This bit of long and short shading was a piece of cake and I learned a new technique for adding ‘highlights’ to the shading at the edges. The shape was a much simpler shape to stitch. It has five petal shapes, each one coming to a point with only gentle curves. I’m a long way from being an expert, but I’m sure having fun with this stitch (finally!).
Of course, I began by drawing in the lines from the pattern that show where the colors should change. I do this free hand and don’t worry too much if it isn’t perfect since my eye will guide where I place my stitches.
The first color is stitched using quite small stitches to accommodate the point of each of the five petals. The short stitches aren’t as pretty and soft as longer ones, but they’ll be covered up later as I add the next layers of thread.
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?
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!