Posts Tagged ‘slow stitch’

Sample Making Satisfaction

Friday, November 13th, 2020

I have in mind something about 2m wide by about 95cm high, which is largish for me, and with the hand stitching that’s on my mind just now, I’ve been thinking of how to apply large areas of colour – well there’s paint of course …

I’m always inclined to set personal challenges to somehow use stuff already in the house, much of which I bought years ago on some whim or faded intention.  A few years ago I bought several metres of slightly dusty white cheesecloth in an old downtown store – I’ve asked myself a few times since what on earth I was thinking.  The other day from somewhere came the idea that I could paint or spray it, and thought it would go well with what I have in mind (see previous post)  I just happened to have a new can of gold spray paint, it was a nice day, so I cut off 3m x ~50cm, took it outside, and emptied the whole can on it.  Outside, with the fabric folded over so spray passing through the holes would get picked up as it moved through, with re-folding periodically, I regard that as a successful move… though I forgot about an aprin so njow have a new painting shirt, and managed to get some drips on my foot amazingly missing my sandle, and a few drops on the ceramic patio tiles, which didn’t cause any angst anywhere.

Gold gauze and a sandy coloured waxed string machine appliqued with invisible nylon thread to secure the edge, which was then hand stitched with one of my many gold threads.

I suppose I fiddled around for at least an hour, ironing the gauze, and trying several ways to stitch it down, none of which I was happy with until this combo,  so it ticks all the boxes –

  • I can invisible machine applique large sections of this gold gauze, and the edge will not fray and become unstable as I stitch and handle the rest of the piece
  • The effect of this gold gauze is earthy, not brassy – very pleasing.
  • In addition to the horizontal strips I at first tagged it for, I now know I can use it for other shapes that would fray even more on handling if not fo my technical breakthrough.
  • I have a lot of this colour gold thread, but as it’s just the edge being oversewn, it will be much more economical with the feature thread than the oversewn strips on Pandemic Pattern (which did fray, and that was a chosen option, so AOK)

 

 

Lines, Marks, Stitches, 4

Monday, November 9th, 2020

For stitchers like myself, embroidery options range from following traditional patterns like pulled thread work or hardanger and more, to following instructions from a book or stitching over commercially printed fabrics. Whether challenging or routine and automatic, most people find hand stitch, hand embroidery, therapeutic and calming. I’ve been a keen stitcher since my first efforts with a needle and thread around age 7, and in the past 40 years creative embroidery, has been a really important part of my creative life.

Over the last 20 years there’s been a general resurgence of interest in hand stitchery (including Japanese boro, sashiko and Kantha from W.Bengal and Odisha regions of India bordering Bangladesh), and that includes a renewed interest in mended vintage fabrics. ‘Visible mending is now a real thing, along with something called the ‘slow stitch movement’ which I’ve mentioned here before in 2010 post, to which the comments in response are particularly interesting. In the 10+ years since I wrote that post, there’s been a conflation of that term with ‘hand embroidery’. The straight stitch itself has become a means of creating art, being placed end to end, side by side, crossed over another, scattered at random, and placing it in other, more complex ways to make lines, filler textures or repeat patterns. It is the most basic stitch, and well known to quilters of course.

My regular readers will have been noting the development of the raw edge hand applique technique I’ve recently been using, and will have noticed how thrilled I was that Pandemic Pattern was recently selected for Quilt National 21.

Raw edge, hand stitched applique, a tecnhique I’ve been exploring for the past year. Lower centre row – a detail of “Pandemic Pattern”

By the time I began Pandemic Pattern, I’d found the most comfortable needle for me working this technique is a long fine one – of the kind some manufacturers label ‘darners’ – because people used them when darning or mending knitted jumpers and socks particularly. Until I began sewing this way, apart from using them for hand tacking/basting, I’d never needed these needles much, and having two seemed plenty. Recently though, I dropped one on the light coloured carpet in my sewing room, and couldn’t find it, and came to realising that having only one spare was a bit precarious. Although I’m long sighted and even grabbed a torch to help, I just couldn’t see that needle anywhere. Frustrated and a bit irritable, I came downstairs for a change of activity including some lunch and checking emails. When I returned a couple of hours later, the angle of the sun had changed and I now saw the needle sticking up out of the carpet pile, right beside where my foot had been when I dropped it. The next day Mike and I visited several haberdashery stores – mercerias – including quite a few downtown. The only large needles I was shown were of the kind you might sew canvas sacks with, more like a toothpick more than anything.

I’ve been shown some long thick needles but what I want is fine by comparison!

There was nothing fine and long, except occasionally just one lurking in among sets of about 30-40 other needles, but I already have more hand sewing needles than I’ll need for the rest of my lifetime, and was beginning to think I’d have to get one of the offpsrings to send a packet or two of darners down from the USA. First though, I decided I should put out a call for help to my book group and the mahjong girls (only one friend is in both) Sure enough, as I hoped, someone came good with two she found in a merceria over in a part of town I hadn’t thought to go, and someone’s promised to look in her mother’s stuff. At this point I had 4, which was wonderful – and then joy oh joy, a wonderful surprise – I found another one lurking in the bottom of a little sewing kit I keep with the cream hexagons that I’m adding to the Grandmother’s Flower Garden quilt, see previous post . So I won’t have to have some couriered in, after all.

