In a way I suppose all doodle cloths have a purpose – the purpose of letting you try out stitches to see whether you like them; of practising stitches and so getting familiar with them before using them on a “real” project; of comparing the effects that different types and weights of threads have on a stitch; of showing others how to work a stitch; of having a record (or sampler) of various stitches for future reference. Trial cloths, practice cloths, teaching cloths, reference cloths. In theory you could, presumably, have a purposeless doodle cloth, one that you simply pick up when you would like to do a bit of stitching but can’t be bothered or haven’t got the time to work on any of your projects. But in practice I think it would quickly turn into one of those four types mentioned above.
Ideally, doodle cloths shouldn’t be thrown away. No matter what their original purpose was, they can always be used for reference or to record what you’ve done and learnt over the years. Teaching cloths can be useful when, years later, you are about to teach a similar class or workshop. Colour combinations on a trial cloth may inspire a new design. I have once or twice consigned doodle cloths to the rubbish bin, and regretted it later.
But there is still a fair collection. The two Shisha Minis with four different corner motifs each fall into the reference category, even though strictly speaking they weren’t doodle cloths when I started them – they were mini projects that turned into doodle cloths because I couldn’t make up my mind. I have several cloths with large cut Hardanger areas filled with possible bars and filling stitches (and some impossible ones…) The doodle cloth I used at the shisha workshops (below left) was a teaching cloth from the start. The other picture shows a trial cloth on calico which, besides some stitches in just one version, contains several worked in different threads. It’s also a practice cloth for stitches I’ve never done before, which explains why some of them look distinctly wonky and, let’s be honest, rubbish. But that’s how you learn!
At the moment my most exciting doodle cloth is the one below. It’s 25ct Lugana mounted in a 10″ hoop and I will admit that it doesn’t look very exciting, being completely empty. But over the next month or so it should fill up with stitches to be used in the Round in Circles SAL, which I hope will start in January. Some of them will be counted versions of stitches on the calico doodle cloth, some will be different altogether, some will be familiar to people who did the Song of the Weather SAL, some won’t, but all of them are going to be my secret until 2016 .