When I started this blog, I honestly anticipated it would just be read by a handful of beleaguered relatives and friends and web crawlers. Much as I really wanted to be able to contribute something to inspire and help other people, just in the same way so many other people have helped me, I expected the blog to sit in some cold, dark corner of the Internet, being populated in obscurity.
It came as a great surprise one day when I received an email from a reader, asking a little more about my experience starting out studying with the Royal School of Needlework. That reader was the lovely Catherine over at Hillview Embroidery who is now zooming away with her Jacobean crewelwork, featuring the world’s most adorable oversized squirrel.
It’s been a while since then and I’ve had lots of wonderful likes and comments from readers, as well as some excellent exchanges with fellow fibre fanatics. Thank you to everyone for your continued readership, every like is an excellent motivation boost!
However, over the last few months, my Jacobean crewelwork has been a bit of a source of shame. I would like to blame the travelling and the impracticalities of carting a slate frame around the world but even on my brief stints back in the UK, I’ve been feeling a bit too weary to dedicate much time to the trestles.
Before Christmas, I knew I realistically needed to get in at least one lesson before the end of the year passed and I felt too embarrassed to face my teachers. If any of you are worried about not being able to make regular lessons with the RSN for whatever reason, don’t let it put you off. It does make it a little harder to stay motivated and the homework can be a bit more daunting when you have bigger gaps between sessions but no one seems to mind.
It was really nice to get back to the studio and back to learning some new stitches. Some of my raised stem band needed a few more rows to be squeeze in just to give it a more solid feel. If you’re not sure if you have enough rows, if you give it a poke and it moves around a lot, then you probably need more bulk in there.
As a reward for having suffered through hours of raised stem band, my rewards came in the form of laid work and some long and short. I absolutely love doing any kind of gradiented shading, though I have an annoying tendency to start all my rows in the same place. I’ve done silk shading in cottons and silks before, so I was a bit concerned it would feel clunky in the wool and it would be tricky to achieve good colour graduation but it’s actually a lot of fun and works up really quickly.
This is the first of several areas of laid work that will be on the central paisley design. I’m looking forward to getting stuck in to some battlement couching but just getting some open grids down is very satisfying. One of the benefits of working on the linen twill is it has wonderful built in guides for trying to line up your stitches making it a lot easier to keep the rows perpendicular. A good trick if you don’t have the luxury of a laidwork friendly fabric is to use some type of transparent grid. I have a nice one printed on some flexible acetate but sometimes the ‘back to school’ maths sets have gridded set squares which are useful for a quick check.
The buttonhole stitch has been one of the trickiest on the piece so far. It was hard trying to find a way of working the double buttonhole and staggering the colours so one didn’t just completely disappear, combined with all the usual challenges of maintaining and even stitch length and following the curve of the shape. Any recommendations for some nice buttonhole variations that might work to outline the central area?
I’m slightly concerned that the colours feel a bit dull on this piece. The two colour sets I’m using of the Appletons wool are really irritating to match as nothing seems to ‘quite’ fit together. One of the greens is very yellowy and out of place with the rest and one of the pale blues is so insipid it just looks sad and lost next to anything else. Hopefully with a bit more stitching on there and when there is less expanse of the grey twill it’ll look a bit less dreary. If not, maybe it’s time to break out the accent orange!
In an effort to reform myself as a student, I’m trying to do 15 minutes a day on my crewelwork. Although it feels a bit inefficient given the time to get the paper set up on the frame and get ready for stitching, hopefully it’ll mean I see some small, constant progress rather than binge stitching when I have time. I want this piece finished in 2017!
Meanwhile, I expect my far more diligent study buddy Catherine will probably be on to her Diplomea by then so if you are after a bit of inspiration or just to feast your eyes on some gorgeous embroidery, head over to Hillview Embroidery.
- Guess what? More raised stem band!
- Work out what type of buttonhole stitch for the main motif
- Finish long and short section
- Completed laid work sections