Friday, 2 September 2011

A Strawberry for the last day of Summer

Believe it or not, this post started out being comparatively short…

Detached Buttonhole Strawberry

Well, as we are all aware, there are essentially 2 ways to fill a Corded Detached Buttonhole 2-d shape.  Either you

1.  Work into each inner loop of the foundation chain and do NOT pierce the fabric as you work up each subsequent row (aka Hook method), or

2.  The other way is that you leave the inner chain loop redundant and pierce the fabric, by sinking your needle within the chain stitch loop space to anchor your Cord row and re-emerge a little way up, (usually within the same chain loop space), to take your first stitch of DBH (aka Sink method).

Hook or Sink Method

Personally, I have never been able to get along with method 1. 

We are told of other ways to outline shapes that involve either a backstitch, a split stitch, small running stitches or stem stitch.  I suppose I have become distracted by trying them all out.

Especially as I am thinking now about how I might stitch very small interconnecting shapes, such as tiny calyx leaves around a rose etc.

So, the bold strawberry above was made with a split stitch foundation adopting the ‘Sink’ method.  In so doing, I realised that in a way, a split stitch outline seems a lot like an extremely slender row of chain stitch. 

More about sharp points

Between all those ways of making outlines, I sort of forgot what my original aim was, and that was to work out how they made their very slender, ‘lacy’ points, like those you see on Carnations and Cornflowers.

Below is virtually my first attempt to decipher how they did it. 

Because while making lots of 3-d DBH shapes recently, I was struck by how similar a simple 5-down-to-1 decreased 3-d point seemed to the 2-d points I could see on the macro images I have been studying recently.

To put it another way, I was reminded of other formations and something was becoming more ‘familiar’ to me.

This might sound completely outrageous and if anyone would like to comment on this ‘idea’, please do so, but I have a really funny feeling that a lot of these pointed details might have possibly been stitched 3-d and then stitched down into place?

The demo below was stitched in such a way and pegged down only at the tip.

Tips Version 1 

(I know, it looks a lot like a chicken’s foot!!) 

The decrease is 4, 3, 2, 1, ending with a detached chain that is the only part of the figure that is pegged down.

After that I decided to dive in and tackle a Carnation.  My first concern was to use a small running stitch to outline the shape.  I was not happy with those results but soon forgot about that disappointment when I realised that the little triangles were doing what I wanted them to.


3-d calyx made 2-d

After I finished the 3 points at the top, then I made a start on the lower two. 

3-d point


While I made them, I kept referring back to the macro image on my screen, which I had blown up about 30 times and with my magnifying glass, kept going back and forth to see what to do next.  The sequence was quite logical and the magnifier helped me to understand why I kept seeing strange little holes in historic points and how they occurred if you make these things for yourself.  I could be wrong of course and this might just be an enormous wild guess but…

I would like to draw your attention to the edges of the lower points, as they are easier to make out in this lighter green.  Notice how they appear as a kind of ascending chain stitch.  This peculiarity has always intrigued me, because mounting a foundation chain onto a pre-existing layer of DBH would be quite difficult.  If you think that through, the risk would be that you would pick up too many threads if you used the Hook Method, and if you used the Sink Method, the whole thing would be squashed down, perhaps, a little too much and maybe lose its delicacy?  Delicacy or ‘lacy’ was what I was aiming for. 

Then I started on one of the petals.  This time however, I first stitched a Stem stitch foundation, to which I applied the Hook Method.  I don’t know why I did this because I mentioned before I find that version very tricky.  But it was all quite weird really because I was staring so much at the huge macro image, that I kind of forgot to question and just ‘went with the flow’ of the visual data I was trying to decipher.  This proved to be a ‘uniquely’ worthwhile endeavour that I’ll talk more about next time…

first petal of Carnation

Apart from all of that, returning to the earlier Strawberry.  If you notice the Loop Stitch stalk pictured here.

Loop Stitch

This stitch was new to me and I found the instructions in Jane Zimmerman’s fine little black & white, self-published booklet. 

Ideally I wanted to make the more complex Loop Stitch Variation that she describes, but I can see that I will need to put some more time into understanding what goes where on that one.  However, the nice thing was, that while I struggled to keep the stitch loose enough to curve gracefully, I kept making a ‘mistake’ that I later discovered is actually another stitch the Elizabethans used, especially for little green tendril structures.  I am really pleased about that piece of serendipity because in all my stitch dictionaries I couldn’t find anything approaching it. 

The Strawberry is taken from a boldly worked Forehead Cloth at the V&A.  On the original, the leaflets are made of gold and silver Plaited Braid Stitch but as I was using Twilleys Gold Knitting yarn, I thought it would look best if I finished it with Zimmerman’s Double Chain Stitch. 


Must dash !


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