Shop update – threads

Just flying through to announce a shop update 7pm today (GMT) for UK people ONLY – sorry – there is still a problem with Royal Mail’s international service. There will be more threads later when the problems have been resolved.

They’re not all green 😎

Available here from 7pm today.

January

For a month that usually seems to drag its heels, January has shot past in a blur this year. This is a sign of getting older, right?

When I started the second stitch journal, I was slightly concerned that it would turn out more or less the same as the first one and that there would be no real value in doing it again.

But what do you know? It looks quite different from last year’s. At least, it looks different to me.

January 2023 daily stitching

Same fabric, same threads, same person. Different circumstances perhaps. Different time.

January, detail

This time it’s a book rather than a long scroll, and this year I’m using a different template or layout every month.

January, detail

There are signs of spring outside in the garden, and the light is starting to change. Winter will be packing its bags and moving on. There is a pun here about seeing the back of winter and showing the back of January’s stitching. Of course I wouldn’t fall into that trap, would I?

Seeing the back of winter

On Work

Approaching the end of my first month as a self-employed artist, there is a lot to reflect on. Briefly, I don’t think I’ve ever worked so hard, and also I don’t think I’ve ever been happier. ‘Work’ means something different now. Primary goal for next month is to get better at managing my work/life balance, which is difficult when work and life have essentially become the same thing.

‘Work’ means this, among other things:

Thread dyeing in progress

It also means wearing a variety of different hats from one minute to the next. Some of the jobs I’ve done so far this month are Sales Manager, Marketing Manager, Accountant, Goods Inwards Manager, Customer Service Manager, International Relations Manager, Tech Support Assistant, Logistics Manager, teacher, photographer, copy writer, proof reader, film director, video editor, sound engineer, dyer, content creator, and researcher. Haven’t had time to do any actual art yet.

But it’s a glorious feeling to wake up every morning filled with excitement for the working day ahead.

There will be thread in the shop soon (ish) – when I can get all of these skeins wound and sorted:

Textured threads
Cotton threads (they’re not all green!)

Here’s my Heath Robinson style skein twister. It’s a tiny hand drill I used to use years ago when I made miniatures, with a bent paper clip where the drill bit should be. The board is thick foam with a pencil stuck in it, clamped to a stool so it doesn’t move. I should probably patent it.

Unpatented Heath Robinson skein winder

I think some of the Teachable teething problems have been resolved now, and so far people seem to be enjoying the online course – I’ve been assured by several students that it isn’t only for beginners, which makes me very happy.

I’ll let you know when threads are available – it will take as long as it takes, but probably (I hope) some time this week. The shop will be temporarily closed while I list the threads, but it should only be down for a day or two. I aim to have threads in the shop every month from now on, if I can. The first batch will be UK post only, just until Royal Mail gets through the backlog of delays caused by strike action in December and the cyber attack earlier this month. From next month I hope to return to international shipping.

And on that note, it’s back to work for me.

Teachable

Good morning, and thank you so much to everyone who has signed up so far for my online course, Intuitive Daily Stitching. I hope you’re enjoying it.

Some aspects of the platform, Teachable, can be difficult to navigate. I’m hoping here to try and clarify the process a bit for anyone who’s had some trouble accessing the course.

Part of the confusion I think might come from the fact that a Teachable account and a School account are two different things. When you purchase my course, you’re automatically signed up for my School, which may be a different login from any existing Teachable account you may have.

If you have an existing Teachable account, I *think* (if I’m understanding this correctly) you can edit your profile in the top right of your screen to merge your Teachable Schools. If you haven’t got an existing Teachable account, then it’s a bit less complicated.

When you purchase the course, you should receive an email like this:

If you have at the same time created a new account, you may also receive an email like this:

When you have clicked on the ‘confirm email’ button, you will get another email like this:

You may then need to log in again before you can see your home page on Teachable. The first thing you should see on your page might look like this:

Suggest you bookmark this page so you can find it again

If you’re having trouble seeing anything at all, try clicking on my profile image (the moon, top left). You should be able to see your course in the ‘my products’ page in the menu top right. You may well have to log in again. Your ‘my products’ page should look something like this:

You can access Teachable’s student help pages here – scroll right down the page where there is some information on trouble shooting. If you’re still stuck, contact me and I’ll see if I can help.

Also, an update today – Intuitive Daily Stitching is now available with (English) subtitles for each lesson. It’s exactly the same content as the original version, just with subtitles on all the videos. If you’ve already purchased the standard version but would prefer the subtitled version, contact me and I can add you to the new course. Don’t pay twice!

