A matter of perspective

Remember the hourglass I started some time ago? I drew it in various ways, some with more perspective than others, and I chose to stitch the “flattest” version first. But even a relatively flat hourglass needs some perspective. As this is just a project for my own enjoyment I could simply wing it and see what happens, but that is not how I like working. So out come the paper and pencil to try different alternatives before committing one of them to the fabric.

Two things in particular needed sorting out: the sand in the top half of the glass, and the round top of the frame. I drew the sand in two ways, going round in circles or with straight lines going down the sides of the upside-down empty cone that is created by the sand running out through the central hole. The circle version would be easier, but I felt the lines-down-to-the-centre approach would give more of a sense of the sand running down.

Working out the direction of the sand

For the round top of the frame I drew a rough circle with concentric circles inside it, then held the paper up to my eyes horizontally, that is to say level with the floor. It turned out that when the circle looked like the oval in the design, the centre of the circle seemed to be about two-fifths from the back, three-fifths from the front.

Working out the perspective of the top

Then it was a case of strategically placing dots on the fabric to create a number of ovals inside the shape. At first I thought just indicating how far they were from the front and the back would do (the white dots), but just so I wouldn’t have to think too hard and calculate while stitching, I indicated how far they were from the sides as well (black dots).

Black and white guiding dots

My very first idea had been to fill in the shape entirely with chain stitch, but in the end I decided to work as many ovals as could be fitted into the back half of the shape, and let them space out to the sides and the front. And I’m pleased with how it worked out!

It worked!

On to the sand in the top half of the glass. I’ve started by working these long stitches over an edge of split stitch; when the far side of the sand has been stitched, the near side will be stitched in lines of longish split stitch following the curve of the glass. The sand in the bottom will be long & short over split stitch with a ragged lower edge, and then comes the fun part of adding tiny shiny beads over the top as cascading grains of sand.

Working the top sand

And once that is finished, I will allow myself to start work on a new project. Well, it’s started already in that I’ve got the fabric hooped up with the design transferred and all the threads picked – but no stitch will be put in until the hourglass is complete! Probably…

More stash, more students, a cross and a petal

As I was putting kits together for the course at Rugby’s Percival Guildhouse, I noticed I was getting a little low on some of the shades of Madeira Lana needed for the No Place Like Home project. There was plenty left for the class kits, but I have plans for this little house (watch this space…) so off I went to my two suppliers, only to find that one of them, from whom I got the larger reels of variegated Lana, no longer carries this thread! Fortunately most of the shades required were solids, and I didn’t need that much of them, so Sarah Homfray and her 25m skeins came to the rescue!

Madeira Lana for kits

One of the things I try to do in the course is to introduce different types of thread, and this wool/acrylic blend is one of them. It made its appearance in week 2. Which brings me to the students using the thread (who, in spite of the title of this FoF, are in fact the same students as the ones I mentioned last time, but “more students’ work” was a bit cumbersome). Here is how they got on with No Place Like Home (class plus some homework) and Butterfly Wreath (in-class progress). I’m really proud of how well they are doing!

Students' versions of No Place Like Home Students' versions of the Butterfly Wreath

When I manage to do some “free stitching” (that is to say not for future publication, or at least with no deadline for publication) I grab one of the many projects lying around that are awaiting completion. Some are fairly recent, like the hourglass stitched with Paintbox Threads materials (update soon), others were started as far back as early 2019, like Hengest and Llandrindod. Hengest is still languishing, but I’m getting on with the pretty jewelled cross. At the moment I’m working on the dark gold that surrounds the gems, and when that is done there is just the subtle bling to be added to the stones, plus possibly some decoration along the light gold circle. But for now I have to decide what to do when the split stitch of the gold frame doesn’t quite match up with the split stitch of the gems. Sometimes it’s a matter of simply filling in the gaps with more gold (orange arrow) – but should I perhaps make the gem corners a bit sharper by adding a few stitches in red (blue arrows)?

Gaps in Llandrindod

Perhaps I’ll work on something else while mulling that over… One thing which I hope to get to grips with in the not too distant future is silk shading or needle painting. You may remember that lovely book I got a while ago which has some exercises in it to try before starting on the full-blown projects – more about that in a future FoF, but another inspiration presented itself from quite a different corner recently. While we were having some pruning done in the garden a late rose got cut, and we put it in the kitchen in one of those tall narrow vases. It’s a lovely dark orange when in bud, but it goes progressively paler when it opens, and when it started to drop its petals I had a close look at one. Not only would the colours make for a lovely silk shading project, it looks like the stitch direction lines have already been pencilled in by the Creator smiley.

Our orange rose A petal with ready-painted lines for silk shading

Spangles, stash and students

It’s been a while since I last Foffed, but now I can burst in with a Hurray! Finally, the second of the two secret stitched models is finished (sneak peek of a tiny bit of it below) – but is it finished? Well, everything that is on my design plan is now on the fabric, but I keep thinking it may need a few more spangles before mounting…

A cutwork sneak peek

Which brings us nicely to the second part of this FoF. It’s always pleasant to get new stash, and although this doesn’t look particularly interesting it feels very nice: fluffy cotton wadding for mounting the models mentioned above (and probably the metalwork racehorse). It’s very much like the stuff the RSN gave me for mounting Bruce and is meant to compensate for all those lumps and bumps on the back of goldwork caused by the plunged and oversewn ends. By the way, having used lightweight, open-textured polyester wadding for years in cards and to put behind embroidery when mounting, and having seen pictures online of “batting” which looked more like this soft but more solid cotton (or wool), I thought they were two different things. Turns out they are all wadding if you’re in the UK, and all batting if you’re in the US. Ah, language, I love you smiley.

Cotton wadding for mounting the stitched models

As for students, I’ve been seeing nine of them for a few weeks now at the Percival Guildhouse in Rugby, and so far they seem to be enjoying themselves which is a good sign! They came to the course with varying levels of previous experience, from a lady who wants to brush up her embroidery skills after a lull of some years to one who has done mostly cross stitch until now and wants to “have a go” to some who have never done any stitching whatsoever. I was impressed with how dedicated they all are, working hard on the new stitches in class and then showing me what they’ve finished at home the next week. Here are some of the Little Wildflower Gardens (the Week 1 project) which they brought to class the week after, several of them complete with bullion knot bee – Well Done Students, is what I say!

Three students' Wildflower Gardens