After much thought and consideration, I have decided to stop publishing on this blog. This has been quite a difficult decision, and yet an easy one at the same time. I have seen that I now seldom have the chance to update this blog with the love that was once possible. On the one hand, a busier digital life is happening somewhere else (like Instagram or, better yet, my newsletter). On the other hand, the feeling of not being able to deliver as much value in this format.
If you want to keep in touch and reading what I write, I invite you to sign up for my mailing list and receive my newsletter, where I write letters to friends (and not so much blog posts), where I share what I have been up to and things that capture my interest, as well as news about embroidery and knitting patterns that I have published and available for sale and news about my work as a designer, illustrator and animator. I hope you like it there!
You can also follow me on Instagram under the username @air_billy.
Hope you are well, safe and healthy wherever you are.
Here in Lisbon, Portugal, we have been in lockdown since January. Schools closed and we’ve had two young children at home. It’s been incredibly difficult to do client work, and I’ve actually seen many projects being postponed or outright canceled.
But you know what happened? The Ocean Lava Cowl happened! And I’m so happy for it.
I started planning it and knitting it in April 2020, during our first confinement. To be honest, it was a challenging knit for me at the time, as I was incredibly anxious and feeling generally unwell with the pandemic, lockdown and closed schools at the time. But I loved when I figured how I wanted the cowl to be and how what seemed like a daunting knit was actually quite simple. Yes, two-color honeycomb brioche seemed challenging, but it’s actually straightforward! And what a beautiful stitch it is.
As we were in lockdown, we couldn’t have a proper photoshoot out on Tapada das Necessidades, a favorite park very close to where I live. Instead, we headed for our tiny balcony/backyard and made do with what was possible. Glamorous? Not at all. But it’s done and I love this project even more for it. It makes me think of the very nature of knitting, of making do, of being creative in the face of adversity.
The cowl is a squishy cloud of stitches and if you’re looking forward to playing with colors and yarn, this is a great and quick project. I hope you’ll love it!
You can find it in my ravelry store. And you can use the code OceanLavaLaunch to get 15% discount on this pattern when purchasing until March 19th, 2021.
I like to end the year with a roundup of what I did in the previous 12 months. On the one hand, I need to feel that time didn’t escape through my fingers; on the other, I love to go back and relive the moments and reflect on the growth that has happened in the meantime.
2018 was the first year I truly felt that if I worked towards my goals every day, even if for a shorter time than I would have wanted, I could achieve them.
Working in a creative field means – at least for me – that there’s a lot of action that does not immediately translate in results. Several pitches for articles and illustrations may or may not result in an article in a magazine. And that’s ok, albeit slightly (very!) frustrating.
So 2018 was a new experience for me, most specially with running. 2018 was the year I turned 40 and I set out to become fitter at the end of it than I was at 30. To achieve that, I decided to train for a 10k race per month, always improving my time.
I “ran” my first 10k in March, 3 months post-partum. It was actually good that I took 1 hour and 18 minutes to finish the circuit, because it could only get better from that point. To my dismay, though, it wasn’t until September that I actually started to make serious progress on my time. In August, I decided it was about time I made my running schedule work and actually followed through with it. Having two young kids at home, having time to go running isn’t always easy. But I couldn’t wait until I had the opportunity, so I decided to create it for myself. I started running once during the week, in the early morning before everyone else is awake; then once during the weekend, when daddy is home with the kids. And I found out that it is consistency more than frequency that leads to results. In September I completed my first 10k without walking; in October I was able to take 10 minutes off my September time (the circuit, with less inclination, helped); in December I finished at 1 hour and 4 minutes. I know there is a lot of room for improvement, but I am incredibly proud of this achievement.
But that’s not all! I feel fitter, more agile and generally have more energy. And I have found that my running deeply impacts my yoga practice, not only in my ability to focus, but also in increased flexibility and ease of recovery after an effort.
I can say that my running goal of 2018 was smashed with more than the expected success.
Next goal: keep training to complete a 10k in 60 minutes (or less!).
The air Embroidery Club was one of the projects I needed to tweak. As much as I love the idea of receiving one fresh project per month and stitching it at the same time as the other members do, I came to the conclusion that for many of the members this wasn’t the case. Members would often tell me they were “late”, or had a backlog of patterns to stitch, and I don’t think we need a hobby to put more pressure on our daily activities and give us the feeling that we aren’t doing enough. So I changed the Club to a new model, one that I hope will be better both for the members and for me. You can read more about the Club and join (it’s free!) right here.
Next goal: In 2019, I want to foster our community at the air Embroidery Club. Our “meeting room” is our facebook group, and I want to make it more dynamic and create more opportunities for interaction among members.
