Daily Stitch Challenge Part 1

This year the idea of stitching a little every day is very popular. The little but often philosophy is one of the reasons I have managed to stitch so much over the years. I decided to join in on a few of stitchers challenges on Facebook and I have been asked how I build up these complex textured areas.  I thought I would share what I am doing and describe what I am doing in my daily stitch challenge.

I have linked to resources and tutorials on how to do various stitches mentioned in the article and described my design process. Hopefully people will find it useful.

Daily Stitch Challenge Part 1

This piece I started the first week in January. I chose some cheap tea towel linen which had been hand dyed. It was nothing special just a scrap from my stash.

Daily Stitch Challenge 1I started with three flat disk beads discovered at a craft fair a few years ago. They  are glass and about two centimetres or three quarters of an inch across. A hole runs through them so they were easy to stitch on.

Daily Stitch Challenge threadsI liked the colours in them so, using those colours as inspiration I selected a bunch of threads and put them in a project box.

Tip! The first thing I do with any project is to gather together what I need for the project.I am not use likely all these threads, but I sort them like this so they are to handy to choose from. I don’t want to sit down to stitch and think to myself  “I could do with some of that colour or this colour” then have to get up and go find it. If I only have 15 minutes to stitch, I want to stitch, not spend that time rummaging about in my thread boxes looking for something I vaguely remember having. At the same time I select beads, ribbons, lace or anything else I am likely to need for the project. I keep it all together in the same project box and it all stays there until the project is done.

Daily Stitch Challenge 3I wanted this piece to be freeform and spontaneous. By that I mean I did not want to do much pre-planing or start with a definite design. When I do this I usually jump in but  as the piece progresses I respond to what is happening with what I call my design tools. In other words, to stop something becoming a hodge podge mess of stitches I use design principals to pull the piece together. At the start I don’t know what will happen but as I work a bit like Jazz, I respond to what is happening. It is always fun and always a challenge.   I had to start somewhere so I stitched on a bead and added 4 bullion stitches.

Daily Stitch Challenge progress 4Next added the other 2 flat beads and then couched down some thin ribbon which was hand dyed and had a metallic edge. I wanted to establish a freeform line across the work. Next I used bugle beads to secure it further. The big bobble stitches are French knots worked in the same ribbon. I threaded the ribbon in a chenille needle and worked the french knot slightly loose so you could see the glint of the metallic edge.

Daily Stitch Challenge progress 5I liked the effect of the stitch ribbon so I added more stitches. At this point in the stitching process I had no idea what would happen. I had a colour scheme inspired by the beads and was just going for it. In other words I still had no plan for the piece

Daily Stitch Challenge progress6The ribbon was then secured even further with more bugle beads and French knots. To the piece itself I added buttonhole wheels and bullion knots using a hand dyed silk thread that is the thickness of cotton perle #8. A thicker silk thread of purplish tones was used to work detached oyster stitches. Since the thread is thick like 6 strands of cotton floss it stitched up nice and bulky.

Daily Stitch Challenge progress 6I then added some chain stitches in hand dyed cotton silk and some whipped  wheels worked using a hand dyed cotton perle #5.

Daily Stitch Challenge progress 7By this stage I decided it needed some focus and I had decided it would be the header piece for my band sampler this year. (Incase readers are not aware of my nearly 100 ft band sampler you can read about it here) So I wanted to date it. On the computer after I choose a font I liked, and in Photoshop tinkered around with a very simple layout, I printed out the date.

Daily Stitch Challenge progress 8I took the fabric off the hoop. I taped the printout to a window and then taped the fabric in position over the top of it. I used a pen with permanent ink to trace the numbers. Since this line will be covered I was not worried about using a permanent pen. A dissolvable pen will often disappear before the project is done and since this project will take while to stitch, I chose a permanent ink pen.

As you can see I kept it simple. I have found that keeping processes simple means I get things done. I don’t over complicate something as that complication, can become a stall point.

Daily Stitch Challenge progress 9I returned the fabric to the hoop and continued stitching adding more chain stitches, oyster stitches, buttonhole wheels, bullion knots, French knots, and Whipped wheel.

