QUESTIONS ON THE LEAVES

Questions about my current project are popping in. I’ll try to answer the ones so far. Feel free to send more.

First, a progress shot:

As you can see, I’ve established the border on the second long side of the piece. I still have not decided on whether or not there will be wide borders along the short sides. That decision probably won’t occur until I have to advance the piece on the rollers of my roller frame. Right now the ground cloth’s center is (more or less) at the center of the exposed working area.

On to the questions.

How do you get the design onto the fabric?

I don’t. This is a counted style. I have a paper pattern that shows my repeat, graphed up into a grid. I look at that, then replicate the design on my cloth, using each group of 2×2 threads as my graph grid. It’s just a matter of looking left, seeing “Five stitches in line straight, then one diagonal to the left, then three straight left,” and stitching it.

As I work I constantly check back and forth to make sure that the newly stitched pieces are on target – true to the count of the design. To do that I tend not to work out on a long lead. I try to work adjacent areas so I can check them against each other as I go. For example on this design, I’ll confirm that the ed

My teacher told me that I always need to baste in an even grid before I start a large charted project. Why haven’t you done that?

Because I don’t need to. I do have basted lines that indicate the edges and center point of the area I will be stitching, but I tease them out and clip them as I go along to keep them out of my way. I’ve never used a fully gridded ground with guidelines basted in every ten or twenty stitches apart. I’m comfortable working that way, although I know that others need more alignment aids than I do.

Will you be making this available as a chart or kit?

Not as such. This leafy design will be included in my (ever) forthcoming book, The Second Carolingian Modelbook. (News of that book’s publication will be here on String first). But I won’t be issuing a project chart or kit for this piece.

What thread are you using?

I’m using the vintage “art silk” floss I bought in India. I wish it were real silk, but we do with what we have. One nice thing about it – it’s very fine, and presents much like finger spun if stitched closely.

For the green double-running stitch, I am using two strands of this floss, heavily waxed. For the satin stitch, I am using three strands, unwaxed. The stuff is a bit unruly, and keeping the satin stitch even and smooth is much harder than establishing the design in double running.

What’s the count of your ground?

It’s an 40-count evenweave 100% linen, stash aged. I’m not sure where/when I got it, but I dug it out from the bottom of the pile, so it wasn’t a recent purchase. I’m working over 2×2 threads, so that works out to about 20 stitches per inch. But I think there’s a minute variance in count north-south vs. east-west, so it’s probably more like 20 spi x 19.5 spi.

What will this be when you are done?

A monument to the time it took to stitch.

Seriously, while I had originally thought it would make a nifty pillow for our sofa, complementing the room’s colors and being a different finishing treatment from yet-another-wall-hanging. However, I’ve decided against that. The art silk in satin stitch is too friable, prone to snags and catches. The thought of throwing myself on the sofa and having the rivets of my jeans play havoc with those shiny, smooth bits is a harsh reality check. This will probably end up on my walls, like so many of my other pieces.

5 responses

  1. Thanks for sharing so much detail of your process with us. It’s a beautiful piece and I love the splashes of colour. I admire your patience with the counted work – I find it so easy to make mistakes with counting (probably why I’m a disastrous knitter) and so I always find working ‘blind’ very slow. Good luck with the rest of this lovely work.

    1. I make lots of mistakes. And then I exercise the limits of my family-safe vocabulary when I pick them out and redo. 🙂

  2. Hi Kim, you are probably sick of being asked, but is your new book any nearer being available? It seems like years ago I said I would rather have your book than have sex with my husband! Also are you able to re-publish the first book at all? I looked recently online to purchase it but the prices were way out of my league. Love your stitching and the detail you go in to, am addicted to these black-work type patterns, the more intricate the better. Thank you and all the best, Jules

    1. Thanks for the kind words. I know it’s glacial, but I have made progress in the last couple of months. All of the content is written, and all of the graphics and photos are composed. The doc has been compiled and formatted. And I may have found a way to keep the per-volume price reasonable. (I hope.)

      In addition, while I was roadblocked on T2CM’s final prep, I composed a full sequel to Ensamplario Atlantio. That series is mostly original designs, without write-ups on sourcing or citation. It contains borders and shirt yokes in addition to the diapered/all over designs. I may use it as a “pilot test” for the pub methods I will be using for the other, larger and more complex book.

      I know it’s asking a lot from everyone who’s been waiting so long, but please stay tuned. I will announce availability of both here on String.

      1. Hi Kim, that’s GREAT NEWS ! Am so looking forward to all the coming patterns and details and research, and really appreciate all the hard work you are putting in. Absolutely love what you do with your skills in needlework, and though I am not a knitter, can still appreciate the work, patience and dedication that goes in to it. Thanks for getting in touch, all the best from UK, Jules

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