The Crane – playing with silken thread, Part One
I decided to make a “Useful Pot For Putting Things In”, as Winnie-The-Pooh would have called it, for my cousin for Christmas. In fact, I cheated and merely embroidered a design for a lid!
I found the motif in the Japanese section of “Pattern Motifs: A Sourcebook” by Graham Leslie McCallum. I think it’s a crane. The design is very pared-down, and I thought it would make a good way to show off some of the superfine silk thread from Stef Francis, maybe even an excuse to use some more unusual stitches to see how the threads show them off.
Those of you who follow me on Twitter may recall that I tweeted this picture of the stitch I eventually chose to use. It’s called Hungarian Braided Chain, and I found it in one of those books by Edith John that I mentioned when I began embellishing the Circles Skirt. If you think of it as Heavy Chain with the needle weaving over and under the threads as shown here, you will get the idea.
I’m very taken with the stitch, in fact. It creates a fascinating textured line, and colour changes in an over-dyed thread bring it to life even more. I can imagine using it in plain thread as an indication of braid on clothing, or ropes on a ship, or even simply in side-by-side rows to create a textured effect.
This is the first – so far unfinished version, in superfine silk on silk habotai. The relatively short colour changes in this thread create subtle changes from stitch to stitch, emphasizing the structural patterning and texture. When the destined pot arrived I decided the combination looked altogether too hot and bothered, and went rummaging in my stash again…
The fabric I finally chose is a rough dupion from The Silk Route, in a golden cream colour which is extraordinarily difficult to photograph, and I picked a slightly different silk thread, more restricted in colour range. Using four strands of thread produced a lovely cable-like appearance, which you will see if you open the photo at full size.
The dark section of the design, behind the bird’s head, I worked in a dense version of trellis stitch, with horizontal, vertical, and diagonal lies all tied down with tiny cross stitches. Even working in a hoop or frame, trellis stitch cane be a bit of a challenge to stitch, but I made it in the end!