What about a challenge next year?

What about a challenge next year?

Bio photo of Sharon B
Time to sit down and have a cuppa, as we need to have a chat. I have had a number of emails on this topic so I think its time to tease out some ideas.

Readers have asked what I am going to do for a challenge next year. Well really its a case of what we are going to do. Of course I have been thinking about this too!

As readers know I have run a good number of challenges from this blog and over on Stitchin Fingers in the Hand Embroidery group I have started a stitch-along.I would quite happily switch from challenge to stitch along next year and would love feedback on this

Check out the stitch along page as people can choose to work any stitch or any number of stitches from the list on what ever project they choose. This is a project you can pick up as you have time and work at what ever pace is comfortable as there is no timetable as such. You don’t have to stitch all of them! The idea is a stitch and share images of what you have done. As the guidelines state its it a stitch along rather than a challenge. What do readers think?

If the list of stitches and the fact that it is so laid back puts you off  do have another idea. On a personal level I would like to focus even more on hand embroidery and attempt to document more of the hand embroidery stitches I have collected over a life time. There are many obscure and/or interesting stitches that don’t appear in every  stitch book. I would like to explore these more and get directions for them published online ( a challenge involving stitching would push me to do this) I am also interested exploring applying the many different embroidery styles to contemporary stitching.

So, I am thinking of documenting a stitch or embroidery style so that readers would have enough information to learn, explore and adapt the stitch. I had thought of doing it once a month as this would allow plenty of time for people to explore the stitch rather than just stitching a row of it on their latest project.

Once a fortnight is a possibility (I am happy to do it) but since the idea is to explore a stitch that is a little different, monthly is probably better for most. It takes a little time to learn a stitch, fiddle about with it until you see the possibilities and then do something with it. Even if ‘doing something’ is only a series of samples it still takes a bit of time to digest and do something.

I would run it the same way as I have done my past challenges. In other words I would post and when people had responded on either a blog, flickr account, or some sort of photo space on the web,  they could swing back here and leave their web address so people could visit, see what was done leave a comment. Since the idea is to share people really would need a place online to share it.

Let me know what you think. So there are two proposals I am putting forward.

1 A stitch along as proposed

2 Either a monthly or fortnightly exploration of a lesser known stitch OR embroidery style.

I am opening the comments to the idea. If you have other proposals please put them forward


  1. I really like idea 2 and I think monthly is a good plan because it gives a nice balance across the year. I have really enjoyed the colour palettes this year and I wonder if you might think of including one every so often next year

  2. For those that are a bit disappointed about the challenge next year I am sorry but I did call for comments. You could use the challenge stitch/style applied to a design so it’s still open to designers but I take the point that it is not open to all mediums.
    If you are in that position why not start a challenge on stitchinfingers? Or your blog? I will happily link to it and direct readers there. I would happily do so as I cant please all people all the time.

    Just let me know or better still start up a discussion on the forum in stitchinfingers or leave a comment. Make it a public conversation so everyone can read it and the news will spread about your challenge. As i said I will happily support it.

  3. I really enjoyed this years challenge ( and also the Studio Journals online course) because they were about design and ideas and I’ve loved seeing the very different intepretations of the same colour or concept. I’m not an embroiderer so neither of the proposals put forward interest me at all and like a few others I’m rather sad that those of us excited by textiles and design will be excluded.

  4. Just being selfish here – I am not an embroider, but a needlepoint designer, so wouldn’t do a stitch-along thing. This past ten months of the color palette as a challenge and also the “thought provoker” have been absolutely delightful for me, and quite a break for the norm. I will miss it terribly! I especially enjoyed “remembering” – most of them were wonderful and positive and happy and funny from everybody who participated.

  5. I realy would like stitch along for the next year, about “White embroidery” for example.
    To meet and learn the pastime embroidery way at your manner could be wonderful and bring to us lot of beauty.
    (Actually, I follow your online class “Studio Book” after “Crazy” and Sumptuous Surfaces” – Well is’nt a kind of addiction ?)

