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Posts Tagged ‘split stitch’

I finally finished the couching on the shishas piece this week. The last time I blogged about it I’d got as far as here and thought it wouldn’t take much longer to complete.

That was three weeks ago and it’s been surprisingly slow progress for something that is straightforward and stitches up relatively quickly. Having started in the middle I decided to complete the top edge first, right up to where the lilac silk fabric stops.

The turquoise fabric had a flat back diamante attached and I decided to make it into a miniature shisha by making a buttonhole ring to go round it. The size (it’s about 4mm in diameter) was quite an issue as it meant I had to scale down the thickness of the thread and I have a nasty suspicion that I twisted the ring as it isn’t sitting straight in spite of the row of fly stitches I added round the edge to try and disguise any shortcomings!

Once I’d finished the top edge I continued to the bottom – it took quite a lot longer than I thought it was going to and by the time I reached the bottom edge I was heartily glad to see the back of it.

It is extremely tactile though – everyone who has seen it has got really touchy feely with it – and with all that heavy thread, in spite of it being only about 7 inches square, it weighs a ton!

In complete contrast to the loose, abstract style of the couching, I’ve also been working on my Brantwood wallpaper motif. I’m using an unlabelled single strand silk with a very subtle variegation.

The stems are either chain stitch (centre and far right and left) or split stitch (middle right). This is the point where I should say something about how the different stitch treatments are all about design choices, but the truth is that between stitching the far right spray and the middle right spray, I forgot what stitch I was using. So I rushed ahead with the second spray and it was only when I finished and looked at the stems more closely (and in daylight…) that it was obvious that I’d started in chain stitch, not split… It’s not really a problem, just slightly irritating that I didn’t check more carefully and I am certainly not taking it out.

This is as far as I’ve got at the moment. You can see the subtle changes in the colour of the thread and also that the satin stitch isn’t all going in the same direction…

Sod it: life’s too short.

It’s a design choice.

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Despite the lack of space, the peas have fitted in nicely and don’t look too squashed or too small. I started with rows of variegated brown feather stitch ‘pea sticks’ and added the stalks over the top in whipped back stitch.

The peas are two straight stitches which start side by side at the top and go into the same hole at the bottom to give a point. I’m always up for some ‘plein air stitching’ and started adding them on a trip to Lincoln to meet up with Karen (Lincs in Stitches).

Once the peas were nicely spaced over the stalks, I finished them off with a trio of tiny straight stitches in a single strand of stranded cotton to create the calyxes. Next I need to find some 2mm silk ribbon for the leaves.

I know it’s not really the best idea to start yet another project when there are other things on the go and especially when I’ve not made any progress on my June AND July Move It On Project, but I need something straightforward to stitch while I’m out and about and Ruskin lace definitely does not come into that category. The Ruskin lace is to go into a 2015 holiday journal which needs some other stitching doing for it, including a version of the wallpaper in John Ruskin’s study at Brantwood, near Coniston.

It’s quite light and modern for a Victorian wallpaper and I particularly liked the motif with stars on the right so I chose it as one of the pieces to stitch for the journal.

I originally planned to do it in applique, but when I came to look at the design I’d printed out ready to go, it was clear that the stems were going to be far too narrow, so I’ve revised my idea and it will all be embroidered. We were up in the Lakes for the weekend a couple of weeks ago and as we visited Coniston, it seemed appropriate to start the stitching there.

The lines will be in split stitch to give the right sort of width and each leaf will also be outlined in split stitch and then satin stitched over. Nice and straightforward, easy to take out and about and it’s still moving old projects on.

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It only a took a couple of stitching sessions in the end but after six years Baby Leaf-Tailed Dragon is finally complete! When you last saw him back in February he looked like this:

I was struggling to stitch tiny neat split stitch circles along the line of his neck and in the end just gave up and let other projects come to the fore. But Baby L-T D was promised as a director’s gift for a show we did in 2019 and he really needed to be finished to be presented at a Memorial Concert in early November. Time to get stuck in.

I finished the circles on the neck first. They really highlight how uneven the wavy line is, but I don’t dislike the way they’ve ended up in pairs.

The his clawed and feathered feet. The feathery bits at the back remind me of the ‘feathers’ around the hooves of a shire horse. I did hope that I was getting better at the circles, but I’m not so sure about that, looking back at the photos.

And lastly the top section of his double tail. Highlight lines first and then more circles inside the trefoil leaves.

