Tag: Tudor and Stuart Goldwork Masterclass
The stitches for Month Sixteen are stitches that create prominent large “spots” of intricate pattern. They are simple enough in concept – there is a foundation of straight stitches, and an interlaced pattern worked around the foundation. Naturally, the actual working of the stitch proves to be less than entirely straightforward. I try to vary the scale of the stitches I work on my practice cloth, but in the case of Four Sided Interlacing Stitch when I was trying to work it as a counted stitch, the only variations I could create successfully were “Huge” and “Tiny”. At the smaller scale shown there is really little point in using an interlacing stitch like this, and one might more sensibly choose something a little simpler to work. At the large size, the effect of the metal thread is diluted by the background fabric.
In the case of Diagonal Four Sided Interlacing Stitch my two different scales worked slightly better.
I know, by the way, that in the case of one of these stitches, I made a mistake in the foundation layer which lead to a further mistake in the interlacing. I can’t find it now, and I’m going to be intrigued to see how often I get these stitches right, when I start working them on the sampler itself!
I’ve been persevering with adding the goldwork stitches to the Spot Sampler. Tricia set up a Yahoo Group for the course so that we could help each other out, and I posted some of my headaches to that.
I received a good many helpful suggestions, and on top of that, Tricia posted a very long response on the Question and Answer blog, which included the reassuring detail that when she’s reverse-engineering the stitches, she uses the point at which the thread sheds to help her determine whether she is really doing the stitch that she’s trying to. Some shredding is to be expected, then…
I think I’m doing better now, as I am finding there is rather less shredding (although there is still some). I suspect my tension is sometimes too tight, and Tricia has suggest that my Ladder Stitch in particular could do with being loosened up a little. Having the tension too tight will abrade the thread further as I make each stitch.
The detached buttonhole with return that forms the first embellishment on the large pattern at the bottom of the sampler was rather a surprise. It’s more raised than the photo of Tricia’s finished piece suggests, and I got into a tangle working it, although that is because the position of the stitches on the frame were not as comfortable to work from some angles as others. I find myself wondering how RSN needlewomen manage with those large slate frames!
You can tell that the Elephant’s inspiration was the right one – suddenly he’s taken off!
I’m using one set of variegated silk thread (shading from orange to brown) for the harness and headcloth and saddlecloth, and another (shading from cream to brown) for any small bits of the Elephant that show through all his finery. I shall have to redraw his head and headcloth – the transfer has rubbed off – but I’m pretty pleased with progress.
The collar is worked in six rows of braid stitch, which is a stitch that always looks better in a round yarn like this silk perlé. The roundels hanging from the collar are two rows of buttonhole stitch, and the roundels on the ear-covering are spiral trellis stitch – at the moment. I’m not quite sure that they are right. I first used Spiral Trellis on the Jacobean Work Panel, and really enjoyed stitching it, but I think these look too fussy. One big one might be better, and it would allow the colour change in the thread to show a little more.
I’m glad that I have worked out something to do next, as his anklets are giving me trouble.They are smooth and domed in the original model, but I think satin stitch might look a little ordinary.
I’ve used small satin stitches to outline the border of the saddlecloth, but only because I wanted something quiet to contain the excitement I intend to put inside it – I’m planning to use one of the complicated interlacings from the Tudor and Stuart Goldwork Masterclass for the saddlecloth, but extended to form an all-over pattern.
Watch this space…!
There were two more interlacing stitches this month, Circular Interlacing Stitch and Figure Eight Interlacing Stitch.
I know I’m always talking about scale on these stitches, but I’m pretty sure that at a reasonable scale of thread to fabric, the Circular Interlacing Stitch will create a lovely neat boss which would have all sorts of wonderful uses in representing jewellery and embellishment. Instead, on my loosely-woven practise cloth it looks rather leggy and a bit thin. I’m glad to see that I got the interlacing right, and don’t have any twists or tangles in it, though!
The most difficult part of the stitch, I found, was laying the foundation interlaced crosses using the correct proportions and directions. Sometimes a larger thread count makes life harder rather than easier!
By contrast, it isn’t at all obvious that I even got the Figure Eight Interlacing Stitch right, although I am pretty sure that I did. It might have been better to pull all the wraps tighter to create a neater effect, rather than allowing the loops to create the uncontrolled springy appearance that they have at present. This is partly a result of the fact that I’m still reluctant to pull metal threads into tight loops because I don’t want them to strip their surfaces.
