Intensive embroidery

Started the day with a bit of cardio, followed by lots of errands, and Thai food at 10:45 AM (we were hungry after our exercise, and the people were there so they let us in early!). While we were out, I found the most beautiful giant fashion book on clearance at Barnes & Noble. The clearance cart was right outside the door and I was walking past, giving it a desultory glance when the 3″ thick spine and FASHION caught my eye. I picked up the book and it took me about half a minute to decide I would buy it. It is sooooo gorgeous. It’ll provide inspiration for a lifetime! I could flip to any page and show you the amazingness, but Bright, this one is particularly for you 😉

The only problem with this book is it only goes back as far as the 18th century. What?!

I decided earlier this week that if the weather continued wet and gloomy, I’d take my artist date at home instead of as an outing. So I took a few hours to look through my new book and let it inspire me. After looking at page after page of insane detailing, I wanted to try my hand at something like it, so I made my first-ever freehand embroidery piece:

embroideryIt’s about 3″ diameter. FabMo fabrics, embroidery floss, and seed beads.

Once again, I referred to the great posts at Stitch School to help me out. I used a blanket stitch for the edging, a stem stitch for the stems (and for the baby stems leading into the leaves, using only one strand of floss), split stitch to outline the flower’s center, and lazy daisy stitches and French knots for the petals. Oh, and single-strand satin stitching for the leaves. Now I think I know why those long-ago women used French knots as fill stitches — satin stitch is tedious as heck. Pretty, but mind-numbingly painful to do. In fact the whole thing was rather painful to do, but I’m very pleased with the result. I wouldn’t have thought my first freehand attempt could turn out so well.

I was thinking, though, that embroidery is actually a very natural thing for me to pick up, given my fondness for drawing finely detailed line art. I can use the same kinds of motifs, and there’s metallic thread as well as metallic ink, and any other color it pleases me to use. Embroidery takes much longer than drawing, but it also has a satisfying three-dimensionality. I suspect I’ll be doing lots more hand stitching and embroidering in future… just have to remember to take breaks so my hands and wrists don’t simply give out on me.

I think I’ll call it a day, and go cook the Provençal garlic soup recipe I found in Mastering the Art of French Cooking. It’s that kind of evening!