What is TAST?
TAST or Take a Stitch Tuesday is a hand embroiderer’s challenge that started in 2007. Yes, it is that old, but I continue to run it, as literally thousands of people have enjoyed it – and this has given me immense pleasure to see so many people introduced to embroidery and who then go on to enjoy stitching.
The idea of the challenge is to work as many of the proposed stitches as you can. Each stitch is announced on Tuesday mornings – hence the name! As I announce the stitches, I list them below. With every announcement, there is a link to one of my stitch tutorials in my Stitch Dictionary that way, if you’re unsure of the stitch, you can find out how to do it.
The next round of TAST will start the first Tuesday in January 2024 which falls on the 2nd of January — save the date!
Although a new stitch appears every week, you do not have to stitch every week, so don’t worry if you’re a bit busy, or something gets in the way. With this challenge, you can do one stitch a month, one every two weeks, or one a week. It is totally up to you. This challenge is guilt-free and designed for busy people who want to build up their hand-embroidery skills. If you miss a few stitches, no one is going to reprimand you. Just join the catch-up crowd – there will be many people in the same situation and it’s a place to make friends, or simply skip a few stitches but don’t stop! Just keep stitching 🙂 We will be having four catch-up weeks throughout the year.
There are 3 Parts to TAST – you only need to do 1!
There are now three parts to TAST:
- The first is a series of stitches that are suitable for beginners to intermediate stitchers.
- The second part, called Beyond TAST, is for intermediate stitchers and those stitchers who have worked the first part.
- The third part is a TAST Design Challenge.
The design challenge is proposed on the first Tuesday of each month for intermediate to advanced stitchers or people who have a strong interest in designing their own stuff.
TAST For Beginners
If you are learning embroidery, the challenge will be to learn the stitch. The first 15 to 20 stitches in TAST are foundation stitches. Please note, I mean the first 15 stitches of the TAST stitches, NOT the Beyond TAST stitches. You need to know these in order to master the more complex stitches. Most of the other stitches are either based directly on the foundation stitches or at least on the same hand movements you learned in the foundation stitches. Many people aim for the first 20 stitches and then dip in and out of the challenge as the mood takes them. That is fine too. If you want to learn the basics of hand embroidery, choose the first 20 stitches.
If you’re an experienced stitcher and you want to explore hand embroidery stitches a bit further, then Beyond TAST is ideal for you. See the information below about Beyond TAST.
Is there a TAST Project?
There is no particular set project for TAST. You can stitch anything you like. The idea is to experiment with stitches. The fabric you stitch on, the format you choose, or the project you make is totally up to you. Some people make a sampler, others a fabric book, some make a crazy quilt block, while others make fabric postcards. You can include the stitch on a current project too! The challenge is to work the stitch – it does not matter where.
What materials and tools do I need for TAST?
The material you choose to stitch on really depends on the project you have in mind. You do not need to go out and buy special threads or fabrics. You can stitch:
- on anything you choose,
- in any way you choose,
- using anything you choose.
The idea is to explore the stitch in as many different ways as possible. I have, however, written an article What hand embroidery supplies do I need? – which offers some guidance for anyone who is just starting out. These are suggestions only and the choice is yours.
For those who are just starting out, one tip is to test the stitch on small scraps of fabric or keep a ‘doodle cloth’. Just test it out a bit before using it on your project.
When learning a stitch, allow yourself to experiment first. Start off with a freeform sample on a small piece of fabric. Try thick threads, thin threads, shiny threads, and dull threads. Change your scale, colour, and texture, and see how it looks. Focus on these, as you learn the stitch and then move to a more controlled and traditional sample of the stitch.
Why work this way? If you start off with a free-form sample you can learn the hand motion and rhythm of the stitch before trying to bring it into tight control. Once you have the rhythm and motion feeling right in your hand then try and work a traditional sample of smaller, controlled stitches. Many people want a perfect stitch sample instantly. But really, you are trying to master two skill areas at once. By this, I mean some people try and master both the rhythm of the stitch and the refinement of keeping it inline or inside a shape, etc – at the same time. For them, it can be an exercise in frustration! So my tip is to build your skill development one step at a time. This is also useful to remember when teaching young folks too.
