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 Canvaswork assessment – remember this project?

Those of you who read The Unbroken Thread will undoubtedly remember how much difficulty I had with my canvaswork project for the RSN Certificate. I was a complete beginner and had no concept of how canvaswork was done, how to use the different stitches and, for that matter, how to DO the different stitches. At the beginning it was the most frustrating, hopeless feeling I’ve ever had whilst learning any embroidery technique. Of course, when I got to the end of the project, I loved it and felt competent to embroider canvaswork pieces successfully in the future – which is the point, really.

Umbrella RSN Canvaswork

Quite a while ago the assessment for this piece came back from the assessors at the RSN and I was so busy with my RSN silk shading piece that I didn’t have time to tell you about the results.

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The overall mark was 83% which I am really happy with! I did lose points on some things and the comments of the assessors were accurate and helpful. “Where the stitches are longer, the thread tension is sometimes not firm enough”. You can see this in the white tiles on the roof above – see the longest center stitch in some of the squares look a bit floppy?

In shading the overhang of the roof on both levels, the lower level has dark brown to create a shadow and it would be more consistent if I’d done the same thing on the top roof. 
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The assessors mentioned they particularly liked the addition of both the sign and the umbrella saying “They added interest to the umbrella and the prayer sign is particularly effective.” Me too!

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The final comment warmed my heart and reminded me that our assessors have been students and realise that sometimes the work is particularly challenging: “This is a gorgeous interpretation of the source image, and the nicest canvas-stitched piece we’ve seen in a long time. Well done for preserving – and please make this your Christmas card for next year! Congratulations!”

Well, I’m chuffed!

 

Loveday crewelwork – Tri-color leaf 2

I’ve just finished one of the prettiest leaves I’ve ever stitched. The choice of stitches and the combination of colors makes it bright and fresh. It’s one of the leaves on Nicola Jarvis’ Loveday crewelwork design.

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As you can see in the photo below, each section of the large leaf is divided into three parts, each with a jagged edge. As usual I worked from the part of the leaf in the background (farthest away from the viewer) towards the part that is in the foreground EXCEPT this time I waited to stitch the one in the background last because I knew the edging stitch on that leaf (you will see this later) could get totally messed up as I was stitching the other two sections.

The center and bottom sections of each leaf are worked in satin stitch. I always outline any shape I’m stitching in satin stitch with a split stitch first. I have had absolutely zero luck creating a beautiful, smooth satin stitch without outlining the shape in split stitch first. ZERO.

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You can see my split stitch is as tiny and as even as I can make it. To maintain the precise shape of the leaf I stitched just inside the line rather than on top of the line. It’s amazing how that small amount can take the sharp edge off points and flatten curves.

When working satin stitch in a shape with a slanted edge, it’s best to determine the direction of all the stitches before you begin. Use your piece of wool and hold it at an angle in one place in the shape, then without changing the angle, move the wool up and down the shape to see if maintaining that angle as you stitch will result in mostly parallel stitches across the entire shape. You won’t be able to do it 100% of the time, but as long as the angle of the satin stitch doesn’t change dramatically you should be pleased with the result.

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Generally I find that the stitches look best if the stitch runs from the base to the tip. You can see in the photo above that I’ve put in that stitch (base to tip) first and then will add the rest of the stitches on either side.

I also draw stitch direction lines inside the shape after I’ve done the thread test mentioned above so I stay on track. It’s all too easy to change the angle as you stitch and suddenly find your stitches going in completely the wrong direction!

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After all of the satin stitch areas of the leaves were finished, I could move onto the part of the leaf that is farthest away – the opposite of what I would usually do! Firstly, I added lots and lots of tiny seeding stitches, scattered like chicken feed all over the area of the leaf. For the best results I find that ensuring each stitch is the same length looks best.

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Lastly, a double wool thread was couched down all around the edge of the leaf. Again, keeping an equal distance between each couching stitch and an equal amount of “poof” in the laid thread makes it look very pretty. Pulling the laid thread tightly does not give the ruffled effect you see here.

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As I worked around the edge of the leaves, there were places where the line stopped and then continued on the other side of a part of the leaf. Rather than finish my thread and begin again, I threaded a needle with the double piece of wool and took it under the fabric, bringing it up again where the laid thread started again. It did cause a bit of a mess on the back but saved me time and thread!

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Both of the large leaves in this piece are so pretty but the one I wrote about today – on the right – is my favourite. What about you?

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Lady Lever Art Gallery

On the morning of the day I went to Liverpool Cathedral, I made my way across the Mersey river to an idyllic place called Port Sunlight.

Here is an excerpt from an article about Port Sunlight and William Lever, the man responsible for both the village and the collection housed in the Lever Art Gallery.

” Port Sunlight is where William Lever built his soap manufacturing works and a model village to house his employees. William Lever personally supervised planning the village, and employed nearly thirty different architects. Between 1899 and 1914, 800 houses were built to house a population of 3,500. The garden village had allotments and public buildings including the Lady Lever Art Gallery, a cottage hospital, schools, a concert hall, open air swimming pool, church, and a temperance hotel. Lever introduced welfare schemes, and provided for the education and entertainment of his workforce, encouraging recreation and organisations which promoted art, literature, science or music.

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Lever’s aims were “to socialise and Christianise business relations and get back to that close family brotherhood that existed in the good old days of hand labour.” He claimed that Port Sunlight was an exercise in profit sharing, but rather than share profits directly, he invested them in the village. He said, “It would not do you much good if you send it down your throats in the form of bottles of whisky, bags of sweets or fat geese at Christmas. On the other hand, if you leave the money with me, I shall use it to provide for you everything that makes life pleasant – nice houses, comfortable homes, and healthy recreation.”

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The historical significance of Port Sunlight lies in its combination of model industrial housing, providing materially decent conditions for working people, with the architectural and landscape values of the garden suburb, influenced by the ideas of William Morris and the Arts and Crafts Movement. Each block of houses was designed by a different architect. The backs of any of the houses cannot be seen, and each house is unique.

The Lady Lever Art Gallery is housed in small and beautiful building that sits comfortably in the surrounding houses of Port Sunlight.

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Lord Lever was a passionate collector and the museum is filled with only a very small part of his vast collection. I had come to see the embroidery that was on display and, although there aren’t many displayed currently, the ones that are were inspiring! Rather than me explain them I’ll let you read the  placards displayed in the museum and see the photos I took. I apologise for the darkness and the glare on the photos. The lighting was very dim to preserve the textiles and the glass over them caught the glare of the overhead lights in the museum. Nonetheless they are close up and you can see the detail of the amazing works!

 

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If you’re ever in Liverpool – or even nearby – it is definitely worth visiting the Lady Lever Art Gallery!