Hardanger is a wonderfully textural form of needlework – I love the contrast between the chunky satin stitches and the finer fillings, and of course you can add all sorts of surface stitches, each with their own particular effect. I especially enjoy using stitches which add a bit of "height", like Rhodes stitches and French knots.
These are pretty 3D already, but you can reach even greater heights without having to learn all the intricacies of stumpwork. I admire people who do stumpwork. I gaze in awe at some of their creations. I even tried a Royal School of Needlework stumpwork workshop at the Knitting & Stitching Show one year, but it soon became clear that it wasn’t for me. One of the things I like about needlework is that you need very little apart from fabric, needle & thread, and so a form of embroidery that uses large wooden beads, stuffing, separate pieces of calico and bits of wire just gets too complicated! But one relatively simple stitch that can add quite a strong 3D effect to your work is the woven picot, and the only extra bit of equipment you need is a pin. Here is the central part of Frozen Flower (I), in progress:
In Frozen Flower (II) the tips of the petals are attached to the fabric in such a way that they are pleasingly curved (making one lady at my stitching group remark that seen from the side it looked rather like a crouching spider …). It’s quite a versatile stitch too, in that with a mere change of colour you can create all sorts of different flowers. Work overlapping petals in warm yellow with a centre of brown French knots – sunflower. Five fairly wide blue petals – periwinkle. Someone at the Cross Stitch Forum suggested working the petals in red to create a Christmas poinsettia. Very striking, especially with a centre of yellow and light green French knots.
It’s quite a labour-intensive stitch, so I can’t see myself stitching a couple of dozen woven-picot-poinsettia Christmas cards, but perhaps one or two for very special people. Or you could stitch some on green fabric and turn them into Christmas tree ornaments – expect them to become firm family favourites, first out of the box of decorations when the festive season is upon us again!