I’m working on a Left-Handed Stitching book. It’s a HUGE project, but I’m determined and am taking it one small stitch at a time. Yesterday I was working on a Threaded Backstitch and so I began to stitch on a piece of linen that I whipstitched some wool shapes onto. Once I had done one example of the Threaded Backstitch, I decided to go ahead and do a Double Threaded Backstitch. And once that was finished I thought – well wouldn’t it be fun to do a couple more, one below the other?! Do you see what I’m having to deal with here? After I finished doing those, the gap between the Double Threaded Backstitches seemed to be calling out for a little something, so I did what anyone would do, and found some beautiful Stef Francis Silk Chenille and decided it was perfect to Couch. Swoon. And then there was a tiny space at the very top and so I stitched a 2-wrap French Knot, which looked like a little tumble weed. Perfection(!) and that made me feel happy. As I stitched, I thought I could hear some Silk Ribbon calling out to me, so of course I had to find it, retrieve it, and use it, because what else was I going to do? Ignore the call? No, I don’t think so! So I made a little cluster of Silk RibbonRoses to one side. And that’s when it occurred to me. I’m NEVER going to finish this book if I continue to go down every rabbit hole I see.
Except it’s SO much fun to go down those rabbit holes and who knows where they might lead?! Some of my best discoveries have been deep within such holes, which means this book will take a little longer to do than I’d originally anticipated. Plus I’m using lots of photographs to demonstrate each step of each stitch and I intend to show how to end and begin a new thread, in case you run out in the middle of the stitch, as well as how to end the thread once you’ve finished doing the stitch. Those are a couple things I always wish to see, but rarely do in a stitching book and that got me wondering, what about YOU?
Tell me what you like to see in a stitching book. What do you dislike? What do you wish they showed? What do you wish they didn’t show? What about text? Keep it short and simple or do you like longer explanations and even stories? What else? Am I forgetting anything? Tell me. Tell me everything.
I spent at least 16 hours this weekend analyzing and stitching examples of the Trellis Stitch. Specifically the spiral trellis stitch, which was one of dozens of stitches that adorned the Plimoth Jacket, a women’s waistcoat, made in the early 1600’s.
Another heavily embroidered jacket is in the costume collection at the Metropolitan Museum here in New York City, which I would LOVE to see one day.
While I have done dozens and dozens of Spiral Trellis Stitches over the years, and have used this stitch in a number of my designs, I had never tried to figure out why it was often so difficult to replicate, and to replicate consistently.
So this weekend I decided to do just that. I experimented with a couple of different ways of stitching it, how to best add a new length of thread when your thread, which it inevitably does, runs out, how to consistently get good results when decreasing, stitching in all kinds of different threads and thread weights, and I even tried my hand at stitching a non-circular Trellis, which I will need to do a bit more experimenting with before I am completely satisfied. I had to fill in the center part with French Knots because I couldn’t figure out how to decrease the inside in a way that looked flawless.
I then posted my results to my Youtube Channel: Ariane Zurcher ~ On the Other Hand.
As I am left handed all of this was even more tricky because none of the embroidery books give instructions for the way I finally ended up stitching this beautiful, yet challenging stitch.
Things have been busy around here. I had the idea to start a YouTube channel over a year ago. My thought was to go through Sue Spargo’s Creative Stitching book and demonstrate every stitch (but for left-handed stitchers) featured in her book, one stitch a week. I discussed my idea with Anna Bates, my friend over at Quilt Roadies, who encouraged me to go for it. But I knew I couldn’t do anything until I’d gotten Sue’s okay. Not only was she okay with my idea, but we then discussed launching YouTube channels together, each doing the same stitch on the same day, linking our channels to each other’s, and we even filmed a couple of episodes at her store in Ohio.
