Do you ever suffer under the delusion that you’re making a lot of progress on your needlework, but when you step back to take a look at what you’ve done, you find yourself smacked in the face with the cold, dead Fish of Reality? That’s me right now! Wow. Yesterday, I was patting me on the shoulder, telling me that there were no worries, that I was almost done with this project! What the heck was I thinking?
No matter – we must always subscribe to the notion that some progress forward, be it even a little, is a good thing. It isn’t stagnating, after all, and – better yet – it isn’t going backwards. So here’s my wee bit of progress so far on the hand embroidered pall that I’m currently working on.
Last week, I told you all about my linen dilemma and the difficulty with choosing the right linen for this project. I decided to take the advice of several readers and double the fine linen that I originally started with.
Before doubling the linen, I marked off the 6″ square that will be the pall, centered one layer of the fabric over the Cross & Lilies pattern that was taped on my light box, taped the whole piece of fabric securely over the design, and traced the design with a mechanical pencil, using a very light hand.
Ut oh. A Mechanical Pencil??! What happened to the big “tracing with a Flair” plan?? If you recall, on the first couple attempts with this project, I traced the design using a Paper Mate Flair, which is a water-based marker that washes out completely from the linen. Ok, ok. I concede!! While I’m ok with using the Flair on the linen – you can see, in fact, that I marked the parameters and the center lines of the pall with the Flair – for this particular design, the Flair makes a line that’s too thick. It is distracting! And a thick line is never as precise as a fine line, when it comes to an embroidery design, in my opinion.
Furthermore (yep – I’ve got more excuses!), the design for Attempt #3 here is much smaller than my previous designs, which all stretched out to the edge of the pall. This design, set in a pall that’s half an inch smaller all around, is set in the center of the 6″ square, with a good inch on all sides – it’s just barely 5″ square. With the design being smaller and finer, I wanted a very fine, precise line. So I used a pencil!
Once I had the design on the top layer of linen, I basted together the two layers (along the outside lines that mark out the dimensions of the pall), and then I whip stitched around the edge of both fabrics to keep the fabric from fraying.
I don’t normally whip stitch around the outside of a project, because I normally mount my needlework on Evertite frames before I work it and I don’t find the whip stitching necessary. With this project, though, I’ll be using a hoop, and since a hoop is handled a lot more, the edges of the fabric are more likely to fray.
So this is the whole thing, set up and ready to go. With that finished, it was time to consider threads. I thought about white-on-white, as that’s what I normally do on a pall, and I that’s what I normally prefer. But with this fabric, I thought silk would be a better match. And I didn’t have a lot of choices in white silk.
I decided to go with two tones of gold-colored Soie d’Alger, for a couple reasons: 1. when stitching with one strand of Soie d’Alger, the line is nice and fine; 2. It’s an easy thread to stitch with, and I don’t have a lot of time to mess around! 3. (ok, several reasons…) I have it on hand; 4. I like gold on white.
I debated for a long while about doing the lilies in color, in shaded long and short stitch. But without a lot of time, I didn’t want to risk not getting it done.
The design is only going to be outlined, then – and the whole project is being done in stem stitch. The main structure of the design (the cross and circle) are worked with two strands of the darker gold in stem stitch. All the lilies are going to be worked in one strand of the lighter gold in stem stitch, and I haven’t decided yet what I’m doing with the IHS in the middle – I’m considering long and short stitch shading in gold on the lettering, but I don’t know how that will work together with the rest of the design, so I need to think about that for a while! (Any ideas?!)
You know what surprised me most as I worked on this part? The difference between stem stitch with one strand and stem stitch with two strands of silk. I realize that two strands “doubles” the size of one strand, but in fact, the two-strand outlines seem more than double in size, compared to the one strand in the light gold.
I’m not sure yet, you know. I don’t know if I will like the overall effect of this piece. But I won’t know until I get more done on it. And by that time, it’ll be too late to turn back!