My embroidery and creative stitching experiences.

rubbing using black care pastel on thin paper.

Selecting a rubbing.

Way back in unit 2  I discussed the rubbings I made of my selected wall.  The one I really liked the best was the last one done in pastel.

I had already decided this one was more than likely  the one I would use for this unit and I was right! No tough decisions needed here!

I liked the rhythms of the lines and marks. I liked the quality of the marks and the contrasts of  light and dark areas. I liked the variety of marks large and small.

How was I going to translate all of this into a stitched sample?

Having learned a good selection of stitches  and experimented with the possible effects of  different sewing materials I felt well prepared for tackling this unit.

I was also aware of the huge amount of variables of the above, available for exploitation in this piece and I was eager to get started and continue learning about designing a piece of stitching.

I have sewn patterns from charts and copied designs from magazines and that is fine especially for learning techniques or if that is what you enjoy. I always felt frustrated and dissatisfied with doing this after a while though because I wanted to go beyond this and create my own work but never knew how to.

Because of this I am  finding  this exciting and interesting because from early on in the course you are encouraged to explore and develop your own work and this unit draws together all the previous experiences. I hope I can show that enthusiasm and creativity in the following piece.


I see this piece as being in three parts,so refer to them as sections. Section 1 is the bottom part, section 2 the middle part and section 3 the top and last section.

Getting Started.

I had quite a variety of shades of red in a good selection of fibres so this influenced my choice of colour as well as the fact that it is a brilliant colour to work with.

The first thing I did was to sort out the ideas I had in my head for this sample. I have been thinking about it since I did the rubbing! I had ideas for where fibres and yarns would be used and how they would be used. Of course the outcome is nothing like the one n my head but that is okay, no one can see in my head so you can not see how horribly wrong it all went! Only kidding! Although there are parts which have not worked too well, I am actually very pleased with the end result.


I completed the simple border between stone and cement using a thick tweed wool which was a deep reddish orange colour. The problem with this was the fibres pulled apart after a few  stitches so I had to use only short pieces and star often. I started with slanting gobelin but changed direction half way along to suit the pattern.

The heavier wool marking the other extreme of this section was done using Alpaca wool which is about an arran weight. I wanted thicker chunks of stitching here so I used a combination of rice stitch and simplified rice stitch to begin with and finished with gobelin stitch.

Because I wanted to keep this section looking lighter than the other two, I used 3 strands of cotton for the background. I did this in diagonal stitch at the LHS and gradually changed to 6 strands and chequer stitch on the RHS which also marked the edge between section 1and 2.

I used variegated threads for the background as I did not want the colours to be uniform. The colour changing helps to give the appearence of light and shade within this lighter area.

The photograph above shows star stitching using crewel wool. You can see how the stars were lost against the background. I experimanted with a brighter pinker thread and sewing over the crewel wool. This made a small difference. I decided to leave these stitches and colours as they were and see what effect finishing the piece would have on the overall look.

Moving over the section I added a few French knots and cross stitches here and there as well as horizontal stitches.  In contrast to the star stitches on the left hand side, I used some darker colours and a variety of stitches to recreate nooks and crannies in the stone.

Section 2

Starting the second section of the stitched rubbing

I used tent stitch and variegated threads to fill the background.

In section 2 I wanted the stitching to be denser so I used tent stitch and 6 strands of cotton.To create the border between this and the 3rd section I used some ribbon to begin with but changed to the alpaca wool as I felt the ribbon did not create as raised a surface as I wanted. I also wanted some continuity over the piece. This tied the 1st and second sections together nicely.

sewing over the background with other stitches.

I tried this colour and didn’t like it, so it was removed!

As I was running out of the stranded cotton I was initially using I experimented with other colours. I did not feel this one was right for my sample as part of the backgrund so removed it and used a darker stranded cotton instead. Changing the colour and the fibre was too much.

As I sewed I tried to emulate the rhythms of the lines in the rubbing. To add texture I used 5mm satin ribbon and dark reddish crewel wool. Sometimes this was sewn into the line between sections one and two. moving over to the rhs I used a combination of a dark reddish purple silk thread to embroidery cotton and used these to create a pattern of simplified rice stitch and french knots.

Close up of finished second section.

The final stitches are put in place!

stitched rubbing of 2nd section completed.

The sample is beginning to take shape now!

As I finished section 2 I felt it was lacking something but i did not want to over ‘do’ the  piece either. I ploughed on into section 3.

Section 3

Looking at the rubbing, the lines and marks in this section  are much bolder and denser in parts with areas where the white paper brightly shines through. Although this section looks darker on paper I wanted to keep it visually pleasing. I needed bold and bright colours in the foreground and darker colours in the background.

The third section has begun.

I used long horizontal stitches but didn’t like them! They had to go!

I used a bright red wool to fill in patches where the rubbed image has no marks (i.e the paper shows through). If this were a literal interpretation of the rubbing I could have left these areas with just the white of the canvas showing but this was not in keeping with the rest of the piece and my imagination for what I could do here was evolving as the piece grew. This fine red wool was slightly fluffy and had little sequins attached along it. I had hoped they would survive being pulled through the holes but only a couple lasted the journey adding a subtle glint to the stitches when the light hits them. I used a simple cross stitch for these areas but went over the cross over stitch twice to add height to the texture.

In the previous two areas  I had used diagonal stitches to fill the background areas. In this section I wanted to show the horizontal lines which dominate the rubbing in this section. I tried using Filling Gobelin stitches for this but the effect jarred with the other background areas. I removed this and tried Encroaching Gobelin which complimented the previous sections more. As I progressed with this stitch across the sample I changed the colours and added more strands of thread. I also changed the length of these stitches as I went. On the RHS I changed to chequer stitch and added some red metallic thread to the longer stitches. I returned to the LHS and added a patch of longer stitches using the same threads to add some balance to the section.

I carried on adding a variety of threads and stitches across the sample. I think the bright red ribbon worked particularly well which I also added into the second section.

I then went on to add the metallic thread on it’s own to random areas all over the piece being careful not to overdo it. It looked improved because of this and I felt just this little touch added what was missing from the 1st and second sections.

almost finished stitched wall rubbing

This is finished apart from a few small embellishments.

I finished the sample with ribbon and  long legged cross stitch. This was great as the lengths of the stitches were varied to fill the ups and downs and create an uneven top edge where it was called for.

Stitched wall rubbing.

The finished article. I may frame t!

As I was tidying up threads and ribbons after finishing this, I found 5 little sequins on the floor. I picked them up (before the cats got at them!)  and sewed them into the stars in the first section. They complimented this section nicely. Now I really was finished.

Whilst recognising there are areas which could be improved on I am generally very happy with this sample. My confidence in what I was doing grew as I worked my way through the sections. When I got to section 3 I was flying! It has to be my favourite section although I can’t help thinking if I had done it in blues and greens it might look like a rock pool!

Coming soon(ish)…..Colour Stitchery.



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