My writing prompt relates back to the poll I put up earlier this week. I am supposed to write something arising out of what readers have asked for. Someone asks for an update on my embroidery project so here goes.
I have been working on the Spring Trellis project since March 2015, actually not as far back I was expecting. The plan is from a book by Hazel Blomkamp called Crewel Twists which gives a modern twist to crewel work. I set out on the project as I wanted to learn how to use beads and also more crewel work techniques.
It’s a large project, probably a bit over ambitious but that’s me. I have one large motif to finish and then the last one in the bottom right hand corner. Then I need to do all the connecting stems and leaves and finally some trellis in the background. I started on the largest motif and I think looking at the last few I have done (top left and then top right) show that my technique is improving.
This is the motif I am working on at the moment although that is not strictly true as I am taking a break from it. I have a hankering to do some Christmas cards and other Christmas decorations and I don’t want to leave it until late November as I did last year which is just too late. So I have got some cross-stitch kits and am having fun undertaking simple embroidery.
This is the image of the one I am working on at the moment but familiarity breeds contempt. I had whizzed along in the evenings and completed most of the bird’s body until I realised that I should have been using double thread and not single. I suppose it doesn’t seem that important but the single thread gives a very pale appearance. Anyway, I spent last night unpicking the whole thing – a good week of evenings work destroyed but I know it’s the right decision. I also have some ideas for Christmas tree decorations which I hope to have time for as well then its back to the Spring Trellis – maybe.
It seems to me that every day of the year is a national or international something day but I was interested to discover that today, 30th July, is World Embroidery Day. The day was established in 2011 by the Sweden Embroidery Guild whose manifesto is “The importance of embroidery must be made known and World Embroidery Day will spread around the world. Make 30th July a day filled with creativity for the sake of Peace, Freedom and Equality.” I discovered this fact via Inspiration magazine which sends out a weekly email with all sort of information and gossip from around the world relating to embroidery – and there you were thinking it was a quiet past-time of ladies from yesteryear. The purpose of World Embroidery Day is obviously to raise awareness of the craft and to encourage people to have a go. The Sweden Embroidery Guild encourages sewers to take their embroidery out into cafes and other public places which would be very nice if I didn’t have to work plus I don’t think I want to take my work into an environment where there is potential for it to be damaged. Inspirations magazine also share this view but they are encouraging their readers to take to social media to raise awareness of this almost minority craft.
I first embroidered as a child and into my teens. Above is a tray cloth I must have worked around the age of 12. I have always been somewhat of a restless soul particularly when I am meant to be watching television and so I have always had some sort of handicraft to occupy me. If I don’t keep my hands occupied I end up chewing my fingers without realising which causes callous, not a good look.
Back then I always did my embroidery from kits with the picture pre-printed on the material and following instructions. Above is a picture I must have done around the age of 15 when I was obsessed with Australia. Anyway, I grew up, life got interesting, children came along and the embroidery stopped. It was replaced by various things like knitting and sewing particularly making things for my children. Now, as I near 50 I have re-discovered my love of embroidery and with it a sense of calm.
I started again with a cross stitch sampler and some other kits which were interesting but not challenging at all and I need a challenge. I have a mind that is thirsty for new things – it occurs to me that I may be slightly hyperactive! Anyway, for Christmas my sons bought me Hazel Blomkamp’s Crewel Twists and I have been slowly working on the Spring Trellis design which I have blogged about from time to time.
However, as I said I have recently discovered Inspirations magazine which is based in Australia and published four times a year (I think) and it really lives up to its name. It seems that there is a very active embroidery world out in the Southern Hemisphere which is intriguing. You quickly realise that cross stitch and the printed kits are only the beginning, there are so many techniques and styles to learn. I have even managed to find a couple of fellow embroideries on twitter and facebook and through them I have learnt about the benefits of using a stand for my work and also I have witnessed, via videos, the stunning constructions of some of the hauteur couture creations which feature embroidery. It makes me wish I was a teenager again and could maybe follow a career in this area.
My passion for embroidery is growing so rapidly that it is beginning to via with my gardening and blogging.
So I do support World Embroidery Day as embroidery lets me channel my creative energies and helps me to relax and recharge after a stressful day – why do have a go yourself?
The second motif on the Spring Trellis crewelwork embroidery is done and I am really pleased with my progress to date. The instructions are from Hazel Blomkamp’s book Crewel Twists which brings fresh ideas to Jacobean embroidery. Basically, I think, the idea is that you take the basic stitches of Jacobean crewel work and you embellish them seemingly with masses of beads.
This is how the second motif fits with the first motif – kinda. I didn’t transfer the pattern very well so some of it is rather free hand but then I think it brings its own individuality to the work. I’ve felt more confident with the second motif and I think I have stopped worrying so much about whether the finish is as good as in the book. After all I started on this project as a way to learn new stitches and new approaches and to help me feel braver.
This photo shows the overall design (sorry for the glare) and having discovered it at the end of the instructions it reassures me as I think the finish on this version isn’t that dis-similar to mine.
So onwards and upwards to the third motif, the flower at the top left. This has two pages of instructions which initially lead me to believe it wouldn’t be too bad but looking at it carefully I suspect the author has made some assumptions based on the first 6 pages of instructions and it really is as complicated as the first motif. First up is some more of the multi-colour checker box satin stitch which is incredibly time-consuming and nearly put me off completely in the first motif as it really showed up my inconsistent satin stitch. However, can you see the bottom petals, they look rather interesting and a new challenge!!
I think it has been two months since I have shown you progress on my crewel work project, how time flies. I have this evening finished the first motif – well I still have some beads to add to the two tendrils to finish them but I am waiting on a delivery of beads.
I hadn’t really taken on board how many beads there are in the project. If you look at this close up (sorry I struggled to get it in focus) you can see the range and number of beads. You can also see my irregular stitches and slightly wonky shapes. I did spend some time beating myself up about this as it isn’t perfect.
However I have reminded myself that I haven’t done bead-work before or even many of the crewel work stitches; plus the pattern didn’t transfer very well so I am having to draw in some of it which has upset me. I also have been reminding myself that the pictures above are blown up and few people’s eyesight would be able to see all my imperfections. It reminds me of when I did botanical illustration where you are peering closely at your work thinking this is rubbish but then you stand up and step back and actually from a normal viewing distance it looks alright.
So I am off to start the next motif now which is a sort of pomegranate and starts with instructions for a stitch I have no idea about! This motif only has 1 page of instructions unlike the one I have just finished which had 4 so should be simple – I doubt it! The pencil in the photo above indicates the left hand end of the overall design and it goes as far the other way so you can see how much I have to do.
I am enjoying it though as you can break it down into small elements which in themselves are satisfying to complete.
I thought I would give you an update on my embroidery progress. I have to admit to not picking it up for a week or so until last night. I have been off colour and you do need to be in the right frame of mind to do this work. But I have found myself wasting more and more time playing games on the iPad in the evening so I decided to re-engage with the sewing. I had spent over a week doing the small colour squares which were quite fiddly and if I am honest I think I could have done them better but I am probably nit picking. Last night I finished the squares and then did the three rows of chain stitch. These need a little bit of embellishment with beads and then I get to repeat the whole colour squared petal on the other side. There are two other areas of coloured squares in the overall design so hopefully by the time I have got to those my stitching will be more consistent.
Now I have picked it up again I am itching to get on with it the only problem is that I am gardening in the early evening so have to spend forever scrubbing my hands before I pick up the embroidery again!!