When I chose the image of this red temple in the snow, one of the qualities of the print that I loved the most was all the red in the image. Having lived in Taiwan, I could easily imagine this red temple and, having lived in Iowa, I know what snow looks like.
What I didn’t imagine was how varied and complex the shading of the reds would be when I was taking an image and turning it into something stitched. The eves in the image appear almost black in some places. Solid red, no matter how dark, even a deep burgundy, wasn’t going to give the impression of depth and shadow.
I tested the deepest red but the color was too flat. I added some black and it looked like stripes – awful! Then I asked my husband and he looked and looked (as he does when considering an important question) and pronounced “browns”. So I tried it…and it worked…beautifully! You can see the two sets of thread combinations above, one for the darkest part of the eaves and one where it gets a bit lighter.
The base threads are Caron Impressions and the others are DMC cotton floss. The darker set of threads are Impressions 2010 and DMC 310 (brown) 433 (deep gold) and 377 (a slightly rusty red). The lighter set of threads are Impressions 2011, 3031 (brown) 434 (deep gold) and 347 (rusty red).
The next step was to decide how many of each thread to use in the mix. Above, you can see 1 strand of Impressions 2010, two strands of brown 310, two of gold 433 and two of rusty red 377. I started with one Impressions thread and two of each of the DMC floss but played around with the mix as I wanted the shade to be brighter. Adding another strand of the gold or a strand of the lighter rusty red to the dark mix worked well. I don’t have a formula, as I experimented as I went along. I’d put all the threads into my needle and, without knotting the end, make a stitch over two threads of canvas. This allowed me to see what the effect would be and then pull it gently out. If I liked it I would then carry on stitching and, if not, I would change the balance and try again. This is NOT a fast way to stitch! Separating the threads, putting them together and testing the combination took a long time but the end result is worth all the time and care.
You can see that the color and the shading is lovely and you can even imagine the light coming through the trees and illuminating a bit of the eaves from below. The gutter between the roof and the eaves I stitched using the same color combination. On top you can see some puffy couched grey wool for the snow resting on the gutter. I love this technique and it works perfectly here.
The gutter was stitched using a straight stitch over two threads over back stitch laid down for padding. Above you can see the back stitch before I covered it on the lower roof.
Here you can see the grey wool being laid and ready to be couched down. The most important thing when doing this is to make sure you leave enough slack in the thread you will be couching so it can be puffy. Don’t pull it tightly against the canvas or it won’t make those pretty ruffles. I use a mix of grey threads again to give it a bit more life.
Now I’ve finished stitching the eves and it’s time to move on to the building. I think I’ll begin with the little one story bit you can see on the left. Time’s moving quickly and I’d best get back to work!