Sunday, August 18, 2013

Woolly Winter

The weather has been terrible all weekend... which is great, because then I don't feel I have to go and do things outside (though my poor garden is in terrible need of some TLC).

The boys are away this weekend riding motorbikes so I have the house to myself. I like being home on my own from time to time. There is something about a quiet house that I find strangely comforting. So, yesterday I  had a monster embroidery day. I think I stitched for a good 12 hours while working my way through a pile of old CDs. I haven't done that in ages and it was just so, so nice.
I rarely work on a project for more than a few hours at a time so everything seems to take forever to complete, but it is really amazing what can be achieved when I can concentrate on something for decent amount of time.
I finished my last project for Beating Around the Bush next year. I won't show you the whole thing yet - that would be cheating since the programme is not out until November but here is a little teaser....

It is a piece of crewel work, a smaller version of Meadow Bloom, which I feel was too involved for a two day class. I prefer that students at end of my classes are so close to finishing a project that it doesn't end up at the bottom of a drawer. I think this one will be perfect and I can't wait to show you whole piece and tell you more about it. 

I am particularly happy about the upper edge of this leaf - the photo doesn't quite show the texture well enough. 

Wool does take a bit of getting used to and I didn't like it at first but you may have guessed that I am long converted. I love working with wool - Yes it is hairy and I do love the smoothness of silk and cotton too, but there is something cosy and warm about woollen yarns that you simply cannot get from any other fibre. And it is SO forgiving and fills areas beautifully - it kind of flattens out on the fabrics.

If you don't like the feel of wool here are a few TIPS that I find make it easier:
1. Needle 
Make sure you needle is big enough, especially if you are working on linen. as this fabric is really 'hard' on your thread. The job of your needle is to prepare a hole big enough for the thread to pass through. This will lessen the wear on the thread. 
I use a crewel (embroidery) needle No 3 for Appleton and a no. 4 for slightly finer yarns.
2. Tension
Try not to pull your stitches too tight. Wool is much more 'springy' than other threads so if you pull it tight it stretches and become thin. When you pull the thread through, pull until the stitch just 'hugs' the fabric - it should be nice and relaxed, not taut.
3. Stab stitch
Working in a sewing motion (needle in and out of the fabric in one movement) simply doesn't work with crewel embroidery. (It is ok if you are stitching on wool). Your thread will wear fare too quickly and become even more hairy than it already is. Work in a stabbing motion and if possible pull the thread through at a right angle to the fabric.
4. Hoop or frame
I admit, I am a bit of a hoop nut - I use hoops and frames for almost everything, but I do believe they are essential for a good result for crewel embroidery. If you are not using one, chances are you will pull the stitches too tight because the elasticity of the yarn is deceiving on fabric that is not taut, and you will end up with some unsightly puckering.   

Hope this helps,

Happy Stitching,
Anna x


  1. Love working with wool, too. It is my favorite and you've given some good tips on how best to work with it. Can't wait to see your finished project - from the photo details it looks luscious!
    -Sharon in France

    1. I promise to share it as soon as the programme is official at the start of November. :-)