Good Morning and a Happy Tuesday all around!
I’ve been making pretty good progress on Late Harvest recently, and I’ve concluded that one of the things I like best about this project is that every bit that I do is a learning experience.
Many of the lessons I’ve absorbed from this project are negative lessons – what not to do, the next time I’m in similar situations. Negative lessons are sometimes the best lessons, because they stick with us longer.
The negative lessons I’m experiencing here have nothing to do with the instructions or the kit itself – instead, they have to do with decisions or mistakes that I’ve made while working my way through the project.
Today, I want to show you one of my favorite elements of Late Harvest so far, and I’ll share with you some negative lessons, so that, if you’re ever in a similar stitching situation, you can avoid making the mistakes I’ve made.
Here’s the leaf:
This is a rather large leaf on Late Harvest – the largest one on the project – and it’s worked in long & short stitch shading in pinks and greens which is then stitched over with a lattice grid.
You can find tips on working a lattice grid over a solidly stitched background here.
I love the technique! I never would have thought of working lattice stitching over this type of long & short stitch leaf, simply because it would not occur to me to cover up that much long & short stitch with anything else! Long & short stitch is a gorgeous technique on its own, and normally, I’d be loathe to cover it up with anything else. But it really works on this, when the whole leaf is finished. You’ll see what I mean!
So I started the long & short stitch out with my normal approach, using a split stitch outline and starting with the outer edge and moving inwards to the center vein.
In her instructions, Hazel starts at the inner vein on the lear and works outwards (which is fine! it works!) but I’m so used to starting on the outside of an element and working inwards, that I’ve decided just to stick with my own approach on all the long & short stitch on this project.
Before I started stitching, I mapped out some directional lines and color layers on the inside of the leaf, using a fine tipped art pen. That’s what all the mess is on the inside of the leaf in the photo above.
And away I went, long & short stitching all over the leaf.
Now, you might notice that the leaf is overlapped by the round grape elements in the top of the photo up there.
This is where I made two decisions that were wrong, retrospectively.
1. In the instructions, the grapes are worked first.
Sticking with my typical approach of working background elements first, though, I decided to do the leaf first. This, I discovered a little later, will undoubtedly end up being a mistake. The grapes are rather fiddly, and you’ll see that once the edge is on this leaf, I will have created some stitching obstacles to working the grapes.
2. I added some long & short stitch between the two overlapping grapes, thinking that there would be some visible background there.
In fact, this is totally unnecessary and will only get in the way later.
The moral of the story: think about the background elements carefully. What are they made of? What stitching techniques are involved? Will stitching the foreground elements (in this case, the grapes) become problematic if the background elements are already in place?
Here’s the finished long & short stitch on the leaf. The vein in the center looks a bit wobbly. No worries – that’s going to be covered up with a heavily beaded line, so I didn’t really sweat a perfect line for the vein.
And here’s the lattice worked over the long & short stitch.
At this point, I’ll admit, I was a little disappointed. I Really Liked the long & short stitch on the leaf (not to mention, it took ten forevers to get it done!), and I felt like I had just put it behind bars, where it could no longer be seen to its full advantage.
But this is The Thing: you can never get the full sense of an embroidered design element, until the whole thing is finished. Seeing it in parts just doesn’t show the whole picture. Best to wait before making any definitive decisions on likes and dislikes!
With the leaf finished, I started on the beady stem, and all went well enough up to this point in the photo above.
And then I somehow lost my slant, and the vein became thicker than I wanted and went sort of weird on me.
When I finished it to this point, I contemplated picking it out and starting it over.
The red lines above indicate a more reasonable slant on the bead lines on the vein. And even then, with the slant somewhat corrected, the lines are still a bit close and heavy.
The inner vein could have been much lighter and a little more airy, if I had slanted the bead lines a bit more and had spaced them out a little bit.
Alas, I didn’t.
To remove, or not to remove? That is the question!
I opted not to remove – at least, not just yet. Picking out those little bead lines that were worked over some pretty dense long & short stitch (and lattice stitching) could end up making a real mess. I decided to go forward and see the finished leaf first.
And so, onwards to finish the leaf!
The edges are two lines of beads, the dark line worked right against the long & short stitch edge, and the lighter one worked slightly outside the dark edge. Outside the light line of beads, evenly spaced French knots finish the edge into something really pretty.
The whole leaf edge is not complete at this point – the incomplete line on the upper left in the photo above is awaiting the long & short stitch leaf that extends from the edge of this leaf. I’ll work the French knots on that line on top of the other leaf.
I love this leaf now that it’s finished. I think it was an inspired design combination on Hazel’s part.
And sure, the center vein is still somewhat heavy and odd, but it isn’t that noticeable in the scheme of the whole leaf, and it doesn’t bother me enough to want to pick it out.
There are a couple problem spots that will definitely come into play when the grapes are underway. No doubt about it! But we’ll cover that later, when the grapes are all finished and we’ll chat about how they could have been avoided.
In the meantime, though, I really enjoyed working this leaf. I love the way the lattice over the long and short stitch looks, and I love the combination of elements on the outline.
So, that’s my project update so far. I hope whatever you’re stitching on is moving along for you, too, and that you’re enjoying it as much as I’m enjoying Late Harvest!
Have a Totally Terrific Tuesday!
More on Long & Short Stitch
If you’d like to learn a little bit about long & short stitch shading, or polish up the technique, you can find a whole series of lessons on long & short stitch shading right here on Needle ‘n Thread.