An Experimental Thistle

Preparatory Felt

Preparatory Felt

After I’d (mostly) finished Loading The Felucca, I found myself temporarily lacking inspiration for the Dreams of Amarna, so I thought I’d have a go at an idea that has been burbling around in the back of my mind for a while. I’m hoping a change of scene, as it were, will “reboot” my imagination.

The background fabric is a silk brocade, and I’ve padded the thistle itself with wool felt, in several layers (three under the topmost green circle, in fact).

I drew the whole thing freehand, and I think I will remove and replace the lefthand leaf with a reversed version of the righthand leaf. It will look more balanced and altogether happier if I do.

Working with Gimp

Working with Gimp

I’m intending to use silk purl and coloured wire purl for the thistle flower, but I wanted something for those to be embedded in. I’ve chosen to use a gold and viscose gimp, and I’m couching it down in a series of fringes zigzagging across the flower.

Each fringe is twisted back on itself – I used a pin as a sort of handle – and held down with small stitches at each end. As each additional layer went on, the “free” ends were held down a little less firmly. It’s a delicate balance between controlling the thread sufficiently (and remember gimps are very stiff and have a mind of their own!) and leaving it looking free and springy!


  1. elaine says:

    I really like the brocade background and those coloured purls, where did you find them? I want to have a go at a thistle myself one day! I had thought about some stump work, but this looks a better idea 🙂

  2. Sue Jones says:

    It will be an imposing thistle, I can see that. Really like the colours in the gimp – I have a great weakness for sludgy pinky-purply-grey shades.

  3. Lady Fi says:

    I like the colours! The thistle is looking good.

  4. Helen says:

    It will be fascinating to see the flower develop, being a lover of flowers as I am

  5. Penny says:

    What a lovely thistle this will be! I love the use of the fringe. It will be so much fun and beauty to watch this come together.

  6. jenclair says:

    That thistle is going to be wonderful. Love how it looks already!

  7. The thistle looks super – I am a great fan of thistles whether in sewing or in the hedgerow …… but I have learned not to admire thistles in the company of farmers, as they can pose great problems for them!

  8. wendy says:

    I love the look of that fringe! I’m really looking forward to watching you stitch this!

  9. Janice says:

    How ingenious! I think I can get an idea of how it will look when finished. That gimp was an inspired choice if my imagination is right!

  10. Katherine says:

    What a lovely thistle! Beautiful work and I look forward to seeing it progress

  11. Terrie says:

    Nice to see the fringe look and the way of making.

  12. karen says:

    love what you have done with the gimp……

  13. Carolyn says:

    The use of gimp does add depth to the piece.

  14. deanna7trees says:

    oh yes. your use of the gimp is wonderful and i love the color.

  15. This is going to be lovely. I’m looking forward to seeing it as you add to it.

    And thank you for linking up your beautiful Lady in the Garden to last Monday’s Stitchery Link Party. I clicked through and read the story of Grandmama’s Lady. Your Grandmothers stitching was amazing!