Another embroidery-related goal for 2018 was to start selling embroidery originals. Errr… I didn’t get to that yet, I suppose my insecurities get a front seat whenever I consider that option. I may give it a try this year, though. Right now, many of them are up on a show over at Companhia das Agulhas craft store, here in Lisbon.
One of my goals for 2018 was to finally publish my first pro knitting pattern. I had it written, tested and tech edited… and also stuck inside a drawer so that no one would see it. November came and I thought I’d be forever annoyed if I let my insecurities get the best of me and not publish a pattern that was a labor of love. So I rolled up my sleeves, designed the layout, exported the PDF and published the pattern on ravelry. I’m proud of this pattern, I’m proud of the lovely team of test knitters who were so kind to test it for me, and also for the lovely Madeleine, who tech edited the pattern and whose sharp eye was essential to bring more clarity to the instructions.
Next goal: I have so many ideas for more sweaters and so few hours in the day to work on them all. But! I want to commit to publishing another sweater pattern this year. I will keep you posted on that!
Now, on to 2019!
Above I have mentioned how I want to build on my 2018 goals and get to new places with them. But below there will be a few goals I want to mention, too:
Less plastic: I want to go on with the “de-plastification” process I’ve been implementing here at home. We started by replacing our regular toothbrushes with bamboo ones (we have both bam&boo and babu and they’re similar in quality and in price). I swapped some personal hygiene products, like shampoo, toothpaste and body lotion to ones that do not come in plastic bottles (I love Saponina’s products but fortunately there are more and more options available).*
We use reusable shopping bags but there’s still the occasional plastic bag and I want to be more careful about that, too, and passing that habit on to my kids.
Do you have any tips on how to use less plastic in our daily lives? Please let me know!
I want to make more art in my life: I miss the fun of sketching, painting and experimenting with art supplies. I want to bring more of that playfulness into my life, along with knitting and embroidery. Also, I will be doing the Artist’s Way again.
Overall, I want to embrace more challenges, take on jobs where I can learn new things, new techniques and new ways of telling stories. Because telling stories is what I do.
How about you? What are your goals? Happy 2019!
*Just to be clear: these are not affiliate links and I do not get paid to mention them. I’m sharing these brands with you because I like them! #notanad
As of September 2018, the air Embroidery Club has changed. From a monthly subscription Club, it has changed into a new model, one that I hope you will want to join and enjoy.
How was the air Embroidery Club until now and why is it going to change?
Up until now, members purchased a six- or twelve-month subscription to the Club and received a fresh embroidery pdf file template in their e-mail inboxes every first day of the month.
All members, current or former, received an invitation to participate in our private facebook group. [Note that to belong to the facebook group a member needs to have a facebook account. Also note that it is not necessary to belong to the private facebook group to sign up for the Club.]
In the course of the five years of the Club’s life, I came to notice that members often felt like they couldn’t keep up and that one embroidery template a month was simply too much. I always tried to make members comfortable about taking it easy with embroidery, and that the point of it was to de-stress us, not to leave us feeling like we couldn’t keep up, and so I came to the conclusion that something needed to change.
How is the Club going to change?
My goal with this change is to eliminate the feeling of being behind when a new pattern arrives and the previous one hasn’t been concluded. As of September 2018, members no longer pay a subscription to join the Club; instead, prospective members request to join the Club, gain access to the Club’s web page (filled with resources), our private facebook group, and access a pool of embroidery templates they can purchase at their own pace, at any time of the month they wish.
In the “old” Club, members got one template a month; in the “new” Club, members can choose one or many templates from the pool, so you’ll have more options and more control over what you decide to stitch. 🙂
Oh, and there are 60 templates (and counting) available – I’m uploading them gradually as it is a lot of work!
Who can request to join the Club?
No changes here! Anyone with an interest in embroidery, either beginner or a more seasoned stitcher is welcome to join. There’s a place for everyone.
Stitchers who take the free, online, air embroidery e-course will also be presented with the option to join the Club, if they so wish.
What are the benefits of joining the Club?
Joining the air Embroidery Club will bring you together with a community of like-minded makers from around the world. It will also give you access to a pool of embroidery templates in pdf file format (so far, 60 different templates, and counting) you can purchase at your own pace and convenience, as they are available on-line 24/7. This large pool of embroidery templates is only available to members, who are encouraged to join the conversation in our private facebook group as well as to share pictures on social media with the hashtag #airembroideryclub
What does this change look like to current members of the Club?
Current members of the Club will stop receiving an embroidery template every first day of the month. Instead, they will be directed to the Club’s web page, where all available templates will be accessible for purchase for a lower price than in the former membership format. This means you will be able to add more embroidery templates to your library at a better price.
Remember that all the templates you received while a member are yours to keep! Please download them if you haven’t before. You don’t need to purchase them again and you can embroider them as many times as you like.
