Sixth In-Depth Blog Post [2022]

Welcome to my sixth and final regular In-Depth blog post! I am in the final stages of my project and I could not be happier that I chose to do the topic that I did. Today I will be outlining briefly my plans for my final presentation and giving a small progress report before the last stretch. 

For my final in-depth presentation, I will be presenting all of my small projects and my knowledge in a relaxed, conversation-style format with displays around my table. I may be wearing my traditional Palestinian thobe, although I might not as I am outgrowing it and do not want to look like I am claiming that I made it myself. I will be sitting down and doing cross-stitch throughout the night, while I present any of the theoretical knowledge I gained on cultural practices, history and more on small posters around my table. I will answer the questions I am asked about what I learned in the making of each individual piece in order to showcase only the highlights from each one. Each project focused on a different practical skill, from thread tension and basic knowledge on the pattern sampler to stitch neatness on the first bookmark to following patterns on the second and working with waste canvas on the tote bag. I aim to capture a healthy mix of what the medium means to me and other people who have practiced this art with practical skills and techniques that the audience can engage with in their own time.

Recently I have begun working with following patterns rather than just pictures or reference guides. My mentor came into town with tons of gifts of pattern kits, cloth etc and my goal is to work through most or all of what she got me! Here is a picture of the bookmark that I have begun making. It is not traditional tatreez but I tried to incorporate tatreez colour schemes into regular cross-stitch motifs as tatreez patterns specifically are a lot harder to come by than regular cross-stitch ones, and ultimately they develop the same or very similar skills. Honestly, working on this pattern has been pretty hard work as it is not a very linear sort of design to work through. There is a lot of starting, stopping, rotating, trying to determine angles, and directions and skipping squares for stitches.

I also got a gift of Waste Canvas, which allows me to do cross-stitch embroidery on fabrics other than Aida Cloth. You lay this fabric on top of whatever you are going to stitch on, complete your design on the grid and then pull the threads of the waste canvas out one by one. It is really genius actually! I plan to make a tote bag this way.

Thank you for reading my final In-Depth progress post! It has been a journey and I am truly grateful to have been able to share it and nearly complete this incredible project. I look forward to the final stretch!

Fifth In-Depth Blog Post [2022]

Good day, and welcome to my fifth in-depth blog post of the school year (besides the introductory one). I will answer some questions about how mentoring is going and give a thorough progress report.

  1. What kinds of learning opportunities does the mentor provide to expose you to new learning?

My mentor provides me with learning opportunities like gifts of new patterns or embroidery guidebooks. I have come pretty far in cross-stitch pretty fast and she gave me a book of general embroidery info so I can expand my horizons and continue to learn if I wish to. She also makes sure to encourage my practicing, as that is the most important part of this entire process. 

  1. What kinds of learning opportunities exist to reinforce new learning?

I am always expected to practice exercises like stitching in straight lines or working on a specific project between meetings. Mostly my mentor just likes to check in on me and give me support, but she believes in learning by doing so a lot of the reinforcement is just practice. 

  1. What kinds of opportunities exist that might accelerate learning?

Well, I got a great opportunity when my mentor’s daughter came into town and I got to learn some more in person! Face-to-face visual learning is so much easier as sometimes those little tiny stitches get lost in the shuffle over a video call. My mentor also showed me a book of embroidery patterns besides cross-stitch that could help me get an understanding of the medium as a whole. Additionally, she mentioned something about a pattern kit she might send over to me in the mail for me to try, but I did not hear her all that well. Occasionally she sends me pictures and videos of other people’s tatreez and thobes so I can get more immersed in the culture and learning, like this TikTok: 

https://vm.tiktok.com/ZMLbRjccD/

  1. When you get together what do you talk about?

Mostly how our lives are going and what crafting projects we are working on. The last time I called my mentor she was working on shaping these cookie-like desserts while we discussed what I was working on and what I want to learn next. I told her about both my cross-stitch and sewing projects and she told me about her daughter (who has been a kind of stand-in mentor for me these past few weeks) and her delayed flight home. My mentor asks what I want to learn next and what I need help with, and loves to support me and my work by encouraging me and giving me compliments. 

