Tipping the balance and planning next steps…

In which the shell inspired needlepoint heads for the finishing line and I start to think about the next piece.

Remember this?

I started trying out hessian as a needlepoint canvas, back in February. For the 10oz hessian, I sketched out a design roughly inspired be the shape and colour textures found in some shells.

Since I finished the Tree on the 7.5oz hessian, I’ve been back to the shell piece.

Every large tapestry I work, goes through development stages. In the beginning, every stitch stands alone, putting just a small area of yarn into the canvas. The unstitched area vastly out measures the stitched sections.

Then, gradually, sometimes achingly slowly, patches of stitching start to acquire their own texture – they become something promising, firm, solid.

And then, if you are prepared to stick at it, there comes the delicious moment, when you realise that the piece has acquired a life of its own – it suddenly possesses its own energy and you know for sure that you will fill every square in the canvas and that when you do, it will have knitted together to make something strong.

It feels like a kind of alchemy that transforms simple strands of wool and weak loose canvas, into something that firm and resolute.

This is the stage of stitching I love the most. Every new stitch, binds the whole together more and more. I’m seized by an urgency to see what it will finally look like. I get grumpy if I can’t find time to put in the missing stitches and I start turning down visits to the pub so I can stay in and sew instead.

I’ve just reached that stage with the shell piece.


You know what it’s like when you’ve been absorbed in a really good book and you can see that it’s coming to the end and although you want to know the ending, you also begin to wonder what you can possibly read next to fill the gap.

Well, I’ve found that with tapestry sewing, I need to have the next piece ready for me to start as soon as I finish the last one.

The shell is a big piece – roughly 45cm x 80cm – so the next one will be smaller. I need to have a rest from the big ones for a few weeks.

I’ve also decided to use up the white canvas, so I’ve spent the morning sketching out a new tapestry.

Stained glass continues to send trigger messages to my brain – I think that’s where this came from.

So I can see what I’ll be up to for the coming days.

Happy stiching etc.

8 thoughts on “Tipping the balance and planning next steps…

  1. your shell is magnificent, worthy of the superlatives it’s provoking, it is both vibrant and gentle, the colours swirling and blending so beautifully. So interesting too to read about the way it develops a life of its own. I look forward to seeing your next piece progress, though it doesn’t look very small to me! I’m intrigued by the frame as well, might that hold fabric firmly enough for machine embroidery I wonder …

    1. I’m delighted that you like it – thank you. This palette is something of an experiment for me – normally I veer towards jewel colours, but I also love the textures and colours you see in stone and shells – perhaps this is where this comes from. I’ve been exploring colours I’ve never really used before.

      I would generally say that I’m inspired by stained glass, but thinking about it, I’d have to say that stonework, especially the textures/grains etc is also deeply ingrained in my mind, I’ve just never given it enough thought in the past. I’m sure it’s something I’ll return to.

      The frame is from R & R Craft Frames, which if you Google you can find numerous stockists. They come in different sizes. They have plastic snap on bars that hold the work. Not sure about machine embroidery – not something I’ve tried. For tapestry, I find it a bit of a love hate thing. They can’t seem to handle the thickness of the worked canvas, so I’ll usually end up taking it off, but the new piece fits inside, so we’ll see.

    1. Thank you so much for your lovely comment – glad you like it. I’ve been drooling over some of the gorgeous yarns you use – I like to sneak the occasional ball of knitting wool and embroidery silks into my tapestries, so look out for them.

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