Friday, June 11, 2010

John Grunsfeld-Inspired Hubble Cross-Stitch

UPDATED! My project won First Prize in the Funniest category of the ESA Hubble Pop Culture contest! Read about the win and why you should trust your crazy ideas after you finish reading this post. Mmmmmkay?

We all draw inspiration from different places, and it's obvious that much of my inspiration comes from space and astronomy. This latest project came to mind months ago when I first saw the Hubble IMAX 3D film (which, by the way, you must go see as soon as you finish reading this). Hubble is amazing and inspirational in its own right, but I really love hearing stories from the people who work on the space telescope. John Grunsfeld is one of my favorite astronauts. He's a brilliant astronomer, and from interviews I've read or seen .... he just seems like an all-around fascinating person.

At one point in the Hubble IMAX film, he talks about a particular portion of one of his spacewalks that involved unscrewing more than 100 tiny screws on a part of Hubble.

Now, just take a moment to imagine with me, if you will: Put giant oven mitts on your hands. Now slip a tiny tool between your fingertips. Know that you have more than 100 screws to unscrew on a piece of equipment that is worth millions of dollars and holds great scientific significance. Oh, and don't forget that you are more than 300 miles above earth on a spaceship that's traveling at roughly 17, 500 miles per hour.

Feeling a little lame complaining about the intensity of your to-do list today yet?

Here's where Grunsfeld impresses once again. He talks in the film about how, at this point in his spacewalk, he switches to zen mode. He focuses only on the one screw that he is unscrewing at that very moment. Never how many he's already undone, never how many he has left.

Just one screw at a time.

For some reason, this brief part of his interview really stuck with me. It's so easy to get overwhelmed with daily tasks, life dreams, everything going on each day. My last post about summer glossed over the stress and overwhelm I feel with trying to keep up with work while entertaining and enjoying my kids during the next few months. Inside, I start to freak out.

It seemed the perfect time to tackle this project that had been pinging in the back of my mind since March. I could use a nice visual reminder to not let overwhelm get the best of me.

I'd never designed my own cross-stitch project before, so it was a bit daunting, but I just kept reminding myself, "One Screw At A Time." I found a cross-stitch alphabet I liked, and practiced sketching it out in my handy Maker's Notebook (grid paper FTW!) Once I stitched the words, I realized it needed something else - a little something that would bring Hubble in to the picture (and, hopefully, keep those gutter brains from making jokes about screws). I knew I wanted to include an image of Hubble, but was stumped on how. I didn't have time to do a full-scale Hubble stitching. I needed something simple.

Then I remembered one of my favorite finds and posts over on CRAFT this last year: a Hubble-Shaped paperclip. I pulled up the image and sketched it on my grid paper, cross-stitch style. It worked, for the most part. I did goof on one part while stitching, but I'll just pretend it's not so obvious.

Hopefully this is a good reminder for you, too. Don't get overwhelmed. Just think, "One Screw At A Time."


  1. Oh, this is such a cool post! I'm glad I zipped over to Twitter this morning to find your link. I'm going to have to check out some more about this dude.

    Great work, too!

  2. Thank you for this beautiful post. I love your project, and I love the story behind it. Overwhelm never seems very far away in this crazy little era we're in. What a helpful reminder to stay focused on the moment's task and let the big picture work itself out.

    Also, I heart you.

  3. i really love this. thank you!

  4. Thanks, y'all! Hopefully it all makes sense. I wrote it over about an hour in a restaurant while the kids were playing and running up to me every 5 minutes, so ... you never know. ;)

    Diane - I heart you, too! :) XOX

  5. once screw at a time, i like it!

  6. What a lovely way to remind yourself and all of the rest of us out here in blog-space to focus on what is in front of you at the moment and try never to get tangled up in the details of the big picture!

    What a great visual reminder - "Just One Screw at a Time".

    And thank you for sharing John's story - what he had to contend with while unscrewing those tiny screws on the Hubble Telescope. I can't even imagine!!!!

    I love that you are finding so many ways to bring your love of astronauts and space exploration into your art. Bravo you!

  7. Excellent post & reminder! Thanks for posting this.

  8. Awesome post Rachel! Love the sentiment. I'm a space nerd from way back before we walked on the Moon. Somewhere here I have a model of the Lunar Landing module that I put together in about 4th grade!

  9. Hah! You're right. I totally needed this today! I love it. And such a cool story. And cool craft. And why am I not watching that movie right now!??!


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