the shimmering space between

When I began my first 100 day stitch book last year the plan was to be purely abstract. To commit to a “yes and” improvisational process, let go of outcome, be concerned only with making marks with stitches and responding to those marks. Create for the sake of creating.

a collection of very small fabric scraps and colored thread ends in a little ceramic dish

On the first day there was a little pile of fabric scraps and a blank page. The scraps were odd and unintentional shapes – off cuts from other projects.

The vision of pure abstraction dissolved almost immediately, representation crept in, sometimes obviously (to me) and sometimes subtly. There were boats and trees and castles and mushrooms, vessels, and lots more. My first impulse was to work to banish those recognizable images. The problem was they snuck in on their own. I didn’t plan for them. And that really was the improvisational process I had committed to.

day 6 2022

So I let them come. Sometimes they took over and sometimes they shimmered in and out as I worked. The revelation was the images I ended up liking the best, the pages where I felt like I got out of my own way (the whole point of the exercise) shift between abstraction and figure.

2 slow stitched collages in a textile book

Did I make the image or did it just appear?

It’s sort of like looking at clouds. Clouds don’t try to look like anything in particular but it happens all the time, we perceive an image. There is a word for it and everything – pareidolia

“ the tendency to perceive a specific, often meaningful image in a random or ambiguous visual pattern. “

That was the biggest revelation and lesson of last year’s 100 days. It pointed me towards a place that feels inspiring and creative and challenging, a good place to play. The ambiguity is freeing.

Let’s talk about another word- intuition

“the ability to understand something immediately, without the need for conscious reasoning.”

The point of this 100 day exercise is to listen to yourself, to learn to feel for and trust your intuition. Really listening, connecting to your intuition and expressing yourself is difficult. Daily practice helps. What might 100 days of showing up and listening reveal about your own work, process, imagination?

The 100 day stitch book begins on January 20th and ends on April 29th. Find the details here.

materials, fabric and fabric scraps gathered on my worktable

I’ll close this post with your warm up assignments :

Checkout the stitch book I made last year- starting at the bottom of the post you can see each page over the five days and you can see the book assembled here.

Gather some materials and put them in a box. Label the box 100 day stitch book 2023. The hard part is over, you already started.

Will you join me for 100 days of stitching? Let us know in the comments and join us in the stitch club community.

45 Comments

  1. I love this idea – but I am wishing I had more interesting scraps, of differing materials, textures, etc. My fabric supply at the moment are quilting cottons – I don’t quilt but am making your frogs, dolls, and Mr Socks, and developing/making clothing for them, with the intent of giving them to a local adoption agency for the kids who don’t have much that really belongs to them.
    I think you mentioned at one time the possibility of a scrap exchange… Have I missed something, has one already started?
    Even if there is another reader would be interested in a swap, they could contact me

    • Renée Fisher

      Mary – I would love to share scraps from my stash with you…I have TONS and hardly any of it is quilting fabric. I have an artist friend who puts his designs onto linen which he then uses for upholstering his furniture line. He sends me all the remnants!
      Ann – I’m happy to share my good fortune with anyone who needs more fabric () if this is acceptable with you. And yes I will be joining in on the fun!!!

      • Renee- I’d be happy to trade with you for some of your linen castoffs. I’m experimenting with natural dying this winter and linen is the perfect material for accepting these dyes. I do letterpress and would be happy to trade for stationary, cards or something personalized… (or, in my “day job” I’m a published author of young adult and middle grade fiction if you have any young readers in your life)

      • Alison Schorm

        Hello, I’d love to trade some fabrics. Mine appear to mostly ne cottons also. I love the idea of a swap.

  2. meg henderson

    you’ve given me the spark I needed to begin the new year! I love doing handwork. It is soothing to the hands, the mind, and the spirit. I am going to count 50 days backwards from my next birthday in March, and then begin the first 50 days of my personal new year continuing to create. I have a large supply of beautifully colored felt bolts to start my journey!! Thank you for sharing your creativity with all of us! Happy New Year!

  3. Since I didn’t finish last year’s 100-day-book, I’m hopeful that I can show up for myself this year and finish 🙂

  4. I’m willing to give it a try! I’ve been in awe of last years creations so look forward to making my own book. I’m going to start assembling a box of scraps now.

  5. I’ve been thinking of stitching for months. This is perfect.

  6. Annie Littlewolf

    Yes! I am in! I’ve been doing daily hand-stitching for the last 4 months and it is what brings me the most peace…..Will be fun to start this project! Thank you!

  7. Heather Smith

    Hmmm…I was kinda jealous of everyone’s stitch books last year. I have a really difficult time doing something every day for 100 days though and then I feel bad for not being able to stick to a thing. I sure do have a pile of small scraps I’m needing to do something with….

  8. Thanks for doing the fabric book project again since I’ve loved reading about/looking at the previous one. The final book of yours looks so appealing and squishy.

    This will be a challenge for me since I tend to overthink. To relax and not aim for perfection won’t be easy! To be okay with raw edges and loose threads…thinking I’ll learn to chill. Gonna give it a go. Again, thanks.

  9. Heather Kojan

    I *may* have already started this January 1. Which means I have a good chance of finishing! Loving it so far. Thank you for hosting.
    Also, happy to mail quilting cotton scraps if anyone needs!

