The birth of sets and series

Some designs are easily recognisable as sets (or series; I’m not quite sure what the difference is, if any). They don’t need similar names, or a group name, to show that they go together. Like the four Floral Tiles, Pansies, Holly, Forget-Me-Not and Tulips. They all have a Rhodes stitch border, satin stitch floral motifs (or vegetation, in the case of Holly), beads and speciality stitches within Kloster blocks, and beaded square filets in single cut squares. Likewise the twelve designs in Round Dozen simply shout their kinship from the rooftops, with their recognisable pattern of a cutwork diamond within a surface stitch diamond within a square. But oddly enough, neither of them were originally planned as a series – or in the case of Round Dozen, as such a large series.

A little over a year ago I was looking at some online shade cards, and my eye fell on a lilac-and-yellow variegated silk. At about the same time, I was toying with the idea of satin stitch pansies. I wanted to make satin stitch a main feature of the design, and to have quite a few Kloster blocks but minimal cutting; I also wanted quite strong lines, probably diagonal, and a border of some sort using the variegated thread I’d seen; and beads. So Pansies was born.

As it was December, Christmas was all around. Why not do a seasonal design in the same style? the carol suggested Holly & Ivy, but I didn’t really like the idea of ivy and so holly got paired with mistletoe. Then I started thinking of other flowers with simple and recognisable shapes, and came up with forget-me-nots. Designing it in the same sort of style as the other two seemed only logical.

Now I happen to like sets of four, so I started looking around for a fourth floral design. My Dutch background led almost inevitably to tulips, and as they are quite bold, striking flowers I felt they’d do well within this sort of design. And so the set was complete; and only then did I decide to give them a collective name – Floral Tiles.

Pansies Holly Forget Me Not Tulips

Remember I said I like sets of four? I’d been doodling and scribbling some ideas for a set of four small designs, possibly for coasters. I wanted them all to have the same basic framework, but to play around with bars, filling stitches and speciality stitches; they were also to use very few colours, preferably white and one other colour. And as they were going to be fairly abstract, the names could be pretty much anything. Well, when thinking of sets of four, the seasons are quite an obvious choice. So I called them "Seasons: Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter", choosing the colour in each of them to tie in with that particular season. But I had a few doodles left that hadn’t got used. It seemed a shame to waste them. Could I get four designs out of those ideas? I could; and so I needed another set of four names. The points of the compass sprang to mind, and in fact this set of four started life being called "Compass: North, East, South and West".

Meanwhile I’d also charted two designs along the same lines which didn’t quite fit in with the Season and Compass designs. They used different stitches for the diamond shape. The outer square varied in outline but not in stitches. And there were only two. Surely I could think up another two to go with them? I could, and I did. But what to call them? Remembering an educational programme we used to watch at primary school, I thought of Earth, Water, Wind & Fire, but found that since my school days these had taken on distinct overtones of Wicca and paganism, and as a committed Christian I felt I could not use them. But there was another quartet which I remembered being used to name a set of musical compositions – Morning, Noon, Evening & Night, which seemed to fit the bill perfectly.

Now here is where it all becomes a bit muddy, and I can’t quite remember which change of name led to which, but I realised that having started out with a set of four designs, I know had a round dozen of them. That sounded rather good, so I called the "set of sets" Round Dozen. Now wouldn’t it be neat and tidy to give the subsets Round names as well? Based on the individual names, that idea led to Round the Year, Round the World, and Round the Clock – and those names seemed so appropriate that they stuck.

Round Dozen