Tag: ornamental stitches


Another Canvaswork Sampler

Canvaswork designed for Mam

Canvaswork Spectacle Case Sampler

The Other Side

The Other Side Of The Spectacle Case Sampler

Strictly speaking, this isn’t one of mine. My mother stitched this, but she asked me to design it for her after she saw the stripy sampler.

It uses the same principle of plain soft embroidery cotton and matching Wildflowers and Watercolours threads. This time, though, instead of straight stripes, the stripes were V-shaped.

It was rather more complicated and time-consuming, but it must have been a success because it is still in use and I had to sneak it from her handbag for the  photograph!

It did teach me, however, that designs should be planned with their final use in mind. This looked much better as a flat panel than it does as a spectacle case!

Tudor and Stuart Goldwork Masterclass Stitches – Month Seven

Ceylon Stitch

Ceylon Stitch

I’ve not been making as much progress on the silk work for the Spot Sampler as I would have liked, recently. Still, I have managed to have a go at the Month Seven stitches, Diagonal Half Guilloche Stitch and Ceylon Stitch. As always, I have done them at two different scales.

I’ve worked Ceylon Stitch before, although certainly not using a metallic thread. It produces something that looks a little like knitting. I suspect it will be easier if I use a stiletto to control the thread. I know I have one somewhere, so I’ll look it out before I try this one again. I think I used it as a needlelace stitch before, and that, of course, used a simple round cotton thread.

Diagonal Half Guilloche Stitch

Diagonal Half Guilloche Stitch

I think the Diagonal Half Guilloche Stitch has possibilities for some of my other projects. It looks very like one of the braids sometimes used to edge upholstery, and might also make a good filigree necklace for the Amarna panels. It will be important to pick the right scale of thread and fabric, as you can see in the picture here, but at least when I have been working at the large scale it has been easy to see where the needle is supposed to be. This hasn’t been one of the most complex stitches, but I’m glad that I have chosen to work practice versions of all these stitches before I work them on the sampler or the pincushions!

Grandmama’s Dragon Footstool

The Dragon Footstool I worked for Grandmama

The Dragon Footstool I worked for Grandmama

I think that this was my first reasonably large canvaswork project, worked very early in my stitching career. The design was in the Readers Digest Encyclopedia of Needlework,  which is a very good general introduction to a lot of styles of needlework, but needless to say, even at that early stage I made changes to both the design and the materials.

The Readers Digest suggested plain canvas  – on the advice of my local needlepoint stop, I used interlock. The project pages said Tapestry wool – again, on advice, I used Persian Wool (lovely colours, and a really gorgeous sheen). They said Tent stitch – ah well, you can guess what’s coming, can’t you! Oh, and the colours were all changed, too. I did paint the design onto the canvas, using my mother’s  oil paints, but after that, almost all resemblance to the project in the book ended.

Corner Motif for the Dragon Footstool

Corner Motif for the Dragon Footstool

The ornaments in the corners were worked in Upright Cross Stitch, which creates a surprisingly heavy texture for such a relatively simple stitch. Looking at the design now (after my grandparents died, the footstool came back to me) I rather feel that the original designer didn’t quite think things through. The corner motifs are all at different spacings from the dragon, and somehow the whole thing looks a bit congested. I think they may have designed for the round footstool bases that were popular at the time, and then added the corner motifs to make it more interesting for those who wanted a rectangular one. Nowadays, of course, I would try to have the courage of my convictions, and remove something or change the spacing, or alter the motifs to create a more pleasing effect. But a printed book looks so authoritative, doesn’t it – not for experimentation. One lives and learns!

Dragon's Head Closeup

Dragon's Head Closeup

The scales on the dragon’s body were worked in Oriental Stitch, and the spines on his back in Kelim Stitch, worked vertically instead of horizontally. Small details like eyebrows and outlining were worked in tent stitch (I do occasionally make the simple choice!). The trailing beard and horns were worked in rows of Knotted Stitch.

