The Unbroken Thread: slideshow photograph 1
The Unbroken Thread: slideshow photograph 2
The Unbroken Thread: slideshow photograph 3
The Unbroken Thread: slideshow photograph 4
The Unbroken Thread: slideshow photograph 5

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RSN Silk Shading: First large petal finished

This flower may be “white’ but there are lots of threads in the stitch that are NOT white. I’ve used various greys, violets, a light clay color, and a bit of grey-green to achieve the shading in the largest petal. Here’s a photo of my work in progress – look at all those needles!

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Analysing the colors in the photo and finding the right thread is so interesting! Kelly taught me a trick to make sure I was using the correct color: take one strand of the color you think will be right and hold it about 4 inches away from the place in the photo where you plan to use that color. If the thread “disappears” into the photo, it’s the right color.It’s really important to have the photo close at hand all the time so that you can refer to it constantly. As Kelley said “If you don’t see it, don’t stitch it.”

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Below is a close up where you can see all the different colors/shades of thread that I’ve used. Another thing that’s super important is to stand up, move away from your stitching and look at it from a distance. It will look quite different and you may find you need to adjust the colors you’re using.

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One other thing I’ve noticed is that the kind of light I use makes a BIG difference in how the colors and shades of thread look as I stitch. When I stitch in the evening I sometimes use a high intensity light with an LED bulb. Other times I used my magnifying lamp which has daylight bulbs. Below, you can see two photos, the one on the left taken when I was using the  magnifier with daylight bulbs and the one on the right when I was using the high intensity light with an LED bulb.

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The daylight lamp make the threads look a bit less shiny than the LED light to me. The whites seem to glow less and the other colors seem to be more the same intensity as the white. The LED light, on the other hand, makes the white pop and the other threads recede a bit more. The best light for observing my work is during the daytime in natural light. However, my employer would frown on me explaining that I needed to stay home so I could see my stitching in the best possible light. Really, does that show any understanding?!

 

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Curly branches!

The tree is growing beautifully! Stem stitch is one of my favourite stitches and I especially like doing it when I have to either taper the stitches to a thinner point or expand them to get thicker. I like the puzzle of working out where to have one row stop (or begin the additional row).

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The very ends of the two branches that curl were great fun to stitch. I had to plan when the various colors would “fade out” leaving just one single thread for the end of each curled branch.

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Below is a close up of the end where you can see how I’ve reduced the number of threads for each color. At the spot where the branch comes away from the trunk I’ve used three threads of the lightest brown, two of the golden brown, two of the medium brown and two of the dark brown. The lightest brown stays thick the longest since it would be the part of the branch where the sun shines and therefore the lightest. The dark brown stays at two threads until the very tip since that is the part of the branch which would be in the shade. The dark brown continues right to the end where it is completely shaded by the thicker part of the branch from above.

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Once I’d finished the trunk and these first branches, I wanted to do something that wasn’t brown so I started on the ivy leaves. They’re outlined in stem stitch with a stem stitch vein running down the middle. Straight stitches come off the vein, giving a hint of green to the leaf.

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Next time I’ll be able to show you the leaves all stitched and the strawberries will be finished!

 

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RSN Silk Shading: Keeping the silk clean!

 

While working on my RSN Silk Shading piece, I have been super careful to keep all areas of the silk covered except the tiny part I’m embroidering at one time. You can see from the photo below that I have acid free tissue paper carefully secured all around the petal.

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However, I wasn’t careful enough! I left a small area at the top of the petal clear so I could be sure of where I was placing my needle as it came over the top while stitching the first row on long and short shading.

It isn’t a large space but it was just enough that I got the silk a bit dirty from my hands. Now, I wash my hands frequently when stitching so the least amount of oil or perspiration gets on the fabric. I think I’m very careful. However, when I removed the tissue to see how the stitching I’d done looked, I could see a very slight mark on the silk just above the flower. It looks more like a shadow than a stain, and it’s possible you won’t be able to see it in the photo, but I could see it clearly.

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I’m sure that I rest the bottom of my left hand on that spot as I embroider and I’ve either gotten the silk dirty or slightly crushed the silk. Either way, I needed to fix it.

The only way I know to get stains out of silk – if you ARE going to be able to do it at all – is rubbing alcohol. I dipped a Q-tip into the alcohol and, on a left over piece of identical silk fabric, I tested the silk to see if it would be damaged by the alcohol. I waited about 30 minutes to be 100% sure and it came out just fine.

I then carefully, delicately rubbed the area that looked dirty on the embroidered piece. Looking below – even accounting for the huge difference in the light – you can see that it looks a bit better. Not perfect, but better.

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I am now stitching with the tissue paper over the fabric and a piece of lightweight white cotton on top of the tissue paper. I have the feeling that the tissue paper absorbed a tiny bit of the oil off my hand, but I’m not sure. I’m also careful to make sure any part of my had is resting only on tissue paper and not on the silk.

It isn’t easy to embroidery this way – it’s a bit fussy – but it’s definitely worth it to keep the silk clean!

Do you have any tips or tricks about keeping your ground fabric clean when embroidering? Or about how to best clean silk if it gets slightly marked during the embroidery? Please let us know!

 

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