Thoughts on the Next Big Project

I’ve been continuing to think about The Vision of Placidus, but part of my inspiration has shifted, from the mille fleurs background of the the Unicorn Tapestry, to the edge-painting my mother did for a Fine Binding she made of The Wind In The Willows.


An edge painting is exactly what it says: colour added to the edge of the codex of a book, often in patterns or pictures that relate to the story or theme of the book.

So, although there may still be animals in mille fleurs fashion in odd spaces in the picture, I’m also planning to design a border. Underwater will be shown below the main image, just above the water surface on the vertical edges, and the sky on the upper border.

This design sheet shows the design of the edge painting for the book, to give you some idea of what I am thinking about.

There will be a pike underwater, I’m sure, and the vertical borders will be where the kingfisher, and maybe some dragonflies, can go. I might spend some time looking at the symbolism of various animals, just to make sure that the right creatures show their faces.

The corners will probably have the symbols of the Evangelists, but at the moment I’m not sure in quite what style..

In other news, Episode 40 of SlowTV Stitchery is now live, in which we move to the Christmas playlist, discuss the tension between economy and adequate coverage, and express surprise at the amount of real history one can learn from well researched fiction.

Stash Busting Canvaswork Footstool -2

As this is a strictly stash-busting exercise, and I wanted to balance the colours across the central bar, I started by finding the colours I had two skeins of, and putting them in order of intensity. This is Jacquard Stitch, but where the classical colour patterning is one colour for the broad stripes and another for the tent stitch, here I have simply cycled through the colours, so that each colour has a chance at both stripes.

On the other side of the central bar, the same colours, but this time in a variant of Moorish Stitch. I felt the same pattern of colours would be a bit too obvious, so this is a simple stripe, and where classically there is a row of tent stitch between each row of squares, this time I simply used a row of tent stitch in the darkest shade to “reset” the pattern.

And here is the result.

The stripes run the same way and balance each other very nicely, I think. I like the way the alternations in the Jacquard Stitch seem so very active, while the Moorish Stitch section is quieter and creates a simple shaded effect, rather like a row of cylinders side by side.

Episode 39 of SlowTV Stitchery is now live, on the delights of careering through history, the plethora of Mathildas in post-Conquest English royal circles, and giving some consideration of the eventual display of the piece.

Grape Hyacinths, 3

You may recall that I rediscovered the grape hyacinths some time ago, and, once I’d completed the leaves, I decided that the flowers were All Wrong, and took them out. A couple of weeks ago, I think, you saw a post about that, and about the further experiments I made.

The little satin stitch dots were definitely a misstep, so I thought a little harder about what it was I thought so charming about the flowers, and decided it was the slightly ruffled edges of the florets.

The resultant flower head, with dark stitches over light, seemed rather too much like a chequerboard, so the ones you see here use blended threads, but the same for both layers of the stitch. That’s better, although I still have some concerns…

I think the stitches may be a little too long, and I should perhaps make them rather more compact (remember my obsession with scale of stitch – it hasn’t figured at all while I’ve been concentrating on the Amarna Family, but it’s something that I’ve been aware of, and working on, for a long time now).

However, by the time I’d done all of them the second (third? fourth?) time, I was a little weary of the design. I’ve put it away with a mental note to try to find it again in the Spring, and see whether it’s easier to come to a decision when I have the real flowers in front of me!

And now, Episode 38 of SlowTVStitchery is live. It discusses shortness of memory, the Neanderthals, and and the terrors of yarn chicken…

The Stash Busting Canvaswork Footstool – Stitching Begins

Crochet Blanket
Crochet Blanket, made by Grandmama

Once I’d drawn out the size I thought I needed for the footstool cover, I needed to think about how to break it up and make something that looked deliberate.

I could, of course, take inspiration from Grandmama’s everlasting crochet blankets, made, I think, purely to keep herself occupied in times of trial. But somehow, that didn’t seem quite right. Maybe the footstool area seemed too small for that to work properly.

Framework in place

I gave some thought to how to divide up the space, but compared with the Crazy Canvaswork Cushion, the idea fell together really quite quickly.

I divided the area into seven sections, one long diagonal and three on either side, and then stitched along those lines in grey wool, using framed mosaic stitch.

Milanese Stitch panel

Then I started with the first section. The colour scheme was rather determined by what I felt I had a sufficient amount of thread for, and I decided after some experimentation that I was going to confine myself to diagonal stitches, and what’s more, that the diagonal stitches were all going to slant the same way. I’ve discovered that not all “Tapestry Wool” hanks are created equal, and some are distinctly thinner and sparser than others, so I really don’t need the added difficulty of making stitch directions mesh!

The next episode – Episode 37 – of SlowTVStitchery is now live. It considers the attraction of literary adventures, additional details on the Amarna Family Group, and the preferability of overcast weather for goldwork.

Grape Hyacinths, 2

First Try
First Try

Having completed all the greenery and removed the satin stitch flowers, I had to put new flowers in. Naturally, that didn’t happen first time, either!

This was my first attempt at the individual flowers on the grape hyacinth flower heads – twisted chain stitches using several different coloured strands of stranded cotton.

I wanted to try something raised, to contrast with the flatness of the stems and leaves, but this, slightly full, version of twisted chain hasn’t really worked. It looks far too heavy for a spring flower!

