The Shady Side of Needlepoint

I’m sticking pretty well to my daily creative commitment, although I seem to have spent more time with my needlepoint than with the sketchbook. Never mind, it’s all doing me good.

The thing that’s bothering/interesting/engaging me at the moment, is shading.

The piece that I’m working on is inspired by stained glass windows and what I wanted to achieve, is a feeling of the texture of glass as light moves around it. Now this I feel needs some shading.

This is how it’s coming along – should keep me busy for a few months yet.

I have bought quite a lot of Appletons crewel yarns, because you get some gorgeous subtle graduations in shade, and the thickness of the yarn works well on the variable weave of the canvas.

Trying the jagged edge approach to shading

But actually doing the shading is teaching me some interesting lessons. I’m trying a variety of techniques – which range from jagged blocks of colour, to something almost approaching pointillism (although I just don’t think I have the patience to keep that up for long).

Trying out mixed colours

When I went to Canon’s Ashby earlier in the summer, I had a close look at some tapestry chairs, to see how they’d done shading in the seventeenth century – it seemed more like the graduated jagged blocks.

My biggest issue is with working at night – the time that I prefer to sew. The trouble is that although I can easily distinguish shade variations during the day, at night, under my lamp, I find it very difficult to see the real colours. It makes it quite a surprise in the morning, when I get to see it in daylight.

Happier with this bit, four different shades here, can you tell?

Ah well, on we go – it’s all a learning experience.

Retail Therapy Morning

This morning it has rained! That’s put my in a good mood because we’d begun to imagine that we were living in a drought region, but I digress, no, this morning despite already being in quite a good mood, I decided to treat myself to some retail therapy.

I wanted to find a local shop selling interesting embroidery/tapestry wools. I don’t know about where you live, but around here, there is very little choice. There is in fact a lovely little shop in town, who carry a reasonable selection of the basic Anchor and DMC yarns, but ever since the VAT went up to 20%, they seem to have lost the plot a bit on their pricing. I know it’s probably easier for them to punch through £1 per skein, but when I can go to Hobbycraft and pay 89p, I’m afraid with the quantity of wool that I buy, I’m going to look for the cheaper option.

This is a shame, because I do like to support local businesses, but I’m not really impressed by their current pricing policy.

Of course I could buy online, and indeed, as you’d expect, this is considerably cheaper, even after postage is included. But often I’m quite intuitive about the colours and especially the textures that I want to sew with, and it just doesn’t make that easy when all you can see is a tiny patch on the screen. I like to be able to feel the colour with all my senses (I know that doesn’t make sense, but I’m right).

What I’d really like to find its someone selling individually dyed batches. I love the yarns that Stef Francis produces, but unless I’m being dense (quite possible I know), I don’t think they do wools – if you know otherwise, please let me know, as I love her silks and cottons. So is there anyone producing similarly exciting effects and shades in wools?

Well I haven’t exactly found anyone around here – yet, but I will keep looking. Nevertheless, this morning I discovered ‘Threads & Patches’ in Fenny Stratford, near Milton Keynes. Although I’ve lived nearby for years, this was the first time I’d been there. It’s a quilter’s paradise. The most amazing fabrics and lots of friendly people buzzing about. They have workshops there regularly so it had quite a community feel. The telephone barely stopped ringing the whole time I was there, so I’d say they were doing pretty well on the customer service front.

Photo by The Balancing Kiwi

One lovely touch, they have a ‘do-it-yourself’ tea room – what a fantastic idea!

I couldn’t find the Appleton’s threads I’d been hoping to look at, but Heather quickly obliged me, despite it obviously being quite a tricky request – why can’t Appleton’s supply display/merchandising units? Come on chaps, get your act together. Anyway, Heather was wonderful and I’ve come away the happy owner of some new colours to add to the piece I’m working on from the car boot sale.

I had a quick chat with a couple of ladies in the car park – (yes, they even have their own quite large car park) – who were clearly regulars at the shop. One lady told me that she came regularly from Luton. I told her it was my first visit and she said she thought I’d be coming back quite often now, and do you know – I think she’s right!

If I’ve managed to do it correctly, you should be able to click on the picture and go to The Balancing Kiwi’s brilliant post about the shop. If not, well try clicking here instead