Another Biscornu

As a bit of light relief I like to indulge my love of Biscornus. This time I did not use one of Louison’s patterns, but instead used a couple of Blackwork patterns. Below are the two patterns and the finished biscornu.IMG_0221IMG_0224The fabric is my usual 18ct Aida in a pale yellowy green. I used Anchor cotton threads for the stitching. Some are pretty old and one carries the Clark label. The colour scheme is three shades of violet. I used three strands of the cotton for the main pattern and two strands for the inserts. The main patterns is stitched with the darkest shade throughout, with the two lighter shades for the contrasting inserts.

When it came to putting the two squares into a biscornu I used a back stitch over just one mesh. I usually do this over two meshes. But I wanted a really tight and close finish. However it was quite difficult to find each mesh for the weaving the two squares together. Particularly as I used the same shade for both. In future I will use a contrasting colour for the weaving bit.

I am now working on various small Palestinian motifs, which I hope to use as adornments for bits of clothing. We shall see.


Four Paisley Patterns

After a short break from embroidery over the summer I am now back stitching away. For my first new piece I went for a composition featuring four of the famous Paisley patterns. Though associated with the Scottish town of Paisley, the distinctive tear drop shape originated in Iran centuries ago.  There it is still known as Boteh Jegheh. Anyway, whatever it is called, here is the finished piece.IMG_0216The fabric is a Robert Kaufman Kona cotton in ivory. This is a new fabric for me and it is lovely to work with. I used a mixture of cotton threads for the embroidery. Mostly DMC with a little Anchor and  couple of Caron Watercolours. I wanted to give the piece a bright and lively look, so I went for yellows and red, with a tiny bit of blue for contrast. Though there are four patterns in the composition, I wanted to keep the work balanced so there are only two designs.

I started stitching the inner sections first. All are padded with two underlayers. Two strands of the thread were used. The yellow ones were stitched in long and short stitch using three shades of yellow.  The red sections are similar though in this case I used a form of block shading over the two under ayers, using three shades of red. These inner sections were all finished off with an outline in stem stitch using one strand of blue.

I then worked on the outer edge of the patterns. For this I used two of the variegated cotton threads from the Caron Watercolours range – Saffron for the yellow patterns and Tequila for the red ones. I wanted this outer edge to stand out so I stitched this in heavy chain stitch using one strand of the thread. Using heavy chain stitch worked well for most of the outline. However getting it round the curved top part was a bit of a challenge. Nightmare more like, but it seems to have worked.

Finally I had to fill in the remaining space. I wanted something fairly simple and decided that I needed two designs for this. One for the top and curvy part of the pattern and one to go round the inner section. This part of the composition would be stitched using the other colour – yellows with the red outlines and reds with the yellow outlines.

Starting with the yellows, I used a buttonhole stitch to go round the inner section. To complete this part I used a different shade of yellow to add a Danish knot to the end of each alternate line. The upper part was stitched with the third shade of yellow. Basically it is a simple line going round the curved part. This was stitched in a whipped stem stitch with a bullion knot at the end. This left some empty space which I filled with detached sheaf stitches.

To go round the inner sections in reds I chose an attached fly stitch using two shades of red. The upper part is quite similar to the yellow ones. This time a simple line of whipped split stitch with seeded stitches at the end. I used three strands of thread for the seeding. The side spaces are filled with detached berry stitches.

To finish the whole thing off, I plan to move the work into a smaller hoop to highlight the four stitched sections.


Carnations and Snails

My latest piece to feature traditional Palestinian embroidery motifs is now finished. Just working on a cord for hanging the hoop. Here it is.IMG_9873The composition is just lots of repetitions of the two motifs. I have always liked this particular version of the carnation motif. There are many versions, but this one suited my idea best. The snail is one of the very, very few motifs from Nablus. As Nablus is our twin city, it was a suitable choice.

The fabric is a 18 count Aida in pale green. The threads are all Anchor cotton, and two strands were used throughout. A variegated green anchors the carnations, while another variegated thread, in pink and blue, was used for the snails. The carnations were stitched in various shades of lavender or violet. Cross stitch throughout, as is the norm for traditional Palestinian embroidery.

The hoop is 18cm in diameter. I am getting quite fond of this way of using Palestinian motifs and this is my third go. It is fairly slow work and altogether I spent 27 hours on the stitching. Good fun though.



Bargello Interrupted 3

Yesterday I finally succeeded in finishing my latest Bargello piece. I have titled it Bargello Interrupted as the bargello patterns are broken up by various lines. This is the third time I have used this particular composition. For the previous two I used cotton threads. This time I went for wool threads. Here is the finished work.IMG_9858I decided on wool threads as this gives the finished work a more substantial look and the threads pretty much fully cover the fabric. This is a 16 count Aida in white. The wool threads are Fine d’Aubusson, a very fine merino wool from Au ver à Soie in France. It is a lovely wool to work with and to ensure I fully covered the fabric I used three strands of the wool. For the colour scheme I went for a mixture of violet and rose.