Have questions? Let me know.
If you still have questions, do let me know. I will do my best to respond to everyone and you will be helping me create an FAQ page. 🙂
Em Setembro de 2018, o Clube de Bordado air mudou!
Até agora, os membros compravam uma assinatura de seis ou de doze meses para o Clube e recebiam uma receita de bordado em PDF nas suas caixas de correio electrónico, no primeiro dia de cada mês.
Todos os membros, com assinatura activa ou não, recebiam um convite para aderirem ao nosso grupo privado de facebook. [Nota que para pertencer ao grupo no facebook é necessário ter uma conta de facebook. Nota também que não é necessário pertencer ao grupo de facebook para pertencer ao Clube de Bordado.]
No decurso dos cinco anos com que o Clube já conta, notei que muitas vezes os membros sentiam que não conseguiam acompanhar o ritmo de uma receita por mês. Sempre me esforcei por acalmar essa ansiedade, pois o meu objectivo com o bordado era combater o stresse, e não criar mais! Então percebi que algo teria de mudar.
Como é que o Clube vai mudar?
O meu objectivo com esta mudança é eliminar a sensação de “não conseguir acompanhar o ritmo” quando uma nova receita chega e ainda não terminámos a anterior. A partir de Setembro de 2018, os membros não vão precisar de comprar uma assinatura para o Clube. Em vez disso, quem tiver vontade de se juntar, poderá requerer acesso ao Clube. Uma vez no Clube, os membros terão acesso à página do Clube (onde estão todos os recursos como tutoriais em PDF, vídeos, etc), receberão também um convite para se juntarem ao nosso grupo privado de facebook, e acederão a um amplo conjunto de receitas de bordado que cada membro poderá comprar ao seu próprio ritmo, e em qualquer altura do mês.
No Clube “antigo”, cada membro recebia uma receita por mês; no “novo” Clube, os membros poderão escolher uma ou muitas receitas de entre as que estão disponíveis, o que vos dá maior capacidade de decisão relativamente ao que querem bordar.
Ah! E tenho, até ao momento, 60 receitas disponíveis que estou a carregar no site de forma gradual – é muito trabalho, uf! 🙂
Quem pode pedir para aderir ao Clube?
Neste ponto não há mudanças! Quem tiver interesse por bordado, seja principiante ou mais avançado, poderá pedir acesso e será muito bem-vindo. Há lugar para todos.
Os bordadeiros que fazem o curso de bordado air, online e gratuito, também serão convidados a requerer o acesso, se for da sua vontade. Quais os benefícios de aderir ao Clube?
O Clube de Bordado junta pessoas que, um pouco por todo o mundo e tal como tu, gostam de fazer nascer coisas com as suas mãos. Ser membro do Clube também te dá acesso a um conjunto de 60 (até ao momento!) receitas de bordado que poderás adquirir ao teu ritmo, se e quando quiseres, já que estão disponíveis online 24 horas por dia, 7 dias por semana. Estas receitas só estão disponíveis para membros do Clube! Não se encontram à venda em mais nenhum lugar. Os membros são convidados a participar nas conversas no nosso grupo privado de facebook e a partilhar as fotografias dos seus bordados nas redes sociais com a hashtag #airembroideryclub E de que forma é que o Clube vai mudar para os actuais membros?
Os membros actuais do Clube irão deixar de receber uma receita nova no primeiro dia de cada mês. Em vez disso, os membros poderão aceder à página do Clube no meu site, onde poderão aceder às receitas, às instruções passo-a-passo e outras ferramentas. As receitas terão um valor mais apelativo que na versão anterior do Clube, o que significa que poderás controlar que receitas comprar para ires completando a tua colecção.
Todas as receitas que recebeste enquanto membro são tuas, não precisas de as comprar. Por favor faz o respectivo download, se não fizeste até agora, e lembra-te que as podes bordar quantas vezes quiseres.
Ficaste com dúvidas? Conta-me tudo!
Se ficaste com dúvidas, por favor coloca-mas. Basta responderes a este e-mail ou dirigires-te ao grupo de facebook e eu farei os possíveis por responder com a máxima brevidade. Além disso, as tuas dúvidas ajudar-me-ão a criar uma página de FAQ. 🙂
Once upon a time, I started writing my morning pages, a daily journalling ritual inspired by the book “The Artist’s Way”, by Julia Cameron. A few months later, on rereading my journal entries, I came to the conclusion that I mentioned knitting a lot, and that there was a big surge of knitting creativity inside of me. I started putting to paper a few designs I had in my head and started working on a new cardigan. Slowly, diligently, I began “3D printing” it the old-fashioned way, with knitting needles and yarn.
