Friday, March 18, 2011

A Long-Lost Dragon! And a Unicorn!!

Recently, Blu over at Therapy By Thread posted an excellent finish of Dragon Dreams' epic fantasy-inspired The Runekeeper Saga. What I especially love about this post is the really nifty slideshow Blu made showing a picture of the work after each colour was added. I've never seen anyone work this way before on a large scale, and I imagine it takes a great deal of dedication and quite a lot of patience.

This is the pattern image from the site:

Many years ago, when the designer (Jennifer Aikman-Smith) released these squares as free designs, I stitched the Dragon and the Unicorn.  I originally planned to do a triptych, with the Castle in the middle, but I never got around to it. I'm not sure if all of The Runekeeper's pieces were released as freebies, but I believe they were, as I remember the Sword and the Wizard; I'm sorry I don't have the exact date, as I do not have the patterns here with me.

A few months ago, I discovered my can of small unfinished stitching works, and among them were these two long-lost (well, not really; I knew handy-abouts where they were, but haven't had them with me for a while) favourites. So, I present Mr. Dragon, in all his glory:

And Ms. Unicorn, in all her splendour:

Now, these are as they were, right out of their plastic bag, where they've lain in my stitching can for well nigh a decade now. They need to be cleaned, blocked and ironed before any framing takes place, so this is hardly a grand reveal. But I thought they would be interesting examples of the ways that you can interpret designs differently.

For example, I changed the colourways of both designs pretty dramatically. I wanted both to be bright, and I wanted them to coordinate, as they were intended to be facing each other from across the castle in the center. I omitted the stars from the Unicorn and added the butterflies instead (so that there would be some element to reflect back on the Dragon's smoke). I also omitted the moon behind her horn, as I wanted the emphasis to be on the gold of the horn and the gold on the claws of the Dragon. The blackwork borders were my invention as well, although I can't precisely remember where they came from. I do recall designing the arch at the top of each work, as I wanted something gem-like in the middle, but I think the sides were from another pattern.

It wasn't until I took them out to photograph them that I realized I had goofed! The keen-eyed among you may notice that I forgot to add the bottom line to the center of the bottom Unicorn border. Oops! Something to be remedied at a later date. Thankfully, the colour is famaliar, as I used my go-to backstitch shade for these - DMC 3371. Referred to as "Black Brown" in the DMC Colour Charts, this colour is an unusual shade that is dark and rich yet not as harsh as black is against white. I've heard it compared to bittersweet chocolate, which is about right, but it really looks a bit different depending upon the viewing angle.

So, here they are! I may get around to doing the Castle one day, if I find my stitching box with my patterns in it, or I may just frame the two of them in a butterfly frame (one of the ones with two frames connected by hinges; I know there's a proper name, but that's what I've always called them). At the very least, I'd like to clean them up a little bit soon :)

As for my Blackwork Bookmark, I've put it on hold for the moment. I intended to stitch it together by hand, but my Mother suggested that stitching it on the sewing machine will lend it more strength and longevity. Since I'm hoping it won't abandon me anytime soon, I've decided to wait until she has some time free to show me how to do it. You see, the sewing machine and I have a complicated relationship. While a great friend of my Mother, I am wary of it and it is wary of me in return. And so we mostly take care to stay out of each other's way. I am deeply dubious that this has any chance of working out well, but we'll see.

I'm keeping my fingers crossed :)


Karen said...

I've never seen that freebie series before and I love Dragon Dreams. It looks like the perfect "fantasy" lover piece. :) Good for you for digging them out and thinking about finishing them off.

Sewing is intimidating when you first begin. Like you, I always asked my mom to do it until I lost patience waiting for her. I took matters into my own hands and just sort of figured it out. Now, I own my own sewing machine and love sewing almost as much as stitching!

Aurelia Eglantine said...

Thanks very much Karen! I can't actually believe how many bits and pieces I have lying around woefully neglected that are in need of some TLC and finishing! I'm going to try to do them a bit more justice in the future. Now, if only the perfect frames will magically come my!

I think that you're right about the sewing thing. Mom thinks I'm foolish, but I'm telling you, her machine has a mind of it's own. You know how some 'family' pets only really answer to one person? Well, Mom's sewing machine is her faithful sidekick, and doesn't much relish working with someone else. I swear, if it were a cat, it would turn its back on me and walk away every time I chanced to come near it. The fact that it can't just up and run away does not improve its temper much methinks. Thanks for the encouragement though. Perhaps it and I will have to work our differences out ;) Or kill each other trying!

Aurelia Eglantine said...

Also, I'm sorry I can't remember exactly when The Runekeeper freebies were initially released. It was quite a while ago though.

I should say 'former freebies', because like most of the Dragon Dreams freebies from the past, the patterns are now only available from retail. It's really a shame that a few people ruined it for the rest of us stitchers when they decided to sell her freebies as their own designs.

It's nice to meet another fan :)

Rainy Day Crafter said...

I really like these, and I especially love the Unicorn - it's so pretty, especially with the colours you chose and the butterflies! And they definitely deserved to be framed after all this time! :)

Good luck with the sewing machine by the way - I hope you manage to at least reach a truce long enough to get your bookmark finished, lol.

Aurelia Eglantine said...

Thanks very much Rainy Day! I'm so glad you like Ms. Unicorn. She's flattered that you called her pretty :) I need to fix up her missing blackwork bar, and then hopefully the right frame will come along for her and Mr. Dragon.

As for the sewing machine - hah! I'm not holding my breath. But my blackwork bookmark will be finished! Hopefully with no fatalities along the way ;)