I do like the rich, textured braid effect that this stitch creates in the photographs in Tricia’s instructions, so I think it will be worth playing with it using different threads – not all of them metal, either – and seeing where it takes me.
I have been working more on the Spot Sampler of late, slowly catching up with the metal thread stitchery. If you are confused by my posts on this, you aren’t alone – I spend a few minutes every time I sit down trying to work out where I’d got up to!
Some of the stitches are familiar – Ceylon Stitch, for example, I have used before. In this case I have used the lighter and floppier of the metal threads supplied. It creates a more lacy effect than Tricia intended, but I thought the thread might “strip” less dramatically (I was right, too!). When I finish the main body of the sampler I may go back and work new versions of some of the stitches around the edge, so in this case, for instance, I would choose to use the heavier, thicker thread. This will make the sampler even more useful by giving me some sense of the variation of appearance available through different threads..
As you can see, I still haven’t entirely got to grips with Guilloche Stitch, although using the stiffer thread did make the whole thing slightly easier. I was becoming slightly anxious about finishing the panel without starting a new length for the last course of interlacing!
I’ve already used the Reverse Chain Stitch with Buttonhole Edging since I learnt it on this course, when I was working the Title of the Map for the Amarna Panels. Now I look at the photograph I see that my tension wasn’t entirely consistent across the whole width of this spot, and the thread stripped and clogged in a couple of places. But then, samplers are for practising on… I may choose to re-work this later, using the finer thread, since I think that if worked fine and delicately this stitch could find a host of new uses.
I felt when I finished my practising for Month Fourteen that the real test of my grasp of Plaited Braid Stitch would come when I came back to the stitch after a week or so. As you can see, I’ve worked it as a counted stitch here, in the larger size and using the heavier thread, and it seems as though I got it right. I kept the instructions to hand all the time, of course, but I’m very pleased with this. It is a real testimony to the clarity of the instructions, and the way they gave me some grip on the structure of the stitch, that I didn’t feel at all anxious when I was working this.
Can you hear me purring?
I’ve been doing more work on the metal thread embroidery on the Spot Sampler. The photograph shows (top to bottom) Braid Stitch, Cable Chain Stitch, and Heavy Chain Stitch.
I’ve used the real metal thread and the Japanese needle for all of them, which may have been a mistake. At the very least, the Japanese needle is a tool that I’ve not got to grips with, and which has had unanticipated side-effects on my technique!
As you can see, Heavy Chain Stitch worked beautifully. There are only a couple of places where the thread has broken and shows the core, and it has created a beautifully smooth and glimmering line.
With the Cable Chain Stitch, I think I need more practice in keeping the tension correct when using a “stab-stitch” technique, which is necessary because Japanese needles are short. This stitch is one of my favourites, but it was actually quite a struggle here, precisely because I couldn’t take up a piece of fabric on the needle as I usually do.
This was even more the case with the Braid Stitch. In fact it is worse than that. It wasn’t clear when I was stitching it, but now I see this section enlarged in the photo, it’s pretty clear that I’ve actually got myself into a dreadful tangle with a couple of my braid stitches. I need to pick up my practice cloth, fish out all my books, and try again. And yet I know I can work this stitch beautifully – I worked it on the logo for the Teddy Bear Cot Blanket, and for the Prince’s Bow on the Persian Fantasy!
I finished the silkwork on the Spot Sampler some time ago, but then ran into a problem, largely one of priorities. There have been so many other things I fancied trying, and so I’ve been working on the Amarna Map, the Christus Natus Est Panel, and a whole host of others. I’ve also been feeling just a bit jumpy about the real metal threads, and wanted to wait until I was feeling settled enough to read the instructions and make sense of them.
I have at last made a start, though. I even managed to thread my Japanese needle with thread from the Real Metal Thread Pack that arrived in the post a few weeks ago. Perhaps the practice thread I was using was quite simply fractionally too thick for the eye of the needle.
I started with Interlaced Ladder Stitch – which wasn’t necessarily the best or easiest starting point, but it is area number one on the chart! I’m a little disheartened that the gold thread has broken up quite as much as it has, here, but I’m leaving it there for now to act as a basis for comparison as I do other stitches. I’m going to try using even shorter lengths, and maybe even use a stiletto or similar tool to keep loops open while I pull the thread through.
I’m making reasonably good progress with the Tudor Pincushion which is part of the Tudor and Stuart Goldwork Masterclass. The silkwork was finished a while ago, and now there are several different isolated stitches, and a continuous border.
