The Gradient Scale of a “Mess”

The Gradient Scale of a “Mess”

Someone commented on my Youtube channel about messiness, saying that she was happy my work area isn’t pristine as that would be intimidating. And it made me think about the various stages of messiness.

The gradient scale of messiness, because this is important.  

1. Kind of “messy”, but it’s not a problem and anyway to my mind, this is actually incredibly neat. Everything has its place, I know where things are, it’s easy to work on my current project and all is well with the world.

2. Okay, okay, things are getting “messy” but really it’s all subjective and yes, I’m having trouble finding things, but nothing I can’t handle. Besides, I’m working here and a certain degree of messiness is to be expected and even necessary.

3. Messy is to some, what neat is to others, I tell myself, and I’m working and anyway I just grab whatever is easiest and closest and call it a “prompt”. However if I’m being honest it’s starting to be a problem and I can’t find things I want to use, though I will never admit this out loud.

4. The tipping point: things have gotten out of control. I know it, in my heart, but I still continue to work, despite the mess, because the work takes priority and anyway I know what happens once I start “cleaning” things up. Still this has gotten beyond “messy” and I’m spending more time looking for things than actually stitching.

5. Clearly something has to change. I can’t even find the piece I’m working on and so resolve to clean everything up… tomorrow.

6. A thorough cleaning is done. I carefully put things in places that seem reasonable and make sense to me at that moment.  It’s all so neat and tidy, I hardly know where to start!

7. My work area is clear of everything but the piece I’m working on, only now I can’t find anything and spend hours looking for things that I knew were “just over there”.

8. Begin ripping the place apart in search of various much needed items.

Repeat steps 1-8.

You’ll be relieved to know I’m currently hovering at around a 3. Totally doable!


New: Dorset Buttons Gone Wild Workshop!

New: Dorset Buttons Gone Wild Workshop!

Some exciting news!

I’m doing a Dorset Buttons Gone Wild 3-hour Workshop via Zoom. (It will be recorded and uploaded to YouTube, but will only be available to view if you have purchased the workshop. You can reference the entire workshop later or whenever you like once the workshop is over.)

When: A 3-hour workshop: Saturday, March 20th from 2-5pm EDT

Cost: $40.00 – I accept payment by check, through Zelle, Venmo or Paypal using my name: Ariane Zurcher and email address: Tell me in the comments how you are paying so that I can make a note of it.

The workshop is limited to 30 people, first come, first serve. I have 19 spots left, so reserve your spot now!

What you’ll need and what you can expect:

Have at least a few rings to make the Dorset Buttons: whatever size you like and a couple different threads. I recommend 3 wt and 5 wt threads to begin and then a few specialty threads such as 4mm silk ribbon, Aurora, Oriental Linen, Soft Cotton, or whatever else you might like to try. For the first couple you might want to use some thread you have lying around that you don’t care about to practice.

#18 Chenille needle and/or #24 Chenille depending on the thread weight you want to use. A tapestry needle will work as well, and you will also need a Milliners Needle so that you can experiment with making some wrapped stitches on the Dorset Button. We are thinking out of the box, so think about what else you might want to add!

I will demonstrate a number of different variations on the traditional Dorset button, incorporating lots of different materials and threads that I think you’ll find exciting and different! You will have completed at least one or two Dorset Buttons by the end of the workshop. ❤️

*Optional: For those of you who are really adventurous, I suggest purchasing, if you haven’t already, my glasses case and/or scissor’s case. If you choose to go this route, prep the linen, with the lighter color linen wave and whipstitch on the wool circles as the instructions describe, so that you are ready to apply your Dorset Buttons to the wool shapes. I embellished the background as you can see below. If you are signed up for the workshop and would like to embellish as I have, let me know in the comments and I will send you instructions.

Glasses Case and Scissor Case with background prepped, using the same background embellishments I used for Making Waves: A Drawstring Bag

Don’t forget to leave me a comment that you want to reserve your space and then proceed to payment.

Later today I am doing a livestream on what to do with those odd looking Silk Cocoons. A lovely follower of mine sent me one a few months ago and I put it aside, not sure what to do with it. Then someone in my Facebook group: Ariane Zurcher Stitching Circle asked what does one do with such an interesting and weird looking thing. I replied that I had no idea, but I had one sitting next to me, still in its little bag. Another helpful soul then suggested (dared me) that I do a livestream demonstrating. So I am, because I can’t let a dare suggestion like that go unheeded. If you’re curious, tune in today at 1pm EST.

The Undermining of “Craft”

The Undermining of “Craft”

“Crafts” have occupied a large part of my life. I was fifteen years old when I knitted my first sweater.  My mother taught me to knit when I was so young my fingers had trouble wrapping the yarn around them.  I didn’t realize it then, but being left-handed certainly must have made it more difficult for me to learn, yet learn I did, and to this day I knit as a right handed person does. It was the beginning of a love affair.  When I was in my twenties I had a brief moment when I was the editor of the “How To Knit” page in Elle Magazine.

Ariane Zurcher Designs
Ariane Zurcher Designs Capelet and Sleeves

My mother also taught me to do embroidery and sewing, this was in the days when knitting and fabric shops were as abundant as Starbucks.  It was a special occasion when my mother would drive me to San Francisco so we could visit Britex, which carried the most luxurious silks and fabrics from all over the world. When I moved to New York City there was a little knitting shop on Sixth Avenue in the village that had hand dyed and spun specialty yarns.  They were out of my price range as I was a student on a budget, but I would wander into that shop and just smell the wool and gaze at the beautiful colors, coveting the skeins that hung like candy along the walls.

Emroidered Creche my mother & I made when I was a teenager.

My father, born and raised in Paris, used to do Petit Point, at least this is what he called it, though in fact I believe he was doing what in America we call needlepoint. It was my father who taught me how to do basket weave needle point so the back of the tapestry resembled a basket weave, and was not as prone to warping the fabric and lay flatter or so he insisted. He looked down upon those who did their needlepoint by going back and forth horizontally. I have a pillow he made for me with the letter A prominently displayed in the center, it’s tattered back and edges giving clues to how old it now is.

The Pillow my father made for me

When I came to New York City it was because I’d been accepted to Parsons School of Design.   My love of fabrics, sewing, knitting and all things crafts-related propelled me into the world of fashion design.  It was an uneasy alliance and ultimately one I could not reconcile.  I learned early on that anything “Crafts” related was the sullied, unkept cousin to “high fashion.”  Crafts were what housewives did, it wasn’t the sort of thing an “artist” indulged in. So the thing I loved most, creating things by hand, became the thing I felt ashamed of.  The world of fashion and the designers whose work hung on exquisitely tall and impossibly thin models, exemplified all that I wasn’t.  My love of crafts became something I began to hide and even reject. It was “woman’s work” and if I was ever to make a career for myself, it was best to put those “childish pursuits” behind me.

“Craft” has begun to get its well deserved recognition and I couldn’t be happier. It is no coincidence that female artists in general are generating more interest in museums and galleries. Women’s work finally elevated to more prominence in a male dominated world is as it should be. “Craft” and all that it encompasses is yet another way we have been taught to undermine, under value and even ridicule work done by, mostly, women. We have a lot further to go, but it is wonderful to see that beginning to change!