  6. I like both the stitch along and the callenge proposal, although I’m notoriously bad at challenges. I’m not sure if I should sign up or just follow it on my own.

    But I have an idea: Why not combine the two ideas? On the one hand, do the monthly challenge. On the other hand, have a list of stitches for a stitch along (maybe a version of the last one with a few new stitches) and every month, add the challenge stitch to the list. So those who are not up to a formal challenge can participate at their own pace without feeling bad, and still can participate in the discussions about the stitches.

  7. I love the idea of exploring a stitch for a month. I was really excited about the TIF challenge at the beginning of the year but I simply don’t have enough time on my hands to create a whole project once a month so I’ve been getting discouraged. BUT with learning a new stitch every month, I could create a sampler or work on a single large project through the year of a series of smaller projects. 🙂

  8. Sharon,
    Sounds exciting — I’m in! Either bi-weekly or monthly would give folks a decent time to explore and still maintain other commitments. I don’t know how you manage all this, but… You rock!!

    Sarah Ellis
  9. Hi All
    It definitely looks like we will be exploring lesser known stitches next year
    Arlene thanks for your name suggestion for next years challenge – It is a great idea and I will adopt it. I am hopeless with names – so Stitch Explorer it is! Thanks you for the suggestion.

  10. Hi Sharon, I haven’t joined in with anything before but I like the second option – it would be good to learn new stitches and make up some sort of sampler. It would also be a nice contrast to some of the bits I do for my coursework. I would vote for monthly or I shall soon be falling behind.

  11. Hi Sharon,
    I have just started on TAST challenge on stitchin fingers,I have adopted your idea of doing the stitches as a sampler.This is a fantastic experiment for me.
    I would like to try learning new stitches for the next year challenge, a month seems like a ideal period.

  12. I have joined your online course at Joggles.com – Studio Journals, and I really like the idea of exploring lesser known stitches or taking known stitches further, as this would give me material to start of my journal with. I was blown away with the info in your first lesson, and can’t wait to get the next lesson. I’m afraid I won’t be printing it out at this stage, but have on my laptop, so I can read it anytime. thanks for your generosity, it’s greatly appreicated.
    an Aussie in Scotland

  13. Hi Sharon…I have to add my 2cents worth into the discussion – only because I have taken part in the past three years of challenges. I like the idea of learning new stitches, but this time I won’t be formally signing up because I’m hoping to also explore some other areas of art. Having said that, I will follow along with great interest and will also try some of the stitches out on my own.
    I just want to add my most grateful thanks for all you do for us.
    Mary Anne

  14. I go with the votes for the 2nd idea too. I daresay it’s not ‘compulosry’ to do every one anyway, but the idea is certainly interesting and could work well along side my formal studies too, which contain a lot of new material for me.=)

  15. Hi Sharon – Idea #2 sounds good to me. I’d love to explore stitches in depth and monthly sounds just about manageable. As a new member of Stitchin Fingers I’d like to add my thanks to others’ above for all your tireless energy and enthusiasm for stitchery!

  16. Hi Sharon. Thanks for offering to host another challenge, it is greatly appreciated. Even though I have not been able to keep up (again) I do follow what everyone else is doing and enjoy it greatly.

    I would have voted for the stitch along as I am very keen to get going with that but the other option also sounds really interesting, so now I can’t make up my mind. Lucky me, which ever you choose I’ll be happy 🙂


  17. I have really enjoyed the challenge of TIF this year, and have done all of mine in the form of a journal quilt with a little hand stitching on some of them. Keeping up has been a bit difficult at times, as I want to do other things as well – other stitching, quilts, gardening etc etc. Next year I would be interested in expanding my embroidery skills, but no more than monthly and maybe I will not do each month, but just follow with interest your tutorials and what everyone does.

  18. Hi Sharon,
    I haven’t done any of your previous challenges becuase I don’t embroider I quilt.. until recently when I went to an embroidery show and realised I HAD to start!. I am hoping to be starting a new and Guilds in embroidery around the new year so I intend to do whatever you do as an adjunct to that so the latter option woudl be great to fit in with that.

    Helen Conway
  19. Hi Sharon,

    I would give my vote for a monthly lesser known stitch (or technique). And I like the idea of being able to miss a month every so often. This last year I’ve been rather busy and missed the challenge because I knew I’d never keep up. The idea of being able to dip into something new even if I just end up with one small stitch sampler is great. However, it needs to be something which you find workable and not too time-consuming.

  20. Hi Sharon,
    I am new to this group but think both ideas are great. I haven’t done the stitch along so far but it interests me. The second idea is even more interesting and I would love to try that. The month is great as it does give time as it seems to fly by so quickly. Look forward to whatever you decide.

  21. Right now I am more in favor of a stitch along. Keeping up with a monthly challenge schedule has really been a struggle this year. On the other hand, I really like the idea of exploring some lesser known stitches. So, the final answer is: both ideas sound great! I’m in for either one and I will figure out a way to make a monthly challenge work. After all, that’s what a CHALLENGE

  22. I meant to say that stitching (what ever type) can be on any project people wanted as I think this leaves the way open for lots of people to adapt a challenge to their needs. It needs to be flexible as 12 months is long time.

  23. Hi Sharon
    Well I like both ideas but my first choice would be number 2 mainly because I would not attempt the lesser known stitches without a challenge atached.
    I do wan’t to start a sampler like you and Annie do and this would give me a good starting point.
    Are you up for a coffee yet.

  24. I love the idea of a stitch along. One of my resolutions for next year was not to be a part of any more challenges or extra projects. I found the constant deadlines to be too much for me. My ideas on what I wanted to do got to grandiose…so some of them never got done. With a stitch along I could still do something as a part of the stitching community without the deadlines associated with a challenge. I have a gorgeous needlepoint canvas that will require a ton of detail that would be perfect for the project!

  25. I like the second monthly idea Sharon, especially if you explore different embroidery styles. There are lots of resources scattered everywhere in books and on the web but not many pull them all together in one place. Do you mean to explore for instance, Wessex stitchery, Mountmellick, silk ribbon work, metal thread, etc. or is that a bit too specific? I notice that some of our international stitchers only do cross stitch and CQ, perhaps its because they don’t have access to other types of embroidery, or thought them too difficult? Not that I’m trying to make more work for you, LOL, but you DID ask for our comments.

  26. I’d love the stitsch along. I really like have some structure and knowing that there is a “deadline” of sorts to meet. Eithoer will work for me though – and I’m ON for either. Thanks for doing another! I can;t tell you how much I am enjoying the TIF challenge !

  27. Well, Sharon – you have done it again. I had decided that I would let the challenge go if you ran one next year so I could catch up on other things. You have just changed my mind. Please add my vote for #2 – I love the idea of the exploration of a lesser known stitch or embroidery style. I am already involved in the stitchalong, albeit a very very slow stitchalong in my case. And could you make it monthly (or even 2 monthly) please – the 30+ days seem to disappear so quickly .

    I have had an amazing stitching year with this year’s TIF challenge – tried lots of things. It was just what I needed for impetus after last year’s Sumptuous Surfaces and PLOS classes – it gave me a direction. While I did grumble to myself about the colour selections on some occasions, I knew it was my problem and only I could solve it – besides sInce there was no compulsion, the choice was always available. I found that sometimes I worked with, and enjoyed, colours I normally eschewed – to say nothing of the themes I would never have thought of in a 100 years! So thankyou very much for all your work for this year’s challenge.

  28. I feel badly that I’ve done zero stitching for the Stitch Along Group through SF. I was so gun ho for it at it’s conception. I think it would be great once Take It Further is over to undertake this in the way that I intended to. Sounds like a great idea and quite a great learning experience of expanded stitches through your new documentations. Thanks for taking on another ” annual” project for us, Sharon

  29. Sharon, I couldn’t keep up with the weekly take a stitch, so monthly sounds good. I loved the fabric books that some people made with their samples. Perhaps we could make 12 A4 “pages” as embroideries, a bit like the journal project. Thanks for finding the time and energy to organise again!!!

    Carole Kokinis

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