Posts Tagged ‘slow stitch’

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 been 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 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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