Finally, the veins on the large leaf and the last of the circles along the base of the tail to complete the stitching!

Then I removed him from the frame so I could see him in all his leafy glory for the very first time. I’m so pleased with him and a little bit sad that he’s going to go to someone else.

Now I need to sign and mount him – another job I tend to prevaricate about because I worry about getting it perfectly right…

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I’ve been continuing the autumn colours with some ribbon embroidery sunflowers. I love the textured deep brown centres you get from clusters of French knots. All was going pretty well until I realised I only had enough golden yellow ribbon to stitch one sunflower – possibly two if I really used every centimetre. You can see on the bottom one that I ended up using ribbon where the edges were really a bit too worn just to complete the flower.

This was then followed by the very unfamiliar feeling of going online to buy some more ribbon. I can’t remember the last time I wasn’t able to find what I wanted (or something close enough) in my somewhat extensive stash but yellow silk ribbon is something that for some reason I simply don’t have. (Any other colour, yes, but strangely not yellow.)

Unable to complete the last flower until I had the ribbon, I made a start on the next part of the design, a meandering line of Hungarian Braided Chain stitch. It’s a fabulous stitch but this is the first time I’ve worked it in anything stranded – in this case four slender strands of a very slippery pure silk so in places it was somewhat less than perfect!

The ribbon arrived a couple of days later so I was able to add the last sunflower. It’s less golden yellow than the others but I like the variation in colours and the ribbon stitch works well for the petals. No two stitches are the same, which is perfect for the slightly shaggy effect I wanted.

Satin stitch leaves over split stitch outlines.

I’m very pleased with the result, and am hoping to incorporate it into some upcycled jewellery, although the next time I do a meandering line it would probably be best to draw it out carefully first, instead of doing it by eye…

I’ve also managed to get a bit further with my beaded jellyfish. Last seen, it looked like this:

I’ve finished setting the spangles on the front and worked the first round of the opening.

It’s hidden the wobbly couched edge rather nicely which was an unexpected bonus and reminded me how much I’ve enjoyed stitching it so far, so perhaps I can make the time to push on with it now.

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I was asked to come up with three cards for assorted birthdays and anniversaries in short order this week and having no time to start anything completely from scratch, I went delving into a box of assorted bits and pieces and managed to come up with five finished cards in a day!

First was a piece I started at a 2015 workshop on sculpting silk paper with Linda Rudkin. Sashiko stitching on a scrap of indigo dyed sheeting. This one was completely finished and just needed mounting.

Next a couple of cards created from some samples I made playing with a soldering iron. This one has been enhanced with a scattering of silk French knots.

I finished it by stitching it onto the blue silk backing with herringbone stitch in the same thread.

I’d already started couching a frothy white thread round this sample when I found it.

The layered spirals and slashes combined with the frothy white thread made me think of the way artists like Hiroshige and Hokusai represent sea foam in ukiyo-e prints. I carried on doodling with the couched thread and added some split stitch spirals with the cream silk thread I was using to couch it down and two nuggets of sea glass.

Finished as a card.

Next up a piece of crazy patchwork that I stitched at least ten ago. I had half thought about appliqueing it onto a shoulder bag made from the cut off bottom of a pair of jeans. But the upcycled bags I’ve made in past from jeans bottoms and patchwork panels had very little interest when I tried to sell them, so I decided a card was the more sensible option.

And last, one of the back ground pieces from our teabags workshop with Fran Holmes in October 2019. This literally only needed about a dozen stitches into the lace border to finish it!

So not only did I manage to deliver the three requested cards, I actually have some in reserve for upcoming celebrations. Makes quite a change to be beforehand with the world instead of chasing my tail!

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I’ve been stitching various experimental pieces recently and enjoying different ways of working. I’d seen someone on Instagram who had been embroidering fantasy aerial landscapes and I really liked the idea so I printed out a satellite image of part of a walk I enjoy along the River Ancholme between the villages of South Ferriby and Horkstow and decided I’d stitch the section from Horkstow Bridge along the lane to the road.

I drew it free hand onto some calico and then started to fill in the fields with satin stitch and the hedgerows in french knots. I used a slightly slubby silk on the longer field and an odd almost cord-like thread on the smaller one.

I then moved onto stranded silk which gave smoother looking fields. I like the contrast of the slightly textured silk but not so sure about the corded thread…

I also realised that I needed to vary the shades of green in the hedgerows and copses.