I’m not using the real metal thread for this. I rather like the rich, vibrant colour of this thread, wrapped around a cotton core, and as I am planning to create a sort of winter “corner decoration” using all of my historical embroidery pieces, there is something positive to be said for the idea of using as many different shades of gold and silver as I can to create a really rich, varied impression.
The small sections of silver Guilloche Stitch have worked well, although I still have reservations about my gold Spider’s Web stitches, especially when I look at close-up photos of them!
The border is a Guilloche Stitch variation worked on a Ladder Stitch base. As it turned out, I didn’t get quite the right number of rungs on the ladders, so rather than being a neat continuation of the Guilloche Stitch, the corner elements are rather improvisatory.
This doesn’t worry me. At the moment, I am still waiting for the instructions for the central ornamental stitch, and if, by the time I have that stitch, I’ve decided that I really must redo it, I will do so then. By that time I will be still more practised at working with metal threads, and it should go more swiftly and easily.
In the meantime, I can go on to play with more new stitches, and even, perhaps, start work on the real metal threads to add them to the Spot Sampler!
The Plaited Braid Stitch was one of the reasons I wanted to do this course. There are instructions in at least half of my books on embroidery, and I’ve watched Tracy Franklin demonstrate the stitch. I even spent a whole day practising it at one of her courses. Sometimes it worked, sometimes it didn’t, and frustratingly, I never felt I knew what I was getting wrong.
Consequently, when I sat down to tackle this month’s Stitch, I was expecting frustration and fury to reign. I started with Pearl Cotton, thinking that I would be less fretful about errors if I was not conscious of using an expensive thread. I watched the animation first, and although you can see that the first inch of my practising got very tangled up, I’m sure that it helped.
As I’ve repeatedly mentioned in my posts about this course, I’ve become acutely aware that the question of scale is critical to the success of some of these stitches. My first effort in pearl cotton was at too large a scale, and the thread floats were too floppy. In the case of the second trial, I reduced the size of the stitch, and suddenly found it coming together, which gave me some confidence that I was beginning to understand the structure of the stitch. The tension was still a little slack, but all in all, it was beginning to make sense.
So then I found a piece of scrap linen, and started playing with gold thread. Again the two rows are at slightly different scales, but now I really feel that I am going to master this stitch.
I also think I’ve cracked the problem of why the vast number of books I have on the subject don’t help. With the honourable exception of The Right Handed Embroiderer’s Companion, by Yvette Stanton of White Threads, they all use the same inadequate set of diagrams, presumably copied from an earlier publication. Furthermore, judging by the (slightly differing) diagrams in Tricia’s notes and Yvette’s book, they diagram the left-handed technique. Since all their other diagrams are for right-handers, these books provoke considerable confusion! Still, I now know where to go when I need to be reminded how to do the stitch, and I feel confident that with a bit of practise I will be able to pick it up any time I need to.
And I will need to. I have a few ideas buzzing around in my head, and Plaited Braid Stitch will take its’ place in them!
At last I have finished the silkwork on the sampler for the Tudor and Stuart Goldwork Masterclass. I don’t have much patience with counted work – I just keep doing it occasionally, as a salutary discipline! – so I am really very pleased with myself. After all, I began stitching it – according to my post on the subject – in June last year!
I’m pleased that I persevered. It’s fascinating to see the Queen Stitches create an entirely different fabric, with a totally different surface and reflectance to the surface of the fabric itself, and the other stitches (Rice Stitch, Roman Stitch and the Bargello section) all reveal different aspects of the silk thread and provided different challenges in working them.
In fact, in the end I have enjoyed the silkwork on the sampler rather more than I expected to. It has taken me much longer than some of the other members of the course, but I’ve been working on the Piano Shawl and the Dreams of Amarna at the same time, so I think I have a good excuse!
Now I need to work out how I am going to keep track of which goldwork stitches to do where. I’ve been printing out the instructions as I go along (thank heavens!) but I now have a large folder full of the historical essays Tricia has written for each month, and another one full of the stitches. It isn’t difficult to have a single chart by my workstand as I stitch, but I think I may need to create an annotated chart for the goldwork. So far, many of the stitches have been familiar enough for me to do some of them with only the name and placement to guide me, but in other cases I know I will need to have the folder open at the instructions as well. One of these days we will have to find a house with a studio for me to work in!