Daily Stitch Challenge progress 11Next I moved the piece off the hoop on to my Grip-n-Stitch frame as I wanted to add more beads. The beads I added are little brass disks. I am not sure where I got them – they are either jewellery findings used as spacers for necklaces or I found them in a hardware store. They are brass, they shine, they have a hole, I can stitch them on to fabric, so I did.  (Shrugs shoulders and grins)  I scattered these vertically across the piece and stitched them down. Around the large disk like beads that I started the piece with, I added whipped spoke stitch using a hand dyed cotton perle #5 thread.

Daily Stitch Challenge progress 10At this stage I decided I needed to pull this piece together. The freeform stitchery needed to be unified. I added more of the brass rings so there was a sense of visual repetition. Vertically down the left hand side I added buttonhole wheels, bullion knots and cast on stitches using a hand dyed perle #5 thread.

I used the same thread so that it would become a freeform textured band on the right hand side. That side is not finished yet but I am aiming for a textured edge that looks organic and freeform but actually acts to define the edge of the piece. It wont be obvious or a hard definite border but that is the visual role it will play.

Daily Stitch Challenge progress 13As I worked the design coalesced more in my mind. I plan to work both sides of the piece in similar colours and repeat stitches so the eye starts to read them as a line or border. Sprinkled in between will be various stitches that break it a little but not so much that they destroy the sense of a line. The plan is for stitching will go right to the edge and be highly textured but freeform and organic. It’s a bit of a balance between chaos and an underlying sense of order. The date 2017 will remain voided

I think it will be interesting to see how this turns out and it is certainly fun to stitch. I have designed it on the fly and enjoyed the approach. I hope you have enjoyed reading  Daily Stitch Challenge Part 1. Next month I will share it again so you can see how it turns out.

The two challenges I am following are “A Year in Stitches” run by Susan Sorrell and “Just One Stitch” run by Deena Beverley. Both Facebook groups encourage stitching daily for a year.The hash tags for these challenges are #ayearinstitches and #justonestitch.

If you are embarking upon any of these challenges don’t forget that my Stitch Dictionary of hand embroidery stitches is free online and hopefully many of the samples will give you some ideas of how to use a stitch in your own stitching adventures.

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Have you seen my Crazy quilters templates?

As a stitcher who loves crazy quilting I designed these templates with other crazy quilters in mind. With my Crazy Quilters Templates you can create hundreds of different patterns to embroider on your stitching and crazy quilting projects. They are easy to use, totally clear so you can position them easily and they are compact in your sewing box.

Crazy Quilt Templates set 1 you will find here 

Crazy Quilt Templates set 2 you will find here 

TAST Stitch 72

The stitch I propose for TAST Stitch 72 is known as Basque Stitch which is also known as twisted daisy border stitch. It is a sort of twisted chain stitch worked in line or circle a bit like a buttonhole stitch. You will find a tutorial for Basque Stitch here.

TAST Stitch 72 Traditional Spanish embroidered costume 1Basque stitch is known by that name because it is found on old embroideries from the Basque area of northern Spain.  Not that Basque stitch is confined to the one area, as you will also find it used on embroidery from Portugal and southern France.

As regular readers know in second half of 2016 I walked the Camino de Santiago across Spain. The route we walked passed through Basque country. One of the treasures of my camino was to encounter a local fiesta purely by chance. This fiesta was a local event, not something put on for tourists or bus tours as bus tours did not go through this village. This crowd had just tumbled out of the church and everyone was so busy talking to each other they did not notice us walking by.

Traditional Spanish embroidered costumeWhat I noticed is that many of the women of all ages still wore traditional costume and much of it was still done by hand. I could see that this was changing as some of the women had purchased machine embroidered or Chinese embroidered shawls but there were still traditional hand embroidered pieces also to be seen. This gave the fiesta a feeling of lived culture rather than a cultural display because of tourists. Anyway I thought I would share these photos taken by Jerry of The Fogwatch so that readers could see how in parts of the world embroidery is still very much alive and costumes such as these are worn on special day.

Ok back to TAST Stitch 72! Basque stitch creates a line of twisted loops which looks good on a curved line. Once you get the hang of the rhythm it is fun. I hope you enjoy learning it. As usual the tutorial for  Basque stitch can be found here.

