Finally finished my latest embroidery project. The composition features five designs from three countries in the Balkans. The central circle is from Albania and the two flower like shapes come from Macedonia. These three designs were all originally from towel trimmings. The other two designs, with green stems, were originally used on women’s chemises, and come from Bosnia. Here it is in all its glory!All the designs used in this piece come from a book on Turkish Embroideries, published by DMC Library. The book must have originally been published before the 1st World War. Though the title is Turkish embroideries, all but two of the examples come from the Balkans and the designs are likely to be from the period when this part of Europe was part of the Ottoman Empire. It is a lovely book full of interesting patterns, some of which I have already used.
The impulse to create this particular composition was to work with some very old threads I had inherited from colleagues in the Embroiderer’s Guild in Dundee. Nearly all the threads are silk and mainly from the Brainerd and Armstrong company. This was based in Connecticut, but went out of business in 1928. So the threads are about 100 years old.
Most of the threads are in various tones of yellow and brown. So I felt this colour palette would go well with a red linen fabric I had in my stash. As I started working it became clear that some other colours would be needed to add a bit of contrast to the composition. Hence the bright vermillion which is from the Rajmahal silk and rayon range. The blue for the main stems and surrounding the flowers is from the Soie d’Alger collection. Finally the green for the trellis and the stems of the leaves is a perle cotton from DMC.
The stitches are all standard crewel stitches mainly long and short and satin, the latter sometimes padded. The blue is in simple chain stitch, while the green stems are in Quaker stitch. The inner circle of the central design was stitched as a woven wheel. This proved a tad awkward as my first go had an insufficient number of spokes, which meant the outer lines piled up on each other. It was not until my third attempt that I finally succeeded in something acceptable.
This type of embroidery is very slow work, at least for me. The older I get the slower I seem to work. This particular piece took just over 40 hours of stitching. All for a relatively small piece – 23cmx18cm. Enjoyable work though and I am quite pleased with the outcome. As ever not sure what to do with it. Any suggestions?