Wednesday, February 1, 2017
Pat your head and rub your stomach...
Last week I taught a workshop for my local fiber and textile group, on a subject that I thought would be easy as pie. I called it "Magic Cross Stitch" but really it was only the technique of filling your cloth with cross stitches by working from the back side of the fabric.
Why do this? Actually I started out by stitching blind, a technique that Dorothy Caldwell famously teaches on the first day of her hand stitching classes. I took it to extremes several years ago when my dear friend and art pal Terry Jarrard-Dimond took a class from Dorothy and loved the blind stitching. We decided to each stitch blind for 12 hours -- one of us on black fabric, one of us on white. Here's the finished pair:
My half was the night; Terry's was the day. She mostly used seed stitch; I mostly used cross stitch. Read more about this project here.
I loved this stitching; it looked so weird, so random, so unplanned. But it took way too long; that number of stitches would take me perhaps two hours if my eyes were open. The other ten hours were spent untangling threads, making sure the thread lay flat against the fabric, avoiding loops, making sure the stitches weren't too tight, getting the thread unwrapped from the buttons of my shirt. Almost all those tasks would have been unnecessary, of course, if I hadn't had a blindfold on.
So I thought of another way to achieve the surprise, the random and weird look of the blind stitching but without the hassles of blind thread management. I worked from the back of the fabric, not the front. Even though the cross stitch is so simple, it's amazingly difficult to visualize from the back of the fabric what's happening on the front. I did a lot of "magic cross stitch" a couple of years ago, after finishing the blind stitching, and I loved the results (the project is still in process).