Sunday, 30 June 2013

Blackwork Spring Garden Bookmark SAL - Finished!

Having previously posted about the SAL Aurelia at Eglantine Stitchery was (and still is) hosting, I had intended to be more pro-active and post updates about my progress, in addition to taking an interest in how the other SAL participants were getting along.

During the first day or two of the SAL, I had got rather carried away and stitched almost half of my bookmark. Not wanting to finish so far ahead of the deadline, I took some photographs and put it to one side. In my mind, if the bookmark was completed within the first few days, it would seem a little like cheating, and as though I wasn’t entering into the spirit of the SAL.

By the time I should have been thinking about working on the bookmark, I had completely forgotten that the deadline was June 20th, and had got it in my mind that it was the last day of June. Unfortunately, when I realised I’d got it wrong, something happened that resulted in me feeling extremely lethargic and despondent. It’s a long story and although it’s one I am willing to share, I do not feel it is for the likes of this post, or indeed this stitching-themed blog.

After contacting Aurelia at the beginning of last week to inform her that I didn’t think my bookmark was going to be finished in time, I felt a sense of relief when she responded with the news that the deadline had been extended to July 1st. Although I still wasn’t feeling great, I decided on Tuesday to at least try and make an effort to finish the bookmark, and thankfully it paid off, as you will see. Yes, I’ve actually managed to complete the bookmark! However, before the Ta Dah! bit where you hear a drum roll on cue, and get to see am image of the finished bookmark, I need to go back to the beginning.

Part 1
Shortly after I had commenced stitching the bookmark (the colour version), using two strands of thread, I had found myself thinking that the four Algerian crosses in the centre might be better stitched with one strand instead. Also, because I had made my mind up that I wanted to incorporate seed beads, the addition of a yellow bead at the centre of the pink flowers could look quite effective. As luck would have it, I happened to have some yellow DMC seed beads that I had purchased about 10 years ago for a birth sampler, which can be seen at the bottom of my Gallery page. Unfortunately, the image is too small to see where the seed beads were used. Anyway, having located the seed beads, I felt the shade of yellow clashed too greatly with the yellow DMC thread. I sought the opinion of my good-eye-for-colour mother, who said she thought they looked fine and that the clash really wasn’t as noticeable as I was making out. Having looked online and been unsuccessful in finding any seed beads that were a better match; I decided to stick with the yellow DMC beads.

Before the bookmark had been put aside, I had taken it with me on a visit to HobbyCraft at Webbs of Wychbold. Aside from wanting to purchase some backing fabric, I also wanted to see if I could find any other colours of seed beads that could be worked into the design. My idea had been to add seed beads to the centres of the basic diamonds either side of the Rhodes Lozenges, but as I couldn’t find any to match the shade of DMC pink thread, I scrapped the idea. What I found instead were some seed beads that were a good match for the lighter green thread (Guterm√§nn size 11/0 Rocailles – colour 8430). For the backing fabric, I had already made my mind up that I would use white felt, which gave me a good excuse to buy the sparkly felt I had seen during a previous visit.

Part 2 
Shortly before I resumed stitching, I received the revised PDF from Aurelia, and quickly realised that my Rhodes Lozenges weren’t quite right. When I had printed off the original PDF, what I saw looked something like the image below. For the record, I would like to point out that this had nothing to do with the quality of the images in the PDF, because they displayed perfectly on my monitor.

I unpicked and re-did the Rhodes Lozenges, and then proceeded to complete the rest of the stitching. I should add that I also unpicked the four Algerian crosses that I had stitched with one strand, and re-did them with two strands. After studying my handiwork, I decided that I want to add some sparkle, but because I didn’t want to take the focus away from the beauty of Aurelia’s Spring Garden design, I knew it would have to be subtle. DMC E5200 (from the Light Effects metallic range) struck me as the perfect shade to use because it would blend in with the white Aida, but add sparkle when it caught the light. In addition, it would tie in with the white sparkly felt. Using one strand, I backstitched a border three stitches out from the main part of the design.

The next stage was the one I had been dreading; stitching the Aida to the felt backing. Rather than using the ‘invisible’ stitch method (also known as hammer stitch), I could have used an alternative method, but decided it would not be a bad thing to at least try to master the ‘invisible’ stitch method. Using the wonderful Bookmark Finishing Tutorial Aurelia had thoughtfully posted on her blog, I set to work. I won’t deny that I did find it incredibly tedious, especially when it came to the final few stitches.

As you will see on the photographs below, I added a tassel of sorts. For the twisted cord section, I used 18 strands of DMC B5200, which were far longer than they needed to be, but better to be too long than too short. I referred to this step-by-step pictorial presentation. Rather than ending up with a tassel like the one in the image below, I thought I would try something a bit different. I had no idea if I could successfully pull off the idea I’d got in my mind, so it was a risk.

A typical bookmark tassel

Bookmark with twisted cord

The first thing I did was to place a knot further up the cord, and then cut the cord just above the original main knot that had been placed after I had finished twisting the cord. What I wanted to do was add a 14mm Swarovski Twist Bead that I had purchased online from The Bead Shop, using silver metallic thread (from the DMC Metallics range). Why silver thread? Well, given that the transparency of the bead, I felt silver would look better threaded through the bead than white. The idea was that instead of a tassel at the end of the cord, I would have the bead. After discussing my idea with my son, his opinion was that whilst silver thread would definitely look better threaded through the bead, there needed to be a (white) tassel too. As I couldn’t think of a simple way to do this, I decided to scrap the idea of using silver thread.

Swarovski Twist Bead

As you may be able to see from the photo, I threaded the white strands of thread through the bead. It was not an easy task to thread 36 strands through the bead, and after I had got about halfway, I had to use a pair of pliers. I managed to thread all but three strands through the needle, which I think is pretty good going. Oh, I also ended up with two completely bent needles, one of which snapped as I was trying to pull it through the bead with the pliers. With so many strands of thread passing through the bead, it was definitely secure and going nowhere, but to err on the side of caution I knotted some thread just below the bead. On the topic of tassels, there is a wonderful post on Eglantine Stitchery, which you can read here

Tassel with Swarovski bead
Front of bookmark
Back of bookmark
If you clicked on the photos to view them full-size, you may have noticed that despite re-doing the Rhodes Lozenges, I still hadn't got them quite right. It wasn't until after I had stitched the front and back panels together that I noticed my faux pas, and there was absolutely no way I was going to unpick the invisible stitching in order to rectify my mistakes. As I was consistent with my blunder (both Rhodes Lozenges look the same), I feel it's a blunder I can get away with.