  1. What is going particularly well in your mentoring relationship right now?

The easygoingness and the levels of support I am experiencing. Even though my mentor is old enough to be my grandma, talking to her feels like talking to a friend and she really treats me like either an equal or other times like her own granddaughter. She takes in my suggestions/ideas, talks about life while we stitch together and gives me great advice, but also loves to support me, compliment my progress and send me small presents in the mail the way a family member would. I am truly so grateful to have her and also grateful for the additional opportunity that the arrival of her daughter gave me because I also got to learn a lot more in person. 

  1. What are you learning about one another?

I am learning that my mentor is an incredibly patient person who loves to give people gifts and never really stops making little crafts that cheer people up. Whether they are cookies or crochet throws/blankets or pieces of embroidery, she never stops making and she never stops giving either. I also understand that she understands the value of practice and that she thinks I should “learn by doing” whenever possible. I get the impression that she just works and works at something until she improves and I think she expects the same thing from me. I am not sure what she is learning about me but I do hope it is positive. She really is a great example and I also aspire to be a thoughtful gift-giver and a patient skill-acquirer. I think she is impressed with my eagerness to learn and my effort in improving my stitches. I hope so!

As for my progress, I am almost done working on my very first project! The newest addition to my small mediocre bookmark collection, this expands on a pattern in my pattern sampler that I absolutely love, the moon/milling wheel geometric symbol. I am yet to finish the design; I have some borders, embellishments and the bottom part to finish, and I am using this picture (the one with the blue and red) as a reference.

I have also shown great improvement in the neatness of the back of my stitches, to the point where the before and after pictures (shown below) are outstanding! This conserves thread and also makes it a lot easier to embroider the final details or undo mistakes. 

I learned a faster way to do my half cross stitches so that I could get projects done quicker. Basically, it involves both entering and exiting the back of the fabric at once, so when you pull, you make the whole stitch, rather than having to pull it all the way through on either side. Hopefully, this picture will enhance my description.

Next, I am going to be working on using waste canvas so that I can use this type of embroidery on non-Aida fabric and even put it on my clothing or tote bags.

Hello from the two sizes of the same pattern I made by accident!

Thank you for reading, and have a great day!

Fifth In-Depth Blog Post [2022]

Good day, and welcome to my fifth in-depth blog post of the school year (besides the introductory one). I will answer some questions about how mentoring is going and give a thorough progress report.

  1. What kinds of learning opportunities does the mentor provide to expose you to new learning?

My mentor provides me with learning opportunities like gifts of new patterns or embroidery guidebooks. I have come pretty far in cross-stitch pretty fast and she gave me a book of general embroidery info so I can expand my horizons and continue to learn if I wish to. She also makes sure to encourage my practicing, as that is the most important part of this entire process. 

  1. What kinds of learning opportunities exist to reinforce new learning?

I am always expected to practice exercises like stitching in straight lines or working on a specific project between meetings. Mostly my mentor just likes to check in on me and give me support, but she believes in learning by doing so a lot of the reinforcement is just practice. 

  1. What kinds of opportunities exist that might accelerate learning?

Well, I got a great opportunity when my mentor’s daughter came into town and I got to learn some more in person! Face-to-face visual learning is so much easier as sometimes those little tiny stitches get lost in the shuffle over a video call. My mentor also showed me a book of embroidery patterns besides cross-stitch that could help me get an understanding of the medium as a whole. Additionally, she mentioned something about a pattern kit she might send over to me in the mail for me to try, but I did not hear her all that well. Occasionally she sends me pictures and videos of other people’s tatreez and thobes so I can get more immersed in the culture and learning, like this TikTok: 

https://vm.tiktok.com/ZMLbRjccD/

  1. When you get together what do you talk about?

Mostly how our lives are going and what crafting projects we are working on. The last time I called my mentor she was working on shaping these cookie-like desserts while we discussed what I was working on and what I want to learn next. I told her about both my cross-stitch and sewing projects and she told me about her daughter (who has been a kind of stand-in mentor for me these past few weeks) and her delayed flight home. My mentor asks what I want to learn next and what I need help with, and loves to support me and my work by encouraging me and giving me compliments. 

