One of the best things about a daily stitch practice is that you can use up all the odd ends of thread and yarn that seem to accumulate from other projects. If you keep it simple, you only need a yard or two of thread per day so it’s a good opportunity to use up the last bit of thread in a particular colour.
I only had a yard or so left of this purple and white marl yarn, and it turned out to be almost exactly the right amount to fill the circle and outline the box. I’ve stitched it down with a vintage cotton thread – maybe Sylko or Coats, it’s lost its label.
It’s exactly like patchwork, but with thread instead of fabric.
30 circles, 30 days. A few minutes of quiet stitching every day, each one a little oasis of calm.
I like the negative space. It’s like the untold part of the story, the gaps between thoughts and activities.
I’ve also been working a bit more on the cover, since this will eventually fold up into a book.
It’s very simple but it’s enough, I think.
Next month, back to the grid – squares/blocks with occasional circles. Maybe the best of both worlds.
Incidentally, you can now purchase and download my 2023 templates here – 12 different templates, approximately A4 size (or 8.5″ x 11″ letter size, if you’re not in Europe): there are some grids, some blocks, some lines, some shapes. I’m looking forward to using them myself.
I’ve had a few enquiries recently about the templates that I’m using for my 2023 Intuitive Daily Stitching, and I’m in the process of gathering together some grids and motifs into a new PDF.
My linen/cotton cloth is too thick to trace directly from a paper template, so I’ve had to find alternative ways to transfer the lines and marks. I usually use a window as a light box, taping template and cloth to the glass while I transfer the shapes with a pen. I also wondered about using this iron-on transfer pen, which I’ve had for a few months and hadn’t got round to trying.
I tried it on this leaf template – (I’m planning to use this one in October – nice idea, yes? – I’m seeing red and gold falling leaves). Unaccountably, I really didn’t expect the pen to work at all. But look! I did a little squeal. I used the pen to trace around the shape on the blank side (the back of the paper template – if you print on thin paper you can just see the print on the other side of the page), placed the drawing over a scrap of linen and touched an iron (on silk setting) to the paper, and hey presto. Instant, and very easy.
The pen says it’s permanent, which I’m assuming means it won’t wash off, and that of course means that I will need to cover the lines with a stitched outline. But since I usually do that anyway, that’s no great problem.
Isn’t it great when a gadget works as it should? Tell me what time/labour-saving sewing tool you like to use.
I don’t know where the first quarter of this year went, but at least some of it is here in daily stitches.
The whole page is about 8” x 11”.
A few stitches every day, some more meaningful than others, some more attractive than others. Some days are like that too.
This cloth is a long strip, like last year, but this time horizontal rather than vertical. The plan is to make it into a book, concertina-style, folding the months into pages and stitching them to the spine of a cover. I’ve made a start on the cover, which is vintage linen and a lovely surface to work on. There isn’t a plan for the design; I’ve just started with some simple lines of running stitch and I may or may not add to it.
The page for January will be stitched to the inside front cover, then the gap between January and February will form a valley fold that can be stitched to the spine of the cover. February and March will then have a mountain fold between them, making two pages, and so on. It isn’t nearly as complicated as I’m making it sound. I think it will work.
Interesting how different the dynamic is when stitching round shapes as opposed to straight-edged ones.
I like the space around the shapes, but I also like the full page of January. Just another way of seeing, I suppose, where neither is better nor worse than the other.
Spring is growing louder here in this part of the northern hemisphere. It amazes me every year how life just comes back so easily, how nature wakes up after her winter snooze and immediately picks up the thread again. Spring is maybe just the other side of winter.
I’m aiming to use a different template for each month this year, just to see how that works. February is pebble-shaped ‘spots of time’, a phrase from Wordsworth’s long poem The Prelude.
From Wordsworth’s text:
‘There are in our existence spots of time, That with distinct pre-eminence retain A renovating virtue, whence… …our minds Are nourished and invisibly repaired’
William Wordsworth, The Prelude (1850), Book 12, ll.208-15
Spots of time in this context are visual representations of time and memory, a spotlight on a few moments of life, that can hold peace and bring renovation. Time, experience and memory are really all we have. That’s our life. With the passing of time, experience becomes memory.
A few stitches on a cloth is a few footsteps on a path. We may not know how long the path is or where it goes, but along the way there will be these little dots of peace and joy.
I really like the fact that this is one single layer, and that the back is accessible. I’m not so sure how that will work when the whole thing is folded concertina-style into a book, when the back will then be hidden under the folds.
The cloth is starting to soften very nicely. It’s just like getting to know a new friend.
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.
Same fabric, same threads, same person. Different circumstances perhaps. Different time.
This time it’s a book rather than a long scroll, and this year I’m using a different template or layout every month.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
And after all that preliminary waffle, you can find the course here
Another year begins, and along with it another round of daily stitching. Let’s see where this year takes us.
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.
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:
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.