The dark blue lines are the interruptions.  In the previous versions of this composition these lines were just vertical or horizontal stitches in keeping with bargello embroidery. This time I wanted to try something a bit different and the two horizontal and vertical lines are made up of a simple diagonal stitch over two meshes, using one strand of thread. It worked well for the horizontal lines but not so well with the vertical lines. The stitching was fine, but I guess the extra thickness of the three stands of wool meant that when the bargello stitches were added the vertical lines got a bit compressed. Will need to think about this if I repeat the composition.

The wavy lines are stitched with split stitch, using two strands of thread. For this, and the vertical and horizontal lines, I used cotton threads from the Caron Watercolours range of variegated threads. Blueberry is the name of the thread and though variegated, there are only very subtle colour changes.

All in all I rather like the finished piece. It took me 18 hours over 12 days to complete the stitching. The size of the piece – 21.5cmx17cm – was designed to fit into the frame, which I had acquired from a charity shop.

I am already working on my next piece which features two traditional Palestinian embroidery motifs – carnations and snails.

Three Macedonian Floral Designs

I stitched these little pieces so they would fit into some very small card mounts that I had inherited. To fill them I finally decided on some designs from Macedonia. They all come from a reprint of a very old book – Turkish Embroideries. It is part of the DMC Library collection. The original was probably printed before the 1st World War as, despite its title, virtually all the designs come from south-east Europe. The three I chose are examples of towel trimmings from Macedonia. Here they are.IMG_9821



All three pieces were stitched on a fine linen fabric. Most of threads are cotton from either DMC or Anchor. I also used silk threads, two shades of gold from the Soie d’Alger range. They were used for the stems and the golden leaves.

Two strands of thread were used throughout, and I restricted myself to a limited number of stitches. The stems are in raised satin stitch and the golden leaves are in closed fly stitch. The other leaves are filled with long and short stitch, and outlined with a split stitch.

Long and short stitch was also used for the flowers. Though for the blue flower I used a split stitch for the veins.

The book on Turkish Embroideries is a treasure trove of fine designs. I have already used this resource a few times, and will no doubt be dipping into it again and again.

Single Blackwork motif

Yesterday I finished stitching my latest embroidery project. For this I used a single blackwork motif, which I repeated throughout the work. As usual with me I didn’t use black threads. This time I went for shades of plum. Here is the finished piece in its hoop frame.IMG_8845Three of the colours are from the DMC cotton range – plum, very light plum and ultra light plum.  The other two colours are Anchor threads and have no name. But they seem to fit in with other colours.

In addition to the variation in colours I varied the strands of thread. Most of the piece was stitched with two strands, but one and three strands were also used to add texture to the finished work

The fabric is a 28 count Brittney in orchid. The fabric is quite close in colour to some of the threads, which gives an almost empty look to parts of the piece.  The hoop is 15cm across.

I was very keen to try this approach to blackwork, using just one motif, as I have previously done this with traditional palestinian motifs. This time there was no underlying design. I just changed colour, number of strands and direction as the work progressed.

It was quite exciting to see the work develop or unfold as I embroidered away. The only downside to this way of working is that as you approach the end it can be a bit tricky to ensure that you don’t end up with the same colour for two sections. Anyway all’s well that ends well.  I have just to make a cord for hanging the hoop.

I am about to go off on holiday, so no more embroidery for a while.

Rose Buds in Blue

I have just finished stitching my latest project – Rose Buds in Blue. This is another piece inspired by the work of Jordan Nasser. It features a single traditional Palestinian embroidery motif. IMG_8830The motif is Rose buds, though it is in some places known as orange blossom or airy fairy. I think rose buds is the original. The idea is to work a single motif in different colours. In this piece I used four different shades of blue. All are from the DMC cotton range and two strands were used for the cross stitches.

When designing this piece I had a clear idea in mind.  The overall composition involved diamonds and squares. Starting with a diamond shape in the centre and gradually expanding outwards with a square, another diamond and the final square. This is what the composition looked like before I started stitching. IMG_8755You can clearly see the outlines of the diamonds and the squares. Alas the finished piece is not so clearly defined. The rose buds motif does not lend itself to neat edges. Also the two inner shades of blue are quite similar and do not contrast very well. Still, enough shows to give an impression of the shapes behind.

For my next major project I hope to try some gold work, but at the moment I am still in the cogitating stage – ie I haven’t a clue as to what design I want. In the meantime I am continuing with pieces that involve various shades of the one colour. This time using a blackwork pattern.