Sunday, December 20, 2009

Loosen up and enjoy the stitching

To hoop or not to hoop? 

Jenny doesn't use a hoop.  Do you know Jenny?  She's a talented designer from Australia and has this blog, Jenny of Elefantz.  She gives some good reasons why not... and her proof is in the beauty of her embroidery.

With generous permission of Jenny, here's what she said about hoops:

"No, I never use a hoop. When I was rushing through my embroideries I had to use a hoop because when you rush you pull, then you pucker the fabric...but I have not used a hoop for the last year. Since I took care with the stitching and slowed down to enjoy the process and rhythm of the needle and thread working together with the fabric I have had no need of a hoop. The stitches are gently woven into the fabric and I can see that I have no need to pull or tighten. As I relaxed, the stitches relaxed with me."

I encourage you to read more in her original post on the subject (and check out her lovely work!).  Here are more tips from Jenny, and she has this about doing the satin stitch.  Good stuff.

I haven't yet given up the hoop.  It feels like an extra hand to help hold my work, but I've "loosened up" and slowed down, trying not to rush the stitches. 

But I'm still experimenting.  I plan to pull out my practice piece to try working without a hoop. 

My practice piece?  It's not pretty, but it's oh-so-useful.  See?

Where I've tried stem stitch and backstitch...

and practiced applique techniques...

and applique stem techniques...

and which has some of my first applique attempts...

Here are a few more tips, especially if you're new to embroidery:
  • Use a length of thread slightly longer than the length from the tip of your fingers to your elbow. 
  • During stitching, your thread will twist.  Every so often, let go of the needle and let it dangle towards the ground and let the thread untwist. 
  • Sometimes my thread gets naughty knotty.  It seems to happen when I've forgotten to untwist, or tried to use too long a thread, or am pulling the thread too quickly.  I carefully use the eye end of my needle to undo the knot so I don't fray the thread.  If it happens again with the same thread, I usually find that the troublemaker can't be rehabilitated, so I'm better off ending the offender and starting a new thread.  
  • Your needle will wear out and will need to be changed. I can tell when it's time because it seems like the needle doesn't slide through as easily.  When I look at the old needle versus a new one, I can see the difference... the finish looks worn down and dull.
  • You should remove your work from the hoop when you finish a stitching session, however "do as I say, not as I do." (Grin.)
I can't say it any better than Jenny did, "Enjoy the process, love what you do, and be at peace as you sew."


paulette said...

Some great advice!! I love the 'hoop or not to hoop'...Take care!

Kaaren said...

As one of my art teachers used to say, "There are many ways of right." In other words, whatever works best for the individual is the "right" way.

I use a hoop...actually it's one of those square plastic pipe/frame thingees when I do embroidery but I never use a hoop for hand quilting.

Super tips, Beth. Thanks!

Crispy said...

Yep I use a hoop usually. On the 2 Tisket Tasket blocks, I made, I didn't and was not really happy with my stitches. I love your practice piece and how you wrote notes to are very organized :0)


wishes, true and kind said...

I used to do A LOT of needlework -- especially counted thread and needlepoint. If I ever get myself organized, I'd like to get back to that. I do most of my quilting on the machine (except for appliqué and sewing on binding), but I do love handwork.

I like what you have said in your profile and also Jenny's words at the end of this posting. So many times I get busy and in such a hurry to accomplish things. I do much better when I remind myself to enjoy the process.


Carrie P. said...

I have to use a hoop too. I did not use one when I cross stitch but that seems a little easier to handle.
Merry Christmas!