Yesterday I launched my latest design, Making Waves: A Drawstring Bag in my Etsy Shop! I also made a short video for it. My instructions are very, very detailed. I include everything from how to begin, to how to stitch this bag together and film all stages of the process. YouTube videos demonstrate every step so you can follow along. Each video is embedded within the instructions using Hotlinks. As I spend, literally, hundreds of hours video taping, editing and posting each video before embedding it within the instructions, my downloadable patterns are a bit more expensive. Not much. A little. People tell me they are well worth it.
This project began as a Stitch Along with a group of 17 hand stitchers who signed up for the class, which took place over Zoom. Over the course of 8 weeks we stitched this bag together and had a blast doing so.
A couple of people have asked me whether I will be doing this class again, so if you’re interested let me know as I will do it again, if there’s enough interest. The Zoom classes consist of eight one-hour classes although I would be open to doing a five-day workshop with classes running a 3-4 hours each. You can use your own threads or opt for a thread kit. If you choose a thread kit I will need to order in advance and we will have to wait until everyone has theirs to begin. This can take anywhere from one to two months, depending upon availability of the threads and how many people want kits.
I am also beginning a new design, which will be another Stitch Along, meaning that I will be designing this project as we go! What’s fun about that is that each week I unveil a new part of the design, which is fun and exciting. Once I have the basic background concept designed, I will post more about it. Right now I’m in the midst of throwing a lot of different ideas around and seeing which one I like best as well as determining which will make the most sense to add a lot of embellishing to it. As with the Making Waves design, I will be incorporating a great many different techniques and materials, such as hand dyed t-shirt scraps, hand dyed cheesecloth, wool roving, Dorset Buttons, beading, ribbon work and other fun things like that.
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.
If you’d like to laugh and explore stitching (or in my case attempting to) with silk gimp and the thicker gimp that Painter’s Threads hand dyes, this was the live stream I did yesterday. Warning: We laughed A LOT.
My attempts at using the crinkly silk gimp became more comedic than informative… However, I am determined to continue investigating this beautiful, if challenging thread, and what I’m able to do with it. So this is just the beginning. By the way Mary Corbet, who is a fountain of knowledge when it comes to threads, stitching, and everything and anything to do with embroidery, is such a great resource. If you click on her name above, it will take you to her blog. She also has a YouTube Channel, where she demonstrates stitches.
So here’s the thing… I am a designer first and foremost. I love playing with threads and seeing how I can use an unusual thread in a different way. My approach to hand stitching is from a design point of view. When I’m working with a thread, like gimp, whether the crinkly silk gimp or the thicker cord Gimp from Painter’s Threads, I am thinking about color, texture, and how I can use it so that it creates something interesting. As I design, I’m considering size, shape, dimension and how all of that fits into the piece I’m working on.
For my River Rocks Pouch, I used all three of these gimps in different ways. A couple of the shapes on that pouch I added gimp French Knots, which I love.
I’m off to the last remaining quilt shop in New York City in a little while. I’ll be filming it, and will post tomorrow morning. So if you want to come with me on my little adventure, tune into my Youtube Channel Ariane Zurcher ~ On the Other Hand tomorrow. Until then, here’s to exploring and stitching!
My version above of a meme by @stitchesnquilts that I saw on Instagram the other day and it made me laugh so I wanted to share my tweaked version of it. Because boy do I crave laughter right now. The meme below, another that has been making the rounds, made me smile. And who doesn’t suddenly feel invisible bugs are crawling all over your face? Or is it just me?
It is impossible to write about anything at the moment and not mention the current pandemic. I live in Manhattan. An island that is home to more than 1.6 million people. That’s a lot of frightened people crammed into a relatively small space all trying to stock up on supplies in case they need to stay inside for a month (or by the amount of peanut butter, broth and toilet paper being bought) perhaps people are thinking longer term, it’s hard to know.
As I write this, I am aware of how little traffic I can hear, and it’s the middle of the day on a weekday. A time that is typically filled with the cacophony of city life: sirens, irritable drivers making their discontent known, honking horns, shouting voices, music blaring from passing cars, alarms going off signaling a truck backing up or a car whose space has been invaded. People are out and about, but the mood is noticeably different. People are standing a little farther apart, not like the push and shove that New Yorkers are known for. It has the feel of a 4th of July weekend (without the TGIF anticipation and relief) when huge numbers of Manhattanites leave for their country or beach houses and the city empties out, except the vibe is a whole lot eerier.
