Those of you who follow me on Twitter or Instagram will have seen some rejoicings over the weekend. I have been working on the gold stitched background for the polychrome tent stitch for what seems like forever, but in fact it is less than a year – I began the Elizabethan Ground Stitch in October of last year. A serious shoulder problem interfered with my work at my floor frame at one stage, and then I was all taken with with my ideas for the Head of Nefertiti, so it was only recently that I got back to it. And now I have finished that laborious stage, and I can move on to the more complex and intriguing techniques which were the whole reason for taking the course.
For instance, this one. Tricia describes this as a variation on Velvet Stitch, worked in silk thread over what I presume is a fine double ended knitting needle. It makes a perfect spacer for the pile of the stitch, anyway, and arrived with all the other bits and pieces.
Tricia tells us to come up through the already occupied hole, to avoid pulling the thread through to the back and reducing the pile. I went a step further and worked it from the back, ensuring that I kept the stitch neat and the stitching going up through the right holes!
I must admit I enjoyed this, simple, and straightforward, but with just enough challenge to keep me awake and alert.
And here is the first hillock, finished and fluffy. It looks as though it would be beautifully soft underfoot, doesn’t it!
This is much the best print I’ve managed of Nefertiti, pressure, speed and amount of ink all working nicely, and very few really dark sections. What I want to do now is to highlight the coloured elements of the crown she wears – unique to her, apparently, no-one else in ancient Egypt has ever been depicted wearing it. I’ve got some gorgeous silk threads from Mulberry Silks which should do the job perfectly, but first they need a skeleton of gold. I had a lovely rummage in among the assorted wonders I’ve received from Thistle Threads (they have their own special box, of course), and after staring critically at the linen fabric, picked out the Special Tambour, and made a start.
My idea is to create a framework of Ladder Stitch, and then add colour – as in the Tudor Rose project – using silk threads. Long term readers may recall that during the Tudor and Stuart Goldwork Masterclass, I had some trouble with Ladder stitch, so although I was fairly sure the idea would work, I sat down with some trepidation.
To be very pleasantly surprised. Something has happened in the intervening few years, and my ladder stitch wasn’t as trying as I expected, and moved fairly swiftly, too. I may yet decide to redo the stitches, because I re-tightened the fabric in the frame about halfway across, but that will depend upon how much better the second section looks when I have done it.
There are in fact several errors in the stitching here. However, since I kept losing them and finding them and losing them again, I decided to let them stand. If even I can’t keep them in sight, no-one else will find them…
I enjoyed using the silk thread for the stitching – but then I keep saying that, don’t I? Silk seems alive somehow, in a way that cotton, linen, and even wool, don’t.
What really surprised me was just how small the pincushion was when I finished it, using a spare fragment of silk fabric for the back. It was really quite astonishingly fiddly when it came to turning it inside out and especially when it came to the corners.
Still, here it is, done, and stuffed, and the final side closed up neatly..
And then I put it in the palm of my hand and finally realised just how small it really is…
Another one for that eventual Winter Decoration Corner, I think – in my chaotic workspace, a pincushion this size would sink without trace!
It has taken what felt like forever (although the post describing the start is less than a year old, as it happens), because firstly, I have to do counted work in short bursts or it drives me up the wall, secondly it is very fine and required a magnifier, and thirdly – there’s a lot of it!
In fact, to be strictly accurate, I haven’t quite finished, but that is because the skip tent backgrounds for the cartouches reach under the trees, and I want to decide how leafy I want to make them before I do miles of tent stitch that may all be covered. But I feel as though I’ve reached a milestone, so please don’t rain on my parade!
I hadn’t intended to do any of the Frostings Box designs, because I was intending to keep all the threads for my own purposes, but I’ve not been able to settle to anything this summer. I lost my “Dreams of Amarna” notebook (and found it again!), and although I have several pieces I want to do for it, I have no idea how I want to do them!
So I’ve been starting lots of little things to do in the intervals of the next major project.
I’m determined not to buy anything for these projects, so I fished out a random piece of linen, and then the next thing was to discover how many threads to use. The instructions said four strands of Soie de Paris, but since I have no idea where the linen came from or what count it was, I thought the choice was worth testing. The left section is in two strands and the right is four.
Four it is, then!
The next decision was colour scheme. As it happens, I don’t have the colours specified, so I decided to play around until I had something that looked interesting.
After a trip to the post box to pay the customs charge (I’ve no idea whether the rules have changed, or whether they’ve just got a bit zealous – Tricia has always been scrupulous in declaring contents on the package), I have received my second Frostings Box from Thistle Threads.
