Kantha see I’m busy? Week 10 ✂ Running Stitch (TAST)

Tast Week 10: Running Stitch

Week 10’s stitch on Take A Stitch Tuesday is Running Stitch…

Possibly the simplest stitch of them all, and yet…who, among embroiderers, is not indebted to this stitch? From basting, easing, and smocking to outlining, gathering, filling, quilting, and pattern darning, running stitch can do it all.

And does it quickly! Please *ahem* note that for once I am not posting my TAST2012 sample at the last possible moment. This piece took the good part of a day to do (it was the pattern darning that slowed me down, and I was plenty distracted) but that’s not too bad,when you count how long some of the others took me.

 This first bit of my sample shows some pattern darning. A simple line of stitches worked over counted threads, (evenweave fabric, using a single thread and a tapestry needle) was built up into a band so even that it almost looks woven. There was going to be a whole field of this darning, but after four repeats of the pattern I got bored (heh heh) so I tore the strip from its mother fabric, and mixed it with other torn pieces of fabric for a patchwork, instead.

Tast Week 10: Running Stitch

My favorite use of running stitch is in the Indian and West Bengal embroidery called kantha. In the best examples of this technique, the entire cloth is covered with running stitches, often used to fill in shapes of animals, plants, and people. The effect of so many running stitches is a subtle, delightful crinkling or rippling in the fabric, and a contrast between puffed-up and stitched down areas that resemble quilting. Kantha embroidery is both decorative, and serves to hold all the pieces of a patchwork down, and if several layers are used, is also a quilting stitch to hold all the layers of a blanket (or somesuch) together, at the same time.

I work this dense running stitch quite a lot. Here it is on a patchwork-covered journal…
book 913 with hand-embroidered kantha quilting

and on a simple felt journal
puff (no. 908)

BUT I am digressing…this here is a detail of my running stitches for the TAST sample. The shimmery pink organza is particularly effective when it is puckered up by the running stitches, letting the light play on its crinkled surface.

I didn’t do anything special to hold the pieces of fabric down—like bond them to the ground fabric, or spray them with adhesive—except some very large basting stitches (removed afterwards) running both vertically and horizontally across all the loose pieces. The edges were left torn or cut. As I worked the running stitches—first vertically then horizontally, forming crosses—I tried to catch and hold down the raw edges of the pieces. Don’t know if I would dare to launder such a thing, but for a static embroidery sample, the kantha seems to do the job of securing everything well enough.

Tast Week 10: Running Stitch

The text is very crude on this one, I didn’t think it would turn out so ordinary. I’ve used running stitch for the letters, which I then whipped with the same color. Kinda ‘meh’. I tried to set the word off better by running a few lines of tiny white running stitches around it. Maybe I should have filled the entire word-shape with white running stitches. But it’s colorful, and pretty, has a rich texture, and I like it a lot, anyway!
Tast Week 10: Running Stitch

I love running stitch…it’s so simple, and versatile, and it instantly gives a design that earthy, “made by hand” feeling.

– – – ✂ – – – ✂ – – – ✂ – – – ✂ – – – ✂ – – – ✂ – – – ✂ – – – ✂ – – – ✂ – – – ✂

This small embroidery sample is for the Take a Stitch Tuesday 2012 Challenge. The idea was to combine my love of embroidery with my love of typography.

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18 thoughts on “Kantha see I’m busy? Week 10 ✂ Running Stitch (TAST)

  1. Hey! I’ve been getting ready to start some Kantha projects, and I found your blog while doing my research. Fortunately/unfortunately I also found another blog that seems to have taken the image of your patchwork covered journal without attribution. Here’s the link. http://blog.ethnicdukaan.com/kantha-embroidery-threads-expression/

    Thank you for the helpful info! I got my hands on some silk sarees, although most of the saree kantha work I see done looks like it’s done on cotton fabrics? I couldn’t find any examples of silk kantha blankets. Either way, I’m still planning on attempting it myself, lol.

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    1. I don’t know if my kantha lives up to the real thing…to me it’s just filling a space with parallel lines of running stitch 😉 Thanks for the heads up, it’s okay, I figure you don’t post things on the internet if you really don’t want people to use and appropriate them for their own purposes. At least I’m in good company with some famous designers and wonderful stuff, no doubt also ripped off the internet without permission or attribution. Hah.
      Don’t see why you can’t do kantha on silk if you so desire. Probably isn’t very ‘traditional’ but that’s the beauty of being creative…shaking things up a bit, and not always following the hundred-year-old traditions. Kantha, as I understand it, was mainly a quilting method when it started…used to join several layers of fabric together whenever the women wanted to make thick blankets and that sort of thing…so that the different layers wouldn’t slide around separately, they stitched it all down with running stitches, because let’s remember that this was a poor, rural technique from very long ago, before sewing machines, or electricity, or fusible webbing to bond fabrics together. Most craft begins with utility…there’s a practical purpose for every method, developed by a people in accordance with their technical/financial abilities, to serve their own needs. It becomes art when the craft starts to die out, and then people become nostalgic just for the LOOK of the thing…it becomes an aesthetic,something to hang on the wall, because it evokes a way of life that has changed, thanks to technology and cheap acrylic blankets from China that are plenty warm and cheaper and less time-consuming to produce. And that frees up artists and creative people like us to play with the technique, almost entirely for beauty’s sake.
      Your project of silk sari blankets sounds fabulous…let me know when you’ve got one, I’d love to see it.
      Cheers!
      Nat

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  2. Hi, Nat. At the risk of sounding redundant, your TAST running stitches are gorgeous with such pleasing colors. I also like the new “look” for your blog–artistic and elegant.
    best, nadia

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    1. Dear Nadia, Thank you very much for continuing to read my erratic posts, and by cheering me on with your always encouraging, never redundant, comments! As for the blog, I am learning all the time, and can’t resist tweaking away at it…
      Gratefully,
      Nat

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