My second assignment for the City and Guilds Level 2 Certificate in Design and Stitched Textiles was to create a sampler using the exact same stitches (straight, cross, French knots,Bullion knots, detached chain, seeding and both woven and whipped wheels) that I used when making the more traditional sampler. Unconventional fabric and threads are to be used.
Initially I wanted to use boiled wool. I love the texture of boiled wool and it’s in plentiful supply here in Germany. Boiled wool jackets and coats are very popular. However, I wanted a white or off-white fabric and couldn’t find it in the shop near to my home. However, I did stumble across a roll of cork fabric. I’d never seen cork fabric before and, when I picked up the roll, I wasn’t sure what it would feel like.
Surprisingly, it’s flexible and relatively lightweight – something between a vinyl placemat and a vinyl table cloth. Getting the needle through the fabric was quite easy. I am using a tapestry needle with a good, sharp point.
I decided to use mainly threads from Oliver Twists. Most of them are synthetic but I’ve included some raw silk lace weight yarn and thin string for interest. I’ve got two small spools of Valdani 3-strand floss that I might use.
The fabric is mounted in a large hoop with a table clamp, which is working beautifully and keeps the fabric nice and taught.
This piece will be determined by the materials. I don’t have any idea how any given stitch will work or look on cork fabric so it’s a matter of trying something and seeing what happens. The focus is on the texture of and patterns in the cork fabric. I’d like the threads to highlight those textures and patterns.
Beginning with straight stitch seemed the simplest so I chose a length of thread that has metal strands running through it. I put in the first vertical stitch and was pleased (and surprised!) at how easy it was to embroider on cork fabric! I loved how it looked, so I kept going. As I stitched, I imagined rain, or even rain with lightning.
Having had success with vertical straight stitches, I moved on to horizontal ones. Changing threads, I put in some horizontal stitches. I liked those, so I added some long stitches that crossed the horizontal stitches. I tried some gimp thread (on the left below) but didn’t like it as much, so only did the three experimental stitches.
At this point my hand was tired (but I’m doing VERY well after my surgery, thank you!) so I stopped. As I looked at the large piece of cork fabric with only a few stitches in it, I was struck by how the combination of colours brought the desert to mind – a beautiful desert at sunset, perhaps.
It was a great first foray into using new materials in a new way and I can’t wait to see what comes next!