Thoughts on challenges

Warning: Trying to access array offset on value of type null in /home/inamin5/public_html/ on line 295

Thoughts on challenges

OK settle back for a cuppa as I have collated together the key points people made about the destash- declutter challenge idea. Even though I had a lot comments and responses and many people said they were up for it I think the idea does not have enough pep and zing for most. It may start off OK but I can see it floundering into the year.

People are agreeing but not energised about the idea. Perhaps at the moment I don’t have enough pep as it is the end of they year and a busy time here. Remember our academic year runs form February to November so we are just about to hit our exam period now and that means work for the likes of me. Then Christmas hits us.

People did not like the weigh in idea as it was too much work for many. Reading through the comments many interpreted the idea as meaning you could not work on your own projects. I must have not made myself clear that decluttering for me involves working on projects, de-stashing, finishing UFOs, Wisps just about anything that people wanted to work on really, just writing about it once a week. A sort of getting things done challenge.

I know that I do not have the energy to propose another weekly challenge for a while at least, and a monthly challenge feels dicy too. People have dropped me the odd email asking what we would be doing next year. So I started looking for a long term adaptable and flexible challenge that could run over a year.

I am waiting for another idea to pop into my head. I usually get my best ideas while in the shower or doing the dishes – well the dishes are done and I stood in the shower this morning till I looked like a lobster (yes I like a hot shower) but nothing popped into my head. I just got philosophical (see my previous post)

Perhaps I am a little challenged out at the moment but over the next few weeks I will give it a bit more thought and see what I can come up with. Perhaps others like me are challenged out too.

Some people want a really structured challenge but structured challenges often exclude many people and they are a lot of work for the person running it. I am not a theme person as others always seem to come up with much better ideas than me when it comes to themes. I am just the wrong personality type. If we do a challenge we are looking for something that lots of people can adapt to their situation or their interest yet has enough zing to it that people get energised about. As usual I am open to comments.


  1. Oh my gosh, finishing one UFO a month could last a year for me. I have been so stressed at work, I haven’t even stitched in three months! I miss my creative energy and I have sorted a pile of UFO’s to finish to make myself feel good about myself and to undo that creative block that has hung over my shoulders and on my back for months now! I finally have managed to make one little trinket for my cousin’s birthday over these last three months and it is now belated. My only promise now can be you’ll get it before you turn a year older! Her response was to send me a box full of a rainbow of fabrics! I am truly blessed and finally with the cold winter upon me, the last of the tree’s fall leaves twirling slowing around me, am I finally able to imagine stitching again! My wrists are healing and my block seems to be less heavy upon my heart. So UFO finishing- one a month is totally an inspirational calling for me. But, my projects are ranging from wall hangings, journal pages, memory quilts, fiber art, CQ projects like a table runner, and then the collections of fabrics and threads that were gathered together for new projects. Eclectic at best…My craft area has been dumped upon for many months now, and seriously needs a makeover!

    Laura Lea
  2. Although I haven’t been participating with TAST like I did at first, I have continued a little bit here and there — it’s showing up in my flickr pictures, although not yet in my blog. With that in mind, my ideas toward a challenge would be to take the TAST stitches (or the 100 stitches library) and focus on a group of them at a time for a month. This could be done via a block of the month, wips/wisps, or even a destash challenge (try to use what you have rather than buy something new). Since for me, TAST was a learning experience — I’m new to embroidery/cq — just doing one stitch was more a matter of mastering the one stitch than seeing what I could do with it. But I’d like to continue that pattern of learning some stitches and then playing with them together.

    For the challenge you could suggest a group of stitches that might work together well — via the 100 stitches? or through something you are working on yourself as part of the challenge — and then see what people do with them. There is always the option to change the group of stitches as well, if that’s the direction their playing takes them.

    Anyway, that’s my idea.

  3. I know you haven’t established you new challenge yet, but I wanted to let you know that your WIP, WISP, and UFO thoughts have given me my own challenge for the coming year. I’m hoping to create a list of all my UFOs and see about finishing some of them up. I have already dug some out and started working on them again. I look forward to seeing what you all do for your challenge and I will be quietly(probably) blogging about my own progress.
    Thanks for the gentle nudge.