A Shared Taste? Not Really …

Friday, September 2nd, 2016

Pinterest this morning sent this email:   “Alison – meet X!  They say great minds Pin alike. And we just found someone who shares your taste in Pins. Follow their boards to discover more Pins you love!”  I’m about to be disparaging about her pinning, and as I don’t know her, but have two friends with the same name, I’ll just stick to “X”

First up, this person has set up 111 boards to pin her 13,000+ saved images onto.  My experience is that anything over about 30 boards is a red flag, as I typically find such a pinner’s selections are of a ‘pin everything’ approach, and it becomes time consuming and sometimes confusing to sift through.  I’ll back out quickly from such a time waster.  I have no idea how I’d keep track of thousands of pins in hundreds of boards, as I’ve only saved 450 images or so over several years.  I’ve found more rapport with pinners who seem to carefully choose whether to pin or not, and whether something is important to their ideas collections.  I believe it is definitely a case of ‘Less is more’.   Having a huge number of boards somehow seems the equivalent to the groups of  holiday travellers on organised guided tours.  We’ve all seen them, no matter where we live.  All the passengers on the bus are from the same foreign country, they hurriedly alight, take masses of pics of each other standing in front of whatever view/building/monument/large sign is behind them, and then quickly clamber back on board for the next whistle stop on their tour.  Pinterest for some people is clearly the same kind of hurried ‘travel’ in the field of ideas.

Secondly, on X’s page this morning, I scrolled and a few lines down found a board labelled “Kantha Stitch Style Fibre Arts”.  Several years ago I attended Dorothy Caldwell’s wonderful workshop on mark making with reference to Kantha , so thought I was in for a treat.  Kantha is not a technique, it’s a style of embroidery from W. Bengal India that uses running straight stitches to form patterns and fill shapes of  flowers, birds, animals and scenes of everyday life that are meaningful to the maker and her community. 

6" square, hand stitched, straight/running stitch filler, chain outline.

From my workshop with Dorothy Caldwell; I chose a kangaroo shape to stitch a 10cm sq. kantha-style stitchery

In the west, with the growing popularity of hand stitch, ‘Kantha’ is one of the trendy hand stitch buzzwords, and while technically it is ‘merely’ a running or straight stitch worked into all kinds of patterns, the scale and potential of Kantha work within its cultural context is rich, often complicated and overall glorious. (see the above link or google Kantha images)  On X’s page however, faced with lots of hand stitchery of many different kinds, I saw nothing ‘kantha’ before pulling out at about image #50 or so.  There were however some mixed media hand stitched textiles, most of which featured some pattern darned areas; and it became clear as I looked further into X’s boards, with “Kantha style 2”, and “kantha 3” listed lower down, that X equates Kantha with pattern darning.  I know, dear reader, that might seem a bit nit picky, but there we are – that’s me.  I am a bit pedantic on things I know a thing or two about.  There were other gems in the boards in X’s boards titles –   “tea bag fibre art” 🙂   “safety pin fibre art” for heavens’ sakes, and, well as I said, 13000+ pins under 111 titles.  I guess I was overwhelmed at what this represents in terms of time spent looking at, collecting and saving images of other people’s work and inspirations.

We all know social media run on algorithms based on how we use those media sites.  They’re often enough totally wrong, but we put up with that for the other benefits we enjoy by being part of them.  Today Pinterest got it quite wrong when it told me that X and I are an exact match – but that’s ok – I’ve vented and will be back on Pinterest again in a few days’ time, prolly.

 

 

Slow Stitch ?

Sunday, January 17th, 2010

6" square, hand stitched, straight/running stitch filler, chain outline.

I had an email this morning from a textile arts friend, mentioning something I’d never heard of before – ‘slow stitch’ and ‘slow cloth’   (and as we all know, ‘cloth’ is a reverent term for ‘fabric’ or as we say in Aus – ‘material’)    ‘Cloth’  implies something has beeen done to the fabric to give it a whole new meaning, which I won’t go into here – but that’s a slightly tongue-in-cheek observation,  just in case you don’t know me well enough to hear me speaking between the lines, and I digress.

Since the mid ’70’s  I have stitched and studied the art of the stitch, having an exhibiting life as a creative embroiderer years before I found myself in the world of quilted textiles.  In all that time I had never come across this term, so of course I googled it.  To my delight but some amazement, I found there’s a whole new generation out there discovering the joys and expressive potential of the hand made stitch and in particular the most basic stitch of all, the running stitch.  It’s been around for ever, long and short, in thick and thin thread, string, leather thonging, cord and more, and of course we all know it as the stitch most used in hand quilting.  It appears in countless ethnic embroideries around the world, as both outline amd filler.

Above is a pic of one of the small samples I did in a workshop,  “The Expressive Stitch’, taught by Canadian artist Dorothy Caldwell in Western Australia, more than 4 years back.   Let me tell you there’s a few hours’ work, perhaps 6 – in that little 6” square piece and I’m no slouch with the needle.  We each designed motifs from our own individual lives while we learned about the needleworked / embroidered  cloth pieces, Kantha, that Indian women in the Bihar region have traditionally made, and which now regularly find their way to collectors in the western world.  Down the years I have seen some very old textiles and fragments in museums – most memorable being a fragment of layered brown (dirty?)  felt,  hand quilted with linen thread in a cross hatch/diamond pattern.  From the outer Mongolian steppe, and dated around 400AD  it was most likely padding that went between horse and saddle.

The hand made stitch has been gathering favour in contemporary fibre art for some years now.  But what felt new to me was the near evangelical fervour I detected in the bloggings of several recent converts to the expressive, therapeutic, relaxing and calming effects of hand stitch.  Of course, the traditional quiltmakers and embroiderers have always known of these qualities,  but now it seems that some ‘art quilters’  are tiring of frenetic zooming all over cloth with fancy computerised speed regulated machines, and responding instead to the slower pace of hand stitchery with it’s minor imperfections …  if you wait around long enough, most things come back into fashi0n again, in some form or other :-p

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