The Dragon is Done
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.
I 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.
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.