Under Rusty’s very bright and beady eye, I got started on the companion that Tanya provided for him in the Stitchalong on her blog, Opus Anglicanum.
Which turned out to be a Leopard!
This closeup of his head and neck gives you a chance to see the two different shades used side by side in the underlayer of the laid and couched work.
Once I’d finished the couching – in a modern twist, Tanya suggested working all the couching in a single colour, so that the Dragon and the Leopard will offer two versions of the same stitch – I had a slight false start with the outlining. When I tried the dark chestnut red, I wasn’t entirely happy with it. I’m not sure quite why, but perhaps it simply wasn’t distinctive enough against the orangey-red.
I went back to the dark green I used on Rusty, and used the same creamy yellow for the highlights. I don’t think I put in quite the same highlight twiddles as Tanya put on hers, but I like him just the way he is.
Apparently the Leopard of the medieval bestiary is a gentle creature – in spite of the fearsome claws, and according to Tanya, they all look “terminally grumpy”. I was talking about this with my friend @Matheknitician a week or so back when she accosted me at the MathsJam weekend, saying she was desperate to know what I was going to do with Rusty, and a day later she sent me a message suggesting that we should call Spots an Eeyoropard.
So, ladies and gentlemen, – Spots the Eeyoropard! Please be nice to him – he’s rather shy..
I did comment that the laid and couched work romps along, and once I got going, it really didn’t take long at all to finish the first layer.
In the interests of being sure of having enough thread to complete the Dragon, I used two shades of rust-coloured wool for his body. The underlayer of surface satin stitch is worked using two strands – making it possible to blend the threads – while the couching stitches are worked using a single strand.
Looking once more at Tanya’s Dragon on the Flickr Group, I realise that I’ve not quite followed her stitching angle in all places. but I’m very happy with how the first layer turned out.
Once the first layer is done, there are details to be added.
And my goodness, what details!
There was a slight false start, because the creamy-white was too light, the wrong texture, and simply looked wrong.
Since the details are worked in split stitch, the necessary unpicking was a severe trial. However, the combination of a pair of tweezers and my brand new embroidery scissors from Ernest Wright and Sons Ltd (bought when I heard of them following a BBC article) made it as easy as it could be (still not very easy, though!).
I finally picked a creamy shade, lighter than pale yellow I used for his crest, but in the same family. It turned out really well, and even his green teeth don’t detract from his charm. He looks a very genial fellow, and I’ve named him Rusty.
Do I really need another project to fit in, I wonder?
Well, yes, I think I do. Over on her blog, Opus Anglicanum, Tanya Bentham is running a medieval stitchalong, and quite simply, when she showed us a picture of the dragon she’d designed for us, I fell head over heels in love. He’s absolutely adorable, and I really didn’t care that I’m running short of time in any one week to do anything at all!
I decided not to buy a kit, since I have more wool thread than I know what to do with (remember my stash-busting canvaswork?), but I did buy some of the wool fabric Tanya suggested, and then rifled through my stash. Most of the wool is Appletons, but the creamy-white for highlights is a remnant of something rather smoother and silkier.
Maybe I’ll make some progress with the stash-busting, after all!
As it happens, I’m trailing slightly behind the stitchalong – and my blog is trailing behind my progress, because I’ve been enjoying stitching too much to stop and write about it.
The “colouring in” element of the design is worked in laid and couched work, which consists of three layers, in modern terms – surface satin stitch, with long couching stitches at right angles, which then in turn are tied down at intervals. Furthermore, it fairly romps along, which makes a lovely change after all that painstaking or nué earlier in the year!
There are several people taking part in the the stitchalong, not all of them bloggers, so Sue set up a Flickr group so that we could encourage one another..
Sometimes there is nothing you can do for people but give them a hug; sometimes even that is rendered difficult, or even impossible, by distance. For those occasions, I’ve created a Hug For a Handbag. It’s a small square of snuggly cashmere blanketing, embroidered with the word “Hug” and with a small embroidered motif on the top. I have backed these with another layer of cashmere, to make them even snugglier.
The rose on the Rose Hug is worked in bullion knots, which were not among my favourite stitches, but I’ve warmed to them because the rose seems to have worked so well. The inner knots are shorter, and worked using a single thread, while the outer ones are not only long enough to have involved a great deal of wrangling to get them to settle nicely, but worked using a double thread.
The leaves are worked in nested fly stitches, and the stems in stem stitch (of course!), with tiny thorns of straight stitch alternating with the leaves.
You can tell that I have warmed to bullion knots, because I used them for some of the flowers of the gorse on the Gorse Hug. The buds are French knots, and the thorns and sprigs are worked in fly stitches, using single threads instead of the double thread used for the stems.
This is a wonderful use for some gorgeous woollen threads I bought somewhere in Pembrokeshire ten years or so ago (unlabelled, but they are so soft and lovely I wonder whether they came from Renaissance Dyeing) and some more, bought in Australia, which come from Gumnut Yarns). They have been a sheer delight to use. There’s a lovely misty blue in among them, too, so I am thinking of another design, of Lavender, to make up to have ready next time I need a Hug to send out.
But on the other hand, I rather like stitching a Hug with the recipient in mind. Maybe they’ll feel the hugs I was thinking when they receive the gift.
In the meantime, in case you would like to make a Hug yourselves, I’ve made a PDF of the pattern and some brief instructions.