Thursday, July 28, 2011

Adventures in Embroidery II

Hello Stitchy Friends!

So sorry I haven't been around for the last week or so. I've just been having one of those times where a lot of little things - which wouldn't be so hard to deal with on their own - have all piled up one on top of the other and become A Major Headache. Would you believe that I haven't put a single stitch in anything lately? *Sighs*

However, I'm happy to be back today, sharing the long-promised test piece done for my Bluebirds of Happiness, which was done as a test piece for my current WIP, Twilight Angel. Whew! Sounds silly, I know, but it really did help to do this little experiment. Honestly, when I was working on the Bluebirds, I never intended to use French knots for the middle of the flowers. Although it turned out, remarkably!, that I did so, I never ever would have added them if I hadn't done this little piece first, which I'll call Bluebirds Test Piece for obvious reasons.

Here's a overview of the project:

As you can see, I worked with the same blue cotton and floss colours from the Bluebirds of Happiness. In fact, all of the flowers, excepting the three in the bottom left-hand corner (which were the result of my trying to make flowers free-hand), are from the Bluebirds pattern; I cut a snippet, of the three flowers on the end of the right-hand branch, from my transfer, and ironed it randomly onto the fabric, to give me a stitching guideline. Re-using part of the original transfer worked well, although the lines did get fainter with each pressing.

Then I put the fabric into a small hoop (I used a 6" inch) and worked all the pink lazy daisies and the green leaves. I really wanted to see how the flowers would look using a certain type of center, and so I went crazy trying different things that came into my mind. I really do recommend using a hoop - I think it's what made the whole miracle of finally defeating my long-time stitchy foe the French knot possible. You need two hands free to work this stitch, and so trying to hold the fabric in your hands at the same time is all but impossible if you're not an octopus!

Here are some closeups of the flowers:

Top Left

Flower 1 - Satin Stitch, 3 strands of floss
Flower 2 - Seed Stitch, 3 strands of floss
Flower 3 - Padded Satin Stitch, 3 strands of floss

Top Right

Flowers 4, 5 and 6 - French Knots, 1 loop, 3 strands of floss
(I did three of these the same because I couldn't believe that the first one worked, lol)
Flower 7 - French Knots - center knot 2 loops, rest 1 loop, 3 strands of floss

Bottom Right

Flower 8 - French Knots, four (quarter?) loops, 3 strands of floss
Flower 9 - French Knots, triple loops, 3 strands of floss
Flower 10 - Seed Beads, attached with 1 strand of floss
Flower 11 - French Knot, five (quintuple?) loops, 3 strands of floss

Bottom Left

Flower 12 - Seed Bead, attached with 1 strand of floss
Flower 13 - Seed Beads, attached with 1 strand of floss
Flower 14 - Seed Bead Center, attached with 1 strand of floss, surrounded by multiple French Knots, double loop, 1 strand of floss

The seed beads I used are just random ones I had lying around in my bead stash, colour-core transparents (part of a multiple colour-core assortment)  that I picked soley because the yellow core happened to perfectly matched my thread :)

I found the way that the French knots change shape and texture depending on the amound of loops made to be very interesting. I think a lot of it is also the size of the needle that you use. I forgot to mention it in my last post, but for embroidery, you need embroidery needles - sharps, which are what we think of a 'regular' needles. Trying to use a tapestry needle, with its dull point, is not easy!

From the lovely comments on my last post, I have deduced that I am not the only stitcher waging war against the French knot, and so I'm working on trying to do a little picture thing that will explain how I managed these. I've seen so many different takes on the technique through the years, but the one I tried (off the top of my head!) actually worked, and so I'm sticking with it, whether it's proper or not.

Besides the French knots, I really like the effect of the Seed Stitch (Flower #2) and the fluffy effect of the loose French knots done multiple times with only one strand (Flower #14). I think that the latter would look very neat, without the bead in the center, for flowers with a lot of seeds or stamens in the middle. The raised texture is really cool, and I could see adapting it to other things - like animal fur - as well!

Here's a view of the front and back:

I'm still not used to all this carried thread on the back, and this one is really messy, because I honestly did not try to be neat, in case I wanted to take anything out.

So there you have - the test piece for a test piece ;)

This whole embroidery thing is rapidly becoming addicting - it works up so fast! - and I think there might be more such stitchy experiments in the near future!


Karen said...

These test pieces are a great idea and you did a great job with your French Knots!

Aurelia Eglantine said...

Thanks so much for your lovely comment Karen :) I'm so happy to hear that you like seeing the test pieces! And that you approve of my first attempt at real French knots!

Rainy Day Crafter said...

It's so interesting to see all the different things you tried here, and it's incredible how different those French knots look depending on the combination of how many strands and loops you use. It's a great idea to do this though - far better than 'practising' on the actual project, which is what I inevitably end up doing, lol! :)

Aurelia Eglantine said...

What a lovely comment, as usual ;) Thanks so much Rainy Day! I'm glad you found the variations interesting!

I wanted to try varying the strand amount, because I had never seen a side-by-side comparision, and I was amazed by not only how different they looked stitched but also how different it felt to actually stitch them! I always thought the multiple loops would be harder, but it's easier to do three loops with three strands than it is to do two loops with one! Strange, hey?

As for the practice-as-you-go method, I'm all for it! In fact, it's my usual way of doing things ;) But I must admit that this whole test-piece thing is growing on me, although I like having a usable work - like my Couched Rose - at the end instead of something like this. I have no idea what to do with it now, lol! :)