Resting in simplicity

April 29, 2007

I think the charm of the running stitch rests in its simplicity. The thread is either behind the fabric or on top. It’s either showing or it’s not. It’s off or it’s on. I could write a Morse code message with ease. It’s a binary system in thread. Here is a group of simple ideas for where ever I need a line.


A few more experiments with lines


green running stitched and then with the green interlaced


diamond lines

tstc17greddiamondlines.png tstc17greddiamondlinewgreen.png

The running stitch makes good hearts and tulips, too.

A few grids




Special words of thanks

April 29, 2007

I wanted to set aside this post and say a special thank you to Jo in New Zealand who tagged me in her Thinking blogger award post and also to Elizabeth at BöskeZ and Colors who tagged me just days later. Thank you, ladies; it was a great honor! Both these ladies’ blogs are on my Bloglines account and I’m always delighted to see their line bolded. It’s a treat to see their work.

I’d also like to say “thank you” to all of you who not only stop by my blog but also leave a word or two in a comment from time to time. Most have been so encouraging and and others very helpful in response to some question I had. Some of these comments have been from those who are involved in TSTC and don’t blog or post to flickr. It’s so encouraging to think you are out there stitching with all of us who are more visible on the net. Thank you all so much!

I’m fully enjoying the exploration of each stitch in the Take a Stitch Tuesdays challenge from Sharon b. Each week is a great learning experience in stitching for me. I learn from Sharon’s introduction and stitch dictionary. I learn from those in the past or currently who wrote books, left stitching or other reference material for me to examine. I learn from stitchers blogging about and/or photographing their TaST work. Thank you, Sharon! And “thank you” to every one involved in the TSTC! You all keep inspiring me and make me think and stitch beyond my own boundaries. I thank God for you all and the joy of being able to explore with an needle and a thread on a ground.

Running on

April 28, 2007

Here is a fairly common traditional darning pattern, I think.


I was playing around with this idea and some of the ideas that Sharon b had posted in her introduction to the running stitch and these ideas started flowing out. I could hear the cry, “a rather wasteful use of the thread”. I shut my ears, ran on and had a lot of fun with these.



tstc17fboldcontline.png This is a line or border version

I couldn’t bypass trying out a two way version. The red upright cross that you may barely be able to see in this photo is formed by over-stitching on the second pass.


I also wanted to try out beads with the running stitch. And so much more could be done. This was only a stab or two at that.


tstc17forangebeads.png This is actually my favorite of the day. I’m sorry this photo is such a mess; the thinner thread for the interlacing is really a much nicer brown than is showing up here. But this is a two way pattern that I interlaced and then beaded.

Circles and more

April 27, 2007

If you see red and green arranged in a circle, do you think Christmas wraths? I do. And how I ever got on this color combination in April, I don’t know.




Now these colors are a little more spring like.


I did move away from circles but I’m back to red and green. Two way darning patterns are a special love of mine, although I’m not very skilled in them yet. Here is a simple one to see the outline of what’s happening.


This photo below shows where I moved from a one way border to a two way border. When done in identical shinny thread the vertical stitching may appear to be a different color than horizontal in certain lighting.


When stitching a darning pattern I was taught to leave a little loop on the back of the fabric as I move to the next row of stitching. It’s certainly been a help in keeping the proper tension.

Another example of two way stitching pattern,


Running stitch in ethnic embroidery

April 26, 2007

One of my favorite things about the running stitch is darning patterns. A couple of years ago that led me to a wonderful site by Phyllis Maurer, Ethnic Fiber Art. Two of the ethnic embroideries based on darning patterns are kogin and nyzynka, from Japan and the Ukraine respectively. Phyllis is a very good teacher and I was privileged to take her nyskynka class back then. I also purchased one of her kogin instruction books. Her work is beautiful and she teaches so many other ethnic embroideries as well. While I can only point you to her website, the pieces I saw in person at the CATS festival where she was teaching were breathtaking. Here are a couple of my samples based on some kogin patterns.



In some ways nyzynka is even more beautiful and I wish now that I’d pulled out my samples from that to photograph today also. But please do poke around Phyllis’ site if you haven’t visited it before. Her samples are far better than anything I can do in this discipline and well worth seeing, I think. She has links to many other interesting spots, too.

Ethnic embroidery is a favorite of mine and I’m so glad that it is drawing the attention and skills of many stitchers today. It’s a pleasure to know this type of needlework is being learned, used and preserved. Some very exciting news in this regard is that Phyllis is scheduled to teach classes in nyzynka and schwalm at the 2008 EGA National.

Threading and Looping

April 25, 2007

In addition to Sharon b’s introduction to the running stitch, her stitch dictionary index, under the entry ‘running stitch’, holds treats on interlacing and threading them. Seeing those examples expanding my thinking about what I wanted to experiment with this week.

I took a very simple grid


And started playing with it. It looks rather like Christmas since I laced everything with a green thread. Some of these would be better in one color but I wanted to do my samples in contrasting threads so that it would be easier to tract what was happening on the grid. This was the second attempt. My tension is not the best. And the looping looks a little slanted to the left.


I had to rethink coming in and out of the grid stitches. I tried a few more here.

tstc17cgridemb.png tstc17clineloops.png

Then I decided to expand the grid a little

tstc17ccactus.png I call this my cactus plant. It is a mirror image with two vertical threads between the grids.