  10. I am super excited to start this project! Thank you for the inspiration and guidance. I am also so happy to read the comments and find so many interesting people with common interests and encouraging words for each other.

  11. Linda Bentz

    Yes, I am in!! I love this idea and have been looking for a new challenge to work on daily. I have lots of scrapes and feel excited to see what I can do if I let go of expectations and perfectionism and just enjoy the challenge of creating.

  12. Judith H. Thomas

    o good! i started last time and didn’t finish…so now I will! Everything is all collected and ready to go.

  13. I would love to join in this year and I’ve requested to join the stitch community. I have lots of scraps, from dressmaking and quilting cottons, plus lots of bits of trims that I keep cos I can’t bear to throw them out but haven’t yet found the right use for them. I think this is it! I’m also interested in art journaling but my favourite way of creating is in stitches and I think this will be a good way to combine both.

  14. Sue McQuade

    Ann…I am definitely excited about this journey! I am going to get my fabric ready starting today. Woo Hoo!

  15. If you feel that you do not have enough scrap fabrics worthy of this project, go to an upholstery shop and ask them if they have any old sample books they do not want anymore, or if they have any leftover fabric scraps.
    Years ago there was a small upholstery shop in my area that gave away their fabric sample books and leftover fabrics, but do not expect every shop to be that generous. There are dozens of fabric sample books on Ebay right now.

  16. Nancy Lallman

    I will commit to joining in this adventure with you all. A great source for inexpensive fabric is thrift stores, my honey pot! Also ask Designers and window treatment shops if u can have their fabric sample books when they’re no longer needed.

  17. Dotty Williams

    Yes, I would like to join in as well. I just submitted a request to join the stitch community. I’m excited to start handstitching and hoping to stay committed to the 100 days.

  18. I think I’m going to give it a try too! Everything everyone is saying is true for me too. Loved the stitch book last year. Envious. Want to stitch…I’m in!

  19. Debi Minter

    I would love to join in this project. I have a lot of fabric scraps from last years projects.

  20. I’m in.
    I already have a tin of little scraps that were going to be tiny doll clothes, to which I will add from my bag of teeny quilt scraps.
    I am blessed to volunteer at our local thrift store, so am sure some interesting base fabrics will show up.
    I’m thinking perhaps a wall hanging.

  21. Rhonda Woolson

    Ok…I am going to do this! I have never done anything like this and not even sure how it works but I am going to give it a go! 🙂 I have lots of scraps … hard part will be what to choose. My 100 day project may be more in the form of a scroll, I have always wanted to try a scroll with a very scrappy personality. I hope that fits in with what we will be doing.

  22. Would love to join your stitching group this year! Please consider me in.

  23. Mosaic Magpie

    Wow this sentence spoke to my heart.
    “The point of this 100 day exercise is to listen to yourself, to learn to feel for and trust your intuition. “
    This is where I struggle….I keep getting in my own way….not letting creativity flow…
    Looking forward to this journey and where it leads.

  24. I’ve been away from sewing for many months due to my husband’s recent illness and death. I hope this is just the thing to get me playing with fabrics again. Thanks for putting this together!

  25. Hello there! I would like to join in. Will the pages be the same size as last year? If so – I could prepare the pages now… – Happy january!

  26. Phyllis de Vries

    Ann, I would love to join this group to make the stitch book. Question is, can I show up for 100 days in a row? I am not sure because it will be a real challenge for me, not for the stitching part, but the commitment part. I do want to “grow creatively and get unstuck.” I am also curious where my imagination will go with this. It will also be fun to watch the results of other people and how they show up! Thank you for offering this. Phyllis

  27. Rebecca Keith

    I would like to give this a try…my commitment level is sometimes very low, but My desire is strong. Sewing is my peace of mind most days. Thanks for this group that will give us a chance to see what we can do.

  28. Phoebe Diamond

    I actually started this on the 6th when I first saw the post about the project starting again. My fear is that I will get overwhelmed with work and not maintain the momentum. So I have been stitching away playing with fabrics. The knowledge that there is an end product that I’m comfortable doing is keeping me stitching. Now ,to not give into the temptation to take it to work.

  29. Denise Miller

    Alas, I don’t have any scraps for the project as I just gave them to my quilter friend. Maybe she’ll give back some. But I do like the idea of getting the sampler books. Wish me luck.

  30. Annegien, the Netherlands

    I’m joining! I’m sorting out my scraps as we speak, and 15 minutes a day should be doable right? I can’t wait to do something with my scraps, and the scraps my mother and grandmothers left me. Thank you for organising this Ann!

  31. Suzan Wachs Katzir

    I used to teach a workshop based on Jo Milgrom’s “Handmade Midrash.” It starts with a series of exercises intended to get one’s conscious mind to just shut up already and let the unconscious / intuitive part of the mind come forward. Inevitably my students would get hung up on The Right Way to do an exercise. When I’d refuse to answer they got really really upset. Kids! It’s not paint by numbers. There isn’t any right way to do it. They couldn’t accept it. So much left brain thinking. The ones who entered into the spirit of the exercises created some amazing pieces when we got to the actual project. The others? Not so much. Rigid, static, and representational

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