Time for another update on my 2021 band sampler. As you can see like many stories the sampler has taken a different turn. In my last post I explained how I had come to the end of my strip of fabric. So I had to make some decisions about what I was going to do next. If you want the back story you can read about what I thought at the time here.
In the southern hemisphere, Autumn starts in March so the leaves are turning. Since it was a change of season, it is an ideal time to start another strip of fabric and it was an opportunity to change the colour scheme. As you can see, I marked the change in both colours used and by running the word ‘Autumn’ vertically down the sampler.
As I wrote last month, in my old studio journals I have a treasure trove of material. Ideas for designs, ideas to test, try and experiment with, stitch combinations for both regular stitching and crazy quilt seams, numerous colour schemes, and notes about techniques fill these notebooks. So, this year, I am delving back into my studio journals and trying out ideas or stitches that I have not had time to try in the past. This month, I started out working some traditional blackwork designs which I love, but never seem to work much of it. The other thing I started to do, was to play with pattern darning in space-dyed and variegated threads.
A design challenge for my 2021 band sampler
Mid-March I was out in the garden cleaning up the end of summer scraps when I saw a blue-tongue lizard. These reptiles are not dangerous, and they are the best snail deterrent you can have in your yard. I had seen him before, but on this day, he surprised me. I took a photo of him. His belly looks fat because he was very full I think – let’s hope it was snails he was munching on. I thought about how I might include a small design about him on my sampler.
The sampler is 6 inches or 15cm wide and because I had the text running down the side took up quite a bit of room. When I stitched the text, I thought I would be stitching little areas of filling stitches or small blackwork motifs. Including the lizard posed a bit of a design challenge simply because of space and the need to balance aspects of the design.
I like challenges, but don’t like them when they stall a project. Now, what do I mean when I say a design challenge can stall a project? This lizard is the perfect example. Let me explain…
I see this sampler as nothing complex, nothing pressured, but a bit of fun that keeps my creative juices bubbling along. I design as I go because I also use the sampler to journal on. This approach is fun, but it does have a downside. Some design ideas can stall the project. The stall can happen because I don’t come up with an idea quick enough. Sometimes I simply don’t have the time to work out a design, no matter how simple or how small. Motifs that tell my story have to be quite simple as I want to be able to realise them quickly. Believe it or not the simple designs are the hardest to think of! Sometimes the idea I have is too complex.
Another stall point is if I need particular materials that I don’t have to hand so I have to search them out online and source them. This is not applicable this year because of the guidelines of the challenge to use up scrap threads and old stash. For all these reasons I try to keep motifs simple and small enough to complete quickly so I can move on.
The lizard proved to be a challenge and took up a big section of the area but I think it will sit OK in the long run. Interestingly I thought the Autumn text running down the side would dominate more on this strip but I feel the two sit together OK. I hope you enjoy this peek into what is on my hoop and my stitching process.
The back story to my 2021 Band sampler
For many years I have worked samples in the form of band sampler and added to the roll each year. I use it to experiment on, work samples for teaching purposes or simply to see what a stitch can do. I improvise and add bands in a freeform manner and often record events turning parts of the band into a thread journal. You can read about it here.
Posts in this series can be found under the Long Band Sampler category
A Brief History of Embroidery Samplers sets band samplers in a greater context.
Over on Needle’n’Thread, Mary Corbet proposed a stitch along with her casual freeform band sampler. There are no hard and fast rules except to use what you have to hand which means a no new threads rule. The idea is to use up scraps and languishing stash. Since the idea fits neatly with my band sampler I have been joining in. Mary Corbet’s hashtag for this project is #stitchfun2021.
Experimenting with different threads can be expensive. You would normally have to buy a whole skein of each type of thread. So I have made up my thread twisties which are a combination of different threads to use in creative hand embroidery. These enable you to try out stitching with something other than stranded cotton. For the price of just a few skeins, you can experiment with a bundle of threads of luscious colours and many different textures.
These are creative embroiders threads. With them, I hope to encourage you to experiment. Each Twistie is a thread bundle containing silk, cotton, rayon, and wool. Threads range from extra fine (the same thickness as 1 strand of embroidery floss) to chunky couchable textured yarns. All threads have a soft and manageable drape so twisting them around a needle makes experimental hand embroidery an interesting journey rather than a battle. Many are hand-dyed by me. And they are all threads I use. You may find a similar thread twist but no two are identical.
You will find my thread twisties in the Pintangle shop here.
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