It’s been quite a while!
I didn’t mean to stay silent for so long, but life has had other plans. Let me start with a quick update on my father’s health. Dad came home from hospital in March. He’s not so mobile now – he can’t walk – but he’s recently got an oxygen machine, which helps with his breathing, and he’s started working on his computer programming again, and showing some interest in life. My sister has been staying with him to help him. I took over for ten days at Easter, to give her a brief break, and I am usually there on Saturdays, so she can go out, but Frances has done the lion’s share of the caring and I don’t know how I’d have coped without her.
I went through a long bout of depression in March and April – I’m only slowly getting my energy and creativity back now. Embroidery is one of the best ways I know of calming myself, so having a carry-around piece is essential. It also keeps me occupied while ‘Dad-sitting’ and on train trips to and from his house.
At the beginning of March, the Needleprint website had a batch of sampler charts for sale. You can see them all here. I bought them. The first I have worked is a long narrow band sampler in pattern darning, based on Dutch sampler motifs, called Those Darned Birds. It’s available as a kit from The Sampler Guild. I wanted to use materials from my stash, so I worked in Anchor #8 pearl cotton rather than two strands of stranded cotton, and on 28-count linen, rather than 40-count – but with each unit of the pattern worked over one thread, rather than the two shown on the chart. That made the width narrower, and by leaving off the top three sections of the pattern, I got it to fit onto my fabric.
Working over one rather than two threads required a little wangling at times, when changing direction, but it worked surprisingly well. One of the bands didn’t ‘read’ and had to be replaced with a simpler band, but that was all. I want to add another very narrow band at the bottom. I am still thinking about what to do there. Then it will be finished.
The chart that most attracted me was a Permin chart of a Dutch sampler from 1663. I’ll talk more about this interesting sampler in a later post, when I have got further with the part that I am stitching. It is a huge, huge design, so I’m just working the strip of band patterns at the left of the sampler, rather than copying the whole thing. Being me, of course, I had to do it ‘my way’: I am not working it over two threads on 32 count, as suggested, but over 1 thread on 30 count. I am using 2 strands of Devere Yarns 06 flat silk, which I love – again, with colours from my stash. I am also extending the bands so that the repeating patterns show up more clearly. This is very fiddly stitching: an average square inch has about 500 little cross stitches, but it is teaching me a lot about how to work over one thread of fabric. There’s a close-up at the top of the page.
A few days ago, I went exploring in our local branch of Simon Boyd’s furnishing material emporium, and came out with some rather nice mercerised cotton fabric. It proved to be 26-count and is easy stitch on. It’s a sturdy fabric, but not too closely-woven to count. Here’s a try-out piece mounted as a greeting card.
The thread here is an eBay purchase of rayon thread that the seller had bought for upholstery tassel making. It is nearly the same thickness as pearl cotton #8 but sits flatter on the fabric. The pattern is a traditional blackwork sprig. I originally tried to get it central in the square but found I preferred it offset. What do you think? Here’s a test piece, with an attempt at central placing and some thread try-outs
So there we are. Thanks to all of you who sent good wishes to my father, and to me. We are both still here, so maybe you did some good – we were really touched by your kindness.
If there are any topics – particularly embroidery-related topics – that you would like me to talk about on Tortoise Loft, or you want to ask a question, please let me know. No guarantees, but I will do my best.