The lane from the bridge to the road was added in split stitch. Really not liking the corded thread at all now, but as the French knot hedgerows went right through the edges of the stitches I wasn’t going to be able to easily undo it at this point, so I’m living with it!

Lastly I added the River Ancholme and the drain that runs parallel with it in split stitch. Horkstow Bridge, which is a very early Victorian suspension bridge, is two French knots and a couple of satin stitches (bottom left corner) and I included part of the fields across the river. Off the hoop the tension isn’t great, but it was a lot of fun to do.

Back in 2010 I stitched a piece for our Embroiderers’ Guild Summer Challenge, for which we were given some blue thread, aida and the prompt ‘Blue Pot’. My response was to create some cross stitched ‘shards’ of Victorian blue and white china lying in the ‘soil’

I don’t have it any more because it’s on the cover of the 2010 scrapbook but I do miss it.

So I decided to stitch a mini version featuring the most iconic part of the willow pattern design – the birds.

Once I’d stitched it, I laced it over a couple of pieces of pelmet vilene for rigidity and started to couch various fancy threads around it for the soil.

I also added some patches of split stitch to vary the textures as I’d done with cross stitch on the original.

I wouldn’t normally stitch the same idea twice, but it’s good to have my own miniature version.

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As promised from last week, here is the second china pot fragment, this time filled with ribbon embroidery irises, which have worked out rather nicely. The flowers are lazy daisy stitches with a stitch threaded through the bottom of the chain to give the falling petals, the leaves are done with ribbon stitch and the stems are two rows of split stitch.

I ended up finishing it late at night and the only photos I have of the finished piece have huge shadows round the sides of the pot which look like stains! Anyway, it was done in time for Mothers’ Day and went down well.

I’ve been working away on a couple of upcycled pieces of jewellery. The first was a fairly easy conversion from a broken 1907 silver and hardstone shamrock brooch to a pendant. The c-shaped catch was in good condition and substantial enough that I could twist it round to create a hanging loop. There was very little left of the pin hinge so I was able to carefully saw the remains off and neaten up the scar.

With the addition of a jump ring and a silver chain it’s good for at least another hundred or so years.

Available here in my Etsy shop.

The second make was a bit more of a puzzle. A chunk of abstract fused silver with two holes and a short length of tube on the back.

I wondered if the tube was supposed to be a bale, but it was very narrow and you would have struggled to get anything but the finest chain through it. And a very fine chain would have been out of proportion to the chunky pendant. So I decided to use the top hole as the hanging point and removed the tube. That left me with what to do with the second hole. I couldn’t hang anything from it as it was too far up, so I went through my odd stud earrings to see if there was anything to inspire me. I found a couple of round studs with semi precious cabochons in silver settings which were attractive before a little frog stud tumbled out of the bag. I’m not sure why I tried him in place, but he somehow turned the abstract chunk of silver into a sort of stylised lily pad.

He just works perfectly!

Mr Frog is available here in my Etsy shop.

As our second Mothers’ Day under lockdown in the UK rolled around, it reminded me of the memory journal of my beach walk on Mothers’ Day 2019 which I finished on Mothers’ Day 2020.

And that in turn reminded me that I have two pieces still to do for my Kew memory journal from June 2019. The recent needlelace sampler was a half hearted attempt at testing out some ideas for a piece based on the magnificent Chihuly Persian Chandelier which hung in the middle of the Temperate House.

But I’ve decided that I need to stop faffing and get on with it, so this morning I assembled some delicious Mulberry Silks, my tiny antique crochet hooks and a piece of lovely indigo dyed calico.

Time to stop overthinking and see what happens…

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I took a bit of a break from the ongoing long projects this week and have enjoyed learning and working a couple of new stitches. The first was a little canvaswork piece with a hearts theme. I do enjoy the odd spot of canvaswork and I immediately thought of Rhodes Stitch, worked as hearts. A quick Google showed me that you can work the hearts in a variety of sizes, although as they get bigger they do get bulkier. I found some yellow canvas and matched it with some daffodil yellow stranded silk and some variegated stranded silk in purples and golds that reminds me of pansies. The small yellow hearts were pretty straightforward, although having to fasten off after each heart because any carrying threads were visible was mildly irritating.

Then I added pansy coloured larger hearts to the middle. The bottom one was the fourth attempt.

  • Attempt  1 – too far up.
  • Attempt  2 – I miscounted the placement of the first stitch but didn’t realise until I tried to put the penultimate stitch in and there wasn’t enough room!
  • Attempt  3 – Stitched it perfectly – on the wrong side…
  • Attempt  4 – Count twice, stitch once. Check carefully which side is the right side. Finally, success!

