For the love of simple embroidery

2015-08-23 13.35.36

This is the last in my series of three little bags rendered much more lovely through embroidery (and indigo).

2015-08-21 17.04.10

I have been really surprised to find that I can embroider on the bus (and of course, at the bus stop).  Admittedly, there is nothing complex about my embroidery!

2015-08-21 17.04.02

Also, it is easier than I thought to travel with simple embroidery, once you decide that is what you want to do. I have been tucking a reel of thread or two into the bag along with an old dental floss sample (for the cutter), digging my needle into the work, and wrapping the whole lot around the needle.  Then into bag or pocket and we are away.

2015-08-21 17.04.42

It has slowed down the public transport sock knitting somewhat.  But I am back to the regularly scheduled public transport socks now!

2015-08-23 13.36.08

I ended up virtually covering this bag in stitches dyed with indigo, indigofera australis, plum pine, eucalyptus, osage orange and random other local plant experiments.  I realise this is super simple embroidery… but for most of my life I would not have considered doing it, and nor would I have thought it possible I would enjoy it.  I do love the plant dyed threads.  I have enjoyed turning this lowly calico bag from a container for soap nuts into something worth looking at twice.  But I think I have to credit India Flint, Roz Hawker, Jude Hill and Isobel McGarry with persuading me that hand stitching is pleasurable and worthwhile.  Not that they were trying to do this…  But sometimes people rub off on one another, in a good way, even at considerable distance!

2015-08-23 13.36.48


Filed under Natural dyeing, Sewing

18 responses to “For the love of simple embroidery

  1. Liz

    This is simply lovely … it calls out to be touched and I suspect the inside is every bit as fascinating to look at. I’ll bet your fellow passengers thoroughly enjoy watching you stitch, too.


    • Thank you Liz! The inside is a complete maze of stitches, as you have guessed. Other passengers are surprisingly shy about bus embroidery 🙂 But I am sure in time if I keep it up… I will have as many conversations about this as I do about knitting!


  2. Love, love, love everything about this!


  3. love the simple stitch and different colours. I have a couple of Osage oranges growing, did you use only leaves or bark? My husband has been making bows from some of the wood. Been so damp and cold down here near Victor but perhaps I had better get the dye pot going.


    • Hi Penny, you have a woodworker in the family? That’s great, because the key dyestuff is the shaved heartwood. Take a broom into the workshop and see what you can find!You do need an alum mordant, but it is a lovely yellow. Victor must be really cold! Good weather for a dyepot… do pour a jug of hot water over your sawdust or shavings the night before you dye and give it time to leach out the colour. Happy dyeing!


  4. Rebecca

    What an extraordinary transformation. It looks like a woven dot painting. It seems to have grown out of the earth. I have not tried stitching with dyed threads…I wonder if I can use some of my waysides yarn in this way…mmm, very inspiring.


    • Thanks, Rebecca! The transformative aspect has been part of what I have loved most. Watching the ugly printing on the bag gradually vanish was so interesting, and the sheen on these silk and silk/cotton threads at the bus stop in the evening is wonderful. I love what you have done with the gifts of the local wayside… and I also find it a source of intrigue to figure out what to do with dye results that are really not what I dreamed of. This is once again an outcome that causes me to reassess my sense of what to aim for and what to value. One of the wonderful learnings from craft that is in the hands of nature as well as in my own hands with my skills at whatever stage they happen to be in, at the time!


  5. This is beautiful, love the simple stitches they can be so effective its all I do myself, and the subtle hues of the threads. I have come recently to stitch and natural dye and would thank those same said women as you.


    • Sources of inspiration are to be treasured, aren’t they? I am delighted by the way all these threads play across the surface even though some of these colours were not what I hoped for from the dye pot or jar. I love the way that the work itself leads you into new places.


  6. absolutely splendid…so tactile…just cries to be touched.


  7. Wow! This is really beautiful . . . and I also love your dental floss sample as a travel cutter idea! 🙂


  8. I embroider and my favourite stitch is the simple running stitch because you can do so much with it.LOVing what you have done with this little ole bag.


Please feel free to join the conversation...

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s