The upside of getting knocked down


Friday morning I woke up to a spinning bed. I’ve had bouts of vertigo before, and this was a bad one. My initial reaction–once I got the bed to stop rocking–was to be ticked off. For the first time in weeks, I’d gotten to Friday with no migraine. I’d gotten so much done, and I was eager to finish a project I’d left at work Thursday afternoon.

Wasn’t gonna happen.

By mid-day with no relief, I called an advice nurse. Her advice:  “Try to move your head as little as possible this weekend, and see where you are at the end of it.”

At first, I was more ticked. And then I decided to surrender to it. Because, really:  What was the point of fighting it? It wasn’t going to change anything. I couldn’t move anything without feeling pretty awful, and there was nothing I could do about it.

Friday I got nothing done, but by Saturday afternoon I was able to move a bit more, enough to get the squares cut out for my napkin project.  I wanted to get that done so I would have scraps to experiment with.


I spent Saturday night with Netflix, some fabric scraps, and a needle. I had permission to sit and keep my head still, which was permission to work on this project. It was kind of a lose-win situation.

I got such great suggestions from your comments to the last post, and I decided to see what some of those ideas might look like when executed.

First I tried outlining a whole flower with one color:


And then I tried a few more other things:



I’ve used only a few basic stitches–mostly back stitch and satin stitch, but also some lazy daisy (directly above) and even some French knots! (I suck at French knots and I’m only batting about .500 on them, but you can see that I got a few into the center of the flower I did in solid satin stitch in the photo above this last one.)

I’m still not sure what I’m going to do on the napkins. I’d probably like the look of doing much of it all in one color, and then having just one colorful flower per napkin. Problem is, that would be much more boring to make than having a wide variety of designs.

There’s also the matter of time. I think it took me 2 movies and several episodes of Friday Night Lights to get through just these 4 flowers. Part of that pace was the fuzziness of my head and figuring things out for the first time, but still:  I need to be real about how much time it will take to do these.


And I could go more minimalist by not stitching the whole flower. I kinda like this as is.

It would be great to make design decisions purely from what would look best, but I think that rarely happens. Design is always part aesthetics/function, but it’s almost always part resources and process, too. What materials can we get/afford? What are we willing to do with them?

I’ll be heading back to work for part of tomorrow, and I might not get back to this for a few days. That’s good, I think. Some cooling off time is always good in any creative project. Gives things a chance to simmer. I’m grateful for the time to immerse myself in this, but also grateful that the bed has stopped spinning every time I turn over in it. 🙂

If anyone wants to chime in with opinions about the flowers above–or the project in general–I’d love to hear them.



21 thoughts on “The upside of getting knocked down

  1. Marian says:

    The one that I absolutely LOVE is the yellow and green and purple version — that’s the one that seems to me to “belong” on the fabric, and I think what makes that one go so well is the lazy daisy stitch, which pulls the feel/look of the fabric into the stitchery. You’ve also got just the right amount of non-stitched flower in that version. (IMHO 😉 ).

    So glad to hear you’re feeling better, Rita 🙂
    Marian recently posted…Using the Freezer to Minimize Food WasteMy Profile

    • Rita says:

      Thank you for the feedback! I was thinking that one might be too busy…This is why I ask what others think. Helps me see the work differently.

      • Marian says:

        It’s definitely a busier one than #4, which came in for me as a close second. I’m *totally* a simple/non-busy/uncluttered person, so I think what really appealed to me about #3 was the longer stitch length of the yellow daisy stitch (as opposed to the shorter red stitches in #4). I think if the outlining stitches in #4 were longer, then (to me) that would tie in more with the printed pattern on the fabric. (Just a bit more food for thought, because really, as Lisa said, I don’t think you can go wrong 🙂 ).
        Marian recently posted…Using the Freezer to Minimize Food WasteMy Profile

    • Rita says:

      Well, that was all I had for Friday. By Saturday night I was in that yucky place of feeling better enough to want to do something, but not well enough to do much. 🙂

  2. Sarah says:

    Hope you do indeed feel better today!

    I like option #4 best — of course, I was the one who was arguing for “minimal stitching in the interest of self-preservation” on your previous post, but I really do think that I prefer it aesthetically as well.

    I am just amazed that you were able to do any stitching at all with the vertigo!