  1. What is going particularly well in your mentoring relationship right now?

The easygoingness and the levels of support I am experiencing. Even though my mentor is old enough to be my grandma, talking to her feels like talking to a friend and she really treats me like either an equal or other times like her own granddaughter. She takes in my suggestions/ideas, talks about life while we stitch together and gives me great advice, but also loves to support me, compliment my progress and send me small presents in the mail the way a family member would. I am truly so grateful to have her and also grateful for the additional opportunity that the arrival of her daughter gave me because I also got to learn a lot more in person. 

  1. What are you learning about one another?

I am learning that my mentor is an incredibly patient person who loves to give people gifts and never really stops making little crafts that cheer people up. Whether they are cookies or crochet throws/blankets or pieces of embroidery, she never stops making and she never stops giving either. I also understand that she understands the value of practice and that she thinks I should “learn by doing” whenever possible. I get the impression that she just works and works at something until she improves and I think she expects the same thing from me. I am not sure what she is learning about me but I do hope it is positive. She really is a great example and I also aspire to be a thoughtful gift-giver and a patient skill-acquirer. I think she is impressed with my eagerness to learn and my effort in improving my stitches. I hope so!

As for my progress, I am almost done working on my very first project! The newest addition to my small mediocre bookmark collection, this expands on a pattern in my pattern sampler that I absolutely love, the moon/milling wheel geometric symbol. I am yet to finish the design; I have some borders, embellishments and the bottom part to finish, and I am using this picture (the one with the blue and red) as a reference.

I have also shown great improvement in the neatness of the back of my stitches, to the point where the before and after pictures (shown below) are outstanding! This conserves thread and also makes it a lot easier to embroider the final details or undo mistakes. 

I learned a faster way to do my half cross stitches so that I could get projects done quicker. Basically, it involves both entering and exiting the back of the fabric at once, so when you pull, you make the whole stitch, rather than having to pull it all the way through on either side. Hopefully, this picture will enhance my description.

Next, I am going to be working on using waste canvas so that I can use this type of embroidery on non-Aida fabric and even put it on my clothing or tote bags.

Hello from the two sizes of the same pattern I made by accident!

Thank you for reading, and have a great day!

Literature Circles Theme Park Project

Welcome to the Otter Lake Theme Park! Let me show you around.

Here is a comprehensive brochure that tells you about the many attractions at our park.

To help you find these great activities and get around, we have a map made for you as well:

As for my contributions…

My roles in completing the theme park project were brochure-making and merchandise-making. I believe I went above and beyond by also designing a logo to accompany the brochure and putting in additional work to polish up my teammate’s products. I also helped keep my group on track by making sure they hand in their individual components by different in-group deadlines (this also helped give me time to put together the brochure). I first started by designing the logo while brainstorming ideas for merchandise. I started a very rough draft of the brochure with approximate locations of different components so I could add them in as they came in. I began to design product packaging for my main products. I then received the majority of the components of the project and added in the visual aspects. Some required trimming or editing to make the backgrounds transparent for the sake of space or looks, so I painstakingly removed the backgrounds of these images. I then added the text for most of the categories. I drew a “most popular” merchandise shelf with 6 different products, including the 3 required for the project’s criteria. I wrote about how these items relate to the story and attached prices to the products. I also contributed actively to group discussions and suggested jokes and structures for the script of the presentation. I then edited the final brochure together including formatting, doing some light editing along the way.

This project helped me understand more of the story, specifically getting to know the role the characters played in relation to the plot and the theme. Our main character, Virgil, while important, could have easily done nothing and John would have still been exposed. He also does not seem to be a very memorable character, as most of the great and creative ideas for attractions at our theme park stemmed from more exciting and important places. Perhaps this is intentional though – as Virgil is a young boy struggling with his identity and sense of purpose, a bold John with similar aspirations but a more confident demeanour takes both the character’s and audience’s breaths away. When one takes a more “theme park” view of the story, they tend to forget the more serious characters and go for the flashier and sillier ones. This closely mirrors the themes of the story, however, as Lillian wanted Maggie to have a little bit of magic in her life, experiencing something other than loss and paperwork. Even if it ended up causing them lots of trouble, Maggie and Virgil did go on that crazy adventure – and Virgil got the most incredible essay out of it too.

Fourth In-Depth Blog Post [2022]

Good day everybody! Welcome to my fourth in-depth blog post of this school year. Today I will be talking about some challenges and some goals during this intermediate phase of mentorship and checking in on my progress as always. 