I finished it, wrote its instructions, had it tech edited and test knitted… and then life happened, I got scared, put my cardigan’s pattern away while exhausted by pregnancy and taking care of a newborn.
At the beginning of 2018, I set the goal of finally publishing this pattern. As scared as I felt of sharing it with the world, I felt more shame of having put so much effort, care and love into a project and not finally setting it free.
So I rolled up my sleeves and finished what I needed to finish: designing the layout of the pattern (I’m a graphic designer, and you know how it goes: “casa de ferreiro, espeto de pau”, as we say in Portuguese), publishing the PDF and setting up a ravelry shop.
I did all that, trying to keep my balance on the bouncy rope of fear of publishing and the shame of not publishing it. And voilà.
This is a loose-fitting cardigan with a body that is worked back and forth; starting with the right-front panel, then back panel and finally the left-front panel, all worked in one piece. Sleeves are worked in the round, picking up stitches from the armholes. The overlapping front panels give the garment a drapey front, which can be fastened with a pin (or buttons as per the instructions given in the pattern).
The yarn used is Trianon by Lopo Xavier, a shop located in the beautiful city of Porto, Portugal, that carries its own yarns. It is a light fingering, pure wool yarn that comes in a large assortment of colors and is available online.
Em meados de Agosto, fui contactada para participar num evento em que era necessário um ou uma bordadora para fazer personalização de roupa. Ora nunca tinha participado em eventos deste género, e deu aquele friozinho na barriga… e respondi. E ainda bem que o fiz, pois veio a ser um evento giríssimo para celebrar o primeiro aniversário da loja C&A de Telheiras.
Estive lá dois dos quatro dias do evento. Para além da personalização de roupa, havia maquilhagem (e a Sofia arrasou!), havia uma roulote com chás deliciosos e lindos ramos de flores para os maiores clientes da loja naqueles dias. (Nos dias em que não participei, houve animação infantil, e certamente mais coisas que agora não recordo.)
O primeiro dia, uma quinta-feira, foi um dia com menos movimento. Aproveitei para bordar peças de exposição, para além das dos clientes. Foi uma diversão olhar para as peças da loja e pensar que volta lhes poderia dar, que detalhe lhe poderia acrescentar que jogasse com o que já existia.
No segundo dia, sexta, não houve descanso! Bordei peça atrás de peça, roupa de criança, de jovem e de adultos. Bordei nomes, figuras, até um TGV e um arco e uma flecha! Foi uma alegria, para mim, poder dar largas à imaginação ao mesmo tempo que tentava corresponder às expectativas dos clientes.
Para mim, foi a primeira vez que trabalhei num evento destes, numa loja como a C&A (e espero que seja a primeira de muitas!). Gostei muito de conhecer o pessoal da loja e de trabalhar de forma próxima com toda a equipa. Gostei também de conhecer as outras pessoas que, tal como eu, estavam ali no âmbito do evento do aniversário. E a querida Sofia ainda me maquilhou nos dois dias, até parecia uma estrela da fotonovela!
When I reviewed my year of 2017 and set goals for 2018, one of the goals was to run a 10k per month. I ran my first on March 4th and my second just yesterday. My first run was exactly 3 months and 7 days after I gave birth to my baby daughter, so it was quite the challenge. The circuit was all flat, but the day was incredibly windy, and the last 3k were right against the wind. It was tough, I was almost the last person to arrive, but I did complete the length and that little souvenir medal participants are given at the end? It tasted like gold.
During the month I trained a bit, but not as consistently as I would have liked. My baby is still small and I’m still breastfeeding, which means that I spend a lot of time sitting with her latched onto me. I did take many (many!) brisk walks pushing her stroller, which is quite an exercise in itself, given Lisbon’s hilly nature and difficult, albeit pretty, sidewalks.
Fast forward to yesterday, my second 10k of the year. I started with more confidence and a goal to run for a longer time than I did in March. I had researched the circuit and had seen that it had more ups and downs than the first and was expecting that extra difficulty. I ran the first uphill stretch, started struggling on the second… and found the focus of my training for the next month on the third. 😉
As for the other 2018 goals:
I haven’t made any progress on releasing my knitting pattern (yet). Will put it on my to do list right now.
In order to grow my Embroidery Club, I started being more intentional in using Instagram Stories to share more of the behind-the-scenes progress. I also joined a business mastermind with my Embroidery Club as focus.
As for selling embroidery originals… not there yet. I feel insecure about it. Is that something you would be interested in?
I’m in love with fly stitch. I know. An embroidery stitch. And yet, I’m in love with it. I’ve previously been in love with other stitches (hello, stem stitch, don’t be jealous). My current obsession, however, is fly stitch.
And you may be asking yourself, what is so special about fly stitch that it merits such an obsession? Oh, I’m so glad you asked!