Intuitive Daily Stitching with (English) subtitles

This is probably one of the least interesting blog posts I’ve ever written, but I hope at least someone has found it helpful. Let me know if you have any problems getting in to your course. Or if you previously had a problem and resolved it successfully, please tell me what you did. This has been (and still is) an immense learning curve for me too.

Online course: intuitive daily stitching

Well, here we are. After a good few weeks of hard labour and a very steep learning curve, it’s about as good as it’s going to be, and I think I’m ready to let it out into the world. Thank you for your patience while it was under construction.

The course is all pre-recorded, with no live element – so there’s no rush to sign up and no requirement to be available at set times. You can access the material as often as you want, whenever is convenient for you.

Online course via Teachable

The course is aimed primarily at beginners, so it may be helpful if you’re just starting out with some hand stitching, or some daily stitching. If you’re already stitching quite confidently, there probably won’t be much there that you don’t already know. You can watch the introduction without committing to a purchase, and that will give you an overview of the course content.

You can preview the introduction video here

Briefly, section 1 is about choosing suitable fabrics, needles and threads; section 2 focuses on a selection of easy hand embroidery stitches and various ways in which you can adapt them; and section 3 has some general information on how to approach hand stitching as a mindful, meditative practice.

Teachable landing page
Learn to make something like this

The course is quite informal in style and has me going ‘er’ and ‘um’ a bit, even with a script, but nothing is ever going to be perfect. I’ve tried to present it as if we’re in the same room, learning together.

If you don’t already have a Teachable login, you’ll need to create one (it’s free) in order to access the course.

Here’s a bit of the demonstration sampler that I’ve used to show you the stitches. I finished the sampler after recording the course – I just show you the basics in real time. You should be able to recognise the stitches I’ve added.

The price of the course is in GBP, because I’m in the UK. If you’re not in the UK, you can use any online currency converter to see the equivalent amount for you. The secure online checkout system will automatically convert the price to your local currency.

Please try and remember this converted amount so that you recognise it when it appears on your bank statement later. If you don’t recognise the amount and flag it as fraud with your bank by mistake, that can cause extra work and expense for me. Thank you.

Selection of worksheets accompanying each stitch lesson

And after all that preliminary waffle, you can find the course here

I hope you enjoy it. Let me know what you think.

Week one: intuitive stitching

Another year begins, and along with it another round of daily stitching. Let’s see where this year takes us.

The last 5 days in stitch

I know a lot of people find January very difficult (here in the northern hemisphere, that is) because it’s long and cold and still dark, but I like it. January is generally quiet, after the hectic days of Christmas and New Year, and not much happens – and that suits me just fine. I’ve kept the colour palette here fairly wintery and subdued but will begin to introduce some spring colours next month.

January 1st to 7th

It’s really interesting to look at what you’ve stitched, and to reflect on what meaning you find there. When your mind is still but your hands are busy, a kind of magical insight emerges and you end up producing a pattern in which you can access your intuitive knowledge. We all know things without realising it, and sometimes it can be difficult to silence the chattering mind enough to see that knowledge. So far I see home, which is where I work now and my safe place, a light radiating peace and joy, a mountain to climb (good job I like climbing mountains) and I see paths leading to unknown places. As I continue to work on putting together an online course, I can see that my stitching absolutely reflects where I am.

Some days I prefer the back, which shows you how you got there:

The other side

I’ve been utterly delighted to see emerging stitch journals and hand embroidery from talented stitchers sharing their work in my private Facebook group. It’s becoming a lovely, thoughtful community of hand stitchers, of all abilities, connecting with and supporting each other, learning from each other, and generously sharing knowledge. If you’re working on your own daily stitching and you’d like to join, you will need to answer three simple questions and agree to some basic group rules. There are no right/wrong answers to the questions, but I do need to know a little bit about you before I can approve your request. This just helps everyone (including me) feel safe. If you’re in, you can be sure that you’re among friends.

Vertical learning curve

I feel as if I’ve climbed a mountain today. I’m making a start on this, my first online class for absolute beginners:

Online course for beginners

I’ve learned many things already, one of which is that I’m pretty rubbish at keeping my hands in the frame when taking a video of myself stitching.

Summary

But perseverance is a virtue, so I will keep at it. It will be ok in the end, whenever that turns out to be…

Benefits of hand embroidery

The beginning

Of course I’m doing it again.

Preparing a strip of vintage linen/cotton bed sheet

I’m using the same fabric as last year: vintage metis (linen/cotton blend) bed sheet, about 13” wide by about 100” long. I’ve hemmed the long edges, just by turning an inch or so under, giving a finished width of about 11”. I’ve given it a quick dip in some tea just to knock back the whiteness, which gives me the option to use white thread some days.

This year I’m using a slightly different format. Instead of one long continuous scroll, I’ll fold the strip concertina-style to form twelve separate pages so that the finished thing will look like a book.

