoyed it very much. And I was glad at the end of the Summer that I had taken time to read some of my books and learn new techniques...many of which I used over and over again in my work throughout the year.

The downside of Summer Charm School was that I "studied" a different technique every week...which required different supplies each week...and then I put the constraint on myself of making them into charms. I spent more time finding supplies and constructing the charm than I did on the actual stitching.

This Summer I needed to create a structure...a ritual...a habit for my stitching that meets the following criteria:

  • Projects must be portable
  • Projects must require finite, simple supplies that I already have on hand
  • Projects must be flexible to time, place and lighting conditions
Funny, Mary Corbet of Needle n' Thread just posted about this the other day...Needlework on the Road?...and it wasn't just Mary's post that I found interesting, but the 92!! comments that she received. I LOVED reading about how stitchers handle Summer and traveling with their embroidery...it was fascinating.


OK. So for me this Summer, I've decided to go improvisational with my embroidery...

I plan to spend each day with my needle...what type of needle and what I will stitch, I'm going to leave up to chance.

I've gotten an old shirt of Jim's out of the closet to stitch on...and a big bag of embroidery floss...so that's one of my canvases.

I imagine it will be similar to the stitch doodling I did on this skirt. I like the idea of stitch doodling.


I also would like to learn a few new beading techniques. So a few beads and some beading thread will come with me to the beach to try out new techniques. I need to figure out how to interpret the pleats in that beautiful dress I'm doing for the Haute Couture beading challenge...

I have taken my Rainbow Shawl back out of the closet for the Summer to stitch on the long drives and at night after the sun goes down and the light gets too low for fine work.

And as for my tambour beading, I've decided to frame up a sampler where I can just sit and play...doodle, if you will...with my tambour hook to get practice. No plan, just stitch and try out new techniques.

And that's it. I hope this blog will keep me honest and on track so that I have accomplished something by the end of the Summer. It just may not be what I plan for...and that's OK.

So, I think I'll try something like...

Monday Mishaps...

Wednesday Wonders...and...

Friday Follies.

So there you have it. I'm relinquishing control and letting Summer set the course for my stitches. And I'll use some Improv Wisdom as a guidebook.


The only requirement is that stitching must happen every day.

And to celebrate the kickoff of Summer, I'd love to send a copy of this book to out to one of you who leaves a comment. I'll pick a winner on Friday, June 25 at midnight.

Who knows, maybe you would like to join me...

Improv anyone?

Tomorrow I'll share my Summer reading list...

Then I'll see you on Friday for some FUN...!!!!

32 comments:

Nellie's Needles said...

Ah, yes, we all know how "best laid plans" can get waylaid. Frustration over the foibles and happenings in life are best handled by "going with the flow".

I do believe in making plans and being prepared for events as well as my projects. Those plans are more like an outline with lots of room for improvisation ... the preparation is more like building a foundation for any number of things to happen or be built up.

Happy stitching! I look forward to your summer adventure.

Anonymous said...

Wow. You're really brave.

I'm not sure I could just leave my stitching to chance, because I have the tendency to not pick it up if I don't have a plan. I need to know what I'm doing, where I'm going next. Leaving it to chance is just too scary.

Many times I have wanted to take that step away from my plans, but I just can't bring myself to do it.

But I'll be following your journey with interest. Maybe you will be my inspiration to finally stitch all those things I have in my head but can't get out on fabric because I don't have a plan. Not that I don't know now to do them, but I don't have a plan. Isn't that silly?

Carol S.

tattrldy said...

Sounds like you have a plan for the summer - very loose, just a plan to stitch. I hope that it goes well for you. I'll be watching for your posts to see how the summer is going.

The book sounds looks very interesting. I wonder how that would work for me? I usually over think things way too much. I'll have to check it out. Thanks for the suggestion.

Carol said...

Sounds like a great book.

My plans never work out, then I just pick up whatever and do it. Yes, I am working on a CQ block...Carol's Comedy, and I am working on a Pants Revolution purse. And I refuse to let the garden and leisure time on the porch make me feel guilty that I have left the projects to enjoy the summer that I have waited so long for to arrive.

Go forth and enjoy the summer with your grab bag of thread and needle and enjoy the freedom!!

Sunny day to you!!
xx, Carol

Kelly said...

Enjoy your stitching freedom. I was talking with a friend in a NAN teaching course and asked if it drove her crazy to put so much time in a practice piece. She said it did drive her crazy but it was necessary for the design process. We all need to learn or improve our techniques so a doodle project could be just the answer!

