Looking back over 2019 I can detect some similarities and some differences with previous years. I worked on 23 projects which is very much in line with my yearly average. The big standout difference is that for the first time since I started embroidery, I did fewer Bargello pieces than other types of embroidery. A big surprise, not for nothing is this blog called The Bargellist. Anyway quite pleased as it is good to extend my repertoire.
The 23 projects last year were shared fairly evenly amongst my regular embroidery endeavours. I was definitely surprised to discover that I had done more crewel work than any other – seven projects in all. Another five were in Blackwork, of various colours! Four projects were of traditional Palestinian designs, the same number as Bargello projects. The list is completed with three projects in other styles. This included my not altogether successful attempt at Goldwork.
I try to keep a (reasonably accurate) account of how many hours I spend on actual stitching. A perusal of this record shows that, other things being equal – size of project – Blackwork and Palestinian embroidery are the most time consuming. A Palestinian piece – fours stars in a field of lilies – took up just over 46 hours stitching. While another Palestinian piece – Rosebuds in Blue – involved 39 hours stitching. Two Blackwork projects – Red & Black and a single motif in plum shades – each took up over 30 hours of stitching.
So far I do not keep any record of how much time I spend preparing for a project, working out the design, choosing fabric, threads etc. Nor do I keep a record of time spent on finishing off a piece. Maybe something for the future.
Generally speaking, bearing in mind the size of a project, Crewel work or surface embroidery is the least time consuming. Almost certainly because it does not involve completely filling the fabric with stitches. Bargello patterns do fill the fabric, but they are usually quite easy to follow as they only involve vertical stitches.
As regards highlights from the year, a bit of a difficult choice as I liked all of the projects, even those that were not totally successful. I very much enjoyed a new approach to using traditional Palestinian motifs. New to me that is, as the idea came from an article in Embroidery magazine on the work of Palestinian American embroiderer, Jordan Nassar. I managed three pieces using this approach. You can see the first one here.
I even tried this approach, using a single motif, with a Blackwork pattern, which you can see here. It was a bit of a surprise to discover that three of my Bargello projects were variations in what I call Free Form Bargello. Some people might not even regard them as Bargello, but hey ho. Here is an example in Black and magenta.
The most unusual project from last year was stitching a three dimensional piece. This was from a workshop run by Anita Hutchison for our branch of the Embroiderer’s Guild. Quite challenging, but I did finally finish it, which you can see here.
The crewel projects were all quite varied. I particularly liked my first attempt at stitching a Boteh Jeghe, or Paisley pattern design. My two thistles are also rather charming, if I say so myself. During the year I treated myself to some lovely yarn from Elvincraft on the Isle of Skye. A variegated thread of alpaca and silk. Lovely to feel and to look at. I used this for a simple Autumn petals design, which you can see here.
My favourite piece from the year however was my attempt at Dennis the Menace. This was part of a sample for the new Dundee Tapestry project. I haven’t shown this before but include it now with this post.
I have already started on this year’s projects and guess what, my first piece is in Bargello!