Fly stitch is one of those stitches that takes little effort to make and its results are wow. I feel that crafts in general, and embroidery is a good example, there are two vectors: on one side, you have the effort put into making a specific thing, say, a stitch; on the other side, you have its result. Sometimes the effort into achieving something is much larger and weighs much heavier than its final result; sometimes, both are equivalent and balanced. And then there are some stitches that are very simple to make and yet create a stunning and surprising result. I think fly stitch falls into the latter category.
But that’s not all. Fly stitch is a very versatile stitch: by varying one or more of its elements, or by changing alignment between stitches, the results are completely different. See what I mean in the examples shown here:
Above you can see February 2018’s project for the air Embroidery Club. Made exclusively with fly stitches, I carefully align stitches but use different stitch lengths. The result is completely different from the one below:
In the snowflakes example above (January 2018’s air Embroidery Club project), I use a curve as a guide for my stitches, and the result is completely different from before, much more organic in its character. It’s no coincidence then that this stitch should be used to embroider plants:
This is August 2015’s project for the air Embroidery Club. The yellow weeds on the lower part of the embroidery are made with fly stitch. I crammed several “vvv” together, varied the arms’ angle and, voilà, a completely different looking stitch.
Now you know why I love fly stitch. How about you? Any favorite stitches?
The air Embroidery Club is my paid online community. Members of the Club receive a fresh embroidery pattern every 1st of the month. We then gather over on our facebook group to exchange ideas and experiences. Members gain lifetime access to all the resources. You can read more here and sign up for six months or twelve months.
I’ve been writing this post in my head for the last few weeks, mostly while nursing my baby girl, who was born on November 25th. As you can imagine, her safe arrival was the highlight of 2017, without a doubt. And so have been the last few weeks, spent in a state of loving hibernation, my heart a constant explosion of joy whenever I am with her and her older sister. After my previous experience, this post-partum period has been exceptionally smooth and joyful.
After this introduction, which could be called “the cherry on top”, let’s get to the muffin, shall we? 2017 was a pretty good year.
Work: In 2017, I had plenty of work to keep me busy. I taught knitting classes at Companhia das Agulhas. This is something I really enjoy, because I meet lots of interesting people. People of all ages come to my classes and everyone has an interesting story to share. Knitting is always more than only knitting: it’s a connection to elders in the family, it’s a therapy, it’s companionship. And those are the stories I like to discover and bring to the table while teaching stitches, increases, decreases.
I also worked at a tech company, AGORA Systems, as a documentation specialist. I organized, created standards and produced documentation for their software, while being integrated in the development team. I learned a lot as I settled in a team where all members were men, mostly younger than me, working within the agile methodology.
At the same time, I freelanced for several clients. I created designs and illustrations for different companies, in different countries. I had a lot of fun creating smartphone ad campaigns with my friend and colleague Joana Paz.
I created twelve new embroidery patterns for the air Embroidery Club, twelve designs that make me happy and proud, and showcase, at least to me, the progress I made during the year. The Club grew as new members joined. Apart from my human babies, the air Embroidery Club is my non-human baby, my creative baby. Seeing it grow and creating community is one of my biggest work-related joys.
Anita no Trabalho, the podcast my friend Eliana and I host together, is also one of my biggest work-related joys. We started the podcast almost two years ago by recording our own conversations about female entrepreneurship. There are several of such podcasts in English, but we knew none in Portuguese, and we wanted to fill that void. It has grown in audience and in scope, and we now have regular conversations with people we both admire about the issues that matter to us. We found out, via comments and feedback from the audience, that these issues matter to our listeners, too, and we couldn’t be happier about the space we have created, where we share experiences and grow together.
For fun: I sketched. My commute to work took one hour, of which 24 minutes were spent in the train. Those 24 minutes became my slice of time for doing things just because. I brought my knitting or my embroidery along for some time, and then I started sketching my fellow commuters. These sketches became one of the most fun exercises I have ever done, mostly because I was doing them just for the sake of it. Not because I was going to use them for a project, but just because I could. And doing things because I can, well, that’s the best.
Personal: I healthily gestated my baby girl and practiced yoga up to two days before giving birth. This pregnancy went by smoothly and diabetes-free. After my first pregnancy, I decided that if I were to be pregnant again, I would be determined to live it with joy, not fear of something going wrong. And so I did. Not that I didn’t know of all the things that could, indeed, go wrong, but because I decided to do so. Yoga and keeping a normal life were a big part of it; stopping work when I decided I should slow down and enjoy the last weeks of my pregnancy was also important. Having an older kid who needed care certainly helped, too.
