Tag: Glittering Nightcap
Before I move on to work on the brim, here are close ups of two of the panels of the Nightcap. You will see, when you zoom in, the French Knots at the centre of the rose, contrasted with the Spiders Web stitch at the centre of the pansy.
You can also see that the spangles aren’t evenly spaced – there are some areas more densely spangled than others. I do think I have achieved a reasonably random placement, but humans are pattern-making animals, and it is really extraordinarily difficult to combine relatively even spacings with random placement! However, I am absolutely sure that attempting an even regular spacing would have had me stark mad if I had tried it!
In ordinary light, the spangles don’t really shine as I am sure they would in the flickering light of a candle. When I have the piece finished and on display somewhere, I will probably have to spend a lot of time getting the lighting right – without using real candles…
Once I had taken the photographs, I tacked a calico cover over the completed crown of the nightcap, back and front, and turned the fabric over in the frame in order to start on the brim. Covering the finished work will stop me catching my threads on it, or knocking spangles off as I work.
Gosh. Silkwork all done, and metal thread completed too. The experiments with the bordered detached buttonhole stitch with return must have got me a bit fired up, because as well as planning some variations on the brim, I incorporated some changes in the gold metal stitching on the crown. The two roses have a cluster of French Knots at their centres, instead of Eight-Spoked Spiders Web Stitches, and I quite deliberately have not used exactly the same run of lines for each variation.
I have to say that although I commented that my visit to “In Fine Style” showed me that I had not stitched my Detached Buttonhole Stitch with Return closely enough, I would hate to have to sink a metal thread through anything more closely stitched. I was on tenterhooks lest I damage the silk, or the metal thread, or create some sort of obvious flaw in the stitching.
The next stage was to add the spangles, since I want everything on this side finished before I turn the fabric over to start on the brim. Tricia says in the instructions that in the light of the experience they had with the Plimoth Jacket, she feels that they should have used more spangles, rather than fewer, and with that in mind she was much more generous with the provision of spangles than she would otherwise have been. I divided my packet of spangles roughly into six (one for each quadrant of the crown and two for the brim), and Spangled away enthusiastically.
I’ve now finished the silk work on the main sections of the Glittering Gentleman’s Nightcap. The next stage is to work the metal thread embroidery, because I want everything on this side of the fabric done before I take it off the frame, turn it over and work on the brim. In the end, I found that the last few bits went quite quickly, perhaps because I had a whole day when I did nothing else and found the stitching speeding up. It’s taken me a while to realise it, but I now think that Detached Buttonhole Stitch With Return is one of those stitches which requires “flow”, which in turn doesn’t happen if you sit down with only time to do one leaf before doing something else!
Up until now, I have tended to regard the Online University projects I have done as a sort of salutary discipline, and worked them exactly according to the instructions (something I rarely do, even when I have instructions!), but during my last visit to a stitching show, I spent some time on Jacqui Carey‘s stand, talking to her, and acquiring her books about Elizabethan Stitches and Sweet Bags. One of the stitches she found, and “reverse-engineered” is effectively the “Detached Buttonhole stitch with Return” which forms so much of the stitchery on this piece, but it incorporates a border within the method of stitching. So I thought maybe on the brim I could used this bordered stitch instead of the standard stitch.
In another departure from my usual procedure I decided to practise the stitch first, and it’s really just as well.
Perhaps because Jaqui is primarily a braid maker and not an embroiderer, it took me some time to adapt my way of thinking to make sense of her diagrams. She also shows the stitch as worked upwards, whereas I have worked downwards with this sort of stitch all my life – or at least ever since my first attempt, when I worked the Needlelace Embellished Blouse.
The fact that version one was worked on felt didn’t help, either, since the needle kept snagging it, and the felt sagged under the weight of the stitching.
So version two was worked on linen, using a mercerised cotton instead of pearl cotton. This time I think I have got to grips with the stitching and the way to create the border. The linen survived much better, but the mercerised thread kept trying to tie itself in knots!
Furthermore, try as I might to work the stitch as diagrammed – upwards and away from me – I kept turning the frame and working it sideways or downwards instead.
I probably will choose to use the stitch for at least some of the areas on the brim, but it will be interesting to see how I cope when I simply can’t turn the frame around!
