There’s a woven spiders web wheel for the top of the picnic basket, the little girl’s red hair is worked in coral stitch and her older sister’s is satin stitch. It’s barely visible in the photo, but the satin stitch is angled this way and that to create something that looks a little like a Marcel wave – a very grown up style on a relatively young girl!
This motif, “Reading” shows particularly clearly how skilled the designer was in making the best possible use of simple shapes and simple line. Much of the design uses straight stitches – for the leaves, the bark, and the stems of the leaves.
It couldn’t be simpler to do, but doesn’t it look good!
This is the point where – after nobly containing my experimental impulses for quite some time! – I indulged in a few wanderings from the path laid down. The shorts are actually woven! It must have been tricky to get right, but it’s worked really well – they look slightly tweedy, but in any case the sort of heavy fabric that any sensible mother would clothe her child in for scrambling around rocks and beaches.
The little gold fish is worked in Vandyke stitch, which is tricky to keep even but creates a strong line down the side of the fish to contrast with the net in the background.
I worked this immediately after the First Voluntary Project, and my goodness, is there a difference between the two! I think I must have talked with Grandmama and looked at some of her embroidery, and it looks as though suddenly the whole idea “clicked”.
The motifs are from transfers from another of Grandmama’s Needlewoman Magazines (August 1934, if you are interested!), worked on an old piece of linen in stranded cottons. The design was suggested to be a cover for a photograph album, but since my family isn’t really photograph-conscious, I felt that such a thing would be superfluous, and finished it as a traycloth instead. We added the seagull to cover a hole in the linen, which was already quite old.
The range of stitches is very limited on this piece – I must have been following the instructions in the magazine – and the whole thing is surprisingly neatly worked. I love the little girl’s spotty dress (satin stitch spots!) and windswept stem stitch hair, and the starfish is wonderfully knobbly, with closely packed French knots.
Most of the outlining across the whole piece is in back stitch, and although I didn’t count it precisely, I suspect the weave of the linen made that much easier to do than it might have been.
The designs themselves are very reminiscent of the children’s books of the period – it’s even exactly the right sort of dog, slightly scruffy, but always ready to play!