THOUGHT LINES

A series of twenty embroidery studies

METHODOLOGY

Each of the following twenty embroidery studies was completed according to systems of rules, unique to each piece, which guided the act of stitching. These systems were based on observations of thought patterns that manifest in the artist’s personal anxieties.

The following variables were kept constant:

Hoop size: 4 inches (10.16 centimetres)
Fabric: Oxford cloth, beige
Thread: DMC Petra Thread, 100% cotton, 2-ply, colour code 5712, size 8

Note:

These two terms are used in some systems in reference to the weave of the fabric:

  • Warp – the lengthwise threads held stationary in tension on a loom during the weaving process

  • Weft – the crosswise threads on a loom that are passed over and under the warp threads

The fabric for all studies was framed with the warp running vertically and the weft running horizontally.

STUDY #1

Start date: 9 November 2017
End date: 13 November 2017
Time spent: 22 hours

Rules:

1. Mark out a straight line from the centre of the stitchable area to its topmost edge.

2. Stitch one French knot* at the centre.

3. Beginning on the marked line, surround the first French knot with a ring of French knots.

4. Continue to stitch successive rings of French knots, each beginning on the marked line, up till the edge of the hoop.

5. The piece is complete when there is no more room to stitch a complete ring, even if the stitchable area is not entirely covered.

*A type of knotted stitch.

STUDY #2

Start date: 22 November 2017
End date: 22 November 2017
Time spent: 5 hours

Rules:

1. Sew repeatedly from the edge of the hoop to the centre of the fabric, with stitches lined as close together as possible along the circumference.

2. Attempt to stitch into the same centre spot each time; when it becomes too difficult to pierce through, find the closest possible alternative.

STUDY #3

Start date: 23 November 2017
End date: 25 November 2017
Time spent: 16 hours

Rules:

1. Tie a knot in the thread, then cut a length of thread measuring 15 cm from the knot.

2. Using a stem stitch*, sew around the edge of the hoop, beginning at the topmost point of the stitchable area.

3. Continue stitching in a spiral towards the centre, using only 15-cm lengths.

4. At the last stitch of each length of thread, secure the thread with a knot. Do not trim the thread, even if the extra lengths interfere with subsequent stitching.

*A rope-like stitch that can be used to create straight or curved lines.

STUDY #4

Start date: 26 November 2017
End date: 27 November 2017
Time spent: 6 hours

Rules:

1. Mark out a circle measuring 1 cm in diameter at the centre of the stitchable area.

2. Beginning from the edge of the marked circle, stitch lines of random lengths (no longer than 1 cm) that appear to point towards the centre.

3. Work outwards, towards the edge of the hoop, but sew each individual stitch inwards, towards the centre of the hoop.

STUDY #5

Start date: 27 November 2017
End date: 29 November 2017
Time spent: 13 hours

Rules:

1. Consider the gap between two strands of warp as one column, and consider every two strands of weft as one row.

2. Sewing in a vertical direction, create one stitch every two columns and every two rows, until the entire stitchable area is covered.

STUDY #6

Start date: 29 November 2017
End date: 29 December 2017
Time spent: 13 hours

Rules:

1. Cut lengths of thread measuring 30 cm.

2. Secure one end of a length of thread with a knot at the edge of the stitchable area. Continue to secure each length as close as possible to the previous length along the circumference.

3. Once the entire circumference has been completed, gather all the lengths of thread together and tie them into a single knot.

STUDY #7

Start date: 30 November 2017
End date: 3 December 2017
Time spent: 15 hours

Rules:

1. Divide the stretched fabric into four horizontal sections of equal height. Number them 1, 2, 3 and 4 from the top.

2. As in Study #5, consider the gap between two strands of warp as one column, and consider every two strands of weft as one row.

3. Beginning in section 2, create one stitch every four columns and four rows up till the bottom of the stitchable area.

4. Returning to section 3, ensure that one stitch occurs every two columns and two rows up till the bottom of the stitchable area.

5. Returning to section 4, ensure that one stitch occurs in every column and row up till the bottom of the stitchable area.

STUDY #8

Start date: 3 December 2017
End date: 3 December 2017
Time spent: 3 hours

Rules:

1. Mark out one hundred evenly spaced points around the circumference of the stitchable area. Number the points, taking the topmost point as point 1.

2. Using a random number generator to dictate the order, stitch from number to number until every single point is connected to at least one other point on both the front and the back.

3. Each time the thread runs out, double-knot it to the next length of thread, such that the piece is composed of one “continuous” line.

 

STUDY #9

Start date: 4 December 2017
End date: 5 December 2017
Time spent: 10 hours

Rules:

1. Stitch an alternating series of long and short vertical stitches across the horizontal diameter of the stitchable area. The midpoint of each stitch must lie on this diameter.

2. Using the ends of this centre row of stitches as entry points for the subsequent rows, sew vertical stitches that ripple outward to cover the entire stitchable area.

3. The length of these subsequent stitches must be the median between the length of the original long stitch and the length of the original short stitch.

STUDY #10

Start date: 6 December 2017
End date: 6 December 2017
Time spent: 5 hours

Rules:

1. Sew fifteen evenly spaced lines radiating out from the centre of the stitchable area to its edge.

2. Divide the stitchable area into ten concentric circles with spacings measuring 0.5 cm.

3. Using the fifteen lines as a scaffolding and spiralling from the centre point outwards, begin weaving the thread over and under the lines.