    I really like the idea of a lose-win situation. I mean, win-win would be better of course, but sometimes that’s not an option. I’m going to have to ponder that one some more.
    Sarah recently posted…Slow Fashion October: WORN, and why I care about clothesMy Profile

    • Rita says:

      The vertigo stayed away as long as I didn’t really move my body. And didn’t try to lie down. So, stitching was OK. On the second day. I think I’ve been doing a lot of lose-win these days. It’s not awesome, but sure beats lose-lose. 🙂

  3. Kate says:

    My favorite is the purple and red in your very last photo. I love the combination of backstitch and satin and I like the idea of using two colors and mixing and matching them on different napkins – so that they are all tied together but not matchy-matchy. Maybe even just doing one fun flower per napkin?

    Hope you are feeling 100% soon.
    Kate recently posted…SnowMy Profile

    • Rita says:

      I like this one, too. I think, based on feedback, I’m going to have to do a combo of different types. Thanks for the feedback. It’s really helpful!

  4. Cynthia says:

    Okay, I’ve been mulling this over since you posted it… I would like to suggest a combo that I don’t see — sort of a combo of the full, multi-colored satin-stitched version (far right in pic #1/far left in pics #2 and 4) and the lazy daisy stitch in pic #3… I like the multi-colors of the satin stitch, so use each of those colors as you did in the satin stitch, but to only outline each layer of the flower using the lazy daisy stitch, and put the French knots in the middle. (I think that you did a fine job with them!) Or, you could do alternating back stitching and lazy daisy to outline each layer (in the alternating colors), still with the French knots in the middle. The “outline” would leave the design feeling light, but the alternating colors would bring life to each napkin, as I find the black background a little heavy. (I’m assuming that you’ve chosen the floss colors according to your Mom’s floral-painted glass or her everyday china colors, so that would tie each napkin into the glass set and/or everyday china too.)

  5. Shannon says:

    Hi Rita! I meant to comment on this way back when I first read it, but clearly I did not. Now I am. 🙂 I have always had a fascination with embroidery. The bright colors of the floss, all laid out in a display at the craft store when I went there as a child with my mom and grandma always drew me in. As an adult I now admit that, although I have an appreciation for those who embroider (my favorite are days of the week tea towel patterns from the 30s and 40s)…I have no patience for making them myself. So, I will be content to admire other’s work. 🙂 Your ideas are all great, so my only advice for you on this project is, “HAVE FUN”. If you’re knee deep in floss and French knots and these napkins feel like “work”, then YOU’RE DOING IT WRONG! If you start doing one pattern and halfway through you get tired of it, start another pattern on the rest of the napkins! If all the napkins have something different on them, the people using them can fight over which one they want. 😉 The point is, fun projects are supposed to be fun. If they stop being that, then what’s the point? 🙂 I just spent 100+ hours on a project that halfway through stopped being fun and started making me angry. I had a bit of a creative breakdown. When I realized I was awake at 2am writing a ranting email to my best friend about how frustrated I was over…wait for it…a bunch of stick figure drawings (?!) I realized I may have lost sight of the point of a fun project. hahaha! So, this is just a cautionary tale to remind you, whatever you choose…make sure you have a good time (all the way through) on your fun project. 🙂 Also, I’ve had vertigo a couple times this year and it is awful! AWFUL, awful, awful! Glad you got through your recent episode. 🙂
    Shannon recently posted…Stick Figures In Radio LandMy Profile

    • Rita says:

      I read this at just the right time–thank you! I can get weird over design questions, and you helped me realize it was starting to not be fun because I was feeling locked into a design decision I made that was taking spontaneity out–which was making it feel like a bit of drudgery. So I threw that out! I am doing whatever the heck I want with each silly flower, and it’s much better. And, I have mastered the French knot, which also helped. 🙂

      Oh, and I love the displays of embroidery floss, too. Just like I love displays of paint or pencils or chalk in an art store. Your suggestion is giving me permission to go buy more different colors–even more fun! 🙂

      Hope you’ve gotten back to having fun with your videos. They are so much more than just a bunch of stick figures. Truly.

  6. May says:

    I do think you have discovered the point of vertigo/migraines. When we won’t take the rest we need for ourselves, our bodies have means to drive the point home. Rest is the friend of creativity, and creativity restores the soul. So there you go–a big circle like so much of life.
    May recently posted…TToT:Christmas EditionMy Profile

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