STAGE 4 – PREPARING TO CREATE TEXTURES
As the course notes say through out I am becoming very much aware of textures in both my sketches and in life around me generally – I am taking more photos of texture and noticing smaller things such as the textures of a decaying log or the moss that grows in the grass etc and understand what the notes say about trying to recreate the qualities rather than just the image or sketch itself.
I was asked to choose about 6 drawings that may have good textural descriptions and then to select yarns, fabrics and materials from my colour or theme bags to match these qualities and descriptions – these drawings are possibilities for developing further and my notes below include stitches and ideas for transcribing the stitches onto the fabrics I have chosen to express an effect.
I love this picture first and foremost as it has a variety of smooth and what I feel could be lumpy or ridged textures – the fabric I would choose would be a blue silk with possible voile overlay and a mixture of tapestry wools and embroidery flosses combined with some of the coloured string to create the ridges. Stitch techniques would very definitely include cross stitches over-laid with each other to produce star stitching, herringbone or cretan for the diagonal lines and also running stitching in alternating yarns and lengths of the stitches plus some smoother but simple satin stitching to one side with small French knots interspersed to give some bumpy areas as if little braile-like dots. My original idea was to choose blues of varying tones on the silk but thinking about it have concerns that it would not stand out enough so think will add the voile overlay so that the blue is there but it is softened slightly (the silk was hand painted by me some years ago and is still quite bright).
For this one that was based on a man hole cover I thought about black felt with a simple combination of stem stitch outlines to the ovals with herringbone interiors and then running stitching criss crossing across the felt to produce contrasting textures of very soft and rough and ridged – thinking about some soft wool yarns and rougher metallic white yarn combined with ribbon which I hope for the stem stitching will produce a lovely ridged texture (the interior herringbone in simple embroidery floss but 3 strands as opposed to 6).
I think I want quite strong contrasts with this idea – the black and the silver echoing the original metal whilst at the same time having a softer element with the chosen fabric.
…. and this is where I changed my mind as I did the sample….
I kept to the idea of using silver ribbons in stem stitch for the outlines of the ovals and found some pale silvery blue for the internal herringbone stitch which was really happy about. I then went with my original idea for soft wool running stitch but one row din’t look right as I wanted to keep quite wide spacing so added the second but a chance rummage through other embroidery yarns (ones which I have been keeping aside for an ongoing crazy quilt) I found a beautiful soft metallic purple embroidery yarn which I decided to use in a chain stitch as it produced a more pronounced ridge effect – I love the contrast with the shiny silky purple yarn against the soft running stitches which further contrast with the roughness of the ribbons which created ridges and further contrasting with the slightly textured herringbone stitch . I could very easily see this developing further but maybe on a smaller scale with either finer ribbon or metallic yarn instead of the ribbon and possibly even curvy lines opposing straight squares instead of the ovals.
This sketch is slightly easier for to have an idea on as I have used hessian in my last sample so want to do something a little bit different – the textures I see here are a mix of rough, bumpy, definitely crunchy (thinking gravel or scree on the hillside) along with some very smooth areas of moss …. to contrast and go against the natural colours of the original picture I am thinking oranges and yellows in a simple mix of satin stitch, herringbone, cretan and a lot of French knots with possible couching if I including the tree (looking at some ribbon to couch here)… want a richer more autumnal feel to the piece rather than more muted green and brown hillside colours.
This was a small section of a sketch from part of the sea urchin and would like to go really simple and use primarily running stitch and French knots but in very bright and variegated colours to really emphasize the lumpy and bumpy nature of the urchin with possibly fine stem stitch around some of the knots too … thinking almost a pointillist style and also reminiscent of some of Elspeth McLean’s stone mandala paintings that I have seen. I am not sure I am looking for subtle but rather bright and rich and colourful and have in mind in particular my favourite multi-coloured rayon thread against some tie dyed fabric I did a few days ago which is in mauves and greeny blues reminiscent of the sea..