  1. What has been your most difficult mentoring challenge so far? Why? 

Goal-setting/communication. I find that my mentor and I are sometimes on different pages about what I want to accomplish in a given time period or what I want to work on. My mentor is a very patient person who emphasizes practicing the basics over and over again, but I do want to get started on a few projects in order to have something to show for my efforts. I feel like I do not express these goals nearly enough and I regret that I am not as consistent about meeting every week as I would like to be. This really hinders my progress and I know I am causing a bit of frustration for myself this way.

  1. What is working well? Why?

I am proud of my ability to take initiative and “study” different skills I know I need to work on between meetings. I have recently started practicing pretty often (almost every day) and I can make a lot of great designs so that by the time the meetings come around, I can get better feedback because my mentor knows exactly what I have been working on and what I should do going forward. 

  1. What could be working better? How can you make sure this happens?

I could definitely be more consistent about meetings with my mentor. We have agreed to meet on Sundays, but we do not have a set time and so sometimes we will miss each other due to time zones. I will message her for a meeting too late and I have to either reschedule or make it up somehow. I will make sure I fix this problem by trying to agree on a set time with my mentor. I will make sure I do not make conflicting plans earlier in the day on Sundays. I usually still make progress even if we do not meet every single week but it would be nice to be more consistent.

 

Progress has definitely picked up! I took some initiative and decided to make a “pattern sampler” to surprise my mentor using the patterns she has sent me. I found that it was a pretty big jump going from practicing stitches in straight rows, as that mostly involved practicing tension, starting and stopping, etc, to patterns, which have additional skills like thread management, deciding what order to stitch in, reading patterns and the like. I could not do it on my own but luckily my mentor’s daughter, who has been learning since she was in the first grade (she’s an adult now) was in town to visit family friends and has been showing me those aspects in person! It really helps to learn from somebody directly and face to face as they can hold your fabric, demonstrate from every angle and there is no squinting at a small phone screen. My mentor was really pleased to see what I have so far with the pattern sampler and while it could use some work (I left some half-finished fails on it and the patterns are weird distances apart) she commended me for my effort and I got lots of compliments on the neatness of my stitches! I would like to try making a bookmark next, and I want to improve my speed and accuracy while working (I tend to spend a lot of time undoing mistakes).

 

Third In-Depth Blog Post [2022]

Good day! Welcome to my third in-depth blog post. Today I will be reporting on my progress and answering some questions about the theme of context within interactions. 

The first question I have chosen to answer is: “What went particularly well during your mentoring sessions?”. Quite a few things went very well, as my mentor is kind and understanding. I particularly like how we jumped right into the meeting and I began learning new skills and stitches right away. I vastly prefer learning from a person directly over a tutorial so they can let me know if I am making a mistake before it gets too bad to undo. I made a lot of errors and it took me a while to get the hang of it but my mentor was patient the entire time. I managed to feel like I had really accomplished something by the end of the first real, skills-oriented meeting (after the two for logistics and talking about materials), and that is very exciting for me. 

The second question I will answer is “What relationship challenges did you face – Were you communicating effectively/actually listening to each other?”. My mentor and I generally have good communication, but we have had some challenges.I find that my mentor prefers it when I watch her demonstrate a skill first before I try to follow along, whereas sometimes I tend to rush ahead or try to follow along step-by-step. I find that when it comes to learning new stitches my mentor’s method is much better, and I also have to use specific squares to conserve fabric space for the pattern which makes it important to pay attention. I am very excited y this new skill so I do not often find it difficult to actually listen to my mentor, and I can tell from my mentor’s understanding and ability to figure out what problems I may have that she is always listening to what I have to say respectfully. 

The third and final question I will answer today is “What three strategies could improve the quality of your mentoring interactions?”. A strategy I could use is the one mentioned above, where I actually watch my mentor demonstrate a skill or a stitch before I attempt to do it myself to make sure I do not waste time doing something incorrectly because i missed the details. Another strategy I could use is setting goals at the beginning of each meeting so my mentor knows what she should teach me and what she should leave me to practice on my own. A third strategy, connected to the aforementioned one, is saving a lot of the practice for after the meeting in order to save instructional time. My mentor wanted me to complete a few rows of stitches during our meeting to make sure I understood the concept and stitched in the right direction, but now that I know the fundamentals I can easily self-teach the remaining stitches and practice the ones I know on my own time. My mentor has begun implementing this strategy in limited contexts. 

