Blue on Blue

I have just finished stitching another Blackwork project. It features blue threads on a blue fabric, hence the title for the piece.

The fabric is a 14 count Aida in light blue. For the threads I decided to try out some Sulky threads. Lots of people on the Peppermint Purple SAL have been raving about these cotton threads, so I reckoned it was worth giving them a go. They are easy to stitch with and there is a good range of colours to choose from. The Sulky threads come in just a single strand, which is pretty close to a single thread of stranded cotton.

I choose quite an open pattern for this project and as is usual with me, I used the equivalent of one, two and three strands to add to the texture of the work. This pattern I found in a book by Rosemary Drysdade – The Art of Blackwork Embroidery.

The finished piece measure 5.5cmX23.5cm and too me just over 12 hours to stitch. It will end up as a hanging once I tidy it up and add a cord for hanging.

SAL – Weeks 3-5

I am now well into this year long SAL. Weeks 3-5 have all been stitched and outlined. With these patterns the SAL has move from the pinks to the blues.

The rectangular one on the right was stitched with one strand of light antique blue. It is quite an open design, but a bit fiddly to get right. The other two, square patterns were both stitched with two strands of light blue. All cotton threads from the DMC range.

These two were a bit more complicated to stitch, no doubt due to using two strands of the thread. The one on the left was particularly complex and I was never sure whether to stitch everything over just one mesh. I eventually decided to do most of it over one mesh with a few stitches over two meshes.

The square on the left looks quite a bit darker than the one on the right. Though of course both were stitched with the same colour. I guess the greater density of the pattern on the left gives this illusion of a darker shade.

I am currently cogitating on what border to stitch for this, if indeed to bother with a border at all. Most participants seem to include one. Alas, most of them look very complex, though very beautiful. If I do go for one, it is likely to be pretty simple.

A SAL for 2021

I have never participated in an embroidery SAL before. But there is a first time for everything, and you’re never too old and all that jazz. Anyway I am now two weeks into this particular SAL. It is a creation of Peppermint Purple, an online shop for blackwork and cross stitch kits run by Clare Ardali.

I am working on the square option for the SAL. As this is a year long SAL, there will be 52 sections to complete and the project will last until the end of December. I have now, today, completed the first two sections, which you can see below.

The fabric is an 18 count Aida in white, and the threads are all DMC cotton. With the SAL package as well as the overall design and the weekly filler patterns, you get a suggested colour scheme and some advice on stitching. I have decided to go with most of the suggested colours, but have discarded the greens and lavender. So I will end up with a mix of pinks/roses and blues. The first two sections give an idea of this mix, with one section in very light plum and the other in light antique blue.

A couple of early comments on this project. I stitched the first section with two strands of the cotton, and only afterwards came across a note that the fillings should be stitched with just one strand. Why bother to read the instructions! Anyway the second section, the one in blue, was stitched with a single strand. At the moment I think I will continue to alternate between one and two strands. Usually when I do blackwork embroidery I use a mixture of one, two and three strands. Anyway I will see how it goes.

The other comment is about the outlines. I started by stitching a few of these, using two strands of black in backstitch. However when it came to embroidering the insides, I find this a bit constricting, especially as each pattern has some threads which reach all the way to the edges. I will stick with the sections already outlined, but thereafter I plan to stitch the fillings first and then go on to the outlines.

Blackwork in Purple and Chartreuse

Just finished stitching what will be my last project of the year. Another colourful Blackwork embroidery in purple and chartreuse green.

It is now in a Nurge No 3 hoop, approximately 16cm in diameter. The fabric is a 25 count lugana in white. The design is quite simple, a circle within a larger circle, with the larger one divided into two equal parts. For the embroidery I went for just two colours and three blackwork motifs. The purple is No 94 from the Anchor range of stranded cotton. The contrasting green is a bright chartreuse from the DMC range of stranded cotton. The stitching was done with a mixture of one, two and three strands of the cotton.

The two purple motifs feature octagons, though in very different forms. The centre motif features hexagons in a more open style. To try and get a neat edge I stitched the outline of the two circles. Firstly with two strands of black cotton, which I completed with a whip stitch using a two ply Appleton wool. This does make the circles stand out.

The stitching for this piece took me 15 hours over 10 days. Unfortunately I ran out of the purple thread and had to order some more online. Which caused a bit of delay in finishing the piece. Anyway I am quite pleased with it. Now to start thinking about what to do in 2021. Not long to go. Happy New Year everyone.

Red on White

For my latest blackwork project I decided to work with just two patterns. I managed to divide a circle into four curved sections, which meant that each pattern appeared in two of these sections.

The fabric is a Lugana 25 count from Zeigart, a mixture of cotton and modal. This is the first time I have used this range. The 25 count size is easier to work with than the usual 28 or 32 counts that I have previously used for blackwork. Age, I’m afraid.

The threads are all in shades of red. For the outlines I used one strand of Fine d’aubusson wool from France. The lines are stitched in whipped backstitch.

The main body is stitched with different silk threads. The bright red is a French silk from the Soie d’Alger range. This comes in seven strands and I used a mix of one, two and three strands. The other thread is Japanese silk from the Colorwash range. It has the lovely name of strawberry sherbet. This thread comes in 12 strands. For the embroidery I used two, four and six strands.

This was a fairly simple composition. The biggest and unfortunately recurring problem was my failure to count accurately. Old age again!

The finished piece is now tightly ensconced in a 16cm hoop from the Nurge range. The actual stitching took up just over 22 hours.