I don’t think I would use the same stitches again, or at least, not in all cases. I think the Oriental stitch is at the wrong scale for the dragon’s body – it was certainly a nightmare to get the compensation right! – and the beard and horns in fact need a heavier and more distinctive texture. The Kelim Stitch spines work well, I think, and the corner motifs in Upright cross stitch are successful too. I hadn’t, at this point, worked Slow-and-Steady, and although pictures of the worked stitches give you an idea of the worked appearance, it really isn’t the same as having done it yourself.

Still, it was fun, and interesting, and at the time, Grandmama said she was very impressed!

Slow-And-Steady in needlepoint

Slow And Steady needlepoint cushion

Slow And Steady needlepoint cushion

I worked this cushion from a design in one of the craft books Grandmama gave me (“The Book of Creative Crafts”, it was called, and it included woodwork, screenprinting and candlemaking as well as embroidery, needlepoint and rugmaking), but in my usual somewhat ambitious fashion, I did not restrict myself to a single side.

Slow And Steady Facing The Other Way

Slow And Steady Facing The Other Way

In some ways this made it easier, because the patches of stitching that represented the plates down the centreline of Slow-and-Steady’s shell had to be worked in the same stitch and colour on both sides. That at least meant that those decisions were only made once. I also decided that the shapes of the plates would be the same on both sides (approximately – they were drawn freehand!) and that the colour would be the same as well.

After that, I rummaged through every book on canvaswork I had, to find a sufficient variety of stitches to keep the work interesting. In effect it is a sampler, almost a practice piece, but camouflaged by making it irregular in shape and style. My favourite stitches pop up again – Leaf Stitch, Upright Cross Stitch, Linen Stitch, Byzantine Stitch. In fact this is probably where I met most of them for the first time.

I have a notebook in which I drew out the pattern and then listed all the stitches used, so that if I forgot how to work the stitch I would be able to look it up. I used Persian wool, rather than tapestry wool, and 14 gauge cotton single thread canvas. One thing I did not note down, and should have done, was how many strands of the wool I used for each stitch. I know they are not all the same, but I didn’t keep notes. That means that when I use these stitches in future,  instead of checking on my previous experience, I will have to work samples all over again.

I did note down what the materials cost – £13.50. It was a very long time ago!

Calling him “Slow and Steady” was my idea. I always loved the Just-So Stories.

More Canvaswork Inspired By Clarice Cliff

Canvaswork Hollyhock House

Canvaswork Hollyhock House

Emboldened by the combination of fun and applause (admittedly only from my parents at that point!), I moved on to the “Hollyhock House” design from the series of Designs Inspired by Clarice Cliff.

Again in two versions, and again I haven’t photographed the tent stitch cushion.

Hungarian Stitch is another of my favourites, and you will notice that there is still more Cashmere Stitch, Diagonal Mosaic Stitch and Upright Cross Stitch. I chose to work the poplar-like trees in a Sheaf Stitch variant, which I think was not hugely successful, but an interesting experiment. The background is Linen Stitch (diagrammed on my post about The Lady By the Lake) as it doesn’t obtrude, but it does cover the canvas thoroughly.

At some point soon I should find a suitable thread for the outlines and then finish these two. Then I can turn them into cushion panels or something and move on…

A Bear Called Paddington

A Bear Called Paddington

A Bear Called Paddington

I’ve always had rather a weakness for Paddington Bear, and this painted canvas caught my eye a few years ago, hanging up in a market stall in Leeds when we were visiting friends. Immediately I saw in my mind’s eye how almost every section could be worked, starting with using rayon thread for the jar of marmalade. In fact, as I recall, the part of this canvas that gave me the greatest difficulty was the choosing a stitch for the background!

