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I will never be a Mary Linwood.  Indeed, I cannot even imagine devoting a whole life to recreating other people’s  paintings in wool.   I suppose that a certain spontaneity can evolve with experience but, the long and the short of it is that only exact placement of the correct colors will give the desired lifelike effect.  A bit like paint by numbers; albeit more refined.  The end product is very attractive, but the process does not feel at all creative to me.  At least not at this point.  Of course, it would be different working from one’s own drawings.   Since we have already established that I am a crafts person, not an artist, this is not likely to happen.  By the last petal, I was definitely yearning for some texture, and the wandering exuberance typical of Jacobean motifs.  So the french knot filling of the center was a fun romp.

Here, in all its shaded glory, is the poppy:

What I loved about stitching it: Outlining each element in split stitch (it is quite magical when one’s needle neatly splits something as thin as a single strand of embroidery floss from the back of the work without ‘hunting and stabbing’) and laying down the first row.  At that moment, there are myriad possibilities of a good outcome.  It tended to be all downhill from there, as I fretted over which color to put where.  What I didn’t love: not really understanding what I was doing with the colors (and it shows in the end product).

Should any of you wish to work this project from Trish Burr’s ‘Crewel and Surface embroidery:Inspirational Floral Designs‘, here are the nuts and bolts of working the poppy:

  • the drawing that you work from, and which you have copied as your outline,  is not exactly the same as the finished project photograph in the book, so the written instructions can seem both inadequate and confusing.  When in doubt, consult the diagram showing stitch direction for placement, and then the photograph of the embroidery for color choice.
  • Identification of which petal is to be worked next is not always obvious.  If in doubt, follow the back to front rule, and check suggested colors against the photograph.  I read each petal instruction carefully, and then placed their numbers on my working diagram.  I had to rearrange the numbers a couple of times and still came up one petal short.  It would appear that there are no written instructions for the one on the bottom right.  For that one, I used the colors set out for petal four.
  • Following the stitch direction marked on the drawing gives the lower left petal a rather rigid and wooden appearance because the stitches lie almost perpendicular to the line they end on, and parallel to the horizontal line of the fabric,  and there is no inward tapering.  It would be better to feather these lines inward (as was done on the photographed sample).  I was sorely tempted to snip this petal out and rework it.  However, since this project is simply an exercise, it seemed better to leave myself a stark reminder of what not to do.

Now to finish filling in the rest of the flowers and leaves, and it will be done!

Next time, I will show you what I made when stage six had me firmly in its talons… Happy Easter!

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4 Comments

  1. Oh, thanks for sharing — the poppy is lovely! Looking forward to seeing the fruits of that Stage 6 side trip…

    I picked up my first embroidery hoop this weekend, along with some muslin and floss to practice stitches. I have a few simple patterns in mind, found on Etsy — there’s a Baby Boom among my friends this spring, and if I can get myself up to speed, I’d like to make my baby gifts embroidered ones!

    On a sidenote, where did your great farming post go?! If you’re conflicted about mixing embroidery with “the rest of life” on this blog, I encourage you to start up a second blog for the latter! I’d subscribe in a heartbeat. =)

  2. Yes, it makes perfect sense! Perhaps if you do another project, then come back to looking at this one, you can ‘see it with new eyes’.

  3. I think you’re being a bit hard on yourself – this is lovely!

    I agree that doing shading for too long can make you twitchy to do something with more texture – I get that, too. Still, this is a great example of ‘proper embroidery’ – thanks for sharing it 🙂

    • Hi Janet,
      Thanks for taking the time to comment favorably on my first needle painting. I am not displeased with it, just a bit frustrated that I cannot yet ‘see’ how to improve it. I know that this will come with practice. For now, I have labored over the linen at close proximity for so long that it is not yet possible to distance myself from it enough to assess it properly. Does that make sense?


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