Hearts stitch journal, 01 January 2018

For Christmas, my DH bought me a lovely book – Slow Stitch – by Claire Wellesley-Smith, which I’ll review elsewhere.

This book was totally inspirational to me, packed full of wonderful ideas that play to my interests in vintage thread, fabric, dyeing and embroidery.

I decided, for starters, to try out her idea of a stitch journal. I’m an inveterate diary writer – I’ve written my diary virtually every day for 40 years. So, I found a nice piece of linen and started my stitch journal on 27 December 2017. It was a running stitch record of my morning walk with the dog – a piece about 7cm square, showing the colours of the sky and the landscape that morning. I found the process very calming and meditative: I wasn’t really aiming for a pictorial effect, more an echo of how the walk felt that day. And I did it the next day, and the next, and the next.

The squares began to build up into something interesting, but I quickly realised there was a problem looming – work. Each of the squares was talking about 90 minutes but the holiday period ends tomorrow and it’s going to be a really hard month coming up, with little free time. So I’ve decided to put aside that ‘journal’ for the time being and instead, for the new year, I’ve come up with something simpler that I can do in less time each day – my ‘hearts’ journal. 

Why hearts? Because I like hearts. I have hearts all over the house. Hearts in wicker, hearts in wood, hearts in slate, hearts in concrete for holding candles. A heart is a simple but affecting shape – pretty easy to stitch, too, if I’m pushed for time.

Each one will be in a colour that reminds me of that morning’s walk – a leaf, the sky, a flower petal, etc. I’ll do the outline (which takes about five minutes) and if there’s time, I’ll fill it in. I hope this way to have a month-long record of my mornings (and, indeed, how much time I had to sew each day).

Today’s heart is the orange glow from the house that I could see across the fields in the total blackness. I’m hoping to do all of January on this piece of fabric – 6 x 5 squares with one over. Watch this space. 

For those who are interested, the fabric is a hemp dress fabric I happened to have lying around, and the thread is a vintage sewing cotton.

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