One of those strange conundrums – the older I get, the slower I become, but the faster time passes. That makes a net loss multiplied by two, according to my flawed logic.
There is no rush, of course, and everything takes as long as it takes. There just never seems to be enough time to do all the things I want to do.
So I am still on paper and got distracted by noticing I was running low on collage paper, so had to stop and paint some more. Actually this is one of my favourite activities. I use inks, paints and mark-making tools of various kinds to liven up old book pages, envelopes, junk mail etc. Loosening up and splashing some colour around makes for a very happy (slightly messy) afternoon.
The sketchbooks I made for the shop last week disappeared in about an hour, so I’ve made a few more – these are the last of them, for now at least.
And finally, in what’s turning out to be more of a news roundup than any kind of meaningful post, I’m really happy to have had my work featured by My Modern Met. You can read the article here.
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.
There’s nothing like a well-stocked shop, and at present I have nothing like a well-stocked shop. If you did manage to get your hands on some of the latest batch of hand-dyed thread – thank you so much, it’s on its way. If you didn’t, don’t worry – there will be more.
So now I need to start all over again. It takes a long time to hand wind every skein in preparation for dyeing. I wondered if a yarn swift would help to make the process a bit more efficient. They’re designed for hanks of thicker knitting yarns, and I was sceptical about whether it would work for finer embroidery thread, but so far I’m impressed. In the photo below there’s a textured yarn skein in progress, but it also works perfectly well for threads.
For the next batch I’m going to try dyeing larger skeins initially, and then wind them into smaller skeins after dyeing. I’m still trying to figure out what works best here, both for me and for everyone else. I’m not sure that I will continue with so many different textured yarns indefinitely and will probably instead start to focus on just embroidery threads after current stocks run out. I might make an exception for silk boucle, which is one of my favourite textured yarns.
Also I’m not sure that I’m going to do the big announcement thing when threads are ready. While I’m really grateful that there is so much demand, selling everything in a matter of hours is exhausting. Ideally I’d like to keep the shop stocked at all times, so I will add threads as they become available. If you’re interested in buying thread, please bookmark the shop products page here and keep checking regularly. It will be at least a couple of weeks before there are any more, but I’ll be working on it in the meantime.
In other news, March has begun, and the theme for this month is windows.
You can see that I skim off a few of the threads for my own use. Dyer’s perks, I call it. They’re just skein ends and seconds really. The purple cotton slub has a few white bits in it where the dye didn’t quite find all the yarn. This does happen with thicker yarns, and you can easily cover the white bits with couching stitches.
The first two days are based on images seen through windows. The cherry blossom, along with so many other signs of spring, seems very early this year. The wheel is turning and time carries the colours of spring and the changing light.
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