Some actual stitching begins on the monstrous goldwork monogram project! I love working on slate frames but by the time you’ve finished setting them up, getting the design pricked and pounced on, then I guess you have plenty of time to reflect on whether attempting a project of this magnitude was really a good idea with all the free time I don’t have recently… Answers below the cut!
After I’d pulled it all apart in a bit of a rage at the airport, I have finally managed to progress from the first section of Venus onto the fans! Who would have thought it? I have restarted this pattern three times now and, probably out of sheer bloodyminded stubbornness, I am determined I will get to the end. Occasionally, I succumb to taking a scorched earth approach to mistakes in crochet, mostly because frogging is a lot of fun, rather than fixing things or working around them, but maybe this is the final time I’ll restart this shawl for no good reason!
I think I am suffering with a great case of crafter’s block, which I am going to define as suffering with the desire to make all the things, having lots of ideas, but no ability to actually execute any of this.
The stereotypical, historical image of the embroiderer is a refined young lady, sat at her frame, serenely rearranging threads to make beautiful artwork. The work is delicate, yet meticulously done, with no lapses in patience or temperament, all whilst wearing her Sunday best.
The reality of the crafter is distinctly less dignified. Dye up the kitchen walls, fridge and floor, needles in fingers and blood pooling on your whitework. Swearing. Frayed threads, wonky cutting and holes in places they were supposed to go. More swearing. Half-done projects abandoned to the back of cupboard, claims of never making a stitch again and of course, lots more swearing.
I think the myth of making things always being fun and relaxing is actually one of the things beginners can find off-putting. Unless you know how many hours of practice and learning it really takes to produce a fantastic piece, it can be really disheartening to have spent hours struggling with seams only to find you haven’t caught the raw edges properly or inconsistencies in your tension when knitting have resulted in a scarf that best resembles jelly.
For the most part, I really do love creating new projects. Daydreaming about colours, calculating up seam allowances, finally getting stuck in with the stitching. However, there are some projects that just seem to go wrong at every corner and the only joys in finishing the thing so you don’t have to look at it again.
Silk shading is a wonderful technique, often better known as ‘thread painting’ for the huge complexity of colours and shading it can involves, for creating very lifelike pictures. Typical subjects are the obligatory twee flowers and wildlife. Bonus points if they wouldn’t look out of place in an English country garden.
Although silk shading is one of the techniques covered in the RSN’s Certificate course, I had already signed up for this day course before I’d decided to do the Certificate and figured there’s no such thing as too much stitching!