Following on from my previous project – Blackwork with a variegated thread, I decided to continue in this vein for my next piece. It seemed an easy and straightforward choice. Alas just about everything that could go wrong, went wrong. This project turned into a very good illustration of the benefits of thorough planning and preparation. All pretty much absent from my work practices.
The biggest problem and the source of much trouble was my consistent inability to estimate how much thread will be needed to complete a project. Every since a boy on a golf course I have never developed any sense of estimating anything. Sad. Anyway this project started as a circular design to fit into a 12cm hoop. No real problem, and away I go with the stitching. Only to realise after about a third of the work completed that the remaining thread would not cover the rest of the design.
No problem really, I just had to order some more of the thread. Which was a lovely hand painted Japanese silk thread from the Colorwash range by Glissen Gloss. Number 508, Blueberry. Unfortunately I immediately discovered that my usual online supplier no longer stocks this thread. Desperately searching elsewhere I discover that the Colorwash range has become very rare in the UK. Only one source offered this particular colour, but it would cost over £17.00 for just one. Mainly due to coming from the USA. So I reluctantly declined this offer.
So back to the drawing board! I would like to say back to Plan B, but there was no Pan B. However I still had a few of the little square 6cm mounts, so the new plan was to curtail the design to fit into one of these mounts.
Easier said than done, as first of all I had to unpick a fair amount of the stitching that would not be needed for a little square. There was also the fact that my chosen Blackwork pattern was a very dense one, possibly too dense for me. Whatever, I found that I was continually having to unpick bits again and again when I had miscounted a bit. Still the end result is quite pleasing.
The fabric is a 32ct Murano – a rayon/cotton mix in blue. The thread is a 12ply silk, which is very, very fine. To get variation in texture I use a mixture of two, four and six strands of the thread. it is a pretty dense pattern.
By only working for a 6cm square I had a fair bit of the fabric left. As a good Fifer, I was loath to waste this, so nothing else but to start on another little square. Luckily during my search for the Blueberry thread, I came across a supplier in Dumfries who could offer me another variegated thread in blue from the same Colorwash range. Twilight is the name of this variety.
So, armed with my new silk thread I started on the second of my little squares. This very quickly led to another surprise. Though part of the same range as the Blueberry thread and with the same information on the label – a 12 ply silk from Japan, this thread is very different. I have used this 12 ply thread many times and on every previous occasion I need two strands to get the equivalent of one cotton strand.
So to start this piece I began with four strands as the equivalent of two cotton strands. As I soon discovered the resulting work did not look or feel right. The threads on the fabric appeared so much thicker than I expected. So after a bit of experimenting it became clear that this particular thread was in fact not just 12 ply, but 12 strands. One strand of this silk was the same as one strand of cotton. As I had already started I decided to keep the section stitched with the four strands. It is in the centre and it does stand out a bit.
The rest was stitched with one, two or three strands. It is quite an open pattern and much easier to stitch than the first one above, and took a lot less time. Altogether I spent about 24 hours on the two pieces. Glad I persevered with this.