stitches

Final Crewel Filling Stitches

Crewel Sampler - Final Stitches

Almost finished! Above you’ll see my finished cloud filling stitch section (such a happy stitch!) and that I’ve started filling the last two stitches. (Also that I’ve somehow managed to pull the weave all out of whack in one area – not sure what’s up with that.)

I’ve started filling that littlest section with burden stitch, which is a fun way to make a gradient effect – lemme show you how to do that!

First, you’ll lay down horizontal lines across the area – including the very top and bottom border! Make sure they’re evenly spaced; mine are about 1/8″ apart. Now, keep in mind here that these lines will not be fully covered up. This thread will show through the rest of your stitching, so make sure it’s a color you’ll be happy with later. For this section, I will use my white, light pink, and fuchsia threads – in that order – over these lines. So light pink should (fingers crossed) work pretty well to help tie the three colors together.

Crewel Sampler - Final Stitches

Then, starting in the middle with my middle color (light pink), I’ll work one long stitch starting just above one horizontal line –

Crewel Sampler - Final Stitches

over one line, and then back down just before the next one. So each stitch will pass over one horizontal line – does that make sense? To start, you’ll actually work two rows at once, so place your next stitch nice and snuggled up to your first, but covering the horizontal line above the one you just worked over. Alternate in this way all across the first two rows, then you can work one row at a time with your stitches nestled neatly into the spaces left open by the previous row.

Crewel Sampler - Final Stitches

After I finish this fourth row in light pink, I will fill in the rows above it with white, and the rows below it with fuchsia. Can you see how that will work as a gradient, with the light pink horizontal stitches peeking through? I don’t see why you couldn’t do those first stitches in the same colors you’ll top them with, so that the areas are more solid, but that sounds like a pain in the ass. We’ll see how this looks once I start using the white and fuchsia threads.

So the last section then! Well, I really did want to make a feature out of this large area, but everything I considered seemed too heavy or too fussy to look right there. I knew I’d have to use the fuchsia thread there to tie it all together but how to keep that from just drowning everything else out?! I’ve decided on a double cross stitch filling, laid out into a pattern itself:

Crewel Sampler - Final Stitches

I drew a large trellis pattern, lines a full inch apart, and I’m placing double cross stitches along those lines – which are worked exactly like they look. Like an asterisk, made of four straight stitches. It doesn’t matter much what order you work those straight stitches in, but do it the same each time for a nice clean look. I might work more than just that trellis, but I haven’t decided yet. You can also just fill the area randomly with double cross stitches, that would be lovely as well.

When all of this is finished, I’ll work a simple outline around the whole thing and along each border line – probably in my dark blue thread, maybe in split stitch or chain stitch – and that’ll be it! I’ll show you my finished crewel filling sampler at the end of the week!

Sampler #6: First Crewel Filling Stitch

Crewel Filling Stitches - Sampler #6

I’ve been doing a lot of research about what really constitutes a crewel filling stitch (other than long-and-short stitch / shading as a solid filling, which is not included here) and here’s what I’ve learned: most of them are really just combinations of other stitches and there’s no, say, ‘directory’ of them. If you look at historical Jacobean crewelwork, the same combos sort of repeat endlessly but with minor differences.

I’m working up a little chart (above, looking very professional and official indeed) of what stitches I’ll put where, but the most common combination in old pieces seems to be the use of couching to make a simple lattice, then french knots, cross stitches, or detached chains to fill the spaces. This is what you think of when you picture crewelwork filling, am I right?

Crewel Filling Stitches - Sampler #6

So that seems like a good place to start! Here’s a basic tutorial for how to work this sort of filling:

First things first. To start and end a thread in crewelwork, you will make a few teeeensy (just a millimeter or two) stitches in a nearby area that you will cover later. In our case, that will be along the borders between each section. Make a single knot at the end of your thread and go down into your fabric through the top, so that the knot sits on a line. Then take two or three little wee stitches on the line before starting to stitch your section. When you’ve done just a bit to make sure all is secure, you can go ahead and carefully snip that knot off. (This is also called a ‘waste knot’, by the way.) The little stitches will stay there and be covered up later on; you can start this way in any area that you know will be completely covered later. In the photo above, you can see one knot that still needs to be snipped off and my other starting stitches sitting along the other border lines.

I’ve chosen three thread colors (the two brighter colors are actually very slightly different shades, to give a bit of subtle depth). First we make a lattice with long, straight stitches:

Crewel Filling Stitches - Sampler #6

This isn’t quite as easy as it sounds, as the overall look really does depend on getting your lattice squares as even as you possibly can. Honestly, I’m not really happy with the evenness of my first couple of rows there, but I seem to be getting better as I go. A tip (shown above): to help get a straight and evenly spaced line, hold your thread down across where you want it to lay and insert your needle at the end point.

