How a shisha clover grows

Later this year I’ll be teaching a day class in shisha embroidery at the Percival Guildhouse. Some years ago I used the Shisha box top as one of the projects in a course of mixed techniques, but this was meant for a two-hour class, so something a bit more complex was needed to fill a day class. I still wanted it to fit in a 6″ hoop, though – I’ve got plenty of them smiley, it’s a nice size to turn into box tops or cushion cover patches, and while large enough for a fair bit of stitching it isn’t so large as to be inconvenient to hold for a long period of time. After some experimenting I settled on a clover-shaped design. This then needed to be made into a simple outline for transferring, and a slightly more complicated drawing showing the various stitches used.

The transfer version of Shisha Clover The Shisha Clover version showing the stitches

Then it came to picking colours and threads. I want to offer a variety of threads for the students to use, some of which they may be familiar with, others not; and the colours should be quite bright and a bit folksy. Ideally I’d offer several colourways, but that’s just not practical; on the other hand, the transfer outline will be in their chart pack so they can always do another one some time later! To work out what colours I wanted to use exactly, I printed several copies of the stitch drawing and went to work with our old box of crayons and partially dried-up felt tips. Based on the one I preferred, I then digitally coloured in the chart using my photo editing program. Quite therapeutic, and it made me feel rather up-to-date what with colouring books for grown ups being all the rage!

Some of the stitches took some deliberation too, especially the clover outline. In the end I narrowed it down to two options: laced running stitch, or whipped blanket stitch, both in two shades of green. I like the look of the blanket stitch better, but it is quite labour intensive and I don’t want students to be left with too much to do at home. I may decide to include stitch diagrams for both versions and let every student decide for herself; but the first thing is to stitch both versions myself and time them.

Coloured in, with laced running stitch Coloured in, with whipped blanket stitch

So Join The Band is temporarily shelved, and I’ll be stitching away with coton à broder, soft cotton, stranded cotton, silk perle, metallic cord, sequins and beads attaching mirrors, couching cords, and creating bullion knots, buttonhole wheels, French knots and seed stitches. Not quite so soothing and relaxing as those repeated purple, green & blue bands perhaps, but I’ll definitely enjoy the cheerful colours and the variety of materials!