This weekend I worked on my Hilltop Farm project (from Rowandean). It’s very different from the Japanese embroidery I’ve been working on lately. Look at my gigantic yarn french knots! It makes for an impressive tree. In fact, I finished two trees in different yarns. I picked these yarns out myself – I love the yarns in the rest of the kit but the yarn that was assigned to these two trees just didn’t do it for me.
All the trees combine for a really textured fun design. I am leaving the sheep for later so the white yarn will stay cleaner.
I also worked on the grass for this hill, which is taking forever! It’s such a large hill. I inspired myself by watching terrible, terrible action movies while embroidering. So terrible I’m not sure I should admit to watching them.
How big is it? 20 inches by 27 inches (0.5m x 0.7m). It goes faster than you think because it’s yarn, but it’s still gonna be a masterpiece!
The two chrysanthemums are complete, one in twisted silk and one in flat silk! I think there will be knots of some kind inside the yellow one and gold veins on the leaves.
For the cherry blossoms I finished the underlying silk layer. Two are worked in flat silk and three in soft-twist thread (which I twisted myself). For comparison below you can also see the maple leaves in (hard) twist thread and flat silk.
What’s left? Gold! All the cherry flowers will have stylized gold stamens to make it even more sparkly. It shines already, although it’s very difficult to capture the effect in a photo. I tried with two different kinds of lighting -maybe I will try again tomorrow! I love looking at the different textures plus the light on the silk. This is really bringing textural design to my attention. I wonder what happens if you twist non-silk threads? I should try it.
I spent a day and a half at Bluebonnet Studio this weekend! I bet I’m going to finish this project up during next month’s class. This time I learned how to soft-twist the thread for the cherry flowers (the white one below). There will be fancy gold stamens eventually.
I also worked on a couple of maple leaves! This design has pairs of twisted and flat silk for textural contrast. See?
I’ve been working away at the chrysanthemums too. It sure would help if they had fewer petals. And finally, here is the back of the piece! All of the threads are started and ended with tiny pinhead stitches, so there are no tails dangling anywhere.
I haven’t had another class yet, but I decided to work the second plum flower on my own. I think I learned enough from working the first one in class. My teacher, Mary Alice, at Bluebonnet Studio, explained it fairly well. First you cover the shape in flat silk (above). Then you work the stamens (next picture!).
Finally, you add the pollen. It matches the first flower, so I’m happy :-)
I thought y’all would also like to see what my more advanced classmate, Donna, is doing! She’s working on a design called Hiogi Fan. It’s a Phase 2/3 design from the Japanese Embroidery Center.
It has a lot of stitching superimposed on other stitching. Very geometric and very fancy!
I finished the bird! He is worked in one strand of thread. He’s pretty small, only 4.5 inches (11.4 cm) from the tip of the beak to the tail. Below is a closeup of his face so you can see the stitches in detail.
When you’re stitching a bird, try to think of what directions feathers would naturally point. If you’re unsure there’s plenty of pictures on the internet to help! The most important thing to remember is that the stitches should never be perfectly even and aligned unless you are trying to make a robotic bird. Natural birds are always a little bit of a mess.
The adventure continues! I finished the plum flower and added pollen and stamens on top (stamen angles were all calculated precisely because that’s how they roll in Japanese embroidery).
I made the second pine tree dark blue. It’s worked in flat silk with a gold lattice over it (lattice spacing calculated with ruler). In the picture below you can see the contrast between the green twisted silk pine tree and the flat silk flower and pine tree. I love watching the light on them.
Here’s another picture of my plum flower reflecting the light. Next step: adding branches to the trees! These are done in gold. I’m still practicing at keeping the strands untwisted and parallel with the tekobari, but it’s looking good.
To add the upper branches we use a diagram and stitch through the tissue paper! The silver buttons are magnets to keep it in place until I’m done.
After removing the tissue paper, I start couching the branches down to give them a curve and to keep them in place.
All done with the pine tree!
Hello everybody! Since my last post I got a new job and moved to Houston! And Houston is home to Mary Alice Sinton’s Bluebonnet Studio! I’ve signed up for some Japanese embroidery classes, and have started the Flower Circle design. I know I’ve been quiet for a bit, but I’m going to aim for posting every Monday from now on. I have lots of material!
Before you start your Japanese embroidery stitching, you have to lace the silk fabric into the wood frame. This is quite an operation. Here it is in progress:
The Japanese silks are flat silks, so if you want to stitch with twisted silk you have to twist it yourself. Here I am setting up silk with my awl to twist it up:
I started with a pine tree in twisted silk. You can see the twisted effect in the pictures below. I stitched it and then couched it down (I guess to make sure it wasn’t going to run away).
After the tree I started working on a chrysanthemum. It’s in twisted silk too. Here’s my frame, where I’m working on twisting even more silk. The giant silver thing is the “tekobari” which is basically a laying tool. You also need lots of rulers to do Japanese embroidery. It seems rather persnickety. Next up I began work on a plum flower in flat silk. It really makes a major difference in texture.
Stay tuned for more adventures in embroidery!