The mayor announced Sunday that all schools are now closed. New York City’s museums have locked their doors. Broadway is dark. Times Square, usually a haven for tourists, is eerily quiet. Store fronts are dark, their iron grates locked down. Think Will Smith’s apocalyptic thriller, I am Legend, minus the tumbleweed. Okay, that’s an exaggeration, but it is weird out there. And I keep wondering – how does one find the balance? Knowing that this is serious and life has changed, things will not be going back to what they once were any time soon, and yet steeling oneself from the contagion of panic and even hysteria.
Someone compared these last few days to 9/11, but it doesn’t feel at all like that to me. In the aftermath of 9/11 there was a mourning mixed with horror and the awful knowing of just how hideous humans can be toward one another. Yes, there was the same kind of bleary eyed realization that all our lives had irreparably changed, but this feels different. Perhaps it’s how things are changing so quickly hour by hour with no end in sight. Perhaps it’s that there is no “containment,” no focal point, it’s everywhere and everyone feels at risk.
When times are tough, I have always found joy in creating. These past few years, that has meant in stitching and playing around with fabric, wool, silk, velvet, linen, ribbons, and threads. There is a zen-like state that I feel when hand stitching that is both meditative and incredibly calming. Time moves at a different speed, worries recede. There’s a whole community out there of fellow stitchers who know what I’m talking about. I’m so grateful for that. Community at the moment feels that much more precious.
A few weeks before life as we know it changed, I launched a YouTube Channel: Ariane Zurcher ~ On the Other Hand, where I demonstrate embroidery stitches, tips for sewing things like needle turn applique, how to make a perfect circle, emboss velvet and lots of other things I’ve learned along the way. The idea is to go through Sue Spargo‘s Creative Stitching book with the goal of doing a video for each stitch. Many of the stitches I’m demonstrating are not hand specific, in other words, whether you’re right handed or left, the stitch will be stitched the same way, but many of them are hand specific and for those stitches, I am demonstrating them for left handers specifically, though I’m also teaching myself to stitch all of them right handed too. I’ve received a wonderfully, enthusiastic response so far from both left AND right handers, and am working around the clock to keep up with the many requests I’ve been given.
I love the comments people are leaving. It is life affirming to have a community, and now, more than ever. Thank you to all who have subscribed and commented and liked and watched. It feels good knowing that there are so many of us out there, stitching away during such surreal times. I think of all the people who know what it means to be passionate about textiles and thread, who are calmly stitching while a tumultuous world swirls around us. And there’s balance in that.
A month ago I taught a 2-hour stitching workshop exploring shapes and stitches at my quilt guild. It was a huge success, and lots of fun! I prepared squares of wool and precut circles in different sizes. More than 20 people attended and each person got to pick a wool square and some circles, which they then whipstitched on to their wool base. As most of the participants already knew how to do some of the more basic stitches such as the Running Stitch and Backstitch, I taught how to do the Bullion Knot and a Cast On Bullion stitch. (We only had two hours) It was a lot of fun! I really, really love teaching.
Through one of the participants (who also happens to be a friend) of that workshop I was introduced to one of the owners of the last remaining quilt shop in New York City, Gotham Quilts – New York City’s Quilt Shop. It was a terrific meeting and as a result of that meeting, I will be teaching a 6-hour Creative Stitching workshop playing with shapes using many of Sue Spargo‘s techniques in April. If you’d like to sign up for it, you can, by clicking ‘here‘. The workshop is on April 25th from 11:30 – 6. Everyone will get a “kit” which will include precut circles, a wool square base, wool thread to whipstitch the shapes onto the background, needles, lots of different kinds of threads to play with, tons of Perle Cotton threads, a piece of silk velvet, some stabilizer for the silk velvet, a sampling of beads, buttons and silk ribbon. I am SO excited and hope some of you will join me!
For those of you unfamiliar with Gotham Quilts, it opened in 2014 and is located at 40 West 37th Street between 5th and 6th Avenues in the heart of Manhattan and just a block from the Garment District. Two friends, Andrea and Ivete, own and run it. Over the years they have expanded what began as a tiny shop on the second floor, to a multi level space, carrying a wonderfully curated selection of fabrics and notions as well as Bernina Sewing Machines. They are now open six days a week, everyday but Sunday, from 11 – 6, and on Thursdays until 7pm.
I hope to see some of you there!
Have you checked out my latest YouTube video? My channel is: Ariane Zurcher – On the Other Hand where I give tutorials on all things involving stitching, sewing, design and creating. I will be doing videos that are for Left Handers, but others that are not hand specific. So join me, and stitch along!
Welcome to my store!
Please browse and look at our patterns available. We also offer Workshops! ~Ariane