Blackwork – in red and yellow

Yesterday I finally finished stitching my latest project, another composition in Blackwork. Though as you can see there is no black to be seen, just lots of reds and yellows.img_4161

For the embroideristas amongst my readers, here is some technical stuff about the project. The fabric is a 32ct Murano, a mixture of cotton and modal, which is lovely to work with. I used two kinds of silk threads – au ver à soie and Glissen Gloss Colourwash. The au ver à soie threads were used in the single colour rectangles in dark coral and gold. The remainder of the piece was stitched with Glissen Closs colourwash, a variegated thread, handpainted in Japan. The colours are flame red and buttercup.

There are five blackwork patterns in the composition, featuring squares, diamonds, hexagons and octagons. To add variety of texture each rectangle uses a mixture of strands. The au ver à soie comes in seven strands and I used one, two and three strands. The Colourwash is a very, very fine silk, which comes in 12 strands, so with this thread I used two, four and six strands respectively. Working with three or six strands on the 32 ct fabric is quite challenging and at times you can hardly see the details of the pattern. But it does result in a very visible texture, almost 3D like. Below is a close up of the five patterns.Version 2

The overall design or composition itself is one I have now used three times. The design comes from a series of prints we saw in the Danish Architectural Centre in Copenhagen on our visit there in 2013. I have kept the basic framework of 36 rectangles. This time I tried to  apply a bit of mathematics to the pattern, by using a very rough approximation of the Fibonacci sequence. This produced the pattern of seven empty rectangles, 11 rectangles in yellows and 18 rectangles in reds.

The Glissen Gloss Colourwash silk threads are lovely to work with. I like variegated threads and these come in a wonderful range of colours. However they are best suited to stitching large sections so as to benefit from the subtle colour changes. As I was working each rectangle in three different strand combinations, each section was relatively short. This meant that in order to get the colour changes I had to cut the thread into shorter sections. It more or less worked, but I would not use variegated threads again for blackwork. Unless I wanted to do the whole piece in just one strand. Which doesn’t really go with blackwork.

Anyway I enjoyed working on this piece which I am now trying to stretch back into shape, before framing. To see the original print from the Danish Architecture Centre and my two other versions of this design go here.



2 thoughts on “Blackwork – in red and yellow

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