Random Stitches and Commentary

Shop Local

Today I will ship my final consignment package, this one to South Milwaukee, completing my whirlwind of getting stitches out to six local shops.

By “local”, I mean shops in Wisconsin that are owned and operated by “locals”. I know we all try our best to do the right thing, but I just wanted to make that clear after seeing “locally owned” on the placard outside of a west side McDonald’s. I also heard that Macy’s will be adding an Etsy section to one of their stores. Does that seem weird to anyone? I think it’s weird. Anyway, if you are out and about, check out some of these fine establishments on my shop local page.

I have inserted a fancy slideshow below, which is sample of what I have spattered across the state. Go get it!

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2016 Vision Quest

I always thought I was an introvert, but maybe I’m not?

November was a busy month, which included a trip to New York, two craft shows, and a six-day visit from my bestie. As expected, I learned a lot from the shows. I was most nervous about a) talking to people, and b)having enough stitches. The latter didn’t turn out to be a problem, even though there were a few customers exasperated by the fact that I do not stock 27 pre-made Spock tea towels. The talking, surprisingly, was also not a problem. I quickly realized there are two kinds of shoppers pertaining to my product offerings. One type of shopper will stop, stare, tilt his/her head, frown in confusion and walk on, sometimes with a bit of hostility. The other type will glance, do a double-take, smile, laugh, and eventually engage with me. (I’m choosing to leave out the third type, which is usually a middle-aged male, who stops and points at every stitch on my table, naming the subject and waiting for my affirmation. Once everything is properly identified, he smiles with satisfaction and walks away.)

Stitch Boom Bang Booth

It’s the engaging that surprised me. I didn’t expect to feel such a rush of gratitude when someone “gets” me. I didn’t expect that joyous common ground of nostalgia. It felt warm and fuzzy to see so many of my stitches leave in the hands of appreciative souls. Is this what it’s like to “love what you do”? I still think that is a bullshit motto, but I also recognize that I’m a cynical jackass. Regardless, I might not be as introverted as I thought. I’ll always prefer my couch, my partner, my dog, and a box of wine to a party; however, that might just mean I’m lazy rather than shy.

Taking a look back at my 2015 Vision Quest, I nailed all of my goals. This, my friends, is a lesson in keeping a low bar. If your goals are to expand output and participate locally, then it’s pretty easy to feel like you’ve got the world swinging from your nuts. For 2016, let’s step it up a notch.

  1. More shows! Madison, Milwaukee, Minneapolis, Chicago. Applications will be submitted, even if I’m not confident of acceptance.
  2. Local shopping! I’m working to get some stitches available for sale in local shops.
  3. Wide wide world of web! I’m terrible at social media. I have to figure out how to broaden my presence without being annoying.

That’s a pretty short list, now that I look at it in writing. I should add an item about napping more, because I get tired just looking at those three tasks. Again – introverted or lazy? It’s such a fine line.

I end this post with my favorite custom order from the holidays, requested by Dinner is Served 1972 for her mother. As great as this little sampler turned out, it can’t be as great as the recipient for uttering such a truth bomb. Here’s to a kick ass 2016!

Dinner is Served sampler

Little Houses

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I’ve got this neighbor named Ben. He was the inspiration for my RELAX post. (If you want to see him in a half-shirt and short shorts, I highly recommend clicking on the link.) He’s a realtor, and when I opened my shop a little over a year ago, he began commissioning custom tea towels for his buyers, depicting a stitched version of their new home. It’s a clever gift, and as he claims, “it’s better than a ficus”. I should probably adopt that as my motto.

The great thing about these projects is that most of these houses are in my neighborhood. Often when I’m out walking my dog I’ll point to a home and say, “I’ve stitched that.” I also cannot help but look at architecture differently now, seeing buildings in stitches rather than brick and mortar. Although I love stitching all of the pop culture icons of my particular fancy, stitching these houses for Ben has taught me more about lines and perspective than any of the portraits I’ve done.

