Happy with fabrics, unhappy with horticulture

Let’s get the unhappy part over with first, then at least I can end on a happy note! The problem (besides having a new network & computers installed over the weekend which has caused a certain amount of upheaval) is Walled Garden. I’m hoping to use it as my new design for the Counted Wishes Festival in March, but that rather depends on getting it stitched to my liking and writing the chart pack for it, and I’m getting stuck on the first part.

The walls (Kloster blocks and a textured border) were fine, they came out as I had hoped. The satin stitch florals were OK too, with the Caron colours working as intended. The backstitch additions turned out according to plan as well. Then came the time to add some cheerful yellow in the shape of knots (either French or colonial, according to your preference). First I added some to the hearts of the blue flowers – which, incidentally, I had intended to be vaguely like periwinkles but which reminded one fellow stitcher of clematis; so much for my botanical accuracy! Anyway, I liked the effect of the knots there, so I continued with the rest of the knots, which formed swirly lines between satin stitch leaves. And they just look wrong. On paper they’re fine, but on the fabric I simply do not like them. And yet it needs that touch of yellow, and I still think knots of some sort are the way to go. I’ll have to do some serious re-charting over the weekend, and probably some unpicking and restitching as well!

On to more pleasant things. First a little more stash to show off, my most recent order from the Little Thread Shop. Some Weeks Dye Works perles, and Caron threads; the bright green is Jade, which I had in Impressions (their silk/wool blend) and used in my father-in-law’s 90th birthday card. I so enjoyed the shade that I decided to get the “companion threads” to it. The others are sheer indulgence – I have no purpose for them yet but I just loved the colours.

Threads from the Little Thread Shop

I am also awaiting an order of threads for the Guildhouse course from West End Embroidery including some Dinky Dyes perles. I contacted Jo at Dinky Dyes to ask about UK stockists, and something she said about concentrating on their silks made me slightly worried that the cotton perles might be under threat, but fortunately she reassured me that they have no plans to discontinue them; they just don’t promote them as vigorously as their silks. Heather and Douglas are safe *phew*.

And finally, the fabrics. I’d asked Kate at Sparklies whether she did hand-dyed Hardanger fabric, and she said she didn’t, but she could – and she did! Here are the three fabrics I’ll be using in the September course: 28ct Lugana Aries (for the bookmarks), and 22 ct Hardanger Thalia (purple) and Ocean Depths (blue-green). They’ll be stitched with Antique White threads and beads for contrast. I’m really looking forward to stitching the models, so I’d better get Walled Garden sorted out as soon as possible.

Sparklies fabrics for the Guildhouse course

How a Walled Garden grows

I could also have called today’s post "From shape to name to colour", because that is very much how Walled Garden, my latest design, came into being. It all started out with a shape that kept coming to my mind – as it happened a most unsuitable shape for Hardanger, being one of those diamonds with their sides pushed in, all steeply sloping lines:

Walled Garden Mono

So I started a new canvas, put in some grey Kloster blocks and started pushing them around to see if I could create anything like that. I couldn’t, of course; the shape is just impossible to create in Kloster blocks unless you make it huge and look at it from several metres’ distance. But I managed to get a shape that I found pleasing, and which did have the four points and indented sides. I experimented a bit with which bits would be cut and which wouldn’t, what the filling stitches would be, and what sort of satin stitch shapes I’d use to embellish it. The first shapes I drew, inside the Kloster blocks, were a bit like leaves (tulip leaves perhaps?) and that suggested flowers, so flower shapes with rounded petals followed, plus some ribbony bits. I thought of adding more of the same flowers, but as I was drawing some basic Hardanger satin stitch shapes, the ones that make up a star, I noticed that if you use four in a sort of windmill pattern, they look vaguely like periwinkle flowers. Very vagueley, as they lack a petal, but close enough. Finally a border of Pekinese stitch, a bit like a fence, and I had a monochrome (well, light and dark grey) design with a strong Kloster block frame and several floral shapes. To save this version of the chart I needed a name, and it looked rather like walls and flowers, so I called it Walled Garden.

Walled Garden Mono

But a grey walled garden isn’t much fun. What if I made the "walls" brown? Preferably shaded brown, not solid … a Caron shade perhaps, like one of the two browns in Vienna … and greens of course for the leaf and ribbon shapes, and brown and green for the Pekinese "fence" … red and blue or pink and blue for the flowers; blue for the periwinkle shape of course, pink for the rounder flowers … not quite there yet; what about some yellow? The French knots and some of the filling stitches, and perhaps the centre of the periwinkles. Not botanically correct, but then it’s not a textbook … filling stitches – two colours in every cut area, like flower beds … and that was the chart done.

Walled Garden

Now for the colours. Nothing solid, but not too variegated either. Shaded colours. The dark brown from Vienna, the pink from Cross My Heart … or perhaps the red … a light blue or a dark … and what greens does Caron do? I haven’t decided on all of them yet, but that’s the next step, and a very enjoyable one so I may take some time over it!