The next is five rather than three grid lines.

tstc17clinediamondctr.png As you may notice I didn’t use all the grid stitches in this pattern or in the third sample. But I left them sitting there and overall they seemed to add something positive.

I couldn’t forget to practice my circles and curves. I didn’t get too far on this and my circle is definitely not as round as one might wish. It struck me as looking more like a rounded diamond than a circle. But I keep plugging away and have a good laugh over some of my efforts! I’m determined that one day I will work them with ease and they will look like circles, arches and curves.


TSTC Week 17: The Running Stitch

April 24, 2007

This week Sharon b named the running stitch as our TSTC stitch. It’s a favorite of mine because I love darning patterns which is one use of the running stitch. Although I know this stitch, I’ve never tried to do the threading and lacing Sharon shows in some of her examples. She always provides something captivating and new to me in the weekly introductions. If you’re thinking about becoming involved with TSTC, please check out the information. I’m learning so much from Sharon and all the other stitchers each week.

The other thing I’m so excited about today is that Sharon’s on-line class about free form textured hand embroidery is ready for enrollment. The class is called Sumptuous Surfaces and the link takes you to the description on Joggles. The class starts July 11. If the subject interests you, please take a look and see if it wouldn’t suit you. Last fall I took one of Sharon’s class about developing a personal library of stitches. It was a great class! Sharon’s material was extensive and well illustrated. The Joggles’ forum provided an easy way of interacting both with Sharon and classmates.

I’ve already been doing experiments with the running stitch! Here are a few.






Winding up on the Palestrina stitch

April 23, 2007

I’ve been back to lines for the most part except on my off grid work. There I’ve been doing curves and more–it’s just not ready for the camera this morning. It was really early when I snapped these pictures. The blueness you’ll see in most of them is that early morning light playing havoc with the photos.

Here are the lines. The first two and the last are my favorites.



tstc16efanline.png This line is OK but when I actually use it I will spread it out further to make the line more graceful. Another way to do that would be to decrease the contrast between the height and depth of the of the stitch line. Right now it is twelve threads, eight threads might be better and I could have eliminated the little area with no knots between the groups of stitches.


tstc16ebluediamondline.png This line was a great disappointment. I should have been using a solid colored thread or one with less contrasts.

Isn’t it hard when you see some thing that is going the wrong way and you just don’t know how to rescue it? That’s what happened with this line. I made it, didn’t like it and made two efforts to rescue it. No wonder the results are a little muddy! Fortunately, not all my rescues turn out so badly. This, I suppose, is the reason I don’t quickly abandon a trial once I see it going wrong.

tstc16egreenrevdiamondline.png This line would make a great fill, too, and would add the contrast of the positive diamond shape to the reverse diamond evident here in the line.

Page added

April 21, 2007

Here is a quote from the preface (page v) of the book Art in Needlework by Lewis F Day and Mary Buckle, that SharonB let us know about in this post:

…the practical use of embroidery is to be beautiful.

I love it! Concise and to the point. I’m going to be quoting this frequently as I encounter many people who very kindly convey the opinion there is no practical use for my embroidery and therefore it is wasteful. That may lead to some interesting discussions about beauty as objective or subjective truth.

I think it’s always helpful to get the views of those outside our own time. I also relish the opportunity to see them evaluate and employ the various stitches they knew and loved, some of which I use today.

That said, you may imagine I’ve been having fun going through this book since Sharon brought it to my attention. It has pictures of the front and back of the samplers, another one of my favorite things to see when I’m learning about a stitch. I’ve read a few snatches here and there and several chapters along the way.

One of the interesting chapters I read was titled, Stitch Groups (p. 175-179). It is about classifying stitches on the basis of various criteria. It made me think about all the TSTC stitches and the benefit of trying to classify these stitches as I learn through this year. So I’ve added a page to the blog trying to determine a very broad family for each stitch based on its construction. It’s mostly for my own use, but you’re welcome to look and agree or disagree. I have debates with myself about some of them!

The authors suggest several other ways to group stitches and I think I want to at least go through my visual journal and evaluate the limitations and strengths of each stitch at the end of each week. I do all these samples to determine what I can do with a stitch but if I don’t evaluate it afterwards and in comparison to other stitches, I will be losing some knowledge that is worthwhile. My sharpest thoughts are during the time I’m spending with the stitch, if I wait until the TSTC is over too much will have faded from my mind. For me this book pointed out a very helpful step to take. Many thanks, Sharon, for pointing out this and so many other great resources!

Texture in line

April 21, 2007

Here are a few highly textured trial lines using the Palestrina stitch. School girl work only! For inspiration please look at else where. There is a lot of great work showing up from others involved in the TSTC. I’ve been out looking around this morning and it has been inspiring me.

tstc16dtextureline2.png I love the dense feel of this one.

I wish I’d thought to couch a fat threads top and bottom under the prongs of this next one. That will be an exploration for today.


Trying out a variation here. The first one is too lacy for my taste I like the second better. I think I better try some beads to fill in the spaces in the first one.

tstc16dtexture2.png tstc16dtexture1.png

My favorites are these last two


knots on the curve above and knots along the straight line below


And next are some rather failed attempts at leaves. I like the last one of the four, an attempt at an oak leaf, and actually the second one I tried to stitch. I definitely was not improving as I went along. The second one in the line is actually my last attempt. You can see why I haven’t have the heart to try any more, yet!