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When I embarked on this exercise in soft shading, I did not actually believe I would finish it.  In fact, I almost did not start it.  My first trip to Michael’s to buy linen and floss was unsuccessful.  Newbies are easily confused when they cannot find the exact materials specified in a project.  Only the voice of experience can guide one in deviating from a prescribed path.  So, when I found only 28-count linen, I was stymied.  I started gathering up the floss colors anyway…and then put them all back; and went grocery shopping instead.

On my second visit, the purchase was still a conditional one in my mind:  “If they have all the colors required for the project, I will buy the materials.  Otherwise, I won’t.”  Even then, I took my sweet time about it (putting misplaced floss skeins back in their proper bins) and, the floss aisle tidied and the transaction completed, was still not feeling committed to stitching the poppy.  So many colors!  How on earth will I keep track of so many skeins so close in value?  On arrival back at the house, the Michael’s bag got tossed on the lower shelf of the craft cupboard.  A few days later, I took the linen out, prewashed it, ironed it dry, and applied fusible interfacing to the back.  This was my first use of fusible interfacing as a stabilizer for crewel embroidery; the Newbury Smalls were stitched in the traditional manner: using a muslin backing for the linen.  Iron-on interfacing expedited the setup, but I think I prefer muslin.  Another afternoon, I used a little ‘between’ time to transfer the design.  However, it was only after I had devised a method of organization that would allow me to keep all the different colors straight, that I was excited enough to make a start.

I first grouped the colors by element (ribbon, leaves, poppy, etc.) and put the skeins for each one in its own sandwich baggie, in the order in which they were listed.  Then I set up a floss holder with the colors in the same order.   A glance at the baggie (which I was very careful to keep flat and not jumbled) would allow me to select the next color from the floss card.  This was not quite as good as having the color numbers printed on the floss card, but served my purpose well enough.

You have watched the project evolve (project 5 from Trish Burr‘s beautiful book  Crewel and Surface Embroidery: Inspirational Floral Designs).  Now you get to see the finish:

I have not forgotten that I promised to show you what I made on my ‘stage 6’ detour.  Once I had finished the soft shading of the poppy, I could not put this down.   Now, to finish up the other project, and set up one more soft shading exercise.  Yes, after all that fussing and moaning, I am going to give it another try.

Have a wonderful weekend!

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2 Comments

  1. Hooray — so lovely! Thank you for sharing the finished product.

    Newbies are indeed easily confused. Buying the supplies for my first embroidery project last weekend, I had to hit a quilting shop, a counted cross-stitch shop, and a fabric shop just to find a hoop, muslin, and floss — and at the end I still wasn’t certain whether what I’d bought was what I really needed. But I’m forging ahead anyway!

    • Good! Can’t wait to see what you do with it. The medium is singularly forgiving. If you keep an eye on the whole, you are never more than a stitch or two away from correcting whatever is going amiss. When it doesn’t work out, a few snips with sharp scissors give you a fresh start.


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