Little Things and Renassiance Threads

We just returned a week and a half ago from England. We had a great time and got to go to Hardwick Hall, the home of a huge collection of needlework, including some beautiful embroidery and fabulous tapestries. The building itself is pretty amazing as well! There is a little rhyme about the hall that sums it up quite nicely – “Hardwick Hall, more glass than wall”.

On the way over in the car and on the ferry I had loads of time to stitch and I wanted to try the new thread I’d gotten from Renaissance  Dying. I’d ordered the set of all the Elizabethan colors and when they arrived I was so pleased with the colors. I decided to work up some pieces with only the colors that might have been available to women who stitched during the Elizabethan period. The thread is beautiful and I loved stitching with it!

This design is from Tristan Brooks but I choose to use the Renaissance threads rather than the ones provided by her to experiment with the limited color palette.

One of my more successful experiments was to combine two colors in the needle for a blended color that didn’t exist otherwise. Look closely at the stem in the piece above. It worked quite well. I also tried a new stitch called Battlemented Couching. It’s a grid of vertical and horizontal lines shaded from light to dark or dark to light. I discovered the stitch in the book Crewel Embroidery by Shelagh Amor. Mary Corbet had reviewed it and her review pointed out some aspects of the book that made me decide to purchase it for my library – most especially the information on designing your own patterns. The stitch worked really well with these threads and I loved watching the couching take shape.

As I worked these two little designs, I thought about the limited colors embroiderers in the past had from which to choose and how variations in stitches – especially stitches that combine different colored thread – allowed them to be more creative. Now we have hundreds of colors from which to choose so if we decide to only use satin stitch, for example, we would still create visual interest by using so many colors. Our predecessors didn’t have that choice and had to use other means to make their work varied. I am so glad that they did or we would not have the wealth of stitches to study and use today.

My next post will be all about the very first silk piece I worked. Silk thread on silk fabric. Interesting and beautiful when it was all finished. I’m hooked!