Stash dull, delightful and decadent

Quite a lot of new stash has been making its way through the Figworthy letterbox lately, of various kinds. For the purposes of this FoF I’ve divided these new acquisitions into the three categories mentioned in the title, and I’ll start with the Dull. Now you may well disagree with my classification; and it is true that although this particular parcel wasn’t very exciting to unwrap, any parcel containing some new thread or other essentials is cause for a modest squeal of pleasure at least. Still, let’s just say that soft cotton in neutral shades isn’t the most Instagrammable stash.

Soft cotton in neutral shades

But though it may be a little dull, it is destined to become an essential part of my Canvaswork project, which came about in a rather serendipitous way. You see, when doing my sampling I looked for some threads that I could use which I had a lot of, which didn’t have an immediate purpose, and which would be relatively cheap and easy to replace should I need to. Rummaging through the various boxes of threads I found a bag of brightly coloured DMC Soft Cotton which I bought years ago for making finger-woven friendship bracelets with our church’s Youth Group. There was quite a lot left over, and it’s a nice chunky thread which would cover the canvas well. Ideal! But as I was sampling with this thread, it occurred to me that its texture would also be perfect for the tower and brick base of the windmill which stands right in the centre of the design – and as purple or bright red wouldn’t do for those, I had to get these more muted, subdued colours.

Soft cotton for friendship bracelets Bracelet made from soft cotton

Unfortunately I fell victim to false economy while ordering. For the windmill’s tower I will need four shades of grey, so four shades of grey is what I put in the shopping basket. I did wonder just a moment whether to pop in a fifth, darker shade just to be on the safe side, but then decided against it on the grounds that the darkest shade in my shopping basket looked quite dark enough on the screen. Alas, it didn’t in real life. Which meant I had to order a single skein, with postage that would be more than the skein itself. So I added a metre of Normandie fabric to qualify for free shipping. In my defence, it will come in handy for kits and workshops…

An extra soft cotton and some Normandie

The next bit of embroidery-related post was definitely Delightful: Hazel Everett’s book Goldwork and Silk Shading Inspired by Nature. Another of Mary Corbet’s dangerous reviews. I already have Hazel’s earlier book Goldwork: Techniques, Projects and Pure Inspiration which is an absolute gem, so I didn’t need a lot of convincing. As with many of these embroidery books, although I would love to do all sorts of projects from them it doesn’t really matter if that never happens – they are a joy to read and study, and are always an education and an inspiration. But if there is one project from this book which stands a very good chance of one day being stitched, it is the 3D butterfly, which is just incredibly lovely. Well, Hazel’s version is, and if mine turns out half as beautiful I’ll be quite content.

Hazel Everett's Goldwork and Silk Shading book A section about goldwork techniques A project using both goldwork and silk shading A gorgeous 3D butterfly

And finally the Decadent. Like the soft cottons this came about because of my Canvaswork sampling. You see, for the paving by the windmill I wanted something matt to contrast with the silk sky and the tulips and greenery which will probably be done in shiny perle cottons and the like. And as I tried out the most likely stitch for that paving in four different types of thread (more about that in a future FoF) the one that stood out was Danish flower thread, also known as Blomstergarn. Unlike stranded cotton, cotton floche, coton à broder and most other embroidery cottons it is unmercerised, so it lacks the sheen which that process imparts. Now the flower threads I used for sampling came from a small collection of five skeins that I was given many years ago, and which live in a box with my floche threads because there aren’t enough to warrant their own box. And none of the five were the right shade for the paving. Off I went in search of a supplier.

I found this in the shape of the Danish Handcraft Guild; and having learnt from my trying-to-judge-colours-on-the-screen failure with the soft cottons I emailed them with the photograph that is the basis of my design to ask whether they could advise which of their colours were likely to be most suitable. Quite understandably they declined to make the decision for me (why should I expect them to judge colours on screen when I am not prepared to), and advised me to get the shade card (which contains samples of the actual threads). But by then I had found out that they do a complete set of flower threads at what amounts to about a 25% discount compared to buying them all individually. And as the shade card would be £9 on its own, well… not too decadent after all, perhaps.

Flower thread or Blomstergarn from the Danish Handcraft Guild The complete collection of flower threads

Aren’t they beautiful? I think I’m looking forward to finding the right storage for them and arranging them by colour as much as I am to actually stitching with them smiley

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