As I mentioned in my previous post I was quite nervous about going back to the RSN as I completed most of my project at home and I didn’t really know whether the tutors would be happy with my progress. That is also why I booked my final three days spread out over the week that I was staying so I could always do some more homework or book any extra classes if lots of unstitching had to be done.
When I arrived on Saturday the 3rd of February my class was actually in the RSN Library rather than the C&D Classroom. The class had originally been fully booked but when there were enough people (5) on the waitinglist they decided to release extra spaces. I was lucky enough to grab one of those. It was actually really nice being in the library, as it is a very light and spacious room and with only five of us it was very relaxed and quiet. Our tutor for the day was Heather Lewis.
Because I was the first one there Heather came to see me first and quickly put me at ease and said I had done really well at home and that I would be able to finish my embroidery that day and make a start on the mounting. Heather made some suggestions for stitches and I ended up adding a few more to the long list of different stitches I already had.
- Pistil stitch for the feelers of the butterfly and snail
- Couching as an outline of the two leaves at the top of my design
- Running stitches in the bottom flower
The remaining open spaces I filled with different densities and thicknesses of French knots and seeding stitches.
Next I decided on the final size of my embroidery so I could cut my board. I ended up going slightly larger than normal so there is room for a mount when I get my embroidery framed. I also decided to slightly off-set my design horizontally as because of the way the design is formed it looks much better than when being set exactly in the centre.
It is actually really difficult to cut your board exactly square with the right dimension (30 cm by 25 cm) and it did take me two goes to get it right. Next I had to cover the board with calico so I can stitch my embroidery to it in the next stage. You have to stretch and glue the callico really taut which was really difficult but fortunately Heather was on hand to give me some tips.
Before we broke up Heather said my embroidery look good and finished so I could take it of the frame at home ready for mounting on Tuesday. However, I still found it rather a scary thing to do by myself so I left it until the start of class on Tuesday after a second opinion from the Tuesday tutors Sarah Meanwell and Sara Dennis. They agreed with Heather and my embroidery came off the frame.
The next part was the most difficult, stretching the embroidery taut on the board and getting it exactly on the grain. It was a real workout as you need to pull really hard and it took me a long time to get it right. Only just after lunch I got the thumbs up from both tutors that I could starting attaching my embroidery to the calico and by which time I had three plasters on my fingers and no feeling in my fingers or my arms.
For the next step it was really fortunately that Sara Dennis was in today as she was able to show me the lefthanded-way to herringbone my fabric to the calico. Lefthanders go around clockwise whereas righthanders go anti-clockwise. Apparently herringbone is a really difficult stitch to explain the other way around. She also explained how to mitre the corners and by the end of class I had done three sides and three corners and the tutors were really happy with my progress although I felt I had accomplished very little on that day.
I decided to arrive early for class on Wednesday so I could finish the herringbone stitches before the tutors (Rachel Doyle and Jacqui McDonald) arrived. Rachel checked my herringbone and said I needed to pull the stitches a bit more tauter which I did when Rachel found me a piece of sateen to cover the back of the board. She showed me how to pin the sateen to the board and stitch them together so you would not see any stitches.
After the sateen was attached I removed all of the remaining pins, removed the pinholes by rubbing the holes with my mellor, attached my name label to the back and removed any remaining fluff from the front of my work with a pair of tweezers and some cellotape.
I took some photographs and just before lunch my embroidery and supporting documentation was put in a box, registered and handed in. I did find that really scary, as I couldn’t do anything more to it and I just have to wait for my marks now.
My embroidery will be marked during the Easter session so hopefully I will find out my marks shortly after! A nervous time awaits!