New Palestinian Embroidery

Last week I finally finished a piece I had been working on for some time. It doesn’t have a title as yet, but is designed to illustrate a reality for many Palestinians – that of living under occupation.IMG_7195

The fence in the composition divides a village from its agricultural land. In some cases the illegal Israeli wall or fence does precisely this. In other cases it is attacks from illegal Israeli settlers who threaten villagers’ access to their traditional land.

The work is hand embroidered using some motifs from traditional Palestinian embroidery. This is the case with the fence itself and the cypress trees. The other motifs are based on more modern Palestinian designs.

The fabric is an 18ct aida and cross stitch was used throughout, apart from the odd vertical stitch. Cross stitch is the stitch most frequently used in traditional Palestinian embroidery.

This piece was designed to accompany an exhibition to mark the 50th anniversary of the Six-Day War and the 37th anniversary of the Dundee-Nablus twinning. The exhibition is in the Central library in Dundee and is the work of the Dundee-Nablus Teinning Association.

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Design from Albania

My latest project featured another pattern from the DMC book on Turkish Embroideries. This time I have adapted a design from Albania, originally part of the trimming for a towel. As with the previous piece from Bosnia, I restricted myself to two colours. Here is the finished work.

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The fabric is a 18ct Aida in pale green. The main colour is yellow, though this time I chose a variegated thread, Saffron, from the Caron Watercolours range.  This is a 3 ply pima cotton and I used one strand throughout. The contrasting colour this time is a dark azuline silk from the Soie d’Alger range. I ended up using four of the seven strands to get the degree of thickness I wanted.

Most of the stitching is very simple with straight vertical or horizontal stitches predominating, along with some diagonal stitches. The one new stitch for me was an openwork cross stitch. This fills the very dense and slightly raised sections of the piece. The stitch is worked first vertically and then horizontally. In the photos of this stitch the threads are pulled tight, leaving gaps in the fabric to produce the openwork effect. This did not work with the Aida fabric, but I continued with the stitch as the slightly raised finish added to the overall design. In the book the fabric recommended is a tammy cloth, whatever that is!  Way before my time.

I enjoyed stitching this and look forward to choosing another design from the book.

Hearts (2)

After a short break holidaying with Emma and Alessio I have got well and truly back into embroidery. My first project was to stitch another Heart shape. Here is the finished article.IMG_6324

It is the same design as the first one, which you can see here. This time with different colours, threads and different Blackwork patterns.  The fabric is a 32ct Murano in sky blue.  I used two different threads for this, both in silk. The outer heart is stitched in Cotton Candy pink, one of the Glissen Gloss Colorwash range of Japanese silk threads. The inner heart is stitched with Soie d’Alger threads from France in blue.

I used three Blackwork patterns for the outer heart – octagons, open honeycomb and tulips.  The Colorwash silk is a 12 stranded very fine variegated silk. For the stitching I switched between two, four and six strands to vary the surface look.

The Soie d’Alger silk comes in seven strands and I used just two thicknesses for the inner heart – one and two strands. Small diamonds was the pattern I chose for this section.  The outlines of the two hearts is a simple stem stitch using two strands of the Colorwash and one strand of the Soie d’Alger.

The fine Murano fabric calls for pretty detailed stitching, and this piece took me nearly 30 hours of work to complete. Slow, but very enjoyable work!

 

 

Brigid’s Octomino in Four Way Bargello

Today I finally finished stitching my latest project. I wanted to do another Free-from bargello piece, but with a different design in the centre. For this part I returned to one of my favourites – Brigid’s octomino. The centre is thus is a composition with eight octominos, which of course together make up a larger octomino.  For the rest of the composition I gave up on a free form pattern and instead I used a four way bargello design. Here is the finished piece.IMG_5709

The octominos are stitched in cotton, with one strand of Caron watercolours 203 – molten lava. A simple diagonal stitch was used to make the little squares. Later on I decided to add in a single octomino on each diagonal line to break up the bargello background a bit.

The Caron watercolour is a variegated thread and my original idea was to use three colours, including a red in the bargello background, but the red dominated too much, so I ended up with just two colours for the background – purple and a pale yellow.

I used two strands of a silk thread for the bargello pattern. They are from the Debbie Bliss luxury silk range. Meant for knitting, the silk is lovely and soft and no doubt better used for knitting.  Nevertheless I like it fine for embroidery. The pattern is from the book Four Way Bargello by Dorothy Kaestner. In the book a variety of shades are used, as is normal with bargello. Here I adapted the pattern for just two colours. I needed a restricted colour range so as not to take away from the octominos.

