I’ve seen a bit about slow stitching recently. It kept on catching my attention, so time to take a look at it a bit more.
Permission is given!
I lost my way with textile art many years ago – my attention went to other things. I still have a sizeable stash of threads and beads and sequins and so on. I got a couple of Slow Stitching books on my Kindle, had a quick read/flick through and had a realisation. Slow stitching gives me permission to create with stitches with a similar mindset to my more abstract art – to lose myself in the flow of creating, of just letting things happen and going with it and enjoying the process!
Being given permission – that is such a powerful thing! So often many ‘rules’ seem to be set about how you ‘should’ use a particular medium, or how you ‘should’ draw or create. It’s so refreshing when someone gives you permission to just do want you want, whatever brings you relaxation and pleasure (talking about stitching here!).
The stitching doesn’t have to be perfect. It doesn’t have to look like anything. It’s just creating pattern and texture with colour and so on in a way that is pleasurable to you, to me.
It’s taken me a long time to give myself permission to draw the whimsical art I draw, or the more abstract stuff I do. But sometimes it really does take someone else to give that permission, either overtly or tacitly.
So, last night I dug out some felt and embroidery threads and needles and just started to stitch – cross stitch, seed stitch, running stitch and French knots. I’ve never been able to do French knots before!
Fond stitchy memories
As I stitched I had fond memories of Friday afternoons in primary school, I must’ve been 9 or 10, and being able to take out a sturdy cardboard box that stored my sewing project. Everyone in the class had one of these – boys and girls. A rectangle of navy blue Aida fabric, with the holes forming fairly large grids. A blunt needle was carefully stored in the fabric, and there was a selection of embroidery silks on the teacher’s desk to choose from.
Each week, we added another border or row to this fabric, learning different kinds of decorative stitches as we went. The Aida fabric made it easy to do, the only tricky things were not pulling the thread too tight and getting twisted, tangled and knotted thread!
Eventually, a panel was completed and the entire project was turned into a kind of pouch for pens and pencils. I had to add a linking – bright red – and stitch everything together by hand.
I remember being really proud of what I’d made and I treasured that pouch for years, even when black ink stained it, in one corner. I don’t know what happened to it. It just seemed to disappear at some point never to be found again by me. I remember being a bit upset at it going missing.
When I was in University, studying Chemistry and Environmental Pollution Science, I often used to get acid splashes on my jeans. So, rather than throwing them out, it seemed sensible that I use simple stitches to turn the holes into flowers and extend that pattern beyond the holes.
Over the years I’ve dabbled with cross-stitch and stitched tapestry and patchwork, but nothing really grabbed my attention until I did a lot of textile work during my A-Level art in my early 40s. Yet, that went by the by as other art took over, particularly when I started to work for publishers. I even won an art competition with one textile piece.
Returning from a little trip down memory lane, I wanted to take a look at this slow stitching. It feels right that I revisit stitching with the aim of incorporating it into my drawing and hand-lettering work. It may take me a while to work out how I’m going to do that, but unless I make a start it may never happen.
Felt is OK to work on, and I may return to needle-felting beautiful fibres onto black felt and then using slow stitching and beads to embellish the work. First, I have to get some black felt! I have loads of the rest of the stuff in my stash!
I also want to explore stitching on paper, using the stitches as a way to collage papers and so on. Like in the photo above.
Working on paper also gives me the opportunity to draw and/or paint patterns or textures alongside the stitches; giving me the opportunity to find different ways to combine my favourite things!
It may not be everyone’s cuppa, but my first attempt is making me smile and there’s a small sense of achievement.
I have no idea where this will take me, nor how persistent I’ll be with the stitching thing. It is, however, one more technique to add to my toolbox of arty techniques to choose from. And another one that is both relaxing and pleasurable, especially now it’s ok for me to do what I want when it comes to stitching!