Mary Corbet

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I learned to embroider when I was a kid, when everyone was really into cross stitch (remember the '80s?). Eventually, I migrated to surface embroidery, teaching myself with whatever I could get my hands on...read more

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Back to the Goldwork Iris and Shading


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We haven’t visited the goldwork iris in a while, and I left everyone hanging with the last post about it, when I asked what you thought I would do for embroidery thread! I never did answer that question, so now I will bat around the ideas in my head about this piece.

First, I’ll admit right upfront that I haven’t given this little piece of goldwork embroidery a chance! I have worked on it in fits and starts, usually in 15-minute (or shorter) increments.

The 15-minute sessions are great when you have a project set up and you know exactly where you are going with it. I have found that, in such cases, short sessions are useful in making progress. The drawbacks to short embroidery sessions like that, though, are that you can’t always get a good rhythm going with your stitching, and you can’t make enough progress to know exactly whether or not something is working out, if you are “feeling your way through” a project in the first place.

And that’s kind of my situation with the goldwork iris.

This is as much as I’ve progressed on the project:

Goldwork Iris: Shading in Goldwork Or Nué

I really only have three full threads couched. I went with the Soie d’Alger because that’s the silk thread I had on hand in the right colors, but of course, the whole time I was stitching, I was bemoaning the fact that I didn’t have the silk I wanted! However, I made a firm resolution that I would not buy anymore threads until the middle of April, and I am sticking to that! So I told myself the Soie d’Alger would work for this test piece.

And it does work! It’s fine. It’s not necessarily what I would have preferred, but it’s a good thread, and it does work.

I received a lot of good advice on the project from other stitchers who have tried this technique, and I’m really grateful for that! I wish I hadn’t started stitching already when some of the advice came in. For example, I wish I hadn’t made so much of the outline (especially the dark green) so solid, and had left some space for the gold to show through. I did towards the top, but now I’m dissatisfied with that, because it is inconsistent with the rest.

Goldwork Iris: Shading in Goldwork Or Nué

There’s not enough stitching done here to really tell how it will look, and I’m more and more convinced that, with this technique, the whole picture develops slowly and you really need to give it a chance! So I haven’t given up on it – I need to make greater progress to see how things are going to go with this piece.

Goldwork Iris: Shading in Goldwork Or Nué

There’s one part of the design so far that I really do like about it, and that’s the purple. In fact, I like the purple so much that I’m completely glad I didn’t order the Piper’s silk (or TESS), or didn’t pick a not-quite-right color.

So, right now, that’s where I am on this project. Truth to tell, I’ve put it away for a little bit – it’s packaged up, threads and all, until I can devote some serious time to it. While it sat among my present embroidery tasks, I felt pretty anxious about it. Better to put it away for a little bit, until I can devote more time to it!

I am still plugging away on my whitework sampler – the cutwork section has a few bars worked in, and that’s about all I got done with needle and thread this past weekend!

And now, as I’m in the midst of a very busy time at school, it looks as if it’ll be a little while before I can get back to some serious stitching! I’ll have to rely on 15 minutes of whitework here and there if I want to make any progress.

I hope you all had a chance to get in some stitching this past weekend and that the week promises some good opportunities to you for the same!


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(2) Comments

  1. Mary, I agree with your assessment that you need time to see how the piece develops. I found that to be true with my or nue’ experiences.

    Additionally, I have also found that I like to have a decent amount of time to do any sort of goldwork as you do indeed get into a rhythm.

    Keep going! I’m really looking forward to seeing this piece develop.

  2. I second Margaret’s comment. I just picked up my circular or nue project for something “mindless” (actually, “chartless” would be more accurate)to work on during my EGA chapter meeting. I’d been discouraged by the way one of the colors was turning out, so the enthusiasm died and it languished for over a month. Yesterday, the sunshine hit one of the other colors and it looked so good that I forgot how I hadn’t liked one of the other areas and that needle really started to fly. Hang in there.

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