So here’s a shout out to Ben, for supporting my silly shop, and for broadening my stitching horizons. To get your own, all you have to do is buy a house from him. Madisonians can give him a shout at www.benanton.com. He’s pretty important and has an entire website named after him.

With that said, I also want to mention I will be participating in TWO shows in November. I’ll post more info as the dates approach, but for now, you can follow the events here:

The Crafty Fair – November 15th at the Goodman Center

Craftacular – November 28th at the Masonic Center

There will be tons of crafty shit at both shows, so mark your calendar if you happen to be in the area.

Only Losers Use Kleenex

Many eons ago, when my hat model and I were courting, I made him some monogrammed handkerchiefs to win his heart. Little did I know how much use they’d get, given how he has a clogged nose on a normal day, let alone during the hell of allergy season. At the time, he was a UPS driver, and the hankies came to good use, especially on rainy days when his glasses needed cleaning.

Through the years, he has become a high school teacher, and this fall he embarks at a new school teaching English, Acting, and Stagecraft. Sometimes I am amazed by how far he’s come – when I met him he would not have said “fire” if his ass was aflame, yet now he is teaching teenagers, and an acting class to boot. This calls for a fresh set of handkerchiefs, and anything else he wants, because teenagers are the worst and he somehow handles everything with grace.

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Now that I look at the photo, they don’t seem like much. Still, I get a tiny thrill when I see one of these hankies hanging out of his back pocket, Bruce Springsteen style.

Hall and Oates – LIVE!

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One of my first stitched tea towel sets was Daryl Hall and John Oates, mostly because I wanted to stitch John’s mustache. A year later, I still love stitching them as a duo, and each day my love for their music reaches a new level. With that said, I saw them live last week. A friend requested that I do a “mini review” after the show, so the following is my best unbiased report of the concert.

The show was scheduled to start at 7:30 on Thursday night. They were late hitting the stage, which gave me time to silently judge the audience. I was expecting a mix of Gen Xers and ironic Millennials; however, my partner and I were of the youngest in the crowd, by at least 10 to 20 years. A man two rows in front of me was bald and wiry, wearing a t-shirt that claimed “OLD GUYS RULE” across the back. A woman to my left clanked her dentures on her plastic wine cup and appeared to be at least 83, although her severe anorexia could have added a few unkind years to her facial features. I did spy one youngster who hobbled in on crutches with a broken leg sporting a “Deck the Hall and Oates” shirt, and he was probably in his mid 20s. God bless him, he was standing up and rocking out for the duration. It did finally dawn on me that college students are not likely to pay this much for a ticket just to be kitschy. Buying a dollar copy of H2O on vinyl is a far cry from current ticket prices.

Without much ado, they opened at about 7:45 with Maneater. It was thrilling to hear those familiar beginning notes, and I will likely remember that moment for quite some time. The sound quality for the first few songs was pretty awful though. Hall was motioning to stage left, clearly dissatisfied with the levels. Although, he did this throughout most of the show, so I’d say he’s either a perfectionist or a micromanaging bastard. I bet Oates might have something to say about that if given the chance.

At a certain point, after a couple of songs, they seemed to hit a groove. Then, suddenly, Hall abandoned his guitar station and moved back to center stage to keyboard. This is when all hell broke loose. Let’s take a look at the stage set up:

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John is over on the right, sans mustache, which I expected but it still made me sad. For most of the show he stood there, playing unassumingly and smiling.

Behind Oates was an old guy in a shiny suit. The audience loved the hell out of him. He reminded me of the guy from My Name Is Earl who wanted to be in Jason Lee’s band, Fish Taco. Hence, all night, I referred to him as Fish Taco. (I know that is a random, obscure reference, but it’s worth including even if only one person gets it. If you are interested in joining the joke, find the “Van Hickey” episode of the second season of Earl. You won’t be sorry.)

On the far left is some other guitarist. I don’t know his name, yet he had more attention and jam time from Hall than Oates did, which is total bullshit.

