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RSN Silk Shading: almost there!

When I left for Bristol, the silk shading project of a white cosmos looked like this (see below). I knew there was room for improvement but I didn’t know where stitches should be added, nor did I know how to go about adding just a few, well placed stitches to make it just that little bit better

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The flower when I left Berlin for Bristol.

 

Not only that, many of you mentioned that when I added the green of the sepals and the stem, the whole thing would look much different. And, as usual, you were right!

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Adding the first bit of green.

On my first day back in the Lovestitch studio with Kelley, I started on the light green area directly underneath the petals. After stitching the first layer of light green I could see how much the white popped out in the petals.

Before adding a few well placed stitches...

As I added the darker greens to the base of each sepal, the white looked even better! One would imagine that embroidering these small spaces would be relatively quick. Not so! The smallest spaces are the most fiddly and seemed to take a long, long time. Of course, I was excited to be finished and see the flower complete, so I was even less patient than usual!

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Fortunately for all of us in the studio, Margaret brought home made scones in for afternoon tea break. If you are one of the VERY unfortunate people on the planet who have never had a proper scone with strawberry preserves and clotted cream, then all I can say is, I’m so sorry! These were delicious. They were so delicious I ate two without one bit of guilt!

After my tea and scones I was ready to go back to work and I made great progress which meant that the next time I came into the studio I would be ready for the finishing touches!

Since we were in the UK over Easter, we had the Easter weekend to go on a short trip up to Liverpool. I’ll tell you all about that and share some amazing embroidery pieces with you next time!

 

Review: The Needlepoint Book by Jo Ippolito Christensen

I’m sure many of you remember the articles I wrote about my experience with canvaswork . It was the most challenging course I’d taken at the RSN and the most frustrating technique I had to learn.

My tutors were excellent and did their best, but I just couldn’t get my head around the whole concept: there were too many variables for me to get a clear picture of how the finished piece would look. I didn’t know how a particular stitch would look when it was on the canvas. I didn’t understand compensating stitches, or stitches with direction and movement vs stitches that are static. The size and repeat of the stitch never entered my mind when I was choosing what stitch to put where. Of course, my tutors helped me with all of it and that was the point of taking the course.

But how much easier it would have been for me at the beginning if I’d had The Needlework Book by Jo Ippolito Christensen in my library to read before I began the course! The publishers very generously sent me a review copy and I am so glad they did so I can share my opinion of the book with you .

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The Needlepoint Book is a big, heavy, gorgeous book. And, although the title implies that the book is for needlepoint or canvaswork, the information in much of the book applies to embroidery of all kinds.

If you stitch a kit or design where all the elements have been decided by the designer, then your task is to execute the stitches in the threads provided. The emphasis is on your skill and the beauty of your stitching. If, however, you choose to create piece of your own, you need to understand color, fibre choices, stitches that are appropriate for different places, stitch order, and a myriad of other things, so your design will be successful and beautiful. All of these elements are discussed, and many examples are given, which will help us designing our own pieces as well as stitching a painted canvas.

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The first chapter I read was Chapter 7 entitled “Choosing Stitches”. This is what I really struggled with during my course and the area I know I need to understand better, in order to create more successful needlepoint/canvaswork pieces.

The first statement in Chapter 7 encapsulated exactly how I felt when I started to learn this technique: “Any needlepoint creation, especially a painted canvas, has so many components to it that it’s hard to keep up sometimes.” No Kidding! Although my canvas wasn’t painted, the colors were determined by the image I was reproducing, The stitches, however, were not.

Her solution gives me hope for the future: “You conquer this situation the same way you eat an elephant: one bite at a time!”

Well, I can do that! “Schritt für schritt” we say in German – step by step.

Jo Ippolito Christensen goes on to explain the elements of successful stitch choices, step by step. She discusses compatibility, scale/proportion, space, movement – including dynamic and static stitches with specific recommendations and where to find the stitches in the book – size and shape of the area to be filled, how to work diagonal areas with other angles and texture. Whew! And that’s only the beginning of the chapter!

Next she writes about distorting of the canvas, mixing stitches and what kind of stitches work for very specific uses. She includes recommendations for letters and numbers, creating curved lines, what stitches to use for borders, compensating stitches, how to create detail and when to stitch specific areas of the design elements so that what is in the back looks like it’s behind what’s in the front of the design.

Then, like any good teacher, she gives her readers a summary of the guidelines she has just explained so clearly. Lastly, she encourages all stitchers to evaluate their choices and see each project as a learning experience. She writes “Trial and error soon turns itself into experience. The main idea in stitching is to have a good time!”

I’ve given you a glimpse into the book by writing specifically about Chapter 7. The rest of The Needlepoint Book is equally helpful, clear, interesting and inspiring. I love it!

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The experienced, long time needlepoint/canvaswork stitchers undoubtedly already have the older versions in their libraries. I haven’t seen those editions but I understand from reading other reviews on needlework blogs, that this edition is organised differently (and better) and there are more stitch diagrams. Something to consider…

If, like me, you are relatively new to needlepoint/canvaswork and want a resource that covers everything, then The Needlepoint Book is for you! I would even be willing to say that if this is the only book you have on needlepoint/canvaswork it will suffice for many years of stitching before you will want or need anything additional!

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Loveday crewelwork – Tri-color leaf 1

After I’d embroidered the ivy leaves, the strawberries and worked up quite far on the trunk and branches, I decided to stitch one of the large leaves. The large leaves are worked in three colors throughout the piece: a dark green, a light apple green and a beautiful teal blue. These colors, in combination with the Wedgwood blue of the background fabric, really look fabulous!

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The large leaf is a composition of a set of small leaves within the large leaf. Inside the large leaf shape are lots of little leaves worked in padded satin stitch and their stems are – big surprise – worked in stem stitch! If you look carefully at the photo above you can see that the satin stitch is worked at a slight angle on each of the smaller leaves. Stitching them in this way ensures that each stitch will lie flat over the split stitch outline and the padding. If I had made the first long stitch go exactly up the middle of the leaf from bottom point to top point, the subsequent stitches towards the edge of each leaf may have “fallen off’ the edges over the split stitch. The angle keeps the threads on the top of both the padding and the outline stitching.

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The outline of the large leaf was stitched using a double thread couched down with a single thread, just like the stem of the strawberries. I really exaggerated the ruffled effect on the generous curves of the leaf.

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For a finishing touch, the area in the center of the large leaf was filled with tiny seeding stitches. It always reminds me of scattering bird feed whenever I stitch seed stitch. In this case, that’s particularly apt as there are quite a few birds on this design!

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I think this is one of the prettiest things I have ever stitched! The combination of the single, smooth, satin stitched leaves, the sprinkling of the seed stitch and the ruffled outline in the two green and teal blue threads is simply stunning.

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What do you think?

 

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