As I was trying out various stitches on my doodle cloth, I was rather taken with one of them, a raised chain stitch arranged in a circle. Lots of texture, relatively quick, and – after a bit of trial and error with a pencil and squared paper – it looked good on the counted fabric I was using (unfortunately not all freestyle embroidery stitches can be successfully transformed into a counted equivalent, so I was particularly pleased with that).
Does it remind you of something? Forget for a moment that it is very pink. It may be the season that put it into my head, but doesn’t it look like a Christmas wreath?
A quick-to-stitch motif that looks a bit like a Christmas wreath – I don’t know about you, but I immediately think Christmas cards. It’s lovely to send hand-made Christmas cards, but unless you choose something fairly quick to do you’ll either be stitching Christmas cards the entire year, or you just give up on the idea. Could I perhaps transform this into something usable for next year’s Season’s Greetings? If so, what would be needed? Well, for one thing, it would have to be a bit bigger; this one measures only 2cm across, which is on the small side for a card motif. About twice as big would be nice.
Now when you’re working a stitch like this on freestyle fabric, you can make it whatever size you please without too much trouble. Especially if you have one of those useful diagrams of circles divided into segments, you just pick the circle size and number of foundation stitches you want, transfer the necessary lines to your fabric and hey presto, you’re ready to stitch. On counted fabric it takes a bit more work. So back to the paper and pencil, and after some more drawing and rubbing out and re-drawing a larger circle with more foundation stitches emerged. The smaller one had been stitched using perle #8 for the foundation and #5 for the raised chain itself, so in order for this bigger one not to look too spindly I decided perle #5 and #3 were called for. Fortunately I had a perle #3 in green in my stash, though if these do make it into production I might buy a slightly brighter, Christmassy green. The foundation stitches I worked in brown – not much of them is visible, but if some of the colour did peep through it would look like twigs.
OK, not too bad – add some red and gold beads as baubles, and a ribbon bow at the top, and we’re nearly there. But in spite of the perle #3 it looked a bit thin. I showed the wreath-in-progress to my husband. He said it looked a bit thin. Couldn’t I add another round of chain stitch? Yes, I could, but the foundation stitches would have to be lengthened, and because it’s a counted fabric that meant more re-drawing. Still, if a thing’s worth doing it’s worth doing right, as they say, so back to the squared paper.
So let’s start a new wreath. First the longer foundation stitches, in a variegated brown perle #5 I happened to have lying around.
Then the first ring of raised chain stitch – the inner ring, because if you start with the outer one it will pull towards the middle.
I thought it would add texture if I stitched the two rings in opposite directions, one clockwise, the other counter-clockwise. It didn’t – the two seemed to cancel each other out and the texture just went muddy. So unpick the second ring and do it again; when both are stitched in the same direction the whole retains its crisp look, and this method automatically provides little gaps for the beads to snuggle into later on. Best, by the way, to work both rings anti-clockwise; makes it easier to get the needle underneath the foundation stitches.
Now for a bow. Big needle with a 3mm ribbon, down and up just above the wreath, then tie as neat a bow as you can manage. Alternatively, get a small ready-made bow and sew it on… Finally some red and gold beads attached randomly; actually it would have been easier to do this before tying the bow. It looks nicest when the beads sit snugly in the little gaps. I used a white thread to attach them which unfortunately is visible here and there, so it might be better to use a green thread to match the chain stitch.
And here is the finished wreath, ready to become a Christmas card!