I have just finished stitching my latest project. This was a design which goes back to the First World War period.
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!
I have just finished my latest endeavour with Blackwork embroidery. It consists of two heart shapes, one within the other. Here it is.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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!
I have just finished the bargello medley project. I thought it might take me to Christmas to finish, but it has taken a few days longer. The stitching is finished but the whole thing has been, as often with me, pulled out of shape. A bit of stretching coming up!
The fabric is 18ct aida in pale green and three strands of DMC cotton was used throughout. The central section is partly outlined with a whipped stem stich in cream. This part is stitched in copper colours with blue and green for the inserts. Florentine Signets is the name that Pauline Fischer and Anabel Lasker give to this pattern in their book Bargello Magic. The version here is a slight adaptation. I originally wanted to just use blues and greens for the rest of the piece, but added a bit of grey to avoid too much blue and green together. Other than the Florentine Signets, the other patterns are all used twice. The finished piece is 290mmx205mm.
I have now acquired my own personal stamp and you can just about make out my name on the lower part of the right hand side. The stamp works quite well on embroidery work where there is some unstitched fabric, as in crewel work or most blackwork. Not so good for bargello though, where all of the fabric is covered in stitches. Here I had to try and stitch around the name, which is a bit awkward. Still nothing ventured, nothing gained!
A few days off stitching then back to work in the New Year. Happy New Year and happy stitching to one and all!
Another embroidery project completed and another experiment. Traditional Palestinian embroidery is nearly always made up of lots of bright vibrant colours. This time I decided to use just black, with a tiny amount of cream, on a red fabric. Here is the finished piece.
The fabric is an 18ct Aida in bright red, while the threads are from the DMC cotton range. I used two strands for the cross stitches. The four designs or motifs are all from the patterns used traditional Palestinian embroidery. Just not normally in one colour.
The centre piece is the two swans. Not that swans are particularly common in Palestine, but this pattern was common in pattern books. The upper right and bottom left motif is an olive branch, while the upper left and bottom right motif is a carnation. The border is known as the snail.
This was a bit of an experiment as I have never tried traditional Palestinian work with just one colour. The result is a bit unusual, but quite effective I think. The size is 12cm x 17cm and fits nicely into one of my IKEA black rimmed frames.
I have a couple of ideas in mind for my next projects. The first will be a simple illustration of the lighthouse at Tayport, while the second will be a merlin in flight, in blackwork. Happy stitching!