Debbie said...

Sue, I think if we woke every day to a "plan", life could get pretty boring. I have learned to just let "life" happen as it may and then adjust accoringly. With or without our blessing, ugly things come around so we deal with it. Stitching is like a spa for the soul, don"t ya think?? Debbie (Maine)

Whytefeather said...

I could use a little more grace with improv in my life LOL. Some times it feels as though the rest of my life is improv and my beading/stitching if all planned. I think I may have to remind myself to use your improv plan instead!!
I love the idea of just stitching doodles, less planning... just stitch. I hope you have a wonderful Improv/doodle stitching summer!

PS was very glad to read your update on your friend Jill.

Evelyn and Lise said...

I just received two doodle books from Joggles this morning and can't wait to start.... and I read your comments and think "yes, let go of everything else and just have fun this summer and let loose. Thanks for the inspiration. You always blow me away and I have learned so much from you. As you must know your blog is my favorite place to be and the first thing in the morning I have to check and see what you are up to. Have a wonderful summer. Lise

Catherine said...

My days now that the boys are off for the summer never go as I plan!! And my stitching, next to none recently! I need that book to help me!!

Rachel said...

I'm looking forward to seeing what you do with your summer Improv.

I tend to make approximate plans and then wander off-course as the fancy takes me. The only definite discipline I try to apply is that I will stitch at least five days out of the seven.

Lisa said...

Sounds to me like you have a perfect plan for summer stitching! Love the stitching on your skirt and the wonderful doodle looks like great inspiration too! I've got several small projects going and a couple of them are pretty improv too! Love seeing things come together as they will! Hope you have a fabulous summer of needle play!

Suztats said...

Sounds like a plan! Well, sort of a plan for not planning, lol! I'd love to have a copy of the book so I can be more improvizational. Have a happy stitchy summer!

Patricia Ryan Madson said...

You have made me SOOOOOO happy today. I woke up and your beautiful blog with it's magical photo of Improv Wisdom on your stitching greeted my day. Oh, frabjous day! Thank you for sharing your enthusiasm for my book and even offering to give away copies. Wow, oh wow.
And, best of all, you have really understood what seems like a big contradiction. That is: Don't Prepare, just show up AND Stay on Course. Your purpose (plan) to stitch every day is an important one. Holding to this purpose isn't necessarily at odds with also "seizing the day" and finding ways to enjoy the summer. I am going to post a link to your blog on my blog tomorrow: improvwisdom.blogspot.com
You may already know this book but I recommend ONE BEAD AT A TIME by Robin Atkins. I think you and Robin are kindred spirits.
Have a glorious day. I will, thanks to YOU.

coral-seas said...

Sounds like a plan :-)

Have a great summer, Susan

elle said...

I always have plans but life, i.e. dismal weather, happens so I definitely need some wisdom and improvisational wisdom would be the very best!

susiew said...

Wow ...... do I need that book! Having a husband with dementia is certainly teaching me to "let go", but it's a hard lesson and I'm getting lots of practice. I'll be following your summer updates for pointers on improv! Hope you have a great time.
Susie W

Anonymous said...

It sounds like Playing with Stitches will actually be playing with stitches this summer. It sounds like fun. I'm looking forward to following your adventures.

Penny said...

Loved reading this post and 'improving' via the improv method. I too am setting deadlines aside -- I've wanted to master 'faces' for my figure work, both beaded and embroidered so that's what I'll be doing on these long summer days. They're small so they're portable. I do have plans for them but the important thing is to get comfortable with this new-to-me art form. So bring on the summer and I'll 'face' it with a needle and thread in my hand and no pre-planned plans.

Denise said...

Oy! What a great idea! Pack a container with bits and pieces, thread and needles and then go! I'm personally looking for something to jump start my muse and the title of this book is intriguing to the idea that maybe my muse is playing an improv show and waiting for me to take a seat in the audience!
Cheers, Denise

Front Range Stitcher said...

I'm always gasping for breath when I visit your blog; your energy and spirit are my cardio! Improvisational? Heart to mind to hands, that's you. Loved viewing the links to a few of your older posts, your knitting is done as well as I've seen, and I am very much looking forward to the couture challenge too. My favorite beach in Maryland is Rehoboth; I can smell the crabs boiling and am feeling a bit envious...but in a good way.

Linda H said...

