Sometimes it's really hard to resist a skein of beautiful thread, even when you know you can't possibly thread it through the eye of a needle never mind pull it through the cloth, so in this week's blog we are going to explore couching and find out how you can use beautiful but too-thick-to-stitch-with threads.
If you follow InStitches on either Instagram or Facebook you will have seen a recent post about my 10 year old niece Isla. Along with many of the world's children, Isla and her two sisters are in lockdown. So, no school, no meeting up and playing with friends, no visiting their beloved grandparents, Auntie (me!!) or cousins.
I often forward her the Terry's paper blogs and she in turn WhatsApp's her creations back. Here's what she said about this week's one on spirals:
I did one of the exercises on your website, but I did it with my eyes closed and listening to music! Thank you so much, it really relaxed and calmed me! I picked random colours, and it actually turned out alright!
Children are resilient and adaptable but looking after their mental health is just as important as looking after ours. We hope over the last 6 weeks we have managed to bring a spark of creative joy and that you have been able to take a moment to stop, slow down and make time to appreciate the smaller pleasures in life.
So, settle down, pull out your stitching basket, pick up your needle and thread and come fly away with me...
The inspiration for this week's stitch comes from the beautiful dense and precise chain stitch embroidery of Gujarat. A small handmade wool rug covered in chainstitch crewel from Liberty's of London (hence the smallness!) was one of the first things I bought for my first home. It was covered in a flowing pattern of flowers and birds all worked in chain stitch using a jewel palette of coloured wools.
The V&A collection contains many examples of this type of work, including this beautiful padded and heavily stitched hunting coat, from 17th Century India. At India's Mughal court (early 16th - mid 19th century) the professional male embroiderers were famous for their use of an extremely precise repeat chain stitch form of embroidery known as Ari work. It is also sometimes referred to as tambour (from the French word for drum because the ground fabric is stretched tightly across a frame or hoop needed for the regular chain stitch). The tambour stitch is stitched with a specialist hook called an 'ari', which is similar to a crochet hook.
No, you haven't just found your way onto the Gardeners' World blog, it's just that, with all the sunny weather we've been having here in the UK, I've been spending rather a lot of time out in the garden these last few days.
Now, more than ever, I'm thankful to have an outdoor space of my own; with life so locked down it's become a place of sanctuary - and constant work! Daylight hours are growing longer and longer so I can be out there for hours, especially since this week I decided to paint all my fences; however after spending 10 hours already today and not even half way round I'm wondering why I ever thought it was a good idea!
Come the evening, though I feel exhausted, I still enjoy sitting down and picking up my hand stitching. The rhythmical movement of the needle and thread through cloth is soothing and calming; in these uncertain times it's just what I need.
This week we are carrying on working with a straight stitch.
Still? I hear you say,
Oh yes, I reply, keep reading!
We are going to stack it, curve it, mix it up and generally become playful with it...have you realised yet how versatile this simplest of stitches can be?
I don't know about you, but this last week I haven't been able to focus my mind or concentrate on any task for more than a few minutes at a time. So I'm resorting to lists; many, many lists! Breaking tasks down into small, achievable steps is how I cope. It's SO satisfying to tick them off:
One more step towards a normal life again.
It won't come as a surprise to you then, that I've created a list for this stitch blog! So now at least I know where we are going; all you need to do is show up each week and we can go together. For 10 or 20 minutes, maybe longer, but at least we can do it together and we'll even be socially distant compliant!
Before I show you the stitches for this week, did you see our Monday Instagram post/story? It was all about using an uneven running stitch to create fantastic ripples on a quilted surface.
Whether you are an experienced stitcher or picking up a needle for the very first time, welcome to the beginning of our Cloth Project blog.
Go put the kettle on and brew your favourite drink (or if it's after 6pm, mine's a G&T please!), gather your supplies and join us as we embrace a slower pace of life, discover the joy of creating, and hopefully in these troubled times, find some inner peace and fulfilment as well as a creative voice.
Welcome to our blog! Here you'll find out what's been going on, plus plenty of ideas and inspiration and the odd cake recipe!
Check back often to see what we're up to - it's great to have you along
Hazel & Terry
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