Tuesday, 24 February 2015

Evening Stitching

I always like to handstitch in the evenings- but I almost never pick up a needle for a prolonged session during the day. There seems to me to be something guilt-inducing about sitting down in the relaxed way necessary for enjoyment when there are things to be done, be they experimenting with new ideas for textile work, or drawing ... or (unfortunately and as infrequently as I can get away with) household chores. Stitch is a meditative business. The repetitive in and out of the needle and the gradual generating of pattern and line seem particularly suited to the end of the day.

I always have at least a couple of small pieces in progress, sometimes working out stitch ideas and sometimes stitching intuitively on a random ground. I often have two levels of thought going on in my mind: the main reason I had for stitching at the beginning and other thoughts that may surface during the piece as it develops.

In a couple of posts since Christmas, I've posted some of these little pieces and this week, I've been working on another. I've repeated the 8 inch square format of many recent smaller pieces as I find this size very manageable as I experiment - not so big that it takes ages to complete and not so small that it becomes fiddly and limits me in exploring ideas.



When I began this time, I had few preconceived ideas except to explore the length, spacing and intensity of stitch, and also some possible stitch combinations and how they relate to one another. I was responding intuitively to a random, abstract mono printed ground, developing stitch as mark.

I made just a very few rules for myself, feeling the need for something to prevent the piece getting totally out of control. These were around how to treat edges (which threads to extend from the stitched surface at the beginnings and ends of rows) and the interplay between the stitch and the ground (stitching mainly into the light areas on the cloth).

I also gave myself a high horizon - much higher than I would usually choose. I was exploring the limits of what is possible while still maintaining some balance within the piece.

The thoughts in the back of my mind have been to do with exploring ways of creating contrast, movement and tension within the piece. I've also experimented with which areas to leave completely unstitched.

... and to relieve the monochrome, there is just a hint of red in the stitching ...!

14 comments:

  1. I must say, Margaret, I find these little pieces of yours quite stunning! And I imagine they are a very meditative practice, how lovely. So much to see...did you start this one with white fabric or was it already printed in some way....and it almost looks as if you've put some cheesecloth (scrim?) on this one as well. Or has the stitching said it all? As I say, so much to see! Love it!

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    1. Marny, thank you very much for your lovely comments!You are most encouraging.
      To answer you questions - I stitched onto a white cotton ground that I had previously monoprinted at random with black acrylic paint. I use roller printing a lot for creating abstract grounds for my stitch and always when I've rollered all I want and the paint is nearly exhausted, I take monoprints onto paper or, as in this case, cotton sheeting until all the paint has been used up. This gives me lots of small pieces of randomly treated cotton or paper which I find very useful - and it uses up any left over paint.
      There is no scrim on the surface, the texture you see is just down to the seeding stitch I used on the white parts of the cloth. I didn't stitch on the black at all. I realise this is hard to see in this photo but it seemed to be the best I could achieve.

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    1. Thank you, Connie ... there are more of these little pieces to come. I'm on a roll!

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  3. I'm on your wavelength today! Somehow this cold winter is just right for meditative stitching. Loving your piece!

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    1. Hi Sharron. You must have been having such a cold snowy winter again. Here it is definitely early spring with temperatures over 10C and snowdrops well out and daffodils budding. I even found two clumps of primroses in a sheltered part of my garden last week.
      Happy, meditative stitching!

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  4. Lovely little piece, I had thought the black was stitched I must learn how to print. I too like stitching in the evening.

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    1. This is definitely printing the very quick and easy way! Almost no preparation, very little mess, great for experimenting with colour and every print unique ... but not good for printing recognisable images and quite difficult to control.

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  5. Your hand stitches a lovely. I am living in a winter wonderland right now. Your piece reminds me a bit of the snow covered woods that surround my home.

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    1. Vert many thanks, Jill. I see what you mean about snow covered ground ... and there's a line or two of fence posts somewhere in there, at least there was when I stitched it!

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  6. une pièce dynamique...et magnifique!

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    1. Dynamique ... c'est un bon mot ... merçi beaucoup!

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  7. I absolutely love your first paragraph. You have found the words I couldn't to describe hand stitching. I will be following your blog to see where your stitching leads.

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    1. Welcome! It is always good to 'meet' new stitchers ... and retired teachers at that! I too retired in 2007 after 30 plus years in the classroom. This is a wonderful new journey when I have time to follow it.

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