The top heart went quicker but I was more careful with my counting this time. Then I tried out a new Rhodes Stitch version I’d come across while looking at the various sizes for the hearts – a Rhodes Stitch Butterfly. It’s a straightforward and very effective shape to stitch, but once again, careful counting is your friend. I decided to do two stitches for the body and I think that makes him nicely chunky.

The second new stitch was one I’ve had in mind to try for a while. I’d been asked to make a Mothers’ Day card for a friend and I was inspired by some cards online using sea glass fragments as pots with drawn plants. What if I used a piece of sea washed pottery as a pot and the woven feathered chain stitch I’d been wanting to try out to make a trailing plant? Feathered chain stitch first.

Then you fill in the loops with needleweaving, rather like making a picot but with only two threads. I definitely improved as I stitched these two stems – no guesses for noticing which leaf was my first one!

Moving onto the middle stems. The needlewoven leaves remind me of quaking grass.

After the final two stems, some French knots flower buds in silk ribbon and the pottery shard to check the scale. You can get a better idea of the size against my hand.

Lastly I filed a little off the bottom left hand corner to correct the shape and added a shadow in split stitch just to ground the pot.

Very pleased with the result. I used coton a broder and it has given the leaves a lovely sheen. I think a fine perle would work well too and a subtly variegated thread might look even better. I’m so pleased with it I’m just about to start something similar for my mum.

Stay tuned!

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Podcasts at the ready, I got stuck into some of the more tedious stitching this week. All the motifs on the medieval tiles piece are outlined and I’m very happy with the alternating light and dark outlines.

The intersections are interesting too.

As is the back, where you can really see the subtle variegation in the threads.

I’ve still not completely settled on what to do for the background of the tiles but I’m inclining towards adding something to the inside of the motifs. Not sure if that is prevarication or not!

I had a couple of offcuts from when I printed the main piece.

I made one into a bookmark for a Christmas present and am turning the second one into another bookmark. This time I whipped the back stitch outline of the motifs and am pleased with the raised effect. It looks almost like I’ve edged them with a very fine cord.

I decided to add the more straightforward highlights to Baby Leaf-Tailed Dragon’s wings while I was still dithering about the circles on his neck.

Emboldened by that success, I started the circles. Not sure the first one is fit to be seen, but the second and third are reasonably presentable.

I’m definitely ready to finish these projects and get on with something different, especially as I unearthed some rusted embroidered fragments the other day that I’d done ages ago with the plan of making an art quilt and posted some on Instagram. They got such a good response I’m tempted to get the quilt underway again…

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This is pretty much how I feel about most of my current projects. I’ve added one line of highlights to Baby Leaf-Tailed Dragon and bottled out of the circles above it because they are tricky to stitch accurately and I’ve realised that although the gills of the mushroom are now going in the right direction, the reason it still looks odd is that the stem should go up to meet the edge of the cap. This will mean either stitching more stem over the gills or, more likely, unpicking the gills completely and redoing the whole lot. I do love both projects but at the moment we’re not speaking.

The medieval tiles are moving slowly. Outlining the motifs in back stitch feels like it’s taking forever simply because they have so much outline, and I had a moment of real love-hate when I realised I wasn’t going to have enough thread for them all. Luckily I had managed to outline three and after a major trawl through my threads (not a quick job…) I was back to the problem I had the last time I played embroidery chicken with this piece – do I go for a similar type of thread or a similar colour? This time I’ve gone for similar type in a rich subtly variegated dark brown. I was a little unsure about how well it would work, but after having stitched my first motif in the darker thread, I’m happy with it alongside the lighter outlines.

At the moment the best thing I can say about it is that I’m over half way through the outlining.

I have managed to stitch one thing this week that I love, which is a scrap of crazy patchwork representing my comfort zone. I’ve been working through some bags of scraps with the idea of using them up and had my eye on the bag of purples. But one by one the scraps weren’t quite right. Too pink; too patterned; not the right weight. The only one I wanted to use was a piece of colour catcher (top right) which was a sullen grey -purple. Then a piece of patterned blue and black silk caught my eye and I was off on a completely different track into the bag of blacks and greys.

Comfort zone means feather stitch, some kantha and french knots and somehow it became a response to the current snowy weather courtesy of the Beast From The East 2.

Good to have made something I love – now back to wrangling the other projects.

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