Crewel Filling Stitches - Sampler #6

Once you’ve filled your space with lattice, you’ll tack down each intersection with a little stitch (in a new color, if you like). Again, this is a little trickier than it looks! You want the tacking stitch to be very small, but not so close to the lattice threads that it effects the straightness of the lattice lines. This will take a few before you get a feel for how long and close this stitch should be.

Then stick a french knot in the middle of each square – or whatever you like, really – and that’s the first block of this sampler filled!

These french knots are killing me! Or, update from my Tulip Field French Knot Sampler.

French Knot Tulip Field Sampler - update

So. You may have noticed it’s September now. Pretty much not August anymore. And I haven’t finished my french knot sampler. Second sampler into my Sampler-A-Month project and I have failed.

Sigh.

Or at least, that’s how my brain really wants to see it, but I’m trying to let that go. The completist / rule follower in me wants to say that it somehow doesn’t “count” right if I didn’t finish in a month. And then the rest of me goes: what the crap are you talking about?! This is a project you made up, there’s no rules!! Dummy. (The rest of me is sometimes harsh for my own good.) Do you ever do this to yourself?

Yeah, I didn’t make it this one in one month. I wanted to do other stuff during my week-and-a-half off, so I lost too much time in August with no sampler progress, and then some real life stuff interfered. Whaddya gonna do? I have to admit, I haven’t been so crazy about my color choices either, which made me a bit annoyed with the whole project, so I might’ve been avoiding it a bit. The last two sections will both be pink in different shades. I’m hoping that’ll bring a little zest to the color scheme.

French Knot Tulip Field Sampler - update

I’ve got about two-and-a-half french knot sections to go now, and a lot of other stuff to get done in September, so it probably works out ok that I’ll now take the rest of this month to finish this. I’m still going to do 12 samplers. It just might take me 13 months now. So what, self? It’s totally fine, shuddup. I have already learned two things with this one though: to keep the samplers small enough to be realistic for that month’s plans, and that doing this many french knots without a milliner’s needle will take about a hundred times the amount of time and frustration than just using one.

So people, for goodness’ sake, get yourself some milliner’s needles. You’ll thank me later.

Tools & Toys Tuesday: Milliner’s Needles, yay!

Tools & Toys Tuesday

Thanks very much for your thoughts on Milliner’s Needles – I switched to a larger needle and *whoa*, it was like a whole new thing. As advertised, it made french knot angst a thing of the past! Seriously, every knot is so much easier (and less annoying!) than before, and my progress sped up a millionfold. You can see the needle I ended up using above – the hugemongous one is the milliner’s needle, the teeny one is a normal embroidery needle. It’s like embroidering with a spear! If you’ve ever had trouble with french knots, definitely give these a go.

Tools & Toys Tuesday

Here’s my progress so far – erm, with 4 days to go, is it likely that I’ll finish before the end of the month? Yeah, not so much. But I’ll give it a sporting try!

FO: Garden Path Sampler

Garden Path Sampler

Things are starting to gradually get back to normal-ish here at Button HQ – I’m still exhausted and there’s still a lot going on, but I’m trying to get things caught up and back to my normal routine. Over the last few weeks, I haven’t managed to finish much of anything (in fact, I mostly just did a tiny bit of everything, resulting in a pile of projects that now all need finishing at once, but I’ll show you some of those over the week) but I did take a couple of days to sit quietly with my Garden Path Sampler.

I hope some of you stitched along with us, and if so, pretty please go head over to &Stitches and leave a link in the comments or post a photo in the Flickr pool. It’s been so awesome to watch people work on the same project, and even more than most -alongs, this one really let people’s own styles and personalities really come out. I love all of them!

Garden Path Sampler

For my sampler, I used (from left ’round the garden to right): arrow stitch, sheaf filling stitch, seeding, granito stitch, detached wheatear stitch, cross-stitches, and ermine stitch. I used all detached stitches and played with how they are positioned and the scale of each stitch, keeping some tiny, some large, for contrast.

Garden Path Sampler

The dividing lines are (again, left to right): coral stitch, chain stitch, back stitch, stem stitch, split stitch, Portuguese stem stitch. My whole garden is fenced in by back stitched chain stitch (say that 10 times fast).

Garden Path Sampler

I know it sounds like self-promotion, since I’m part of the team that brought you the Garden Path Sampler in the first place, but I honestly loved this project SO. MUCH. I really can’t get over how much I enjoyed it and how happy I was that it gave me a legitimate excuse to have yet another WIP for a bit, because I just love samplers so so so much. I don’t know why, I just love seeing those stitches look so pretty on their own, just being themselves.

Garden Path Sampler

In fact, this project has inspired me to start a new, BIG, long-term project. I’ll tell you about it very, very soon!

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