Colouring life

Difficult to concentrate on anything at the moment with all the conflict and trouble in Ukraine, so I rounded up everything that needed dyeing. It takes days to wind skeins of thread, dye fabric and thread, wash it, dry it, iron it, and unwind all the skeins, but it’s worth the effort.

Pile of newly-dyed fabrics and thread wound into little balls

Most of this is vintage linen/cotton, and the threads are mostly new and vintage crochet cottons. I find they work well as hand embroidery threads.

They look delicious don’t they? Like a box of chocolates

I prefer my threads wound into balls like this rather than wrapped onto thread cards. I don’t like the creases you get when you wind onto cardboard bobbins.

Difficult to get decent greens with procion but I’m happy with these

There is a lot of fabric here. There always seems to be more than I think there is, and it seems to last forever. This is a Good Thing. Some of it will find its way into the shop eventually.

Stitch doodling

It rained a lot today. I spent my lunch hour road-testing some of the threads while the frogs hopped around on the patio. I have plans for some new work, which I will start at some point. I still have a couple of ongoing things to finish first. I added this one to the shop this week:

Make a Wish

It was originally the sleeve of a coat that I was never going to finish but then it took on a life of its own. It seemed to find its own time, as these things do.

February stitching

And that was February. One-sixth of the year gone already. The stitch journal doesn’t slow down the passing of time after all.

February stitch journal block, overall size about 8″ x 10″

I don’t want to say too much here about what’s happening in the rest of the world, but February brought Mr Stitching Life and me some big news (good news, I think) and the prospect of enormous change.

detail from mid-February. A heart for Valentines and rain in the preceding days

I used to worry about all kinds of things. Small things, mostly. It’s taken many years to realise that I probably have a degree of social anxiety, and I am happier when I don’t have to talk to real live people. I used to worry about everything I said, everything I did, whether I had offended someone or said the wrong thing. Silly, really, because it’s much easier to do all of that in writing. The written word lasts so much longer than the spoken one.

the last days of February

I find these days that I worry less. The last few days on the world stage (and probably the coming ones too) demonstrate that literally anything could happen, and most of us have no control over quite a lot of it. There really isn’t anything to be gained by worrying. It uses up energy reserves for no good reason. I’m finding that the stitch journal allows me to witness the passing of time without really agonising about the daily minutiae. I find myself wondering rather than worrying, which is quite refreshing. In particular I find myself wondering about this empty space that will be filled by March:

Unrolling a new month

There are some big changes coming, and I think I am ready for them.

Colour

I am learning a lot from the stitch journal. I don’t often stitch on plain white fabric, preferring generally to use layered, hand-dyed bases. I understand colour theory, of course, and I know about the different effects that colours can have on their neighbours, but the stitch journal has enabled me to have a better understanding of how this works. The stitch journal is more about line, whereas in my usual work I focus more on shape.

This set of green silk threads is from Airedale Yarns and when it first arrived I took one look at the bright emerald green and thought that was a colour I would probably never use. Too bright, too shiny, too ‘green’ (if there can possibly be such a thing). I like the more muted shades.

Regency silk palette ‘Baroque’

When you stitch a fine line on a white background, however, the colour becomes something quite different. It completely loses its in-your-face greenness and sits quite happily alongside the hand-dyed silk threads on today’s journal block. It becomes a bit more subdued against the white, which I really like.

Bright shiny emerald green in between lines of couched silk perle no. 3

My stitch journal is already very green, I know. What can I say? I like green. I even like the bright shiny emerald green as well now. What I love most about working with colour is how perfectly it can express a feeling or state of mind, without the need for a single word. I have probably used too many words here, but it continually amazes me how much more there is to learn, even after 40+ years of needlework.

Hearts and flowers

Well, it is Valentine’s Day.

‘Have a Heart’, 20.5” x 20.5”

I’m still going through cupboards and finding work that needs to be re-homed, to make some space. This one is a square(ish) cloth made from hand-dyed silk on a vintage damask cloth backing. The heart is hand-pieced, from new and vintage fabrics.

Vintage (1920s) beaded decoration

The background is made from layered sheer and semi-sheer silk fabrics, quilted with hand-dyed threads.

Hand-quilting on layered sheer silk

This cloth is very lightweight as I didn’t use batting or wadding between the layers. It is thin but strong, like love. The heart is pieced and patched, as all our hearts are after a lifetime of love and loss, but somehow all the pieces join together to make a whole.

Love

And talking of sharing the love, I am thrilled to have been featured today on Carina’s blog here. Go and give her some heartfelt appreciation from me ❤️

Stitch journal for 2022

Here we are in a whole new January, and a happy new year to you. One of the things I’ve been wanting to make for a while now is a stitch journal – some sort of ongoing cloth with a little stitching every day. I sew most days anyway, of course, but hardly ever in the same place. I’ve often thought it would be interesting to see how the threads of days join up over time. I don’t keep a written diary or journal, because not that much happens in my life – which is just the way I like it, incidentally. A new year seems like a good time to start.

I’m using a long strip torn from an antique linen sheet, about 12″ wide and about 8 feet long, and I’ve mapped out a block of 31 fields that I can use as a template for each month – obviously, some months are shorter than that so I can adapt the template as necessary. Each monthly block is about 8″ x 10″ altogether, so each daily field is an inch and a half or so. I will fill in a field every day for the rest of this year, and I’m hoping that the end result will look something like a cross between a map and a path through the year.

I really want this to be just thread, on one single layer of cloth – so no patching, applique, layering, lining, etc – just thread, whatever happens to be at hand, and whatever kind of stitch presents itself on the day. I will let it unfold in its own way and in its own time, and create an overall pattern (or not) as time goes by. Because I don’t know how this is going to go, I’m starting with very simple running stitches, but I think that will change as I settle in to working with this cloth.

I’m really looking forward to seeing how this unfolds. The older I get, the more quickly time seems to pass, and the more precious time seems. I’m hoping that a daily stitch journal will help me to slow down more and notice each single day for the gift that it is.

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