Long and Short Shading in 6 shades of blue

The Long and Short Shading was really fun! It was really rewarding! This took … hours! Going slowly, stopping frequently, standing back to look at what I’d done all helped this part of the Royal Persian Blossom turn out beautifully. It was also  v e r y   s l o w  stitching. If I had to guess, I would say over 6 hours on the long and short shading. The advice to take it easy, enjoy the process of stitching and relax was excellent. I enjoyed every stitch.

After outlining the edge with split stitch, I did the top row of thread in the lightest shade of blue (Indigo from Heathway – Color 151). These stitches were very carefully placed since their direction would determine the direction of the subsequent rows or layers of stitching.

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1, 2, 3…here I go!

I admit it – I’m apprehensive about all this long and short shading, with lots of curves in small areas. Maybe apprehensive isn’t the right word… I’m really nervous! I don’t want to ruin the linen by pulling stitches out over and over again. I don’t want to waste thread by pulling stitches out over and over again.  I’m really not sure how to begin, proceed and finish successfully in this next section of the Royal Persian Blossom project!

The instructions say that “the receptacle at the base of the blossom is worked in long and short stitches to provide a gradual shading from the darkest shade, shading through to the lightest at the top. The best result is achieved by following the sensuous curves of the shape with your stitches.” Right. I understand, but how do I do it?

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Long and Short Shading – two tricks that helped me

When I was first  teaching myself long and short shading, everything I did looked artificial and chunky. None of that lovely, soft gradual shading that I saw on other people’s work. Mine was a block of color next to another block of color. I took the “long and short” literally, making only two lengths of stitch – one long and one short. Then I worked with Phillipa Turnbull and Tracy Franklin and Nicola Jarvis and got the idea (finally!) that it’s really longer and shorter stitches that are the first step to making this stitch look it’s best.

The second trick is to make your first layer of stitches go a long way into the shape – really, really deeply into the shape. (see above) Farther than you think is correct and then a little farther. And don’t panic, because if you do go “too far” you can just put the next layer of stitches over the first layer and it will be fine. In fact, it will be better!

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