Over the next couple weeks here on Needle ‘n Thread, we’re going to be revisiting some beloved embroidery topics, projects, and series. There are quite a few hidden gems here on the website that I want to highlight again, especially for those who are new to Needle ‘n Thread – or for those who have been around so long that, like me, you may have forgotten what’s even on the website!
You might think I’m kidding about that, but I’m not! I just came across a few articles on a topic that I’ll be writing about soon, and I had one of those forehead-slapping moments:
“I’ve already written about this???”
And a few minutes later, after perusing the articles: “Wow. I really did write about this already. How could I have forgotten?!”
It’s always good to take a fresh look at old topics. And to that end, we’re going to re-visit some older topics and projects here on the website that, despite their age and despite all the advances in online technology in the past 17 years, have not gone “out of style.” They still have valuable information in them that is worth tucking away in your needlework repertoire.
One of the my favorite series here on Needle ‘n Thread will kick off this Topic Rejuvenation. It’s the Stitch Fun! series. While the series stretches back deep into the history of Needle ‘n Thread, it is not defunct, nor is it anywhere finished or complete. It’s an ever-developing series. I’m sure I’ll be adding more to it in coming months and years.
But for those who haven’t seen it and don’t know what it is, or for those who have forgotten about it, here’s a little recap of the series.
Stitch Fun! is a series of embroidery tutorials here on Needle ‘n Thread that take you step-by-step (via photos) through either learning interesting and not-so-common stitches, stitch combinations, and composite stitches, or through creating little embroidered elements by using stitches in different ways.
The purpose of the series has always been to have fun with embroidery stitches – to experience the delight you can have by playing with embroidery stitches.
And while you might not ever use all the stitches in the series, they are a really good learning tool for becoming comfortable with stitches, for learning how stitches work, how the movements of stitches produce different results, and how you can take simple stitches and build them into more complex and interesting variations.
So that’s what the series is all about.
One of my favorite aspects of first developing the series and working on it over the years is that I get to play around with stitches and with threads that I don’t normally embroider with.
For example, while I don’t do a lot of embroidery with pearl cotton, it makes a terrific thread for demonstrating the movements of a stitch. It’s easily seen, you work with it one strand at a time, and it has a nice texture to it, so the results are always more interesting than they might be with, say, regular stranded cotton, which would have a much smoother finish.
Another aspect I really enjoy about putting together tutorials for the series is the potential for challenge.
Some of the stitches in the series ended up there because other embroiderers wrote to me or sent me photos asking about stitches or techniques they had seen or had read about, but that they couldn’t figure out. So I’d set about playing with the stitches or techniques to see if I could figure it out for them. This was the case with the coiled woven picot stitch in the photo above.
I like this kind of exploration! Sometimes – especially if you’re just given a photo – it can be like working out a puzzle.
Not all the stitches in the series are wild and crazy stitches, either. Some of them are just different ways of achieving similar results for commonly embroidered elements – like leaves, for example. The rose leaf stitch produces a really beautiful leaf (or you can vary it and end up with a little bud) using a less common approach for stitching leaves.
The sheer number of variations in the world of embroidery stitches is especially appealing to me, and the Stitch Fun! series is a great way to explore some of those variations.
Stitch variations can be super simple to achieve, or they can be really complicated. For example, just by twisting a stitch in a different direction, you can end up with a decidedly different look to it.
Sometimes, you can incorporate a completely different stitch into a technique – like using a variation of a cretan stitch on shisha, shown above – and end up with a whole new decorative look to the technique.
When it comes to playing with embroidery stitches, the variations in stitches and techniques seems endless!
Visit the Index!
If you really want to get comfortable with working embroidery stitches of all kinds, why not try some stitch play of your own?
Drop by the Stitch Fun! index and use any of the stitches and techniques there as a springboard for your own explorations.
I hope you enjoy the adventure!