Serinde very kindly sent me some Renaissance Dyeing crewel wools so now I’ve got two types to try out! You may recognise the design I chose for my comparison – yes, it’s the goldwork pincushion design from Samplers & Antique Needlework. It’s nicely Jacobean looking, so why shouldn’t it work in wools as well as gold? A brief aside – judging the colour of threads by what they look like on websites is very unsatisfactory; the Pale Apple (far right in the picture) is clearly green on the RD website but in real life it is more like a slightly green-tinged pale yellow.
The RD wool is quite fine, and some threads have very occasional thinnish patches. To some extent this may be caused by part of the thread untwisting as I’m using it – as you can see, the thicker part of the thread looks much more loosely twined. However, even straight off the skein there seems to be some unevenness here and there. Still, it is very infrequent and otherwise the thread is beautifully even, and lovely to work with. As for the stitches used in this project, although I’d scribbled a few ideas on the design I’ve been changing things as I go along; one line of stem stitch looked far too spindly for the stem (perhaps I should have used a smaller version of the design) so I added another line, plus a line in yellow – good practice for my Tree of Life trunk! The leaf is outlined in Palestrina stitch (I told you I was going to play with that). I added two-coloured French and colonial knots roughly where spangles were in the original, and a thin yellow stem stitch line to one side of the satin stitch leaves. As for the decoration inside the blue Portuguese knotted stem stitch petals, fairly last-minute (just before starting the lazy daisies specified by the design, in fact) I substituted bullion knots in two colours so I could include the dark navy blue. The red outline on the flower is heavy chain stitch, and the wool behaved very well on that.
The orange inner line is Hungarian braided chain stitch, and with hindsight I don’t think wool is particularly suited to it. Its slight fuzziness makes it difficult to pick up the inner stitches without catching the outer ones. It doesn’t look too bad but the braided appearance isn’t as distinct as it would be with a smoother thread. Long & short stitch isn’t my forte but it did create the flame-like look I was aiming for. The three yellow French knots on the tip of the flower were added because there was a little dot of ink there which hadn’t been covered by the chain stitch…
I like this type of project – I can do pretty much whatever I like, change my mind half-way through, and add things and change things as the fancy takes me. It’s as close to anarchy as I am ever likely to get; very liberating .