Gumnut Hardanger – a fiddly business

Having decided to use the Gumnut stranded silk for cross stitch designs, I found I kept thinking of using it for Hardanger too, if only as an experiment. Gumnut used to do variegated shades as well (they are still on their site, but not made at the moment, I believe) and in my stash I have a perle in Dark Garnet and a stranded silk in Medium Garnet. I decided on a 36ct Edinburgh linen to get enough coverage in the Kloster blocks, and set out to stitch my small experiment motif.

It was certainly interesting to try – the unevenness of the linen made the coverage a bit uneven as well, and this was not helped by the fact that I only noticed some of the perle thread had stripped (and so I was stitching with a thinner thread) when I was half-way through. Even so, coverage looked OK when all the Kloster blocks had been stitched. But then came the time to cut.

Cutting 36ct linen, even using squissors, is a daunting task, and poking the cut ends in proved to be quite tricky too, but eventually I got it done (though they kept poking back out again). I then decided to duplicate the experiment on 36ct Fabric Flair evenweave, a cotton/modal mix and much more regular; also a bit more open, so it was just that little bit easier to cut. I might use this combination, of #8 perle and stranded silk or cotton on 36ct fabric, again some time, but I must remember to do the cutting by daylight! (You can click on the thumbnails for more detailed pictures.)

Gumnut on linen Gumnut on cotton/modal

To give you an idea of the size, here is a picture of one of the 36ct experiments side by side with the same motif on my usual 25ct:

Gumnut on linen

Three Gumnut silks in search of a design

Remember "Old & New", the fireworks design that didn’t happen? I had another try, using backstitch, but somehow that didn’t work either. Then I tried something in cross stitch, but not solid cross stitch – more like a mosaic, with a thin open space between the stitches. And then I thought it might look rather nice with Rhodes stitches instead of cross stitches; it did, but they were too big, as I wanted the final design to be card-sized. So I changed them to double cross stitches (that is to say, an ordinary cross stitch over two, and then an upright cross on top of it). It should look quite attractive either in blue and purple on white opalescent fabric, or in red, green and gold on black.

Old & New

So what does this have to do with the three Gumnut silks of the title? Well, uhm, nothing really. I was just tying up loose ends, to use a stitching term (of sorts).

On to the silks, then. Gumnut Yarns are yet another Australian company producing scrumptious hand-dyed embroidery threads. (What is it with Australians and hand-dyed threads? I can think of at least three companies without even trying! I hope any Australian stitchers reading this are suitably grateful for so much lovely stash produced in their very own country.) I bought some of their silks at the wonderful London Bead Company some time ago; mostly Stars, which are stranded silks, but also one shade of Buds, which are like a soft version of perle #8, and one of their silk/wool threads. Recently I was looking through my silks for some reason (probably just because I enjoy looking at them so much) and realised that the three shades of stranded silk which I chose rather randomly at the time actually looked quite good together. So much so, in fact, that they were simply crying out for a design. The Gumnut colours come in sets of five, and these are the fourth shades of Hyacinth, Daffodil and Apple Green:

Gumnut silks

I thought of getting the perles to go with them, but they are, unfortunately, rather expensive. Moreover, they come only in the equivalent of #8, which would mean that for Hardanger I would either have to use the Gumnut threads for bars and filling stitches, and use a neutral shade of ordinary #5 to go with them; or I’d have to use a much finer fabric, and use the Gumnut perle for the Kloster blocks and the stranded silk for the bars and fillings. I might just do that, if I ever feel flush enough to get the three required perles. But for now, I thought I’d go for one of those nice geometric designs in cross stitch. Well, a set of small designs, anyway. As for naming them, well, I suppose the combination of purple, gold and green rather suggests Mardi Gras, but Mardi Gras isn’t really me. But the colours also reminded me of one of Cicely Mary Barker’s flower fairies, Nightshade, whose other name is Bittersweet, and as some of the shapes in the designs are vaguely floral, that seemed quite appropriate. So here is one of the three designs that make up Bittersweet:

Bittersweet