My embroidery and creative stitching experiences.

Archive for the ‘Distant Stitch’ Category

Unit 9 Finished Piece iii

The Finished article? Maybe not!

Defining shapes and patterns   Coloured sketch using fibre pens  Coloured sketch using pastel pencils

Woven Wall stitching.

After 3 preliminary sketches I have begun my  woven wall sample but it is not really going well, I think it is boring looking! I usually work by first looking at and thinking about different stitches and how I can use them, then baring in mind the ideas I have in my head and on paper, I work on the final piece quite spontaneously, developing my ideas as I go. I have spent much more time planning and experimenting before beginning anything and perhaps this has been my downfall. Over-thinking!  Should I continue in the hope that it will get better? Yes or no?

If yes then …

What could I do to make it better?

Take away the stitches along the edges of the stitched areas? Add embellishments and/or use a greater variety of yarns etc?

Or no then…

What would I do differently?

Go back to the beginning? Noooooo!

Some of the above and/or  use a different support material? Plan less or more? Leave gaps between stitched areas and/or sew over stitched areas?

Playing with ideas.

As I ponder these questions I am leaning towards starting again, and thinking about what I could do differently. Perhaps a change of background colour would help.

I have been busy dying some of the open weave fabric using Berol, Setacolour and Dylon fabric paints. Some pieces were just big enough to use as experiments and others I cut to a workable size.  I have used approximately A5  for the above sample and that is about the only thing that will not change!

  Dyed open weave 12hpi      Samples of dyes

I am not sure how or even if, I am going to use any of these but I may come up with something!

Perhaps I should leave gaps between each section too?

Still playing around with ideas.

I have tried stitching into a black dyed sample in a more free and spontaneous way rather than in a carefully planned way. The downfall here is the dye is coming off the fabric on to the threads and making them look dull and dirty! This had to go in the bin!

After all this I decided to complete the original sample I started! I eat my words…not a lot has changed!

The finished article!

Resolved Sample 1.

Stitching on canvas to represent a section of the woven wall.

I feel happier with this sample now than I did earlier. After looking at it critically and thinking about how to improve it I felt it was worth continuing with.

I took out the border stitches I had put in around various sections because they  detracted from the stitching. I also changed the amount of yellow Bargello stitched work I had. It was dominating the picture as it was the largest area I had on the sample. I replaced this with the Green Tangles design in Cretan stitch which took this design across the whole sample. Looking at it now I think it would have improved it even more if I had extended the turquoise Dots design from the other side of the Yellow Streaks design towards the red diagonal stripes too.

In most areas I had to mix threads and yarns to achieve the effects I wanted. This can be seen in the following designs. Orange Stripes (top) , Lilac Curves (centre, right) Green Tangles (bottom left) and Red Diagonals (bottom right). Yarns and threads were also mixed in Pale Stripes (top right) but I think this is less obvious in this design.

In Orange Stripes and Lilac Curves I wanted a gradual change in colour in the background which space dyed threads could achieve. Because I did not have these, I had to change the colours myself by gradually changing the mix of threads from pale to darker or brighter as appropriate. Doing this myself  rather than using space dyed threads gave me more control over the changes in colour.

In  Tangles I wanted a pale shade of green which I did not have so I mixed green and yellow for the background stitches and for Red Diagonals I wanted bold bands of  colours under the red.

In this sample I have used a lot of cotton threads because I find them easy to use in stitching and in combining threads but I have tried to vary the materials used too.

In Pale Stripes (top right) I have used stranded cotton, crewel wool and satin ribbon. For Green Tangles I used ribbon and stranded cotton. In my original sample I used tapestry yarn but the ribbon was a better colour and I preferred the ‘marks’ it made. I also used ribbon in the Lilac Curves but I had to cut this ribbon into strips causing a fibrous edge which I think works well in this design.

Towards the top and centre there are two blue designs. Crossed Blues and Blue Swirls. For Blue Swirls I used tapestry wool for the background and doubled it to give height to the design. This was raised even more by the back-stitch wheels sewn over this. I used only stranded cotton (4 strands and 2 strands) for the crossed Blues to keep it flat creating a contrast in depth between these two designs and the other surrounding designs.

As I said at the beginning of this section I am happier with this than I was but I think it is too neat and this means it lacks exciting edges and shapes.

However I did find an exciting sample when I scanned the wrong side!

Sometimes the back is more interesting than the front!

Resolved Sample 2.

This sample should be taken from the same area as the 1st sample. I can only apologise for not really doing this! Although it does have similarities. I tried to include the same designs and position them in similar places. Given I was not entirely happy with the first one I really wanted to explore a different format and change the overall design. I wanted to avoid repeating my earlier mistakes.

Paper samples woven together and sewn onto purple dyed canvas.

I really enjoyed designing and weaving the papers at the beginning of this unit. I decided I would weave another smaller sample and attach this to the purple dyed canvas I made earlier. This gave me textures and shapes which were like an interesting and exciting template to work with. My enthusiasm had returned and I was fired up with ideas for this sample.

Woven paper samples, stitched and embellished.