During the year, I had lots of wonderful moments with family and friends. Our summer vacation took us on a trip to Copenhagen, Denmark, and Malmö, Sweden. This trip included a reunion with my dear friend Rebecca, whom I hadn’t seen for… twenty years, maybe?. We enjoyed a lovely Summer day in her hometown, walking by the sea and sightseeing, all these with three young children who seemed to have a lot of fun playing with one another, even if they didn’t speak a common language. When we returned to Portugal, we spent the next two weeks at the beach with family and friends from abroad.
In September, to celebrate my mom’s birthday, the whole family spent a weekend hiking the Passadiços do Paiva. It’s an 8km walkway along the river Paiva, from which one can see a landscape otherwise inaccessible. Gorgeous, and very much worth the visit if you can.
I think that, as we grow older, it gets harder to meet new people and make new friends. However, I have found crafts to be a great catalyst for new friendships, and this year was no exception: I met new people to whom I feel connected and who energize me.
What I lost, and it came quite as a shock to me, to be honest, was my knitting mojo. This surprised me to no end: as soon as I got pregnant, I felt absolutely no desire to knit. I felt even a bit sick. No morning sickness, fortunately, but knitting sickness – oh yes. I kept teaching my knitting classes, as that thankfully didn’t make me sick; but I did not pick up the needles on my ongoing projects for several months. I crocheted a little blanket for my baby, though. My knitting mojo started to creep back in as my second trimester came to a close and Fall started to appear on the calendar. My eldest kid requested I made her and her sister matching sweaters, and I complied, and thus returned my knitting mojo. I’m now looking forward to making new (matching?) sweaters for me and the girls.
Speaking of looking forward, 2018 is the year I turn 40. So far, every new decade has been better than the previous one. This has been true for the last two decades and I want it to be true for as long as I live. My 30s did bring me a fair bit of sadness, but all in all I feel like I grew and learnt that what matters is how I face adversity, and not let myself believe that I am at the mercy of fate. I know I cannot control what happens to me (the death of my son being the most obvious example of that), but I can choose how I want to live a life that contains not only joy, but also frustration, sadness and loss. And I chose then, and choose now, to live a happy life, not because only happy things happen to me, but because I choose to live that way despite of the bad things that happen to me and around me. This has been the major lesson I learnt during my 30s, and it is priceless.
So, to celebrate the year I turn 40, I decided I wouldn’t restrict celebrations to just one day (my birthday). I want to celebrate year round – and why? Again, because I can. I gave it a lot of thought and decided that I am going to run (or walk, if that is the case) a 10k race every month this year, starting on March 4th. I will be three months and a bit post-partum, so I’m being gentle with my goal setting. I want to complete each new 10k I run in less time than the previous one. I’m not setting a specific time goal, but I want to know that I will be improving with each month of training and experience.
In the year I turn 40, I also want to finally release the knitting pattern I designed. It is written, tech edited and tested by lovely knitters. The only thing missing: layout, exporting the pdf and releasing it on ravelry. I hope setting this goal and sharing it with you will keep me accountable and help me achieve it.
Another goal of mine is to grow the air Embroidery Club. It has been running for four years now and it has grown, but not as steadily as I would like. This year, I want to introduce a few changes that will make it easier for members to join and have an overall better experience.
I also want to start selling some of the embroidered originals I have. These were made with love and care, and I think it’s time for them to find joy in new homes.
How about you? Did you make a recap of your 2017? Did you set goals for 2018? Please share in the comments, or send me an e-mail.
I’ve been giving a lot of thought to a project I would like to embrace. I love writing, and expressing my thoughts and feelings through words, and blogging was – once upon a time – a wonderful outlet for that. It hasn’t been, not for a while, a wonderful place for that, and I would like that to change. For me, I mean.
I remember vividly the evening I created my first blog and wrote my first post. It was end of October, probably the 30th, back in 2006. It was my last night in Buenos Aires, Argentina, before returning to Lisbon. I had been there for two months, visiting my then-boyfriend, now-husband. I had decided I would be moving there, but needed to come to Lisbon to close up shop (and properly move there). That night, I was alone at home, as he had a business trip to Santiago de Chile he could not reschedule, and I took the leap of creating a blog at blogger. (Remember blogger?)
I named my blog “Entre Lisboa e Buenos Aires” (which translates as “Between Lisbon and Buenos Aires”), which was a good description of how I felt: on the one hand, I loved my hometown of Lisbon; on the other, my future seemed to live in that beautiful, Latin American city.
Those first few years of blogging were like a honeymoon, if there’s such a thing when it comes to writing and sharing thoughts with an unknown audience. I had my eyes peeled for everything, and found a way to write about the little things I noticed here and there. In April 2007, I moved to Argentina, and I didn’t have to be very creative in noticing those small things, because everything was new to me. Buenos Aires was love at first sight, with all its beauty and all its flaws of a gigantic city (the greater Buenos Aires has more inhabitants than the whole country of Portugal, just to give a sense of scale).
