The sun did shine for a short time this weekend. It was late afternoon, so it slanted in the window as it does during the early part of the winter at about 3 pm. These photos have shadows which enhance the bright color and gold shimmer of the cap.
I took quite a few more under a strong light against a flat white background; these look more like museum shots. Lastly, there is a video – made with my iPad so it isn’t the very highest quality. It does, however, show you the piece in the round.
Before you zip down the page, I want to say thank you to all of you who sent encouraging words, upbeat comments, sympathetic insights and general support during the past year. You’re a great community and, as I’ve said before, I wish we could all get together and chat as we stitch.
The good news first: the first quarter of the border is finished. All finished. Both the silk work and the gold work are in place so it’s possible to see the final effect of the silk and gold next to the panel of the cap. And I must say, it looks fabulous!
The little red flowers were quite small to work and I used back stitch rather than split stitch to outline them. Back stitch is a bit tidier and easier to work on a shape this small. The blue flowers were pretty straight forward so all the remaining satin stitching went smoothly.
However, I did work the gold and the final bit of silk in the wrong order. Usually I would finish all the silk work and then put the gold thread in last. Working the silk first and then the gold ensures the silk threads won’t catch on the gold that’s been fastened to the back after being couched down and plunged through. The ends of the gold thread are rough and often a thread gets caught on the end of a gold thread. Why did I do it in the wrong order? Well…one of my great ideas didn’t look quite right so I had to adapt it.
Initially I was going to work the bunches of grapes using tiny gold spangles and purple thread in those spaces at the end of the border section above. I planned to use three number 6 size spangles to make a tiny bunch of three grapes. Each spangle would be couched down with purple thread giving a glimpse of the grape color but really adding a bit of bling to the border of the cap. It’s the same technique I used on the Bishop’s Crook where it was really successful and looked great. Not so in this case, however.
The spangles were too big, the colored thread looked weird and getting them in exactly the right place in such a small area was almost impossible. I’d done a little test on a scrap of fabric so I could see how it would look and it didn’t take more than a split second to see it was a bad idea all round.
Once that idea was scrapped, I reverted to what is a tried and true method of stitching grapes or berries – french knots. There are loads of french knot grapes in each bunch and they look delicious.
As for the rest of the cap border, it went perfectly smoothly. Couching down the gold was a bit fiddly because there are lots of little short pieces.
There are three more sections to stitch and then all of the stitching on the cap is finished. Watch this space…
Truly I cannot believe I’m at this point. As I stitched the last bits of the panels, I was thinking about the border, dreaming about coming so close to the end and now…I’m doing it!
These shapes are tiny. Remember teeny tiny? Well, these are really teeny tiny. The little red heart shaped flowers are smaller that the tip of an eraser on the end of a pencil. They’re smaller than a hole punched in a piece of paper.
Little things often make us smile and say things like “How cute!” That’s exactly what I said as I finished the first of the acorn tops filled with French knots. The cluster of knots was so charming, so sweet that I took loads of photos trying to get the perfect one to share with you.
There are four sections to stitch, each one the same. The silk goes in first, then the passing thread for the vines and lastly the spangles for the cluster of grapes that are on the end of each section. The grapes will go into the empty circles at the end of the border below. They will be worked in purple silk thread and tiny gold spangles.
Even though the stitches are small, there is still texture to the work. When I took a photo from an angle it was apparent that the acorn tops had height and even the satin stitched flowers were a little raised off the fabric. Each of the satin stitched flowers were outlined with back stitch before putting in the stitches but I didn’t pad them first as I did with the larger flowers in the panels. The shapes are so small that it just wasn’t necessary.
You may also have noticed that there are two pieces of white cloth over the work – one above and one below the border. I am keeping it covered just as I did when I worked the top panels so it doesn’t get dirty. it’s amazing the amount of grime that can find it’s way onto a piece of pristine white fabric. I can’t stress enough how important this is when you’re working. It’s always a good idea but absolutely essential when you’re doing something that takes as long as this has (over a year) and is being worked on white fabric.
Next time you see this piece, I will be doing the vines along the bottom. I have a great idea using a combination of Gilt Sylke Twist and gold passing thread that is going to look great! I just hope I can pull off the technique!