Tuesday, 10 December 2013

How do you feel when stitching, and why?

From 'Absence and Presence Series' by Alysn Midgelow-Marsden

A recent discussion started me thinking about the differences in how I feel about hand stitch and machine stitch and whether the same is true for other stitcher's and why.
For me, however much I know that I am 'allowed' to stitch, it is, after all, a large part of what I do, I still find  that the hand stitch part of my work feels as though I am 'playing', or 'wasting time'. Whereas I can be on the computer, I can draw, sketch, design, sit at the sewing machine or embellisher machine for hours and feel as though I am doing 'real' work!! Now I know this is a mental artefact, but still ....
I find that whilst hand stitching my mind tends to move away from what I am doing and I begin to think about what else I could/should be doing at that time instead of stitching. Does anyone else find this?

Now I am thinking about associations, it reminds me of why I haven't done any needle weaving since college. I had to stay in hospital overnight after a miscarriage, and decided to take my college homework with me, so as not to fall behind and as something to keep me occupied. The piece of needle weaving went into my folder in the same state it was when I left the hospital and I haven't re-approached the technique since. I have talked to many other people who use their creative outlets to help them through rough times, and who don't then pick up negative associations from this.

Detail from 'Gathering' by Hilary Hollingworth

Chatting with Hilary Hollingworth and Jean Draper, who both are primarily hand stitchers, Hilary felt in her case, sitting at the sewing machine was related to making clothes for her children, mending and other domestic jobs, and she felt that using the sewing machine was a chore and not perhaps conducive to her artistic expression. So Hilary's experience is diametrically opposed to mine. It was really fascinating that a professional such as Hilary, with many years of experience, still carried mental hang ups about part of her creative tool-kit, associating it as a domestic instrument. Also interesting is that one of Hilary's signature techniques is darning, which is a hand stitch technique associated very firmly in the domestic repair/mending category. Mmm ...

See more of Hilary's work: www.hilaryhollingworth.co.uk
Jean Draper has a fabulous new book all about using hand stitch and thread to create structure, called Stitch and Structure

From 'Absence and Presence Series' by Alysn Midgelow-Marsden

I would love to hear your thoughts and experiences on what techniques have what associations for you and whether they are positive and helpful or whether they become an issue which you have had to deal with.

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