Before I left Bristol and the care and guidance of my teacher, I stitched the four small petals you see completed in the photo below. I can hear you thinking “That’s all?” Yep, that was as far as I got. But I learned a lot!
I now understand the importance of both the order of work (stitch things in the back first etc.) and the stitch direction. These are two of the keys things one must pay attention to when doing silk shading.
The other is to continually look at your work from a distance to see if you are placing the stitches where you really want them to be. Taking a photo helps enormously because a photo captures everything in detail very clearly – it’s a frozen look at your work. When I look with my eyes, I think my eyes keep moving so I don’t really see the individual stitches, as much as take in the whole. That’s a good thing, but not when I want to check to see if the stitches are placed the way I intended.
Below is a close up of the area I’ve stitched and you can see that the arrows are pointing to the places where the stitches all started in about the same place along the previous row of stitching. The idea with silk shading (or long and short shading) is to stagger the place where each stitch comes up through the previous stitches. What I’ve done is to bring three of four stitches up through the previous row, all in approximately the same place which creates a bump or ridge or dent or…something that doesn’t look right!
If you look at the tiny petal to the left in the photo above, you can see the stitches are staggered more unevenly and the surface is much smoother. That’s what I wanted in the large petal but I didn’t accomplish it.
I’ve now taken all the second row of stitching out and started again. I’m having much more success now that I know what to guard against!
Silk shading is a time consuming technique which requires focus and patience. It’s a technique I was dreading and thought I wouldn’t like but guess what? I’m loving it!