Second Try
Second Try

Out it came, and I tried again.

And for my second try, I may have invented another stitch. Again!

This is Fly Stitch topped with Twisted Chain Stitch. What I wanted to achieve was the slight sense of a ruffled skirt at the bottom of the individual bells, and this certainly works well enough for me to keep going, using this stitch, at least until I have a better idea!

Second Try Enhanced
Second Try Enhanced

All that admitted, I felt I’d ended up with too great a space between the stitches, and of course, I don’t want to try to fit more in, in case I lose the ruffles (as it were!). So I have filled in the gaps with single detached chain stitches.

Of course, I may yet come back and do somethign entirely different. but I decided at this point to leave this in place and continue my experiments!

The next SlowTV Stitchery is now live. Episode 36 tackles the difficulties of the canvas, Reynard the Fox provides a distraction, and there is some tackling of quandaries by changing tack..

Another footstool

Finished Footstool
Finished Footstool

Remember this footstool?

It has a cousin, also worked by Grandmama, which has been working hard as the footrest at my mother’s computer desk, and the stitching of which is past recovery.

So the idea is that I should do a canvaswork panel for it, and Only From Stash. After all, where is the point of having a stash if you don’t make good use of it?

That is all very well – I do have some suitable canvas. Just!

But much of my tapestry wool stash is inherited from others – notice the huge pile of neutrals! – and it might be rather a wild ride to get a 10 x 21 inch piece of sensible 10 count canvaswork out of this selection.

I had intended to do something with Clarice Cliff colours, but as it happens, I don’t have as much leftover of those colours as I thought I had. I’m pretty sure that the pinks won’t figure, and unfortunately the greens are too thin on the ground and too mismatched, as well. Much thought will be needed!

Canvaswork Angel
Canvaswork Angel

While I was thinking about that, however, I also prepared Episode 35, the first SlowTVStitchery video for the new project, the Canvaswork Angel, in which the Christmas Angel is introduced, and there is some discussion of the detrimental consequences of visual confusion and the delaying effect of Doubts.

Finishing the Clarice Cliff Tote

Finishing the sky

There’s a reason I don’t do much counted cross stitch these days!

It’s repetitious, and samey, and it doesn’t offer the chance to play with texture and pattern that I get in other techniques.

Oh, wait, that’s three reasons.

In this case, add a fourth – working on aida which is already set into a bag, and a bag, what’s more, that is complete, and since the bottom of the bag is a fold and not a seam, I can’t even unpick it to make it a bit easier to work. This bag has been fighting back with every stitch, and reminding me why I laid it aside.

However, it wouldn’t be me, if I didn’t find a way to demonstrate a little bit of variation… I’ve used one of the variegated threads in two ways, once with the two strands in the same orientation and each cross stitched individually, and the other with the two strands in opposite orientations and each row stitched out-&-back.

And finally, after what felt like weeks of doing nothing else but this (which isn’t even remotely true, let me reassure you!), I’ve got the bag finished. All of the aida is covered, even the white clouds. But there are no loose threads on the back, and if I have doubts about some details, I’m not about to undo them now. It’s taken nearly thirty years to get this far!

On to happier things: Episode 34 of #SlowTVStitchery is now live! In which the final corner is finished, and inklings of new ideas arise…

A little box to embellish

Found A Box
Found A Box

I can’t remember where I got this little box – probably eBay – but it was so long ago, I don’t remember what I had in mind, if anything. It’s about five inches by two inches.

I found it again, and decided it was about time I came up with something to do with it.

Starting Point
Starting Point

This is a bit of carved stonework I photographed in Lisbon. I should warn you that the finished piece is probably going to be really very unlike this inspiration, because, if you look at the rough ideas below, you will see it is already wandering. And when I started thinking about it, it was going to be surface embroidery, and now I’m thinking about silk purl and wire purl.

I think the ribbon things are going to change somewhat as well, although I’m not sure quite how..

In other news, Episode 33 of Slow TV Stitchery is now live, in which the penultimate corner is completed, and the contents of Autumn’s book stash is discussed.

Resurrecting an old idea

"Coalbrookdale By Night" by Philip James de Loutherberg. Copyright The Science Museum
“Coalbrookdale By Night” by
Philip James de Loutherberg.
Copyright The Science Museum

These designs were an idea from years ago, submitted to the Ironbridge Gorge Museum as a possible kit for sale in their shop. Hence the multiple colour schemes – although the orange one is inspired by that famous painting of Coalbrookdale by Night, by Philip James de Loutherberg. The Museum didn’t go for the idea, which is possibly a mercy, as I’ve had a thought since then.

I think it might look altogether more interesting if, instead of reflecting one side of the bridge around the compass to create the corners of a square, I use just one side to make a quadrant design.

My further thought is that, rather than using all tent stitch (as I suspect I would have suggested for a kit), I should maybe use a square canvaswork stitch throughout (maybe mosaic stitch, or cushion stitch) and maybe create a smoother gradiant of colour using several strands of thread in the needle.

However, when I went rummaging for the leftover length of antique cotton canvas I was sure I had left over from a previous project, it wasn’t there. So there is going to be something of a pause, while I work out how much I need, and find somewhere I can order it from.

But in the meantime, Episode 32 of SlowTVStitchery is up, in which details and the upholstery of a stele are considered, and the anouncement is made that Slow TV will continue.