Some time ago someone suggested that James, the snail from my RSN Jacobean module, would make quite a nice little crewel kit. That is now on my To Do list, but as I was looking at his outline, I suddenly thought, “wouldn’t he look good in gold?” And because there’s always room for another project, I thought I’d have a go. First of all, bits of him needed padding. I wanted the shell raised in the centre, which was done with a rather pleasant-looking little comma of felt with two more layers over the top, and extra stitching to emphasise the spiral. The brick/stone he is sitting on got a single layer of felt as it would be filled in, although I didn’t yet know what with.
My idea was to stick as much as possible to the “layout” of the crewel version, which meant an open body with some dotted shading and a filled-in shell and brick. The best way to represent the shaded satin stitch on the original brick would be vertical cutwork, and I wanted that outlined first. Then there was a line indicating the curved ground the brick rests on, plus the outlining of James’ body. As I wanted to keep them all distinct I went with pearl purl for the sides of the brick, twist for the ground and double passing for the body. The twist was attached with stitches snuggling in between the plies so the couching is invisible.
Time for the shell. I couldn’t see a way of reproducing the “spoke” effect of James’ raised backstitch crewel shell, so I chose to couch along the spiral instead. In order not to lose the spiral in one homogenous mass of circling couching I started with a double line of check thread, with the rest of the shell done in pairs of passing again. A lot more plunging than I’d like, but heigh-ho, it was needed to get the effect I wanted. (Oh, I also added a spangle eye and metallic thread feelers with little beads on the end. I know a snail doesn’t have an eye as such, but I prefer him with one.)
A few dotted bits of bright check in the body to represent the seed stitching in the crewel original, and then on to the brick! Vertical cutwork in one of the cylindrical purls and one of the angular ones, and because it seemed a good idea to have the brick relatively matte compared to James’ shiny shell I picked rough purl and wire check. As always, cutting the chips to exactly the right length was a, uhm, lengthy process – a chip is too long, so you take off a fraction of a smidgen and suddenly it’s too short. I have a fair few spare chips in a separate little bag now…
I decided to shade the chips a bit like the satin stitch in the original to add texture. And when, several hours later, I had covered about half of the brick, I realised I wasn’t sure I liked the look of it. Bother. I’m not even sure why I have second thoughts about it. I like the shading. I even like the look of that row of companionably snug vertical chips in itself. I’m just not sure it makes the brick look the way I want it.
So that’s where I am with Blingy James – he has been temporarily put away while I think about his brick and decide what I want to do with it. I’ll let you know when I know!
Fortunately there are two pieces of goldwork (or more accurately one piece of goldwork and one piece of silverwork) which did get finished, and indeed were finished some time ago. They were the Secret Project which can finally be revealed because the edition of Stitch magazine in which they appear is now in the shops. I present to you: Come Rain, Come Shine – two metalwork samplers in the shape of, respectively, an umbrella and a parasol. If you choose to stitch it, I’d love to see pictures of your finished projects! And as always, if you have any questions about the instructions, the materials or anything else, just drop me a line.