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.
Since launching my YouTube Channel Ariane Zurcher ~ On the Other Hand on February 20th, I have gained close to 550 subscribers! Much of this is due to the enthusiasm shown to me by the members of the private FaceBook group, Friends Who Like Sue Spargo Folk Art Quilts (thank you everyone!) and my friend Anna Bates, who has been so generous and thoughtful in giving my tutorials a plug. I met Anna at one of Sue Spargo‘s not-to-be-missed workshops held by MISA (Madeline Island School of the Arts) in Tucson, Arizona. Anna has a blog and a popular YouTube Channel, Quilt Roadies, as well as a weekly blog on Alex Anderson and Ricky Tim’s The Quilt Show, which has a massive following of devoted sewers. So if you don’t know Anna, go check her out. She’s wonderful.
Since that launch, (my first tutorial – needle turn applique for left handers) I have fallen into some semblance of a schedule. I’ve been posting new videos Monday, Wednesday & Friday. I try to post one tutorial a week devoted to an embroidery stitch from Sue Spargo’s Creative Stitching Book specifically for Left Handed Stitchers. The other two videos are either focusing on sewing techniques such as How to Make Hexies, How to Make Perfect Circles and How to Needle Turn Appliqué or tutorials on stitches that are not hand specific, in other words for both left and right handers. In addition I am blogging Tuesday & Thursday. (At least that’s what I did last week and am planning to do moving forward.) I still haven’t figured out how to squeeze in time to design new products, but am hoping to do that too, once I get better and quicker at shooting these videos and editing them.
Since life as we know it has ground to a halt, here in New York City, I realize that I’ve been managing my stress by working and am working pretty constantly these days. Between preparing, shooting and editing new YouTube videos, making masks, and coming up with new video ideas, I have taken on the task of revamping my various websites, including this blog, with the intention of eventually containing everything under one roof. As I have disparate sites: Ariane Zurcher Jewelry, My Etsy Shop, this blog and my YouTube Channel, it’s tricky to figure out how best to house them all under a single site. Added to this is the fact that I am not a computer geek and not only do not know the terminology, I also don’t know how to do any of that, but I’m learning. And what better way to spend this time of self quarantine than to do all of that or at least this is what I tell myself. I also am not sleeping much…
At some point this blog will get folded into a larger site; until then I plan to keep posting Tuesdays and Thursdays here.
Stay safe everyone and, if you’re like me, keep 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.
Here’s to all of you.
Here’s to stitching together.
Welcome to my store!
Please browse and look at our patterns available. We also offer Workshops! ~Ariane