In Knots

I don't think I have ever seen an image like this in an embroidery instruction book. In fact, a conscientious stitcher would not be making knots in the first place. But when the piece is mounted on a 3 foot by 6 foot stretcher, one has to improvise.

I have to crawl under the piece at regular intervals to tie off my threads. If I don't, the ends get snarled up in nearby stitches and it is nasty. Maybe no one is going to look at the back of my work but I want it at least to be tidy. Here also is a rare opportunity to see the utter chaos I work in. I'll clean up after I finish the piece.

I am almost finished the second panel, only a week late. I have been very conscious of my process, and literally every single stitch is carefully made, and re-done if not up to standards. At the same time, there is wild variation in the length and spacing of the stitches - this is made by hand after all. I don't work linearly, but instead in bits and pieces over the whole surface. That way, there won't be "pooling" of stitches that are more slanted, or longer than the norm. I do find that as I work my stitches tend to get smaller and closer together and I have to make a real effort to keep them at the optimal 5/16" long and 1/8" apart. On re-reading that last line, I think maybe I need to get out more.

I read a conversation between Alison Bechdal and Cheryl Strayed this morning. (I thought Alison's new book, The Secret of Super-Human Strength, was great, by the way.) In it Alison talks about drawing as being "touch-based transmission", an idea which I absolutely love. That is the essence of my embroidered work, I think, and why actually stitching the work myself rather than sending it to China to be done (as some have suggested) is so important. 

My work is not easy. It is made consciously, with an open heart and loving hand. The process is as important, if not more, as the finished piece. The most common comment when people see my stuff is "There's a lot of work in that." The work is evident - I hope the care and attention is too.



  1. Frame that first photo :)

    I get that, working in different areas. I still though can see when i was tense and then loosened up as the time passed. I can see areas that were loose and tightened as i tensed again. I'm fine with that, it's part of it, the whole, and me.

  2. Your chaos is tidier than my all cleaned up.
    I also like the "touch-based transmission" idea. Even though I'm not a professional artist, I totally get that doing it yourself (myself) is a major part the physical item.

  3. (((Heather))) I love your attention to every detail!


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