The reason for starting the Stitching Sheep is because I love needlecraft and embroidery in particular and I wanted to share it with more people than just my immediate family and friends. The problem, however, with enjoying something so much, is that you want to keep doing it and as a result don’t give yourself to write a post about it. That is what happened to me last weekend.
I was back at the Royal School of Needlework at Hampton Court for two more day classes and I had an absolutely fantastic time. Both of the classes were taught by Helen Richman, who I had met before doing my silkshading day class. On the Saturday she taught the ‘Secret Garden’ her own design featuring stumpwork and ribbonwork. You can see the finished design on her website The Bluebird Embroidery Company. On Sunday she taught an introductory class in Jacobean Crewelwork featuring a design by Lizzy Pye of Laurelin who is on maternity leave and therefore was unable to teach the class herself.
The classes were very different. The ‘Secret Garden’ was a mixed ability class featuring quite a few students with a lot of experience in embroidery, some of whom had actually done the certificate course. It was really nice to hear their experiences and to hear about the embroidery (& cake) groups they were part of. One of the students actually came up to me asking wether it was me who had stitched the pheasant as it was recommend to her by Facebook! I didn’t think the Stitching Sheep would spread so quickly but it has!
We learned 5 different ribbon stitches, and I was able to practise my silk shading techniques on the stumpwork petals. It take quite a long time to complete each pettal, as there are so many different steps to complete. This why we were only able to complete on petal during the actual class. Nine more to go (as well as two leaves)! This is why the pictures of my work at the end of the day don’t really look like much. Once it is finished I will of course share it on here!
During lunchtime I was able to take a sneek peak into the room where they are teaching the summer intensive in Crewelwork, which was really fun but scary at the same time as their designs all looked so amazing. The RSN shop featured some really good crewelwork books because the summer intensive was on. I bought a copy of Crewel Twists by Blomkamp and Crewel Work by Tracy A Franklin, to get some inspiration for my own crewel work design. I also bought a copy of Raised Embroidery by Kelley Alridge and Goldwork by Hazel Everett as they had been on my wishlist for ages. I also bought my slate frame for the certificate course so I can make a bag for it during the summer and get some trestles organised.
The introductory Jacobean class, logically, featured quite a few beginners, which resulted in me feeling like the experienced embroiderer for change! It gave me a lot of confidence. I was able to complete a bit more of the design during the actual then normal because I stitched faster than others. This has never happened to me before as I am a rather slow stitcher!
This class also covered quite a lot of stitches from trellis to chain stitch and from long & short to raised stem stitch. It was really fun to learn new stitches and already get to practise them before it all become real during my certificate course. It really helps doing a day class (or more than one) beforehand as you quickly learn the pittfalls of each stitch so you know what to watch out for next time. As a result I don’t see the final result of this class as my best work ever but as a learning curve towards the certificate class.
One of the pittfalls I quickly became aware of is when working the trellis and the battlement couching stitches. It is really difficult to keep them straight and at the correct angle. The crosses or the small straight stitches can move your nice straight lines out of alignment very quickly (which our tutor Helen warned us about). However, also the stitches you work around the edges of the area covered in trellis or battlement couching stitch can move them out of alignment! It is important to constantly keep an eye out the check whether they are still aligned correctly, as unpicking the wool is not always as easy.
It is also very difficult to cover all of the design-lines as they were drawn on rather clearly to make them easy for us to see. I think I need to start practising painting the lines on my prick & pounced designs to make sure I can get them nice and thin so they are not difficult to cover!
Working with wool is also very different then working with stranded cotton or silk as the hand-died wool varies in colour and thickness. The varied thickness is apparent in the open stitches (such as trellis) but because wool is more flexible and can be compressed it is easier to do long and short stitches in wool rather than in stranded cotton as it gaps are more easily filled up.
After the weekend I have kept on working on the Jacobean Crewelwork design and I have already progressed a little bit further. I will of course share the finished piece one it is done!