And yes, it’s in the same glazed card box with a magnetic clasp. Sturdy, and lovely to look at!
At risk of making everyone drool all over their keyboards, here’s the low-down – together with some of my ideas…
There is some hand-dyed chenille (that’s destined for Placidus, if I don’t find a use for it earlier). I haven’t an immediate use for the soutache or the strawberries, but the Flower Stamens may come in handy for the Violets…
I’m not quite so sure about the metal threads.
I’ve not got them out of their boxes to work out how to use them, but they might make embellishment on the jerkin for Placidus, or on Jason and Medea’s clothing for The Golden Fleece. Or even form parts of Egyptian jewellery for the Dreams of Amarna.
Finally there are two silk gimps (all on their own to the left of the picture) and a lovely selection of fine filament silk Trame. These are in some of the colours used in the Soie Ovale, but much finer, and as Tricia describes in a recent post, the whole idea here is to allow us to twist our own threads, blending colours and thicknesses to achieve the effect we want.
After all those good intentions, I’ve rather fallen behind with “Eve In The Garden Of Eden”. It’s not that it’s difficult – rather fine, requiring the use of the magnifier, but not especially difficult. Unfortunately I’ve only got as far as three of the five panels on the spine of the bookcover. There are two more little panels on the spine, and then two identical ornamental frames, back and front, showing Adam, Eve, the Tree Of Knowledge, and the Snake. And that’s before I start on the complicated bits!
Reasons/excuses for the delay? Well, I moved over to the Canvaswork Angel over Christmas (it seemed more appropriate somehow!), and then I was blindsided by the The Great Lady’s Magazine Stitch Off. Not that I am complaining, you understand – it’s been fascinating to begin finding out about the early days of periodicals and to see the designs provided for subscribers, especially as even more are beginning to come to light!
And now I have been reminded that I really need to get on with it, because the finishing kit has arrived, including some rather lovely silk brocade, and some fancy threads I’ve not come across before.
Tricia, at Thistle Threads, has launched the Frostings Club, which is a thread club specifically concentrating on reconstructions of historic thread. She explains on the page I’ve linked to why she did so, and although historic embroidery isn’t my primary focus, thread is one of my deepest interests. So I joined up for the first session, partly because I want to contribute to the project, and partly because I expect that I will find a whole host of non-historical uses for them.
My first box has arrived – after a frustrating hold-up in Heathrow when I knew it was in the country and it wasn’t getting any closer to me! – beautifully packaged in a very solid cardboard box with a magnetic closure. I’ve been having a lovely rummage, puzzling over what I find and thinking about what I might choose to do with it when I get the chance…
I’m not at all sure what Lacet threads are, or what I might do with them, but Tricia has promised to release some designs and suggestions, so if I can’t think of something for myself, there will be suggestions a-plenty.
The Cordon, Gimp and Metal and Metallic threads are possibly a little easier for me to make plans for. The metallic threads have fortuitously turned up in colours I was thinking of using for the wings of the Christmas Angel, so I may have in immediate use there.
But then again, once the Angel’s cape is in place, I may change my mind and who knows what will happen…?
I was even more intrigued by two of the items that came with the first kit. They look rather like double ended knitting needles, but the picture doesn’t seem to included anything knitted. The kit also includes an assortment of gimps, a gold thread, and a wonderful selection of silk floss. I’ve fallen in love with silk thread since I started following Tricia’s courses, and while I still find uses for my cotton, linen, and wool, silk is always a treat.
The first stage is all in tent stitch. The fabric is 30 count, which is fine enough to that I have been using both my goosenecked magnifier, and my magnifying glasses. This is the central panel of the spine. I’ve decided to enlarge the chart before I do any of the colour stitches, because the chart is a bit small, but I’m rather pleased with it so far.
I’m going to try to keep up with this course, because I’ve just seen that there is a Stumpwork Lion course being planned, and he looks wonderful!
At long last I got a chance to finish up and turn the Tudor Rose into a little mounted panel. I got a local framing shop to cut me two pieces of acid free mount board, and mounted it over one of them, with a little padding to bring it to life. Then I covered the other (also with wadding) with some upholstery fabric that happened to be to hand, and overstitched the two boards together.
I covered the overstitching with a ribbon trim left over from when I finally mounted Christus Natus Est (whoo-hoo, some stash busting achieved!) and then, at some length and not without difficulty, attached a fine kumihimo cord around the front edge of the panel to frame it nicely.
It will go in that famed (and so far, still mythological) Winter Decoration Corner that I keep on talking about – when I finally create it.