Doodles and the start of a leaf project

In trying to decide which stitches I want to use for the Tree of Life my doodle cloths are invaluable. Not only are doodles great for showing the texture of stitches in a way diagrams never can, they also give me an idea of how easy or difficult it will be to adapt a stitch to the leaf shape. Accordingly I worked some doodles for Ceylon stitch, and to be complete I did some detached buttonhole stitch filling as well, even though I had pretty much dismissed that one from the possibles list already. And then it turned out that actually I liked the latter better after all! Ceylon stitch has quite an attractive knitted look, but unless I choose to stitch it quite densely it may be difficult to get it to look even. The buttonhole filling looks nice even when worked (as it is here) with quite an open texture.

Ceylon doodle detached buttonhole filling doodle The two doodles compared

While checking my stitch book for another stitch, I came across Vandyke stitch. I thought it might work as an edging stitch for one of my appliqué projects, but as I tried it on my doodle cloth it struck me that, if stitched a bit more neatly than I had here, it looked quite leaf-like! The loops form a nice central vein, and if the arms are angled they will work as the minor veins. In order to make neatness easier while experimenting with this stitch, I tried it on my counted doodle cloth as well, in both perle #8 and perle #5; with the latter I tried to get the arms to slant more, but it’s not easy – the stitch seems to have a tendency to straighten itself out. Still, there is a bit of a slant there.

Vandyke doodle Vandyke doodle on counted fabric Vandyke doodle with slanted arms

As I was on a roll with all these doodles, I thought I’d give loop stitch another go, if not for the Tree then it might do for one of the appliqué baubles. But I couldn’t quite remember how it went, and in fact on the internet you can find at least two different descriptions of this stitch – one where the working thread is simply hooked around the previous stitch, and one where it it looped around.

The needle hooks around the first stitch The stitch continues The completed line of simple loop stitches
The needle loops around the first stitch The stitch continues The completed line of loop stitches

What I eventually ended up with appears to be a cross between coral stitch and loop stitch which, for want of a better term, I’ll call knotted loop stitch. It looks quite effective and with shorter arms would make a good border stitch, while with longer arms it would fill a leaf and create a vein. Because of the way it is worked, however, it’s not possible to slant the arms. Be that as it may, it’s another possible filling to consider. I may have to work a veritable forest of leaves before I actually start on the tree proper!

The needle knots around the first stitch The stitch continues The completed line of knotted loop stitches in perle #5

And here is the first leaf project ready to go – the outline has been traced together with a very faint inner line (to indicate the length of the up-and-down buttonhole stitch), and the crewel wools have been chosen. Originally the leaves of the autumnal tree were designed to be yellow, orange and green, but as I’ll be using some yellow to stand in for gold on the green leaves, and I won’t be stitching the trunk and stems, I decided to use the warm browns originally intended for the trunk to work what would have been the two yellow leaves. After all, as long as it shows the effect and texture of the stitches, it doesn’t really matter what colour I use, and the browns are rather attractive.

A leaf project ready to go

5 comments on “Doodles and the start of a leaf project

  1. Don’t forget the very useful feathered chain stitch. I was reminded of it by a design in the newest Inspirations magazine, where it’s used to fill a leaf. If you were to start with a chain at the very top of the leaf (the pointy bit of the stitch being in the intersection of leaf point), it becomes clear that you can gently have the fly stitch forming the centre vein (moving slightly right and left of the actual centre, probably), and the tips of the chain along the outline of the leaf at intervals. Might also leave space for, oh I don’t know, beads? French knots? Back stitch infill in the chain stitch… ?

    Do like Vandyke stitch. Also closed herringbone for leaves…

  2. I’ve seen feathered chain stitch and it does have an interesting effect, but somehow I’ve never really got on with it. Do you yourself find that there are stitches that come naturally to you (and so you go back to them time and again), and stitches that are Hard Work?

    As and when (or if and when…) the Tree makes it into a SAL, I will try to offer lots of alternatives so people can really make their Tree their own.

  3. Hmm, I think I’ve just found out why I never took to FCS – I went by the one shown on Pintangle, which is actually a little different (and not quite so attractive) as the more common one you can find online. Does the version you mean have a sort of zigzag in the middle? Or is the Inspirations one different again, as I can’t quite place the fly stitch bit?

  4. The one in the Inspirations design has less “swing” or zig zag down the middle, more like on this video (if you can bear the music!) Obviously, you can make the middle “long tail” as long or shortas you like. In Inspirations, they suggest taking the needle in turns just slightly left and right of the centre line and anchoring it at the base. I think you’d need to doodle a bit with it.

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