Study in Black and Magenta

My first post for 2019 features my last project for 2018. At least it was meant to be finished in 2019, but with one thing and another the work continued into January.

img_5200For rather obvious reasons I have titled this piece Study in Black and Magenta. The inspiration for both the design and the colours come from a dress I saw someone wearing at a wedding reception in Switzerland. The reception was partly outdoors in the grounds of a restaurant which overlooks Lake Zurich. The dress was stunning I just knew that one day I would try to emulate the pattern in embroidery.

Finally got round to this last month. The fabric is a 28count Brittney from Zeigart. This is a cotton/rayon mixture which I use a lot, mainly for blackwork. I think this was my first go at Bargello with the fabric.

The design is a kind of free-form bargello, consisting of rows of vertical stitches, each with a count of six. The resulting pattern, though inspired by the “dress”, is mine. Usually I outline at least part of the pattern on the fabric in pencil.  This time I just started stitching and made the pattern up as I went along.

I started with the magenta colour, stitched a bit and then added in some black. Continued in this way for the lower half of the piece. I then completed all of the upper half in magenta as I was beginning to run out of this thread, and didn’t want to buy any more.

Two different threads were used for this project. The black is one strand of Appleton wool. I works pretty well on the Brittney and gives good cover on the fabric. The magenta is from the Rajmahal ArtSilk range. This is really primarily made of rayon with a bit of silk. It is called Purple Dusk. This range of threads is very bright and luscious. However I find it hard going to work with. Difficult to get the thread to lie down evenly. I used all six strands for this piece and even then an odd glimpse of the underlying fabric can be seen. Thankfully the fabric is in orchid and blends with the Purple Dusk.

The finished piece measures 9cmx14cm.  This is the nearest I could get to the proportions of the Golden Mean. Altogether I have spent 22 and a half hours working on this project. Slow work indeed. Now to figure out what to do with it!

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Five Easy Pieces – Series 2

I received a gentle reminder recently from a follower of the blog that I had not been posting much. To my surprise I checked and discovered that my last post was way back in August. Not good, however I have been busy at work with embroidery. Just not posting. I put photos of my work on Instagram and if you use this app, you can see them by checking out @rutherfordalister.

While Instagram is a great tool for sharing there is a lot to be said for keeping up a blog. I find that writing about my work is good for me, as it encourages me to keep a record of what I have done and more importantly to reflect on my work. So it is back to blogging.

From late summer through autumn much of my work was devoted to Series 2 of Five Easy Pieces. This all started way back in late 2009 when out of nothing in particular I made a geometric design  – a square with five sections with a diamond in the centre. Each section was stitched with a different Bargello pattern. As the stitching was relatively simple and was made up of five sections,  I called the finished work Five Easy Pieces. This was my minor honouring of the great Jack Nicholson film of the same name.

At the time I had no plan in mind, but I liked the finished piece and over the following year I completed five more in same vein. All with five sections and all stitched with Bargello patterns.

This summer, nearly nine years later I decided it was time to repeat the exercise.  This time there was a bit of planning involved. Once again there would be five pieces and each one would be made up of five sections. However this time each piece would fit into a hoop frame. The patterns would once again be Bargello, but with a definite contrast of colours.

Two of the hoops are 20cm, while the other three are 17.5cm. Plain wooden hoops, nothing fancy and fairly cheap. The fabric is a 18ct Aida canvas.  I used a wide range of threads for this series, though DMC cotton was the most used. While the hoops were circular, only two of the pieces have circles for the outer rim. The various patterns come from embroidery books on my shelf.  All except two, which I found on the Bargello Needlepoint website. Here are the five easy pieces.

No 1IMG_8506

One of the 20cm hoops, this piece has and outer and an inner circle with four quadrants. Mostly stitched with three strands of DMC cotton, with Anchor cotton for the inner circle.  This was stitched in greens to provide a contrast with the purples and pinks of the outer sections.

No2IMG_8299

The only piece to be stitched on a pale yellow canvas, the first of the 17.5cm hoops. A diamond shape was used for both the outer and the inner sections. Paternayan wool was used throughout this piece, one strand only. Yellows and orange in the centre provide the contrast to the blues and purples in the outer sections. The way the finished work was fitted into the hoop gives a slightly different look to the Bargello patterns.

No3IMG_8348

This is the most unusual of the five pieces. Instead of four different Bargello patterns for the outer sections, I have used just one. An adaptation of a four-way pattern from Dorothy Kaestner’s Four Way Bargello book. The finish is very different from the other four pieces. The outer rim is a circle and the centre is a small octagon. For the four-way pattern I used Anchor Pear Cotton No 5, in greens and purples. The octagon was stitched with six strands of Rajmahal ArtSilk thread in blues.

No4IMG_8507

I used a slightly different green fabric for this piece. Instead of circles I went for a hexagon for both the outer and the inner rim. For the colour scheme I decided on some colours that I use very rarely. No point in them sitting in boxes forever. So the outer sections are in red coppers and old gold threads. Three strands of DMC cotton. The central section is in black and greys. Two strands of Appleton wool. Quite like this colour combination.