  4. Hi Sharon,
    I’m not one of your TAST girls (although I printed off each weeks challenge and am keeping them for reference) I just didn’t think I would see the year through with it and admire the perseverance of those who did.
    I’m currently moving into a new craft/sewing room, uncovering so much stuff that I’d forgotten I had and the urge to declutter and use said stuff is very strong.
    I’ve been thinking of somehow documenting the move on my blog (even if it is just as a warning to young players – how did I start off with an empty house 37 years ago and get to this state!!)
    – I’ll be interested in taking part in your declutter challenge – which ever format you decide, sorry I haven’t got any ideas I can add at the moment.

  5. What about a challange to use stitch combinations? For instance, a herringbone stitch with wheat ear, button hole with detatched chain, and so on. Combinations are endless, and it would be interesting to see how they are interpreted by different stitchers.

  6. Hi
    I’ve loved TAST and was feeling sad that it was coming to an end – so I would love to take part in another challenge. I am not a quilter – but would love a theme based monthly project that I could work on in textiles – colour/seasonal/stitch variations are all good ideas. Sorry not to have posted for a few weeks – I’ve been away and now have family staying – but I’ll be back soon and will catch up. I’m very excited at the thought of a new shared challenge. I am also interested in your courses Sharon and was hoping to do sumptuous surfaces next time it is run.

  7. How about specifying a flower to be created with stitches? Everyone has done roses and the most well known ones, but some of the others, esp. wildflowers, could be interesting to see the variations of stitches used.

  8. I like these ideas bouncing around for the challenge a block/project a month idea is firming and is flexible enough to include people who are not crazy quilters.

    The idea of using something from TAST, 100 details or the stitch dictionary would also fit perfectly as one of my goals is to try and document more stitches for the stitch dictionary as I would really like to be able to offer it to people in a CD format. I don’t want to be tied to a weekly task of getting them online as I am pretty busy and dropping other tasks to get it done will interrupt the flow of work but I could attempt to filter them throughout the year into the challenge. People could choose to use the new stitches or not.

    A challenge like this would also mean I get more WIPs into this blog. I am pretty bad at it as I always forget to take photos. For instance at the moment I have 7 blocks embroidered but not yet beaded which have all been stitched recently.I also have two small sample panels used for teaching done but no one has seen them! I am sue people think I talk a lot and stitch little but it is not the case.

    Tenar – there s no reason what so ever that you could not host a challenge go for it challenges are fun and I am all for other people hosting them too it not only challenges the individual but strengthens the community. The more activity the better!

  9. Great Idea Sharon and Kate. I think such a challenge should be monthly rather than weekly, so you can chose topics that would be a bit much for a weekly challenge. And it won’t matter that much if Sharon isn’t providing exact instructions and samples, because we all have enough time to inspire and teach each other.

    In fact, I was thinking about hosting such a challenge myself if Sharon want to host another one. My idea was to do a monthly challenge. I thought about announcing several related stitches and one design topic each month, this would give people enough to do (and pick from) no matter if they prefer just trying things out or using that stuff in real projects. But I’m still working on which topics I want to do in what order, and samplers for the first ones and such. I’m not yet sure if I’ll be ready to start on the first of January, so I would of course be glad to leave the job of running challenges to you, Sharon. And of course, I have no qualification whatsoever for teaching people embroidery, so probably I shouldn’t.


  10. Kate and all – i like Kates idea as it still includes a ‘call and response’

    this is hte bit I am refering to
    “I also had an idea for a loose challenge. It could work with a number of mediums and styles. Simply but, the challenge would suggest a design element to use each week or month. If you already have a project going, just share what you are working on. If not, then try out the challenge idea to get you motivated. Some ideas for a weekly challenge could include a color or combination of colors, a shape, a seasonal theme, a mood or emotion (cheerful, comforting, silly), etc. Sharon wouldn’t have to work up a new sample for each idea. There are plenty of sources online for ideas that could be pointed out.”

    what do people think?

