The Dragon is Done

Tanya's Dragon - finished
I’ve been staying at my father’s place this weekend. A very pleasant weekend. Eating curry, going for walks in the sunshine, doing a few odd jobs and errands for Dad – and putting the last few stitches into the dragon.

I’ve made some minor changes to the detail stitching from Tanya’s original design. Things that seemed to suit the colours I’d chosen and the personality that my dragon was developing. When a piece of embroidery starts telling me what it wants done, I usually listen. The main change was re-drawing the eye. I’m pretty pleased with the way it came out. I learnt a lot, too. I didn’t really take to split-stitch as a technique, but I was definitely getting much better at it by the end.

Last post I mentioned that I’d talk about the materials this time. The fabric is linen or a linen/cotton mixture – there’s a lovely flax smell when you press it, but it is quite soft and not as eager to crease as most linen. It was a tea towel from Shrewsbury market a few months ago. The weave is fairly close: I did a rough thread count and found it about 44 x 38 to the inch. It took the yarn well, without puckering. I used a size 20 chenille needle for all the stitching.

The yarn was fine acrylic machine-knitting yarn – two-ply, and very similar in weight to Appleton’s crewel. (As I’ve mentioned before, using wool was out, because of my stupidly sensitive skin.) The story of the yarn started two and a half years ago, when striped scarves were the in thing.

the scarf - beforeI bought this one from The Works discount store. Not because I wanted it as a scarf – I’d already got three striped scarves, all much better looking than this one, it was an ugly mix of colours. I thought I might be able to use the fine yarns on my stitched boxes. A cheap way to get a variety of shades. So I sat there one evening and carefully dismembered the entire scarf, filling a plastic carrier bag with little balls of somewhat crinkled yarns.

the scarf - deconstruction


Here it is in mid-unravel. I felt a bit guilty at pulling this scarf to pieces, although it was very cheap. I took these photos as a record of my destructive evening. (But it was fun, it was great fun!)

Since when, of course, I have had this bag sitting there in my stash, waiting for me to actually get around to doing something with those little balls. Guilt, guilt, guilt….

Most of the colours in the bag are not very ‘medieval’, but there was just enough yarn in suitable shades to work Tanya’s dragon design. For the yellow, orange and blue sections, I used two slightly different shades together when I was working with two strands, to add a little more life to the colours and also to make sure that I didn’t run out of yarn. Obviously, I could only use one colour at a time for the detailed work, and there was only one suitable green for the green section. I used a very pale green for the highlights, simply because I didn’t have any white – and that worked out well, too. I was very pleased with how the acrylic performed (especially considering it had already been knitted up and teased apart again). Only the very pale green was ‘difficult’ – it was a bit softer and frailer than the other yarns and I could only use very short lengths at a time.

There’s a Flickr group for photos from people taking part in Tanya’s stitch-along, and you can see how the dragons are progressing here. One design, but a lot of variety. I’m really grateful to Tanya Bentham for taking the time and trouble to organise this project for us. I hope she’s enjoying seeing all the little dragons taking shape as much as I am.




11 Responses to “The Dragon is Done”

  1. BEAUTIFUL!! Thanks for sharing this. I’m anxious to try this adorable dragon. So lovely to see it done so well. Congratulations. -Cindy

  2. Ooh, you’ve made him look much more fierce!

  3. Elmsley Rose Says:

    He’s lovely!

    • suetortoise Says:

      Thanks, Megan. Are you going to have a go at Tanya’s dragon, now you’ve finished Mr Topsell?

      • Elmsley Rose Says:

        I’d love to do Tanya’s dragon, especially having seen yours (and I used your link to see the others in the Flickr group) – but the local members of the thistle thread casket course have set a challenge to finish the trinket box by Christmas. That’s embroidering the sides then finishing onto a small box provided for the purpose. I’m up to side 3, 2 to go. And the finishing. Maybe next year?

      • suetortoise Says:

        That’s why I’ll only be doing this guy for now – there’s just too much else to get done for deadlines. I’ll get to watch the other design progressing on the Flickr group, though, so I might well be tempted once I’m got more stitching time.

      • Elmsley Rose Says:

        Too many ideas, too many projects, never enough time 🙂

  4. I’m impressed at your dismemberment of the scarf. I’m not sure I’d even know where to begin!

    He does look as though he would know his own mind and tell you what he wanted…

  5. Wow. What a beautiful piece.

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