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.The 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.
Before leaving on holiday to Lisbon and the Azores, I did manage to finish stitching my second pattern based on designs from the cobblestone streets in Freiburg. As with the others this one is enclosed in a circle. The inside features six elongated ovals. Each oval is divided in two along a centre line. One side is a negative image of the other. The outer circle is again stitched with heavy chain stitch in pink. The centre is also in pink or azalea as the French company likes to call this colour. The outline of the ovals are stitched with stem stitch. For the ovals I used all three shades of the blue and violet threads. The long sides were stitched with long and short stitches, while the smaller sections were stitched with padded satin stitches. All the threads are lovely single strand wool from the Fine d’aubusson collection. I also used the same blue linen fabric as for the first in this series.
I am now taking a break from this crewel embroidery series to do a bit of blackwork. Though I fully intend to complete two more pieces in this series.
My latest embroidery project was another adventure in crewel work. This was partly to start using my small stock of Fine d’aubusson wool threads. The design is a bit unusual for an embroidery piece, as the original is to be found on the streets of Freiburg in Germany. Many of the old streets of that beautiful city remain filled with cobbles, and on the cobbles someone has painted some lovely patterns. I took quite a few photos of them and have been itching to turn some of them into embroidery pieces. For my first attempt I used a pattern made up of overlapping circles. Below are photos of the original and then my embroidery effort.
The fabric is a very light and very fine linen, made in Dundee. The threads are of course all Fine d’aubusson wool, in one strand. I decided to stick to a very restricted range of stitches for this, to highlight the unity of the design. Chain stitch was used for the outlines of the circles – broad chain for the inner circles and heavy chain stitch for the large outer circle. The centre of each circle is trellis stitch with a Danish knot in about half the squares. The ellipses are filled with closed fly stitch, while the very centre has a very small whipped wheel. The large circle is about 18 cm in diameter.
I also decided to limit the colours for the design to blues and pinks, three shades of each. Though for some reason the pinks are called azalea. Two of the blues are royal blues, while one is azure. The Fine d’aubusson threads were great to work with. Very smooth and very fine. I am very happy to have come across this new discovery. The fabric is also very fine and my first attempt ended in disaster due to this fineness. I had originally intended to do a larger piece, but made no attempt at adding a backing fabric nor to securing the fabric on all four sides. The all too predictable result was that the fabric started to buckle up and I had to give the whole thing up. A bit of a blessing in a way, as I then decided to do smaller pieces, featuring just one of the Freiburg patterns. I also ironed on a backing and somehow managed to secure all four sides. The first time I have ever done this. Hopefully not the last. However I do have a long history of not learning my lessons! Below is my rather hame made attempt at securing the fabric. It did work though! Happy stitching.
I am continuing to make good progress with my embroidery project based on a hanging from the collection at the V&A. The whole of the central section has been stitched, including the third tulip. Here is what it looks like at the moment.
The work is stitched with two strands of silk from the soie d’Alger collection, unless otherwise stated. Below is the third tulip, which is similar in design to the one on the left. This time though I have used a variegated silk thread for the central section, which is stitched with a raised satin stitch. The thread is a hand painted Japanese silk from Glissen Gloss, which they call Flame. This is a 12 ply silk and is very, very fine and delicate. I used four strands which is equivalent to two strands of cotton. The rest of the tulip is stitched in long and short shading with the same colours as in the other tulips.
Each tulip is connected by a stem to what may be another flower like shape. The stems are stitched in chain stitch with two strands of DMC cotton in very dark parrot green. The central section and the upper part of this flower are stitched with long and short shading in dark fuchsia. Two shades of red are used in the satin bands, while the yellow is a raised satin stitch. The two green sections feature a trellis stitch over a laid stitch. The trellis is stitched with three strands of Rajmahal sill/rayon in peacock green.
Below this is another flower like shape. The green section at the bottom is stitched in the same way with the same threads as in the flower above. There are six clear sections to this flower and four of them are stitched in long and short shading using four strands of the Japanese silk in Flame. The other three sections are filled with raised satin stitch in medium carnation. The inside lines are made up of chain stitch using two strands of a medium light lavender.
I am now well into my latest embroidery project. This one is very closely based on a scene from one of the fabulous embroidery hangings in the V&A. It is a floral scene, probably part of a canopy for a wedding celebration. I took a photo of part of the hanging, but forgot to get details of when and where it was stitched.
My project focuses on the three brightly coloured tulips. It is also much simpler than the original. This was stitched with silk threads and I am keeping to this for most of the work. I started with the tulips and below is a shot of the first two completed.
The yellows, red, lavender and blue are all stitched with two strands of French made silk from Au ver a soie, their soie d’Alger collection. (Did it originally come from Algeria?) The very narrow bands in each tulip were stitched with three strands of Rajmahal silk and rayon mix. These Rajmahal threads are finicky to work with, but they do have an extra bright sheen to them. Good in small measures. The edging and the cream sections are in two strands of cotton thread.
For this project I will be using a fairly limited range of stitches. Satin and long and short shading for most of the tulips. Chain stitch for the cream parts and the stems, while the edging is done in a split stitch. The fabric is a very fine and soft linen.
This is very slow work, which I have managed to make even slower by messing up the edging from time to time. I keep starting a section with chain stitch and then wonder why that section is so much thicker than the rest. Lots of unpicking and restarting!
So far so good and I am quite pleased with my progress and the outcome. A long way to go!
I have now finished stitching the project which features thistles and other things. I wanted to do something with thistles and to complement the thistles I have included a variety of other plant like shapes. Most of them are adaptations of ideas I came across in books or via the internet. The overall composition is mine, as is the colour scheme, the choice of threads, fabric and the range of stitches. Here is the finished piece.
The fabric for this project is called Orchid Haze, made of 100% linen. It is from the Eden range of linen fabrics made by Wemyss. I am very pleased to have come across these linens as the company was originally founded in the village of East Wemyss in Fife, hence the name. It is now based in Dundee, so is even more local. The whole piece was stitched with Paternayan Persian wool. Most of the shapes were stitched in various shades of lavender, violet and fuchsia, with a bit of blue and green added for contrast. The stems were mostly in greens, with a couple in pink.
It was great fun to stitch this piece, as I tried to use as many stitch patterns as possible, while keeping to a balanced composition. I have now become quite fond of padded satin stitch, which features in quite a few of the shapes. Bokara couching and pearl stitch were two of the stitches which I used for the first time. There is a close up photo of the thistle design in a previous post. Below are close ups of some of the other designs.
I have now finished stitching my latest embroidery piece, which I have entitled, A Red Sea, for obvious reasons. The fabric is a bright coral red linen, and this time I strengthened the fabric by adding an iron-on fabric to the back. This has made such a difference to stitching with wool. Any mistakes or irregularities are mine alone this time around. Here is the finished work.
I used one strand of Paternayan Persian wool for just about everything. A couple of the sea plants were stitched with two strands. Four shades of blue were used for the fishes and the whales, with a bit of purple here and there. Two of the fishes feature a section in satin blocks in various colours, but blues predominate. While four shades of green plus a little red were used for the sea plants.
This project is as much a sampler as anything, as I used it to try out a variety of new stitches. These included trellis and wave stitch, spider’s web, blanket stitch, coral stitch and many others. I finally got round to experimenting with some of the knot stitches – French, Danish, pistil and bullion. With the backing fabric it was easy to work with the wool threads.
As ever, I am not sure what to do with the piece now that it is stitched. Ideally I would like to attach it to some driftwood and perhaps add a shell or two, to keep in with the fishy theme. I am slowly and intermittently progressing with the RSN Blackwork piece. Happy stitching.