21 November 2012

Help from a needle

Stitching on a new "journey to the studio" piece - working title "Black and White and Red All Over" - I was noticing my inefficient sewing method - poke the needle in, dither about a while to get the stitch length right, bring needle up, less dither to stitch in, back to dithering about where to poke it UP again... so I practised not-dithering about exact stitch length for a while.OK the stitches are getting a bit longer than in the previous versions of this work.

Even though I was being more resolute about jabbing the piece with the needle, there was still a great deal of back-and-forth and quivering-of-hand when it came to pulling the needle, with its two stitches (four jabs) out of the fabric. Little tug, another little tug, slightly greater tug - finally it was through. I was using the long thin needle at the top of the photo, threaded with the fine perle that you see at the bottom - perhaps that thread was too thick for the needle - or rather, the eye of the needle not large enough to allow the thread to pass smoothly through the fabric. The only other needle immediately to hand looked too large - would it make giant holes in the fabric (better not risk it) - though the holes weren't as big as expected, I went hunting for something medium-sized, and started paying attention to my movements in pulling the needle through.

The idea is to sew more efficiently - and to do that without particularly thinking about it. What you use affects what you do. I well remember Julia Caprara saying "Don't fight with your materials" - in other words, if it's a struggle, find something different to use.

That fine needle is ok for the red, very thin, perle, and for two strands of stranded cotton. In fact the stranded cotton is probably easier to stitch with than the perle. But the off-white and pale grey perle (acquired via Winifred Cottage, over the years) are so soft and have such subtle variations of colour ... worth a bit of struggle with the materials, for the joy of using them.

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