Saturday, August 29, 2020

Trapped in isolation or An excuse to create

I haven't blogged in ages. I've almost forgotten how. I haven't done much tatting, mostly because I've been doing a lot of embroidery. Back before Christmas I wanted to embroider a floral picture to hang on the wall. I love embroidery almost as much as I love tatting, but when it comes to making something to hang on the wall, I just think embroidery is a better medium. 

I embroidered a series of butterflies thinking that I'd do enough for a quilt working each one in about an 8 inch square which is fine for a quilt. After I'd done a few of them I ran out of patterns for butterflies and decided that I'd frame them instead but 8x8 is an odd picture frame size so THAT didn't work out. 

This time, I used a 7x9 picture frame I already had and sized the printout to fit the frame. I ran out of the cream colour fabric I'd been using a did this one on white instead, which I didn't like as much. The small bouquet of roses and lilies turned out pretty good and I decided to do a floral series of 5 pictures that I could frame and hang as a grouping. 

Having already run into the picture frame sizing issue, I thought I'd be smart and buy the frames first and size the pictures to fit the frame. Then I needed to make a trip out to the fabric store, which is kind of out of the way, for more fabric. From my years of doing petit point I have a 30 drawer case of various colours and shades of embroidery thread. Just about the time the pandemic hit I had my fabric, embroidery thread, and frames all collected up so that I could start sewing. All I needed was patterns. 

When planning for several pictures where I wanted to be able to blend shadings of colour I was restricted to large flowers. I love lilacs, but they're a collection of teeny tiny flowers which aren't easy to depict in thread. That meant that my search for pictures was restricted to real not fantasy flowers and to flowers with large individual petals. Some of the nicest pictures I found were for detailed single flowers but I wanted groupings. A lot of the flowers were cartoonish and a lot of them were shaded too much to make good embroidery outlines, but I finally found some I thought would work.

The first picture I did was a grouping of bearded iris which I chose because it let me use a variety of colours I think there are 26 different colours in this one and it's one of my favourites. The flowers were done in an outline stitch and I used mostly long and short stitch to blend the colours of the petals, with french knots for the "bearded" part. The stems and buds where done in satin stitch and the leaves used a couching stitch. I included a ruler in the picture for scale.

I chose not to completely fill in the leaves for a number of reasons. The lines gave them texture. They're boring. That's a lot of green. We're in lock down and the stores are closed, so I can't get more green thread and there's more flowers to sew.

A typical flower choice is roses, but I'd just done roses in the small picture so I went for peonies. The picture I selected to work from had 3 flowers and since peonies come in red, pink and white, I tried to work with pink and red. I needed at least 3 graduated shades of red and 6 of pink.The trouble with it was that I didn't really have enough shades of either the pinks or the reds to work with. I don't like how this picture turned out at all. I used outline stitch for some of the flowers and filled in a lot of the sections in satin stitch, and other sections in long and short stitch. Because I didn't have a lot of colour choices to work with I did some blending of colours using 1 strand of one shade paired with 2 strands of another. It sort of worked, but I don't really like the final result.

At this point I had a picture with purple blue and yellow and one with pink and red, and I didn't want to miss out anything in the colour palette, but I don't really care for yellows and greens. The greens would get picked up in the leaves, but I needed some yellow and orange. I didn't care for any of the images I found of sunflowers, which is why the next picture was tiger lilies and I like how this one turned out. I used 6 shades of orange, 3 light and 3 dark in long and short stitch with pale yellow for the stamens done in satin stitch and 3 shades of green for the stems and leaves also mostly satin stitch. The dots of brown are french knots and the brown pollen is done in boullion stitch.

I really like/love blue but there aren't a lot of flowers that fit my criteria in blue. There's a florist iris, but I'd already done an iris bouquet. There's columbine, but the flowers are smallish and they come with more leaves than flowers. Then I found this picture of clematis which seemed perfect. I used 6 shades of blue with yellow centres and 2 of green, making a point of using a yellow green instead of a blue green for the leaves. I didn't think it would turn out very good, but when it was finished it was one of my favourites.

For my 5th picture I wanted a floral grouping in multiple colours and tulips seemed a "made to order" choice. It let me use a lot of different colours, but I don't like the looks of it. I didn't have as great a selection of colours as I really needed and about the only store open during our isolation was WalMart, whose selection of colours was just as limited. Consequently the tulips look like balls of colour on sticks instead of like a pretty bouquet.

The flowers are done and stuffed in frames. They really need to be blocked before they can be hung, but my enthusiasm has waned since I'm unsatisfied with 2 of the 5 pictures. But here they are in a group.