Now, where had I got to…?

Starting After The New Year
Starting After The New Year

What with one thing and another, it is quite some time since you last saw Ankhsenpaaten. I had got quite a long way, and was pleased with progress, but still not entirely sure about her.

Then, of course, we had the Christmas period, and I don’t even attempt to stitch anything that requires serious concentration during that time. There are simply too many other things competing for my attention.

And besides, my favourite place in which to stitch is occupied by the tree….

Details Crisper
Details Crisper

So when I came back to her, I was full of trepidation. This seems like such a simple way to create an image, but in order for the “Stare Hard and Then Stitch” approach to be really successful, I need to have some sense of the whole thing in my head, so that the stitch sizes and threads all fall naturally to hand as each element is worked and reworked. The long break, and a variety of other things happening in the background, mean that my mental “map” of this piece had fallen out of my head, and needed to be painfully clawed back in again.

And “painful” was indeed the word. I’ve not regained the sense of surety I was beginning to feel at the point when I stopped working on it.

Moment To Pause And Think
Moment To Pause And Think

However, I continued to juggle with lights and darks, adding some of the details in the extension of the head and neck at the back which supports the stone in an upright position, staring and then stitching, and stitching and then staring.

I’ve brought the strong darks around the ears a little more to the fore, emphasized the light area down the side of the face, and brought a little more detail around the mouth and the line of the jaw.

There are elements of this I’m still not entirely confident about, but I am also becoming afraid of going too far, and ruining it by doing too much.

Time to stop, turn my back, and come back when my anxieties have stepped into the background and I can judge more truly. I’m declaring her “provisionally finished”.


  1. This is stunning Rachel! I particularly like the area of her left eye, nose, lips and chin. And I so get you with the mental map thing!

  2. Sue Jones says:

    Coming along nicely. Very nearly there. I wouldn’t rush to do more of her until you can see the piece with a fresh eye, and see what little it still needs. It might be worth making a greyscale print or two of that photo, on normal paper, and playing with some pencil, ink/charcoal and whiteout/chalk dots, until you are happy with the tone values.

  3. Jen Mullen says:

    It is really fascinating to see the stitches make highlights and shadows! Amazing to see the face emerge.

  4. Meredithe says:

    So effective! The detail around the mouth and jaw make such a difference and the light down the side of the face gives such a 3D look. You are very clever!

  5. Lady Fi says:

    The play of light and dark is fabulous!

  6. Deborah says:

    This is just wonderful your talent knows no limit. Beautiful work

  7. Alex Hall says:

    Your placement of light and dark stitches is working really well and looking at the images with my glasses off (it may blur the detail but is a great way of judging shading!) I personally would hesitate to add any more.

  8. Carolyn Foley says:

    Keep struggling, you are winning the battle!

  9. Jane says:

    Beautiful! I love the different tones.

  10. This piece is getting better by every stitch!

  11. Terrie says:

    Very delicate and detailed portrait.

  12. Catherine says:

    This is stunning Rachel! Such a wonderful way to get your desired effect. The shading, to me, looks perfect.

  13. There’s always that delicate balance of when to call a project done, isn’t there? Especially with a piece of art like the one you’ve created. Our middle daughter is like that with her some of her paintings. She never signs them until she feels they’re done. Sometimes, all it takes is a single stroke for what is on the canvas to match the vision in her mind. I’ve watched her puzzle that out for days.

    Thanks so much for linking up to this month’s Stitchery Link Party. Aloha hugs!

  14. Susan says:

    I can imagine this is a very delicate balance. I do like the last photograph, and if it is left at that, I think you have a fine piece. It was too dark even in the middle picture, and you have lightened it considerably. I think you may have a finish, but only you can really decide if you do. She’s really beautiful.