It has already been a month since I attended an Introductory Silk Shading day class at the Royal School of Needlework with tutor Helen Richman. With finishing my Hygge shawl and my gold work pheasant I have only just got back to finishing the day class project.
Besides really liking the design – an English rose – I always try to finish a workshop project at home as the learning curve continues even though the tutor is not actually there anymore. That way you I find I get the most out of the class I have attended.
Silk shading doesn’t involve many different types of stitches and this project only required three colours of DMC thread, so it was a big change from my pheasant. For this project you had to use split stitch for the outline of the petals and long and short stitch for filling in the petals.
Since you have to stitch a petal at a time, you have the opportunity to learn from your mistakes and make the next petal beter than the last one. I am not sure whether it actually did work out that way, as a new petal also provided the opportunity for making new mistakes! However, below are some tricks and tips that worked for me. I don’t know whether they are all ‘legal’ but they did the trick.
- Be random with your long and short stitches. I.e. don’t have all your long stitches the same length and don’t have all your short stitches the same length either. I know random is a scary word, as I much rather know exactly what and where I need to be stitching but trust me your stitching will look so much better. However, don’t go mad with the randomness, it still has to resemble a rose-petal, or whatever shape you are making.
- Before you commit yourself to a stitch, pull the thread across to where you would like it to go and check whether the angle is correct, before inserting your needle into the fabric.
- Draw the angles of your long and short stitch into the shape you are stitching as it makes it so much easier to get the angles right. I also found it helpful to place the next stitch a bit further along at the correct angle and then fill in the gap with stitches to slowly work towards the new angle
- Have a picture to hand – or draw one yourself – of the ‘ thing’ you are stitching to get the colours to blend correctly (i.e. so you have the right balance of dark, mid and light tones). It also helps to draw lines difining the different colours on your fabric.
- Make tiny split stitches, if you make them to large they move when covered with long and short stitch.
Stitching a petal at a time and using the same stitch over and over again meant I was getting a lot of practise and practise makes perfect. However, that doesn’t mean silk shading is easy and that my rose is perfect. Probably, far from it. I did feel that I was getting more confident and learning what to watch out for. It also became easier to plan the colours, the angles and the randomness. I have e-mailed Helen today with a few photographs and asked her for some feedback. If she replies I will post her comments at the bottom of this post.
If you like to stitch the rose yourself it is avaiable as a kit from Helen’s business The Bluebird Embroidery Company.
In case you are wondering about the little needle minder in the photo, it is available from the RSN-shop. It is double-sided, button-design on one, rose on the other. In the actual shop it is available on its own, online it is only available as a set (with a magnifier and thimble).
Can’t wait for my next two day classes at the RSN in July at which I will learn stumpwork, ribbonwork and crewelwork! Of course, there will be posts about them!
In other news, I have taken my goldwork pheasant to the framers on Friday. Because of the unusual project, it will take them a bit longer to frame it, so I will need to wait two weeks until Friday the 16th! Hopefully I can be that patient!
My tutor Helen Richman wrote the following about my silk shading project:
“…. how wonderful to see the finished silk shading rose, you have done a terrific job and should be very pleased with it, even the back of the work is pretty neat!
So, a few pointers I would give to help you progress: try to tuck the needle around the split stitch edge in the first row a little more and at the same time you could slightly point the needle towards the previous stitch you have done, this will help you to create a smoother edge with no ‘nibbled’ areas. This is minor on your work but could make it look even better! Also, in some areas I think perhaps you could have used slightly shorter stitches. I think this is most apparent in the mid and light pink of petals 6 and 7 [the two central small but long petals], you could have done just a few stitches of a second row in each colour to avoid having long stitches which will start to sit proud of the other stitching.”
Thank you so much Helen for the praise and the pointers! I will definitely put your comments into practise in my next silk shading project!