One Year of stitches – Three Months in


It hardly seems possible that we’re already three months into the year and that I’m three months into the stitching project I told you about at the beginning of January…But it is and I thought it was maybe time to let you know how it’s going.

Well the first thing is that I’ve discovered it’s not easy to commit to doing something every day however small but I am still going all-be-it with a few adaptations to my own schedule. I’ve discovered that I’m incapable of doing just a few stitches at a time and once I get going I have to continue. I’ve also found that it’s inevitable that there will be days when I can’t do anything at all so I’m working on the basis that these two factors cancel each other out and equate a little every day… no rules in creativity right?!

So three months in and I’m also three hoops in. This is the first one I completed and the one that took the longest. It’s a completely random design that I just added to as I went along, beginning with the celtic symbol for ‘new beginnings’ at the bottom of the image. This piece became a kind of sampler as I was reacquainting myself with the stitches I’d learnt many years ago as well as trying to pick up some new ones.
it’s quite tricky to work randomly like this and keep some sort of continuity going through the design so it was quite challenging but I really enjoyed it. It took seven weeks to complete and I think that’s probably as long as I can go without the risk of getting stale.

My second hoop was also random but much more relaxed and more about forming patterns with the stitches. The design grew very much from a ‘stream of consciousness’ and it was much quicker to complete.

I’ve just started my third hoop which is (at the moment) a more formal formal Mandala design. I say more formal but I still haven’t planned it out in advance and I’m still adding each element as it occurs to me so it still has an organic element to it. This one is proving to be the most tricky. Practically it’s very difficult to keep fabric and stitches completely symmetrical and it’s entirely possible that as it’s progresses it will lose balance but I’ll just have to deal with that if it happens. Creatively heavily geometric designs are not my forte and I’m much more for naturalist shapes and themes but then if I can’t challenge myself over the course of a year long project when can I?

I’ve been posting my progress regularly on my facebook and Instagram feeds and I’ve had a lot of people asking me questions about specific stitches or embroidery in general. There are a huge number of embroidery resources online like the Guild of Embroiderers or Royal School of Embroidery and many ad hoc tutorials which might help get you started or progress. There are also many beautiful books on the subject and here are some of my favourites:

Embroidered and Embellished by Christen Brown is a great resource that covers four styles of embroidery: Traditional, Silk Ribbon, Raised and Textured and Bead – everything you need in a clear visual guide. It also includes projects for each style.

Modern Folk embroidery by Nancy Nicholson – I love this book and it’s well used as you can see from the coffee stains! The use of the stitches here reminds me of Scandinavian embroidery – it’s great fun and less formal and again the book contains projects. I used this as a reference for my second hoop.

Three Dimensional Embroidery Stitches by Pat Trott is a great resource for stitches that add depth and texture to your work and includes stitches I haven’t found in other books in my collections. Projects and inspiration again included.

Free Form Embroidery by Judith Baker Montano is another of my favourites and is packed with stitches and information and ideas designed to bring textile art to life. Beautifully illustrated with clear visual instructions.

Of course this project is not just about me and there are literally thousands of people taking part and creating beautiful stitched artworks. My~AJE team mate Cathy has also stuck with it and is on her third hoop too.

First up she managed to turn this…

Into this glorious piece – isn’t it beautiful?

Cathy went for something very different for her second project using a single stitch on dramatic fabric to great effect.

Now she is working on this wonderful mixed media design which I think is going to be just fabulous.

If you would like to see more of the wonderful creations this project has inspired just click on this Instagram link for 1 year of stitches 2017 where there are thousand of wonderful and diverse designs. in the meantime I’ll be back in a few months to let you know how things are going.


Lesley Watt

Lesley Watt started making jewellery in 2009 with a handful of hobby store beads but quickly discovered art beads and became completely smitten. Taking courses in metal clay, metal smithing, enamelling and etching she began making her own components in 2011 and has never looked back. Always looking to try new things she has branched out into ceramics, bead embroidery, mixed media and textiles.
    • Andi
    • March 27, 2017

    Those are so beautiful and inspirational. I used to do silk ribbon embroidery and just may have to drag out my supplies again. Thanks for sharing.

    • Robin Eidt
    • March 28, 2017

    Beautiful!! All an inspirational to me- I’m just starting in embroidery and look forward to learning how to do these beautiful different stitches and patterns. Love t!

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