Paddington’s duffle coat is worked in Linen Stitch using ordinary tapestry wool, and his fur is worked in Appletons wool using a sort of random, closely packed long and short stitch. Looking at this piece analytically for the first time since I worked it, I’m really quite pleased with how the Linen Stitch works for the dull woolly fabric of the coat, and how believable the fur has turned out to be.

Paddington's Face

Paddington's Face

I’m also very pleased with how different the hat looks. It too is worked in long and short stitch, but I used longer stitches and Paternayan Persian wool. The difference lies in thickness of the individual strands and the different level of sheen – Persian wool strands are rather thicker and have a lovely muted sheen, whereas the Appletons wool produces a slightly duller surface. The tapestry wool, of course, is almost completely matte.

Look at that little face! The only thing I missed is a smudge of marmalade on his nose..

Paddington's Marmalade Jar

Paddington's Marmalade Jar

Then there is the jar of marmalade that first caught my eye in the first place. I worked that using six strands of rayon, mixing orange, red, and yellow strands in the needle, and working rows of stem stitch around the jar. It looks much glossier and stickier in real life!

Finally, after much head-scratching and puzzling, I worked the background in a slightly enlarged version of Hungarian Stitch, using Persian wool. I blended a second colour into the base to give a sort of grounding section so that Paddington wouldn’t be suspended in mid-air. I can’t think why the designers didn’t do that, as when I was a child (I’m assuming this was really intended for children and not for grown-ups!) I would have been rather worried by the character not having any ground beneath their feet!

The Lady By The Lake – another early project

The Lady By The Lake

The Lady By The Lake

This was another early project. It was a DMC painted canvas, which was clearly intended to be done in tent stitch using tapestry wool. As it is eighteen inches by nearly two feet, that would have driven me wild…

I bought it almost entirely because I thought I could see a way to get the folds in the dress to appear the right shades without using as many colours of thread, and I wanted to experiment. So I used  a bordered Hungarian Stitch, worked in three shades of pearl cotton and combining them to create the impression of five shades in the skirt. It worked!

The blouse is also pearl cotton, this time Linen Stitch, which is effectively the back of Basketweave Tent stitch put on the front.  It produces a very solid, durable background and I’ve used it on cushion projects in the past.

Linen stitch in canvaswork

Linen stitch in canvaswork

The only drawback is that it takes so long to do. I’ve diagrammed it here because I can’t find it online, and I’ve found it such a useful stitch myself. It is worked diagonally, just like basketweave tent stitch.

The face and arms were worked in petit point,  separating the double threads to create single thread canvas, and worked in stranded cottons (blended).  The hair (she didn’t have such glorious chestnut hair on the painted canvas itself) is also blended stranded cottons, worked in a sort of long and short stitch. The hat has spider’s web stitch roses on it.

I changed the wooden, slatted backed bench of the canvas into a padded one so that I could do the upholstery in Reversed Mosaic Stitch.  The lake itself took ages to do – row after row of darning stitch using all sorts of ribbons and threads, including some truly ghastly knitting acrylic which would have made a dreadfully uncomfortable jumper, but made a very good lake surface, with that slight sparkle you get when there’s just enough breeze to move the water.

The sky and clouds are all Milanese Stitch, worked in blended Persian yarns with three strands in the needle. It works, but now I’ve read Terry Pratchett I’m afraid it makes me think of the sky above “gnarly ground” in “Carpe Jugulum” – not such a peaceful thought!

Jacobean Work Panel

Jacobean Panel

Jacobean Panel

This design is from a transfer I picked up in a hurry a few years ago so as to have something to stitch while on holiday. It went swimmingly for a while and then ran into a brick wall and I have only just finished it.

The threads are wool and cotton, with a little bit of rayon. I intended the panel as a companion for my Jacobean Firescreen, so the colours of teal, brown and gold more or less chose themselves. There aren’t as many overdyed threads as I sometimes use, but that allows me to experiment all the more with the stitches.

