Monday is my preferred blogging day. However, yesterday was a hilarious day and it messed up my order of work completely. And since it is too funny not to share, I will! So, when I came home from my morning swim, my Bavarian mum needed my help. Since the fire, the whole family moved in the holiday apartments above and beneath us. As she needs to cook for this very hungry family, they put in a new kitchen. Now imagine somebody going from a traditional big Aga cooker to a hyper-modern touch-screen electrical stove... And yesterday this hyper-modern menace had put itself to sleep in the middle of cooking lunch! Now, the farmer has coped very well with the loss of his farmhouse and his cattle, but not finding lunch on the table at 12:30h would have been disastrous. After reading the manual several times and doing exactly as stated, the bloody thing came to live again. Lunch saved!
But, that wasn't the end of my woes. My mum called from the Netherlands and needed help with the settings of her newish mobile phone...
Last time we visited Strawberry Fayre, I had put in the scrolls, tendrils and large flowers on the front and back heart. This time, we are going to talk about the big leaves. I must confess that I have a hard time stitching this project. Although I really liked stitching 'Home Sweet Home', I don't seem to get into a stitching rhythm with this project. Now don't get me wrong, I don't mind stitching to be slow. But I hate it if I don't get into some sort of rhythm. If I need to put each stitch into place very carefully, I lose interest.
But first, what I do like! There are three types of big leaves in this part of the project. And two of them involve beads. Now that's something I am definitely taking away from this project: adding beads to ordinary embroidery stitches. This is tremendous fun! One of the leaves has a beaded version of knotted pearl stitch and the other a beaded version of coral stitch. Both brilliant. You can see the first type in the picture above and the second one in the picture direct below.
The third type of leaf features wheat ear stitch without any beads (see below). To add sparkle to all leaves, high-lights and edges are stitched with a metallic thread by Au ver a Soie. Over the years, me and metallic threads have learned to get along. However, adding high-lights and a double edge in and around tiny shapes isn't for the faint hearted. It all seems a bit much and a bit over-complicated.
The part where I really struggled, is at the tip of each leaf. You are supposed to do a padded buttonhole stitch with one strand of Gumnut spun silk. This is a tihgtly twisted silk and one strand is quite comparable to one strand of stranded cotton. This means there is no 'spread'. It is extremely difficult to get it to sit nicely on top of the padding AND follow the curve of the leaves. Carolyn seems to have solved this problem by making very long stitches. I tried to copy this approach, but my stitches kept sliding off the padding. I also found it very difficult to keep a neat edge where the stitches do not touch the other part of the leaf. Although I used a fine tipped marker to transfer the pattern, due to the fineness of the thread, the lines where still too fat to maintain a clean edge. Furthermore, I am really happy that I choose to stitch the whole piece on a much finer fabric than the one that came with the kit...
So, how will I move forward? I will leave it for now. But, I will probably take out the tips of most leaves and try again. The flow of some of the leaves is just too ugly and way below my standard. Any tips gratefully appreciated! And then, I'll move onto the strawberries. And they promise to be great fun as there is beads involved!
But before all that, I will be stitching two commissions. Of which one involves repairing a sampler that's over a hundred years old. More on that next week!
Jessica M. Grimm
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