A Chain Stitch Sampler

Chain Stitch Sampler or Ribbons, Ruffles, and Chains

Chain Stitch Sampler or Ribbons, Ruffles, and Chains

This past week TAST 2012 is taking a “catch up” or get crazy creative break.  I focused on my Attachments Quilt Blocks (and UFOs) to create a sweet little sampler. Something I call Ribbons, Ruffles, and Chains.

I’ve been pretty good about keeping up, sometimes at the expense of other projects.  But I have no other serious obligations.  And, I see the TAST Challenge as well as the Stitchers’ UFO Challenge as a means to reestablish  discipline that has waned since leaving the Social Services Rat Race.  I’m looking at it as “practice,” as in meditation or spiritual practice.  I really want to create my own designs and stitch them instead of always enjoying the fruits of other people’s’ creative endeavors.  As a follower of “The Artist Way” for decades, I know there are many ways to get to the creative source in one’s self.  One of them is to engage in play.  Another is repetitive activity that frees the mind from clutter.  A very important way is to lose one’s attachment to perfection or preconceived notions of what is good or bad, pretty or ugly, worthwhile or useless, and so on.

I am learning a lot about that through the TAST Challenge.  Taking the Studio Journal As A Designer’s Workhorse really helped, too.  There are a lot of ugly images in my journal, but the images represent something quite beautiful in my mind’s eye.  I don’t draw well, nor do I have a whole artist’s studio at hand.  So my journal is full of reMINDers of things I want to stitch.  And some of my embroidery is not necessarily pretty either.  Case in point is the TAST 2012 Attachments Quilt Block I did with safety pins.  Even though no one will say, “Oh, that is so gorgeous, I must have it!,” the piece communicates exactly what I meant to say about attachments to unhealthy things.

Same thing with my Ribbons, Ruffles, and Chains sampler and/or Attachments Quilt Block. It is a reminder to myself that an abiding affinity to ribbons and ruffles and a pretty world is not only living with blinders on, but will keep your heart chained from the experience of compassion and the opportunity to relieve any suffering in the world.  Attachments make it hard to have a heart that is open to full life including true love.

The layout of the stitches on Chain Stitch Sampler

A schematic of the stitch layout
(click for larger view)

This block is also about practicing a stitch in an array of its variations. The Chain Stitch.  I had A LOT of fun with this.  And learned a great deal.  I even have a couple new favorite stitches.  I especially like the stitches in the lower right corner of the sampler.  Overall I used 11 chain stitch variations:  chain, twisted chain, barred chain, butterfly chain, wheat ear stitch, braided chain over one stitch, braided chain over two stitches, open chain, heavy chain, raised chain, and cabled chain.  I especially liked the tutorials at Sarah’s Hand Embroidery.  She has a section of nothing but change stitches that you can find in the right sidebar.  I’m thinking I’ll do another sampler with the variations that are not on this block.  Here is a schematic of the stitches I did use.

I hope these close-ups help you pick a few variations you might like to try.

Ribbons, Ruffles, and Chains Close Up Left

Close up of upper left corner of my Chain Stitch Sampler

Scan of lower right of my Chain Stitch Sampler

Lower Right Corner of my Chain Stitch Sampler

My favorites are the raised chain, the braided chain, the cable chain, twisted chain, and wheat ear stitch.  Which do you especially like?  Which one have you never done but will now try?

Butterfly Chain, A Real TAST Challenge For Me

TAST 2012 Sampler

This is not exactly how I envisioned this would go, but it is a sampler!

I may alienate many people with this statement, but I have to take the risk:  I don’t like butterflies.  I used to like spiders because of the Greek mythology connection and because they eat other insects.  But then I found out that they are cannibals.  Now, I must simply say that while I respect the place of insects in Nature, on the whole I simply am not interested in sharing space with any of them, no matter how delightful the coloring.  Butterflies are too much like moths.  Bottom line they are creepy, crawly, wormy things before they mature.  I’m really more of a flora than a fauna person!Consequently, I was not thrilled with the idea of a stitch that is called Butterfly Chain.  But as I have committed to this year-long challenge offered by Sharon Boggon at Pin Tangle, this “little” thing called Take a Stitch Tuesday, I must tackle this stitch.  BUT, I have a re-frame, good little strategic therapist that I am!  My little chains are not creating the lovely body of butterflies out of my straight stitches, they are instead gathering together stalks of corn or wheat or some other grain that looks like liquid gold in a field!Ahhh, relief.  Now I can stitch!

And stitch I did.  Except…

When Jeffrey looked at the work I had done, he said, “Oh, are you stitching a fence?”  I said, “Oh, yeah,  that’s just what it is!”

Thjree layers of butterfly chain stitch embellished with seed and bugle beeds

Wisteria Fence

I didn’t start with a sketch this time.  I just kind of had an idea in my head.  It’s better to start with a sketch as it’s much easier to erase on paper than it is on fine, 32 count linen!  (That’s what my 2012 TAST Sampler is stitched on.)  The following slide show reveals the evolution of what I’m calling Wisteria Fence.  You’ll see why as the pics progress.

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