Golly! If a week’s worth of stitching on this yearly sampler idea that we talked about here is any indication of how my year is going to go, mildly chaotic would be a good prediction!
I need to pull in the reins.
This week, my listening time was a little longer than it will be in future weeks of 2021, because I’m finishing up a series of lectures that I promised I would not fall behind on… that I fell behind on. So I’ve added those to my listening regime at lunch time, so I’m getting in a few more stitches on this project than originally planned.
Today, I thought we could talk briefly about random embroidery, just how random is random, whether or not random works for me (and how to know if it works for you), and I’ll try to mention a few helpful bits of information, too, for those interested in stitching this type of project.
I’m officially calling this project my “Stitch Fun 2021” band sampler, because it is a long, skinny band of linen that I plan to fill up during 2021, and I hope to have fun with the stitches while I’m doing it.
Two rules: no new threads, and stitching only during a relatively short time (20-ish minutes) every day, while I’m listening to a Bible-in-a-Year podcast that I committed to with a friend. This is outside my normal “work” hours, so it’s extra embroidery for me, and I don’t really plan to put a lot of thought into it.
I gathered together into a basket all the threads in my studio that are incomplete, loose, or untagged or in any way “un-new.” They’re threads that are serviceable, but have been tucked aside because there’s not much left on the skein or spool, or I have no idea where the thread came from or what number it is, or it’s a discontinued thread that I wouldn’t design with, or what-have-you. They’re all partials and bits, anyway! They include different types of fibers, but are predominantly cotton. And there is no (absolutely no) specific color scheme involved.
Into the same basket, I put a 5″ hoop, a pair of scissors, and a small needlebook with a selection of needles in it. I also stuck a small notebook and a pen in there, in case anything occurs to me that I need to write down. The basket goes next to a chair, tucked under a side table, so that it isn’t always staring at me.
During the past week, I’ve decided I should add a pencil to the basket.
I started by (over)embellishing the 2021 at the top of the sampler. I noticed that the 2021 was off center and a little discombobulated, size and orientation wise. This bothered me at first. I berated myself for not having planned a very neat and tidy, well-centered 2021 at the top of the sampler.
While the idea of completely random has its appeal for me, I’m not very good at it. I prefer at least a little planning, because I think that finished results are generally more pleasing when a little planning has gone into something.
At first, I considered picking out the 2021 and starting over. But then I told myself this really isn’t for anything or anyone else. It’s just an exercise, and for me, it might be a good exercise for loosening up a bit.
Alas, I’m not good at loosening up!
So I embellished around the 2021 with swirlies using a leftover twisted blob of stranded cotton in coral, added some running stitch in light blue, and then started French-knotting parts of it in dark blue. Without drawing lines and considering layout, I tend to go overboard, and things began to look lopsided and odd.
After a few days of working on that mess, I decided a straight line was a good idea.
I never did “finish” the mess at the top. Who knows? I might go back to it some day!
After the straight line (it’s a running stitch in light blue laced with dark blue in both directions), I reached into the basket the next morning with my eyes closed to pull out the next color. I didn’t want to be picky and particular about color, so I thought I might as well try making a blind selection.
I pulled out some strands of bright yellow, bright orange (leftovers from autumn embroidery) and one single strand of pink from who-knows-what.
Without any plan, I started across the linen with these little yellow and orange straight-stitched bursts. They are so sunny and chipper! I like them.
The single strand of pink never made it in, due to timing (and a secret desire not to add pink to my sunny bursts).
Somewhere in the next day or so, I began writing. It was a cold, bleak, windy morning, and Shakespreare came to mind: Blow, blow, thou winter wind…, so I stitched it.
This is the first time I’ve ever gone forth and embroidered a line of text randomly, with my needle and thread as my pen. It still looks vaguely like my hand writing, but I wish I had used a non-stranded thread (like floche). I think a non-stranded thread – either floche, coton a broder, or a #12 perle cotton – would have resulted in a tighter, cleaner text.
Future opportunities abound for text, so I’m not sweating it.
The text didn’t quite fill the line, by the way, so I tried to add some randomly swirly wind at the end of the line. It looks like scribble.
Choose Your Random
If you tend to be a more structured person, if you tend to feel more secure with a little structure, then with this type of project, it makes sense to choose the degree of randomness ahead of time.
For example, you might be better at random color selection or random stitch selection, but prefer a little more structure in layout and planning when it comes to design. That’s about where I fall in the scheme of things, and there is a part of me that already wishes I had ventured into this with a little more foresight.
You might be perfectly fine, though, with completely random planning and layout, but prefer a more harmonious color selection, in which case, you’d concentrate your forward-thinking on color choices.
You might get stumped by stitches, in which case, maybe you could make a list in advance of embroidery stitches you want to learn or practice, and work from the list.
You really have to choose your own level of randomness – what are you comfortable with, and what will ensure that you keep up the practice through the whole year?
I’ve decided I will just push myself out of my more rigid comfort zone of having a clearer layout, and make myself be completely random, with no forward planning… but that I will indulge in a pencil, to mark out elements or text here and there when the opportunity calls for it.
I finished modifying – yet one more time (just in case you don’t believe me when I say I tend to be a bit rigid…) – this rose design, and it’s transferred, the frame is set up, the supplies are laid out, and today, that’s my stitching job.
Talk about structure! This design is stylized, stately, and practically formal compared to the projects I’ve worked on this week! I’ll be delving into it this afternoon for two hours, and I can’t wait!
How have you started 2021, stitch-wise? Do you have a pet project underway? I’d love to hear about it! Feel free to join in the conversation below!
Back in the Shop!
By the way, there are more Let it Snow ready to stitch towel sets available in the shop today, and I’ve also added some Spring Variety, for those who are dreaming of spring!
Have a marvelous weekend!