My last post about the Glittering Gentleman’s Nightcap was in September, but I’m afraid it has not made much progress over the winter. This is because I only work on it when I have good natural light, and that means sitting in a bay window, which can be very cold indeed!
I managed to get one of the Tudor Roses done and then there was a long, chilly hiatus. Each petal is worked in Gilt Sylke Twist, outlined in reverse chain stitch and filled in with detached buttonhole with return. I think that is the same as “corded Brussels Stitch” in needle-lace, or if it is not, I have yet to work out the difference. The sepals are worked, again in detached buttonhole with return, using straw coloured silk.
As I mentioned in my previous post, Month Four consisted of the Tudor Roses and a plethora of leaves in a variety of combinations of colours. It was not uncommon for embroiderers of the period to blend colours in the needle, and Tricia suggested that we might choose to do the same. This is not quite as straightforward as one might hope, since of course the Soie Perlee is not intended to be plied and recombined, unlike the stranded cotton I used when I did something similar with Tracy Franklin in Durham.
It produces an interesting effect, and it does allow for a smoother colour change than using the threads in their normal state. What interested me, however, was that without being aware of changing my technique in any way, the coverage of the second leaf was markedly denser than that of the first.
Each leaf took about three-quarters of an hour to work, which tells me that I’ve some considerable time to go before I can get on to the goldwork or turn over to work the brim – there are about 28 more leaves to work!
This month, because I’m working the main body of the cap first and then intend to turn over and work the rim, has been a little thin of activity. I’ve really no excuse for it taking so long except that I’ve become very taken up with the Dreams of Amarna. The work on the main part of the cap this month has been only two pansies, worked in detached buttonhole stitch using the Gilt Sylke Twist, with straw-coloured calyxes worked in Soie Perlee.
The other half of Month Three – two pomegranates on the rim – will have to wait until I turn the fabric over. Next month’s activity involves two Tudor Roses and a positive plethora of different leaves in various combinations of Soie Perlee.
This picture shows one of the two pairs of sections that will make up the finished Nightcap. As you can see, there are still large gaps in the pattern, but it is gradually filling in, and Month Four actually completes the embroidery. Months Five and Six concern the finishing of the embroidery to create the nightcap and the silk-brocaded stand for it.
So, here we are, more progress on the Glittering Nightcap. It still looks spotty, but rather less so, I’m happy to say!
Here is a close up to show you what has been added in Month Two in more detail, and you can click on the picture to enlarge it further. The flower is apparently a honeysuckle (botanical realism wasn’t one of the artistic preoccupations of the period!), and is stitched in two shades of Gilt Sylke Twist, in detached buttonhole stitch. All of the pink and red buds are worked in detached trellis stitch in the soie perlee. In both these cases there is nothing complicated about changing colours – it is simply a matter of starting the new colour with a new row of stitches. It does mean that there seem to be ever more threads to finish off at the end of a stitching session, which is when I prefer to do it, because that means that when I sit down to start again everything is clear and tidy, and there is nothing to tangle my next set of stitches.
Working the trellis stitch involved some rather uncomfortable contortions in order to work the stitches in the directions described in the instructions. The annotated sketch on the right shows the stitch directions spiralling around the centre of the flower. The whole thing is mounted in a rectangular frame about twenty inches across – sometimes there is a lot of fabric and frame between me and the tiny petal I’m stitching.
That’s the other thing to remember – everything is very small. In a way this is not a problem, because even though the stitches are tiny the shapes do fill fairly quickly. If I have a good light, and a tranquil mind, I can make quite a bit of progress in a single afternoon.
You may recall that I commented in my last post about the Nightcap that it looked very “bitty” because each flower, leaf and bud was going to be done before the stems. This view of the whole piece, with all of Month 1 finished, shows precisely what I mean. If you click on the photo to the left you will be able to see a larger version of it, with the blurred copyright notice unblurred (something strange happened there!).
There are two of these flowers worked in two shades of blue, using detached buttonhole stitch in Gilt Silke Twist. Some of it is tricky because I want to change the orientation of the fabric relative to me, which is impossible because it’s framed up as an entire rectangle. Since I really don’t want to crush work already done, I can’t put each element in a hoop, so I’m occasionally having to sit in a rather contorted fashion to to tackle some of the sections.