The finished piece is almost a square – 244mmX254mm, and took me 44 hours of stitching to complete. Slow work indeed. Not sure what to do with it! Possibly a cushion cover? For my next project I am going for something a bit smaller in blackwork. Still working on the composition.

 

 

Three Leaves

I have recently finished stitching my latest project. This is a composition featuring a leaf design by Jacqui McDonald. She included this design in her book on Crewelwork for The RSN Essential Stitch Guides series. I have simplified the original design slightly and included three of the altered leaves in my own composition. Here it is.IMG_5380The fabric is a deep blue in cotton I think. Quite a firm fabric and ideal for crewelwork. The veins of the leaves are stitched in split stitch with two strands of Fine d’Aubusson wool in medium dark violet. For the leaves I used one strand of a Caron Watercolours in saffron. I liked the idea of using a variegated thread for the leaves. Long and short stitch was used throughout the leaves. Though the angle of the stitches varies considerably both from leaf to leaf and within each leaf. Sometimes deliberately and sometimes not so deliberately!

I had originally planned to add some smaller designs to the top and bottom of the fabric to make a rectangle. However now that I have finished the leaves I think I prefer it as it is. I intend to keep the finished piece as a rectangle, but just with the three leaves. The simplicity of the overall design is what attracts me now. It should still fit into an IKEA frame, if I every get back to a store.

A Design from Bosnia

I have just enjoyed a brief interlude from my regular pattern of embroidery work, by exploring some other types of embroidery. The most interesting was a composition based on embroidery patterns from Bosnia. The one I chose was originally part of the trimming for a towel. I only used a section of the pattern and re-arranged it slightly to make a square. Here is the finished piece.IMG_5370

The original was white with gold on ecru. As I don’t have any ecru fabric I decided to change the colour scheme altogether. The fabric is an 18ct Aida in green. The threads are from the Rajmahal ArtSilk range. The bulk of the work is in Chartreuse, while the squares are in Vibrant Musk. I think this colour combination works pretty well.

I used all six strands for the squares in Vibrant Musk. With the Chartreuse thread, I used three strands for the diagonal stitches and all six strands for the rest.

The pattern is one of many in a book on Turkish Embroidery, part of the DMC Library collection. There is alas no date of publication for this edition. From some searching it seems that the first edition is from the 1920’s or earlier. What is unusual about the book is that hardly any of the patterns are from present day Turkey. Only three are listed as 18th century designs from Asia Minor.

All the rest are from Europe. Admittedly from parts of Europe that were once upon a time part of the Ottoman Empire. But this would be from well before the First World War. Designs come from Macedonia, Albania, Bosnia, Herzegovina and Serbia. The book is fine collection of designs and I look forward to stitching many more.

The other embroidery was a return to an old favourite of mine – biscornus. Though in this case I did not make a biscornu with the finished pieces. Instead I used them to make pincushions with a plain fabric for the reverse. The design as usual with my biscornus, comes from Louison.IMG_5272Unlike most of Louison’s designs, this one is not in cross stitch, but in blackwork. I had to simplify the original design as it was not suitable for the threads nor the fabric I intended to use. The fabric is another 18ct Aida in green and the threads are variegated cotton – a Caron watercolour and two Oiver Twists.

The central pincushion is stitched with one strand of Caron watercolour in Iris. The other two are stitched with three strands of the Oliver Twists.

I am currently preparing for my next project, which will be back to crewel work. The central design is settled and outlined on the fabric. Just got to fix it onto the frame and all will be ready for stitching. Wish me luck!

More Free form bargello

Every so often I opt for a free form bargello design. So instead of repeating patterns I just use a single vertical stitch. The design comes from the variation in the shapes which make up the composition. In this case I was inspired by a painting we saw in the Zeppelin museum in Friedrichshafen last year. Unfortunately I did not note the name of the artist. Anyway back home I sketched my own variation which is not a million miles away from taking a line for a walk. Here is the finished piece.IMG_5247

The wandering line is a whipped stem stitch. For this I used two strands of DMC satin thread in yellow. The rest of the piece is the bargello bit and is made up of a vertical stitch over six intersections. I used Fine d’aubusson wool for this. Made by the same company which manufactures soie d’Alger silk. It is a very fine wool and I used three strands for the work. I wanted to as near as possible completely cover the canvass, which is an 18ct aida.

For this composition I used a restricted colour range. The bulk of the canvass is covered with two shades of blue and two shades of violet. I used the enclosed sections to provide a bright contrast. In this case a red, which the French company call azalea.

Though relatively simple to stitch, at least once the outlines have been stitched, this is slow work. I spent at least 36 hours just stitching the piece.  I am quite pleased with the result, which now lies ensconced in an IKEA frame.