Monday, 20 January 2014

Needlequest January - Needle painting

Good morning ladies, I hope you had a good weekend?  Mine was slightly frustrating.  There were interfacing issues, machine tension issues, bobbin misbehaving issues...  But I did get some things done.  Unfortunately, I can't show you yet!  Instead, I thought it was about time I did a post for Needlequest.  

Elizabeth over at Sew in Love is hosting a monthly needlework challenge to help us focus on and improve various techniques and areas.  January's challenge is Needle painting.  Needle painting is a form of needlework that can be very realistic when done well.  It involves a lot of silk shading and is often done with silk threads.  

My piece is a crewel embroidery kit that I bought a few years ago.  Now, this piece is never going to be as realistic as other needleworkers can produce, firstly because I'm a complete beginner, and secondly because crewel doesn't have the same shine as silk, but it does use the same techniques and so this is the project I've chosen.  I hope this is OK Elizabeth?  This is also one of my challenges for Something Old, Something New, and I suspect my followers on Instagram are sick to death of it.

I bought the kit online a few years ago, and promptly got stuck in .  I did quite a bit of it, see:


And then I ran out of wool.  I hadn't wasted much, hardly any, so it was just one of those kits with not enough materials to complete it.  I wrote to DMC and they ignored me.  I wrote again and the ignored me again.  That went on for a while.  I was also trying to match the threads whenever I went to a craft show or needle work shop, I carried samples with me.  No luck.  Finally, I decided I should start again.


I ordered a load of skeins of Appleton's Crewel Wool as it's kind of hard to judge colours on line.  I think I've cracked it with the blues, but I've had to go back for another round for the greens, I'm still waiting for them to arrive.

I had some linen twill which I'm using as the ground fabric.  I know that I own crewel needles and chenille needles, both used for crewel work, but can I find them??  Nope, I can't.  How frustrating.  Instead of another fruitless trip to HobbyCraft, or rather HobbyCrap, I had a look in my stash and found some darning needles that work just fine.

This is how far I've got:


Sorry about the blurry photo.  I've always taken crap photos but they seem to be getting worse.  My camera tells me everything is "out of focus!" no matter what I do.  I'm coming to the conclusion my camera is shit.

Anyway, not much done.  I started that upper left flower, decided I didn't like what I'd done, consulted my Beginner's Guide to Crewel Embroidery by Jane Rainbow, ripped it out and started again.  

Now, having been doing a bit of research and stalking experts' blogs such as Needle'n'Thread, I now know how to do a long and short stitch.  On the first version, I worked a row of stitches, all very neat and the equal.  I did a long one (2 holes of the linen), a short one (1 hole) all the way to the end.  For the next row, I did them all as 2 holes.  This is NOT how you do long and short stitch.  Take a look:

See?  No realism at all.  Not that this second attempt could be called realistic, but I do think it's an improvement.  Here's a comparison:


I know the colours are different, instead of trying to slavish match them, I just picked which ones I liked.  Can you see the difference?  Now, part of the reason I did the Long and Short stitch like that was because of the cover picture:


I'm not sure who stitched the example or if it was based on a real piece or what, but it's just the same as my first version!  I'm glad I've changed the technique though.  I much prefer these flowers.


I'm using one of my Q Snap frames and I bought a cheap seat stand to work with it.  Of course, as soon as I got it set up, Mr CA piped up "I could have made a better one than that!"  Yes, thank you Mr CA.  This one will do for the time being.


So that's where I am.  I'll show you more updates in a week or so.  It's really hard tracking my progress as I embroider in the evenings, when there is no light whatsoever, I take rubbish Instagram photos, but I can't get a decent shot with artificial light.  What's that?  You can't get a decent shot anyway?  Yeah, I know!




21 comments:

heart of charnwood said...

Looks lovely, but what a pain that enough thread wasn't included in the pack, and being ignored was pretty rude!

Susan Hook said...

