Deceptive charts

I’ve done it again.

You see, I like playing around with filling stitches (and other stitches as well, but let’s stick to filling stitches for now). Make them larger than usual, or add beads to them – or both at the same time, as in Frills. Or make up a stitch from scratch, like the Bow Tie in Noon and the Woven Picot filling in Night (which I thought of calling Furled Umbrella stitch at one point …)

Frills Bow Tie Woven picot

Another thing I like to do is to combine colours within one cut area, for example in the cut areas in Spice Islands, where the filling stitches go from Ground Ginger yellow to Clove brown. Or (and this is where we come to the design problem I’m struggling with at the moment) Luck of the Irish, where one colour is completely surrounded by another.

Cloves close-up Luck of the Irish

I liked that effect so much I decided to use it again in Frozen Flower. Bright white filling stitches would appear to float in a sea of ice blue or silver grey filling stitches. I charted two designs, one small, one a bit larger. The small one is my present project (the two of them were originally meant to be one of my February finishes but that’s obviously not going to happen). I made some changes to the small version to accommodate some lovely hand-dyed fabric from Sparklies, reversing the colour scheme and reducing it to two shades rather than three. It took some navigating to work out a stitchable way round the fillings, but I think I’ve plotted a workable route (fingers crossed). So far so good. The trouble, however, is with the larger design.

Frozen Flower

Why is this more problematic than the small one? Because the dark bars, which need to be worked first, are placed in such a way that you would often have to return through the back of a recently worked bar to get to the next bar. Not insurmountable if it happens once or twice within a design, but definitely undesirable when it practically becomes a feature!

But how does this sort of thing happen in the first place? Well, it happens because when I’m charting (sometimes on paper, more usually on the computer) I can draw in woven bars and wrapped bars and all sorts of bars and fillings anywhere I like, and so I tend to just place them in a pleasing shape or pattern. Usually this isn’t a problem – when you’re working in one colour, whether it’s traditional white or more colourful, you simply fill the whole of the cut area, sometimes weaving through the back of a few Kloster blocks.

When more than one colour is involved, however, you can’t always use Kloster blocks to get from one bar to the next as there may not be a Kloster block bordering any of the colour you’re working on. In Luck of the Irish, you have to take the needle through one green bar to get to the pink ones, and through another to get back and fasten off, and that’s manageable – but more than that I wouldn’t inflict on anyone but myself!

"So just rechart it," I hear you say. That’s the obvious thing to do, of course. But I’ve rather fallen in love with the shape of the white filling as it sits inside the darker filling, and for the moment at least, I simply cannot find a balance between its being stitchable and looking "right". It’ll come in the end, no doubt; and in the meantime it’s bound to be doing my character a lot of good, teaching me patience and humility …