  11. I like the thot of a specific theme, like “color” with no care about what the project IS.
    The list of charities we all work for could be just that…..a list in a database, with addresses and needs. I could contribute a couple.

  12. I like all the ideas bouncing around for next year’s challenge and will participate in any of them. I will be continuing my personal challenge of finishing projects started or planned before taking on new ones and also pulling supplies from stash for old and new projects. New stash has to work with old stash to round out a current project or be an especially excellent bargain to just become added stash.

    I also had an idea for a loose challenge. It could work with a number of mediums and styles. Simply but, the challenge would suggest a design element to use each week or month. If you already have a project going, just share what you are working on. If not, then try out the challenge idea to get you motivated. Some ideas for a weekly challenge could include a color or combination of colors, a shape, a seasonal theme, a mood or emotion (cheerful, comforting, silly), etc. Sharon wouldn’t have to work up a new sample for each idea. There are plenty of sources online for ideas that could be pointed out.

    I also updated my blog with a couple more tast stitches.

  13. Most people seem to have a pet charity that they sew or craft for…comfort dolls, caps for preemies, blankets for homeless shelters..things like that. I’d enjoy reading what people have made for such causes, and giving the names and addresses of the charities, and what sort of items they need, might inspire us to think of ways to use our stashes that hadn’t occurred to us before.

  14. Hi Sharon,

    I’m a total failure in the TAST arena, life just really got busy for me, but I’ve been reading the challenge ideas for next year with interest. The de-stashing thing you could call “fiber diet.” It wouldn’t be something I’d have much fun with, though. One thing a month also sounds good, certainly very feasible. How about some sort of color challenge? Perhaps participants could choose one or more colors they don’t like or have trouble using and go with that. It wouldn’t be as specific as block a month so it would be very inclusive of other media. You could call it “expanding your color zone.”

  15. I like the idea of a monthly challenge (although I realize it imposes a burden on you). One of the things I’ve liked about TAST has been seeing how people incorporate stitches in different styles or techniques. Maybe a possible challenge could involve broad types of needlework – couching, blackwork, beading, pulled stitches, some historical theme, etc. – to incorporate into projects.

  16. Hi All a quick response this morning before I dash out the door – this earning a living lark gets in the way of serious stuff!

    Doreen “We must all take into account your busy life and not expect you to do all the work -only to find that two thirds of the beginners have dropped off and this must be very disheartening for you” Actually I expect that so I am not disappointed. With any challenge there are always people who mean to do it and then life gets in the way. That is why it is really necessary to get a lot of people involved at the start. So that by the end there are enough of a group left to still be stimulating. As the other thing I have learnt is that there has to be a certain number of people in the challenge active to develop and maintain a group dynamic.

    So I am not disappointed in TAST at all far from it. If I sound a little flat it is simply because I am busy and have had a disappointment elsewhere in my life.

    Helen Ann has a very good point when she mentions the aspect of “call and response” in a challenge. It plays an important role in keeping people thinking. Both TAST and 100 details had a good activity level because a call and response situation allows people to respond regularly.

    Helens idea “You post a piece of work (wisp or stash finish or new or whatever) with the how and the why ..(yours or some one elses if you are busy)” This is workable although I can’t promise tutorials on the how. I can point to stitches used and other resources online but feel unable to promise a tutorial every week.

    People like the block a month idea there is no reason why it could not be this. Frankly it would be a total toddle for me to do a block a month which is great!
    But a block a month excludes many readers. Many are into fabric postcards, and other forms of stitching so we would have to open out the definition to include them. A current projects type of challenge would enable us to watch developments right across the spectrum. Projects can be current, UFO’s destashing anything people care to declare as their current project. I find it a great idea and particularly attractive since it would be easy to run but we need to open doors rather than close them on the definition.

    So Mary Anne’s idea of making the requirement using “TAST, the 100 DETAILS, or your stitch dictionery” in a project would work well as it allows people to work on a project yet ties the group together with some sort of requirement.