That brings us to center stage, Daryl Megalomaniac Hall, on keyboard. This is when they went into Do What You Want, Be Who You Are and segued beautifully into I Can’t Go For That. Amidst the excitement, Hall began to have a sleeve malfunction. Panic ensued. I could only imagine the curse-out he was giving that sleeve in his head. Goddammit, I am Daryl Fucking Hall you piece of shit sleeve! Get back into place, NOW.

This was a turning point in the show. The crowd had been standing for over five minutes, rocking hard, and they were tired (and old). Hall, despite being 3 to 4 minutes into I Can’t Go For That, showed no signs of slowing or wrapping it up. He just kept jamming. And jamming. And jamming. People began to sit down, essentially waiting for him to move on. He did, eventually, but it was clear that he really just wanted to be at home playing in his backyard with his friends. Oh, wait…he does that every day on Live From Daryl’s House, and we can all watch it for FREE online.

A few other observations:

  • Hall loves to touch his hair, flip his hair, stroke his hair. He loves his hair. I wanted to jump on stage and put a headband on him.
  • There was zero banter between Hall and Oates on stage. They appeared to tolerate each other and play their hits, as a means to an end (getting paid).
  • After playing for maybe about an hour, there were two encores. Lights out – clap clap clap. Two songs. Repeat. Oh, the games we play.
  • I know my expectations were unrealistic, but I really hoped they would bring Kevin Bacon on stage and play When the Morning Comes. I also hoped for a cover of Backstabbers. Neither of these things happened, although they did do a cover of You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feeling. I’m not crazy about that song, but the aforementioned anorexic 80-year-old nearly snapped a vertebrae she was grooving so hard to it.

My review probably sounds less than glowing, and if I were more impartial, I’d say the show was mediocre at best. Still, was it worth it? You bet your ass it was. I wouldn’t have missed it for the world. I also want to mention, Thursday night was close to a full moon. The bike ride from downtown to my near-east home, fireflies flashing in the periphery, was a wonderful end to the evening. More than anything, I was thankful to be following my partner in crime, who was equipped with a headlight, because if he’s not there to share everything with me it’s as though it never happened. And that is the sappiest shit you’ll ever get out of me, because I can’t go for that, no, no, no can do.

Sale!

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A few weeks ago, someone on Facebook asked me to remove one of my posts that included a reference to Dicks by Mail, a site that will send a bag of candy gummi dicks to anyone you choose, anonymously, for a mere 15 bucks. I felt is was my duty to inform my half-dozen Facebook fans of this service because a) it’s fucking funny, and b) I would LOVE to get a bag of dicks in the mail (hint hint).

Now I am having a sale in my Etsy shop using the coupon code DICKWEED because a) it’s fucking funny, and b) I laugh just thinking of someone out there typing “DICKWEED” during their check out in my shop.

There you have it. I am a simple person, with simple pleasures. Go take a look at the shop. Type in “DICKWEED”. It will make your day.

Peg Board of Awesome

Sometimes a girl has got to get her shit together. For me, that time came about a month ago when I noticed how much of my stitching stuff was strewn about the house, from the coffee table to the stairway, even in the bathroom.

Because I can’t do anything in a simple, easy way, I decided to switch our office and bedroom to give myself more room. All of this was also very deviously planned around a blank wall space where I plotted a magical peg board that would clearly change my life.

BEHOLD…THE PEG BOARD OF AWESOME…

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And my new stitching station in its entirety…

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So neat! So tidy! Don’t you want to sit down, have a cocktail and make something? Well, that’s the idea, and we’ll see how long this lair of organization actually lasts. I wish I had a “before” picture to give you an idea of what a hot mess things were before this make over. Just imagine a chest-high pile of yarn, thread, and tea towels sprinkled with sequins. That about sums it up.

By the way, you can’t see it, but there is a sketch of Liberace on that table. Stay tuned for some bedazzled fun.