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.
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 YouTube Channel, Ariane Zurcher ~ On the Other Hand, has become monetized! Woot! Woot! This means that my channel has over 4,000 watched hours and more than 1,000 subscribers.
This may seem like one of those, ho hum, who cares announcements, particularly as it began with such a build up… however, before you leave in disappointment, here’s the good news – I no longer have a time limit to my videos, I can go on and on and on endlessly for HOURS, literally hours. Just imagine!
“If you are verified, your YouTube videos can be up to 12 hours long, or as much as 128 GB.”
Okay, okay, so maybe that’s not the good news, and anyway I promise I won’t post any 12-hour long videos or even multiple hours, seriously, I swear, though I did have this one idea… Oh come ON, I’m just kidding!
Also, I can now link to external websites, like this blog, if I could only figure out how to do that, AND, once I’ve converted my website over to the new website I’m planning, which will house this blog, my Youtube channel, a shop filled with fabulous new designs and all the other things on my to-do list, I can add links to that too, at least theoretically.
And then there’s the – is this good news or is this bad news part of the whole my-youtube-channel-is-monetized-exclamation-mark-aren’t-you-happy-for-me pronouncement and that is, there are now ads on every single video I have posted. I’m expecting a huge uptick in the thumbs down button being pushed by disgruntled viewers, however, just so you don’t become one of them, please, please try to remember that those annoying ads give me a tiny, tiny, infinitesimal, seriously small, amount of money, which means I can keep posting more videos, that hopefully you love and will find helpful! A win-win, right?!
But before you say – well not really, I hate ads and no amount of helpful or even mildly useful information will make me hate them any less, they’re annoying and a constant reminder that our world has veered precariously close to becoming some creepy melding of The Minority Report (without Tom Cruise at his prime) and Blade Runner (without Harrison Ford who was just heading out of his prime, though that may not even be possible…) which, by the way, were two really good reasons to even watch those two movies in the first place, and anyway even if those two guys were still IN their prime, it wouldn’t lessen the blow… before you say all of that, let me suggest that you think of this as a tiny (think thimble-sized) tip jar, which literally holds pennies, then maybe, just maybe you’ll feel less resentful when those ads appear, ruining your otherwise blissful experience of exploring the creative process or learning a new stitch or seeing a stitch you already know all about done in an interesting new way or maybe just done in a thread you might not have thought about until now or… okay, I’m running out of helpful suggestions here.
Just know that I appreciate your watching my videos even if they are now encumbered by annoying advertisements about things you don’t care about, have never heard of or, as is the case with this blog, photographs of old men’s hairy legs with captions that read “12 Ways You Know You’ll Have a Heart Attack in the Next 5 Years” and things like that. And remember, I love you for your patience in putting up with them and will continue to post videos that, I’m hoping, you will enjoy watching.
There. Full disclosure. Whew. It was touch and go there for a minute. Thursday’s post will be full of musings from New York City where we are still in the lock-down-that-will-never-end-and-even-if-it-did-who-will-feel-safe-enough-to-go-out-anyway?
By the way, you have no idea how difficult it was to find photographs to enhance this post, thereby lessening the blow of the difficult news I felt compelled to impart. But we made it. And here we are! It’s a beautiful thing.
Every morning my husband and I read something we find interesting and thought provoking, and then we discuss. It’s become a ritual of sorts and has been incredibly helpful, even transformative in many ways. Not least of which is that I so often am reminded of creativity and stitching, and how both are a process and ideally, embraced.
Every day I sit in my little creative room and I stitch. Each day that act of stitching is a new experience, an exploration of the physical, but also of the emotional and even the spiritual. I gather together my materials, usually beginning with colors, and then I either sketch out an idea or just begin stitching something. What’s interesting is that sometimes things just unfold beautifully and without interruption and 45 minutes to an hour later I have something I like or, if I’m really lucky, something I love. But there are other days when that just doesn’t happen. I struggle, I tear out, I undo, redo, undo again. I walk away, I come back, I sketch an idea, I start again. Hours can go by and eventually I end up with something that I’m okay with, although perhaps not thrilled with. Still, I’ve learned to leave it alone and days later I may come back and think – I love this! Or not. The point is, it’s all a process and it’s the process I’ve become increasingly fascinated by and have learned to love.
Each circle has its own personality and each one was a different experience to stitch. What I’ve learned from years of designing is that I must trust the process. I must trust myself. I must trust that if I stick with it, something magical will reveal itself, even if it’s not always in a way that I instantly recognize. It can be said that this is true for life as well.
Every Wednesday I am devoting a video to creating, designing and the creative process. Those videos can be found ‘here‘. Stay tuned for a new one coming tomorrow!