Leven’s Hall Pillow – Finished!

The pillow designed by Phillipa Turnbull called the Leven’s Hall Pillow has been one of my favourite pieces to stitch. A big part of that is the color scheme. The rich reds, deep blues and creamy golds are simply beautiful.


Whenever I get to the end of a project like this – a large project – and I’ve finished the last large area, or large group of motifs to be stitched, I always think to myself  “I’m almost done! not long now!” and then, I begin to stitch…and I stitch… and I stitch… and I stitch… Well, you get the idea! Those little finishing bits always take so much longer to embroider than I think they will take!

The large stem was the last big area I needed to complete and embroidering that in Romanian couching was really fun! I’d only done that stitch once before and I really enjoy the rhythm of Romanian couching. The stitch creates a spine down the middle of the stem and I find that particularly pretty.


Then the only thing left to do were the tendrils of stems stitch and the outline of the whole piece. ‘This will be quick’ I thought. Ha! However, when it was all done, the stem stitch tendrils really finished the piece beautifully.


In the instructions it says to outline the piece using a long line of laid double threads couched down every 2 or 3 centimetres. I had fallen in love with the Reversed Chain stitch so I chose to embroider the outline using that stitch.


It makes a nice border and I love the texture of the Reverse Chain stitch.


Below is a photo I took while the piece was still on the frame, on the evening I finished it.


Aren’t the colors stunning! I am definitely going to make this up into a pillow with tassel fringe. I’ve even found a supplier in the UK that sells fringe I think will work. They’re called George Spencer and the fringe is on this page.  I’m thinking the 413 range or the 707 range of colors. The 707 looks like it’s made of a wool similar to Appleton’s Wool in texture so that could be an especially good match.

If you have an opinion please let me know!



Leven’s Hall Long and Short Flowers

The Leven’s Hall Pillowe is coming along nicely, thank you! What I’ve just finished are all the long and short shaded flowers. Since I’ll be taking the final component of my Royal School of Needlework Certificate course beginning in late January, I figure the more experience I get doing long and short shading of any kind is a good thing!


My shading skills are improving and I feel more and more confident with every flower. This flower is shaded using three different golden, yellow threads. As I mentioned before when writing about the long and short shading on Nicola’s Blue Bird, the most important thing I must remember is to keep my stitches relaxed. I tend to pull too tightly and then there isn’t a pillow of thread for the later colors to sink into.


These two little red flowers use only two shades of rose which is exactly why they are so charming. I just love the colors used in this piece!


Below is a photo of a flower worked in long and short shading with the center edged in stem stitch and little stitches in the center of blue. The colors of the two golden yellows are very close so the shading is quite delicate. The leaf next to the flower uses the same two golden yellow colors and the combination is lovely.


This is a photo of the progress thus far. The large areas are finished and it looks as if there isn’t much left but, in reality, it’s the little fiddly bits that seem to take forever!


The branch, the stems, the tendrils, the little flower buds, the inside of the red flowers, a few leaves and the outline…whew!


Levens Hall: Basketweave laid and couched work

Laid and couched work is one of my favorite things about crewel work. The multitude of designs, textures and endless color combinations are fascinating. I’ve tried working out how to recreate laid and couched work that I’ve seen in a photo or an old piece of needlework once. (successfully!)

In the Levens Hall Pillow Phillipa Turnbull had to figure out how some talented and clever embroiderer worked a basket weave pattern on the original Levens Hall crewelwork piece.


In the instructions, Phillipa explains how she worked it out and her solution is really clever and fun to do!

The first step is to lay all the stitches along the lines that are printed on the fabric. This is straightforward to do, the only critical thing is to ensure the lines stay parallel to one another and don’t begin to slant in one direction.


The next step is the secret to working this laid and couched pattern easily and beautifully: lay down guide stitch lines using red sewing thread between the parallel lines. These red lines are the guide for where to begin or end each of the short woven stitches.


As you can see in the photo above, the short couching stitches that are worked perpendicular to the long laid stitches just overlap the red guide lines. This ensures that the short couching stitches give the appearance of weaving in and out of the longer laid stitches.


When the entire area is finished I will go back and remove the red guide lines and the effect of a woven pattern will be complete! Clever, no?!