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!
Every few days I venture outside to get a little fresh air and take a walk with my husband. The empty streets continue to astound.
On this day we decided to walk over to Union Square park, typically a hotbed of activity: sun seekers, dog walkers, protesters, activists, proselytizers, NYU students and those like ourselves who just want to enjoy the nice weather. However this was not the case last Sunday…
Usually on Easter Sunday we have friends and family over for a little Welcome To Spring celebration. As this wasn’t possible, I made a nice dinner for just us, before my husband and I went for our stroll.
As I arranged the raspberries on the cheesecake I made, I thought of what stitches would best replicate them. I’ve been working on shooting a video for each of Sue Spargo’s Toned Down Circle Sampler, a 90-day project she is doing on Instagram – #InstaStitchWithSue, because all her workshops have been cancelled for the next few months. Each day Sue unveils a new 1″ circle, and each afternoon she tells me which stitches she will be using for the following day’s circle so I can make a video; a kind of sneak peek into that day’s circle for all her followers.
It’s been such a wonderful project so far. Today will be the 16th circle. What follows are a few of my stitched circles, sometimes following Sue’s circles closely, other days taking the stitches she is using to make my own interpretation. These circles and making the YouTube videos have made what has been an incredibly stressful and painful time much less so. I am reminded of the resilience of humanity and how often beauty emerges from great upheaval.
The Cherry Blossoms are in full bloom here in New York City, and they’ve parked a mobile morgue six blocks from where I live on 7th Avenue. Both are off-white.
Life has utterly changed in such a short time, it has left most of us reeling. And yet, we find ways to adapt. It is our resilience that makes us both admirable and complacent. I’m choosing to focus on the admirable right now. Last night as I was taping my most recent YouTube video, I could hear people shouting, clapping, banging pots and cheering from their windows, balconies and rooftops for those who are on the front lines, putting their lives and the well being of their families at risk so the rest of us might feel a bit calmer knowing if we or someone we love were to get sick a stranger would be there to help us, even save our lives when our spouse and children would be forbidden from even visiting us.
And my heart broke.
Each of us is doing our best to cope in myriad ways. My coping has been to adopt a manic work schedule. I was up past midnight two nights ago editing videos for Sue Spargo’s #InstaStitchWithSue project where she is featuring one 1″ wool applique circle and embellishing it with her beautiful threads and creative stitching for the next 90 days on Instagram. For those who might like to join in, she is also posting the instructions on her FaceBook page- Sue Spargo Folk-Art Quilts.
The day before she unveils the next circle, she is telling me which stitches she will be using so that I can shoot video stitch tutorials on my YouTube channel for left handed stitchers, but often for right handers as well, as many stitches are not hand dominant. I’ve made an #InstaStitchWithSue PlayList on my channel so that people who are following her project can easily find those videos. It makes me so happy to have a tiny role in her beautiful project.
My “To Do” list has never been so long, there aren’t enough hours in a day to accomplish even half the things I’m trying to do. Making the whole sleeping thing seem that much more a luxury or so I tell myself when I’m up at 3AM out in the living room working. And I know that this is my own peculiar way of coping with something so huge I cannot completely wrap my mind around it. I am not sleeping well something I’ve noticed others share, as we sometimes will acknowledge each other on social media with a little smile and wave of camaraderie.
There is such beauty to be found in our fellow humans who are trying to help others, who are trying to make this world and our lives a tiny bit more bearable. Their acts of kindness, generosity, and humor make those cherry blossoms all the more breathtaking.