TAST2012logoHow to join in on the Take a Stitch Tuesday challenge TAST Stitch 72

All stitchers a free to join the challenge and all levels of skill are welcome. If you are new to hand embroidery the challenge is to learn the stitch. If you are an experienced embroiderer push these stitches in creative manner and share with beginners so they can see what can be done with a little imagination.

Where to share

Stitch a sample, photograph it, put in online on your blog, or share it on Facebook, Instagram etc or where ever you hang out online, and leave a comment on the Basque Stitch page with a link so people can come and see what you have done.

Feel free to join the  TAST facebook group and leave your photo there.  For Flickr people the group is Take a Stitch Tuesday. Hashtags are #TASTembroidery and #PintangleTAST on places like Instagram etc.

If you need more information the challenge guidelines are on the TAST FAQ page.

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You can have Pintangle delivered to your inbox by using the follow feature in the sidebar. Just enter your email address, and when you get the confirmation email make sure you say yes and you are all set!
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TAST Interview with Renee of Hand Stitched Treasure

If you are a member of the Crazy Quilting International Yahoo group or the facebook group Crazy Quilt International you will know Renee and be familiar with her work. But many non crazy quilting people do not know her so this interview is an excuse to feature some lovely crazy quilting and talk to Renee about stitching. So time for a cuppa – I hope you enjoy hearing her story.

TAST Interview with Renee sample 1TAST Interview with Renee of Hand Stitched Treasure

Why do you like hand embroidery and hand work? How has it influenced your life?

I find hand embroidery relaxing. (My husband must have noticed this. If I go a week without a needle in my hand, he encourages me to take some “me” time to sit and stitch.) I love watching fabric, a needle and some thread transform into (hopefully) something beautiful. Embroidery has influenced my life in a number of ways. I have made amazing friendships with people around the world through crazy quilting and blogging. My confidence has improved as I have successfully attempted new techniques that I found intimidating. And, I am learning to take a compliment. (It is so much easier on-line than it is in person, but I am working on it!)

How did you start? Were you taught by your mother, school or taught yourself online? If you taught yourself what attracted you to embroidery?

When I was in high school, a dear family friend taught me how to cross-stitch. I fell in love with the craft. Decades later, I went to a quilt show with my mother-in-law and saw a landscape quilt with silk ribbon tulips and was in awe with ribbon embroidery. Shortly after that, I saw my first crazy quilt at the Oregon State Fair. It was white-on-white and I knew I had to try making one someday. It took me several years to gather the courage. When I finally began looking for directions on-line, I stumbled upon the Crazy Quilting International Blog and realized there was so much more to crazy quilting than I ever imagined. My embroidery skills are self-taught through books and from on-line tutorials. Your Stitch Encyclopedia is my go-to site when I am looking for ideas. The beauty and diversity of embroidery drew me in.

Do you use TAST to make samplers or incorporate the stitches into projects as you go? Or what sort of projects most attract you?

Someday, I hope to make a sampler with the TAST stitches. At the moment, I try to work the stitches into current projects I have going. I find myself drawn to functional projects like handbags, tote bags, coin purses and glasses cases.

TAST Interview with Renee sample 2Can you talk about your last project and/or your current project? (Can be any textile project)

My last project was created as part of the Crazy Quilt Journal Project (CQJP) 2014. My goal was to crazy quilt a block a month and to make that block into a bag or purse of some sort. (Life interfered, but I am still plugging away.) The November block was pieced with black fabrics and primarily embroidered with white, pinks and greens and it incorporated several TAST stitches. I finished the block off as a zipper pouch with a little wristlet strap and made a matching tissue-pack cover. The set was donated to my son’s drama club for a raffle fund-raiser.

What is the project you are most proud of?

That is a really tough question! I am not sure I have a favorite. Every time I try something new and it turns out well, I find myself gleefully surprised and excited. However, my husband thinks the bird I needle-painted on a CQJP 2016 block using your stencils is – by far – the coolest thing I have embroidered.

TAST Interview with Renee sample 3Do you have any UFO’s ? If so, fess up to how many?

Oh dear. Yes, I have UFO’s. Most of them are projects I began making for myself and set aside to make a gift for someone else. There are 33 that I can think of at the moment. (That number should be smaller by the end of the year! I had 35 on January 1st.)