… this time I think I kept to my original idea on the whole but decided against the stem stitch around some knots and instead used stem stitch on the inside of the triple rows of French knots in a double thread of pale blue and mauve (2 strands of each) and then used the the same colours but 6 strands each and used together to do chain stitch around central motifs of sequins and beads plus 3 French knots. In addition I used running stitch in the bright thread around the outer edges and added extra French knots. I wanted a lumpy, bumpy and bright colourful textured piece picking up on colours in the background fabric and felt the addition of the sequins and beads give a bit of sparkle too and different texture – what I would change if I did this again would be to perhaps mark it out more to get the curves better but then again on sea urchins some curves are different to others too. I would also like to find a finer multi-coloured thread that would mean I could do much finer and more refined knots so could add alot more to create that pointillist style albeit in a bolder form.
One added point of note for my own reference is to try on a spare scrap of fabric the size needle you are thinking of using – I made the mistake of using a smaller needle as the thread would go through (a crewel needle) for the variegated thread and ended up with very sore fingers so changed to a larger packing style needle which worked considerably easier and was also careful not to create holes by pulling too tightly.
This sketch of the Kings Highway in Hawaii is just fully of lumps, bumps, crunch and ridged textures along with some small smoother areas so am thinking a creamy old textured tablecloth in the neutral browns, creams and some mossy greens to roughly match some of the colours – thinking small areas of satin stitch, cretan stitch and lots of French knots again along with blanket stitch edging to the road with seeding between – not sure what effect I want to produce for this other than very textured and rich whilst allowing some of the background fabric to speak for itself.
This is a small section of the sea urchin which I love the look of the lumps and ridges and again thinking keeping it very simple with a neutral fawn background but then with chain stitch rows (possibly 2 or 3 done closely together) with either cross stitching or French knots between or combination of both to create a slight contrast in textures contrasting again against the smoother background – this time I want the colours to be rich reds in a variety of yarns but keeping more to the smoothness of the yarn to create the texture with the actual stitches. Rather than something subtle I want stronger more excitement with this to offset the simple nature of the idea and fabric and yarns used.
The end result I am much happier than I thought I would be – I decided against double rows of chain stitch and instead used a double thickness of red wool which produces a lovely thick but soft ridged texture. I didn’t feel that a second red in an embroidery yarn would be right for the French knots as there wouldn’t be enough contrast in colour or tone and so found a beautiful bright turquoise in a metallic sheen embroidery yarn instead … I was happy if some knots were slightly looser in places too. Although I liked the effect of just the two threads together I also didn’t feel it was quite finished so added a pearl thread stem stitched line just inside each curve with additional French knots to complete – these last details added additional contrast of texture as they are rougher that the chain stitch and the blue knots add the bumpiness that I wanted originally.
What I do like about this idea was that it is richer than I expected and I find quite tactile (I might try this on a larger scale as a cushion for my desk chair to see how it works) – this is the one I don’t think I would change at all surprisingly (I thought I would but just really like it as it is).
STAGE 5 – STITCHES WHICH CREATE TEXTURE
The initial instructions were to use satin stitch in vertical blocks in yarns that were close in tone to be able to show how different yarns can create different tones and show up the texture of the stitch in different ways – a small forerunner to this was to use one yarn and just stitching in different directions as I show below.
Even though I only did a small area it did enable me to see how the light reflects against the threads – although the course notes say some will appear darker and some lighter I guess I still didn’t expect just how much it does.
Going on to the satin stitch areas again this was a slight surprise but also interesting to see just how much light is reflected and also how the same stitch can vary in how it looks just by using those different yarns…
I used a variety of yarns including embroidery yarns plus crewel wool, metallic and pearlescent threads in as close tones as I currently own. I particularly liked the metallic or pearlescent threads as they reflected the light really well but also liked the contrast of the crewel wool too with the matt effect which showed up the actual stitch so well.
From this point I also tried a chevron style pattern as the notes ask..
I wasn’t very even with the chevron pattern and it comes across as slightly haphazard but again liked the way the light plays across the different yarns as some recede and some come forward and appreciate that this effect would be emphasized further if I had lighter tones of yarns contrasting against darker or thick against thin too. I decided to do just 2 rows of each yarn and for this instance used double thickness thread in the needle plus adding in some sashiko thread which I find I am a fan of as it produces a very distinct texture.
I also tried a using herringbone stitch in the same yarns initially staring in a very organised manner which became more disorganised as I added further rows.