Wow, I'm commenter # 20 - did you buy a case of these books? I too have trouble carving out stitching and sewing time in the summer. It seems gardening, kids, travel and a host of other things take over. I guess I need more discipline.. but then, is summer about discipline? Not for me... If it happens, great. if not, well.. so be it. Life is too short to stress over this...I head off to NYC next Tuesday, may email you with a few questions... Ciao and enjoy the summer...

Judy S. said...

I knew you'd come up with something more exciting than a couple of online classes. So glad you're fishing out the Rainbow! And glad that you pointed me to B.C. They're having craft demos on July 1 and Kristen is going to be there stitching...... We're headed up on Weds. and afterwards are going to explore the Caribou Trail. And yes, some stitching/knitting's coming too.

Bobbi Pohl said...

Do tell more about the painted piece above. It is fun and to the point. I'm doing a long train trip this summer and need to make up some "kits" to work on while watching the USA go by outside the window. I find the problem with portable improv is carrying all the stuff needed for a creative pallette. Improv is my favorite way to go though: hense crazy quilting and Robin's improvisational beading technique. I'm looking forward to seeing your improv results in the fall.

Lynn said...

Well, just got through catching up on your posts - oh what treat it's been!

That Tambour is freakin' amazing. What a technique!

You are truly an inspiration to all of us and I can't thank you enough for your blog posts.

I love that little person lounging in the curve of your doodle.
Looking forward to following along on your journey this summer, wherever it may lead!

sudukc said...

I could use a little more improv in my life...Although I try to stitch everyday, life seems to throw me curves. I would love to win this book but if not I will order my own copy or better yet...take an afternoon off and head for the book store.

Chrsity said...

Wow! I love the idea of improv. I have learned alot over the past couple of years beading with my friend Robin. Yet I like to have a "recipe". Your books sounds like it is a good read and may give people like me more insite to letting go and letting life happen. I admire your bravery and excitement over the things you do or want to do in your life.
I look forward to more enjoyable reading of your blog.
Christy

Stell said...

I to could use some knowledge on improv'ing my life? I love your plans - happy stitchinghttp://www.ravelry.com/deliveries/343085?t=JFXSX72NN53UU3GKFDZGEOA7R1ELYOJ

Sheila said...

Heh, heh, heh! Plans do go astray at times, don't they? Sounds like you will have some unexpected and unusual adventures awaiting you. Did you ever see that movie with Jim Carrey? I think it was titled "Yes Man" or something like that... I always enjoy seeing what you're up to. I loved your summer charm school last year, but I can see how that might be some pressure. Summer should be super relaxing. It's busy enough the rest of the year.

Don't add me to the list for the book - I just got a copy myself, (thanks for the suggestion, it was timely) just wanted to stop by and say hi. I love Stell's pun. Hee, hee. "Improv'ing". Funny.

PS. What do you think of the Steig Larsson book? I've read all three. I thought he was a very good storyteller (or I wouldn't have read them all), but I couldn't get past some of the extremely descriptive elements to put him on my keeper shelf.

As I recall (it was some 20 years ago) Mists of Avalon was good. Do you like King Arther stories?

Allison Ann Aller said...

Hi Susan!
I think having a time set everyday is more important than having a stitching plan (although of course goals and projects assume structure).
This must be flexible of course, but the regularity of it has been helpful to me at least.
I like your other criteria, too.
I know it will be a wonderful, serendipitous summer for you!

Cyn said...

Love the improvisation theme for summer! I'm going to enjoy watching what you come up with.

My improvisation is that I have several projects going on at once. I can then pick up and work on whatever I feel like that night. I enjoy doing this in the summer as since school is out and the kid's activities slow down, I have more time to stitch. :-)

This weekend I'm clearing off my stitching area and deciding what I'm going to work on this summer. Several projects will then be selected and we'll see how I do. LOL!

My fun for this summer? I'm taking my first real quilt class. Lot's of fun so far!

Cynthia
Windy Meadow

tongfengdemao said...

Aaack! I just hate being so behind on my reading. I always miss contests and drawings. Ah, well... I'm going to look at the book anyway. Not sure I need it. I tend to live my whole life rather randomly. A plan would be a change for me!

I look forward to what will be showing up here on your blog.

~Faith
Sew Many Blessings
Needle & Fabric Art

Anonymous said...

Susan--just wanted to let you know that the book arrived today. Perhaps I'll begin reading it during my commute home from work, and find some inspiration for my stitching tonight!

Carol S.

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