Inspiration from the British Isles

Some time ago I mentioned that I’d like to do a “Welsh” design to complement Tudor, Scotland the Brave and Luck of the Irish, and make a set called British Isles. As the three existing designs all have a floral theme I decided against dragons or leeks in favour of daffodils, the result to be called St David’s Day.

One of the stitches that immediately springs to mind (well, my mind anyway) when thinking of daffodils is the woven picot (used in an eight-petal arrangement in Frozen Flower). Two sets of three, in two shades of yellow, one set slightly overlapping the other. And for the trumpet something equally 3D in orange detached chain stitch; perhaps cup stitch, which I first tried (a little raggedly, see picture…) a couple of years ago.

Woven Picot Flower Cup Stitch

But the design that was vaguely beginning to take shape in my mind would have several daffodils, probably a central one surrounded by four smaller ones. What to do with them? More woven picot flowers? They are quite labour-intensive, and moreover, they stand out and clamour for attention – having five of them in a relatively small design might be a bit too much of a good thing!

Beads then? Stylised daffodils made out of bugle beads for the petals and an ordinary bead for the trumpet? Off to Sew & So to see what’s available only to find that there are no bugle beads in yellow and orange, at least not from Mill Hill. So much for that brainwave. And of course I couldn’t possibly recycle the cross stitch daffodils from Floral Lace; that would be cheating. And anyway, they wouldn’t fit smiley. For a moment I toyed with the idea of silk or organza ribbon, but it would be difficult to get the flowers small enough and again they might overwhelm a design this size.

When a design gets stuck I just leave it at the back of my mind to find its own way for a bit; something usually comes up. And so it did this time. Possibly triggered by the lazy daisy motifs in Extravorganza the idea suddenly presented itself with beautiful inevitability: six lazy daisies, three each in two shades of yellow, echoing the large central flower. And for the trumpet… well, there was a question. A chunky French knot in orange perle #5? But it’s a bit much to expect stitchers to buy a whole skein of orange perle #5 just for four French knots. A bead? Same objection, and I’d rather gone off the idea of beads as none of the other three designs use them. How about a cross between a French knot and a bullion knot to create a sort of thick loop? With a bit of luck it’ll stand proud of the fabric and so make a good stab at representing the centre of a daffodil; and it would use the same perle #8 as the central flower, so no need for yet another thread.

This needed a bit of experimenting, as I wasn’t sure whether to simply work it as a very long French knot – lots of wraps but go down the very next hole – or as a bullion knot with a very short coverage. A minute or so with some spare fabric and thread and it became clear that multi-wrapped French knots just turn into blobs, but that bullion knots worked over one diagonal form rather nice little hoops. Now all I need to do is finish charting and amend the instructions for bullion knots and Wales will be ready to take its place in the British Isles set!

A blobby French knot A hooped bullion knot