It has taken me a while to finish the embroidery for the Lady Catherine’s Slipper Needlework Nibble. In part this is due to our usual modern complaint of Life in general getting in the way, and in part it is due to my aversion to black. It will look lovely when it’s done, but anything that involves me working with black thread rather than any other colour is always going to be low on the list. However, now it is done, and I move on to the question of Finishing…
Which means being a brave girl and messing around with glue, close to my careful stitchery and some absolutely gorgeous silk brocade.
Since glue is involved, and has to dry between each stage of the assembly, it took several episodes, spread over a couple of days, but I got there in the end, and I’m very pleased with it.
I photographed it lying across a Limoges enamel bowl belonging to my parents, so that it would show up nicely against against the glossy enamel background.
The gold thread is a really fine one, and the spidery black tendrils embellishing the black border help it to stand out against the base fabric.
My cord-making skills could use some improvement, I think, as the cord sewn around the edge isn’t entirely even, nor is it as tightly twisted as I would have liked. It is, however, rather better than the one I made for the Glittering Snail, so at least there are signs that Practise is indeed Making Perfect!
This one has gold curlicues edged in black and the background and lining are of black and gold silk brocade. I hesitated before deciding to take it on – black is a colour I’m not fond of – but since the gold was there to lift it, and since the various challenges of finishing the Nibbles are very good for me, I went ahead.
In the instructions, Tricia suggests using brown Micron pen for the main curlicues and black for the ornamental curls. That’s a great idea, but as brown is all I have (from the Glittering Nightcap kit) and my local artists’ suppliers don’t know about Micron I shall simply have to stay alert, especially as the lines have turned out rather faint.
The embroidery in this case seems fairly simple – the golden curlicues are worked in Heavy Chain Stitch, one of my favourites, and the black silk will be worked in Stem Stitch and Split Stitch.
As usual, therefore, the challenge will be in the making up. It will probably take me a week or so, once I’ve finished the embroidery, to gather my courage to tackle the finishing!
At long last I have finished the embroidery on the Butterfly Pinpad. The embroidery was simple enough – chain stitch, French knots, and satin stitch, worked either with a fine metal thread or pale green silk thread but the fine stitches gave me aching arms during the tennis elbow episode, so everything took longer than I would expect. Then of course I had to get started on finishing it. The reason it took me so long to wind myself up to it was – as some of you may have guessed – that glue was involved!
In fact, on this occasion, I cheated – if you can call it cheating when an embroideress uses her needle and thread! I chose to lace the butterfly itself, and the silk backing, onto their card supports, rather than attaching them with glue.
I found the ruched edging almost impossible to keep straight and even – perhaps I simply didn’t make the gathering threads quite even enough. Even squiffy, though, it looks quite luxuriant!
The bows were quite hair-raising to do, as well – tiny, made of very fine silk ribbon, and a little inclined to flop. I tied my fingers in knots, several times, as I made and attached the four of them!
Now that it’s finished, I’m pretty pleased with it, all the same, although I can’t imagine I’ll ever be able to bring myself to stick pins in it…
There is yet another Needlework Nibble available from Thistle Threads! This involves a particularly fine gold thread, and some stranded silk.
This one is a tiny butterfly, outlined in gold, highlighted in pale green silk, and then finished as a pinpad. I have discovered in the past two years that I really enjoy working these little pieces, and they are a great way to find out about different threads, stitches or techniques without being entirely overwhelmed by the scale of the project.
I’m suffering from tennis elbow at the moment (owing to the housework, not the embroidery!), so I am particularly interested in smaller projects that allow me to make visible progress in short spans of time. I thought that this might be one of them, but actually the stitches are so hair-raisingly small that I’m no longer sure that is the case.
The stitches are only a couple of millimetres long, and with my arm in its present state, what you see here is the result of two half-hour sessions!
I have finished the Tulip Slip Needlework Nibble. I used a sewing machine to attach the silk brocade backing to the silk velvet front, because my fingers were still shredded from finishing the Floral Glove Needlecase, and the velvet was very hard to stitch.
The amount of stuffing needed for even quite small items never ceases to astonish me. By the time I finally managed to finish stuffing this one I was wondering whether it opened into the Fourth Dimension!
The corner detail shows the trefoil shapes in gold cord used to finish the piece. Those, too, were rather a challenge. I was rather wishing for a third hand to help me hold the loops in place while I attached them, and as you can tell from looking at the whole thing, some of the loops are loopier than others.
The corner detail also shows more clearly the effect of the silk gimp outline which creates a crisp edge for the shape, and helps to keep the pile of the velvet from encroaching on the tent stitched Tulip.