In this instance I kept the rows further apart initially and then let them become denser in effect as they became closer together. Another example of this stitch and the effects produced I had done on a different earlier sample in Stage 2 in which I had stitched the herringbone in the
same manner initially (to the left hand side) and then stitched so that the ‘points’ matched and produced a more open lace style effect which creates a very different texture.
I also tried cretan stitch in the same style but could not seem to do this in a formal manner so the look is very open and wonky – I still could appreciate the different light effects produced by the different yarns though.
Again at stage 2 I had experimented with cretan stitch in different yarns and now appreciate the effects of those yarns and the light reflecting qualities of each and also the different textures that can be produced just by changing the thickness or quality of the yarn (ie matt or metallic, wool or embroidery floss etc) and also have ideas of how these can be used to create different effects.
The penultimate stitch I used was chain stitch which I realise is probably my favourite to use – I have studied briefly in my own personal use how it is used in Banjara stitched work from Pakistan and India and love the effects of chain stitch being used almost like satin stitch and in different yarns.
I only did a small sample in greens here with the very left hand section of it done as a very open chain to contrast with the closer stitching in various yarns. However as can be seen again in previous samples I had experimented more with this stitch in other yarns too:
I do find in all the stitches I like the contrast between matt and shiny and in the above sample love the way the pale citron green reflects the light as it goes around the spiral and gives the effect of light and dark stitches and variations in tone.
This variation in tone can be seen in the blue sample above too – I also like with chain stitch how it is very easy to change the density of the stitch with the size of the individual stitches or also doing a magic chain whereby you alternate 2 threads for the stitches.
Lastly I did a small section whereby I just did a few different stitches going in different directions – a larger version was done on the blue sample in stage 2 as shown again below.
For me the combination of the stitches probably show how the change in direction can really change the effect even more and despite being someone who is becoming ever more organised and likes geometric and symmetrical designs more than asymmetrical or haphazard stitching I am finding I am enjoying ‘letting go’ and seeing how light reflects or textures change now. The blue section in that sample was almost a revelation as I can leave it on my desk or pin it up and see different effects depending on the light at the time of the day – a bright day will reflect the light from different yarns in a very different manner to a dull day and as I have noticed just today a bright day can really show up the ‘matt-ness’ of some yarns to beautiful effect particularly with the satin stitch and you can literally see every single thread whereby when the weather is duller and the light dimmed the same satin stitch will blend almost seamlessly … this is something I know I will need to bear in mind even now as the light in which a project to be seen may have a bearing on both the stitches used and the yarns too.
I decided to do a sample to try out these effects in a more planned manner than the samples I have done above and also changed the ideas that I had originally as I had stated in my notes above as having now worked through the exercises I could see a different way to transcribe my drawing from paper to fabric marks and textures.
Consequently I did change the stitches I had stated I would use from the aforesaid ones and also changed the fabric – I first of all decided just to have the voile over a layer of muslin stretched tightly on my hoop. I then chose to just use satin stitch, cretan and herringbone with some chain stitch and a small amount of stem stitch.
The drawing was a range of loose marks swiftly done and I wanted to capture this whilst adding light reflective stitches with threads so purposely chose the matt effects of tapestry wools, slightly pearlescent embroidery yarns and with some sparkle from 2 different metallic/shiny embroidery yarns in combination with differing tones of blue for all the yarns. The satin stitch was done in a haphazard way with no uniformity to the stitches and in all the colours whilst the herringbone stitching I did as overlaying in 3 different yarns including the deep metallic blue – this I preferred to a close stitch as it seemed to give more depth. I also chose to do the chain stitch in different tones and types of thread too. Finally for where I had thought of doing the star stitches I chose to do cretan stitch again overlaying different threads and colours and also in slightly differing directions to both give depth of tone and also light reflection. There is a small amount of stem stitch in a lighter blue thread underneath the cretan stitch which can be seen peaking through and this gives an added layer and texture.
As a singular piece I do like this as can see the different textures and depending on how the light catches it as it is pinned up you can see different light effects which I am really pleased with. I think I also like the slightly chaotic effect created by the lack of uniformity which is very much a departure for me from my old style of embroidery.