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!

Vintage Embroidery Design

I have just finished stitching my latest project. This was a design which goes back to the First World War period. IMG_5244

The pattern was one of a series which I found inside copies of Fancy Needlework Illustrated magazine. The issues date from 1914, 1915 and 1916.  Inside some of them were various iron-on transfers. The arrangement above comes from a transfer with four identical designs. I used two of them for the composition.

I was pleasantly surprised that the transfers still worked, a hundred years later. Though one was quite faint and I had to go over the lines with a fine pen. There was nothing to indicate the purpose of this particular design, nor the fabric or stitches to use. So I was left to my own devices.

The fabric is a fine linen in Orchid Haze from Wemyss, a Dundee based company. The threads are all silk from the Soie d’Alger range from Au ver à Soie. Just one strand was used except for the seeding.

The colours have some interesting names – it is a French company after all. The tendrils are medium orchid, which almost blends with the fabric. The bus are in a medium ophelia pink. The leaves are stitched with two different greens – a very light nile green and a medium dark silver green. The outer petals of the flowers are in two tones of blue – azuline and dark azuline. To complete the palette the centre of the flowers is rose des alpes pink.

Most of the design is filled with satin stitch. The centre of the flowers, in pink, is padded satin. The leaves are mainly long and short stitch. For the seeding I used two strands of the silk threads. The long tendrils are stitched in Quaker stitch. This is my first attempt at this particular stitch, which is a combination of a stem and a split stitch. A bit fussy, but it looks OK.

It was a bit of a daunting challenge to try stitching something so fine, but the silk threads are a joy to work with. I have a few more transfers from this period, which I will attempt from time to time.  Happy stitching!