For a couple of our stitching gatherings we have been looking at embroidery stitches, some flat some raised. I wanted to lead students who may have no experience of needle and thread through various techniques which related to each other and ultimately to needlelace.
Firstly everybody did a plain running stitch. I gave them the history of how in centuries past this was a vital stitch for all women as it gave them the means to make all their family's clothes.For many it meant they were marriageable!!!! I wanted to look at needle handling with everyone first before we moved on. That done I demonstrated how to make the stitches smaller and closer together so that they could be used for seaming. Those that were already experienced had to do theirs with the less dominant hand!!Rhythm is an important factor in stitching and I wanted to try and establish this from the beginning too.
From here we went onto chain stitch so that we could look at the loop through required to make the chain work. This directly relates to buttonhole stitch and so ultimately to lace making so it was important to get the feel and the rhythm of this right.
Over two days of embroidery the students (medical students and surgeons) practised right and left handed embroidery, stitching in circles and a range of raised embroidery stitches. We finished with putting them all together in a small design so practising not just the individual stitches but also how to plan a complex design and how to literally place raised stitches close together without catching the others as you go.
One aim was to look at managing your thread rather than just focusing on where the needle is.A twisted thread can really hinder your work and it is so easily avoided by simply turning the needle counterclockwise every few stitches. It is not always possible to just let the needle hang from the work and unwind itself and it is good practise to keep an eye on the thread condition too.
My other aim is to examine how useful it is to be able to use your less dominant hand to stitch with. This will be a recurring theme in these sessions as there are occasions where your dominant hand is either shadowing the work or it is just easier to get into a small space with the other hand.