Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Busy, Busy

Since finishing Foxy, I've put all my time and concentration on trying to finish the runner I introduced to you at the end of July. I've set myself a deadline for beginning September as I'd like to display it at my local guild's exhibition.

On Friday, I finished all the stitching I need to do with the #12 perl cotton. All that's left for whitework is some satin stitching in #8 perl cotton and the actual finishing of the hem with DMC cordonnet special. I decided it was time to start working on the design at the center if I wanted to finish in time.

I used a blue pen that washes away to trace my design. It looks very faint in this picture I think because of my stitching lamp but it's much clearer in person. If you're tracing a design for whitework and want to use a pen, the best color is blue. The color blue tends to get absorbed into the white so if there are markings that didn't disappear in the wash your eyes won't see them.

The center design involves a technique I've been avoiding for years now. Goldwork doesn't scare me and I'm unfazed when it comes to cutting fabric, but traditional embroidery and needle painting makes me nervous. I actually picked this design specifically to see if I can get over that fear. And to help with that is Trish Burr's book Needle Painting Embroidery Fresh Ideas for Beginners. I bought this book ages ago when I was gung-ho on learning the technique.

First step is split stitching the outline. I wasn't sure which color to use, but after closely inspecting the projects in Trish Burr's book I noticed she always uses the color that is used at the center of the flower. In my case, it would be the darkest pink. By the way, those markings that go down each petal are not part of the original design. I put those in to help with the embroidery later.

I got all the split stitching done and moved onto the second step: stitch all the stem stitches. I closely looked at the pictures in the magazine to see where each thread is used. I spent some time flipping through the pages and looking at my fabric and decided to just redraw the design on paper and color it.

Once I marked out where each green is used for the stems, things went much faster.

The piece is very long so I needed to take two pictures, but you can get an idea of the what the runner looks like with designed outlined in each color.

The leaves and flowers will all be filled in. I didn't particularly like how they did the actual shading in the original so I needed to figure out the shading on my own. I used markers but I really need to invest in a set of coloring pencil. I find myself doing this more often and sometimes you just can't get the same shading effect with markers. Also, the DMC thread numbers you see in the picture below are my own choices. The pattern itself doesn't specify the thread color used. I decided on colors that closely matched the sofas in our living room.

I should be able to finish this piece for the exhibition, providing I don't procrastinate on the flowers and leaves. There is still some whitework left for me to use as an excuse to avoid them, but not enough for me to do so for very long.

Now onto the fabric. Some of you asked me about it when I first introduced the project. The fabric is called Graziano linen. The stamp on the edge says pure linen in Italian and it certainly feels like the linen fabric I have for my Hedebo piece.

Below is a macro shot. The linen I'm using is 38 count in white. The white is very similar to DMC B5200 which is what I've been using for the whitework portion of the runner. It is heavier than fabric you would use for cross stitch and hardanger. I don't recommend you use it for cross stitch as there are slugs, but for drawn and pulled thread work it's fine. It was a little difficult to withdraw the threads as the weave is very thik. This thickness of the fabric also makes it ideal for traditional forms of embroidery as it's heavy enough to hold the stitches. I'd still recommend you back it with muslin so you can hide the ends of your threads.

I showed the fabric to Natalie of Sew By Hand who uses Alba Maxima linen (check out Mary Corbett's post to learn all about the different linens) for her goldwork embroidery and she said it would be great for that technique as well. Not to mention it's a less expensive option to Alba Maxima.

I bought the fabric from L'atelier de Pénélope. The owner was nice enough to look into ordering it for me. She ordered a sample card of the fabrics they made and even sent me swatches of each so I can make my choice. She now stocks a few of the colors to start with including the linen I bought. They are available to purchase by the meter and in the case of the 38 count, it's 70 cm wide. There is plenty in there to make multiple projects.


  1. Yes, colouring in a drawing of the design is much, much easier than flipping from a drawing to a key and back again. It's looking good...

  2. I had no idea this was such a long project! Your whitework is beautiful.
    Silk shading is one of those things which takes practice - I'll be sure to pass on all the tips I get from the RSN for you! A nice set of pencils is a good idea I find. You don't need many, as you can just colour darker and lighter, but it does help in understanding your piece.
    Have fun with it!

  3. So lovely. I look forward to seeing you make progress on this piece.

  4. Looking good Dima! Just a bit of advice on the silk shading. You normally don't do all the split stitching in advance. One of the key rules is that you work from the back to the front. You split stitch the petal that's furthest away from you and then you fill it before you move on to the next one. And you only split stitch that part of the petal that's free and not over-lapped by a further to the front petal. For your next petal, your splitstitch will cover the ends of your filling stitches where the second petal overlaps the first. Sounds complicated, but makes sense. This way your pieces will gain depth. Good luck!

  5. It will be interesting to see how you progress with your silk shading - this is something that I would love to try but always find very daunting. I do like your colour scheme.

  6. This is looking lovely already. There is a lot of preparation work but it will be worth it in the end. Gorgeous colour choices too.

  7. Beautiful design! Love to see your next step of needle painting.

  8. This is going to be beautiful. Needle painting is actually quite forgiving as if you don't like an area, you can just add more stitches in on top

  9. That's a gorgeous design, and you seem to be making nice progress on it! I hope you'll make it before your deadline.

  10. This is so very pretty...wow...I love this. You are doing a great job on stitching this.

    Happy Stitching
    Linda K