This was rather fun to do, and it will make a great addition to my planned “winter decoration corner” of historical needlework projects…
I had a minor epiphany about halfway through, when I realised that in this particular case, absolute accuracy in colour placement isn’t really necessary. I’m not trying to create a picture which will look all wrong if every stitch isn’t exactly as charted. Tricia has created a stylised design which we are then going to use to learn the technique of working with tent stitch slips. So in minor details, the Tulip is not exactly as charted, but I doubt anyone will notice!
The next stage was to cut out the slip, and attach it to the velvet, turning the edges under as far as possible. I didn’t think this would be easy, and it wasn’t. Since linen for counted work is quite widely-sett (that is, the set up of the warp and weft allows a little air between the threads), it’s also rather prone to fray, and rolling the threads under with a needle turned out to be a slightly hairy experience.
On top of that – we all know that velvet “creeps”, don’t we? I unpicked and re-positioned the slip twice, and ended up pinning it firmly in place, regardless of the risk to my stitchery. I’m pleased to report that there seems to be no lasting damage…
The final stage before assembling the pincushion (that will be another post!) was to edge the slip with silk gimp. The green gimp matched one of the green silk threads, so I used a single strand to couch it down. Except that the various fabrics were sturdy enough to make it quite an effort to stitch through them, this enterprise proceeded as planned. The instructions showed the slip simply outlined as a single piece, rather than having any details of outlining each separate section.
In real life, the slip doesn’t look as ragged around the edges as it does in close up!
My kit and finishing kit for the Tulip Slip Needlework Nibble arrived very promptly. They have obviously got all this down to a fine art, now, at Thistle Threads, because I was expecting it to be another week at least!
My Tulip Kit contains the linen and silk for the embroidery, while the finishing kit contains silk velvet for the pincushion, gimp to edge the slip, and Grecian Twist to trim the pincushion when it’s finished. The parcel also contained information about the Exhibition being supported.
I’ve said before that I colour in charts when I’m about to start on counted work. I should have explained that I don’t colour in the whole thing, or at least, not necessarily. The second photo shows the linen and silks lying on my printout of the instructions. You can see that in this case I’ve picked one colour in each section to colour in. Usually it’s best to pick one of the middle tones, because if a design is properly charted, as this one is, the dark colours will have dark symbols, and the light colours, light symbols. The coloured shade is to help make it clear which of the medium-to-light tone of symbols is which.
It is really simply there to help me find my place on the chart just at a glance, without having to take to long to check I’m still doing the right thing!
I’ve enjoyed the Glittering Snail, and the two Thistle Threads courses I’ve been following, so I’ve ordered my kit, and the finishing kit to go with it. I’ve printed out the instructions, as well.
Tricia has already reported that the fundraising is going well – about halfway to the target, thanks to the generosity of one of her readers who has matched the first thousand dollars raised. That means there are still kits available, although they are clearly moving fast.
He was a lot of fun to stitch. I was introduced to silk gimp and silk purl (as I’ve already said, I don’t know what I will use them for, but I’m sure I’ll find something!). I don’t think I’ve ever stitched anything quite so small, either.
Tricia provided the blue silk thread to make the cord, and a silk fabric to back the ornament, although I think I need more practice at making cord, since mine ended up a bit floppy! However, it has now ended up with the whole thing, from hanging loop to tassel, made from a single length of cord, and I am hanging it up in my living room to keep it from getting crushed.
My local art shop sells cutouts of mount-card, presumably for people to do papercrafts with, but I find they make perfect mounts for this sort of ornament. I used one card for the front and one for the back, lightly glued fine wadding to the card and then stretched the fabric over the top (using glue or thread to secure it, depending upon which seems most appropriate). Front and back are then held together and overstitched, and the stitching can be covered with cord.
I used almost exactly the same technique – on a larger scale – when I was mounting “Starbright” a couple of years ago.
So, bright-eyed, bushy-tailed, and full of enthusiasm, I sat down with my Glittering Snail Kit and got started. And, in fact, the silk gimp and silk-wrapped purl are not the only threads new to me, so it was great fun.
The pink and orange threads are both silk floss rather than spun silk. Occasionally I snagged the floss on the screw on the hoop, or a fingernail, or even on another bit of thread (how? don’t ask!), but I really enjoyed it, all the same.
The snail’s body is worked using the silk gimp and stretched silk-wrapped purl, couched with the pink floss. They were easy to work with – they felt gorgeous! – and I have a tiny bit left to play with a little while I think about how I might use them in my own embroidery. At the moment, nothing is really springing to mind, but I’m pretty sure that somewhere along the line some silk-wrapped purl will appear..