If you have trouble with fabric tension, read my article on How to bind and use an embroidery hoop – as it covers not only binding a hoop, but what size to use.
Also, I have a tutorial online that covers How to start embroidery without a knot.
The Beyond TAST stitches
For people who have done TAST, or are experienced embroiderers, Beyond TAST will offer a more complex stitch to Explore. These will be announced each week alongside the TAST stitch.
Of course, as with regular TAST, this is a guilt-free challenge, with a loose structure so you can swing in and out of it – joining in some stitches and skipping others – if need be. It is up to you to use the Beyond TAST challenge, in whatever way suits your life and encourages your creativity. My main aim in running these challenges side-by-side is so people who are new to hand embroidery can see how rich, diverse and creative stitching can be.
TAST Design Challenge
The TAST Design Challenge is relatively new (I ran it for the first time last year). On the first Tuesday of each month, I will propose a design challenge. The idea is that you apply stitches to a small piece that you design and work up. This will be a very open challenge so your design can be representational, abstract, large, or small, using whatever fabric and thread you choose. I anticipate that the majority of people who do the design challenge will be intermediate to advanced stitchers. But if you are a beginner but really want to design your own stuff and tell your own story jump right in. I don’t see designing your own embroideries as being ‘advanced’ but many people do. I see it more as finding your own creative language and I am not about silencing anyone. On the other hand if you hit overwhelm with a challenge like this and new to embroidery simply back off. The idea is to stimulate and liberate your creativity not undermine your confidence. Everybody is welcome to join in.
We have a TAST badge!
The TAST badge is stitched by Annet of Fat Quarter who has kindly allowed the use of her image as the TAST badge. If you are a blogger you may use the badge on your blog (right-click and save the image to your desktop)
How to join
Use the subscribe feature in the sidebar. If you are on a mobile/cell phone or tablet you will need to scroll to the bottom to find the ‘follow‘ feature, and subscribe there. Enter your email address, and when you get the confirmation email make sure you respond in order to complete the process. If you do not confirm you will not get notifications. Once confirmed you are all set! You will get all notifications from Pintangle in your email – And don’t worry — I won’t spam you with stuff.
I ran a series of interviews during 2017 to mark that the Take a Stitch Tuesday Challenge had been running for a decade. I interviewed stitchers about their hand embroidery and featured their work. It makes for an interesting read! Make a cuppa and browse the stitching stories of these wonderful women who gave up their time to answer my questions.
Interview with Maya Mathew of Million Little Stitches
Interview with Elizabeth of Sew in Love
Interview with Nell Loops of Artisanloops
Interview with Melody Lord
Interview with Barbara B of Spiel mit Textil
Interview with Christine B of Patchwork Allsorts
Interview with Gerry Krueger of Older Rose
Interview with Kimberley our Chicken Little Lady
Interview with Chitra of Jizee6687’s Weblog
Interview with Queeniepatch of Queenie’s Needlework
Interview with Maureen of CrazyQstitcher
Interview with Angela of Princess Bubbles Creates
Interview with Renee of Hand Stitched Treasure
Interview with Annet of Fat Quarter
Where to Share
The whole point of this challenge is to share what you have learnt and done. Most people join the TAST facebook group. For those doing Beyond TAST it is the same Facebook group. If you are a hashtag-type person, others use these hashtags regularly #tastembroidery, #takeastitchtuesday and #pintangletast on places like Instagram twitter etc.
If you are not a social-media type person and do not like Facebook I have the TAST flickr group. Or you can photograph your sample, share it on your blog, or wherever you hang out online, and leave a comment each week with your full web address so people can visit your page and see what you have done. In other words, put your address in the comment and include the http:// bit as then it will become a live link. Make it easy for people to visit you. Please, if possible link back here, and share news about TAST on your social networks so that people hear about the challenge.