Sunday, April 26, 2009

The beauty of the backside

Sublime Stitching has just released some dandy little treats in the last couple of weeks, and I am in luuuuhhhv. I'm going to do some quick reviews of these new products in the next couple of days, so stitck around.
First up, I love this adorable pony journal. It's a perfect size for tossing in a purse or bag and carrying around, ready to capture any inspiration or random thoughts you may have. The front cover is a fantastic piece of Jenny's embroidery. Even better, the back cover is the back of the embroidery work. I love this so much, because it's kinda messy and there are knots galore.

I remember when I took a class from Jenny Hart a few years ago and how stunned - and liberated - I was to hear that she knots on the back of her work. (knotting is typically a big no-no among tradtional embroiderers) Somehow, this one revelation released my fear of imperfection and gave me new found motivation to get stitching.

Now when I'm teaching embroidery, I tell the students of learning about knotting with Jenny and proudly show off the backs of my embroidery - knots and all. I taught a class last week and had this journal with me, and was thrilled that I could finally also show the back of Jenny's work.

There is something darn liberating about seeing "imperfections" in the work of someone you admire. Actually, I don't think they are imperfections at all. I can appreciate that, ages ago, there was great pride taken in having the back of your embroidery match as closely as possible the front of your embroidery work. I understand that, in very few cases, knots in the back of your work may show through on the front side, and thus should be avoided. However, what I scoff at is the idea that knotting is simply "not allowed" in embroidery.

When I'm teaching embroidery, I want the students to feel comfortable stitching, and to leave class with no reservations about continuing to stitch on their own. Breaking down some of the "expectations" of embroidery can help them accomplish that. It gets them stitching faster and easier and helps them be more successful. In turn, they are more eager and willing to continuing stitching after the class.

How often has fear of imperfection stopped you from trying or completing a craft? It's time to cut that fear out! There's fun to be had in imperfection - embrace it, and you'll see what I mean. And that's what I love about this journal - aside from being incredibly practical with lined, blank and grid paper inside - the front cover reminds you how gorgeous and fun embroidery is, and the back cover reminds you to toss your preconceived notions of perfection out the window and get to stitchin'. That's a big, important lesson for such a small notebook, huh? ENJOY!

Next up - the Sublime Stitching Bib Kit, and I'll wrap things up with the Stitchable Stationery and the limited-edition canvas tote and ... a little giveaway. Stay tuned!


  1. How cool!!

    Guess what! I JUST found your bag o' yarn in the back of my minivan! Want me to send it back to you?

  2. So um... Dumb question, but I taught myself how to embroider...

    If you don't knot the thread, what the heck are you supposed to do with it? Put it under arrest? What's the "correct" way?

  3. Jane - Excellent question! (as best I can explain) Traditionally, you are supposed to start your thread away from your first few stitches and then trim the excess once enough stitches are in to anchor things down. At the end, you should weave your thread back through the stitches on the backside.

    Mary, of Needle 'N Thread, does a much better job of explaining than I could ever hope to. She does beautiful traditional embroidery and has an extensive online collection of video tutorials. Here's one for starting and ending your work. Hope it helps! Enjoy! :)

  4. I feel like I should add that in the cross-stitch I've been doing lately, I've actually been using the stitch-over-and-anchor method as opposed to knots. It's interesting... still not my preferred way of doing things, but I think in the case of cross-stitch, it can make a difference. :)

  5. Thank you for posting this! I was also teaching myself to embroider and was knotting the thread. I feel less alone now:-)

  6. Blank, lined and grid pages? That has to be my dream notebook. And omg I LOVE the back cover. It's sooo nice to know that a famous embroiderer knots her work, it makes me feel better about my knotty backs.


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