Do you work purchased designs or do you design your own projects? Or do you do both?

I purchase designs for cross-stitching. However, I prefer to design my own crazy quilting projects.

Do you have a creative design process? If so what is it? Or do you work intuitively?

My design process varies from project to project. Sometimes I like to wing it and embroider whatever idea strikes my fancy. Other times, I have an idea of a particular element that I want to work into the piece and I plan the project around that element.

What stimulates your creative process? What inspires and sparks ideas for you?

Frequently, seeing the work of others inspires me. However, my family is no longer surprised when we are out and about if I point out a pendant or pair of earrings and ask, “Wouldn’t that look great in a crazy quilt?” Or, if I see something at the beach or a flower in the garden and ask, “I wonder if I could embroider that?” So, I guess the short answer would have been: nature, jewelry and the work of others.

Lots of people have trouble starting a project. What makes you start a project? Do you have any tips to get you from blank fabric to stitching?

Most of my projects were created as gifts and were designed with themes and colors the recipient preferred. If I find myself stumped about how to start, I consider the theme of the project. I pull out threads, charms or beads that might fit the theme or inspire ideas. Sometimes that does the trick. Other times, I make a drawing of the block and sketch possible seam treatments and motifs to see how I like them. If the ideas are not flowing, I pick a seam and embellish it. Usually, just working that first seam is the key.

Do you have stall points? If so how do you get past them? Do you have any tips to share about this.

Yes, I do. If I am stalled because I cannot think of what to work next on the block (or because I changed my mind and do not like the idea I had planned), I will take some time to look through any TAST stitches I have not worked, books, photos of previous projects, or crazy quilting photos I have saved on Pinterest until I see something that inspires an idea. If I am stalled because of the project itself, I try to alternate between it and another project.

Do you have ‘go to’ stitches. In other words stitches you use frequently that you return to using over and over. If so what are they and why do you think they are so successful for you.

I love creating floral seams using the buttonhole stitch as the base stitch and adding detached chain stitches as leaves. Then beads and/or detached chain stitches are added to the top of each stem to make the flowers. I love the simplicity of the combination and how it can be changed so much with very slight variations.

Do you have a favourite embroidery thread, or something you use all the time? If so what is it?

I have not tried a lot of different flosses. When I first began crazy quilting, I almost always used 2 strands of DMC floss. After reading your encouragement to use other sizes of thread for contrast and how well pearl cotton works with some stitches, my preference changed to pearl cottons in sizes 5, 8 and 12. I also love the look of EdMar rayon threads, but they are no longer available at my local shops.

What advice would you give to new hands?

Always piece your block at least 2-inches larger than you want the final block to be. (I prefer to add 4-inches so there are 2 extra inches on each side.) This makes it easier to hoop your work and also makes it easier to trim your block when you are ready to sew it into a project. Keep beads, charms and buttons at least ¼-inch away from your seam line so they will not interfere with the foot of your sewing machine. And, do not be afraid to ask questions.

Is there anything else you would like to add?

Step outside of your comfort zone. There have been many times I have wanted to try a new stitch or embroidery technique, but felt almost too intimidated to try. If you need to, make a “doodle cloth” to practice on before attempting the stitch on your main project. You might like it. You might not. But, you will never know what you are capable of if you let self-doubt stop you.

I hope you have enjoyed the interview with Renee of Hand Stitched Treasure. I certainly enjoyed discovering more about Renee and her approach to embroidery. If you want to read and see more of her embroidery pop over to Hand Stitched Treasure. This interview is part of series that will run this year as TAST has been running for a decade. Throughout the year I will interview stitchers who have done part or all of the TAST challenge and feature their work. The same questions are posed to each stitcher.
Crazy quilt template set 2

Have you seen my Crazy quilters templates?

As a stitcher who loves crazy quilting I designed these templates with other crazy quilters in mind. With my Crazy Quilters Templates you can create hundreds of different patterns to embroider on your stitching and crazy quilting projects. They are easy to use, totally clear so you can position them easily and they are compact in your sewing box.

Crazy Quilt Templates set 1 you will find here 

Crazy Quilt Templates set 2 you will find here