Have Your Say

18th November 2022

Carry On and Converse

Even after our spring clean over recent weeks, it turns out there were still a few emails that were yet to see the light of day. So this week we’ve cleared some more ‘dust’ from our inbox and are continuing the conversations you continued!

All Stitched Up! issue #347 made Carolyn ponder the idea of how one chooses what to put their needle and thread to. As the Chair of the Brighton Embroidery Group, she realised that ‘planning and then just seeing how a piece of work evolves’ is how they’re currently approaching their stitching.

L- Stumpwork Poppy by Carolyn | R- Yin and Yang by Dianne

Carolyn shared some of the group’s latest creations, acknowledging that whilst her poppy required careful observance of the instructions, the Yin and Yang designs were far more freestyle and were open to individual interpretation from the other members of the Embroidery Group.

L- Yin and Yang by Jo | R- Yin and Yang by Pauline

Carolyn, we appreciate you taking the time to share your group’s approach to stitching and loved the way you described it as, ‘we follow precise patterns and like taking our needles for a walk’ as it speaks to both the careful observance and individual interpretation shown in the pieces you’ve shared.

After reading All Stitched Up! issue #351, Susan emailed to let us know what she was up to:

Today I decided to tidy my sewing room! I will iron all my cotton fabrics, folding large pieces into fat quarters, whilst others will be cut into strips, then sewn to make squares. These will then be made into lap quilts. 

All the smaller scraps will be made into bags for Christmas presents and I will put together slow stitch kits to give away or sell. I will allow myself to keep one box of fabric for doll and soft toy making.

This, however, may take more than a day and I might even find those lost bobbins!’

‘Playing’ with fabric sounds like the perfect way to pass a day… or two… or three! We hope you enjoyed the process and that you found those missing bobbins along the way.

ASU #352 posed the question, ‘What do you love and loathe about your time with needle and thread?’, which Jane took the time to respond to.

‘The best part about my stitching time is the joy of being on my own, creating something no one else has ever seen. It is my secret bit of fun. Maybe there will be some aggravation over a tangled thread or a complex stitch that will trip me up. Oh, my mistakes! Things go sideways some days and I wonder what I was, or was not, thinking when I stitched it.

But then, I look at what I have finished.

Did I really do that? I’ll ask myself. Perhaps I’ll see the little blemish, or perhaps I’ll have forgotten where it is, but I always know it was time well spent in pursuit of beauty and fun. Maybe I’ll even share my secret projects, and someone will be amazed?’

Jane, we love your approach to your time with needle and thread and we believe it is always time well spent! When you’re ready to share your secret projects, we hope you’ll choose to share them with us.

Issue #353 of All Stitched Up! saw us unpacking the idea of form over function. Ann emailed to let us know that the space she’s set aside for all things needle and thread is going through a transition from function to form.

‘I have been surrounded by function over form in my workshop for so long I’m sure that it contributed to the loss of my mojo during the Covid lockdowns and beyond. However, I had to move almost everything out of my workshop a couple of weeks ago to fix a leak and add insulation.  

Having moved everything out, I can at last see my large worktable and have room to work. I am determined to go through my stash and keep only what I believe I will be able to use.

I will also be able to display it so that I am surrounded by form not function. Perhaps then I will be able to get my mojo back?!’

Ann, we know from experience that form absolutely contributes to mojo! We hope the transformation of your conservatory has helped you find your creativity again and we look forward to seeing what it inspires you to create.

Also, in ASU #353, Thuy was hoping someone would be able to point her in the direction as to how the motif depicted in ‘The Gown’ was created. 

Although we weren’t able to point Thuy in exactly the right direction, Debbie emailed to let us know that the book’s author, Jennifer Robson, as she’s not an embroiderer herself, went on a search to find someone who had worked on the gown. Jennifer’s search led her to Hand and Lock where she embarked on a one-day embroidery lesson to immerse herself in the craft she was to write about.

Jennifer eventually forged a connection with a seamstress who had worked on the gown when she was very young, having created 22 buttonholes by hand, with one of the characters in the book being fashioned after her.

Having read the book herself, as well as having done a lot of historic research into whitework, Debbie found the descriptions of the methods written about in ‘The Gown’ to be ‘quite accurate and one of the highlights of the book’.

Like Thuy, ‘The Gown’ also comes as a highly recommended read from Debbie.

We close this week’s Have Your Say with Ann’s thoughts on ‘The Good and Bad Bits’ of her time with needle and thread.

For me the ‘bad bits’ include finishing off a project, like sewing up the seams of a piece of knitwear or a woven bag. Then at a workshop I discovered Pillow Weaving!

By cleverly warping a simple card loom it is possible to weave a circular piece with no side seams, and if you firmly beat down the weft as you go, the bottom will be finished off too. The warp comes off the loom leaving a neat top to the resulting cylinder, so nothing to do there either! A final touch is that, with a bit of planning, threads to make a drawstring to close your bag can be incorporated in the piece as you go.’

‘When your weave is finished, carefully taking it off the loom produces a completed bag with no tedious seams to finish off – the bad bits are banished!

Since discovering this technique, I have taught it in several workshops, and I am surprised how relatively unknown Pillow Weaving is in the UK. Maybe sewing up seams isn’t everyone’s idea of a ‘bad bit’ – perhaps it’s just me?!’

Ann, it turns out Pillow Weaving was an unknown technique to us too prior to receiving your email. We appreciate your detailed description of the method and love that you found something to banish the ‘bad’ from your time with needle and thread!

As always, we love that the conversation continues and look forward to chatting with you again soon.

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