Brigid’s Octomino in Four Way Bargello

Today I finally finished stitching my latest project. I wanted to do another Free-from bargello piece, but with a different design in the centre. For this part I returned to one of my favourites – Brigid’s octomino. The centre is thus is a composition with eight octominos, which of course together make up a larger octomino.  For the rest of the composition I gave up on a free form pattern and instead I used a four way bargello design. Here is the finished piece.IMG_5709

The octominos are stitched in cotton, with one strand of Caron watercolours 203 – molten lava. A simple diagonal stitch was used to make the little squares. Later on I decided to add in a single octomino on each diagonal line to break up the bargello background a bit.

The Caron watercolour is a variegated thread and my original idea was to use three colours, including a red in the bargello background, but the red dominated too much, so I ended up with just two colours for the background – purple and a pale yellow.

I used two strands of a silk thread for the bargello pattern. They are from the Debbie Bliss luxury silk range. Meant for knitting, the silk is lovely and soft and no doubt better used for knitting.  Nevertheless I like it fine for embroidery. The pattern is from the book Four Way Bargello by Dorothy Kaestner. In the book a variety of shades are used, as is normal with bargello. Here I adapted the pattern for just two colours. I needed a restricted colour range so as not to take away from the octominos.

The finished piece is almost a square – 244mmX254mm, and took me 44 hours of stitching to complete. Slow work indeed. Not sure what to do with it! Possibly a cushion cover? For my next project I am going for something a bit smaller in blackwork. Still working on the composition.

 

 

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!

A Blackwork Heart

I have just finished my latest endeavour with Blackwork embroidery. It consists of two heart shapes, one within the other. Here it is.IMG_4794

The fabric is a 28ct Brittney which is a 52% cotton and 48% rayon mix. The colour is listed as orchid. The threads are Rajmahal ArtSilk, which is a mix of silk and rayon. I first stitched the outlines of the two hearts with two strands of the threads. This is a simple whipped backstitch.

For the body of the hearts I chose three patterns for the outer heart and another pattern for the inner heart. The strands of Rajmahal thread are very fine, so I used a combination of two, four and all six strands for the work. None of the outer patterns seem to have a name, but the inner pattern is a simple zigzag.

The outer heart is stitched in Imperial Purple, while the inner heart is stitched in Spring Leaf. Rajmahal ArtSilk is quite difficult to work with as the strands do not lie smoothly on the fabric. However they are very vibrant and luscious.

The 28 count fabric makes for very slow work, at least for me. The overall size is only 12cmx11cm at its widest. Yet it took me over 26 hours to finish the stitching. Very enjoyable all the same. With luck this should fit into another of my IKEA frames.

I now have a week without embroidery as we are off to Dubrovnik for a bit of relaxation and hopefully, some warmth and sunshine.  Happy stitching!

More Traditional Palestinian Embroidery

For my latest project I returned to traditional Palestinian embroidery.  The design or motif as they are normally called is Disc and comes from Gaza. Here it is.IMG_4740

This motif is one of the many in Margarita Skinner’s book, Palestinian Embroidery Motifs: A treasury of stitches 1850-1950. The Disc is clearly made up of various motifs. Unfortunately the book does not identify them. The centre square seems to be a variation of one of the star motifs, though I am not certain. The vertical and horizontal sections are  examples of the Kohl Holder motif. I cannot make out what the other sections are meant to be.

The piece is almost certainly not in the traditional Palestinian style! The fabric is an 18ct Aida in pale yellow. Not normally a colour for fabric. The motifs themselves would I suspect, have been stitched in a number of bright, vivid colours. Instead I went for another of my colour experiments. To contrast the yellow of the fabric I chose just two colours – dark delft blue and dark blue violet. Both from the DMC cotton range and I used two strands for the cross stitches. With luck this piece should fit into one of IKEA’s neat little square frames. Crossing my fingers!  Happy stitching.

Scottish Crossbill

My latest Blackwork project is now finished. Or at least the stitching part is! Not altogether surprisingly, for me, it is not in black. Here it is.img_4636

The body of the crossbill is stitched with hand made Japanese silk threads from the Colourwash series from GlissenGloss. This a variegated range with 12 very fine strands. This particular colour is cherry. Quite suitable for a Scottish Crossbill I think.  For variety of texture I used two, four and six strands of the thread. The fabric is a 28 count Britney, a mix of cotton and rayon, in pine green.

While the body of the crossbill is composed of Blackwork patterns I went for something different for the bill itself and the eye. The upper part of the bill was stitched with the redder parts of the range while most of the bottom bill was stitched with the browner parts of the range. A small section of the lower bill was stitched in a mix of yellow and cream threads to make the crossing over of the bill more apparent. The cream thread is a DMC cotton, while the golden yellow is a silk/rayon mix from Rajmahal threads. Both the upper and lower bill are padded for extra texture. The upper bill was stitched with long and short stitch, while the lower part was a simple sating stitch. The eye is also padded satin stitch, this time in a black brown cotton from DMC.

For the branch and cone I used mainly Appleton wool as a contrast to the smooth texture of the crossbill. Two shades of brown in long and short stitch for the branch. The cone started with padded satin stitch in a beige brown, overstitched with a trellis like stitch in brown cotton. Finally the feet, or to be precise, a bit of one foot can just about be made out on the left hand side of the crossbill. This was stitched with a dark pewter grey cotton thread.

I will probably get this framed eventually to go with the Merlin I did last year. Getting to be quite fond of birds as a subject for embroidery. However I think my next project will be back to flowers, tulips to be precise.  Happy stitching!