So far, I have made progress in learning the fundamentals of my skill. While I have not started any projects, I learned how to work with a needle in a cross-stitch setting (it is very different from how you would thread a needle in sewing for example), several different types of stitches including the quarter stitch and the full cross stitch and a few tips for working with Aida cloth (like the best way to undo stitches).

My practice rows of basic stitches + the quarter stitch I just learned

I learned some ground rules like keeping all my rows going in the same direction. I also started looking at patterns for my projects and as some inspiration. I have practiced my stitches so I could get a better grip on speed, consistency and tension on the corner of my fabric. I am yet to learn a few more stitches, how to read patterns and how to put these stitches together, but that should be easy after I master what I have learned in recent weeks!

A pattern I liked! I find my eye attracted to the more modern-looking geometric patterns. Definitely beyond my skill level right now but serves for good inspiration.

Thank you for reading my third in-depth blog post. I learned a lot about the ways one can improve their communication and build a better relationship with their mentor in order to improve their skills!

Second In-Depth Blog Post [2022]

Welcome to my second in-depth blog post of 2022! Today I will be discussing a bit about my mentor, the wisdom I have gained and my progress so far. 

As my in-depth skill, tatreez, is a cultural practice, my mentor likely gained a lot of her experience with this craft through her family. During our last meeting, she showed me a project that her daughter was working on laying on the arm of her couch, showing just how this art is passed down from generation to generation of women. We did not discuss her past with this craft as much in our first few meetings as we were just trying to get started, but I do look forward to knowing more as she has mentioned some great community experiences with her other arts. 

So far I have gained a lot of wisdom from my mentor. She readily gives out advice on all matter of things even unrelated to this subject, but for the sake of conciseness, I will mention her emphasis on inspiration, flexibility and taking small steps. She showed me an Instagram account for an organization that promotes the preservation of Palestinian embroidery and helps employ women in difficult conditions to make money by cross-stitching

 on apparel that they sell. She says that she takes a lot of inspiration from the patterns they use and she also pointed out the amazing women that are working to make these beautiful pieces. She also said that if I chose to use slightly different materials that she would be fine with it because everybody does their craft a little differently. She is very flexible and open to feedback. Additionally, she mentioned that it is very okay to adjust things to make them beginner-friendly and she does not expect me to do things the hardest way (like starting with a harder fabric tension or lots of colours) right off the bat. This leads me to my next topic, which is about the facilitating and mentor skills I have gained from observing her.

Her emphasis on making sure she understands my perspective as a beginner is really admirable. Often when a person gets very good at a particular skill they forget that the people that they are teaching may struggle with aspects and sub-skills that come very easily to them, but my mentor is so experienced that she seems to know exactly what I might struggle with nad adjusts those aspects for me as she sees fit. She understands that it is okay for a beginner to start with very small, baby steps and work their way up. I have made my first baby step in the past few days, which is figuring out how the materials work with one another.

So far I have learned about the materials involved in this craft. I went out to purchase Aida Cloth (the fabric I will be using), tapestry needles (they have round ends) and a type of embroidery floss called Perle Cotton embroidery floss. This specific type of embroidery/cross-stitch thread is very common in this craft, and I will make sure to ask about the details of why in a later meeting (I was given some indication that it is size-related).  I learned that there are different sizes of Aida cloth based on the size of the gaps between the woven strands. The fabric is woven, so when you make a stitch you are supposed to put your needle in the gaps of the fabric. The Aida cloth has a numerical rating system and my mentor recommended size 14 for beginners due to differences in tension that she will explain in a later meeting. My mentor also showed me examples of tatreez designs and briefly talked about finding patterns and traditional embroidery colours.

Materials I have purchased so far (still missing dark red and green thread)

Thank you for reading my second in-depth blog post of the year and I sincerely hope that it was intriguing and insightful for you!

First In-Depth Blog Post [2022]

Good day, and welcome to my first In-Depth blog post of 2022!

For this year’s In-Depth project, I have decided to learn tatreez, a type of traditional embroidery/cross-stitch from my culture. This skill is usually passed down from generation to generation of Palestinian women and is a way to bring families together. Nowadays, many people living abroad do not have the time to pass it down, and I have taken this opportunity to ask a close family friend to mentor me in this art. This style of embroidery has a variety of unique characteristics, from the significance of the colours and the patterns to the techniques used in making it. 