What a shame that you had to start again, I would have found this very frustrating! The stitching that you have done is looking good with very neat stitches. You will probably end up with a nicer piece of work than the one you first started!

Janine said...

I'm fascinated to see how this is evolving. I like both styles of flowers. I also think the first one is looking good and I think it's terrible that DMC are ignoring you when you've done so much work on it. It might be worth contacting someone at the V & A about it and seeing if they'll complain to DMC for you.

Photos are the bane of my life too! About once a year in the middle of Summer I get a good one :( I have googled a lot to try to find an indoor lighting solution but everywhere it always says 'use natural light'! Fine enough if you live in a country that has any :D

Hope you have a good week :)

Elizabeth Braun said...

Well done, Wendy. Of COURSE it's all right to work on this piece. That challenge piece(s) are your own call and I think this piece fits in beautifully.

It's really the shading technique that counts. Trish Burr sometimes includes wool in her florals and most stitchers use plain old stranded cottons rather than silks these days.

PS, I'll be posting this week's update post in an hour or so, so if you want to re-post your link on that one, you may well get more visitors from it.=)

Little Treasures said...

I haven't done any embroidery for quite a while now... the last time I did those shorts and longs was ages ago. However, I like what you did especially the first version.. ah... the stitching is great and I couldn't find any fault with it. Don't be too hard on yourself!

Anna said...

Lovely flowers...
Have a nice week !
Anna

Kerryp77 said...

Hi wendy. I'm liking the new shades of blue. They seem to blend more. My photos are rubbish too. I always forget to take pics in daylight. (If you can call it that in winter)

alexjayne said...

Oh wow, that looks so intricate! How frustrating to have not enough wool and have to start again - but I must say, I do like the second flowers better. Looking forward to seeing your updates on this one!

Sandra :) said...

What a pain in the a** that you ran out of thread mid-project - pretty ignorant of DMC to not reply to you. I actually like the newer colours better - and isn't it fun to learn a new technique (or stitch)? Keep going and get this DONE!

Rachel said...

Don't beat yourself up over your early long-and-short - I've seen very few diagrams of the stitch that give a true idea of how to do it. Most of them produce something that looks more like Brick Stitch. The only diagrams I've seen that are at all helpful have been done within the last five years!

JoJo said...

It drives me crazy when there's not enough floss in a kit! I'm very frugal with it too. But DMC always responded to me quickly with more of the thread. On the other hand, the DMC number is usually included in the instructions so I've just started buying the colour I need at the craft store!

margaret said...

best of luck with this challenge, I dare not join in, too many things on the go already!

Sarah in Stitches said...

How ridiculous that they never replied to you! I hate it when you're that deep into a project and then run out of materials. Anyway, your second version is GORGEOUS, so I guess it all worked out for the best!

Celtic Thistle said...

How frustrating to run out of thread and to be ignored when you contact the supplier! Your needlepainting looks great, love the new colours.

Cynthia Gilbreth said...

It's so frustrating to run out of threads in a kit, I know all about it. The Appleton threads you picked look lovely, I like them better than the original. I agree with the photos. If I take a dark one, then "enhance" it in iphoto, it seems to turn yellowish. Keep up with the photography, it will improve, at least that's what I tell myself.

moira said...

It's beautiful, even though it have no idea how you do it.

MarmaladeRose said...

Wow! I'd have given up by now and stuffed at the back of a cupboard. Keep up the good work.

Anita said...

Hi Wendy,
Oh that crewel work is awesome!!! I think you did crack it with the colors, very cool. I'm the same with photography, so frustrating....especially when I cut off heads!!
Cheers, Anita.

Diya said...

These flowers are so pretty . I know how to achieve that shading effect with paints. But with threads, DOnt ask me . Your work inspires me to do something on tops ;)- DiyaTheHobbyHarbor

Jane Galley said...

It look lovely and definitely flows better. The colour changes won't matter at all, go with what you like and are happy with, it's your piece, make it your own!

Shami Immanuel said...

beautiful flowers.