I wrote in Portuguese, my mother tongue, a language I love. It has subtleties – like many other languages, I suppose – and it felt good to be able to explore and play with those nuances while, at the same time, presenting my new reality living in the “South Cone”. I discovered new tastes (hello ceviche! And sushi, that was the moment I fell in love with you), looked at streets, buildings and corners with the eyes of a foreigner who actually had the time to be there permanently.
But those first months weren’t all pink and rosy. I fell ill and underwent several surgeries, and the weight of the distance made itself very evident. It took me a while to get better after the experience, but eventually I did.
Blogs, at that time, were journals people used to express themselves and their creativity. Comments were one of the ways readers connected to the author, and a way to create community. Reading blogs and interacting with other bloggers made me want to create more; to experiment more; to strive to be less “perfect” and more “daring”. I rediscovered knitting and I experimented with different illustration techniques. I took painting classes and went back to studying German, a language I absolutely love. I made friends with new people, both in Buenos Aires and in the online world.
Blogs then became a powerful platform and blogging suddenly became a business. And although I get it – lots of people were reading blogs and many of us were writing blogs, which takes up a lot of time and if you can monetize it, then why not – that evolution also saddened me. Blogs lost that fresh, spontaneous feeling they had and posts became ways to sell things.
More or less at the same time, I moved from Argentina to Panama, and that was a tough change for me. Looking back, I think I wasn’t as comfortable sharing feelings and thoughts as I was before, not only because blogging now had a more commercial and practical purpose (mostly sell things, or create brand awareness), but also because I didn’t have the same love affair with Panama I lived earlier with Buenos Aires. Instagram also came to be around that time, and that platform – at least in its infancy – seemed to have the freshness to visually express myself. Those were the days when the only picture format was square and posts were chronological. (Oh, Instagram, what have you done to yourself? But that’s a conversation for another post.)
In 2013, I moved back to Lisbon, Portugal, after six years in Latin America. I was happy to come home, after being abroad and far away. But coming back wasn’t easy, or at least as easy as one would expect when going back to your home country. Because everything is different now: friends and clients have moved on, created new routines while we were away; the city itself had changed. And, once again, we had to start anew.
That Summer, I took a business and marketing online course (Tara Gentile’s then-called “10 Thousand Feet” course, which I highly recommend) that changed a lot in the way I worked, found new clients and created new business opportunities for myself. It also fundamentally changed the way I approached blogging: it was now a way to intentionally connect with my audience, create awareness and sell my products and services, and I started delivering my posts both on my website and via e-mail.
Writing to sell my products and services was both fantastic and also gut-wrenching, in the sense that it created a chasm between what I needed to write and what I felt like spontaneously writing. I tried filling that void writing as much as possible from my experience, or from my heart, one could say; but I always missed that freshness of the first years.
Fast forward to today: after long pauses, I’ve been craving that spontaneity that blogs offered in their infancy, the connection with the audience and the sense of community it created. I’ve been finding them in other platforms, such as through Anita no Trabalho, the podcast I co-created and co-host with my friend and podcast partner Eliana; through Instagram, where I’ve been meeting wonderful new people; or even through embroidery, via my free online embroidery e-course and my paid air Embroidery Club.
And that’s where we are today: craving this space for expression, in a world that has no time to read anything longer than three lines (let alone the many paragraphs above).
This post is the first, I hope, of a series of essays I intend to write and publish, with the goal of (re)creating, even if only for myself, that sense of space. If you want to follow along, you can check back this space or read posts directly in your e-mail inbox.
This is a story about delayed gratification. A year and half ago, maybe, I don’t recall anymore, I wrote an essay to submit to Uppercase magazine, of which I am a huge fan, when Janine posted a call for entries for the volume “S” of her Encyclopedia of Inspiration. “S” standing for “stitch” and “stitched illustration”. I wrote it with my heart (as I usually do everything) and added some pictures of my embroidered illustrations. I crossed my fingers and hoped for the best.
Life happened – both to me and, obviously, to Janine – and it took a while to receive a lovely surprise in my e-mail inbox: my submission had been accepted into “Stitch-Illo”! I was so happy about it, it made me feel like the luckiest person alive. I love Janine’s impeccable work and I know how carefully she curates anything she decides to include in any of her publications. That made me even happier. I simply couldn’t wait to see the book in my hands, and was delighted to learn that as a featured artist I would receive two copies that were to arrive by mail.
So I waited. I started seeing the reactions on Instagram: artists who had received their copies; people who had purchased their copies. I saw delicious photos and videos. As for me? I had an empty mailbox.