Starting at the bottom of this sample and looking at the horizontal designs, I used the fibres in the paper to dictate the stitching. I used 1 strand of thread and over-sewed some , not all, of the fibres in the paper. I wanted to have subtle contrasts in the lines here to keep it natural looking. I moved up to the Lilac Swirls design. Just as I did in the first resolved sample I used stranded cotton and ribbon. I over-sewed the ribbon into place so that I could follow the curves I had made without creating big holes through the delicate paper underneath. I added some long dark blue beads in clusters or singly along the design too, to add interest. Next I came to the turquoise Dots design. I used a series of French Knots  across the paper. I varied the size of these and added some in clusters to cover larger dots. I also mixed the colour of the threads in some of these.  The paper has little silver dots in it. I tried to enhance these by stitching over them with silver thread but I did not think this was very effective so I added small beads over or near the threads. This was a better reflection of the paper surface.  The Blue Swirls design came next. I used tapestry wool for the curves and just like the ribbon in the lilac design I over-sewed the wool so that I did not create big holes in the paper.I mixed two hues of blue for the swirls which I stitched in a loosely sort of back-stitch wheel!  Again I did not want to cover all the marks and lines as I liked the contrast between the stitched and unstitched areas.

Moving on to the vertical designs and the Red Diagonals, I sewed some long-legged stitches in dark Blue for the background then I over-stitched yellow ribbon into place. In the original design I chain stitched red cotton thread over the tapestry yarn but I did not think this would be as successful on the paper. I really need to see exactly where the needle is going for this stitch and as the paper covers the canvas this is not possible. There is also the risk of causing a lot of damage to the paper as the stitches are small and close together. I thought about over-sewing red satin ribbon over the yellow ribbon as this would be relatively safe and easy to do but this would create a very flat surface so I risked tearing the paper using wool and doing (or trying to do!) Diagonal Tent stitch in diagonal lines over the ribbon and thread.

It did create holes here and there as I had to use a larger needle but it adds roughness to the texture of the paper so it is not a total disaster!

The next vertical paper is a design that was not used in the first resolved sample but it was the first paper sample I made. It is a really fine mulberry paper which you can see through in places. When I first painted this I thought it was too delicate to be of any use but it was great to work with here. I called this design Orange Circles.(I really should have called it Orange and Yellow Circles!). I Used a deep yellow tapestry yarn and a strand of red metallic sewing machine thread for the orange spots. I did these in Rococo Stitch which looks more raised than the swirls which I did in crewel yarn using upright stitches.

The Lilac Swirl design is next so I will move on to the last one which is the Green Tangles design. I used the marks on the paper to guide the Cretan Stitches which I did using stranded cotton. On reflection I could have combined the dark green cotton with dark blue to create a darker, bluer green which would have been closer to the dark coloured marks.

I think the second piece is much more exciting and interesting than the first. I did not over-think this one and responded to the paper as well as the marks on it in a semi planned but spontaneous way too.

The end of the Embroidery Taster Module! ;o( , The beginning of my next stitching adventures :o).

Well here we are at the end of this course, but there will be more as I do intend continuing with my stitchery and I have another idea for those dyed samples I made earlier so if you are following this blog (and I am really flattered that you are, thank you!) keep coming back.

If you are interested in this great little course or more advanced stitching visit That’s where I am off to now to share my work with my lovely tutor Sian Martin.


Unit 9 Paper Study (ii)

Weaving and Stitching.

marked and painted papers woven together.

My woven wall.

After completing the woven sample, which is about A4 in size, my next task was to choose an area to transfer to canvas. Sounds easy doesn’t it!

I also wanted to add small samples of the papers I had produced and keep a record of what I used on them, in my sketch book. To do this I roughly tore  2 small pieces as samples and showed the front and back of the paper as a few had interesting marks and colours on both sides. These little samples proved very useful later on.

Returning to the woven sample, I cut out a viewfinder from A5 paper and took some photographs of different, isolated parts of the weaving. The hope was this would help me to find a suitable area. The trouble is all the areas have pro’s and con’s, e.g. colours and shapes I like, with a bit of one or two that I am not so keen on! Oh well you can’t have it all ways as my granny used to say!

Woven Extracts

    Paper weaving

Paper weaving. Purple and orange.  

  paper weaving sample

It did occur to me to do another weaving as I did enjoy this task  and the first one was (although very satisfactory) not perfect, however I decided it would be better use of my time to explore how I could interpret the patterns on the papers into stitch before making my final selection. This was where my small paper samples came in useful as I could focus on them to help me decide on stitching to be used. If only I had thought of this earlier I could have had the stitching samples nicely displayed alongside the paper!

Paper and Stitched Samples




Coming next…(eventually!)


As yet I have not started my resolved piece but I am thinking about combining part of the top centre sample and the middle, right sample (see Woven Extracts) which already overlap in their content. This would mean I would not have a single large red  area at the bottom which dominates the picture and overpowers the rest of the colours. I like the diagonal image more than the horizontal and vertical images so I am planning to give my finished piece a diagonal aspect.


Unit 9: Paper Study (i)

Paper, paints and crayons.

