If you got to work on one creative thing for 100 days in a row what would it be? What would you choose to focus your time and energy on?
Today is day 100 of #The100DayProject – aka the 100th day in a row that I have proactively worked on the same project. For 100 days I have stitched a different stitch formation to expand my embroidery repertoire and get the creative juices going.
What is #The100DayProject?
In its eighth year, #The100DayProject is a global art project with a simple premise:
“choose a creative project, do it every day for 100 days, and share your process online.”
Last year I saw a lot of creative people I follow on Instagram referring to it. When I learned more about the project, I knew it would be something I wanted to get involved in next time.
In 2020 I defined my rules to live by as part of Anne Ditmeyer’s ‘Write your own rules’ workshop. This ticked the box next to two of my rules:
- be creative everyday
- challenge yourself
To be honest, being creative everyday hasn’t been that hard with the amount of extra time on my hands due to lockdown, so I would need to focus on making it a challenge.
This year’s project was due to start on 31 January so I had a deadline to work to (something I find very useful) but I had no idea what I would do for it. I generally overthink and I knew I was overthinking this. I have a long list of ideas I want to bring to life – surely there was something I would want to spend 100 days working on?! Suddenly a spark of genius came to me: it was time to learn some new embroidery stitches.
Lockdown really threw me back into my cross stitching addiction, but I generally stitch other people’s designs and I knew I wanted to get back into designing my own patterns.
In 2019, I went to the Knitting and Stitching Show at London’s Business Design Centre. I came away inspired with my head full of ideas, and a book in my hands: The Stitch Book by Jane Greenoff. With over 120 counted stitches and techniques I thought it would be good to expand my stitching knowledge. Of course it came home and just took up residency on a bookshelf ever since. Until now…
Since June 2020, one of the highlights of my week has been @TheMakersMarks’, AKA Emma Homent’s, #StitchMonday Instagram posts. With these posts she demonstrates the creativity that you can bring to a stitching project. She proved that needlepoint and cross stitch is more than just / and Xs.
I grabbed the book off the shelf and with less than a week to kick off I had my challenge:
100 days, 100 stitches
Simple. It would help me use some of my embroidery floss stash, I would learn something new every day and having seen some of the options open to me, I definitely sensed it would be a challenge!
One of the wonderful things about #The100DayProject is that you get to decide the rules for your project.
I tried to keep it simple:
- everyday I would fill a 20×20 square on 14 count Aida fabric
- stitches would be drawn at random
- there was no rule on what colours to use
- I would share outputs on Instagram with the hashtag #The100DayProject_100Stitches
Meeting the challenge
They say time flies when you’re having fun and these 100 days have definitely flown by! I’ve enjoyed the element of surprise each day ahead of pulling that day’s stitch out of a kilner jar. Some days it’s taken 30 minutes, other days it’s taken longer (some, considerably longer!), but everyday I had a clear focus and goal. It quickly became part of my morning routine to avoid stitching late in the evening when I was tired.
I’ll admit, there have been a couple of stitches that I’ve discarded (braid stitch, bullion stitch and bullion roses for example) and I added to the jar with some new stitches as I’ve discovered them (rules can definitely be flexed when you’re in charge of them), but that has kept ensuring I was enjoying it. There are some stitches I knew I wasn’t going to enjoy and I wanted to ensure I finished the project.
With each stitch I slowly saw the Aida fabric disappear and come to life, the grid that I outlined frantically in the days before it beginning to fill up. When I started out on this project I was more interested in the process and learning than the final project. I now look at it as a piece of art in its own right.
What I’ve learned
This project has taught me a lot about myself and embroidery.
As a self-confessed perfectionist, it’s been hard to deal with the fact that some of the squares would not be perfect. I’ve embraced that fact and it’s acted as a good reminder that practice does indeed make perfect (or at least as perfect as anything can be when it’s handmade). I’ve also got no better at making decisions! Whilst the stitch was selected at random, I had to choose the colour(s) to use each day, wanting it to look random but at the same time ensuring it wasn’t too repetitive.
When it comes to embroidery, I’ve learned a number of things:
- it’s confirmed that I don’t like stitches that involve weaving – the majority of them at least; laced backstitch, interwoven band and woven wheel I’m looking at you!
- french knots have moved closer to becoming my friend
- you can have a lot of fun using different numbers of threads – I normally default to two but some stitches come to life with thicker thread
Every time I look at the finished piece a different one jumps out at me but I’ve now got a number of new stitches that I would consider favourites that I want to incorporate into my embroidery work in the future. You can browse through all the stitches in the gallery below or over on Instagram at @ZettaStitch.
This challenge has truly opened my eyes to the possibilities of cross stitch and needlepoint, and I’m excited to see what I do with them. Let me know what your favourite stitches are in the comments. I’m already excited about taking part in the next #100DayProject – who’s with me?