Months later, I received a notification from Customs (wait, what?) saying I had a volume that needed to be processed. I gathered it could only be my much-awaited copies of Stitch-Illo and presented the documentation that was asked. The books were given as gifts by the publisher, and I presented evidence of that instead of a receipt of purchase; still, “there are no gifts for Customs. We need an invoice.” was the response I received.
Janine and her team were amazing, sending me documentation (and support!). Several weeks later, I received the message that they were “appreciating the documentation” and one day, weeks later, I had my doorbell ring. Mr. Armindo, our much esteemed postman, arrived with a volume. He was very apologetic because he had to charge me with Customs taxes and fees, but I simply didn’t care: I finally had “Stitch-Illo” in my hands! And I wasn’t disappointed, not at all.
“Stitch-Illo” is a wonderful collection of artwork from different corners of the world. In common, the resurgence of needlework as a means of expression. As I browse through its pages and read the stories of all these different artists from around the world, I can’t help but wonder how much technology has both allowed this work to happen and to be shared, while also pushing it away from the digital back to the analog.
It’s amazing – and reassuring – to see such diversity within the same few basic stitches: each artist produces such different work, while at the same time using the same familiar stitches. It is reassuring, to me, because it reinforces this idea that expressive artwork does not need to be incredibly sophisticated. And if I do what I am compelled to do, instead of replicating what I saw someone else making, my work will have something unique and special about it.
Thank you, Janine, for putting together this wonderful book. I’m reading other people’s stories and admiring their meaningful art and thinking that this book, to me, feels like home.
Now that jacaranda season is almost over here in Lisbon, and Summer is just around the corner, I would like to share a bit of the background behind this month’s air Embroidery Club project, its inspiration and motivation.
To me, blooming jacarandas bring many memories, some of them fond; some of them sweet – and sour.
When I lived in Argentina, Buenos Aires came into full jacaranda bloom during the month of November. It was the best month: winter was over but the scorching heat of summer wasn’t quite there yet. Many large avenues, lined with jacarandas, became beautiful and violet, in this very special and electric hue.
Lisbon is much smaller than Buenos Aires, but its avenues are lined with many trees, and many of them become violet at this time of the year. Jacaranda blooms have such a beautiful, vivid color, one could almost be fooled into thinking that they would last forever. Alas, they can disappear in just one day, if the wind blows stronger.
Three years ago, as I expected my twins to be born, had them, had my beautiful baby girl with me and mourned the loss of my son, nature – and blooming jacarandas – kept reminding me that life was still beautiful, despite the loss, that I just had to look around and appreciate the beauty to know that I could – and had to – go on.
So every year as I start to see jacarandas lose their leaves and become filled with little, vibrantly colored flowers, I can’t help but think of where I was a few years ago, and where I am now, letting myself feel the wave of loss again, as well as the wave of never ending love for life, my family and friends, and for the beauty of nature, which we cannot even for one second take for granted.
Agora que a temporada dos jacarandás está mesmo no seu fim, aqui por Lisboa, e o verão está mesmo, mesmo à porta, gostaria de partilhar convosco um pouco sobre a história por trás do projecto deste mês do Clube de Bordado air.
Os jacarandás em flor trazem-me muitas memórias, algumas delas muito queridas, outras, um pouco agridoces.
Quando vivia na Argentina, Buenos Aires entrava numa quase febre violeta durante o mês de Novembro. Para mim, o melhor mês do ano: o inverno já tinha acabado e o calor sufocante do verão ainda não chegara. Muitas das grandes avenidas da cidade, cheias de grandes jacarandás frondosos, entravam numa vibração violeta quase eléctrica.
Lisboa é uma cidade muito mais pequena que Buenos Aires, mas também tem muitas das suas artérias enfeitadas de jacarandás, que nesta altura do ano se tornam ainda mais bonitos, com as suas flores luminosas. A cor é de tal forma viva que uma pessoa quase podia imaginar que vai lá ficar para sempre. Mas não, as flores de jacarandá vão-se de um dia para o outro.
Há três anos, quando esperava o nascimento dos meus gémeos, os tive, trouxe a minha bebé para casa e chorava a morte do meu filho, a natureza – e os jacarandás em flor – ajudaram-me a manter a minha alegria de viver. E que, apesar da perda, me bastaria olhar à minha volta para apreciar a beleza da natureza. E isso deu-me forças para continuar.
Cada ano que passa, à medida que vejo os jacarandás a perderem as suas folhas e a substituí-las por uma mancha lilás, não posso evitar pensar nas esperanças e sonhos de há uns anos atrás, na perda e no caminho que percorri até aos dias de hoje. Olho e agradeço a família e os amigos, que sempre me apoiaram, e aprecio também a beleza da natureza, do nosso planeta tão lindo e complexo, que temos de cuidar nós, todos os dias, sem nunca delegar essa tarefa em ninguém.