Oh golly. I really wanted to show off some serious stitching today. But in fact, I ran into one of those road blocks this weekend, and I couldn’t muster the courage to plow through it or leap over it. I came to a halt.
Let’s take a look…
The main stem on the this very typical-looking Jacobean-esque design is … very typical-looking! It splits off in two directions, with a little stubby element towards the top flower, and the shoot-off that supports the top central flower in the design. The splits in the stem are fine. Pretty much any embroidery project that has a main stem can end up with splits in the stem, branching off to other areas of the design.
I marked out center lines on each section to cut up the stem a bit into manageable pieces that can be shaded differently (or not), depending on what the stitcher wants to do with the stem.
Shading will probably play a big part of this project, but I don’t want all the shading to be long & short stitch. Here, I’m incorporating stem stitch shading, which shows up in a heck of a lot of my projects. It’s a nice way to shade a slender, long element.
To shade with stem stitch, I usually work with three or four shades, and I blend two shades at a time in my needle between the solid colors. This way, I get a less stripy effect with the shading.
You can read more about stem stitch shading on stems here, if you’re not familiar with it.
Here, you can see the two splits in the main stem.
The one on the left gives the sense of a kind of stubby leafy thing. The one on the right travels up to the base of the main design element, which is a stylized floral sort of thingamabob.
This is all fine. None of it really bothers me. I know exactly where to go with it, if I’m just working a plain, shaded stem.
But I don’t want just a plain stem-stitch shaded stem. I want to work over the top of the shading with a contrasting line, using Silk Perlee, as you can see above.
The element naturally draws me to work these over-stitches in this V-shaped way. It makes sense. And at the base of the stem, it looks good (I think?).
But as I work up the stem, and things start splitting off and changing directions, you can see what the problem is going to be.
Everything in the red circled area muddles me.
I’ve worked this out on paper many times, and I still don’t have a pleasing way to manage the over-stitching without that area looking wonky and too busy.
This was my brick wall. I was really frustrated by it.
So I did what I always suggest people do when they meet with a frustrating obstacle that just won’t clear up for them.
I stepped away.
This morning, during the wee hours – I think I woke up at 3:00 am, and this was the first thing that popped into my head – an idea started to hazily develop. Of course, I couldn’t go back to sleep while it was rolling about in my head.
I tried to think of other things. Of boring things. I even tried to count sheep (which doesn’t work). But I kept coming back to the stem.
Finally, there emerged from the murk and cloud of my 3:00 AM sleepy brain, a feasible idea.
Guess what I’m going to do today? You betchya! I’ll finish the stem and try out my idea. Of course, I always have a fear that over-stitching on a shaded area can cause damage, especially if you have to pick out the overstitching.
And it’s true – it could cause damage if I were working with any other thread. But with Silk Perlee, which is naturally a bit slippy, the thread pulls right out without leaving any real evidence that it was ever there.
Oh, silk! I love you!
Next time we visit this project, hopefully I’ll be showing you the completed stem, solution and all.
Previous Articles on This Project
Just so you can see how long it takes for an idea to develop and actually work itself out (for me, anyway!), here’s a list of previous articles that have to do with this particular embroidery design:
Jacobean Whitework on Blue – The first time I started stitching this design (it’s been slightly modified since), I tried it in white threads on blue linen
Then I decided to start over with different threads and a different ground fabric
And I made a tiny bit of hesitant progress. I think at this point, I already knew I wasn’t going to like it.
The Trunk Again – and I changed my mind on the project again. I just wasn’t feeling it!
Changing the color palette, ground fabric, and threads – This is my switch to the new color palette I’m working with now. Much happier!
I’m sure there’s a lesson or two you can draw from all of this!
Have a wonderful Monday!
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