Dreams of Amarna – The Faience Hippopotamus, Second Stage

The reason I am calling this poor fellow an experiment is that I’m working him in long and short stitch. I have said that working on the Floral Glove Needlecase project has been illuminating and that I am warming to long and short stitch – well, we’ll see what I think when I’ve worked an entire piece in long and short stitch!

Half Done Hippo

Half Done Hippo

In the meantime, here he is, half done. The darkest and lightest shades are  ordinary stranded cottons, but the middle three use overdyed threads. One of them shades from turquoise blue to russett, and the others are both fairly subtle variations  on a dark and a light turquoise.

I am using two strands, with one of them turned end-to-end in comparison with the other. I’ve never done this before, but it means that the shading of the overdyed colours is slightly more spread out and more subtle than it would be if I left them both as they came off the skein. It also means that the twist in one strand runs counterwise to the twist in the other so one strand shortens during stitching. I’ve chosen not to mind about that, but if you did happen to mind I think the way to achieve the same effect would be to buy two skeins and start them at different points in the cycle of colours.

I’m also working in slightly untidy sections of the body, with two or three needles ready to go, depending upon the colour I need. I’m using long stitches, and aiming to cover the fabric beneath without packing the stitches too closely.

I’m really pleased with this so far. The colours are working well, and the variations will give a bit of modelling without attempting to create a needle painting.


  1. karen says:

    Hi Rachel, thanks for the good wishes. He’s getting there!

  2. Elmsley Rose says:

    What fantastic “Egyptian” colouring! I think he’s looking great!

  3. I think he’s looking very hippopotamussy!

    By turning one thread around you get them going different twist directions? Really? How? Am I understanding you correctly? It is late on Saturday night (ok, its not really that late, being only 8pm, but I’m tired) but my mind can’t work that one out…

  4. karen says:

    I very much like the use of the word ”girl” in reference to me! You can come again!!

  5. Lady Fi says:

    I like the use of the two different shades of thread to create light and shadow and texture.

  6. Janice says:

    Hi Rachel,
    Your long and short stitch is beautiful, and what a good idea for an image like this about reversing the threads.