Uncovered treasures

In the course of our move I’ve found some things that I had forgotten, and thought you might like to see them as well.

Years and years ago, before I became a designer but after I discovered something beyond cross stitches, I wanted to learn how to do different stitches. There are tons of resources for stitchers who want to go beyond where they are. At the time, I was driving an hour and a half one way to go to my “local” needlework store, and I found this lovely little resource:

What a wonderful little thing! Each stitch was beautifully illustrated, one to a page:

This is just an example of one of the stitches. The numbers at the beginning of the stitch are clear, with a little text to explain how to do the stitch. The copyright info is on each little page as well, along with a number (lower right) for each stitch. The cards on rings made it easy to flip to each stitch and turn the other cards back while working on the stitch. The small size made it really easy to slip into my stitching bag as well.

So, what did I do with this marvelous resource? I decided to create a stitched visual for each stitch, and put it in a band sampler:

I selected an overdyed thread, I’m pretty sure it was Caron Collection Waterlilies, then some thread to go with that overdyed. I also stitched the number of each stitch, so I could readily refer back to the ring if I needed to know the name of the stitch. I finished it into a bell pull so I could hang it over my desk, as an easy reference to stitches.

This was a most useful exercise for a number of reasons, even for someone who isn’t a designer (remember that I wasn’t when I did this sampler).

  1. Practical knowledge of a variety of stitches – it’s one thing to look at a stitch reference resource, another thing entirely to actually stitch it with real threads.
  2. Learning how to combine a row of stitches – this may seem obvious, but frequently in a stitch reference resource no information is given on how to get from one stitch to the next. Actually stitching a row of a single stitch gives that practical info that is sometimes missing in a reference. Do I need to alter the direction of a stitch to have the right pull on the next stitch? Will the carry threads show (especially when stitching a row of eyelets or other pulled stitch)?
  3. Learning to make adjustments – I had to decide how many threads to allow between each row, between each stitch (or have the stitches share holes), color placement, number of strands – in short, a whole lot of design decisions even though it wasn’t my design. Did this stitch look best with 2 strands or 3? Which color is most effective? Is this a good choice for an overdyed? In short, a process that helped me later when I started designing.
  4. A ready reference – anyone who stitches will sometimes encounter a project that isn’t as well diagrammed as we’d like, or with incomplete information. A reference like this fills in those gaps.

I’ve done other stitch resources like this and will share more later, but for today, here’s a wonderful idea for every stitcher. Pull out a stitch reference guide, some spare fabric and stash threads, and make your own stitch reference.

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