Three Little Blackwork Squares

During the first half of June I was busy with this little Blackwork project. Three squares each with its own Blackwork pattern. IMG_0521As you can see, each embroidery piece fits into a square card mount. These are 14cmx14cm. The Blackwork pieces are six cm square.

The fabric is a 32 ct Murano in white. This fabric is a rayon/cotton mix and is quite easy to work with. I did each square in the same thread. Unusually for Blackwork, at least for me, this time I chose a variegated thread. This was from the Anchor stranded cotton range and is a fine mix of blues, pinks and purples. As usual with my Blackwork I stitched the pieces with a mixture of one, two and three stands of the cotton.

Each of the patterns has a centre stitch or stitches. Quite often I would leave some of these empty. However on this occasion I decided to completely fill every gap. Just to ensure that the full effect of the pattern emerges.

I am quite pleased with the finished product, though as usual not sure what to do with them. Each piece took between nine and ten hours of stitching. Slow work indeed!

I am still on a Blackwork roll and my current project also features a variegated thread. This time just in blues.  Happy stitching.

Three Bookmarks

This was a challenge set by the chair of our local branch of the Embroiderer’s Guild. A little something to keep us busy during the latter half of April, while the branch is no longer able to meet. I did three bookmarks as I had three suitably sized pieces of fabric available. For bookmarks I tend to use Aida band as the sides will not fray, so you only have to worry about the top and the bottom. Here they are.IMG_0461The first one features the heart motif, one of the many traditional motifs used in Palestinian embroidery.  I used a red and a light blue cotton thread from the old Clarks range. Two strands in cross stitch.

The middle bookmark is from a border pattern from Bargello Magic by Pauline Fischer and Anabel Lasker. For this I used a light and dark green thread from Anchor’s Tapestry wool range. Unusually for Bargello this pattern is stitched only with horizontal stitches, as opposed to the normal vertical stitches.

The final bookmark was a bit of an experiment. I wanted to do one with a Blackwork pattern. Usually I work Blackwork on a 30 or 32 count fabric. This time I was using a 16c count fabric. So the pattern comes across as much larger than normal.  The other experimental bit was to use a variegated thread, again not usual with Blackwork. Anyway I used one strand of the Tequila sunrise thread from Watercolours by Caron.

This was a simple, but fun challenge, with a end product that can actually be used. Most unusual for me. Happy stitching wherever you are.

WhimSicAL LusH Collaboration

This is the title of local artist, Suzanne Scott’s offer to help us get through the Coronavirus lockdown. Suzanne Scott is an artist and illustrator based in Dundee working under the name WhimSicAL LusH.  She has kindly made available one of her lovely drawings as a download. You can do what you like with the outline, though most people will probably draw or paint something. I of course, not able to draw or paint, decided to turn this into an embroidery project. Here it is.IMG_0441

As you can see I went for Blackwork motifs for the embroidery. I used five different traditional motifs. For the house front I made up something to give an impression of bricks.

The fabric is a 28 count Brittney in orchid. The threads are a mixture of DMC and Anchor cotton. To add a bit of texture the stitching varied from one, two or three strands of the cotton. The outline of the door was stitched with heavy chain stitch. For the triangular windows I used a stem stitch for the outline. Stem stitch was also used for the black outlines.

I very much enjoyed this challenge and am pretty pleased with the result. I may add a bit more green to the bottom, or perhaps outline a path to the door. But basically not much will change. As usual Blackwork is pretty slow work and this piece took me 22 hours just for the stitching. But a very pleasant way to pass the time.

If you would like to try your own version the download is still available on the WhimSicAL LusH site, where you can see some of the other contributions. Happy stitching.

Brigid’s octomino in green

I am a great fan of octominos and have used this pattern many times in my embroidery. I have now finished yet another one. Quite a small scale one and for the embroidery I used two blackwork patterns.IMG_0359The fabric is a 28ct Brittney in orchid. I used two contrasting shades of green for the embroidery – chartreuse and a very dark emerald green, both from the DMC cotton range. With the chartreuse I varied the stitching between two and three stands of the cotton. The pattern for the dark green is much denser, so I only used one strand and two strands for this pattern.

I would normally outline the outer edges of the finished design, but on this occasion I felt it unnecessary. The use of small scale blackwork patterns on the 28ct fabric meant that the overall shape stands out on its own.  The piece fits nicely into the 13cm hoop. I now have to tidy everything up at the back and it will be ready to hang somewhere. Or end up in a drawer!

Happy stitching!



Single Blackwork motif

Yesterday I finished stitching my latest embroidery project. For this I used a single blackwork motif, which I repeated throughout the work. As usual with me I didn’t use black threads. This time I went for shades of plum. Here is the finished piece in its hoop frame.IMG_8845Three of the colours are from the DMC cotton range – plum, very light plum and ultra light plum.  The other two colours are Anchor threads and have no name. But they seem to fit in with other colours.

In addition to the variation in colours I varied the strands of thread. Most of the piece was stitched with two strands, but one and three strands were also used to add texture to the finished work

The fabric is a 28 count Brittney in orchid. The fabric is quite close in colour to some of the threads, which gives an almost empty look to parts of the piece.  The hoop is 15cm across.

I was very keen to try this approach to blackwork, using just one motif, as I have previously done this with traditional palestinian motifs. This time there was no underlying design. I just changed colour, number of strands and direction as the work progressed.

It was quite exciting to see the work develop or unfold as I embroidered away. The only downside to this way of working is that as you approach the end it can be a bit tricky to ensure that you don’t end up with the same colour for two sections. Anyway all’s well that ends well.  I have just to make a cord for hanging the hoop.

I am about to go off on holiday, so no more embroidery for a while.