Our Lady Anne’s Retreat wasn’t only travelling and seeing beautiful textiles and lovely places in England: we also embroidered! The pattern we used for both of our projects was based on the leaf design in Lady Anne’s dress in her portrait. At the top of her right sleeve (on the left in the painting) you can see a leaf with a curled stem. This design was printed onto two pieces of lovely linen twill Phillipa provided: one for a crewelwork piece and the other for piece worked in Elizabethan stitches (more about that in a future post).
Phillipa began her lessons with us by teaching us long and short shading. Although I’ve done this before, it was good to have a refresher lesson. There are two things I do that prevent my shading from looking the way I want it to look: firstly I pull the threads too tightly, especially on the first, underlying layer. This means there isn’t a good cushion of threads for the upper layers (and the shading layers) to sink into. The effect, when the tension is too tight, is more like stripes of color than shading. You can see it clearly in the photo below on the top leaf.
Secondly, my stitch direction can be wonky. It sometimes isn’t very uniform and changes direction too suddenly and in too short a space. You can see this in that same leaf above. On the top leaf the stitches are going more towards the center vein so they change direction very often and especially at the bottom where the stitches become very short and almost at 90 degrees to the center vein. Compare that to the stitches in the lower leaf in the photos above: they tend to be more in line with the sides of the leaves, so the angle is less sharp.
In the photo above I’ve taken out the stitches on the top leaf and completely reworked it. I can definitely tell the difference between the first attempt and the final stitching!
One of the things we learned concerned color and color placement in embroidery. When we first received our Appleton’s wool I was surprised to see three shades of gold, three shades of green and a very dark navy blue color! However, blues sometimes are bluish and leaves often have a blue tint to them. Lo and behold, when I stitched the larger leaf using the dark blue for the center color it looked fabulous!
You’ll no doubt have noticed we’re working this piece in a hoop frame – a lap hoop frame to be specific. It’s the best and easiest way to work a small piece. One of the things I like the most is that no place on the design is far from your body so correct posture is much easier to maintain.
So that’s the progress on the stitching front on my fabulous trip! Next time I’ll be taking you farther north into the Lake District. Get ready to see some stunning scenery!