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Design and Stitch Decisions for the Background

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14 June 2010

Design and Stitch Decisions for the Background

I’ve decided against stitching the entire background.
Instead, I’m doing two sections of the design – symmetrically opposite sections.
Here it is on one side, coloured in red.
It’s a pity I couldn’t do a second print of this image, play around with paper and sticky tape, and show you the whole piece with both sections highlighted, so you could see how they reflected each other.
But my printer isn’t working atm. (dead printer head)
Below is a photo of the entire piece. You can see the second large pearl rose drawn in just right of the centre – the bird is between it and the first, finished large pearl rose on the left. These are the most distinguishable features.
And extending from the unfinished large pearl rose, another long stem and a small rose at the end of it, mirroring the design on the left.
Strawberries are at the end of the design, same as at the other, finished end.
The remaining unfinished flowers, insects and leaves are …. all sorts of things. They are all different to the finished ones and will explore more Elizabethan techniques.
I’ve decided to do this partial background, even tho I’ve never seen an Elizabethan extant piece have something similar.
a) because I think it’ll look pretty
b) really, because I’m only managed 2 or 3 lines every 2 or 3 nights, so it’s going to take me ages.
This is what I’ve done so far of this partial background :
So the ‘dome with ears’ will be filled in, down to touch the edge of the big pearl rose. I’ll fill in the oval with the single strawberry right at the top as well.
I’m using a silver/grey DMC cotton thread – 3 strands. (after a bit of experimentation to see how many strands fitted through the holes the best)
I’m having a little trouble with the tension, which is surprising, since I’ve done a fair bit of Bargello work. Perhaps because it’s on fine linen? There’s one line that really should come out, but it’s right in the middle.
The Stitch I’m using :-
A bit of background ……
“Inherently strong, the tent stitch was used to imitate woven tapestry by working it evenly across each intersection of the canvas. Tent stitch looks like half of a cross-stitch and is an excellent choice for designs on seat cushions, kneeling pillows, etc.”
from Canvaswork by Isela de Bari
“There are 3 types of tent stitch done during the period:
  • Half Cross
  • Basketweave
  • Continental
The greatest problem in using tent stitch is the tendency to create a noticeable directional slant, especially in large pieces. As a result, finished textiles such as the BRADFORD TABLE CARPET are noticeably slanted rather than being a perfect rectangle.
All three stitches look the same on the front, but different on the back.”
(Unfortunately, I’ve lost the reference to the above notes)
clip_image001 Half Cross stitches are worked in rows from left to right.
clip_image001[1] Continental stitches are worked in rows from right to left.
clip_image001[2] Basketweave stitches are worked in diagonal rows.
……Basketweave creates very little distortion of the canvas unless too much tension has been placed on the stitches. ……
Basketweave is the preferred stitch for both large and small areas.
from Introduction to Canvas Work - Tent Stitches
by Sue Kerndt and Ann Caswell

Now, …….
Encroaching Gobelin Stitch was actually the stitch recommended to me to use for the background by Baroness Eowyn Amberdrake, and Yvette Stanton.
At this point I need to refer you to Eowyn’s article
Sweet Canvaswork to read the information there about Encroaching Gobelin stitch.
I spoke to her about the article and she noted
“I went and reread the Filium article on sweet bags that I wrote -- the editor had differentiated the diagrams by making one gray and one red. The red one is the historical method - the gray one is the modern method. But the words don't say that.”
Now, encroaching gobelin stitch has the same advantage as basketweave tent stitch – because of the way it is stitched, it causes the least distortion of the canvas.
Yvette Stanton’s Left Hander’s Companion (which I highly recommend to every left hander) includes the stitch, so I was all set.
Unfortunately, the stitch method defeated me.
It was the skipping a thread (on fine linen) each time, counting the holes so often, and adjusting the stitch to work around the motifs.
Not that it was un-doable, but it wasn’t the ‘brainless, restful, do-while-I’m-very-slowly-recovering” sort of stitch that I wanted to do. I had to think while I was doing it, and I didn’t want that!
So I chose to do Half Cross Tent Stitch. I don’t think it will distort the canvas since I’m only doing two relatively small areas.
I would have had to do Encroaching Gobelin stitch if I had done the entire background to avoid distortion.

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Blogger Constance said...

Oh WOW, sampler is looking fantastic. So very very detailed!

I havn't used tent stitch myself, so i will be very interested to see how it comes along.

Anyway. I would love to have a more detailed look at your references but i have my exam tomorrow *cringe* so best get back to carbohydrate metabolism...

Good luck!!!

Glad you are making some more progress :-)


Monday, June 14, 2010  
Blogger Elmsley Rose said...

Thankyou :-)

Monday, June 14, 2010  
Blogger Liadain said...

I totally love this piece. It's happy! :-D

Monday, June 14, 2010  
Blogger SilkLover said...

Good information to know, Megan! I thought that if the fabric was mounted (stretcher bars, slate frame, etc,) then the tent stitch wouldn't distort as much. I'm curious now and will have to look it up.

I like the gray backgrund area. It seems to really pick up the other designs and emphasize their qualities more than not having it.

Monday, June 14, 2010  
Anonymous Rachel said...

I think it is developing nicely, and on stretcher bars you shouldn't get too much distortion even if you were to work a solid background..

Tuesday, June 15, 2010  
Blogger Machteld said...

it's so beautiful, good luck with the rest of it!!!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010  
Blogger Donna said...

This is an impressive project! Amazing.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010  
Anonymous Yvette Stanton said...

Nah, sorry, I don't think I was one who suggested encroaching gobelin... I thought that if basketweave tent stitch was too hard to sort out, then encroaching gobelin would give you no more joy than it! Figuring out the overlap can be a pain in the neck at the best of times, but when you are also unwell and have a baseline of pain, it just gets that much harder. I think you've made a good choice of stitch.


Saturday, June 19, 2010  

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