Standing Stones – Orkney

This is one of these embroidery projects that has been a very long time in the making. The inspiration goes back to last August when we were on holiday in Orkney. Beautiful island with so many wonderful sites to visit. One of course was the marvellous Ring of Brodgar standing stones. I took many photos and on return was determined to use this visit as the basis for an embroidery piece. Here is the result.IMG_0560It was easier said than done as it turned out. Lots of cogitating on just what to stitch, how to stitch it and what to include. Eventually early this year I finally decided on what to include – the above four stones. They are reasonably accurate small scale versions of the actual stones, as captured on my camera. However I still had no idea as to how to stitch the dam thing. Try for realism, turn it into a blackwork design?

Anyway it was not until this month that I finally decided enough was enough and just got started. Neither realistic nor blackwork, but a mixture of various surface embroidery stitches. As anyone who has been to Orkney will immediately recognise, this resulting piece looks nothing like the stones at Brodgar. Probably don’t look like standing stones anywhere. But hey, this is a work of art, well that is my excuse.

The fabric is an Essex linen mix in ivory. Quite thin, so I added an iron-on backing to firm it up. Worked well. The threads are all cotton, mainly from DMC with some Anchor. The outline of the stones is stitched in stem stitch using two strands of black. Most of the rest is stitched with just one strand, apart from some of lines in the third stone from the left, where I also used two strands.

Only two stitches were used for this work – long and short for the flat parts and stem stitch for the wavy lines. Most of the stitching inside the stones is done with various shades of grey. I added a little colour here and there, partly to brighten the piece up, but also because many of the stones do have bits of colour on them. These additional colours were, copper, desert sand, winter white, black brown and a dark green.

Not sure if the piece is actually finished. I am now swithering  whether to add a bit of green and purple around the base of the stones to represent the grass and heather of the site. Will no doubt spend another few months cogitating over this. Any suggestions welcome.

The final work will remain in its hoop, which is a 16cm Nurge frame. One of the ironies of this piece is that I have spent ages and ages thinking and planning the work, while the actual embroidery has only taken me nine and a half hours so far. Happy stitching!


Endless Knot

I have for some time had in mind stitching some Buddhist symbols. The Endless Knot is a fairly simple design so seemed a good choice to start with. IMG_0487The fabric is a kana cotton in ivory. It is a rather fine fabric so I decided to strengthen it by adding on an iron-on backing. This turned out to be a big mistake. Solely because of the yarn I had chosen for this piece.

This was a 80%/20% wool/silk mix from the Amitola range by Louisa Harding. This is a lovely soft yarn made for knitting. I had bought this at a sale in a shop in Pittenween some years ago. Unfortunately, though lovely for knitting it is not so good for embroidery. At least not on a re-inforced fabric as I was using. The yarn kept stretching  and fraying as it tried to make its way through the two layers of fabric. To such an extent that I lost about half of the yarn. Lesson learned – no need for two layers when using this yarn!

The yarn is a variegated one by the name of Tango. It has long stretches of orange, brown, purple and pink. For this piece I started with purple and ended up with a pinky/rose colour.

I used a heavy chain stitch for this piece. I have become quite fond of this stitch and use it a lot now. As the yarn stretched and frayed quite a bit the finished line is not as smooth or even as I would have liked. Still I am rather pleased with the piece. I need to somehow stretch the fabric as best I can. The plan is to finish it off in a hoop. Happy stitching.