Loveday crewelwork – Tri-color leaf 1

After I’d embroidered the ivy leaves, the strawberries and worked up quite far on the trunk and branches, I decided to stitch one of the large leaves. The large leaves are worked in three colors throughout the piece: a dark green, a light apple green and a beautiful teal blue. These colors, in combination with the Wedgwood blue of the background fabric, really look fabulous!

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The large leaf is a composition of a set of small leaves within the large leaf. Inside the large leaf shape are lots of little leaves worked in padded satin stitch and their stems are – big surprise – worked in stem stitch! If you look carefully at the photo above you can see that the satin stitch is worked at a slight angle on each of the smaller leaves. Stitching them in this way ensures that each stitch will lie flat over the split stitch outline and the padding. If I had made the first long stitch go exactly up the middle of the leaf from bottom point to top point, the subsequent stitches towards the edge of each leaf may have “fallen off’ the edges over the split stitch. The angle keeps the threads on the top of both the padding and the outline stitching.

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The outline of the large leaf was stitched using a double thread couched down with a single thread, just like the stem of the strawberries. I really exaggerated the ruffled effect on the generous curves of the leaf.

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For a finishing touch, the area in the center of the large leaf was filled with tiny seeding stitches. It always reminds me of scattering bird feed whenever I stitch seed stitch. In this case, that’s particularly apt as there are quite a few birds on this design!

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I think this is one of the prettiest things I have ever stitched! The combination of the single, smooth, satin stitched leaves, the sprinkling of the seed stitch and the ruffled outline in the two green and teal blue threads is simply stunning.

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What do you think?

 

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Acorn satin stitching

I’ve gotten a bit done since last I shared my own progress on the acorn piece with you. The small green leaf at the lower edge of the design, the small dark green leaves inside it, the satin stitch at the bottom of the lower leaf and all of the dark green background stitching at the top are finished. I’ve been busy!

Working the lower light green leaf with the small green leaves and stems inside was just like the work done earlier on the dark green side leaves with the orange berries. I laid down vertical stitches and then stitched horizontal couching stitches over them at equal intervals.

The challenge with the orange satin stitch along the lower edge of the light green leaf was trying to make sure the stitch direction was the same on both sides. I wanted the stitch direction to be symmetrical and I just about got it right.

Step one was to draw stitch direction lines inside the shape and to outline the shape in split stitch.

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Starting in the center makes it much easier to stitch symmetrically. It also helps to keep the stitches going in the right direction and

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An Acorn – two stitchers

If you haven’t been reading Tracy A. Franklin’s blog lately, it is definitely worth your while to take a look. What you will see is just beautiful and, for me, humbling.

Nicola Jarvis, who is having a show at the William Morris Gallery in early July 2013, has asked both Tracy and me to stitch the same design. I think the wool colors are slightly different but it’s difficult to tell from photos on a computer screen.

I think Tracy A. Franklin is one of the most accurate, technically perfect stitchers in the world. Her book, Crewel Work, shows just how amazing the stitches we all use can look when executed by someone as gifted as her.

When I look at her work, I see edges that are unbelievably crisp, stitches that lay side by side without ever overlapping, seeding and knots that are perfectly  spaced and long and short shading…well, let’s just say I’m thinking of giving up.

Take a look at the two shaded leaves in the Acorn design – her stitching and my stitching, side by side, show so clearly the difference between a beginner and a consummate professional.

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I can see what I should have done (what maybe someday I’ll be able to do) but I just don’t have the technical expertise, the eye, the practice, the flair, the whatever! to do it as well as she can. Nor will I likely ever be able to stitch as well as she does simply by virtue of age and time remaining. I’m much older and haven’t been stitching as long or as much as Tracy.

With a full time teaching job that I need to keep doing until I retire in 9 years (yep, do the math, I’m 56 going on 57) I’ll never have all the hours necessary to become as accomplished as Tracy.

Does this make me discouraged? Jealous? Sad? Well, to be honest, a little bit of all those emotions and probably some more I haven’t identified yet. But it is also inspiring to see what’s possible.

I enjoy the process of stitching but I’m working in my own little world here in Berlin, without anyone else I know stitching and unable to find any group at all that does anything other than cross stitch. I am working in a void where I can become sloppy, unaware of what I’m failing to do as well as I can, without guidance from a teacher or even fellow embroiderers.

What’s my solution? Keep stitching, keep reading blogs to learn, keep looking at images, keep trying to improve and work REALLY CAREFULLY on this acorn that will be in an exhibition with Tracy’s work. And pray that they aren’t side by side in the gallery!