Remember the song that went “Sailing sailing over the bounding mail”? That tune just kept running through my head as I was stitching these beautiful blue sails. Filling in the outlines was very like filling the sails with wind.
One of the things I’ve noticed while I was stitching and referring to the photos in David Wilson’s book is that the laid threads don’t always run exactly parallel to the top and bottom of the picture; sometimes the embroiderer has chosen to change the direction of the laid threads to reflect the shape of the things being filled.
In the little top sail pictured below the laid threads change angle in the far right of the sail. The couched threads also change sometimes according to the shape. Of course in the small sail below the couched threads need to lie perpendicular to the laid threads and therefore must change direction but it’s pretty neat how the couched threads line up and give the impression of a curve right next to the mast!
In the lower sail below, the couched thread had been put in at a slight curve on the original to accentuate the curve of a sail full of wind. At first I thought this might be accidental and due to lack of light or a sleepy embroiderer. On examining more of the photographs in the book, I decided that it was done deliberately.
The subtle change of direction of both in the laid threads and the couched threads gives more movement to the stitching. Clever people those 11th century stitchers!
One of the challenges I’ve had to work through is the very small areas of Bayeux stitch. The tracing I made is not the same size as the tapestry so some of the shapes are smaller than they are in the real thing. The little round areas on the top sail had only enough room for one couching stitch and one of two holding stitches. I’m finding it interesting that a simple stitch done over and over to fill a space can have subtle differences so the piece doesn’t become monotonous.
I’m looking forward to seeing the real thing soon and hope to get a bit more done before we leave! I’d like to have done one horse or one soldier to really feel the life in the piece. Not long now!