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!!
I have finished my modern band sampler and I am really pleased with it. I just need to find a nice frame now and voilà it will be completed.
My stitching is straighter than the above photo implies. The wobbliness is because I haven’t reshaped and pressed the fabric yet. I really enjoyed the effect of the tonal threads although the pale pink/white on the zig zag does make it look from a distance as though some of the stitches are miss. But the most important thing is that working my way through this sampler has given me back the confidence I used to have when I did embroidery many years ago.
So on the back of this new found confidence I have decided to take a leap of faith and jump in at the deep end with a project I have wanted to do for some time. The instructions are included in Hazel Blomkamp’s Crewel Twists and the design includes a lot of bead work which is relatively new to me as well as some new crewel work stitches. For me the attraction of Hazel’s designs is that they take the traditional Jacobean Crewelwork motifs and stitches but bring them into the 21st century with bead work and additional stitches from other areas of embroidery. In my normal way when I am pushing out of my comfort zone I have been dithering around finding the right supplies. As the book is written by someone based in the Southern Hemisphere I have had to research what equivalent materials will be and search for suppliers. It is no bad thing as I have learnt that linen twill is the best fabric for this kind of work albeit hard to source and that there are a vast range of beads available out there in all sorts of sizes and colours but generally not the ones I want. Luckily thanks to the power of the internet and a lot of patience I have tracked down suppliers for everything and the small, but expensive, parcels are starting to arrive. Next up is to learn how to use the light box I received as a Christmas present to transfer the design to the fabric.