But life has a funny way of inserting itself into the best laid plans. Things happened, we had to delay the launch and then finally, last week, Sue told me to go ahead with my channel without her. For those of you who do not know Sue Spargo, she is one of the most hardworking, dedicated and talented artists I know. She has an extremely successful business, both brick and mortar, as well as online site over at Sue Spargo.com. She teaches all over the world, has a wildly popular Block of the Month club – this year she is doing TWO, one for those who desire something a little simpler and not quite as time consuming, and another, which features more advanced stitching. All of this is to say – everything she does, she does incredibly well.
Whew! Okay. So…
Last week I took a deep breath and took the plunge. I launched my YouTube channel. I knew it was going to be a fairly steep learning curve, but I hadn’t taken into account just how steep! I had to teach myself how to edit video on iMovie. Then I learned all about banner art and thumbnails, which required downloading a couple different apps (that I also then had to learn how to use.) I read all about how best to monetize your channel once you’ve reached 1,000 subscribers and a ton of watched hours. I then had to read about monetizing your blog, because if one is already monetized, it makes monetizing the other a lot easier. I watched hours and hours of YouTuber’s videos and finally my husband, Richard, who for years owned and ran a very successful ad agency, and I sat down and brainstormed. He came up with “On the Other Hand” for my channel, which is just so brilliant. Love that, and him. He also helped me design my YouTube banner. It looks pretty good, right?
Finally, I began taping and, I’ll admit, feeling kind of old, because, while I would be far more comfortable keeping the camera zoomed in on the stitching, I also get that people want to see the person behind the hands. Looking at yourself during the editing process is a lesson in humility. Most of the up and coming YouTubers out there are young and beautiful and most definitely not almost sixty years old. Did I just say that? Yup. I did. I’ll be sixty in another six months. Pretty much clinging to these final months while still in my fifties. As in seriously white knuckling it… But it’s all relative. I know, twenty years from now, I’ll look back and think – Wow! I was so young.
So yes, it’s ALL relative.
So that’s what I’ve been doing for the past week or so.
All the videos are directed at left handed stitchers, because we left handers have to bush whack our way through most tutorials, figuring it out on our own. I have, in the past, come up with some very creative looking hand stitching that in no way resemble stitches in any embroidery book known to mankind. Yelp!
I also give tips on how to thread a needle, thimbles, which needles to use for which stitches, how to make a quilter’s knot and, as time goes on, I’ll discuss all kinds of other things as well. In my Pekinese Stitch Tutorial Merlin, our mischievous kitty, even makes an appearance, wreaking havoc with my attempts to stitch and teach! So watch and stitch along with me. Don’t forget to give a thumbs up, and subscribe because I’ll be posting at least once a week, and not just content for left handers, but for anyone who loves art, design, stitching and life! Hopefully there will be some laughter in there too. Laughter is good.
I am left-handed. While only about 10% of the population is left-handed, there are a great many who work in the arts. I don’t know that a greater percentage of artists are left handed than in the regular population, but I do know that we lefties have had to come up with a great many work arounds to accommodate our left handedness in a world set up for right handed people. I am also left eared, left footed and left eyed, meaning that I am able to hear, see and kick better with my left side. Also, weirdly and this may border on TMI, when I was nursing my two children, then babies, it was my left breast that filled with milk far more readily than my right.
Moving right along…
When I found the artist Sue Spargo and began learning the stitches she uses in her work, I found it challenging. There were certain stitches that no matter how much I tried, mine didn’t look the way hers did. The Pekinese Stitch is an example of that. I remember doing her Fresh Cut Block of the Month and she used that stitch on one of her flower stems. I kept trying to replicate what she was doing, following her instructions, as laid out in her book Creative Stitching, but somehow my Pekinese Stitch looked all wrong. Finally, when I was with Sue I showed her what I was doing and she said, “Oh, but you’re doing it as though you were right handed, but with your left hand!” Then she showed me how to do it left handed. It was a game changer! (I have since taught myself how to do this stitch using either my right or left hand.)
I’ve encountered similar issues when trying to learn how to needle turn appliqué, sew on a sewing machine, put a zipper in, buttons, and any number of other things that I’ve attempted over the years.
In the coming months I am collaborating with my favorite artist on a You Tube project that we think will help us lefties in the world! Stay tuned.