A bit of a challenge here, and almost like I invoked it through charms.

After making the big eyeball cushion and then these little crocheted cotton eyeball appliques abstracted from the big cushion, yesterday I was diagnosed with Shingles, and the point of invasion is around my left eye. It’s like I leaned out the window and yodeled the Elf Knight’s name. So summoned, he came.

I have been to doctors and am under the standard regimen to ameliorate and contain the infection, but the inconvenience of one-eyed stitching remains. Luckily, so far focal length complications have not set in. Still, I can’t just sit here, I have to be doing SOMETHING, so I soldier on.

And so today we have more experiments.

It’s getting confusing, so to supplement the last post, I have added identification letters. Items not discussed in today’s note are in the last one.

First off, the other fine silk and specialty needles aren’t here yet. Sadly one of the threads I ordered is a long lead item, and will not be available until after the September submission deadline for this project. So it has been nixed. With luck the rest of the order should be here by the end of the week. And on to this crop of equivocal results.

Gold Swirl AI liked the two strands of couched gold I did (Item F), but wondered how three would look. So I tried it, both with the gold color silk couching stitches and black ones. I couldn’t get the three strands to lay as neatly as the two, and the bulk just made handling and plunging them more difficult. So if I use couched gold, it will be the two-strand bit. And I am not that fond of the black threads holding down the gold, so I will use the gold color faux “art silk” I brought back from India.

Heavy Whipped Black Swirl B – This is two threads of my heavier unnamed silk, worked in reverse chain, then whipped with one strand of the Japanese gold. Love the look. Hate doing it because as I found before, the wrapped gold shreds itself. Plus the line is too heavy in company with the others.

Pekinese Stitch Black Swirl C – This started out as two threads of my heavier silk, a line of back stitch. Then I attempted to thread the gold through the stitches, in swirls. Bad idea, as this sorry little twisted tentacle shows. After this bit I have given up all thought of using Japanese Gold #5 as a passing thread, and will stick to couching it. That’s what it does best.

Counted Fills I and L – Two strands of the YLI 100 weight silk. It quite hard spun which works nicely for stitching over 3×3 threads. I think I have a winner here for the counted bits, pending receipt of my other candidate, still in the mail.

Heavy Black Outline J – Two strands of my unnamed silk, worked in reverse chain. I like the bolder line made by reverse chain over that produced by chain the “normal” direction. I do not pierce the fabric as I go under the legs of the previous stitch. I find that gives a more fluid line that better follows curves. There’s more on this stitch here. I like the stitch, but it’s too heavy in this particular thread. The motif outlines should not twice the thickness of the stems. If I go for the stems in the couched gold, this one just won’t do.

Lighter Black Outline K – Two strands of my Golden Schelle silk. This thread is only a fraction thicker than the spooled YLI, but it is more lofty. Two strands of it done in reverse chain is a much more suitable thickness for motif outlines. Again, I think I’ve got a winner. This is a hand dyed thread produced using recipes contemporary with the design of this coif, and my stash is largely from their initial dyeing experiments, therefore in some of the skeins there is a tiny bit of variation in the depth of the black achieved. The later Schelle skeins I have are a luscious, uniform and saturated black, but I am choosing to use the early ones. I won’t go out of my way to maximize the mixed tonality effect, but I do think that just using it naturally as it reels out will lend a very subtle historical look to the stitching.

Skinny Swirl/Outline M – Stem/outline stitch, in one strand of the heavier unnamed silk. First, I find it far harder to achieve a smooth and sinuous line in stem/outline than in reverse chain. And this is just too thin and wimpy for this design. I need a bolder outline than this stitch/thread combo can provide.

Slightly Thicker Swirl/Outline O – Same stitch and thread combo as M, but using two strands. Better. But K just looks better to me.

Stippled Fill N – One strand of the YLI, taking tiny dot straight stitches. A very common treatment found in historical blackwork pieces. No counting required, the stippling is usually used to model the roundness of the shape being filled, with denser and less dense areas. While I’m not a big fan of this treatment I will probably use it on some areas that need filling but are too small for easy use of a counted design.

Am I now ready to go? Almost. I still want to get my hands on the remaining silk, plus the tiny blunt beading needles. But I think I have identified my preferences. I may start in on the big piece tonight, working a counted fill in one of the larger areas. Now which fills to use….

It’s a darned good thing that I have two free books full of them, plus more in my as yet unpublished doodle notebooks. And if you are following along and want to use those fills – a note of caution that I do include in the foreword of both of them. The overwhelming majority of those fill designs are NOT taken from historical works, and in fact have ZERO historical precedent. In general, the more complex, the more likely it is my own flight of fancy. But even my flights of fancy stick to the design precepts of the historical fills. I use only 45, 90, and 180 degree angles – simple straights and diagonals. No “knights move” stitches over 2×1 units. No other elongated stitches, either. One unit = 1 stitch. Those things are wonderful addition to the designer’s vocabulary, adding all sorts of new angles to play with. But they are also absolute markers for the modern style, and I leave them to others.

I will certainly try to stick to fills that are “historically plausible”, but if I transgress and include an identifiably anachronistic one, well, time (and with luck those who cast an appraising eye on the finished work) will forgive me.

6 responses

  1. Hugs K… ❤️

  2. Very, very best wishes for a speedy and complete recovery.

  3. I forgot to add – shingles is what I wish for anti-vaxxers.

  4. So sorry to hear you have shingles and hope you will recover
    Quickly. I am so enjoying seeing you work through the process
    Of getting ready to stitch your big piece. Finding alternative
    Threads can be so hard, and it is truly a hit and miss process. I
    Always go with what feels right to my eye.

    Looking forward to following your journey with this project.
    Just remember the joy is in the journey, as well as the finishe

    All the best, Sue

  5. Shingles is a curse. Best wishes for a speedy recovery. The antivirals really help.
    Good luck with your threads. The supply chain has not recovered from the global plague. The project sounds like a lot of fun

  6. Your experiments are very interesting. What a good idea (learned from bitter experience?) to do that on a separate linen instead of plunging right in to the real project.
    Ouch on the shingles! Gajillion-times Ouch on it being near your eye. That reminds me… I need to get my first shot for that now while there’s a gap in the “must do” activities. I hope you recover soon.

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