Stitch + Knit: The Knitty Gritty

I’ve been doing 2 parts of this project in conjunction with each other since we have got back from Marrakesh, one being dyeing my wool and the other being the free-hand stitch. you’ve heard all about my wool so now it is time to fill you in on how my stitching is going. Like I mentioned before Maggie seemed a little hesitant to leave me alone in the stitch room, which is highly understandable as to be frank, I hadn’t a clue what to do! Obviously I began to get familiar with the machine, but god forbid were something to happen I wouldn’t know how to treat the situation. So whilst I was in one of her workshops one day getting on with stitching, she booked me onto a Wednesday Stitch room workshop in order to show me about the studio, teach me the do’s and don’t’s of stitch so that I would be fully trusted within the stitch room. So 10am I arrived after a lovely cycle through the woods ready to learn all I needed to know about the stitch room. I sat down at a machine and picked out a lovely light blue coloured thread (Due to the sunny day outside) and listened closely. First off we were taught of how to handle to stitch room and what to do if something were to go wrong. We were then put on to the machines and taught how to wind the bobbin, thread the needle and get what foot is right for which stitch. Then we got to stitching. After learning how to change the settings on the machine, it was up to us to explore the different stitch settings, and off we went.

It felt so much better to have a little more confidence within the stitch room, and to know that Maggie felt comfortable enough to leave me be in there too. Afterwards we dispersed to continue with our day-to-day practices. I stayed a little while to do a little more free-hand stitch, then got more of the dissolvable material for me to take home and draw up the rest of my illustration in order for me to finish stitching it the following day. And that’s exactly what I did. That day when I returned home was my third day of dyeing my wool, so that is how the rest of my day was spent, managing to get my drawing re-drawn before I went to bed. (It was a tiring day!)

The next day was normal Thursday workshops in the stitch room, so heading there at 10am with a ready mind I got on with stitching the rest of my illustration on to my needle-punched fabric. I was pleasantly surprised at how quickly I managed to get my illustration done, it was all very exciting. After lunch I waited for Maggie to return back before I began to get rid of the cling film. When she got back we filled a bucket of water half full of water and I placed my material in there for one hour to soak and dissolve.

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There is my piece before I soaked off the material. When illustrating my image I wanted to keep it as close to my drawing as possible. The way that I illustrated my image is in my own way of drawing, and I wanted to transfer this on to fabric as well as I could do, without having to alter it in order to make it easier to stitch. I illustrated it in a way to capture the wonkyness of the city, the business of it and how unique Marrakesh is overall. I am happy with the composition of my illustration upon the fabric and I just hope that when the material dissolves I will be left with something similar.

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Here is the final product after soaking for an hour then being hung out to dry. I am happy with the placement of the felt behind the stitch. When punching in the felt, I wanted to do it in a way that captures the essence of the city- the whispyness of the felt resembles the mix of smells, the way they creep in and out of your nose and surprise you with every breath intake. I also wanted to resemble the different cultures coming together and on occasions, colliding. I chose the colours in representation to the city also, very earthy and soft and very natural, which is also what I went for when dyeing my wool. I am not too sure how I am feeling about the finished stitch piece though. The bobbin thread has come up from behind in places and it is much thinner than I had hoped and imagined. This may be due to how thin the material is that I worked upon, and how quickly I was using the machine, but I am not sure. I am happy with my illustration, as I think for a first attempt at free-hand stitch on the sewing machine it did not turn out too bad, it resembles my interpretation of the buildings there in Marrakesh in the way that I had hoped and I am happy with how it works with the background.

What I would like to do next with all of my work is to bring it to how I imagine it to be finished. I just wish that this module was more than 5 weeks long as there is a great fire within my belly that I am not yet ready to go out, I’m having so much fun. I would like to line this material with another, maybe to make it a little thicker and to attempt to enhance the thread illustration slightly and to see if it can stand out some more. I may even continue working upon it, working more with my idea of layering as mentioned before, and consider bringing in the Arabic text also, as this was another lovely aspect of Morocco that stayed with me. I am going to keep working on this until it comes to a close in June. I would then like to put it together with the knitted back, of the wool that I naturally dyed, and stuff it with something thick and soft so that I am left with something that fills your hands. This is what I remember from Marrakesh. I want something you can hold in your hands that you can squeeze, that you can smell, then you can get lost within and find some comfort too, because for me, that was my time spent in Marrakesh, and there’s nothing more I want than to share it.

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Here’s a photo of my two sides of work together, yet to become one, but in the near future. I took this photo to show the colours and how they work together. I’m very excited to get this done and to be able to share it with those that have both travelled to Morocco and for those who haven’t.

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