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Posts Tagged ‘split stitch’

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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Having finished Baby Leaf-Tailed Dragon’s tail with the white circles…

…I decided to add the details to the head section next. Extending some of the outline to give him a jawline and define the ears was straightforward, as was adding the highlights around his neck, ears, mouth and nose. Then it was the eye. The eye more than anything gives him his personality and I really didn’t want to get this wrong, so I cut out a paper template and moved it around until I was happy before I started stitching. It’s amazing how even a small alteration in placement can make a big difference to expression and personality. After a reassuringly small amount of unpicking, I was pleased with the way he looks. Definitely cheeky!

I had a pair of trousers to hem yesterday and while looking for the right colour sewing cotton, I bumped into the Bayeux Stitch mushroom I started last January during panto.

I’d got as far as putting the gills in but they were going in the wrong direction. I knew they were wrong but simply couldn’t work out what the right direction was, so I put the hoop aside and left it – I didn’t even bother to finish unpicking the gills. So this was what appeared as I moved my mending pile:

As I picked up the hoop I could see instantly where the lines needed to go! Trousers were postponed and gills were couched in place. I also outlined the spots on the cap and next stage is… the highlighting. I really need to get over my nerves about stitching highlights on these pieces!

I’ve also been adding some more upcycled jewellery to my Etsy shop. These drop earrings I made in January from a fragment of Art Nouveau pressed brass frame in the shape of olive branches is similar are available here. I’ve added faux pearl drops and new gold plated sterling silver earhooks.

The broken silver ring I shaped into two Celtic motifs has been teamed with a couple of iridescent Czech glass beads to become this rather elegant pair of earrings which are available here in my Etsy shop.

Then a couple of beachcombing pieces. Several years ago I found four glass beads which had obviously once been part of a necklace or bracelet on a tattered piece of thread at a Cornish beach. I love the way they have been worn by the sea and have been looking for just the right project for them ever since. Inspiration struck when I came across an odd earring with a hanging loop inside. I made a piece of silver wire into a headpin and two of the beads fitted perfectly. You can find it here in the Beachcombing section of my shop.

I had a silver pendant which had a very odd looking flat part under the garnet. It was a little while before I realised it was a backing plate and whatever had originally been stuck on it was long gone. Perfect for a piece of sea washed pottery and this fragment of Victorian spongeware worked perfectly. The finished pendant has a new silver chain and is available here.

And the final highlight is the upcycled mourning locket I wrote about in last week’s post.

Within an hour of listing it on Etsy it had sold! A great boost on a cold and snowy day.

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The embroidered upcycled lockets I make from time to time are quite popular and I was pleased to source another one recently. On a grey and miserable day last week I thought it would be cheering to stitch a blossom tree to go into the oval space on the front. It worked up really well and I was pleased with the way the grass at the bottom balanced it out.

Time to cut it out, following the faint pencil line you can see in the photo above. It was a little too big initially, so I picked up the scissors to trim it by eye. All was going well when my concentration wandered and I cut too far in between the bottom branches and the grass. Disaster. The vilene was so thick that all my attempts to remount it looked awful.

I didn’t want to throw away the little tree I had spent so long stitching, so I went looking for something else to mount it in and finally found a gorgeous silver mourning locket which just needed a couple of diamantes replacing. If I trimmed the grass off, it would fit into the frame. At this point I was happy to sacrifice the grass if it meant I could keep the tree! I reset the missing diamantes, removed the grass and backed what was left onto a circle of vilene which would be seen through the rear of the locket.

Here I had a bit of a crisis of confidence. The antique mourning locket is a lovely thing in its own right and once I had repaired it, in wearable condition. Usually I add embroidery to a piece of broken or damaged jewellery that wouldn’t normally be fit to wear as it is. I wasn’t sure whether putting the tree into it was the right thing to do. So I asked Instagram whether to add embroidery or not and the answer was an overwhelming yes!

I love the little glass door in the back of the locket – you can see why I needed a neat piece of vilene behind the embroidery. You can find it here in my Etsy shop.

I’ve finished all the edging of the Medieval tiles piece and am much happier with the visual weight of the lines. I was wondering about a third line of split stitch but I think this is enough.

Next job is outlining the motifs in back stitch, which I might whip to give a smoother but more raised outline. This is to give me a bit of mental breathing room while I consider what to put in the spaces around the motifs. I want something, to give the piece a density and weightiness in the hand but I’m not sure I want to use simple seeding this time. I’m toying with the idea of seeding with a distinct stitch, like tete de boeuf, detached chain stitch or fly stitch or possibly adding a kantha style background in a similar coloured thread to the base fabric but with stitched spirals centred around the middle of the motif.

Decisions, decisions!

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I thought I’d started the Baby Leaf-Tailed Dragon in 2018, which would have been bad enough, but the blog post from September 2018 when I moved him from a hoop to a frame and really got going, says I started him in 2015 – July 2015 to be precise. I did quite a lot of work on him in 2019 and even got as far as starting to couch the outline but then, like so many things last year, he lapsed and it wasn’t until last week that I picked him up and finally finished the couched outline. The next stage was to add the split stitch highlights. I’m always worried I’ll put them in the wrong places and it will look odd, so I usually prevaricate at this point, but I decided to just get on with it.

The result was a lot less difficult than I thought (it usually is…) and so his lower tail is nearly done!

I’ve also decided to get on with the last two pieces for my Kew Memory Journal. I want to base one on the beautiful Chihuly Persian Chandelier that was hung in the Temperate House.

I thought the wavy edged circles could work either in needlelace or crochet and while I decided which one would be most effective, I started a small sampler of needlelace stitches.

Corded Brussels Stitch is my go to needle lace stitch and after having worked the Single Brussels – twice – I know why. The Corded Brussels is always worked in the same direction. When you get to the end of the row you run the thread across the front, back to the start and then work over it, incorporating it into the stitch. It makes the lace firmer and because there is something to work over, more even, and the stitches all run in the same direction.

The Single Brussels is worked from left to right and then when you reach the end of the row, back from right to left. I’m not very right handed and can work most stitches both right and left handed but I could not for the life of me get the rows even. On the left to right rows I could make the buttonhole stitch loops stay open but right to left they just wanted to flatten down to the stitch underneath. The second version is better than the first, but not by much.

However, as a sampler and a learning exercise, it’s been very useful.

The last old favourite is the final two kilt pin brooch kits.

Forest green, golden yellow, and brown.

and

Orange, bronze, brown, purple and gold.

Listed today in my Etsy shop with free UK P&P.

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