A group of women wearing traditional thobes from the Nablus region.

Expanding on the reasons listed above, I wanted to learn this skill because I have the chance to get in touch with my culture and keep a tradition alive while simultaneously improving my hands-on crafting skills. This skill will help me further understand my culture and heritage because the art is deeply rooted in the experiences of Palestinian women. While used in a variety of decorative contexts, tatreez is often sewn onto a thobe, a dress-like garment. The patterns on historical examples of thobe garments can be analyzed to understand which villages or regions the wearer came from and facts about their life like their marital status through the unique colours and patterns embroidered on the garment. Knowing how to stitch different tatreez patterns can give me a more hands-on understanding of this history and much, much more.

Examples of tatreez patterns.

I can also improve my hands-on crafting skills by learning this as the designs can be very intricate and detailed. I have tried to pick up similar, textile-related arts skills like crocheting in the past and have found the process of practicing until my work is neat/even and until I can make my adjustments to the designs difficult to do on my own. Having a mentor to teach me why everything works the way it does rather than just how to do it will certainly help me understand this craft much better. I will also be held more accountable to practice and finish my work!

Speaking of my mentor, my mentor this year is somebody who is very experienced in all sorts of crafts from sewing to crocheting to tatreez. She cares a lot about what she does and I have fond memories of receiving her work as gifts growing up. Recently, she came to visit her family members living in Vancouver, who are close friends with my family. We went fabric shopping together and I saw that our friends had this beautiful tatreez wall decoration as well. Knowing how much she cares about her work, I contacted her to ask her if she would mentor me in tatreez and she was overjoyed! She is also Palestinian and she feels like a third grandma to me, so learning this skill from her just feels right. 

I am very excited to embark on the journey of learning tatreez from my mentor and I hope you look forward to reading about my progress as much as I look forward to making it!

Additional Resources/Further Reading: 

https://www.tatreezandtea.com/tatreezing

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[Eminent] Interview Reflection

[The following is a reflection regarding the interview portion of my Eminent project. This is NOT a part of my learning centre and to access that post please follow this link https://mygleneagle.sd43.bc.ca/banaa2020/2021/11/30/taylor-swift-eminent-person-learning-centre/]

Regretfully, I have not been able to secure an interview for my Eminent Person project. It was extremely difficult to find a great way to contact her or anybody on her team, and I believe that is intentional and for a good reason. I am sure that if there was some way to send her fan mail or for the public to contact her managers/publicists/team members, they would be flooded with thousands of emails from obsessed fans trying to get in touch with her.

I tried reading through several forums, looked for her publicist and label information, and looked for organizations that might know about her. The only advice I seemed to get was to make a TikTok or another type of social media post to grab her attention. I did end up making that TikTok, and tons of my classmates pitched in to give it exposure, but unfortunately, it did not make it through to her. I am not even sure if she is able to interact with minors online as looking through the posts she has liked and commented on, she only really seems to get in touch with her adult fans, which makes sense considering how sketchy the former can seem even if she has good intentions. I still do wish I added more hashtags and tried to interact with her on different social media platforms. Maybe if I had gotten started earlier and used strategies to get exposure like singing a song or adding relevant hashtags I would have been able to make it to her.

I will also admit my internet sleuthing was not quite thorough enough, and after my window for emails had passed I found the name of her former high school, whose gym is named after her because she has made donations to it post-graduation. That could have been a good place to at least look. I also wish I investigated certain leads further even if I had no hope for results, like the contact for her merch store or maybe a demo submission email for her label. I could not find publicist contacts but the way record labels work I know there’s a place or two where you can submit your demos and while I know most of those emails get ignored (haha…haha…) anything was worth a shot. The last lead I wish I pursued was her former guitar teacher. I read an article about how she apparently never acknowledged him after breaking out and I’m assuming I could find his contact in it somewhere.

I think what I’d take away from this experience is that even if you find no reasonable or viable ways to do something, it is best to follow those rabbit holes anyway. Just like when you write a test and never leave the answers blank just in case you are right about something you do not know, sometimes you just have to pursue those trails you thought were hopeless because maybe, maybe something would work out.