I'm going to be sorry to leave this chapter behind as I've enjoyed it so much. Well, apart from the tedium of actually withdrawing the threads, which takes far longer than the more interesting stitching does. I found I was becoming cross and bored. However, I remembered that I had recently done a course on mindfulness, and so decided to take a mindful approach to the drawing of threads, concentrating intensely on the colour, texture and feel of the fabric, the slight sound of the threads being withdrawn etc. And it worked! I still prefer the stitching though.
First of all, I revisited Chapter 5 as I was keen to try out Sian's suggestion of adding a group of light coloured withdrawn threads to the felt strips in sample 4.5.8. I think it does improve it and gives it more life.
4.5.8 before . . .
. . . and 4.6.8(a) after.
While I quite liked the dark chunky quality of my early samples, I really did like the pale daintiness of Sample 4.6.8 (hand stitching on the bars left by withdrawing threads) and decided to stick with that colour scheme for the machine stitched sample. 4.6.9 below shows a combination of hand and machine stitching.
In the top row (blue) I withdrew 6, left 2 and withdrew 6 again. I then used a scallop stitch on my machine to sew over the narrow bar left.
In the next row I left 4 threads and withdrew 24, then stitched over the bar of 4 using an undulating stitch on my machine, using a warm beige thread in the needle and the bobbin. I later worked herringbone stitch by hand over the 24 bars, using 3 strands of blue stranded cotton.
In the fourth row I again used the undulating stitch, this time with a longer thread length and worked two rows criss crossing. I used stone coloured thread for the first row of stitches and a dull blue thread for the second row.
Row five was the undulating stitch with quite a short stitch length in pale blue thread over a bar 4 stitches wide.
In row six (4 threads withdrawn, two left, 6 withdrawn) I simply used a narrow, close zigzag stitch, in the warm beige coloured thread, over the two threads left.
In row 7, I used pale blue thread and tried one of the decorative stitches on my machine. The difficulty of holding the fabric taught meant that the stitch became distorted and gave an irregular effect which I rather liked.
Row 8, 12 threads withdrawn was hand stitched in a knotted stitch in a thickish warm brown hand sewing thread (it's quite shiny and has a twist, but I can't for the life of me remember its name).
Row 9, 4 threads left: a simple open zigzag in dull blue.
Row 10, 2 threads left: a close zigzag in a stone colour.
Row 11, 3 threads withdrawn and stitched from the back with dark blue in the top and pale blue in the bobbin. The top tension was loosened. I had the fabric held in a hoop and used free machining with the width set at maximum to produce machine needleweaving. I liked how it looked like a row of trees, the narrow bits of pale blue enhancing the look of the bark. Stitching from the back was an error as I got mixed up with which side was which when I was putting it in the hoop, but I really like the effect and now I know how to achieve it deliberately!
Row 12: 4 threads left, 6 withdrawn. A clump of light brown threads (withdrawn from the unbleached and undyed scrim) woven in and out of the bars.
I had fun with the treatment of the withdrawn threads in this sample. On the left hand side, I held the loose threads down temporarily with two strips of masking tape and then stitched two rows of machine scalloped stitch to hold them down before removing the tape. On the right hand side, I gave each group of withdrawn threads a different treatment. From the top:
- two groups of threads twined around each other before stitching through 4 threads and then knotted together
- two groups of threads repeatedly knotted together and then stitched down
- a clump of threads simply twisted together and then stitched down
- two groups of threads stitched through the fabric so as to make crosses
- a clump of threads stitched through the fabric in running stitch
- a clump of threads plaited and then stitched down
- a clump of threads stitched down by machine using the meandering stitch.
I had another play with the loops produced by withdrawing a large quantity of threads and then folding the fabric over
4.6.10 Ok but a bit boring
4.6.10 (a) A bit more interesting. I withdrew two lots of threads and folded it over and stitched as shown above, then thought I could make it a bit more interesting. I teased out the threads top and bottom to make fringed edges, then folded it so that all four fringes (two looped, two straight) were on top of each other. I pulled out two lots of four threads on the plain bit of fabric at the top before folding and then folded it so that the open bars were on top of each other. I then worked two rows of hem stitch taking in threads from both layers and offsetting the hem stitch to make a series of v shapes. It's just a scrappy little sample, but may be an idea for a border for future use.