Back to Basics

When I was young, I did all kinds of needlework – hardanger, cross stitch, embroidery, blackwork, needle tatting and even bobbin lace.  Crochet also happened, but I was very much “all thread, all the time.”  It all fell by the wayside once I discovered knitting and weaving, but the process of making my own clothes has gotten me thinking about ways to embellish the finished garments and really make them mine.  So here I am, needle in hand, relearning all those stitches.

Traditional embroidery can be very fiddly and unforgiving – that precision and attention to detail may well be one of the reasons why I left it behind; I like being able to be more free-form and spontaneous when making things but I just didn’t know how to go about that on my own.  Fortunately, there’s a new book out called Rebecca Ringquist’s New Embroidery Workshops.   You may recognize the name because of her Dropcloth Samplers.  They’re hand-drawn samplers that encourage doodling with yarn and, once I saw one, I knew it was the thing I’d been after.  It’s the Modern Art of needlework.

Each section of the circle is divided into a particular stitch.  I started with the simplest stitch of all, Running Stitch.

If you’ve basted something together, you’ve done it – it’s just up and down, up and down, up and down.  The sampler nudges you into using different stitch lengths as well as yarn weights; turns out my thrums are great for this – particularly the silk!  Not to mention, of course, my well-aged stash of DMC cotton embroidery yarns.  Who knew I’d need these again?

The goal of working through the book and sampler is to get comfortable with the stitches, how to use them together and relearn working with color and embroidery.  All good tools for putting my stamp on what I make.

Anyway, if I don’t finish the sampler beforehand, it’ll come along to spindle camp next week.  I’ve got five whole days with no internet, no cell and lots of creative people.  Doing some needlework along with spinning and relaxing sounds like just the ticket.

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