Trevelyon’s Gold Cap : leaves and flower completed

Before I begin to tell you about the progress on Trevelyon’s Gold Cap, I want to welcome the influx of new readers to The Unbroken Thread! I’m currently on holiday in the USA visiting family and friends, so my posts will be not as frequent, but be assured they will pick up again when I return home. There are a few exciting things for me – and therefore for you! – on the horizon this autumn!

Trevelyon’s Gold Cap is a project I’m working on, based on a design by Thomas Trevelyon found in his Miscellany of 1608. His book contains historical information, a timeline, drawings, and, most importantly for us, embroidery patterns.

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I cleaned up the pattern and then traced it onto the fabric. I didn’t include the grape clusters because those will be worked in spangles and an outline isn’t necessary.

Normally I would begin with the laid work, which is passing thread and twist in this design. The laid threads are couched down and are far less likely to be damaged in the course of working on the piece than the check and purl threads I’ve used in the leaves. However, this is one panel and a “test” or prototype for the complete cap and I needed to see what the leaves would look like before I added the laid threads.

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Each of the little motifs is outlined in either stretch purl pearl or passing thread. This flower – which looks much like a Tudor Rose – is outlined in purl pearl. The filling is either gold purl or gold check in the petals and black purl in the outer leaves.

If you look closely you can see the subtle difference n the way the light reflects off the check and the purl. The check thread is more sparkly, while the purl thread is shiny. The technique is the same for attaching the threads to the fabric.

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In the leaf above I’ve used gold and black check thread together. The black tips use only one or two tiny pieces of check. Before stitching down the check, the twist must be laid first for the veins, then the check goes in.

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In the leaf above, the outline is stretched purl pearl and is the vein. Because the leaves are so small, I’ve overstretched the purl pearl so it would go around the tiny bends of the leaf. The leaf is filled with matt, black purl, which is just about my favorite thread for this project!

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The leaf above is outlined in passing thread and the trellis is DMC Diamante. I’ve then cut very short pieces or purl and laid them over the trellis.

The leaf in the photo above is, again, outlined in passing thread and the vein is also passing thread. The seeding and the stitching along the vein are in the DMC Diamante thread.

What was fun about working out all the different leaf designs was choosing the thread and the technique. What was difficult was finding a technique that worked successfully in a small space.

Now that all the leaves and the flower are finished and I’m happy with them, it’s time to add what I would have done first if stitching this piece the “correct” way: the passing thread and the twist.

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To ensure that the purl and check threads weren’t damaged, I covered everything I’d completed with tissue and was very careful never to rest my arm on the embroidery. I’m always careful, but in this instance I was VERY careful! Couching down the passing thread on the curlicues wasn’t difficult and took about an hour and a half.

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Next time I’ll have some of the twist for the main stem put in and then we’ll ALL have a better idea of what the finished piece will look like!

Trevelyon’s Gold Cap update

Sometimes I try something different and it works. I like it and the change is good. Other times it’s clear from the beginning that it isn’t going to work. And then, more rarely, I try something different and think it’s better but when I go back and look at it again, decide that it hasn’t worked as well as I thought. That’s what happened this time with the leaf you see below.

Trevelyon's Gold Cap

I was pleased with the black trellis and gold purl crosses when I first finished this leaf. As time passed, I became unsure about the black and gold outline thread – it was too thin in comparison to the outline threads used in all the other leaves. It didn’t have enough body or presence.

This kind of work is relatively easy to remove without damaging the fabric so I did just that and began again.

Trevelyon's Gold Cap

I used gold passing thread for the outline of the leaf, as I have in most of the leaves on the cap. I used the black and gold thread as the trellis, where the thinner thread works better than when I used it for the outline. Then I used short pieces of black purl to fill the center of the squares. I was imagining they would look a bit like French knots. Except they didn’t. The pieces of purl aren’t all the same size and it’s VERY difficult to get them to be the same size because the pieces are minuscule. Teeny tiny. For the same reason, it’s almost impossible to get the pieces of purl to be in the exact center of each square, which drives me nuts!

So, out comes the black purl and I’ll be putting back in the crosses using gold purl. I sure hope it works!

Trevelyon's Gold Cap

On to a more successful motif – the rose at the top of the cap. Each petal is outlined in gold purl and then alternate petals are filled with chip work using either smooth or check thread. The contrast in texture is just right and it’s not too gaudy. The centre is filled with black check and the triangular areas between the petals will be filled with black purl laid over felt padding. (That’s the plan unless it’s just too fiddly on such a small scale!)

Trevelyon's Gold Cap

The four leaves on the prototype currently look like the ones below. Shortly, the black purl will be removed and gold purl crosses put back on the bottom left leaf. Even as I look at this photo I can see it looks sloppy and messy. Really NOT OK!

Trevelyon's Gold Cap

Here’s the design as far as it’s been completed. It’s hard to see how it will look completed, since all the veins, the bunches of grapes and the curlicues are still to be done.

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And, just outside the bottom of the photo, there’s a border still to do. Perhaps there’s more work than I thought…However, it’s going to be pretty flashy when it’s finished with all that gold glittering!

 

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Pineapple laid and couched work

I just love laid and couched work! The finished design reminds me a little bit of weaving. The combination of threads running horizontally and vertically and the holding stitches does, in fact, layer different threads on the surface of the fabric, sometimes giving the impression of a plaid fabric. When I get to embroider laid and couched patterns on our balcony, on a beautiful sunny day, I am as pleased as punch!

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The bottom three leaves on the pineapple will all be embroidered using laid and couched patterns. Two of the leaves will be the same laid and couched design and the third will be different.

Unlike the leaves at the top, which don’t incorporate any of the deep rose coloured thread, the ones with the laid and couched design on the bottom do use that delicious shade of red.

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In the leaf above, the deep rose color is used for the centre vein of the leaf and the green, gold and blue for the laid and couched design. It’s a simple design which is quite open and uncomplicated. In order to accommodate the vein in the leaf, I had to break the line of the laid threads which left a bit of space around the vein. I quite like the freshness of this pattern. It’s always so much fun to embroider a laid and couched design. The pattern changes with each new layer you add!

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The second design has squares in the pattern that are left empty and filled squares which are quite busy. On top of the gold thread that creates the trellis are dark blue holding stitches. In the centre of every other square there are green crosses with deep rose holding stitches over them. The contrast between the complex squares and the empty squares make this pattern one of my favourites; in fact, I used this same design in my RSN Crewelwork Certificate piece!

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The outline stitches and the vein stitches for the leaves are both simple, but perfect, stem stitch lines. I especially like the look of rows of stem stitch embroidered side by side.

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Traditionally laid and couched work was used to fill larger areas in crewelwork and there is a huge variety of old designs from which you can draw inspiration. It’s also a relatively frugal way to fill large areas with colour and pattern, using little, very little thread when compared to long and short shading, for example.

As you can see from the photo above, I couldn’t resist adding a few of the golden French knots in three shades on the body of the pineapple. I just had to see how it would look!

Not much more to do now to be finished!

Do you enjoy laid and couched designs as much as I do? Do you have a favorite?

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