How to unwonk calico and tackle an elephant

Last weekend, apart from setting up the Wedding Elephant, I also tried out my idea for straightening out the wonky calico backing for the Benton & Johnson goldwork balloon. First I sprayed the fabric with water from the dehumidifier (which I understand is like distilled water), then I drew two pencil lines along the grain a little way in from the short sides, and used these as guide lines to attach it to the rollers of the Millennium frame. As I started tightening the frame, you could clearly see how warped the fabric was. I tightened it as much as I could, and left it to dry overnight with the tension on. The next day I loosened the tension abit, and I was very pleased to see how much it had straightened out! When fully stretched the sides of the calico go a bit concave, but a little in from the sides it is really quite straight; I pinned the silk to the not-quite-taut calico with short pins put in perpendicularly so as not to distort the fabric, and will sew it on next weekend. I haven’t quite decided yet whether to attach only the top and bottom, or all four sides; will have a think about that.

The calico has been mounted, and is clearly warped Straightened out The silk pinned onto the now much straighter calico

My other project for the weekend was the Wedding Elephant. In fact I set up two elephants – one with and one without initials. I’m thinking of offering the elephant as a chart pack some time, and it would of course be easier to have it without initials so anyone could use it; I might offer the option of having one or two initials designed especially. Do you think stitchers would appreciate the option, or would they rather do their own thing with the initials?

The non-initial elephant will have my own wedding date on it, and be worked in apple green, yellow and a corally pink, all from Chameleon’s Shades of Africa range (rather appropriate for an elephant, come to think of it smiley). But priority must of course go to Susie & James’ wedding elephant, to be finished by Thursday (and no opportunity to stitch tomorrow evening as it is our Small Group meeting). This one is done in Rainbow Gallery Splendor silks, and I must say they are lovely to work with on this sort of embroidery! By the way, the card and the wooden flower buttons are my finishing idea; I wanted something that would look decorative should they wish to frame and display it, without presenting them with a framed fait accompli.

The Wedding Elephant set up, with Splendor silks An alternative elephant, with Chameleon silks

It’s a bit scary to try things out for the first time on a wedding project – in this case having lattice work surrounded by stem stitch outlines. I decided to do the lattice first, and with hindsight this was not good idea; with no other stitching in place there was nowhere to fasten on and off, so I had to use away knots, which produced quite a spaghetti of unsecured threads at the back, waiting for some stem stitch to be woven into. On the other hand, having done the lattice first it is easier to go over bits of it where they cross the curly bits of the letters or the outline of the ear; it would be a pain to have to stop and start a laid thread for such a tiny break. Perhaps I could take the laid thread underneath the stem-stitched outline when it crosses a single line rather than a voided shape. The second elephant hasn’t got initials but I could try it where the lattice crosses the ear.

The lattice has been laid ...but not yet secured!

On the whole I’m happy with how it’s shaping up. The purple outline is a bit dark, but at least it stands out well. My only niggle so far is that somehow the lettering has turned out a bit more uneven in stitch than it was in pencil…

Getting on with the outlines and the lettering

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