4. At the start of the next circle, continue spiralling, but wrap each line in thread instead.

5. Alternate between weaving and wrapping until all concentric circles have been filled.

STUDY #11

Start date: 6 December 2017
End date: 7 December 2017
Time spent: 7 hours

Rules:

1. Mark out five concentric circles, with spacings measuring 1 cm.

2. Considering that each individual stitch must follow the following sub-rules:

a. The entrypoint must be no further than the endpoint of the closest stitch in the previous circle,
b. The endpoint of each stitch should either touch or slightly exceed the edge of the following circle, but cannot end at the same distance from the edge as its adjacent stitch,

fill the innermost circle with stitches that radiate from the centre point to the edge of the first circle until the entire circle is covered, then continue to fill the rings of the subsequent circles.

STUDY #12

Start date: 8 December 2017
End date: 28 December 2017
Time spent: 36 hours

Rules:

1. Aim to cover the entire stitchable area in rows of ghiordes knots*, in which continuous loops of thread are secured with short horizontal locking stitches.

2. Stitch only up to a point approximately 2 cm from the bottom of the stitchable area, in order to preserve a plateau formed by the stitches.

3. Remove the fabric from the hoop, turn it upside-down, and re-stretch it such that the plateau is at the top of the piece.

*Also known as turkey work, the loops in this stitch can be cut to create a plush pile on the surface of the fabric.

STUDY #13

Start date: 12 December 2017
End date: 13 December 2017
Time spent: 16 hours

Rules:

1. Sew vertical columns of diagonal stitches, alternating between right diagonals and left diagonals measuring four strands of warp in width and four strands of weft in height.

2. For right diagonals, the entry point of each stitch must be adjacent to the entry point of the previous stitch.

3. For left diagonals, the entry point of each stitch must be adjacent to the endpoint of the previous stitch.

STUDY #14

Start date: 13 December 2017
End date: 14 December 2017
Time spent: 10 hours

Rules:

1. Mark out the largest square possible within the stitchable area (approximately 7.18 cm).

2. Using the back stitch*, sew across the edge of the square and the edge of the stitchable area.

3. Fill each section within the back stitch using three layers of running stitch**, one horizontal, one vertical, then another horizontal.

4. Encase these sections in stitches beginning from the edge of the square to the edge of the stitchable area, and lined as close together as possible.

*An outlining stitch; each stitch goes backward from the direction of the line one is forming.
**The most basic stitch, done by running the needle and thread in and out of the fabric.

STUDY #15

Start date: 14 December 2017
End date: 15 December 2017
Time spent: 8 hours

Rules:

1. Cover the entire stitchable area in small stitches sewn in random directions.

STUDY #16

Start date: 15 December 2017
End date: 16 December 2017
Time spent: 12 hours

Rules:

1. Divide the stretched fabric into four horizontal sections of equal height. Number them 1, 2, 3 and 4 from the top.

2. Consider the stitchable area to be a grid, where each square in the grid measures five strands of warp across, and six strands of weft down. Each individual stitch must begin and end at a vertex of this grid.

3. Across sections 1, 2, 3 and 4, back stitch* the vertical lines in the grid.

4. In sections 1, 2 and 3, back stitch the horizontal lines in the grid.

5. In sections 1 and 2, back stitch the left diagonals within each square of the grid.

6. In section 1, back stitch the right diagonals within each square of the grid.

*An outlining stitch; each stitch goes backward from the direction of the line one is forming.

STUDY #17

Start date: 17 December 2017
End date: 19 December 2017
Time spent: 21 hours

Rules:

1. Secure a length of thread with a knot in the back of the piece, then knot it again on the front of the piece.

2. Cut off the thread at approximately 1 cm from the front knot.

3. Continue creating these knots horizontally across the entire stitchable area, with the spacing between each knot being five strands of warp, and the spacing between each row of knots being four strands of weft.

STUDY #18

Start date: 19 December 2017
End date: 24 December 2017
Time spent: 14 hours

Rules:

1. Apply the rules in Study #3, but without the restriction on the length of each thread.

2. Once the the entire stitchable area has been covered, unpick all the threads from the centre point outwards.

3. Leave the threads hanging by their original knots. If the threads break, leave them hanging at the last point where they were connected to the fabric.

STUDY #19

Start date: 25 December 2017
End date: 27 December 2017
Time spent: 11 hours

Rules:

1. Mark out a vertical column measuring 2 cm across in the centre of the stitchable area.

2. In the section to the left of the column, apply the rules for Study #15.

3. In the section to the right of the column, apply the rules for Study #5.

4. Interweave the rules for both studies within the column.

STUDY #20

Start date: 29 December 2017
End date: 30 December 2017
Time spent: 4 hours

Rules:

1. Beginning from the right edge of the gap in the wooden part of the hoop, tightly wrap the thread around the hoop, sewing into the fabric on the edge of the stitchable area in the process.

2. Whenever the thread runs out, knot it on the front. With the next length of thread, continue from the same point.

3. The piece is complete when the entire wooden part of the hoop is covered in thread.