The leaves and strawberry calyxes are in Soie Perlee, which is a joy to use, supple, smooth and strong. That said, there’s something distinctly odd about the right hand leaf in this detail photograph. It seems almost as though the stitching has pleated or bunched up on itself. One of the possibilities is that I was working this leaf before I bought my Necessaire stand, and somehow I tied myself in knots because I was balancing the frame on the windowsill as well; it might be something to do with the angle of the stitch relative to the stitcher; or I might simply have lost concentration.
Oh, and when I say “All of Month One”, that’s a slight exaggeration. Because of the structure of the Nightcap, there is a band of stitching on the back, which will form a brim or browband. I’m going to do that last, so that I don’t spend too much time changing the orientation of the fabric in the frame. So what I really mean is “All of Month One on the front”…
As you might have guessed, once I got started, I wanted to keep going!
However, detached buttonhole stitch is a very time consuming stitch, and I’ve been warned by comments in emails that the Gilt Sylke Twist, undeniably gorgeous though it is, can be a bit trying to stitch with. So I have been working quite hard to remind myself it is not a race, and that doing as much as I feel up to at any one time is perfectly acceptable!
I found myself struggling with the Millenium frame on my existing frame stand, which was too flimsy for the breadth and weight of the frame, so after some weeks I decide to invest in the Necessaire Floor Stand that goes with it. After only two stitching sessions, I love it. Sturdy and well made, it doesn’t sag under the weight of the frame, there is a place for my magnifier to attach, and there’s even a hook for a pair of scissors.
I haven’t yet finished Month One of the instructions, so what you are seeing is an intermediate stage. At the moment, as you will see from the “Progress So Far” it’s looking very spotty, because there are such acres of linen between the stitched motifs. It can be a little disheartening to slave for hours and find that the odd couple of leaves has made very little difference to the overall impression. This is a problem I had with the Piano Shawl, but in that case I was able to solve the problem very simply by stitching in the stems. I don’t want to do that here, because the silk thread would catch on the gold thread of the stems and be spoiled. So I will simply have to be patient and find some other way of highlighting my progress.
You will notice that there is some peculiarity about the right-hand leaf in the detail picture. I’m not quite sure what happened there – I think it was in the period of struggle before I bought my Necessaire – but I’m not going to take it out until Month One is complete. I want to have a clear sense of progress before I start snipping things out!
I’ve been looking at the kit of materials for the Glittering Gentleman’s Nightcap Course for quite some time, but since I received the finishing kit I’ve finally decided to get going.
There was quite a bit of preparation to do. There are lines of basting to help with finishing the piece when the stitching is done, and I’ve added fabric at the top and bottom, and bound the sides, to make framing up a bit easier. I invested in a Millenium frame for this project, and I wanted to be sure that I would have enough fabric at the top and bottom to work with the attachment system.
I don’t have anything that resembles a light-table, so I had to improvise. The tracing and the fabric have both been taped to a pane of the only unleaded window in the house, and I spent a careful hour or so using the Pigma pen included in the kit to trace over the pattern onto the fabric. Bear in mind, if you find yourselves applying this method – it’s a most unnatural position to be drawing in, and you will find your arm aching and your hand cramping, if you aren’t careful.
I also did some stitching. These are my first two attempts at Detached Buttonhole Stitch using the Gilt Sylke Twist.
Which is just as hair-raising as anything you might have read will have lead you to expect. It’s very lively and springy, and the gold spiral does sometimes break or scrunch up along the silk.
All that said, perhaps because I was prepared for it, I did not find it as troublesome as I feared, and the second bud is a marked improvement on the first, so I think I can be very pleased!
I’m really not keeping up at all, am I?
I’ve not even started on the Glittering Gentleman’s Nightcap course from Thistle Threads, and then the finishing kit drops through the letterbox, rather rubbing my nose in the fact.
However – now I’ve finished the Masterclass, I can get started – only about four months late!
The package contained more mouthwatering silk brocades (one creamy-beige, one burgundy), more of that lovely silk ribbon (like the ribbon on the Floral Glove Needlecase) and gold lace (ditto), together with assorted pieces of stiffening and padding, and – a sort of bonus – a canvas shopping bag printed with a suitably period pattern.
Time I got started on the embroidery, then…