Jacobean Panel Close Up 1

Jacobean Panel Close Up 1

Since I picked it up again, I’ve used it to play with some of the stitches which are new to me that I found in my copy of Yvette Stanton‘s Right Handed Embroiderer’s Companion. The whole thing became much more fun at that point!

So here, for example, the centre of the flower is worked in Spiral Trellis Stitch. I used a single strand, round thread overdyed in rust brown and purple, and although it was hair-raising to stitch, because I felt I was twisting myself in a spiral at the same time,  I think it is rather successful.  It’s not perfect, but I’ll do better another time, and I do think it looks rather good!

Jacobean Panel Close Up 2

Jacobean Panel Close Up 2

The dark brown rather lacy stem is worked in Mountmellick thorn stitch – another new one. Here I used one strand of a three-stranded cotton yarn. I think it would look better in a slightly heavier yarn, but it was fun to do and I will use this stitch again. The calyx of the strange fruit shows two of my favourite stitches – Cable Chain and Portuguese Knotted Stem.

I’m not entirely content with either of the flowers, but as I’m not sure why I shall leave well alone. Both of them have been unpicked at least twice, and I don’t want to wear out the fabric…  Still, now it’s finished, I enjoyed working this!

Stripes!

Stripes in canvaswork

Stripes in canvaswork

This panel of canvaswork was originally intended to make a case for my husband’s beloved Psion palmtop computer. Alas, by the time I finished it, the Psion was no longer working.

The starting point was a wonderful Watercolours thread, graduated in shades of blue (not blue for a boy, blue for a redhead!), to which I added toning shades in soft embroidery cotton. It seems that this thread is not made any more, which I think is a pity. It used to provide a good alternative to tapestry wool, especially for those who don’t like working with wool in the summer, and – provided the right base fabric is chosen – a reasonable heavy but matte thread  for surface embroidery. Almost all the threads now available are mercerised, and thus have a slight shine – but sometimes we don’t want any sheen on our stitches at all!

Stripes - Detail

Stripes - Detail

I rotated through several different stitches, as well as the different colours, and made sure that the second layer in the fine Wildflower thread overlaid a different base colour each time. There were five threads (Watercolours plus four soft cotton) and six stitches, which ensured that they cycled round. The stitches I chose were MilaneseDiagonal Mosaic, Eye (not pulled), Mosaic, Rice (using the Wildflowers thread for the second layer of stitches) and Double Cross Stitch.

The full size piece shows how the position of the colour changes is different in each stitch, as well as showing the veiled effect of different colours each overlaid by the variegated thread in the different panels of Rice Stitch. For that reason it is a very interesting needlepoint panel, but I still have a completely finished and neatly-worked canvaswork sampler looking for an occupation!

Canvaswork Inspired by Clarice Cliff

"The Cat Who Walked By Himself" in canvaswork

"The Cat Who Walked By Himself" in canvaswork

The design in counted cross stitch that I created, “The Cat Who Walked By Himself” (now being re-issued by Classic Embroidery – remember how excited I was a few months ago?) was such a success that I experimented with other ways in which the basic design might be used.

First of all, in ordinary tent stitch at a large size. Pleasant enough, but rather dull –  for me, at any rate.

Then, at the same size as the original cross stitch, but using ornamental canvaswork stitches. Originally I had in mind to run classes based on these designs, in one of the local shops, but the shop closed, life changed direction, and I’ve not done anything with it yet.

As I post more of my early canvaswork, you will probably notice some stitches recur. For example, I like Upright Cross Stitch – it is sturdy and heavily textured – and Milanese stitch (I think just because I like the name). I usually sneak in Leaf Stitch as well (remember the Elephant of Considerable Charm?).  I’ve also used Jacquard Stitch, and Satin Stitch. The background was worked in Encroaching Gobelin Stitch.

I’ve not put the heavy outlines on yet. Tapestry wool would be too heavy – some of the areas are quite small – but on the other hand, I don’t want to use something that will draw too much attention to itself by being shiny..

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