Saturday, 30 January 2016

Quietly continuing

There's still a lot to be done on this, but I'm slowly finding my way along, taking each section at a time and seeing where it leads me next.

As I haven't posted about this for a while, here are a couple of close ups

and the whole piece in natural light

I love the delicate turquoise and the way it interacts with the eco colour. I'm aware that those leaf prints may well fade with time, so am accenting them with stitch. I think there may be some floating seeds scattered about at some stage, it has a feeling of Autumn about it. Hardly surprising considering when I started.

I haven't decided on a border yet, I'm waiting to see where I get to with the stitching first, feeling for what the cloth is telling me as I stitch it. Truly a slow stitch project.

Sunday, 24 January 2016

Blackwork with a bit of red

Here's the finished piece: yes, something finished! Pam's design was a pleasure to work and she supplied us with a couple of pages of filling patterns to choose from, so each piece will be unique. One of the things I discovered, having a couple of books on the subject, was that these are almost infinite; just take a grid and join up the dots one way or another, any way you can think of, and repeat. It's a testament to our very human delight in pattern making and complexity.

I stuck to Pam's suggestion of working a differing weight of filling for each section, but didn't use my variegated thread in the end, it was a little too thick and would have looked unbalanced against the outline. I did use red though, which is always the first colour one thinks of with roses and this is a sort of rose. I've used two closely allied reds to reflect the way the colour of rose petals is sometimes shaded from centre to tip. I'm really happy with the result though, no, I'm NOT going to show you the back!

Hope you like it.

Wednesday, 20 January 2016

A very enjoyable interlude

Our Embroiderer's Guild Branch is a select group of talented women. There aren't very many of us compared to some branches in the south, but we do have some great embroiderers. This year as part of our programme we are running a series of mini workshops where three brave members have undertaken to teach the rest of us a technique that they feel they are good at, or love to do. So we have the option of Blackwork, Silk Shading and Ribbonwork over the coming months. The plan is to spend a Saturday afternoon happily stitching under the watchful eye and tutelage of our lovely experts. This Saturday I was reminded what a pleasure Blackwork is as one of our members, having designed a pattern and put together a little pack for each of us, sat us down and told us a bit about the history and helped us to get started. You may remember I did this in my City and Guilds back in 2012; the chance to revisit the technique was not to be missed.

A little bit of history. Blackwork was very popular in the Tudor court, having reputedly come across from Spain with Catherine of Aragon and was known then as Spanish Work. Initially always worked in black silk or cotton, often on even weave cloth. Here the patterns are created by the counted thread method, so working the stitches according to the number of threads stitched over or under. There are a variety of stitches used; one method using a running stitch, which is then worked back in the opposite direction, became known as Holbein Stitch because it appeared so often on the collars and cuffs of Holbein's court paintings. It is particularly clever as it looks the same from the back as the front and so was worked on the edges of garments where it would be seen on both sides. Some Blackwork is not counted thread, examples include pillow covers or coifs and caps worked in fantastical designs of plants and animals. Since then it has gone in and out of fashion and modern Blackwork would be unrecognisable to the original practitioners. One of the beauties of the stitch is the way you can create the most marvellous light and shade effects by both working with threads of different thicknesses and by fragmenting the stitching patterns so they appear to fade out. There are some wonderful examples on the Royal School of Needlework's page here,

So here are my efforts so far, the outlining done and the filling in to be started (whispers ... "don't ask why one of the acorns is wearing a hat"!). Such a pleasure to sit and stitch with a group of friends and share our enjoyment of embroidery. I am thinking of departing from tradition by working the acorn cups in a mid brown and the centre rose in red, possibly even a variegated thread as I do have some treasures I want to try.

So thank you Pam for providing us with such a lovely design, and for getting us started, I'll do my best to do it justice, and get it finished by the next workshop so your fresh band of students can see what is possible.