Crewel Shading Sampler Progress (and so happy!)

Crewel Shading Progress

Much, MUCH better now. This project was bumming me out last week, but we’re much happier together now. I’m loving this crewel stitching so so much, it’s all I can think about!

The shades are still not showing great in photographs, but I did fix the first heart (the lighter blues) by bringing the lighter shade down further and treating it like a two-color heart. And since this is a sampler, it actually worked out ok to see how to work two-color shading in a shape, and how to deal with a thread color surprise on the fly. I’ve included the photo below, despite the nighttime-lighting awfulness, because it actually shows the shading in that first heart better than any of the daytime photos I’ve taken:

Crewel Shading Progress

The next blue heart, with three darker shades, worked just like it was meant to (shown below in progress). This one I shaded from top to bottom with no curves, and it was an absolute joy to stitch!

Crewel Shading Progress

Now I’m starting the third heart in soft peach-y shades, which I kind of suspect will be very, very close to each other but hopefully different enough to be visible. I’m quite addicted to this sampler now, I expect to be finished by next Monday, so only slightly behind schedule!

Shading Sampler update

Crewel Shading Sampler Progress

Oh, dear. It’s the 22nd already and this is all I’ve done?? Yikes. This is starting to look like one of those samplers I don’t finish in a month!

More importantly, this is all I’ve done and I’m really unhappy. Can you see what’s happened?

Although I chose consecutive numbers on the Appletons’ color card, these shades haven’t really worked out quite right. The bottom two shades (darkest and middle) do look right in the skein, but in stitch-reality, they are too close to each other and blend far too well. There is no real difference. And then the lightest shade did the opposite, taking a large jump, so it doesn’t blend so much as just overlap. Oy vey.

Crewel Shading Sampler Progress

(These aren’t great photos, I know, but the color difference showed better in lower light. And the truth is, the difference / non-difference is much worse in real life.)

Totally figures it’d be on the first heart I filled, making sure to crush my mojo for the rest of the sampler – but it does do a nice job illustrating the technique I’m attempting. You can see how my stitches are attempting to blend. If the shades were closer, you’d get a subtle effect so each single stitch wouldn’t stand out.

If this had been for a more formal project, I’d have stitch-tested my shades on a scrap before committing to them. As it is, I’ll probably have to treat this as a two-color heart and bring that lightest shade down to try for a more gradual / gentle blend. I’m not sure if that’ll actually work, but I do know that I cannot continue to work on this at night, which was part of my problem working on this first heart. This shading absolutely needs natural light!

Crewel Shading Sampler – First Heart

Crewel Shading Sampler

Alrighty then, here I go with my crewel shading! I’ve outlined each heart in split stitch, and you can see above that I’ve penciled in arrows to show shading and stitching direction. You’ll see that on most I’ve also divided the shape into three parts – this will help guide me on where to start blending into the next shade.

Now, full disclosure: I have done a little bit of crewel shading before – a little, little bit. Once at a Royal School of Needlework workshop, where I learned the basics of this type of shading, and a little on a big project I will be showing you soon. So I’m familiar with the basics, but haven’t done enough to feel good at it.

Crewel Shading Sampler

I’m stitching the first in the most obvious shading direction – from tip up to the top, working with the curves. As I described in my &Stitches tutorial, the first wave of stitches cover and tuck around the lower outline, then the following stitches work up by coming up through the previous ones.

Crewel Shading Sampler

I’ve filled up to the the first color line-ISH – can you see it peeping through behind those stitches? Some of my stitches go past it, some stop short of it. That’s the whole long-and-short part of long-and-short stitch. Now I will switch to my middle shade and some of those stitches will go below the line, blending the sections.

Crewel Shading Sampler

Around this ‘blending line’, I won’t work with just one shade at a time – I’ll have both shades threaded and just stitch with both here and there until the shift is even and smooth. If you’re stitching along, I know that doesn’t really seem helpful, since I haven’t shown the shading in progress yet, but it’s kind of one of those things that you have to work yourself and see happen.

Give it a go and if you get into trouble, I’ll show you more next Monday!

Sampler #7 – Planning Crewel Shading

Crewel Shading Sampler - Materials

Oy vey, I’m running late this month! But that’s ok, this one will be small. Actually, you might notice my samplers getting progressively smaller, as I try to be more realistic about what I can actually get done in a month – and still have time for anything else! This is something I’m trying to do more of in all areas of my daily life, I’m learning that I am a seriously chronic over-estimater.

Anyway, so above you’ll see that I’m getting ready to start Sampler #7 (halfway done with my Year of Samplers, woohoo!) – though I haven’t really planned much out. As I explained last week, this sampler will be all about long-and-short stitch shading, which is pretty much vital in crewelwork. But coming up with a ‘design’, such as it is, has proven incredibly difficult.

This is the general idea: I’ll make four shapes (to go with my four groups of threads) and shade those in different directions. This should give me a lot of practice in how to work with the thread shades and blend them to get the effect I want, etc. The thing is, the obvious / most common use of crewel shading is in leaves and flower petals. But I don’t want to stitch those as a sampler because that messes with my rules of what a sampler is – and anyway, four petals shaded in different directions would look quite odd.

So, that leaves me with the idea of four simple shapes, preferably rounded shapes because shading curves and direction are things I definitely want to practice. I’ve decided to go with hearts to mirror the fabric I’m using (which, by the way, is a poor quality linen fabric from my stash that I’d like to use up. I’m going to use it doubled to give it enough strength to hold the crewelwork). My four hearts will meet with points together at the middle, and I’ll keep them quite small – maybe about 1.5″ tall. This is my Incredibly Official Design Plan:

Very Official Sampler Plan

If you’d like to stitch along, feel free to pick any four shapes of your liking and arrange them however you please! The only thing I’ll do before the next post is outline each shape using split stitch in the middle shade of each color group. No movement on that one, it has to be split stitch. If you are stitching along, you might read the Long-and-Short Stitch tutorial I previously wrote for &Stitches, which also (coincidentally, I swear!) uses a heart. That’s essentially what I’ll be doing here, but blending shades as I go and changing stitch directions. Don’t do anything beyond outlining yet ’cause we still need to plan the shading, but give it a scan so you get the general idea if you’ve never done any long-and-short stitch before!

(By the way, I’m going to get back to doing sampler posts on Mondays, so they don’t take over all the posting all the time! If you hate these samplers, feel free to skip Monday posts; if you can’t get enough, be sure to stop by at the beginning of each week!)