update on how the piece has developed since… i think i will continue to stitch on this piece until i run out of the thread colours i’ve been using.
usually i do work on several projects at the same time. i have always worked like this, it’s the same with books – never just one.
so, one of my current long term projects is an antique linen scarf. it used to be a pillow case which i took apart. the linen is of a beautiful quality, handwoven, a wonderful linen sheen, drapes really nicely. it is has also thinned out a lot, it’s around 100 years old after all.
originally i wanted to keep it white and visibly mend all the worn out areas with vintage buttonhole silk. i did do a few of those mends. then, in summer 2020 i took a workshop in plant dyeing and dyed the whole piece with indigo.
then it sat for a while, as i wasn’t sure how to progress. the next idea was then to cover it with sashiko stitched geometric patterns, thus strengthening the fabric and keeping it from wearing out more. turns out, the fabric did only want to be stitched along the grain. so, i decided to listen and cover the whole piece in rows and rows of parallel sashiko stitching. this will take a while, but i’m not in a hurry. i stitch a few rows whenever i feel like it. whenever i come across another thinned out area, i mend it, patch it, and stitch on. i kept all the prior ideas in terms of stitching – taking out would have made the fabric deteriorate even more, and somehow i found it nice to have all stages of this project visible in some way; also visualising the way my stiching has already changed over time, and i’m sure it will keep doing so. and that’s just what learning is – practicing and having the practice change you and your work.
this is how thin the fabric is, it’s almost see-through.
a patched area:
and some mended areas that pre-date me, they already existed when i bought the pillow case; plus a hand stitched monogram. i really like finding mended areas in vintage or antique fabrics. they are traces of the textile’s story.
and a close up of the layers of sashiko stitching. the white ones were my first attempt. now the whole piece will be covered in stitches like the blue ones, in different shades of indigo dyed thread by Sashi.Co. on another note, if you want to know more about sashiko and hear the voices of japanese people who have been practicing sashiko throughout several generations, check out the instagram and youtube of atsushi from Sashi.Co (or Upcycle Stitches, which is their us website). sashiko is much more than just running stitches on fabric. there is a deep history and culture attached to sashiko, and i really recommend to get a glimpse into this world by listening and learning and not just copying a style.
this was today’s work – stitching on my slow stitching piece. it is something like a stiching journal – a piece i stich on whenever i don’t have the headspace to work on something more complicated, or when i need to find a place of calm.
and just today the thought occured, that maybe rather than a side-project, a side category, maybe this is really the core of my work with textiles and stitching. the slow, repetitive movement of pulling thread through a piece of fabric so that it might clear my head, give me space to think, slow me down, make me present if only a few minutes a day. and whatever emerges, emerges. sometimes it feeds into my other creative areas, sometimes it’s just stitches. sometimes my stitches add up and eventually become a garment. but sometimes, just stitches…