Before our little family holiday to The Netherlands my evenings (and any other time off-duty) seemed to consist mostly of kits! Workshop kits, kits to be sold through the website or at fairs, the kitchen table was full of bits of kits. By the time we drove off to catch the ferry at Harwich the dining table was piled with 53 complete kits, 12 just waiting for my LNS to get some 2oz wadding in, and 30 ready to be assembled from my collection of parts.
One of the things that needed doing for some of the kits – the Wildflower Garden and the two Shisha ones – was transferring designs onto the pieces of light blue or pale yellow cotton, so my trusty lightbox was taken out of the padded envelope in which it resides most of the time.
As I was transferring the kit designs, I thought I’d try the lightbox on a piece of wine-red dupion fabric bought some time ago for a goldwork design I had in mind. Dark fabrics aren’t ideal for use with a lightbox – much better to use the prick & pounce method, but I’m still feeling a little apprehensive about that. So why not give the lightbox a go, with a white gel pen? I grabbed the Jacobean goldwork design from the pile of projects-in-some-sort-of-progress and set the lightbox to full strength.
Well, it worked. I wouldn’t want to use it for a very detailed design, but for this fairly simple flower, where it didn’t matter too much if a stem or leaf was copied slightly off the original lines it just was fine, and the white showed up better than I had expected, without any bleeding! (The lines don’t show up very well on the thumbnail, but they do on the full-sixed photograph; even then, unfortunately, the picture doesn’t really capture the lovely dark red colour.)
But now I’m facing a dilemma: on which fabric am I going to do the Jacobean goldwork flower, my original cream dupion, or this lovely rich burgundy? Red is not such a good background when you’re including copper, and I have rather set my heart on doing the gold/silver/copper shading, so I think I’ll stick with the cream. Anyway, I promised to do a goldwork demonstration at the next Church Craft Fair in November, so perhaps the red dupion will be useful for that. It certainly looks rich and splendid enough to distract people’s attention from any mistakes I may be making in the goldwork .
Some time ago I set out to transfer Kelly Fletcher’s Cats on a Wall design to my chosen fabric, a piece of 40ct Zweigart Newcastle linen in the colour Flax, a stony sort of shade. Unfortunately this was before I had received or even ordered my lovely iron-on pens, or the promising-looking carbon transfer paper I got from Sublime stitching at the same time. Other, more traditional methods were called for.
Tracing against a well-lit window (the poor stitcher’s version of a lightbox) turned out to be difficult because of the colour of the fabric – even with the sun right behind it, the lines of the design didn’t show up very clearly. Moreover, both the pencil and the micron pen I tried using sometimes got caught in the holes and skipped. This may be because at 40ct the Newcastle is a relatively low count compared to the Gander and Kingston linens, or possibly because it’s a fabric meant for counted thread work; there are linens specifically intended for freestyle embroidery which have a lower count but plumper fabric threads so that they present a nice full surface instead of visible holes to trap pencils.
Would prick & pounce have worked? It may have been lack of courage that kept me from trying (I have all the wherewithal for it – pricking pen & pad, pounce powder, little round felt pouncy thing – but as yet haven’t used it), but I like to think it was because I could see it wouldn’t work very well on this relatively open weave. I did try covering the back of the printed design with 2B pencil, then placing it over the fabric and tracing along the lines at the front (a sort of make-shift carbon paper which I’m sure most people have used at some time or other to copy things), but it left no clear line. Perhaps it’s simply not the right fabric for these sort of transfer methods!
In a last-ditch attempt I went over the filling stitches on the printed design in black pen to make them thicker, so they would be easier to see through the fabric as I went back to the well-lit window method. It was better, but still not altogether successful. Finally I had to ink in some of the filling stitches “free hand” by looking at the printed design and copying the lines by eye, so they are not quite as regular as intended by the designer. I also managed to get the outline of one of the stones in the wall wrong – I may have to cover that up with a single strand of silk in the colour of the linen! Even so, at least it’s been transferred and is now ready to go.
And then I decided that I really want to do the Tree of Life first. Or the Leaves. Or the Toadstools. Or the Daisy-and-Bumblebee…