Saturday, February 14, 2009

10,000 Hours

I just finished reading Outliers: The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell. Although far from accurate or scientific, it does have a lot of interesting stories and propositions. One measure that he uses for success is 10,000 hours, the amount of time it takes a human being to master a complex task such as a musical instrument, acting, or any job requiring expertise. I'm sure some of you have spent 10,000 hours (about 20 hours a week for ten years) stitching. It is obvious that I haven't reached that level yet. To be conservative I have probably spent about five hours a week stitching over the last two years (520 hours), plus maybe another 500 hours in the years before I started blogging and stitching regularly. Now if I had spent 10,000 hours I would know that I made rules for stitching on airplanes for very good reasons and would follow those rules. The first rule of stitching on airplanes is to never take any work smaller than 28 count (Three Gables is stitched on 30 count). The second rule is not to take any project with predominantly dark colors. I meant to bring a smaller dimension and lower count project on the flight from the mainland and Maui on Tuesday, but I didn't. We were so busy finishing up the first pass on the foundation entries (over 1,000 images) that I barely had time to pack. So I just grabbed up what was closest to hand and left. I tried to stitch the interior frame of the second window and got the thread so tangled that I had to cut it completely out. So I tried to stitch on part of the main gable, but had eye strain before finishing the first thread. With the window shades down the plane was dark!

Once we landed in Maui we have been working through the normal chores that one has in a house; getting repairmen in to fix things (I hope the electrician will call us back) and working on projects (like window coverings) that we meant to finish during the last trip here. We have ordered a new bedroom set for the master bedroom and will put the old bedroom set in the guest room, which is currently home to some very odd odds and ends. It would be good to get the closet in the guest room installed this trip. Eventually we will have Guests and right now the closet is the Big Empty. Guests shouldn't have to pile their things on the floor.

Meanwhile, remember that I was just grabbing projects and shoving them in the suitcase? Well, one project that I grabbed was French Noel by Rouge du Rhin, a kit I picked up in Paris. You might not have seen this project before. I started it in 2000, but set it aside shortly after I started. The white ribbon is bordered by a silver metallic thread. The thread from the kit is actually silver ribbon backed by an awful plastic thread. I started stitching this with the plastic thread and silver ribbon together. It was much easier to strip the plastic thread off the ribbon and just stitch the silver strip. But even with this the silver threads twists. Still this is a small project and I would really like to see it finished this trip. I even bought a daylight light from Home Depot yesterday while my husband was buying a ladder, so I can finally stitch in the evenings here without losing my eyesight. I hope everyone else is having a restful and/or productive weekend. I'm going to go stitch!

7 comments:

drea_dear said...

Kathryn, enjoy your trip! Wow, building a house at home, and renovating a house in Maui! You're busy!

I detest metallic threads - the only reason I use them is because they are so darn pretty when you're done. But they tangle, split, shred, ACK! And if you make a mistake, there is no just pulling it out. French Noel is gorgeous already - it will be nice to have that out of the WIP pile, and ready to display this Christmas!

Anna van Schurman said...

I have been stitching for twenty years, more and less over the years but I'm guessing that I've hit 10000. Wow. I never thought of it that way. I guess I know a thing or two! :)

Laura said...

I really like your French Noel WIP, but I know that working with metallic threads is awful. Bon courage!

Cindy said...

I have been stitching for a long time, but don't think I have reached 10,000 hours yet!

It's so cool that you found something you can use for stitching at Home Depot!

Doris said...

the french red noel look great. The metallic thread look gorgeous,but they are so hard to work!

RuthB said...

Some day I'm going to find the elf that switches out the stitching I *thought* I packed for what ends up in my suitcase.

Love the progress though!

tangled stitch said...

10,000 hours or not your work is beautiful. I started to read that book too and I guess it has a point but then there are a lot of artists who have many more then 10,000 hours on them and are still hanging out. Loved reading about the Beatles though. Good luck, your work is beautiful.