    Anyway leave comments and ideas here – and we will toss the ideas around

    Virgina “I’m really interested in taking encrusted crazy quilts or personal library of stitches, but there’s no way I can start in November. Will you be offering these again in the spring sometime?” With the classes if the numbers are still steady they will run again but both have run before so I cannot make promises as it has to be worth time and effort. So as with any class it all depends on the numbers. From my point of view I am quite happy to see them run again some time next year.

  17. oooh…the idea of doing a block a month is a good one! Maybe the requirement could be using stitches from either TAST, the 100 DETAILS, or your stitch dictionery. Post pic, plus which stitch/detail/tast we use, with the goal to complete one block a month and thus a quilt. Must admit I’m being somewhat selfish with liking this one because I have a number of kensita silks needing to be made into a quilt!!

    With this Sharon, you wouldn’t have to be ‘too’ involved with it – just act as a clearing house of sorts where everyone posts the links to their blogs (or wherever) so anyone can see. Perhaps have a monthly date where everyone posts their links?? Thinking out loud here….

    Mary Anne
  18. Sharon as you know I am a newcomer to your sites. I like your declutter idea. Actually I am in the midst of two declutter ideas. One whole house, one crafty stuff. IF I had the money I would hire someone to finish as the task is overwhelming! So I can see why it has upsides and downsides.

    I love Kathy’s idea of a quilt square a month.
    Also because I am enjoying TAST so much I would also love to see a version continue.

    I know that all of this is a lot for your very full plate. So you need to do what ever works best for you.

    Jeanine A
  19. I like the declutter / 1 CQ block each month idea. As I posted earlier, my daughter and I are really enjoying our new exploration into embroidery and we are contemplating a crazy quilt. This would create a forum where we could all participate at our own pace, you wouldn’t have much legwork to do and a forum would exist for sharing ideas and hashing out problems. If you can just post reminders and pep talks now and then, point us toward exciting resources and maybe suggest a theme or color scheme now and then, that should be enough to keep the ball rolling.

    P.S , I’m really interested in taking encrusted crazy quilts or personal library of stitches, but there’s no way I can start in November. Will you be offering these again in the spring sometime?

    Virginia Burnett
  20. Hi Sharon
    I must admit I like the idea of trying to finish one UFO a month maybe then I would have plenty of embroidery to put in the annual exhibition.
    I think if I were challenged to do it then it would happen as I am not one to back down on a challenge.
    We must all take into account your busy life and not expect you to do all the work -only to find that two thirds of the beginners have dropped off and this must be very disheartening for you.
    Whatever you decide I will go along with because I can see that I will benefit in the end.

  21. I like both thease ideas and of course we are challenge veterans now. It is a lot of work for the organizer and so whatever you do should fit in with your ambitions for the year .One of the things I have really liked is seeing the different responses to a design idea. I have wondered about some sort of call and and response . You post a piece of work ( wisp or stash finish or new or whatever) with the how and the why ..( yours or some one elses if you are busy) People respond with theirs either as a direct reponse or a current project approach.

    I know I haven’t described it in a very snappy way and the idea still needs some work to make it a simple platform to do quite interesting stuff from which is why TAST works so well


  22. Kathy and Vero – Kathy your idea might have legs as it means people can commit at any level they want and as you say 12 blocks makes a quilt. But people could choose any 12 projects they want to work on.

    Vero your idea is a good one and ideal for perhaps later in the year as next year is looking very busy for me. Not only busy but a year of routines broken which means fractured time. The first half of the year is looking really busy and that is the time when a challenge is most demanding. Its not only the posts on the blog but the emails etc which I love and I am a hopeless chatterer but it does take time.

    I am really looking for a challenge that spans a long block of time rather than a weekly or monthly challenge.

  23. hi Sharon,

    What about giving a series of stitches, between 4 or 6, for a month and letting us combine them in a small project? The idea came when I went late in TAST and I caught up with 4 stitches in one shot. And several other embroiderers have done the same.
    Just an idea.

  24. I like the declutter idea myself. I loved your stitch of the week but with all the UFOs I already have it was more than I thought to handle. Please follow thru on the declutter idea. Maybe everyone make a list of twelve items to work on throughout the year to get complete? A lot could just be one CQ block…then at the end of the year they have 12 and have a quilt top.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

%d bloggers like this: