Why wobbly stitches are OK

woven whipped spokes sample - wobbly stitchesFor me wobbly stitches rule! I have noticed that some beginners to embroidery apologise for their wobbly efforts. To be honest I don’t think it is necessary. I will tell you why. This is the 21st century. We are surrounded by machine made things. Some of these things are ugly, some are beautiful, some are practical, some have sentimental value, some are status symbols and some I look at and wonder why they exist. All these things have different roles in our life. All serve different purposes but the thing they have in common is that they are machine made. They are smooth or straight or, well… machined. As humans the things we make with our hands are not perfect. We may strive to make things as well as possible but there is always a ‘flaw’. I don’t see it as a flaw because if it is, it is the flaw of being human.

In an era where we are time poor to make a thing is more about the philosophy of the maker than anything else. Even if you just say to yourself “there is nothing ‘deep’ about what I make I just enjoy the making”. Or you might say to me “I just enjoy the process!” That is a choice. You have decided to spend time making something rather than gazing at a screen, or doing something else. You have given yourself permission to learn a skill and in my opinion develop your creativity. No matter if you stitch simply to relax or you enjoy the process or you embrace the whole slow stitching/mindful movement, no matter how you frame it, the thing you make is human. It reflects your human creativity. That is a good thing in the world. So in my book… wobbly stitches are OK!

woven whipped spokes sample - wobbly stitches detail

I thought I would share my latest little exploration. One of the aspects of hand embroidery I love is that you can create rich textured surfaces with stitches. I have been working on series of disks that are a sort of extreme surface embroidery. They explore the idea that hand embroidery can create a surface that machines can not. These disks of texture will eventually be arranged together in a wall piece. This disk is one of them fresh off the hoop. It has a 10 centimetre (4 inch) diameter and is made up beads, wrapped beads, whipped wheel stitch, French knots and Bullion Knots. Threads used are Cotton Perle #5 and #8 some of which is hand dyed by me. There are quite a few hand dyed silk threads, some rayon thread and a thread that is a mix of wool and silk. All of these I have included in my thread twisties mix.
Anyway I thought you may enjoy seeing it.

32 Comments

  1. Hand work has a beauty beyond anything machine made. Furthermore it is much more enjoyable to stitch by hand.
    You have inspired me to make several ‘pile ’em on’ embroideries where the stitches are crammed against or over each other. Your latest circle is yet another inspiration.

  2. I enjoyed reading about your philosophical approach to wobbly stitches. There is something captivating in seeing a piece of hand stitched embroidery and appreciating how the embroiderer was doing her best to create something that brought her joy, wobbly stitches or not. It’s only by making those wobbly stitches and practicing that we become more skilled.
    The texture of you disc is fascinating and I love the little splash of yellow that brings it all to life. It’s beautiful!

  3. Bravo and well said, Sharon! I totally agree with your opinions here. ‘Hand created’ has a heart and a soul, placed there by its creator’s heart and soul!

    I love your discs…very inspiring. Thank you for sharing.

    Sincerely,

    Suzanne

    Suzanne Lalande
  4. I so enjoyed looking at this piece you have created & drifted away into dreams of what I could do to emulate your work. Thank you for that & also for your words of wisdom. It is so true that hand stitching should be enjoyable, if it isn’t it becomes a chore. I hope you don’t mind but I am going to print off today’s topic & show it to some of the ladies in a stitching group I belong to as they worry constantly about wobbly stitches etc & are losing the enjoyment of the work.
    Thank you so much

    Val Lee
  5. Sharon, an excellent reminder! I’m going to share this post with a dear friend who spends too much time ripping out her stitches because they are not good enough. Your disk is stunning! Thanks for sharing….

    Marianne Squire-Maszer
  6. Thank you very much for writing this post. Everything you say is absolutely true. As a wobbly embroiderer myself, I am sometimes daunted by the amazing stitching I see on the internet but I enjoy the process and will, I expect, slowly improve but never be anywhere close to perfect. We are not machines and I completely agree that human creativity is a very good thing and we should celebrate it. Thank you also for all the stitching information and inspiration. I love your textured disks and will look forward to seeing more 🙂

  7. I appreciate your perspective on imperfection in handmade projects . The imperfect, asymmetrical row of stitches is often more interesting than a strictly controlled line. There is beauty in randomness, and sometimes a mistake (happy accident) reveals the potential of the materials one is using.

    E. van der Leelie
  8. Yes what you say resonates with me, Sharon. I am also working on disks, they are small about 3cm in diameter. I am using stranded cottons with a variety of stitches – a lot of French knots bullions, spider web wheels, straight stitches, anything I can imagine. They will be cut out and made into medallions to sew sew onto a fine linen scarf. The basic design comes from Ko Maxwell at the ‘Elephant Patch’ Ballarat Victoria. I may in the future make larger circles as you are doing.

    Jude Ebsworth
  9. Morning Sharon, when starting off on this circular exercise do you start in the centre and work outwards, work a basic line at random around the circle edge or do an open stitch as a background, then fill it in.
    Always wondered about your method especially with the encrusting embroideries.
    Thank you for always being able to help with silly questions.

    Lesley olivieri

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