No5IMG_8434For the final piece I went back to a 20cm hoop, with the pale green fabric. This has an outer octagonal rim and a circle in the centre.  Cotton threads for the outer sections, mainly DMC cotton with some Anchor threads. For the centre I used one strand of French wool – Fine d’Aubusson. The reds in the centre contrast sharply with the light blues and aquamarines of the outer sections.

All in all I am quite pleased with this second series of Bargello medleys. Quite an effort trying not to repeat any of the patterns, but I just about managed. I may do another series sometime in the future, but probably not with Bargello patterns.

Bits and Pieces 1

Though I haven’t posted for over two months, I have been pretty busy.  Lots of small pieces and some unfinished pieces. Some of them are for the Guild’s exhibition in St Andrews which starts in October. I had in mind to include, for sale, a couple of embroidered candle holders. The first was started way back in April and I took it with me to Switzerland, hoping to make some progress. Little was made and I then discovered that I had gone and left the piece behind. Not too damaging as I can finish it off when I return in September. An 18ct aida fabric with DMC cotton threads in pinks.  Here is glimpse of the Bargello pattern.IMG_7455The other candle wrap I have managed to complete. Another Bargello pattern in blue and turquoise. Also on the same 18ct aida fabric with DMC cotton threads.IMG_7749This one is not quite finished! I glue the embroidery on to the glass jar, but in this case some air bubbles remained, visible at the top and bottom. So I decided to cover the top and bottom with ribbon. The lower part is done and I have still to attach the top ribbon. I want to include a bow on this part, hence the delay.

The other pieces relating to the exhibition are two biscornus. In a moment of weakness I agreed to run a workshop on biscornus during the exhibition run.  Which meant I had to do a dummy run with a couple, just to be sure they could be completed within the allotted time. Stitching the biscornus is fairly easy, the difficulty or time consuming part is sewing the two parts together. So I went for fairly simple designs. The first is a blackwork design. The second was originally a complex design for Breast cancer awareness.  I have reduced the design to just the ribbons. Mine are in yellow as a mark of solidarity with the Catalan political prisoners. This time I used 16ct aida fabric and DMC cotton threads.

 

 

A (slightly) unusual 4way bargello

This was to be my final small piece to get me over the holiday period. Alas it turned out to be not quite so small. With one thing and another I have only managed to finish the stitching today. It is another Four Way Bargello piece from Dorothy Kaestner’s wonderful book of the same name.  However as you will see it is slightly different. IMG_7341

Regular, common garden four way patterns are in the shape of a square.  While this one is very clearly a rectangle. Which means that the four way pattern only emerges at both ends. In compensation the centre is somewhat elongated. There are a few of these patterns in the book, which Dorothy Kaestner refers to as a bench as opposed to the usual square.

My original idea was to do a very, very much simplified version of the pattern. But once I got started and discovered that I had enough fabric to more or less complete the whole pattern in the book, I was hooked. I am quite pleased with the finished piece, both the elongated shape and the colours.

The fabric is my usual 18ct Aida in light green. Most of the threads are Anchor cotton, thought a couple are from the DMC range. What I find interesting is that the ecru colour really stands out, though the outline is stitched with a dark wine colour. The very dark sections are not black, but black brown. This slightly softer black fits in better, I think, with the rest of the colours.

Christmas and New Year is well and truly over. At the moment I have only a very hazy idea of what projects will emerge over the year. Wish me luck!

Snowflake

My second easy piece for the holidays is now complete and framed! Here it is before the framing.IMG_7310

The design is from Dorothy Kaestner’s book on Four Way Bargello.  It is her attempt to make a Snowflake suitable for embroidery. The original is very much larger and I had to reduce the size and make some minor adjustments so that the finished piece would fit into an IKEA frame I handily had lying around.

The fabric is my usual 18ct Aida in pale green.  I used three strands of DMC cotton for the stitching. The centre is ultra light plum. The other colours were two shades of turquoise and winter white for the snowy effect.  My final holiday project will be another bargello embroidery piece.  Happy New Year to everyone.

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.

Bargello à Six (No 3)

Another Bargello project completed. This is now the third piece I have stitched with six different bargello patterns. The previous two were stitched in greens and pinks. You can see them here. For this latest version I chose a colour scheme based on lavender and violet. Here it is.IMG_4733

The fabric is my usual 18ct Aida in green. For this piece I used three strands of cotton, mostly Anchor. Each square is approximately 10cmx10cm.  Some of the patterns are repeats from the previous compositions, while some are new.  As usual with almost all of my work, the finished piece is not quite squared off. Still, adds to the charm, at least that is my story, and I am sticking to it!

The dimensions of the piece were chosen to fit into an IKEA frame. The photo above shows the embroidery in the mount. Now that I have complete three versions of this composition I may try a slight variation. Instead of six different patterns all stitched in the same colour scheme, I will go for the same pattern, but stitched in different colours. Happy stitching!