Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Bayeux Stitch

Recently I did a workshop with Penny Cornell on Bayeux stitch, a stitch that originates from the Bayeux Tapestry. This historical embroidery is believed to have been made almost 1000 years ago in the 1070's and it can be seen in Bayeux, France where it now hangs. It depicts the Norman conquest of Britain and ends with the Battle of Hastings. The embroidery is half a metre wide and almost 70 metres long.

William and Harold in a hunting scene from the Bayeux Tapestry (Wikipedia Commons photo)
The stitching was done on linen and it was embroidered with wool. Stem stitch or outline stitch was used to outline the figures and motifs. These were then filled in with laid threads that were couched down into place. The couching thread sometimes matches the laid threads and at other times contrasts with them.

For my sample of Bayeux stitch, I started by laying down yellow thread and couching it down with the same yellow colour. Then I tried laying down dark green threads and used light green to couch them down. Its was interesting to see how much lighter the dark green appeared with the light green threads overlaying it.

I always find the back of an embroidery interesting, so here it is. You can see that there is almost no yellow or dark green thread on the back because Bayeux stitch makes very economical use of thread.

Finally, I tried laying down light green thread, laying a yellow couching thread on top of it, and using the dark green to do the tiny couching stitches. 

I like the effect of using all three colours together because it has a lively all-over texture and pattern.

I think I need a lot more practice to get those couching lines parallel and evenly spaced, but I did enjoy trying out Bayeux stitch. Perhaps wool, as they used on the Bayeaux Tapestry, is more forgiving? 

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Resilience, embroidery and a walk on the beach

My dear husband has spent the last few years glued to his computer working on a book, or perhaps buried in his office like a determined mole is a better description. This left me with time to fill on my own and I have spent quite a bit of it working on my embroidery projects, learning to use a digital camera, which is an ongoing process, and setting up my blog.

Now the book is finished and we have left our chairs and done fun things like going for a walk on the beach at full moon with the Muizenberg Moonlight Meander guided walk group. The walks take place on the Saturday closest to full moon, weather permitting and are free.

View south towards Simon's Town
It's a lovely walk to do along the shores of False Bay with the Hottentots Holland mountains in the distance. Unfortunately the day I took my camera with me the clouds came over as we arrived at the beach and there was no moon rising over the mountains to see or to photograph. Perhaps next time...

Looking towards the east and the Hottentot's Holland Mountains
To get back to Rod's book, the title is The Building Resilience Handbook and its available online through Kalahari books. You can also log on to Rod's website Building Resilience for more information.

The book is a practical guide of how to beat stress and adversity by building your resilience. In the book you will learn practical tools and skills to bounce back from difficult organizational and life events such as significant change, setbacks and hardship. You will also learn how to cope with adversity and emerge stronger and more resourceful.

Sorry it took me so long to put up details about the book. I know quite a few of you were interested in it.

More about stitching next time, when I hope that the unusual snowy weather that has beset most of the country over the last couple of days has cleared up and the weather is getting a little warmer.

'Till then happy stitching!

Friday, August 3, 2012

Long-legged Cross Stitch Corner

I have been experimenting this week with turning a corner with long-legged cross stitch. Its a pretty stitch to use as an edging row on a needlepoint pincushion because it gives plaited or braided effect and its simple to do.

The trouble comes when you get to a corner. How do you turn the corner neatly and get good coverage of the canvas? Below is a diagram of my first attempt to make a compensating stitch at the end of the row. I added in the red stitch 13-14 in the diagram below. 13-14 is half of a long leg of the cross.

Then I continued along the next side beginning with a long leg as usual, 15-16 in Corner 1 below, and so on. It does make a very neat finish on the corner. But, once you turn and stuff the pincushion, there is some tension on the corner and the canvas starts to show through. Just a tiny bit, but enough that I wanted to try and find a better solution. So on to Corner 2.

I did the same compensating stitch 13-14 to end the row. Then I added another two compensating stitches. These are the green stitches 15-16 (half of a long leg) and 17-18 (the short leg of a cross).

Corner 2 looks very bulky before the pincushion is stitched up, turned and stuffed. I don't think I would use it to turn a corner on any embroidery that is going to remain flat. It does however give the best coverage of the corner once the pincushion is turned and stuffed.

I have been through a number of stitch dictionaries and spoken to a number of embroidery friends and I have not yet come up with the answer of how to turn a corner with long-legged cross stitch. I'd love to hear from you if you have any suggestions.

Till next time, happy stitching, and have a lovely weekend.