Pastels and Paints at the ready.

Unit 9 is a design exercise using paper instead of canvas and paints and crayons instead of threads and yarns. I used oil pastels and watercolour paints on various papers from photocopy paper to handmade wrapping paper and textured mulberry papers af varying weights. I also had nice tissue paper but it was too thin to hold the mediums I was working with. It did come in handy for blotting paint though!

printing, mulberry, wrapping, tissue papers.

The papers felt and looked great before painting!

I looked carefully at my earlier colour studies (units 3) and based my colours around a combination of the watercolour study and the oil pastel study where the colours are bright and the marks more prominent. I had a good selection of mulberry papers which I thought would be great for this project. There are lots of fibres showing through and there was a bit of variety in the colour, thickness and fibres. They were really good to work with although the thinner one was very delicate when it was wet.

Oil pastel marks on white mulberry paper.

White Mulberry paper with oil pastel marks.

Once the paper dried it was easy to work with. I continued marking and painting in a variety of colours, mixing colours as and when I needed to. It was great experimenting with the paints as well as the oils. I got quite carried away!


Unit 8. Colour Stitchery.

What a nice way to spend a Sunday!
stitching using cotton and wool

Just for fun!

I have been looking forward to doing this unit for ages but it took me an eternity to get started once I finally reached it!

This  is an exploration of using threads etc to create a wider variety of colours with what you have available. The trouble was I had so much available I got stitcher’s block! My brain could not find a starting place. Every time I looked at the lovely colours on my wall paintings I could find those lovely colours in my sewing stash too. My brain was unravelling at the thought of having to create what I already had!!

I had to think of a strategy to deal with this dilemma head on. (No pun intended!) I gathered up all the colours I had which were suitable for my wall and hid them from sight! This left totally unsuitable colours! The best ones won… out they came to be drooled over as I pined to use them!

I placed them in rows, heaps, piles, and stacks. I shifted them from one place to another, into and out of boxes, trays and bags.  I mixed bundles of cotton threads with wools, I shifted them from side to side, patted, squashed, stroked and fiddled with them but I couldn’t start doing anything with them. (more…)

Unit 7: Stitchery from a rubbing.

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.


Unit 6: One stitch in a variety of threads.

A variety of threads for using with one stitch.


It has been a while since I posted anything but I have completed 2 units in this time. Both units entail working on canvas and I had enough canvas on the frame to complete more than one unit so, as I have to sew the canvas onto the frame I thought I would save myself  some time.

What type  of frame is best I wonder? When I bought this one it was the only one on offer in my local craft shop but I have read about others on -line which get mixed reviews so I am looking for recommendations!

Log book v sketch book.

It doesn’t do to leave things for too long or you forget the nitty-gritty of what you were doing. You might think this would be the case for unit 6 given the time it has taken me to get here but you would be wrong! (Smug smile on my face!). I keep a log book, separate from my sketch book. Some people get a bit confused with sketch books and log books. It is simple really, it is more like a diary than a sketch book although you can of course keep sketches in it too although I use it more as an ‘after the event’ rather than planning for the event type  book which is more what a sketch book tends to be.  Any research or interesting facts and to do lists go in here too. This works for me but may not be how everyone works. Any other methods out there?

Ok enough of rambling on, and get down to the nitty gritty…..where is the log book?

Getting Started.

This exercise required the use of only one stitch but in a variety of yarns. As you can see from the photograph above I was able to find a nice collection of materials to use in a variety of purple hues including embroidery cotton and silk threads, ribbons, crewel and tapestry wool as well as 4 ply and double knitting wool.

When I was learning a variety of stitches in unit 5 I marked the stitches I enjoyed and found interesting with *. I listed these stitches and selected my favourite from this list. I was very pleased with my cleverness here as I suffer from indecision  and felt if I had to choose from tons of stitches I would still be sitting in a state of indecision. Some things are harder than selecting that night out’s outfit! (more…)

Unit 5: Teach yourself some canvas stitches.

One of the basic requirements for this course is canvas. Naturally I did not have any when I started this unit! Unperturbed I thought I would continue using other sewing materials until I could hunt down the required kind. This does have its disadvantages as I discovered, but I desperately wanted to get on with this unit so I ploughed on using open weave material which is normally used for cross stitch sewing.

I have done quite a lot of cross stitch in the past and was taught some embroidery stitches as a child. As a teenager I used to sew pictures, patterns and names of bands or heart-throbs onto friends school shirts, bags and scarves ( payment was usually a box of malteasers. I didn’t have any business acumen!). I did this using chain stitch or satin stitch so I have a limited repertoire which is very rusty!

Before putting these samples in my sketch book I zig-zag stitched them on to calico to help stop the edges fraying.

Samples of canvas stitches.

canvas stitches in blues

Canvas stitches using a variety of blues.

canvas stitches using reds

Canvas stitches using reds

In my notes I have marked some comments with * to show stitches I have enjoyed doing and/or would consider using for my wall piece.

In the blue sample I really liked the look of Rhodes stitch and in the red sample I thought the rice stitch looked interesting.


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