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9th September 2022

Taking Up the Challenge…

In response to our article about challenges in All Stitched Up! issue #340, we received several more emails from Guilds and groups around the world who wanted to share the fantastic work of their members. Challenges work to both narrow down the focus for people’s stitching, whilst fostering amazing creativity. They’re a fantastic way to get ideas flowing, as these examples will attest.

Writing to us from the UK, Sue Baughan shared her group’s annual challenge from 2018. Sue chairs the Herts Textile Arts & Stitch group, and she devised a challenge based on her discovery of ‘Myriorama’ or endless scenes. The idea had originally been created as a Victorian card game for children. Each card in the deck showed a scene that could be seamlessly joined to any other card to form an ‘endless’ vista. The cards were designed so that, no matter the order, the scene always flowed and made visual sense.

When Sue gathered materials for kits, which included detailed instructions, she was met with exclamations of ‘a myrio…what?’ However, after several explanatory phone calls and meetings, the members of the group boldly set forth with the project.

The result was to be a never-ending garden scene. Each piece was a uniform size, with the plan being that they could be hung in any order. Rules had to be imposed to achieve this, including no half-plants on the edges, and assurance that the foreground, middle-ground and sky all started and finished at the same place on the edges of each piece.

The resulting display was a triumph. Since the challenge, the Myriorama display has been exhibited many times, with each exhibition being unique as the pieces are hung in a different order every time.

A different challenge was shared with us by Bridget O’Brien from the Canadian Embroidery Guild in Guelph, Ontario. Bridget’s group decided to try working the blue vase from Sue Spargo’s project, Bright Bouquet, which appeared on the cover of Inspirations issue #94.

Every contributor interpreted it slightly differently, including various embellishments and personal touches. It really is wonderful to see how the same design can produce such a wide variety of results. This really is what embroidery is all about.

Just while we’re sharing fantastic ways that people take the designs from Inspirations magazine and make them their own, Lee Harvey sent us a picture of a gorgeous wooden box that she uses to store her threads. It was originally a cutlery box, but when you look closely, you can see that she has adapted Veil of Gold by Christine P. Bishop from Inspirations issue #42 to decorate the inside of the lid.

Finally this week, our article on Envy gave many of you pause for thought. Ann shared with us that when she was a schoolgirl, she loved art. However, she was not allowed to do art beyond age 11, being confined to dressmaking or domestic science. This was the 1950s, and Ann hated sewing back then!

She dreamed of going to art school, but she had to earn a living and so life took her on other paths. This is where envy comes in. She sees the work produced by artists, especially textile artists, and notices that many of them have an art school background. She often finds herself grumbling with envy. However, taking that emotion and reframing it, she has gone back over her own textile work and has started to appreciate what she has achieved throughout her life, even without that formal training. 

Martina Frank also thought about envy. As well as an embroiderer, Martina is a classical musician. When she was young, she’d listen to piano recitals and enviously believe she’d never be able to reach those heights. But that emotion caused her to increase her practice. She knew that there were always people who were better than her, just as there were always people who weren’t at her level.

Knowing that meant it was possible to move in the direction of ‘better’, rather than falling into the belief of ‘I’ll never be able to…’

Over time, she has come to appreciate her own skills that inform her dual passions of music and embroidery.

Whether you are taking up a challenge, or channelling your envy towards a positive end, we’d love for you to share it with us. We all share similar experiences and we can all learn from one another. We’re just so lucky that this wonderful passion of ours serves to bring us together to share those experiences and helps all of us to grow.

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