In book form

I’m trying different templates this year too, just to see how it looks. Some pages will be circles, some will be rows or columns, some blocks will have spaces between. Haven’t quite thought this through, but the process is supposed to be intuitive, so I don’t want to over-plan.

Trying different layouts for each month

I’ve begun with some very simple stitches. I’ve marked out this month’s grid but haven’t yet completed the outlines – I may do that as I go along, I’ll see how it goes. There are no rules.

A blue beginning
The back, showing the hemmed edge

From today I am no longer employed, so this marks the start of a new way of life for me and an adventure. I’m looking forward to having more time this year to focus on my own work, to set up some online classes, dye more thread and fabrics, create some embroidery patterns and templates – and maybe a few more things besides.

Lines

I’ve been very happy to know that so many people are planning to start their own daily stitch practice. I find it very restorative to reserve a few minutes a day for some quiet time with fabric and thread. Just a few stitches, just to see what happens.

I also like seeing time mapped out like this. A calendar has the same function, of course, but somehow this has more impact for me.

January

Here’s to all new beginnings.

The end of a beginning

365 days.

Long cloth recording a long year

It measures 10” x 95”

Impossible to photograph effectively

950 square inches of hand embroidery.

Wrapped around a large industrial wooden bobbin

A record of time passing, days spent and gone. Each little block the shape of a unique moment, preserved for ever.

Summer days

It isn’t important to me that I remember what each day meant, or what happened when. It’s more meaningful overall as a visual record of time. The bigger picture. A piece of my life.

Last winter

A few of you are starting stitch journals of your own in 2023, and an enormous thank you if you’ve purchased and downloaded my template (here). I’ve created a Facebook group, Stitching Life Community, for hand-stitchers to chat, connect, share progress and best tips for hand-stitching. Type the group name into the Facebook search bar and you should find it. It’s a private group, so you need to apply for membership by answering a few (easy) questions. I’d love to see you there and follow your progress.

Sound on!

Vintage cloth, December days

Over halfway through December, and heading towards the darkest days of the year here in the UK.

Darker days

I’ve learned such a lot through making this stitch journal. I no longer think of it as a journal though; it’s become more a collection of daily stitch meditations. I will certainly make something similar next year, though probably not exactly this design. If you want to try something like this, you can download a PDF with templates and notes here.

At least once a week someone asks me what the foundation fabric is. It’s this, a vintage French bed sheet, cotton/linen blend (sometimes called metis):

French vintage cotton/linen blend bed sheet

I will stitch on this fabric again next year. I probably have enough fabric here for another four daily stitch scrolls, if I stick to the long/thin format. I find it an easy shape to work on because you can roll up the ends as you go along, which keeps it fairly compact.

The sheet holds a few memories of its previous life, one of which is a hand-stitched seam down the centre. I’ve assumed that this was a sign that it had worn well enough for a previous owner to have turned it, because parts of the sheet I’ve been stitching on (a strip torn from the outer edge) had worn very thin. Turning is where you extend the life of an old sheet, which tends to wear most in the middle where you’ve been lying on it, by cutting it down the centre and then swapping the edges – so you then sew the original outer edges together, creating a central seam and letting the worn parts become the new outer edges. Someone from the past has hand-sewn this seam down the middle:

Hand-stitched central seam

BUT there is also a darn on the outer edge, which is clearly a selvedge – so, given that the sheet appears to have been turned, but the new outer edges are selvedges (and not hemmed raw edges) I’m deducing that the fabric was possibly hand-woven on a home loom because it’s taken two widths to make one sheet. Hand looms created fabric with narrower widths than the big commercial looms, so the only way to create wider fabrics was to stitch narrower lengths together.

Vintage bed sheet with original darning

The sheet has been hemmed with impossibly tiny, regular stitches. I had assumed that this was machined, but I’ve unpicked a tiny bit and it’s just one single thread so has clearly been done by hand. It’s a very good quality fabric so will have been stitched and mended carefully.

Tiny stitches on a hand-stitched hem

The only thing I’ve been occasionally dissatisfied with this year is that the fabric is white. Sometimes I have wanted to stitch with white thread, and it just doesn’t show up well enough. The rule that I made for myself was no painting or dyeing, no added fabric or applique, just thread on a foundation. I don’t want to dye or paint it, because then I’d have to predetermine the colour, and I think that would create more limitations. I may, however, give it a very quick dip in some weak tea, just to knock back the whiteness but not enough to colour it too much.

I’m looking forward to revealing the whole thing at the end of the month. Yikes, that’s a week on Saturday! Hope you’re looking forward to seeing it too. In the meantime have a wonderful, peaceful festive season, and thank you for your friendship and support during 2022.

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