The end of September already. October tomorrow. It really will be Christmas before we know it. No use getting ahead of ourselves here though.
I think the hag stones thing turned out OK in the end. Berries, apples, or pears would have worked equally well.
I think of the little unstitched space in each shape as a tiny bit of welcome silence. The world always seems very noisy to me.
Our house has recently gone up for sale, and we are looking for quiet. Not remote, as I don’t drive and I need a good post office within walking distance. But some quiet would be nice.
It still surprises me how much thinking time and reflection time there is in daily stitching. There is nothing to do except focus on needle and thread while you let the thoughts come and go.
The entire page has turned out to be a visual record of our decision to look for a new home. Not in any literal or figurative sense, but I can see weighings-up, imaginings, letting gos, and looking aheads. There is a kind of loss as well as a potential gain, because every beginning is preceded by an end, and every end is followed by a beginning. It’s just one continuous line really.
Next month (sing along if you know it) – the falling leaves… drift by the window… those autumn leaves… of red and gold…
Genuinely don’t know where August went. I say this every month, I know. Every day seems to pass in a blur.
I had some reservations about this template, but it’s turned out to be my favourite so far this year.
There were lots of options for how to stitch the radiating segments but generally my preference is for keeping things simple. Running stitch is restful to work, and can look really effective.
I was thinking about first harvest for this month – that’s grain – and running stitches/small isolated stitches look like seeds, from which all things grow. And seeds are the culmination of a plant’s annual work too, so an end and a new beginning all at once.
The back, as always, is a kind of map. Or a mirror, perhaps. Beginnings and loose ends, which is what life is made of.
Next month – well, we’ll see how it turns out. The template was designed to indicate second harvest – that’s fruit – berries, apples, etc – but somehow I’ve made it look like hagstones.
I like hagstones. To me they are magical. Let’s see how they turn out. There’s no real plan, and no right or wrong. Just days, waiting to be filled.
I’m enjoying these templates for 2023, which you can find here. I didn’t think there was enough green on the page so I added some impromptu leaves here and there.
All threads are equal, but some threads are more equal than others, (with apologies to George Orwell). Thicker threads can look a little out of scale at this size, and I much prefer the motifs that have been stitched with finer threads – probably perle 12 and finer.
The very simple fly stitch flower below reminds me a bit of a snowflake. Summer is always followed by autumn and winter, and winter is always followed by spring and summer. The wheel is constantly turning, and time doesn’t stand still.
I think of these pages as self portraits. The other side is the face we don’t generally show to the world.
I’ve felt a hint of autumn in the air some mornings already, in this part of the UK, and the light is starting to change. The traditional pagan calendar sees autumn beginning tomorrow, with first harvest. My August template is meant to be a kind of geometric cornucopia, loosely based on the shape of traditional corn dollies that are plaited and woven at the end of the season and kept to ensure a fruitful harvest the following year. I’m looking forward to a more autumnal colour palette.
We found three leftover ears of wheat by the side of a farmer’s field while out walking a few years ago. The harvest had already been gathered, and these were lying on the ground. I plaited the stalks (very inexpertly, as you can see) and we hang it on the hearth at this time of year as a wish for fruitful endeavours.
And on that note, wishing you a happy and fruitful Monday 🙂
Long lines this month on the daily stitch journal:
I’ve found this format to be quite a challenge at times. Filling a line is not at all the same as filling a box-shaped space. The path is already mapped out and you have to walk its length. A box or square – your needle and thread can meander around in it, but a long straight line knows where it’s going and you have to follow it.
And that’s a fair example of art reflecting life, because I also find the long summer days themselves to be a bit challenging. I like sunshine, in moderation, but not heat. I like night time to be cool and dark. Even with blackout curtains it just doesn’t get dark enough at this time of year and sunrise is some ridiculous time in the middle of the night. It’s also been unusually hot here the last few weeks, and every room in the house has been several degrees warmer than is comfortable. Sometimes I go to the local Sainsbury’s just to cool down – their air conditioning makes the whole shop feel like a giant fridge.
Yesterday I found a vintage Coats mercerised cotton crochet thread in variegated yellows in a local charity shop for 50p. I don’t have much yellow thread – it’s not a colour I tend to use very often – but it looked so delicious that it had to come home with me. It made a lovely detached chain stitch.
And everyone likes to see the other side, of course. Once this is made up into a book, the other side will no longer be visible. Next year I think I will return to the two-sided format where the back remains accessible. I like to see it.
Next month will be summer flowers. I think this could be fun.
I’ve reached a bit of a landmark: the end of June marks my first six months of working for myself. It’s been hard work and long hours and immensely rewarding, but I am quite tired. Next week I’m taking a social media break for a week or two, just to potter behind the scenes and recharge a little. I will still process any orders and respond to emails, but Instagram and Facebook can carry on without me for a little while. I may still post here, if I have anything to say. Does a blog count as social media? I guess it probably does, but then the pace here is slow enough to be ok.
Another month seems to have disappeared in a whirl, leaving just a few stitches behind to prove it was there.
I went back to the grid formation for this month, which I like because it always feels like a more accurate representation of days: a few patches of time with no spaces between. I like the other layouts too, for different reasons.
Lots of flowering and new growth in the garden. Some days brought less happy news, but things seem to be looking a little brighter now.
Earlier in the month we found time to go and see the bluebells and wild garlic in the woods.
The front shows where you go, and the back shows how you got there. Two sides of the same story.
The stitch journal is becoming a book. I’ve stitched the first few completed pages into the spine of the cover. The music is Menuet from Bach’s Cello Suite no 1 in G major, expertly played by cellist Steven Isserlis.
Still a lot of the year still to go, and a few feet of linen waiting to unfold. June will be vertical stripes. Long days.
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’m continuing with the linen cover for this year’s stitch journal.
I hardly ever do straight lines intentionally. I used masking tape to keep me on the straight and narrow. Initially I started with lines of running stitch to give some sort of structure on which to build something more complex. I was thinking maybe couching, or columns of embroidery, or whipped running stitch. If ever I don’t know what to do with a blank canvas, I generally find that making a start with running stitch takes it where it needs to go. And sometimes it turns out that running stitch is all it needs. I find I’m really liking the simplicity of it.
Initially it was going to be just blue, but I’ve started adding some greens and some space-dyed threads that give a flash of colour here and there. I’m using fine-ish threads – nothing thicker than perle 12 – and mostly my own hand-dyed cotton and silk. I like the unpredictable subtle colour changes that you get with hand-dyed thread.
The title box is outlined with couched silk boucle. I’m not sure what the title will be yet. The heavyweight linen came from a vintage French shirt, and is difficult to stitch on – I have had to resort to a thimble, which I hardly ever use – but beautiful quality. I can’t imagine it having been a very comfortable shirt, but I think it will be a perfect journal cover.
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.