Tips for becoming a better designer.

A long long time ago I found this list of tips for becoming a better writer. I would like to improve my design skills. With that in mind, I am adapting the idea and making a list for my own use. I will try to keep the list to no more than 50 items. Clearly, the other commitments in my life, will not allow me to do all the items on the list. However, I can use it as inspiration for how to best make use of my free time.

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Keep Calm WIP update

Slide1We are back at home, luggage is unpacked and we are shifting back to our normal daily routine. Only slowed down slightly by my eldest daughter having caught a stomach bug. Fortunately the bug left as quickly as it came and tomorrow its back to normal daily business.

I’ve just finished reading Written in My Own Heart’s Blood by Diana Gabaldon and thats left little time for stitching. There has been some progress on my Keep Calm bookmark despite my compulsive reading over the past couple of weeks. The front of the bookmark is finished, I am happy with the design but need to adjust its placement in the chart.

I am now working on the back, which is a garden labyrinth. I’ve come to the conclusion that the 2 don’t go together as well as I would like, so if I release this as a chart for other people to stitch I am likely to come up with something else for the back. However, I can not tell you how much fun it is to stitch the labyrinth… I can not wait for this evening to get back to it.

Happy Mother’s Day and Keep Calm WIP

imageWe’ve had quite an eventful and busy week. Some scary moments like when we had to take my youngest daughter to the hospital after a fall (she is now fine) and some truly magnificent moments of fun… hiking, laughing and sharing good food with great company.

I did find some odd moments to stitch. Like now, I just finished packing for the next part of our holiday and everyone is sleeping. I’ve been saving my little serving of Bowmore Gold Reef single malt whiskey and 2 squares of dark chocolate all night so I could enjoy them mindfully at the end of the evening. You can’t see the chocolate in the picture because I ate it already… The whiskey, I am sipping slowly, it’s so smooth!

I don’t make a habit of drinking… And specially not of drinking and stitching. However, some occasions call far a little something special.

The picture also shows my current WIP, which is also my latest design: Keep Calm and Read On. It’s a nice easy stitch… Perfect holiday project.

Happy Mother’s Day to all the mums out there. Hope you make the time in your busy day to truly enjoy a moment for yourself. Those are the moments that re-energize you and allow you to see the beauty in everyday life.

Stitching on holiday

imageThis week my stitching place is the stuff of dreams. Beautiful view, great light during the day and a lamp for when it gets dark. A fireplace to keep me warm – there is actually snow outside despite it being May. Between the view and the fire, it’s a wonder I am getting any stitching done at all.

Lately I have been working on keeping life simple. With that in mind, instead of bringing a larger more complex project with me on holiday I went with something simple and easy.

For my project this holiday I am working on the model for a bookmark. My stitching packing list was:

  • Pattern
  • Aida
  • The 3 colors used in the project
  • 1 contrasting color for the grid – I could have brought only the 3 colors but the habit of using a contrasting color for the grid is too ingrained in me.
  • 3 needles – somehow I always break needles
  • My trusty scissors – I make sure to pack them in the checkin luggage
  • Dental floss – not only good for keeping my teeth and gums healthy but also great to cut threads if I want to stitch on the airplane.


Since it’s a small narrow and stiff piece of Aida I don’t need a frame. This is such a change from past trips when I brought along large projects with complex charts and many color changes. In the end I didn’t stitch at all because it was too much trouble to get my project out and set up.

This time, it all fits in a small pouch and I can easily carry it along with me wherever we go… So I am actually stitching whenever I am in the mood for it!

Ubuntu – Finished!

DSC00372Its been a long time since I’ve had a finish of the stitchy kind… Today changes that. This morning I finished my Ubuntu bookmark. Just in time to use it on my holiday!

The front of the bookmark has the Zulu word “Ubuntu”. Meaning human kindness, compassion and the interconnectedness between us all. If you you want to know more about it, you can read about it here.

For the back I wrote the words “we are one” with a rainbow coloured background using assisi work. South Africa is the rainbow nation after all.

This was such a simple design to make and an easy stitch… yet it is so meaningful. ❤


ubuntu previewUbuntu is a beautiful word from the Xhosa and Zulu people of South Africa. It can be simply translated as human kindness and compassion. However, it is so much more than that, it includes the principle of connectedness: ‘I am what I am because of who we all are’.

The images and news coming out of southern Africa right now are just the opposite of what ubuntu means. I can only hope that soon tempers will cool down and peace is restored to an area of the world that is so close to my heart.

I felt compelled to create a chart for a simple bookmark with the word Ubuntu. For the back I have decided to chart the words “we are one” outlined in the rainbow colours. Each time I use the bookmark, it will remind me to be kind and compassionate… and that we are all connected in this little blue planet we call Earth.

Once I have stitched it, I intend to make the pattern available to anyone that wants it for free.

I end this post with one of my favourite quotes from Nelson Mandela, one I hope the people of South Africa will take to their hearts:

“No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.” – Nelson Mandela

Easy win – Checker Alphabet

Its been a rough week at work and I had the flu to boot and I am dreading next week. I needed an easy win last night to get me in the mood for the weekend.

A browse through my old designs and WIP charts and I found that it wouldn’t take much to finish the chart for the Checker Alphabet. So thats what I did, finished it and released it on Etsy. Its not perfect but its done.

Thats the first of the 6 patterns I would like to release this year. Small happy dance!IMG_3216

Belle SAL

IMG_1650One of the benefits of the return of my creative energy is that I finally completed the chart for the I Love Cross Stitch sampler. This sampler is only available to a small group of ladies in the Belle SAL group.

I will be forever grateful for the patience and the support that these ladies gave me while they waited for me to get my act together and finally release the pattern.

Now that it is released, it is so much fun to see what the sampler looks like in all the different colour schemes which my fellow stitchers have selected. I can barely wait to see what all the finished pieces will looks like… and what modifications are made to the sampler!

Towards the end of the year, I plan to release a slightly modified version of the sampler that will allow more people to stitch the sampler. The modification I will make is to replace the quote “I cross stitch and I’m not ashamed of it” with a different quote… I have a couple of different options that I am considering. I’ll let you all know once I have decided. 🙂

A Fresh Look

screenshotlg1After 3 years of inactivity, I feel inspiration returning. It is too early to tell if this new found creative energy will stay or if its just a fleeting moment.

Ever the hopeful, I have given my website a fresh new look using the Sketch WordPress theme. I am delighted with this minimalist layout which allows me to easily showcase my designs and to maintain a blog.

Over the next few months, I would like to get back to journaling about my design experiences and the simple joys of life. If inspiration and motivation stays with me, it will be great to create some new designs and share them with you.

Image credit: the picture used in this post is from the Sketch theme description.