Since I had some requests for more details about the Piano Shawl, I rummaged around in my photographs to try to come up with pictures that might explain a little more of what I did and how I approached it.
I knew that I would be using some variegated threads and some plain ones, so the first decision I made was that I would use each in particular places. In that way there would be a scheme of sorts that would guide me.
First of all, the ribbon stave was definitely going to be variegated. It would help to create a ripple of life around the design, and incidentally, since it felt like miles of stitching, I would be able to feel the progress I had made in an afternoon in the colour changes. Then I felt that the colour alone did not provide sufficient structure, so I developed the scheme further – the chainette ribbon was couched down as the middle line on the stave, and also used for bar lines and clefs. The next two lines of the stave (one on each side of the central one) were worked using pearl cotton, in Portuguese Knotted Stem Stitch, which is a favourite of mine. I used it elsewhere for some of the stems, in a very fine silk thread which produced a very different effect. The two outer lines of the stave were stitched in ordinary chain stitch using a rayon bouclé which was serious trial to stitch with, but which looks really effective.
The flowers themselves I worked in ordinary stranded cotton, using about six different shades of browny-pink, and creating an entirely un-naturalistic variety of light edges and dark edges, strong and weak colour variations. There was the risk of producing something too stately if I tried too hard, and since the Shawl was destined for a grand piano, the surroundings were going to be pretty stately already. A grand piano is a pretty dignified and imposing piece of furniture!